Gratitude: November 2013

As many days as possible, I list six distinct things for which I’m grateful. The list is archived monthly. Here’s November 2013. 

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Deadline #project365

I’m grateful for All Saints’ Day. For Dia De los Muertos. Border Grill’s Dia De los Muertos altar. Being able to have a concrete place to remember those who make heaven sweeter. The possibility of heaven. Salsa.

I’m grateful for a day to let my mind wander before deciding on the next story to draft. Peace and rest with Andy and our girls. A text from an old friend encouraging me to get out of the house. Our delightful destination: an art show. A hug from an old boss, one of the best. His new life as an amazing painter and writer.

I’m grateful for waking up knowing which draft will be next. Getting the shell of the outline down. A lunch and movie date with Andy. The intelligence and relative thoughtfulness exercised in the movie Captain Phillips. An amazing performance by Barkhad Abdi as Muse. When he says, “Get out of my way!” and “I’m the captain now.” Also, the U.S. Navy.

I’m grateful for downtown Los Angeles. The company I get to work with there. That a few hours passed without any stress. Safe driving on the freeway. Shoes. Fingers.

I’m grateful that when the Skittle pulled my crown clear off its toothy nub, it pushed right back down into place and stayed there. Knowing I will see a dentist soon. Knowing there will be anesthetic. The email from a former fellow writing class student asking me to give feedback on her latest piece. Time to walk the two miles to therapy. The ability to work from home at my own discretion.

I’m grateful to have had another story workshopped. Specific direction for the next draft. Learning more about my process. Texts from Gretchen. An afternoon of rich memories walking on the outskirts of campus. Andy’s helpful and patient discussion over my newest story draft.

I’m grateful for alarm clocks. Flights on schedule. Airport wine bar cheese plate and tomato soup. The time to read William Giraldi’s informative write up of Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson in this month’s Poets & Writers. Seeing Mom sitting on that chair in an airport as tiny as they come. Hugs from both of my parents.

I’m grateful for brunch with my mom’s awesome friends. Betty’s crocheted beret, her invitation to visit, tales of her amazing grandchildren (an Eagle Scout and a kayaking, multi-marathon runner), the way she kept her left earring on even after she realized she’d forgotten her right one. When she said, “Getting old is not for sissies.” Kissing Charlotte. Dinner with Mom, Dad, Ken & Robert. Talking with Robert about Breaking Bad and the fall of the Roman Empire.

I’m grateful for coffee with my brother. Breakfast with my family. Having Robert play some of his favorite music for us. A hugs from my brother & nephew. The way Robert’s voice sounded tender when he said, “I love you,” during our goodbye. A glimpse of my future as a very tall man’s little aunt. More walks in the pines. Seeing the wild geese glide overhead.

I’m grateful that my grief has transformed in such a way that I can finally attend church with my parents without feeling the need to protest like a sullen teenager. Hearing my dad sing a hymn even though he’s not able to do solos any longer. Memories of his solos. His love of music. The life of his voice teacher–my parent’s dear friend, Julie. Seeing Mom sing in the choir. Seeing the children’s bell choir. Having dad show me both the niche where his and mom’s ashes will go (their names and birth dates already listed), as well as the clearing in the forest where Julie’s labyrinth will go.

I’m grateful for a day to write. All the hour-long pink and brown noise free videos at YouTube. Meals with my parents. Long walks in gorgeous autumn weather. Piles of leaves. Interviewing Dad about his the sixteen varsity letters he earned in high school. Seeing the the moon rise.

I’m grateful for a nearly a week spent with my mom and dad. Rhonda the waitress and running into Rich at breakfast. Hugs and kisses at the airport. The battery life of my computer. Being able to write with focus for hours on the plane and in the airport. Hearing about my taxi driver’s love of Tunis and Lebanon. A wonderful homecoming with Andy.

I’m grateful for Tiki Kitty’s life, may she rest in peace. Her guardians, two of the most loving animal caretakers ever. My writing class. A great talk by Colette Sartor on Structure, Tension & Consequences using the example of “The Third and Final Continent” by Jhumpa Lahiri. Interesting conversation with a recently declared atheist. An opportunity to see Inappropriate: The Musical.

I’m grateful for time to read in the morning. That one of my new writing friends is interested in continuing to work together. Time for a sit down dinner before completing my work day. Seeing (controlled) fires on the beach. Halloween candy. Andy.

I’m grateful for balancing a whole lot of money to the penny. A productive long morning with several people I enjoy working with. A delightful walk, spicy ramen, and sharing in the good news of a good friend. Taking care of business. The way Andy arranged for dinner again. His surprise choice of BOSSA NOVA!

I’m grateful for a morning with my little family. Time to dwell in gratitude. Enjoying memories of the week I had with my parents. Relaxing time to decorate envelopes. The postal system. Getting caught up on some work.

I’m grateful for a two mile walk. Legs. Lungs. Oxygen. Sidewalks. MP3s.

I’m grateful for time to finally dye my white roots and blow dry it the way Aida taught me. Making it on time to the dentist. The incredibly intentionally kind customer service at my dentist’s office. Learning that my crown had not pulled loose. NO CAVITIES? Nitrous Oxide.

I’m grateful to remember 3 years ago today when I wore my green sweater over a purple camisole and he said he was suddenly nervous and a hundred other sweet things happened. Morning time to doodle hand lettering. Amy Bloom’s story collection Come To Me. The start of a serious & supportive new writing group. Rereading Roxane Gay’s “Through The Womb”. Having a peer to discuss it with.

I’m grateful to be enrolled in a short fiction workshop. The thoughtful reading and feedback from my classmates. Finding people who love to swim in words and ideas the way I do. Another discussion of Lahiri’s “Third and Final…” with even more insights from our expert teacher. UCLA Extension. Living a short drive from a major university.

I’m grateful for a long walk in the sun. That we were able to send my parent’s flowers for their 49th wedding anniversary. NPR. Getting work accomplished at a client site. Working independently. Online banking.

I’m grateful for more spicy ramen for lunch. The opportunity to show kindness; being healthy enough to receive it. Working with people who value kindness. The odd impulse to look in the back seat for the ocean glass; that it was there. That the unknown leaves room for hope. Coming home to a gorgeous surprise gift — a painting — from my folks & cousin.

I’m grateful for gratitude. My red MacBook Air case. My red keyboard cover. The way it feels silky. Functioning nerve endings. Light and seeing eyes.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to read a fellow writer’s draft. Developing friendships with people who love writing as much as I do. Making choices that nurture my dedication to improving. A delicious lunch out with Andy. A movie date. Matthew McConaughey.

I’m grateful for a day to prepare for the holiday week. Butternut squash soup. Filling up my cart with everything we want. Access to delicacies and comforts unavailable to most kings in human history. The means to pay for them. No line in the market.

I’m grateful for a pink cloud sunrise. Times when I use my whole therapy session to talk about the creative process. Diving into the word abject. Salmon quiche. Indulging in Mexican food for dinner. Living in a place with wonderful Mexican restaurants.

I’m grateful for a 5 mile walk. Seeing Cali do her food dance. Time for a peaceful lunch. Reading stories that entertain and educate. A long meal with two old friends. Feeling loved.

I’m grateful for holidays. Cooking a vegetarian mail with Andy. Seeing him chop onions; the way he dices them finely just for me. My colorful apron. Blueberries. Pears.

I’m grateful for four day weekends. Being able to choose to work from home even if the rest of our country is on holiday. A three hour nap. Finally buying a very much needed new mattress. That the salesman offered to honor a price quote from over a year ago. All of Andy’s hard work that makes such purchases possible.

I’m grateful for the plethora of record keeping devices I have that allow me to reconstruct my gratitude list twelve days after the fact. Being so relaxed that I forgot what day of the week it was. A leisurely dinner with a good friend. Walking to our first holiday party of the new year; the wonderful company there. Finding gifts for family & friends. Animal lovers.

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