Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Simple Pleasures

This year, my first year of retirement from teaching, has been truly lovely.  One promise I made to myself was to use this first year to genuinely appreciate time. Just time.  Time that wasn't parceled out in forty-five minute increments, five-day weeks, and breaths of summer.  I wanted to get away from the sensation of being always on rollerskates, speeding downhill.  Every so often, I try to trace back to when the Exact Moment was that the feeling of rushing headlong at...something left me.  No idea. 

But since then, I've made it my goal to not only appreciate Time, but a lot of other things as well.  It's not that I was ungrateful or dismissive of Small Things before.  I like to think that I have always been a Noticer Of Details, and an Appreciative Person.  The difference now is that I take time to stop and make a mental note of them.  Kind of like a brief homage.  I'm so weary of my past life as the Consummate Multi-tasker. I graded papers between classes; I unloaded the dishwasher as I made dinner; I cleaned the house as I walked in the back door from work, going from room to room, hanging up things, stowing things, wiping things--there were times I never sat down until dinner was ready.  Mainly because I knew that, once I did, I would not be able to get up again.

Probably not unlike so many of you.

Now, I have More Time.  Is everything Wonderful? No.  But I decided that I would at least find some Wonderfuls, notice them, no matter what.  Simple Pleasures, you know?  How shallow and horrific would I be if I couldn't find a few things to appreciate or smile about every day?  I would hate my own guts.

I was zooming through blogs and found that Anali/Lisa had written about much the same thing this week.  You can find her take on it here.

Anyway, here are a few Simple Pleasures in the past couple days that made me smile.  In Comments/Brainstorms, you can offer some of yours.  Or, you can just take the time and do something else.  Just enjoy it, whatever it is.

*Chardonnay--Rick and I really love this wine, and the toastier the better. We don't spend a lot of money per bottle on any wine, and we don't save wine for a special occasion. Any time we are together is special enough for a bottle of wine.  Even old Benjamin Franklin said that wine was "a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy."  If we can have it out on our deck on a warm afternoon or evening, so much the better.

*Michael Crawford's voice--I have an old CD in my car of Michael Crawford singing songs from Broadway shows and the movies. A few of my friends--my age--tease me about even having it.  I don't care.  His voice is incredible, and the concert he gave in Cleveland years ago was one that Rick and I still rank among our favorites.  I'd go see him again.  When I listen to him in my car, I actually feel privileged.  Can you imagine how his voice teacher feels?

*Sam's Goofy iPhone App--Sam is a tech junkie, but he does not have the newest iPhone with Siri, the built-in voice application that acts as the personal assistant who talks to you and answers your every whim.  So he does what every techie does, downloads the hack for it.  Now Sam's phone announces all of his incoming text messages, emails, and calls based upon how they are listed in his contacts list.  My all-time favorite is when FakeSiri announces an incoming missive from Sam's friend who is a professional rapper.  We could be sitting and enjoying a meal, watching a poignant moment on television, or having a serious discussion, and suddenly FakeSiri will declaim, in her robotic, white-girl voice, "Brandon Blizz Moneybagz Pride!"  (For those of you who click within the link, his lyrics are, like many of the genre, profane in spots and NSFW.) It just makes me laugh.

*The Camaraderie Of Others--I don't know if it is the writer or reader in me, or if it is even a "thing" at all, but I always find such satisfaction in listening to the easy back-and-forth of people who are comfortable with one another.  Sam and Jared, whose early relationship was difficult, are now great friends, and when they are together, it's like a Tom Stoppard play, but with more name-calling.  And, early this week, as our house was re-roofed, it was literally crawling with men from sunrise to sunset.  Sitting inside, I couldn't help but hear their banter as they hollered over the blatting compressors, pneumatic nailers, and the radio, which inexplicably played in competition with it all.  Oddly, their voices were what I could hear best through the din, filtered by the wood of the roof.  Aside from "Hey!" and "You talkin' to me?", which comprised the bulk of their conversation, they laughed and ribbed one another relentlessly as they traversed my roof, sometimes in a brief rain, and once, dodging a few wet snowflakes.  Rick did plenty of roofs in his early years as a contractor, so I know roofing is hard, backbreaking work, no matter what the weather.  I know they aren't having fun with the work.

Ah. Having fun with the work.  That's a Simple Pleasure too.  I hope those of you who are Still At It manage that one more often than not. I remember; it's not always easy.

But when I raise my wineglass--maybe tonight!--I will smile.  I will think of at least a few occurrences (the silence of roofing completed? finding Rick's glasses? my tarragon leafing out?) worth toasting.


  1. Mikey G.11:40 AM

    Dinner with a friend or two is one of my favorite things. Last night I took public transit out to Oakland to have dinner with an old friend at Zachary's, one of my favorite restaurants. It's just so nice to relax with someone over some really delicious food.

    Then afterward we did a Target run, which isn't always easy for us City Folk to accomplish (as most aren't accessible via public transit), and it was nice just to roam around and pick up some of the things I needed. I even found a cute pair of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish pajamas, which leads me to...

    Reading in pajamas before bed. It's so relaxing, and it's a nice way to wind down before going to sleep. Even if it was a long day, you can forget about it over a good book.

  2. I have a friend (in her 30s) who's gaga over Michael Crawford. She's a HUGE Phantom fan & he's her favorite Phantom of all.

    I'm thankful for the chance to surprise my sister-in-law with something goofy for her birthday - we usually do the gift card thing, but she gave me a great idea the other week (I'll post pics on my blog after I finish).

    I'm thankful that blogger in its infinite wisdom has added back the "Email follow-up comments to..." feature - I comment on too many blogs to remember to go back & read them all.

    I'm thankful for your honest critique of my poetry - I knew I had a great first line but I didn't really go anywhere with it. I'll revisit it later when I feel more inspired :)

    But I'm going to end this lovefest on a sour note: we did NOT have any snow whatsoever. :(

  3. Hey, Nance! Soooo looking forward to having T.I.M.E. One of your former peers is so unhappy that she keeps count of this school years' remaining days. As a result, I am aware of how many days I have left until the magic "R" (though counting days is not something I do as I am not unhappy but just ready to move on as it were). Anyhow, today I did what I tell the kids I never do - sat in a recliner and ate bon bons while I played around on the internet with the TV playing softly in the background... Actually, it's been fun....not something to do every day but something was good enough for today..., and THAT'S what cheers me about the future of your former teaching mate, LTB

  4. LTB--Hey! Thanks for including the Dept. and me in your Slothful Day. I am sorry that your Spring Break has to be this week during usual NEO Early April Weather. Sigh. I'm sure you're finding lots of Simple Pleasures as I did during this Final Year: tossing folders, laughing at the end of each session of parent conferences, knowing they will be your last, oh, so many things seem lighter, don't they? Enjoy this Parade Of Lasts. I know I did, every single day.

    Bug--Blogger tossed you into the Spam Can again, dear. No idea why.

    You have a great deal of talent as a poet. I am often struck by how you can crystallize an emotion or moment so succinctly and/or adeptly in a very apt metaphor. I guess I miss working with my writers, and when you made that one innocent comment, I used it as a foot in the door, so to speak. I will try to restrain myself, and only offer critique if you ask, and via email.

    Oh, and you can have the sloppy wet bits of snow that one writer called "snail" here today. A few NEO areas had snow and hail. Hee hee.

    Mikey--Hello! I love reading in bed, but I often have such huge, thick books, that it is strenuous. (Now here come the Kindle pushers.) Also, my hands tend to get cold, but I soldier on because, like you, I do enjoy it.

    Also like you, I do love meals out with my friends. A bunch of us ladies from school, some retired, some still At It, go out for dinner or drinks and appetizers as often as we all can. Sometimes we get a little loud, but mostly we talk, laugh, support each other, and have a good time.

    And your jammies sound great.

  5. Oh no - critique away! I don't mind at all!

    I don't know why I'm spam. Maybe because I like (turkey) spam. Or MAYBE it's because blogger knows that about 20% of the time I accidentally type my email address as danabut...

  6. Reading the Dep't of Nance - high on my list of Pleasures, simple and otherwise.

  7. I've been on a bus going nowhere forever. Fortunately, the fellow passengers are interesting and I love the view.

  8. V-Grrrl--Oh, it seems to me that you are going plenty of interesting places as you explore your myriad talents in art, writing, and photography. But I understand.

    Mary G--What a nice compliment! Thank you. Isn't it fantastic that we can access so much diverse reading material so conveniently now, thanks to the InterWebs? And 'meet' so many people? I really appreciate having an outlet such as this for my own writing and creativity. And to think that I actually have An Audience...! Now there's a Wonderful right there!

    The Bug/Dana__--I don't want to risk the ire of any of your Devoted And Admiring Followers by criticizing your poems in comments too carefully. You have amassed some of the most affectionate and cuddly commenters I've ever seen. Good for you! Let's leave it at this: if you'd ever like a critique from me as a creative writing teacher, just email me. There.

    And as far as SPAM--I like it too, whether it's turkey or original or lite. It's one of my guilty pleasures. I even wrote about it in another post, this one entitled Guilty Pleasures. That was years ago, before you joined us here. (Sadder times, I'm sure.)

  9. My life is in paragraph 2 most days— one hand unloading the dishwasher, another stirring the soup, and possibly a foot with a sponge tied to it cleaning up what slops on the floor from doing the other 2 simultaneously.

    On days when I have the drive to the uni, I love my NPR time. It's the only radio program I can listen to that relaxes me even when the topic is controversial. On the way home from work on Friday, I listed to Marie Howe reading "What the living do".

  10. Ortizzle--Sometimes, though, NPR gets way too esoteric for me. I break up frequently from NPR because they talk about things like Norwegian Folk Metal music and other obscure things that I simply cannot even try to get interested in.

    Last week, the roofers were here, the electricians put in a new panel and rewired the first floor and basement, and I had a mysterious malady wherein I was dizzy, weak, and very fatigued. Add to that Piper's extreme stress whenever any strangers are around and/or there are loud noises, (so he vomits and hides and has a hard time calming once everything is over) and I was starting to feel a little less "blessed."

    Be careful down there in TX with all that multi-tasking amid the gales and whatnot. You might stir up something more than just some soup.

  11. So now, dear friend, you are living out your favourite line of poetry.

    "For I have known them all already, known them all:
    Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;

    Or sips of Chardonnay; Even old Benjamin Franklin said that wine was "a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy." If we can have it out on our deck on a warm afternoon or evening, so much the better.

    You deserve the best retirement there is because you really cared a lot about what you were teaching others to care a lot about.

  12. Nancy--Oh, thank you! And although "Prufrock" is a quite mournful poem about the plaintive realizations of reaching a lonely middle age--among other things--that passage does fit rather aptly. Sigh. Now I will spend some gorgeous time today re-reading it, and perhaps some other of My Old Friends. It is to be sunshiny but cool, too cool for outdoors reading, and the electricians come back tomorrow. Thus, my home will not be much of a Poetry Sanctuary beyond the quiet of today, so your comment is very welcomed.

  13. Dear Nance,

    Is the "Defender of The Language" still on duty or has she also

    I have a question and would like to know if it would be welcomed by the DOTL.

    Please let me know..

  14. Nancy--The DoTL can never retire, nor can she ever rest. She is ever On Duty. Please know that your Language Queries are always welcomed. Simply click to email her or me at the link provided in my sidebar. A few other Language Issues have been brought to her attention, and a column is forthcoming.

  15. I retired from teaching in 1999, took another job a few years later and RE-retired in 2008. So far, I have found only one down side to retirement:

    When I worked, time went on forever ---well, at least from Monday through Friday (or when I was teaching, from the end of August to June.) In retirement, one day it is August and suddenly, it's May and I'm not sure how that happened. Time certainly flies while I'm having fun, but I haven't accomplished much. But, I served my time, so who cares?

  16. CJ--I know exactly what you mean. The weeks become very elastic and jumbled for me. Often, I lose Tuesdays altogether. Suddenly, it's Wednesday, then immediately Friday. Who even recalls February? I know it was in there somewhere...! I have taken to having a Fifties Mentality with household tasks: Monday is Floors Day, Tuesday is Market Day, etc. but even that doesn't always work out. I loathe structure now; still rebelling against such rigidity as a full-time teacher when even my bathroom breaks had to be regimented and shoehorned in. Not complaining about my lovely leisurely strangeness--far from it--but still acclimating in many ways.


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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