Tag Archives: grateful

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.

Monday Gratitude: Class Consciousness

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This macro image obviously has nothing to do with this blog post. I’m sure I could concoct some convoluted metaphor that would tie together tiny bugs and class stratification in America, but I won’t lay all that weight on this poor little bug’s exoskeleton.

[Artists] are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that very reason dangerous.

Had to do a little digging on this quote, which has been attributed, in a slightly altered form, to Joe McCarthy and Queen Victoria, but apparently it was actually written to Victoria by her uncle, Leopold, the King of Belgium. He concludes that artists are “hardly ever satisfied” and spending too much time around them gives one ennui.

Ennui is probably not a side effect of art, but of having too much money and not enough to do with oneself. This reminds me of a passage from an Louisa May Alcott book, An Old Fashioned Girl, in which wealthy Fanny, who has lived the life of a debutant for several years, feels prematurely aged as a result of her glamorous but pointless existence. Because she is rich and sheltered, she is also clueless, and she confides her problems to Polly, her one working-class friend, who never judges her (out loud).

“A little poverty would do you good, Fan; just enough necessity to keep you busy till you find how good work is; and when you once learn that, you won’t complain of ennui any more,” returned Polly, who had taken kindly the hard lesson which twenty years of cheerful poverty had taught her.

“Mercy, no, I should hate that; but I wish some one would invent a new amusement for rich people. I’m dead sick of parties, and flirtations, trying to out-dress my neighbors, and going the same round year after year, like a squirrel in a cage.”

In case you’re wondering, Fan loses her fortune a few chapters later and spends a while learning how to live in genteel poverty, before marrying the richest guy in the book.

Artists aren’t satisfied because they have the vision to see how much better things could be. I don’t know if all artists associate with all classes of society. If you have not, it’s hard to understand how vast the chasm between the wealthy and the underprivileged actually is.

I accidentally went to what I heard referred to as a “socialite” party last night. I didn’t realize that’s what it was until after I found myself watching a bouncer check my name off a list and usher me into a 10,000 square foot house full of exquisitely dressed models where nobody, and I mean nobody was talking about politics. They were talking about the 3 swimming pools and how many selfies they needed to take, but they weren’t talking about the plight of the immigrant in America, or the destruction of the environment, or Russian interference in the election, which in itself set it apart from every gathering I’ve attended this year. And I was thinking about how many refugees could have been comfortably housed in that building, and how I escaped the culture of material worship and ostentatious wealth. Which I guess makes me dangerous.

I’ve talked to plenty of people who lived in giant houses, and I’ve talked to plenty of people who lived on the street. And, although the knowledge of inequality’s depth is heavy, it’s never a source of ennui. And I’m grateful that I can see the big picture, no matter how frightening the big picture is when you get the whole thing into frame and focused. I’m grateful for the privilege that gives me this perspective.

If you’re satisfied with the way the world is, you probably haven’t seen that much of it. You’ve just been dazzled by the sparkly parts that were bright enough to blind you to the details.

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Seriously. You should try it sometime. You'd be surprised how well it works.

Seriously. You should try it sometime. You’d be surprised how well it works.

Right now I’m grateful that I actually finished this comic. After 4 days of nonstop holiday cleaning, I find myself sick like a little kid, with an actual fever and everything. So if this comic makes no sense, blame it on my 100.5° temperature and my inability to breath the air that remains after you run the cleaning cycle on an oven where you regularly roast entire chickens. Not to mention my allergy to pretty much every cleaning product ever. My house is now toxic to me, and the sad part is that it doesn’t look substantially cleaner than it did before we started.

This is another comic that’s more about me than the kids. In reality, the Girl is something of a Pollyanna, with a strangely sunny disposition and a powerful ability to love her family. Although she also loves butter, sugar, milk, salt, cheese, and Taylor Swift. The redundancy of dairy products is due to the fact that The Man really did grow up on a dairy farm.

Not sure how many more comics I can write this week, since there’s family coming and also I am now the walking dead. We’ll take a little break for the holidays. Web traffic drops off like crazy at the end of the year, unless you’re selling holiday gifts.