If I draw a face on it, I can make it talk

So many of my friends are doing the 30 days of being grateful thing. I feel like kind of an asshole to not do it. But then, I would also feel like an asshole to have started it and not kept up with it. Instead, I've been allowing myself to really enjoy what everyone else is blogging and posting on facebook, and trying to be grateful, myself, for learning that it's OK to not start something if you know you're going to be too busy/distracted to really stick with it.

That said, I've been thinking a lot about this grateful-i-ness that everyone has and I realized I'm kind of embarressed to admit what I'm grateful for this year. But I'm going to tell you anyway, because what is a languishing blog, if not a place to just put it all out there.

I've gained ten pounds this year (and I still have the holidays to get through).

That seems like a lot to gain in a year, especially since I've never been able to gain weight in my life (excluding pregnancies). I am literally bursting out of my clothes (I put on a pair of pants the other day and the zipper shot across the room).

The thing is, even though I can feel the extra weight on me, and I can definitely see it, I really appreciate it. I'd like to take it as a sign that the past year was calm enough and full of enough sleep and lack of freaking out that I could eat chocolate cake and not burn all the calories in five seconds through adrenaline and panic attacks.

I know this is one of those posts that makes people roll their eyes, but I've been on the less-mentioned-in-society side of the weight spectrum my whole life. I've had my fair share of yucky protein smoothies, and I've always, always, been asked by well-meaning, but irritating, people if I have an eating disorder.

Anyway, even though I'm grateful for the circumstances that have allowed me to add some junk to my trunk, I know I need to eat better and exercise more, turn the weight into muscle instead of jiggle. Drawing a face on my stomach and making it talk is hilarious, but maybe there are better uses of my time.

So now I'm wondering about things like treadmills and thighmasters and weight-bearing exercises. I know, right? Crazy talk.

The trick, I think, is figuring out how to be healthy. Balance. That's what everyone seeks, I guess. Balance. I don't have balance yet. But I am grateful to have the time now to think about it.

(And if none of this post makes any damn sense it's because I had a 9-year-old talking incessantly to me the ENTIRE FUCKING TIME I was writing. "It would definitely kill you if you got hit in the head with a cannonball, right?" "Can I get a Youtube account so I can comment on videos?" "Is a Slugger called a Slugger because it's meant to hurt people, or is that just a weird name for a baseball bat?" "Hey, Mom, look, I have a peg leg!")

It is clearly time to step away from the computer.

Maybe I should go for a jog.

Takin’ a ride on a paper time machine

I spent most of this morning and early afternoon going through boxes and boxes of… stuff. We're trying to de-clutter, air the house out, get rid of things that have been in boxes since we moved five years ago. So I brought my hot tea upstairs and sneezed my way through boxes and boxes. And boxes.

I found unused candles, old bathmats, a jar with a $2 bill in it. I found sno globes, receipts from my honeymoon, and a box with a sterling silver mirror, hairbrush and comb set. I found a baffling set of three small, plastic puffer fish. I even found a Polaroid camera still in its original box.

Then I found the boxes from high school and college. Awards, report cards, trophies, trinkets, concert ticket stubs, a shriveled corsage.

And so many letters. Boxes full of letters and nothing else.

What surprised me, though, was that among the letters were just zillions of cards. Not only birthday cards and Christmas cards, but postcards from my grandmother giving me the lowdown on the Georgia Bulldawg football season. Thank-you cards from people who were friends of friends that I'd hung out with over a long weekend. Little notes from my mom and dad reminding me to save money and hoping that "going away to college is everything you wanted it to be." There were Hallmark cards from people just saying Hi, funny postcards from my grandmother on vacation. Little notes saying simple things like, "see you at Thanksgiving", and more complicated cards saying things like "You're too smart to let someone knock you down.

So I sat this morning and laughed and cried and missed friends I no longer talk to, and understood how hard it must have been for my parents to send me off into the great big world, and I marveled over just how long my husband and I have known each other, and I mourned my grandmother all over again.

While I might not miss being in high school and I might not miss those first few years of college, I do miss the letters and cards and packages and photos. I miss the feeling of anticipation when the mailman is a few minutes late; the wonder of what correspondence awaits after a hard day.

You might be able to argue that we still get these feelings with email, and that we're lucky to enjoy a more immediate response. And, true, while the sentiments can be the same in email as they are in letters and cards, you don't get the same visceral feeling. You don't get the smeared ink. You don't get the rings of coffee from a misplaced mug. You don't get the sprinkle of dirt from someone composing a letter under a tree. You don't get the change of handwriting from "hi, how are you" to "you'll never guess what happened" to "I miss you so much I physically ache." The swirls and loops slow down and speed up with emotion. The pen is pressed harder, the pencil erased.

There is so much life in letters. So much. The cards from my grandmother this morning knocked the wind out of me. To see her handwriting, the smiley faces she would draw, the smear that was almost a thumbprint. It seemed as though, right there in my bedroom, she was alive and thriving and still writing me letters.

People can say there's an immediacy to email, but the real immediacy is in a hand-written note. There is life in that ink. There is emotion in that scrawl. These letters are my time machine.

And so my attempt to declutter has been somewhat thwarted. The letters and cards and photos go back into their boxes, and I have to figure out what I'm going to do with them. Puffer fish and candlesticks are easy to get rid of, but these snippets of day-to-day loveliness are staying right here with me.

(It was really nice to hear from you today, Mudder. I miss you.)