On patience and other things

I feel beautiful today.

Not for any particular reason. I mean, I guess partially because I’m wearing a new dress. I bought it online from a new-to-me retailer – Boden, who makes British-inspired clothes for tall people (as well as normal and kid-sized folks too!). The dress is pink and flowery, somewhat out-of-the-ordinary of what I normally wear, which is exactly why I bought it. I’ve gotten a lot of comments on it, people saying I look very spring-ready, cheery and bright, which makes me happy.

I’ve also been actively working on being patient with myself. I was listening to a podcast yesterday about a man with anxiety who developed an online bot to quash the scary voice in his head. It made me think about all of the negative things I tell myself on a daily basis, about how unproductive I am or how I failed to work out enough or eat right or how what I’m doing is wrong, wrong, wrong. Even the stupidest things I’d berate myself for. If I missed a streetlight even, Sarah, you should have walked faster, you should have left sooner, just so you could make this one light.

It dawned on me that I’d never tell the people I love those things – so why am I telling them to myself?

Now every time it pops up, I put an end to it right away. There’s only so much I can do to better myself, but this constant pessimistic soundtrack is doing nothing to help. If anything, it’s making it worse.

So yes. New dress, less negativity. I’m also listening to a playlist my sister told me about (Coffee House Blend on Spotify, if anyone’s interested) full of singer-songwriter/indie tunes and not rushing through work. It’s sunny outside, and I get to see Davis tonight. I have so much to be thankful for. Life’s looking pretty good at the moment.

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Fall

I woke up this morning and suddenly – it was fall.

That rainy Seattle haze is back, and I’m actually starting to get excited about it. The morning is still dark and a little dreary, and there’s an implied temperature drop (“implied” just because it hasn’t happened yet – it’s supposed to be in the 70s again tomorrow).

This is the Seattle that I remember signing up for: the mostly gray, constantly wet city, filled with the sounds of tires hitting soaked pavement and puddles being splashed through. Where you shouldn’t go anywhere without your raincoat and a couple more layers than you think you’ll need.

I remember being excited about the fall last year. I couldn’t wait to drink pumpkin spice lattes and make apple crisp every other weekend. But while summer this year has been gorgeous, it hasn’t felt like summer to me. My California self is demanding a summer with heat that’s too hot to bear, that radiates through your shoes when you stand on the pavement for too long and requires that you spend your days indoors. That doesn’t happen here, and in a small and kind of twisted way, it makes me sad.

So I feel hopeful with this glint of excitement for fall. I was starting to feel a loathing for a dark and cold winter, but now I’ve got a tingle of joy that it’ll be nice after all.

I can feel it all fading away.

This morning, I stumbled upon a video made by the study abroad program I went on about Torino. Cue nostalgia, naturally. So I look up the school on Google Maps and am transported back to my walk to school.

Lingotto. Via Millefonte. The park in front of the school. The tabacchi by our house where we’d buy our biglietti for the metro.

But I look for our local gelato shop, and I can’t remember what street it’s on. I find our apartment complex, but I don’t know if we lived in the first or second building. I can feel my memories slipping away, like I’m trying to keep water in my cupped hands but it’s slowly trickling out.

It makes me sad. Sad that I don’t remember these things as much as I used to. Sad that such a wonderful, exciting, even crucial life experience is disappearing so rapidly.

I hope to visit again soon, and maybe then it will all come back to me. But for now, Google Maps’ street view will have to suffice.

Papa

My grandpa died early Sunday evening. The event hit me hard – harder than I think any death ever has, even though, at the point that he died, it was somewhat expected. I feel very fortunate that I got to spend as much time with him as I did, both in my 22 years and this past week while he was in the hospital (see my previous post). However, I had to leave for school Sunday morning – a drive that tore me up inside: I was fighting the urge to turn around much of the time. And I still feel like maybe I should have. I know I shouldn’t dwell on it, but I kind of regret the decision to come back here now. Being alone – without my family, without Davis, without friends – was almost unbearable. But this post isn’t about me – it’s about Papa, on what would have been his 84th birthday.

I have always been close to my mom’s parents – we even lived with them for about a year and a half while we were remodeling our house. I have so many fond memories of him – from him picking us up from school when we were little to sneezing after almost every meal. For the first 10 or so years of my life, we’d go to my grandparents’ house for dinner every Sunday night. My aunts and uncles would be there too. It was like they all raised me: a group effort, to help the oldest grandchild grow up.

In addition to being an awesome grandpa, he had a lot of accomplishments under his belt. He served in the Navy and graduated from Harvard Business School. He was the president of a waste disposal company, then of a woodworking firm. He was really smart and, while a quiet guy, he had a dry sense of humor and got those “zingers” in when we least expected it. He battled cancer twice – first skin cancer, then lung cancer 15+ years later, which ended up taking his life. His faith and his family were most important to him. I really aspire to be like him.

He was the rock of our family. He loved spaghetti and smoked turkey and hated it when his food was cold. He’d let us “Heimlich” him and would turn up the TV when we were being too loud. We’d go on walks together (well, my sister went with him more than I did, but I still did sometimes!). It was his voice on the answering machine, and he’d politely tell sales callers “I’m hanging up now” before putting down the phone. He read more than anyone I know and was never spotted without a newspaper.

I turned on some jazz tonight – it was his favorite music, and we’d often hear it echoing through the house. It was like I was transported back to their family room. I wanted to dance around to it like I used to when I was little. I could almost see him, sitting in the corner rocking chair, reading his paper, and hear the bustle of my family talking in the kitchen while preparing dinner.

I felt like baking, so I’m making scones and plan on sticking a candle in one and singing him happy birthday even though he’s not here. I’ve felt pretty good all day (a great improvement from yesterday) but I still feel empty and sad when I think that he’s no longer with us. It’s hard to imagine the dinner table at my grandparents’ house without him. I won’t ever get to see him working in his yard again with his white hat on, or tending the fire at Christmas. He won’t be able to come to my wedding.

I’m trying to keep my chin up, and I’m going home again later this week. I miss him already. Papa wouldn’t want me to be sad; he’d want me to work hard in life and have faith in something greater. He’d want me to know that he’s okay, and that I’ll get to see him again one day.

Happy birthday, Papa. I love you!

Breaking Bad

Davis talked me into finishing Breaking Bad last night.

Wait, let me start over: Davis talked me into watching Breaking Bad three weeks ago, and then into finishing it last night.

We made a deal, over our anniversary weekend. Since he first watched the show earlier this school year, my wonderful fiancé has not been able to stop talking about it. References and quotes would pop up everywhere, and he’d jokingly admit that he was very much like Peter Griffin in this scene of Family Guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIom3LSbB0I

So, after hearing about it so much and so often, I decided to give it a whirl. I mean, he’d shown me clips and full episodes (my first two were “End Times” and “Face Off”, in an effort to get me interested – he regrets it a little now), played me songs from it, you name it. So I said I’d watch it, but not without a deal: he has to watch one of my favorite shows, Avatar: The Last Airbender.

While my watching experience took off (I watched four and a half seasons in three weeks), his didn’t, really: I think he’s still in early season one. 😦

But yes, anyway: Breaking Bad. I’m very much gaining Peter Griffin’s mindset myself. And the odd thing is, I can’t really tell you why. I mean, it’s a great show – it’s got awesome character development and intriguing plot points. But the premise itself is not something that I would naturally like on my own. To be honest, I really had to push myself through the first four or so episodes (full of (spoiler alert) killing people, cooking meth, and decomposing bodies in acid and watching them fall through the ceiling of houses). After that, though, I couldn’t stop. Time would slip away when I turned it on. Afternoons were spent dumbly staring at my computer screen (thanks, Netflix). I’d start watching an episode while eating dinner, and the next thing I knew, it was midnight and time to go to bed.

And then came the talking about it. I couldn’t help myself to text Davis every episode about what was happening. “Excuse me, Marie, but they’re minerals.” “Hank’s such a boss right now!” “Did he poison her?!” Every little thing got a response. And I mention the show to almost everyone too: “I’m watching Breaking Bad and this reminds me of some part in some episode…”

But I think maybe the thing that makes the show so, erm, relatable is the fact that everything that’s happening is taking place right under the surface of “real life.” Meth production and distribution could be happening here, now, and no one (read: I) would ever know it. I see RVs now and wonder if they’re being used to cook. I pass a dark blue Jeep and think it’s the DEA. People loitering at parks or casually sitting on benches suddenly don’t seem so innocent anymore.

And in addition to all of this, the main character Walt turned from being a lovable, wonderful, providing father and husband to a despicable criminal. In contrast, his partner Jesse went from being a drug-dealing meth-head to a smart, charismatic guy. This change is kind of unlike anything I’ve seen in a TV show before. It’s part of what’s hooking me too.

So now the big question is, who will win? And who do you want to? The show’s winding down – this is its last season – so something’s guaranteed to happen. I guess we’ll have to wait til July to see.

More on the Sandwich Quest: Ms. Mustard’s

I decided to venture on today on my quest for finding the tastiest sandwich in my fine city (see my previous post for a better explanation of what, exactly, I’m doing). So after yoga this morning and an episode of Breaking Bad (my newest TV obsession – thanks, Davis), I went and checked out Ms. Mustard’s.

Ms. Mustard’s is a sandwich chain that just opened up a restaurant two blocks from my apartment a few weeks ago. I hadn’t heard much about it as far as its food goes, so my expectations of it were minimal to say the least. I am happy to report that I was quite pleased with my experience as a whole. The staff was very nice and helpful. The store had a bowl of candy for the taking to munch on while you’re waiting for your sandwich to be made (not exactly the healthiest option, I realize, but the peanut butter cup I had was tasty 🙂 ). I got their signature sandwich and it was really good! It had chicken breast, bacon, avocado, and jack cheese on a crunchy baguette. And it was toasted (warm meat, yay!). To top it all off, each sandwich comes with a freshly-baked chocolate chip cookie. What more could you ask for?

While the sandwich options were much more, erm, normal than Sally’s, I have to say that I was very pleased with Ms. Mustard’s. The sub was delicious and everything that I could have hoped for. I’m definitely planning on going back if I want a quick and tasty bite.

(Oooh, and I just learned they have an online ordering and delivery option! This just got better! 🙂 )

Lazy Holidays

These past few days can be characterized by baggy t-shirts and pajama bottoms, slippers, hot tea, and the desire to spend the entire day reading (which I’ve given into more than I care to admit). Yes; it’s been one of those weekends.

Fall, it seems, is upon us, but the only thing that actually says about where I live is that the average temperature is 68, not 72. We’ve started turning the heater on at night, and I keep a sweatshirt handy.

I don’t get very many of these. I’ve spent almost every other weekend this quarter driving from one place to the next, visiting family or Davis or other friends. Or I’ve been counting away the hours between delayed flights while reading or squeezing in classwork here or there. I’ve been kept very busy preparing for interviews and planning our wedding. So, when a weekend comes up where I have nothing on my schedule, admittedly I don’t really know what to do with myself.

Not that I’m complaining – it’s nice to have a second to breathe every once in a while. But to be honest, this goes to show me – again – that I truly function better when I have a thousand things going on. As tiring as it is, I need to be able to squeeze in homework between my countless other activities in order to guarantee that it gets done in a timely manner.

So here I sit, with statistics to be studied and a paper to be written, and it’s Monday. I think, before I get going on that, I’ll read some more.