Saturday, November 30, 2013

Days of Thankfulness, Day 30

Yesterday, I dragged a large box of ornaments--mostly Snoopy--into the house and started decorating a four-foot tree Mom let's me put up in the kitchen each year. When I moved back home in 2011, I asked if I could bring a few of my Christmas things in, and somehow, we got the idea of putting up a second tree. In the living room stands Mom's full-sized tree, resplendent in red and white, looking worthy of Better Homes & Gardens.

Then, in the kitchen, in the window, proudly stands a little tree, covered in Snoopy. Better Homes & Gardens would cringe. But with every ornament that was lovingly unwrapped yesterday came a memory, and a smile. I adore that holiday season, and nothing gives me greater pleasure than decking a small tree in tip-to-trunk Snoopy ornaments (with a few others from various adventures thrown in, like the moose ornament from Canada, and the bear ornament from Yosemite, etc.). I have a lifetime of wonderful Christmas memories, and every year, I strive to make it about giving, making the world a better place.

Today, my last day of Thankfulness posts, ushers out November...and we're in with December! I'm thankful for rich, warm holiday seasons with friends, family, and goodwill. And I'm thankful for a whole month in which I had something to be thankful for every day.

Happy Holidays, one and all.

Friday, November 29, 2013

My Week in Instagram (Week #54)

I'm doing this early--tomorrow I'll be in San Francisco all day with my friend Meghan and her awesome daughter, Roz. We're having tea at a fancy restaurant at the top of a fancy hotel, overlooking gorgeous San Francisco. We're all so excited, we can hardly contain ourselves.

Anyway, it has been a lovely week off.


Actually taken on Saturday, just outside of Lincoln. I've
been meaning to stop and take a pic of this for ages.

On Sunday, I went to my storage unit. I've got a lot of crap.

Dug out some Christmas stuff. Mom always lets me put
some of my Snoopy stuff out.

That squiggly-looking thing is a very dead, very nasty,
very creepy snake.

On the top of the box it said, "Chocolate Cherry." Perfect
for the holiday season.

Added a slight reddish color to my hair, most obvious in

Wait...doesn't everyone memorize choir songs in Latin
while on the bike at the gym?

And so it starts...

Jingle Swimmy is the newbie--Santa and Rudy Swimmy
have been around a year or two.

I swear, I was in a lovely mood at choir!

Tuesday afternoon done RIGHT.

Only one voice lesson to teach? Wear leggings and boots.

Dropped some books off at the used bookstore. Wasn't
really in a mood to dig, though.

Stopped by Fleet Feet--love this sentiment, if not the

It really was time for a new pair of running shoes.

It's amazing. I hem and haw at spending $30 on a dress
but will happily drop $120 on a pair of Mizunos. Priorities,
I guess.

Later on, I did the outdoor decorations. : )

This is what happens when we let Dad bake. Yes, he did
this on purpose.

So cute!

Good morning, Roseville! I had a Turkey Trot to run.

Sign pic.

I took some canned goods.

LOVE this guy's get-up.

This woman had space cat leggings, a space cat t-shirt,
and a space cat back-pack on her front. And a purple
skirt. I'm not judging, I just thought she was...unique.

Almost time.

Finished! Not entirely happy--the course had a couple
thousand people crammed on a tiny bike trail, and the
timing company STILL doesn't have times posted. Not even
a clock at the finish line!

Some dude in a turkey hat from Good Day Sacramento.

Pretty fountain.

That's not actually a lot of food, but it's RICH food. I don't
eat like that anymore.

Opening my ornament storage box makes me smile.

Not even half of my Snoopy ornaments.

Still not all of them.

Randomly found a recipe for pumpkin quiche (it has bacon
and onion in it) and OH MY GOD it is SO GOOD.

Mom made a green chili quiche.

And that's that. Tomorrow I'll no doubt Instagram the hell out of my day, so expect more!

Days of Thankfulness, Day 29

When I started this Little Pink Blog of mine over nine years ago, my intention was to tell stories of my adventures in England. That the blog has gone this long still boggles me. Blogging is a largely narcissistic venture; I write posts and assume that someone, somewhere, will want to read them.

About a year ago, a guy I was flirting with commented on my writing and my blog. I said, "I just have a lot of words and ideas and thoughts flying around in my head all the time." He responded, "It's sexy."

I'm thankful for my words, for the ability I have to write. I've had many people tell me I write well, from loving how I capture conversations to enjoying my own brand of wit. It's something I've made a near-constant study of since my school days, taking tricks learned from my freshman English teacher, or from the professor I had at Chico who taught me the value of "sentence tightening." I often feel like I trip over my tongue when I'm speaking--I get excited, so my voice gets louder, my speech gets faster, and suddenly, I'm making up words or making very little sense. But sit me in front of my computer, and away I go. I'd guess that 95% of my blog posts are written on-the-spot, with very little editing, aside from spelling. My posts rarely require research, as such, so there's not a lot of planning that goes into writing this blog. It is, simply, my thoughts as I have them.

An invitation into my brain, perhaps, where words and ideas and thoughts fly around with abandon.

Words are powerful. They can express so much--how I felt in a particular moment, what that reaction was, how the ripples from that reaction touched off more reactions, etc.

Words can lift you up--a friend saying, "I'm so proud of you," a compliment on your outfit. And words can wound--a well-timed comment about your weight, or something else about you. It happens.

So I am careful with my words. I'm not perfect; I've said things, written things, that were not kind. I've regretted them. Overall, I strive to make my words encouraging, positive.

And every day, I'm happy that I have this ability to put words together, to write a blog that satisfies me. I don't know how many people actually read it anymore, but for me, having this record of my thoughts, my adventures, is priceless. It's my story.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Days of Thankfulness, Day 28

Today, I am thankful for you.

Yes, you!

And of course, you, too!

I am thankful for you, the one who listens to my silliness and laughs at my absurdities. I am thankful for you, who calms me when I'm anxious, and consoles me when I'm sad. I'm thankful for you, who understands my nature and sees me just being me...and you appreciate me for everything that I am, quirks and all.

Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for you.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Days of Thankfulness, Day 27

There are moments--and I try to ensure they happen as often as possible--where I stop my ever-racing mind for a few seconds and simply take notice of where I'm standing. Sometimes it's a sunrise over the Sierra Nevadas as I drive to work early, or it's on a brilliantly sunny morning where the fall color is almost blinding, it's so dazzling. Or maybe it's a moment where I'm laughing hysterically, or sipping tea that is just the right temperature, or that boy (yes, there's a That Boy in my life, he's been there a while now, and no, I don't think he knows he's playing that role in my world) is smiling at me or laughing at something ridiculous I said and I just stop--my brain, always whirring and whizzing and thinking, just stops and I think, "God, I'm so happy to be alive."

Our world isn't always a pretty place, but it's ours. We take it, good, bad, and ugly. We try to make it better, prettier. And at the end of the day, we really just ought to be thankful that we are alive in this moment.

I know I am.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Days of Thankfulness, Day 26

This morning, an email popped up in my inbox, letting me know I'd received a Jaquie Lawson e-card from Kathy and Derek, my "English parents." I get one every year, and every year, they receive an "across the miles" Thanksgiving card from me.

Kathy and Derek were so much more than landlords to me in my year in England--they became family. I remember great discussions about books, music (they're more for the Rolling Stones, whereas I'm a Beatles lady through and through--but we all agreed that there is no band like Queen), and everything else. They explained Britishisms to me, and I helped them with Americanisms. One memorable question came one evening when Kathy looked up from her book (by and American author) and inquired, "Megan...what's a graham cracker?"

November 2004 marked the first time I ever spent Thanksgiving away from my family. With my English family, I cooked up turkey breasts, homemade stuffing (Derek's contribution), cranberry relish, mashed potatoes--the works. We sat in the dining room and used the good dishes. It was so special to me that they were willing to have a weekend Thanksgiving meal to help a homesick American teacher feel a little bit better.

I haven't seen them since August 2005, when I tearfully hugged them goodbye before leaving for Heathrow airport to return to the United States. I know I will see them again, and hopefully sooner, rather than later, but we do keep in touch via Facebook and email, and I am thankful to have had them in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving, Kathy and Derek! Thank you for the card.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Days of Thankfulness, Day 25

When I graduated from uni, I left Chico and moved back to my hometown of Folsom. The internet was taking off, but MySpace and Facebook were far in the future. I got into watching NASCAR, and soon, I was chatting with people on a message board for Dale Jr. fans. Before I quite new it, I had a core group of NASCAR friends, and we've been in touch with each other for over a decade now.

As these things go, some of those friendships have strengthened and others have faltered. A few years ago, frustrated by a seeming lack of any common ground, and by the attitude of one lady in particular, I "un-friended" two of these NASCAR ladies on Facebook, and quit the little group we'd formed there. I heard, later, from others, that it had generated some hurt, some heated language directed at me, but I felt like I'd done what I needed to do.

Fast-forward to this year, and one of those two ladies was facing the rapid decline in her mother's health, and then, sadly, her passing. Though I hadn't communicated with her in ages, I left a comment on a mutual friend's post about how sorry I was for her loss. And thus began a rebuilding, and my coming back to the fold of our little NASCAR group. Turns out, the real instigator of most of the drama had finally been seen for what she was, and things were once again peaceful.

I'm thankful for my NASCAR ladies--they've seen me through 12 years of craziness--basically my entire adulthood, post-college. They cheered for me when I moved to England, they worried about me when London was bombed. We've exchanged Christmas cards for years now, and many of us have met in person. The hope is that next year, we can all convene in one place for a weekend of fun.

We've watched children grow up through pictures, and we've sent prayers and good luck wishes for job interviews, moves, relationships, and everything in between. Most of us don't pay as much attention to NASCAR--the hobby that brought us all together--as we used to, but we still have a common bond. There's something special in that.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Days of Thankfulness, Day 24

I know it's going to seem silly, but today, I'm thankful for a band.

Of course, it's Keane.

Yes, it's silly to be thankful for a band, but if ever there was a group that helped me through a period in my life that I really needed something bigger than myself, this band is it. I discovered them just after I started losing weight, and their music helped me power through those earliest days of running (even now, the lyrics, "If only I don't bend and break..." flit through my head when I think of sweating it out on the treadmill, glaring at G. the Meanie and thinking, "I'll never be a runner!"). The friendships I made through their forum sustained me when I was newly unemployed, and to this day, I have some really lovely people in my life because we all happen to love this English band.

I love interacting with Richard on Twitter (he's so sweet to all of us fans, and I hate how some take advantage of this), listening to "Somewhere Only We Know" when I need a pick-me-up. I love making my fingers bleed (okay, not literally) when I play the opening chords to "Perfect Symmetry" on the piano, and I love that every time I've met any member of Keane, they've been the opposite of the typical rock star--just humble, appreciative of the fans, and quick to smile. They're good guys, and they happen to be very good at what they do.

They're going on an indefinite hiatus for now, as some members become fathers, and Tom takes time to explore the possibility of a solo album. I will miss the updates from the studio or the road, but I'm happy to listen to my extensive library of Keane songs in my iTunes library, and hope that in time, they get back to being Keane, making great albums and touring the world, making friends at each stop.

I took part in the Keane World Flag project, and came up with the idea of
using a state flag, not just country flags. The guys--especially Richard--
were really touched with the final product.

Richard and I after a 2010 gig in Oakland. "I like your shirt," he told me.
It has a camera and the words, "And that's when I snapped" on it. I still
have it!

Me, to Tim: "Oh, my God, you're so tall!" He just laughed.

July 2012. To my everlasting chagrin, the lady in front of me lifted her arm,
blocking out poor Jesse. Left to right: Jesse, Tom, Tim, Richard.

All four signatures!

This pic was nicked from the Keane website--the green dress? That's me.

Cali Swimmy was soooo excited for his first Keane gig.