Monday, May 25, 2009

Happiness is...


… having an experienced, cool-calm-collect chauffeur.




This week Ray was in charge of driving us all over New York, and he did it with grace. I never, not even once, saw him get stressed. Not when we missed multiple exits because we were so busy talking about our future plans (it was a blow to his ego though, because he never misses turns). And missing an exit in NYC is a big deal. It takes at least 20 minutes to get back on track. He didn’t get stressed when he was responsible for getting us to 7th and 53rd (Time Square) where we were going to stay with two of his grad school friends. Not even when we were driving to the airport the next day. As we exited the Lincoln tunnel, on the way to the Newark airport, we noticed a big, black blob in the road ahead. It was a bag of trash that had come out of a garbage truck. Soon enough we were dodging bags of trash every 100 yards. Some of the bags were even more exciting because they had already been hit by a car and had thus exploded… everywhere. We both giggled as we drove along (Ray says he didn’t giggle… that he never giggles… you decide). Ray would say, “I feel like I’m in a video game.” I thought, “I hope this is the kind of video game where you get points for NOT hitting the objects… not vice versa.”

Maybe I’m giving Ray too much credit. All he really had to do was follow the trash to Jersey (no offense Garden State). Even he didn’t think his driving skills were anything exceptional. However, I KNOW they are, because I once saw him parallel park in a space that left less than 4 inches in between the front and back bumpers and the other two cars. It was an Austin Power’s moment that required 11 back-and-forth shimmies. I’ve also seen him write an e-mail on his laptop, while having a conference call on his phone, while checking his GPS on his phone, while driving on a crowded freeway.

Happiness is just plain having someone else do the driving.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happiness is...

… a DO NOT WALK sign.


(thank you gettyimages)

I started running regularly again about a month ago. It’s been brutal. How can a person get SO out of shape in SO little time? The only thing saving me from a spectacular syncopal episode right there on the sidewalk is the 2 busy streets I have to cross (or more accurately their crosswalks). When you’re running, there’s nothing more glorious than coming up to the crosswalk and seeing the flashing red hand and DO NOT WALK. Never mind that it would only take me 4 seconds to cross and the count down says I still have 22. Never mind it’s rush hour traffic and I’m wearing spankies. Never mind I’m standing there grinning, sucking oxygen, and tapping my foot to the music. You see, this little crosswalk break has given me 105 seconds to rest and recoup. It’s the only way I can legitimately take a break. If I stop for any other reason, all those passing cars and the other runners will know. They’ll know I’m out of shape. They’ll know I need a break.

But, with all positive things, there’s also a negative. Nothing is more devastating than reaching the street, anticipating your mini-break, then having the DO NOT WALK immediately turn to WALK. No break… and I really needed that break.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happiness is...


... enjoying another's generosity.


(chaos)


(more chaos)

One of the most humbling experiences of my life was coming back from my honeymoon and seeing a room filled with gifts; seeing love and generosity in a tangible form. It made me cry because I didn’t know how to adequately thank everyone for being so kind (and because I’d recently started birth-control and I was on an Estrogen/Progesterone tidal wave… TMI? Sorry).

Ray and I were nervous about people giving us wedding gifts. We didn’t register for that very reason. Our thoughts were, “we’re older, we both have careers, we know our way around Target and Walmart.” True, neither one of us owned a single kitchen utensil… not even a cereal spoon.

When we were planning our reception, our main goal was to give our communities a “Thank You” party. Thank you for caring about us. Thank you for supporting us. Thank you for being an influential part of our lives.

However, I had no idea a gift could strengthen a bond. As I pull out our new cookie sheet, I think of ____. When I use the cheese grater I wonder how ____’s garden is doing this year. When I put my apron on I’m reminded of ____’s advice. And, I’m only seeing this process get perpetually more touching, because I know my mom has things in her kitchen from her wedding reception that still remind her of people from life past.

Happiness is (more accurately) having a daily reminder of another’s love.


(chaos getting organized)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happiness is...


... being wished "Many Happy Returns."

Actually he didn't say that.

Instead he made me a treasure hunt while I was in the shower, instructed Rob to bake a cake, and made sure the present didn't escape. We don't call her Houdini for nothing.




And now we spend hours watching her hide in her shell in the middle of the floor. Then we turn away for a 11 seconds and spend more hours searching for her. She is REALLY fast.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Happiness is...

... having perfectly watered plants.




Ray and I got these Aqua Globes for our wedding from my friends Katy and Kendra.

Katy, Kendra and I served together in church when I lived in Tri Cities. When we had our monthly organizational meetings, we would often get distracted talking about the National Whistler's Convention documentary we had just received from Netflix; or the Dairy Queen's Blizzard of the Month; or how to get all the free guys in the original Nintendo Mario Brothers (jump on the turtle shell at the stairs). We also talked business.

Happiness is seeing these Aqua Globes every day and recalling a memory about these two girls.

One Christmas Kendra's gingerbread house started falling apart as she made it. She just kept adding frosting and candy until the whole thing collapsed. After cursing soupy frosting and weak gingerbread, she set her gingerbread man on the roof and declared it "Christmas with Katrina" (New Orleans Style).

One night at a meeting I saw Katy taking notes with her left hand. I commented that I didn't know she was a south paw. She looked up and said, "I'm not. I'm becoming ambidextrous." I about died laughing. "How come Katy? Do you plan on severing your right hand?" We all started brainstorming on why it is a person NEEDS to be ambidextrous. We all came away sure that Katy was on to something, natural selection was suggesting a specimen was superior if it could use a sword with both hands. I started blow drying my hair with my L hand the very next morning.

I also get a kick out of ACTUALLY owning something advertised on an infomercial.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Happiness is...

… not needing words to explain (but giving them anyway).



LILACS
(pronounced "lī-lək" or "LIE-LUCK")
Trust me.

I could have just put the picture and everyone would have known what happiness is.

BUT...

Since I was born in May, I used to be sure they were “created” for me. I always promised myself I’d get married in May so that I could have them at my wedding. Some good things don’t wait.

I’ve been ______ (more than bummed, but not quite despondent) that this year I would be missing the 70 feet of lilac bushes, lining my parent’s yard, in full bloom. I found console in sighting one VERY OLD bush in our jungle-ous Seattle backyard, and now no one would know it’s a lilac bush. I went-to-town on it.

However, the crop was worth it. So worth it.


(they're not even blooming yet, but I couldn't risk our neighbor reaching over the fence and stealing them)



And when the blossoms no longer have the ability to overpower our home, I’ll resort to this.

(it says "lilac blossom," and it's not lying)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Happiness is...

... being gently humbled.


I didn't want to go to work last night.

I hoped someone would sympathize with me.

It's hard to get sympathy when you only work 3 days a week.

However, I REALLY didn't want to go to work.

Right before I walked out the door, I prayed, "I don't want to be a nurse tonight. Please help me be a good nurse none-the-less. Help me take good care of them."

I spent the entire night with my eighty-something demented patient that was so agitated and confused, staffing had made her a 1:1 (one nurse, one patient). After a rough first hour, I finally just parked a chair next to her bed and only left briefly to get new meds/IV's. She quietly relaxed as I gave her my hand to hold. Instead of holding, she rubbed, massaged, and patted it for the next 11 hours.

Last night, she took good care of me.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Happiness is...


... having company.




Dear Rob,

I'm not sure you know how excited we are for you to come visit us. Here are 5 points to prove that your arrival is being eagerly anticipated:
  1. I opened a box of Froot Loops yesterday, and right on top there was the prize. I didn't even know they still did prizes in cereal boxes. My first thought was, "Yea! I'll give this to Rob as his 'Welcome' gift." I'm having a hard time not opening it though; the prize looks really cool!

  2. For the past week, I've been contemplating on how best to feed you. I asked Ray what kind of food you'd like. He looked up from writing work e-mails with a confused look on his face and said, "Cali, we have cupboards. He likes to eat whatever is in the cupboards." He then went back to e-mailing and without looking up said, "Besides there is still a whole bag of frozen burritos in the freezer." He was serious Rob. I started laughing and thought, "Only a boy would feed a visiting human the burritos that looked freezer burnt last Fall and now look like a bag of ice crystals in 'Beef Burrito' packaging." Ray also assured me that you like Snack Ramen.
    Rob, you're more than welcome to the food remnants of Ray's bachelorhood. However, take courage. I've got some Plan B's.


  3. I've organized and stacked all the wedding gifts that used to claim the entire guest room. There's now a VERY visible bed, with a nightstand, and a dresser. Only the back wall is hidden by giant Tupperwares stacked from floor to ceiling. The guest room is actually really nice, because Ray and I have made it into a cave. It's cool and quiet, and we blocked the one window with Tupperwares so that it's pitch black (day or night).

  4. I made chocolate chip cookies and they're waiting patiently for you in the cookie jar. I also bought an extra gallon of milk (not because it was cheaper if I bought 2... that was just a perk) in anticipation of the cookies wanting a milk bath.

  5. Last-but-not-least, Ray and I have been planning things to do while you are here. We won't make you go to Pike's Place Market again. You can eat at Ivar's only if you want to. However, we are forcing you to attend a Mariner's game because in case you haven't heard... we've got Ken Griffey back.

We hope you're ready for all this excitement.

Happiness is...

... knowing how to be happy.




Mrs. Roberts, my mom's 3rd grade teacher, gave each of her students the book “Happiness is a Warm Puppy” by Charles Schultz for Christmas. That book still sits back on our bookshelf. But, it used to never be on the bookshelf. It was under someone's pillow, in someone's back pack, or at the very least in the book box where the favorite, frequently read books were stored.

One of the pages has Charlie Brown hiding behind a tree with both of his ears visible on either side of the tree. The caption reads, “Happiness is an old-fashioned game of hide-and-seek." The entire book is filled with Charles Schultz drawings and captions of what happiness is. In honor of the month of May and all things happiness, I'm going to declare my own "Happiness is..."