In which I grudgingly admit that Good Things happened in April

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First off, where in the heck did April go? I can barely remember the month passing by, which is what I guess happens when you are merely surviving, rather than living. However, that’s not to say that good things didn’t happen, and this post is to remind myself that they did.

1. I’ve reclaimed some of my good habits, such as exercising and cleaning the house. The latter especially is good because the house really needed it.

2. The jasmine is blooming! April into May is when the Confederate jasmine planted everywhere in my yard blooms (named after the confederation of Malay states, as it originated in Asia). Some of the vines were planted by previous owners, and some by me. Most of the year this plant is one of the most annoying in the yard, because it grows like a weed and needs constant cutting back. But for one beautiful month a year, with the windows open, the entire house is perfumed. Indeed, when I go on walks this time of year, it seems the entire city is perfumed!

3. I had a Skype talk with my PhD advisor, and it totally laid to rest any lingering fears I had from his “negative” feedback on the chapter I handed in a couple months ago. I’m ready to start writing another!

4. I’m finally able to concentrate enough to read good books (current one, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson). For awhile there I was unable to read my usual fare, and this was particularly painful, because reading is my favorite activity. I couldn’t even read crap books.

5. I got out an old cross stitch project I started when I was sixteen, because I thought it might be something to do in the evenings when I feel most lonely and bored (I also have a quilt project I’m working on, but it has not been inspiring me lately). To my joy, the cross stitch fabric had not molded like basically everything stored in this climate eventually does. It’s a very complex project, and I spent some time familiarizing myself with the directions. I haven’t yet begun working on it, but it’s there in the same basket where I keep my quilt project, under the coffee table, and knowing it’s there makes me happy.

6. I discovered and watched 30 Rock. All seven seasons. How did I not know about this show? (Oh, right, I haven’t had cable TV in years). The show had just the right kind of tone for me. Some shows are too stressful for me to watch because I over-empathize with characters. For example, I tried Parks and Recreation, and that awkward/cringe-style humor is too much for me. I sat there with knots in my stomach and didn’t even make it through two episodes. So if anyone knows of another show in the 30 Rock style, let me know!

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In which I grudgingly admit that Good Things happened in March

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There’s a poem by Wordsworth called “Surprised by Joy.” Contrary to its title, it is an incredibly sad poem about loss and the accompanying grief. It is about experiencing a sudden moment of happiness during a time of grief following the loss of someone beloved, and simultaneously feeling a resurgence of the grief because the happiness cannot be shared with the person who has been lost.

These days I feel like that poem. My loss is of course not comparable to Wordsworth’s, who wrote the poem after the death of a daughter. I am only mourning the ending of a relationship. But still, it is mourning. And when something good happens and I find myself feeling happy, I almost immediately think, “I can’t be happy. I don’t have my bf anymore.” It’s as if being happy would mean I lose him all over again. My grief is one way I am still holding on to him.

So having a moment of happiness, as in Wordsworth’s poem, actually causes my grief to resurface and feel as fresh as ever.

I think this is what grief must be. Not wanting to let go.

But that’s not the reason for this post. Many of my favorite bloggers do a weekly or monthly roundup of links and thoughts about things they like, found interesting, or learned. I thought I’d give it a try myself, as a personal way of remembering that even amidst struggles and trials, Good Things do happen, and practicing gratitude matters.

1.  I visited a real desert for the first time, and found the landscape so strangely inspiring in its prickly beauty. I now understand why so many writers live in deserts. Something about it opened and lightened my heart and mind.

2.  My best friend and his gf came down from Philly to visit me for a week, and helped distract me from my troubles with my bf. The first two photos in my series Happy Photo were taken in their company.

3.  I’m a professional editor in my spare time, and I got my first real freelance client – a European academic who needed help improving her written English. I was very nervous giving her back the edited article, but she emailed me the next day and said, and I quote, that I am “a genius of the English language.” Yeah, I’ll take that.

4.  My amaryllis bloomed (see photo above). I can hardly believe such a thing exists. The photo does not do the flower justice – they’re very difficult to photograph because they have four of those huge blooms coming off the tall central stalk. When I first bought my house it was summer and I had no idea what this plant was – it looks totally ordinary and even ugly most of the year. Imagine my surprise when it bloomed the following spring! I now look forward to it every year.