"I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself." -CS Lewis, The Great Divorce


Thing #10: Being a tourist in your home town

I created an "End of Summer To-Do List," which includes randomness such as a bike ride down the entire boardwalk, skinny dipping, and other such nonsense. On this list was a little item known as the "be a tourist in your home town." Really, what the list said was to "shop" like a tourist. All summer, I've coveted a Virginia Beach t-shirt, the black one with neon splatters. I also realized that I needed a VB shot glass for my ever growing (and relatively unused) shot glass collection. So today, I took a very long walk (see the entry below about physical activity), and on the way back from the walk, I decided to do a little tourist shopping.

It was thrilling. In a "I just shopped at cheap stores where I feel slightly dirty" kind of way. I did find exactly what I wanted...a dolphin bottle opener (I previously was sadly lacking a bottle opener), a child's sized XL Virginia Beach t-shirt (cheaper!), a shot glass with flip flops and "Life's a Beach," and a VB sticker to put on my school cart.

It felt anonymous. It also reminded me that I'm glad to live here, not vacation here. Seriously sketch-tastic. Seriously.

Thing #9: Kids (and the things that make them happy)

On the aforementioned long walk, I happened to walk by a little kid playing with either his father or grandfather (who can really tell these days). Anyway, the kid, maybe 3, 3 and a half, was running from the water to his mom with something in his hand saying, "Look what I found, mom. Look what I found!"

For some reason, the joy in his voice and the expression of pure happiness on his face just about made me cry. It's hard not to accept the world as a beautiful place when seen through the eyes of a little kid seeing it for the first time.

And for that kid's wonder, I have to be happy. I have to know how blessed I am to live in a place where small wonders and discoveries can be shared freely and openly.

Thing #8: The Time Traveler's Wife

Delightful novel, and the original purpose of this post.

I read it quickly, energetically, and with purpose. It brought joy to my life, but it also caused me to ponder what would change if I too knew the future before I lived it. Or what would happen if I met myself at 6 on the street somewhere in San Diego. Those sorts of thoughts, inspired by reading, are always fantastic.

So here's to #8 - a good book that I enjoyed for fun.

Thing #7: Physical activity

It's good to remind yourself, occasionally, what your body can do.

Lift things that may be a bit, oh I don't know, heavy beyond your strength.

Run a little farther than you ran before. Don't die. See how it feels to have legs of Jell-O, burning lungs, sweaty shorts, and accomplishment.

Walk a long way. Just walk. Know that the car could have taken you there in about 1/10th of the time. Know that your healthier mentally and physically for doing so.

Ride your bike a bit further, with no real destination. Just let the sun beat on your back a little. Feel the breeze. Pedal a bit faster.

I did a few of these today. I took a walk from 63rd street back to my home nearly 40 blocks away. It felt...liberating I think is the word. The weather was beautiful, and it was fun to lip sync to the iPod music and slash on the edge of the water. Earlier, I took my bike down the boardwalk (I figure 6 miles of bike riding MUST be good for my soul and body). It was a lovely morning, and the breeze smelled perfectly of salt water and the early-going-beach-visitors' sunscreen. I feel better. Calmer. Happier.

It's nice to know I can. And that I did. Possibility and actuality meet.

Thing #6: My mom

I don't know if it's all moms or just mine, but she calls when I need her to. She wants to get coffee or hang out when I need to talk. She just knows. She lets me cry. She lets my whine. She puts up with a lot of crap that no one has any right dishing out (my role), let alone taking (her role). She sees my point-of-view when no one else seems to. She knows when there's more to the story than I've told her. And she loves to shop.

And the older I get, the happier and happier I am to be like her. It's tough sometimes to admit how much you're like someone else, especially when that person can be as stubborn as you are, but it's also good to know that you're like someone who is kind and generous and giving of her time and energy.

So here's to my mom, and the way she picked up the phone today and asked if she could come to the beach. That was a good thing she did for me. I hope she knows it.


Thing #5: the sound of the ocean

I woke up in an unsettled mood, and despite my plans for a long, thorough, and rewarding run, my mind and body refused to cooperate resulting in an aborted attempt (a pathetic 3.5 miles in 38 minutes). Still, despite the pessimism in which I was destined to wallow, today has become surprisingly positive, my outlook optimistic. I have a trip to the beach, coffee, and thing #5 to thank for this.

The sound of the waves, to me, is a bit like cockroaches: timeless. As long as there have been land masses that meet water, there have been waves crashing against shorelines. When I walk away from the beach, the ever dimming sound of the waves will continue despite my absence. Everyday, the sound goes on and on, echoing to the past and into the future. It's comforting in that way, and the sound is just plain comforting, kind of like a lullaby or "Edelweiss" from the Sound of Music. I am safe when I hear it. I am grounded. I feel like I can hear God. I always imagined he could speak through the waves - the gentle roar as the water wells up and the crash as the peak meets the water again - it's the way I would talk if I were God.

I'd like to know that I brought peace to someone, after all.


Thing #4: Adulthood

Right. This is an odd thing to be happy about, perhaps, considering plenty of American "adults" spend their lives seeking some mythological childhood and adolescence they may or may not have actually enjoyed. And while I may jokingly theorize that my life peaked at 8, I enjoy growing up. And today, I am happy to be an adult.

I like the dishes organized in the cabinet. I like looking out the window at the car I pay for each month. I like the responsibility that I meet each week.

Sometimes that fulfillment is rewarding. And for that, it's something to be happy about.


Thing #3: Free lunch

I've heard it said that there's no such thing as a free lunch, and I suppose that's true. Most lunches come with some kind of stipulation, task, or duty attached to them. The free food from the senior "picnic" in June required that I sit around and pass out sandwiches to the seniors. Lunch with the parents on Sunday is all part of the bond of familial love. Lunch at work means "stay here - we'll give you food as an enticement."

But I don't care that there's no such thing as a free lunch. If free merely means monetarily free, I'll take it. Even better, though, is when you don't expect the free lunch, and there it is, complete with sandwich, cookie, chips, and a beverage of your choice. And best of all? When you're starving, and the announcement is made, "lunch is served in the summer school office."

Little things, people. Little things. Little free things.


Thing #2: Homemade salsa

I ate at my parents' house tonight, and when I walked in, Drew was cutting corn off the cob into a very large bowl. The bowl, I learned, contained the goodness of fresh vegetables and fruit - also know as fresh salsa. In the bowl's depths were peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, peppers, onions, and a healthy helping of cilanto. To the mix, he added lemon juice and the mix was complete. And it was delicious.

So here's to real, garden-grown goodness mixed together to form a happy combination of delicious. Mmm.


Thing #1: Microsoft PowerPoint 2007

I am always behind where technology is concerned with the rare exception of Facebook, which I joined immediately upon its arrival at W&M. For the record, that was well before its national and global domination. That was when membership required a college email address from a registered college. Which makes me way ahead of the game. Once. Only once.

Which takes me to thing #1, Microsoft PowerPoint. This lovely software has presumably been available since early 2007 (a quick Google search reveals a Wikipedia entry that says the software was commercially available on January 30, 2007 - you be the judge of the reliability of that information). Still, despite the relative availability of the software, I have been putzing around on my Microsoft Office XP 2003 era software. Microsoft Office 2007 has been loaded set by set onto the laptops at Ocean Lakes, so I had my first glance into its depths last week.

Oh, and it was glorious.

Word is pretty standard. Excel will take a bit of getting used to. PowerPoint was sheer joy. The backgrounds have finally been updated into more professional and functional models. The color choices are extensive and easily changes. The changes you wish to make preview as you scroll over the options. But the best part is the photo editing. You can change the tinting of each picture. You can change the shape, halo effect, frame, and tilting.

Written out, that looks pathetic. Still, I simply cannot divulge here for you the extensive joy I felt when experimenting with the pictures. I am thoroughly enamored.