Monday, October 24, 2011

Lesson learned (I hope).

My cat Claudia has this low, guttural meow that she reserves for very emotional occasions.  A typically quiet feline, this meow can signal one of two things:

"Get me out of this God-forsaken prison." (She did this a lot after we moved and had to lock her inside for a while)


"I have captured prey."

It's like the act of killing small creatures, always accompanied by a formal presentation to Ross and me, awakens her wild nature.  And if this meow weren't frequently accompanied by a mouse struggling to survive inside her clenched jaws, I would find it so cute, because it's her tiny house cat version of a proud lion roar.

This is what Claudia looks like when she's about to murder something:

Can you believe this fish is still alive?  That's Jeremy, looking pessimistic about his chances for longevity.

Anyway, I was feeling a little bit like Claudia yesterday.

Do you ever have one of those days when you know that the universe is trying to teach you something?  And it's as if the same scenario, or the same type of scenario, keeps repeating itself in the span of 24 hours so you will learn the lesson?

For me, Sunday's lesson was about patience.

Here's how it started: 

My husband, whom I had just shared an absolutely lovely anniversary dinner with the very night before, calmly told me that he thought we should consider some alternatives to my awesome Curtains in the Living Room Plan.  You don't need to know the details of Curtains in the Living Room Plan (boring); suffice it to say that I really, really wanted to try it out, and really, REALLY needed him to drill some holes in the wall for me so we could see how awesome it was!  

Let's put up the curtains right now!

 I just want to weigh all of our options here before we drill holes in the wall --

Right.  Now.

Because it could end up that we actually don't like it?  And maybe it's best to just kind of talk about other ways to utilize the curt--


Wait why are you getting all worked up about it?

[Stomping around outside]

Needless to say, I don't recommend this particular conversation tactic.

Now, I adore my husband.  He is a thoughtful planner, always quick to help me with my projects.  And he simply wanted to have a chat, like grown-ups do, about ... curtains.  That's all it was.  Curtains.  

But instead, I acted like a possessed demon.  Who needed things done this instant.  Why was that?

Shortly after that exchange, I decided I needed to go on a run.  Realizing that perhaps some zen would be helpful, I cued up some Zencast in my headphones and everything was going great. That is, until, the podcast ended and I tried to cue up a new one ... but my iPhone's 3G service wasn't having it.

"Please ... show me ... the list of available Zencasts," I seethed to the phone.  Nothing.

"I WANT -- to SEE -- which ZENCASTS there are," I whispered menacingly, while my phone struggled to retrieve the list, the computer Internet equivalent of a slow-loading screen.

"I JUST WANT TO FUCKING LISTEN TO THAT ONE ZENCAST ABOUT ANGER!  GOD!!" I screamed inside my mind, the irony of the moment not lost on me.  

Finally, sometime after my run, the list appeared.

Still feeling like I had energy to burn, I decided to go to silks post-run.  And on the way, grab a little lunch.  Tacos.  Healthy tacos!  I would totally eat healthy tacos like a healthy person.  

But in the car eating them ... I discovered a problem.

The egg whites / ground turkey filling inside my healthy tacos were too much for the flimsy corn (not flour!) tortilla to bear.  Instead of going back inside to ask for a fork, I angrily shoved bites into my mouth, thinking, I'm in a hurry!  I don't have time for forks!

This, as salsa-coated crumbles fell down my shirt and stained it.


I felt like yowling, à la Claudia.

Not because I was proud of myself for killing a small creature, but because I was experiencing something.  Something emotional, that needed to be addressed: Patience.

Or rather, my lack of it.

This is a picture of Ross and me on our honeymoon, circa 2007.  His parents arranged for us to go to Puerto Vallarta, and it was one of the most fantastic trips we have ever been on.

In this book I'm reading right now, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin talks about the stages of happiness (kind of like how we have stages of grief): These include anticipation of a happy experience, savoring it as it unfolds, expressing happiness, and recalling a happy memory.  By the end of the day Sunday, I so desperately wanted to get out of my gross impatience cycle, that I decided to call up a happy memory.  And you know what?  It worked.

This memory is pretty recent ...

When I came home from New York on Thursday this week, it was the exact day of our four-year wedding anniversary.  These goodies were waiting for me on the kitchen counter when I got home, from my sweet Ross.

Above is a card, with an ink rendering of the school where we met, and the exact location on the school grounds where we got married.  Where in the world did he find this gem? 

Next to it is a bag that came from Terra Toys, a toy shop around the corner from our house.  Every purchase from Terra Toys is placed inside a delightfully kid-colored bag, courtesy of Austin children.  I like the face that flower is making.

And inside the bag were two CD's, with music that is very dear to me.

The first is Tabu Ley Rocherau, a contemporary of Dr. Nico -- this African jazz guitarist from the 1960s whom Ross and I are obsessed with.  We discovered him shortly before living in India for a summer back in 2005, and listened to him incessantly.  Dr. Nico's music is island-y, laying-in-a-hammock stuff, but more importantly, its an instant portal for Ross and I back to India.  It reminds us of our time there, the soft daily rains, the eating with our hands, the elephant that lived down the street from our house.  And to be honest with you, most of the time, that whole experience feels like a dream.  But playing Dr. Nico somehow reminds us that it wasn't, that we actually did in fact do that, so strong is the tether between his songs and that one summer.

The second CD is a compilation from "our" band, Yo La Tengo.  Instead of being a prisoner of impatience ... I think I'd like to be the kind of prisoner Yo La Tengo has in mind.

(love you to pieces, husband.)

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