Category Archives: gratitude

Gratitude: This Guy

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He’s The Man. And he’s not at all threatened by his relationship with a hideous, fire-breathing dragon who could destroy him.

I probably don’t say it enough, but this guy keeps me going. And, of course, he has substantially more hair on his head than his namesake character is drawn with in Dragon Comics, which is a bonus, but it’s not the most important part of a stable marriage. Knowing that someone always has your back is a much bigger deal. It’s a huge deal, and it’s not easy to always make that work. It’s a lot of effort to make it work most of the time, and effort alone is no guarantee of success, so a functional marriage, in this day and age, is kind of a big deal.

This picture was taken on the Marin Headlands; that’s the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. As air travel has, since 9/11, become increasingly uncomfortable, unpredictable, and invasive, I’ve gradually come to a point in my life where I would rather spend days in a car than hours at the tender mercies of the TSA/FAA. So The Man drove me to San Francisco. From Tucson. That’s 13 hours door to door. On the way back we had a little extra time so we spent 2 nights in LA, but he still drove the entire way. He’s my hero. I am very grateful to have found him.

 

Gratitude: Adventurous Eating

 

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Bitter melon is very bitter, but I suspect cocoyam doesn’t taste like cocoa.

It’s time to recommit myself to a lot of things, including this blog. Even though nobody seems to care or notice that I haven’t drawn a comic in over 3 weeks, I remind myself that this blog is for you. It’s for me. You just happen to be lucky enough to read it. There are going to be some Dragon Comics soon.

For this gratitude, which was supposed to go up last week, I was thinking about all the foods in the world I haven’t tried. Like a lot of kids, I was a boring and picky eater with a very limited repertoire. A lot of people would still consider me picky—I largely avoid grains, particularly wheat, and white sugar, and won’t eat anything made with ground or preserved meat, or most fast or junk foods—but I’m fairly open to trying new things, especially if they come from older and healthier cuisines. Lately, we’re obsessed with West African cuisine, particularly fufu and peanut sauce. It’s delicious, and if you haven’t tried it, especially with goat, you’re missing out on some of the good things in life.

For a little pick-me-up it’s fun to go to new grocery stores, especially ones run and patronized by immigrants. There are 100s or 1000s of fruits and vegetables you’ve never tried, with which other people are familiar, and now that we have the internet there’s no excuse not to try them. In all honesty, I tried the bitter melon a few different ways and it was too bitter for me, but I’m glad I tried it. You never know what you might enjoy. The cocoyam I’ll try to work up into something tonight.

My gratitude is for the existence of and will to experience countless new foods.

 

Monday Gratitude: I Get by with a Little Help

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This is not a picture of the greatest friends in the world. It’s just a tribute to a picture of the greatest friends in the world.

Although I’m super grateful that the anti life equation party did not find the opportunity to decimate my healthcare options this week, and will most likely not have a chance to complete their evil scheme before the midterm elections, even before that failed vote it seemed imperative to vocalize my gratitude for the legions of cool people in my life.

Obviously, as I’ve written before, I was a wildly unpopular preadolescent, of the “nobody in this school likes you” variety. While had enough self-esteem to feel like that was probably a mark in my favor (like, why would I want those conformists to like me?) being universally hated is not fun. But I was totally right in my assessment as to the value of the people who vocally, stringently, aggressively did not like me, because as soon as I got out of their bubble of privilege and entitled wealth, suddenly the stigma of being me evaporated, and it turned out that lots of people liked me a lot.

So I used the screen grab of my Facebook f-list as a symbol. I don’t have 584 actual friends. A few dozen of them are people who added me for my comics and/or my connections to the literary world, a couple are people I only know online, some are family, and a lot of them are probably just acquaintances or people I met once or twice at a party. But I’d say between 2/3 and 3/4 of them are real friends to some objective degree—people I’ve known in real life and hung with and whose company I enjoy and who apparently like me back. Some of them I’ve known for 3 decades or more. Some of them it only feels like I’ve known them for 30 years. And I also have friends, like the Fox, who aren’t even on Facebook. (I know; weird, right?) And while there are times when I have fond memories of that period of “nobody in this school likes you” during which 100% of my free time could be devoted to reading and writing, there’s also something to be said for getting invited to lots of interesting parties. Not that that’s why I’m grateful for my friends either.

Community, as it turns out, is probably one of the most important things in life. I know there are people who thrive in total isolation, who can live off the land in Alaska and spend more time avoiding polar bears than talking to humans, but most of us do best with a wide support net, multiple people to call on to celebrate our success or empathize with our distress. Social networking, not in the electronic sense, or the business sense, but in the sense of being integrated into a community with whom you can communicate, ask questions, seek assistance, and share your joy, is valuable on a psychological level, and a socio-economic one, and is linked with living longer and can contribute to professional success and things like that.

So, that’s my gratitude for the week: real friends. Love you guys.

 

Monday Gratitude: This Here Ukulele

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She ain’t pretty. But she is cheap. And easy.

Settling on a gratitude came with difficultly tonight; I seem to exist in a state of muted rage lately. That makes it hard to count your blessings. I’m either working or avoiding work at all times, and the number 1 way I’ve been avoiding work lately is this ukulele. Why is that slowly picking out “Stairway to Heaven” 40 times in a row feels easier than accomplishing the tasks I need to do, I want to do, other people are depending up me to do?  Tasks I’m actually capable of successfully completely, unlike ever being able to play “Stairway” at tempo.

That’s just this week. Usually I don’t use it as a distraction, but more as a calmative. I had developed a bad habit of staring at the screen late at night, and the ukulele gives me something I can focus on in the dark (much like with touch typing, I realized the only way to learn to do it without looking was to make it impossible to look), allowing me to pull back from electricity and possibly sooth my psychotic circadian rhythms.

I’m grateful for the uke, and the ability to play music. I always, always wanted to play, but I hated the music I was supposed to learn for the piano, so I hated practicing, so I never got better. And my hands are too little and intractable for the guitar. And certain things I can only learn on my own, with my own hands. I pity the people who tried to teach young dragon about music.

Monday Gratitude: If you haven’t got your health…

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No, I’m not shilling for Whole Foods.

I’m choosing to be thankful for my current health. And hopeful regarding my continued health. At various points throughout my timeline I’ve been pretty proactive about my health, and, as a result, enjoyed decent health. At other points, I’ve ignored my problems until they overwhelmed me. It happened last year, a confluence of allergies, asthma, and the common cold that culminated in me being force-fed a nebulizer during a routine physical because the doctor claimed she couldn’t hear any air moving through the bottom part of my lungs.

Last fall, I felt something coming on–achier than normal, tonsils way bigger than normal and scratchy like the desert, so I was sure it was going to hit me hard–and my massage therapist told me to take these zinc tablets. And I didn’t get sick. And I started taking them semi-regularly, definitely any time I’ve been vaguely under the weather, and I haven’t gotten sick yet.

Today the Girl turned up with a disgusting cold: coughing, sneezing, congestion, &c. So here’s the real test of this product, because I definitely don’t want to have what she has, even though she assures us that aside from all her symptoms, she feels fine.

Everyone seems to have an opinion on zinc. When I bought my first bottle, the cashier who rang me up said, “Good for you!” and the lady behind me in line offered me her thoughts because she had researched it thoroughly when her father was dying of cancer and it “really works because it’s an RNA inhibitor.” Most people seem to agree that it works but don’t take it because it’s usually served in an unpleasant preparation. But this Whole Foods 365-branded version doesn’t seem to. It taste good, like a lemon drop. Just don’t take it on an empty stomach.

Anyway, I haven’t had any type of cold or flu or any viral/bacterial health issues in almost a year, so even though chronic conditions slow me down sometimes, in general I’m a very healthy person, and I’m really grateful for that. Now, I hope I haven’t jinxed myself.

The Scent of Lemon Blossoms

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Maybe this year is the year that life will hand me sufficient lemons for a sizable recipe of lemonade.

If there was a technology that allowed photographs to capture smells, lemon blossoms would probably be up there with cat pictures in terms of popularity. In fact, if cat pictures smelled like cats, image of lemon blossoms might be more popular than cat macros. There are few scents in the world that compare to lemon flowers in the spring (it’s spring where I live). I had a Spanish teacher who once told us that there is a word in Spanish that means specifically the aroma of lemon flowers, but of course I don’t remember what it is.

I was happy to spend some time taking this pictures right up in the cloud of this delicious smell. Only later did I realize that the settings were all wrong for the light and the lens and everything else. But you can see it’s a lemon flower. There are probably 100s of them, although in my experience, 3/4 will fall off in a strong wind and 95 of the tiny lemons that result from the remaining flowers will die without explanation long before they reach maturity.

Most of this tree isn’t fruit-bearing: it’s whatever thorny, hardly rootstock they graft the lemony part to so it survives in this climate. I’m gradually pruning that back to give the good parts a chance to thrive but the thorny bit is the life support system and the only part high enough to get sun over the garden wall. The parts of my lemon tree that are fruit bearing are low-to-the-ground and a small percentage of the tree, but one day I know this tree will fulfill its destiny of being amazing.

Gratitude for air redolent with the esters of lemon flowers.

Monday Gratitude: Meaningful Work

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I got 2 phones.

I wanted pictures of a fluffy elephant toy and I didn’t want to pay for it, so I went to Toys R Us and photographed a fluffy elephant there. The Canon Rebel was in my bag but just as I found the store it occurred to me that it would be equally effective, for my purpose, and much less conspicuous to use a camera phone instead of a massive DSLR.

The black phone on the left is one of the crappiest phones you can buy. The keyboard sucks, the GPS sucks, the voice recognition sucks, and also the rear-facing camera is broken, so it only takes selfies. The white phone on the right is superior in every way, but it has a cracked screen and that bothers me more than all the  other things, I guess. But I carry it sometimes for various purposes. No one noticed me taking 30 photos of 1 plushie from 30 different angles, and now I can do some more work on my big project.

After a crash photography shoot and some bare bones work in the library, I went to Ms. Kitty’s house, and she told me about “2 Phones” for Kevin Gates. In this masterpiece of self-aware modern music, the upcoming entrepreneur must carry 2 phones, one with which to communicate with his lover, and the other to conduct his business. I told her that I used one for Pokemon and the other to play words with friends. And then later, while I watching the video, Miss Kitty came in and told me about the Pokemon Go remix. Which makes sense.

Anyway, whenever I think of all the things I haven’t got…it’s important to remember how much I have. I’ve got 2 phones. But what I’m most grateful for is the work I did with that phone. It really is a true privilege to get paid to create things.