Recently, Elizabeth writing at Letters From A Small State issued a challenge to make a list of 50 things that make me feel normal.  As I sit here on my couch under a pile of blankets, shivering and wondering how SKIN CAN HURT, I feel decidedly abnormal, and figure that now would be a great time to compile my own list.  Like Elizabeth’s, mine aren’t in any particular order.  Further, I can’t really say that I ever feel ‘normal’.  Mine is a sliding scale.  So, without further ado, I commence with the listing.

1.  The Beach.  This one is in a particular order.  It’s at the top of my list.  It will always be at the top of my list.  At the beach, my soul settles back into my body and my mind is quiet.  I know no pure joys until my toes sink into warm sand.  At the beach, I imagine that I experience life like the rest of the world on a normal day.

2.  Exercise.  At the end of a hard workout, I feel accomplished and strong and healthy.  Most of the few moments where I feel good about my body happen after a workout.  It feels especially good lately since I’ve quit smoking.

3.  Books.  I might give up sex if it came down to intercourse or reading.  Well, really, there’s no might about it.  I would.

4.  Music.  My life is kind of defined by music.  Whether I’m sitting at Caffe Lena on a Thursday listening to my Dad and his friends play or on a marathon night of dancing at a club absorbing Paul Van Dyk or Armin Van Buren, I am moved by music.  Folk, Blues, anything acoustic, Pop, Punk, Classical, Rock, Jazz…I really really love it all.  My life has a schizophrenic soundtrack.

5.  Travel.  Road trips.  Adventures.  I am enthralled by the NEW.  The unseen.  I collect experiences.

6.  Correspondence.  The handwritten kind.  Nothing feels so special as HAVING MAIL.  When someone was thinking about you.  It’s warming.

7.  My dog.  There are times when I love her above anything and anyone else in the world.  She doesn’t talk back.  And she’s never as happy as she is when I walk into a room.  It’s unconditional.

8.  Down or down alternative blankets.  Queen size.  White.  Puffy.  Soft.

9.  Loose leaf Earl Grey with Bergamot.

10.  Cannoli from San Remo.

11.  Laughter.  The doubled over, can’t breathe, Yes-I-Just-Snotted-On-My-Sweater, uncontrolled laughter.

12.  Antique stores.

13.  Flip flops, sundresses and oversized sunglasses.

14.  A tan.  The sun on my shoulders.

15.  Wakeless, straight through, Best-Dreams-Ever, perfect temperature, windows open with no street noise just nature, SLEEP.

16.  Tattoos.

17.  Making snow angels while slightly ennebriated.

18.  The fall in upstate NY.  Minus the tourist leaf-peepers.

19.  The end of a hike.

20.  Safety Meetings.

21.  Window-rattling, daylight-out-of-night, torrential-sheets-of-rain Thunderstorms.

22.  The moment in the winter, at a friend’s camp, when you’ve arrived about 2 hours earlier and the woodstove is cranking out the heat, when all the snow on the slanted tin roof melts JUST ENOUGH and it goes sliding off to the ground.

23.  Sailing.  With someone else shouting out orders.

24.  Friends.  The ones who’ve seen me at my worst, but love me anyway.

25.  Photo albums.

26.  The J Crew Holiday catalogue.

27.  A good poo.

28.  Windchimes.

29.  Cooking for large groups of people.  Saying “nope” when asked if I need any help.  Watching as everyone serves themselves.  Finally getting a plate of my own.  Not feeling bad about making everyone else clean up.

30.  My family.  Twisted, odd, off-kilter, functionally dysfunctional, delightfully deranged….

31.  Roller coasters.

32.  Shopping.  For bargains.  At off price stores like Marshall’s or the Rack.  Or flea markets.  Or rummage sales.  The prospect of finding a little treasure amidst the junk.

33.  A Starbuck’s grande coffee frappucino light with no whip and a caramel drizzle on the inside of the cup on Friday.

34.  Sephora

35.  Olive Green.

36.  Vodka sodas with lime twists.  And whiskey.  And a good Pale Ale.  And Malbec.

37.  Sweaters.

38.  Tiny, chewy, cinnamon candies.

39.  Crossword puzzles.

40.  The stained glass in old old old churches where the light filters through and illuminates the dust motes in shafts over ancient, oiled pews.

41.  Wildflowers.

42.  The Olympics.

43.  A beautifully wrapped gift.

44.  The smell of blooming lilac trees on dewy, early spring mornings.

45.  My mother’s scalloped potatoes and ham.

46.  When my cat decides that it’s “exercise time”.

47.  Antique jewelry, especially cocktail rings.

48.  Other people’s problems.

49.  Open air markets.

50.  One to grow on.

12 thoughts on “Closer to Fine

  1. This is so wonderful. I love this idea, and can certainly relate to many things on your list. ESPECIALLY “The smell of blooming lilac trees on dewy, early spring mornings.” Ahhh, that takes me back to a happy place as a child. Sp delightful.

    PS- I hope you feel better. (Was wondering where you’ve been.)

  2. Lilacs! We had lilacs at our wedding. I love them. But my favorite is “When my cat decides it’s exercise time.” Cats. WTF? they are so beyond awesome when they do that. Also, I have to comment on “The Olympics.” Colin and I watched the 2004 Summer Olympics on the BBC the first month we lived in London. Holy crap-ola! They showed sports on the BBC I didn’t even know they did in the Olympics, like badminton and kayaks slalom and GIANT kayak slalom and every sort of horse jumping you can imagine. What DIDN’T they show? SOFTBALL! Naturalemente! So my recommendation for enjoying Olympics even more… watch it in another country!!

  3. Oh, man. Love, love, love these. The snow falling off the roof, and all the stories buried in these. Your normal might be on a sliding scale, but it’s lovely to read about.

  4. What captivated me more than anything else was how you explained your list. I had time on my hands due to the END OF THE WORLD SNOW STORM, and I started on my list. I’m so going to copy your idea of explaining some things.

    I’m also impressed that you had the guts to admit to a good crap…

    Get well soonest.

  5. This is fabulous. May have to jump on the idea…I love so many of yours.

    I’m going to leap over to Letters from a Small State, first, though. New person’s “stuff” to read!

    Hope you are feeling better. I laughed out loud at your tweet about teaching kids where Afghanistan was, and how big that was of you, considering they gave you the plague! Lots of tea, warm baths to you, along with best wishes!


  6. “40. The stained glass in old old old churches where the light filters through and illuminates the dust motes in shafts over ancient, oiled pews.”
    Beautiful, Jen.

    I also feel like the beach brings me “home”. Why I’m stuck in the midwest and only get to the beach every 5 or 10 years is beyond me. (Actually, it is for my son, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world:)) I love this list.

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