Things That Make Me Happy (13 of 90)

I spend too much time in my head sometimes, time that would be better spent celebrating the goodness that surrounds me. I don’t think we do enough of that.

My parents, gosh darn it, are still alive and kicking it around the country. They are currently on their annual 3-month tour of the country. My friend Kris (who I will be seeing in California shortly) and I oftentimes remark that we have hit the collective parent lottery.

My sister sent me the most heartbreaking email yesterday, which is just another reason why I think I probably hit the sister lottery too. We are not as close as we’d like, but we’re not as far apart as it seems.

I’m sitting at my desk, staring our the window at a calm, peaceful winter’s night with a blanket of beautiful white snow on the ground. Say what you will about the world: when you take a second to block out the noise, the signal is amazing.

I live in a time when Geography is not a hindrance to personal relationships.

I live in a time when I can have friends scattered around the world and still SEE and HEAR them every day. On Monday, I spent an hour talking to friends in Germany and London. For free. Full video screen. Later that evening, I started making arrangements to meet – for the first time – my former assistant from India who is coming to New York in May. I can’t begin to explain how rich my life is because I have these technologies at my disposal.

I live in a time when, for less than $250, I can get on a plane and fly across the country for a weekend to see my friends.

I’m just a week into not smoking, but the inevitable “high” has returned. For years, I was athletic. I loved playing and running around. The last few years, the smoking caught up with me. Just a week away and I can feel that annoying rush of energy returning.

For some reason, (many of) my students have connected with me in the way that you hope as a teacher. I’ve had some amazingly influential teachers in my life, people who have changed and altered the course of my life in profound ways. I have not reached that level (and I may not), but I can “feel” a change with my students. (This includes an amazing visit by 5 former NKU students to Muncie and the best evaluations I’ve ever received. But that is only part of the story.)

On February 11, 2010 I will have 21 months of sobriety. I can’t begin to express my daily gratitude for that. And I can’t begin to express how transformative my sobriety has been this time. There are bad days for sure, but measured on the whole: I have received a wonderful second chance. This not something that I plan on blowing.

I have fortunate enough that I have a job that affords me the opportunity to spend a Year of my life reconnecting with the people who have meant the most to me. I grumble about the lack of time to do what needs to be done, but when I stop to think about my life: man, I remind myself to pipe down and be thankful.

For the first time in my life, I work in a place where I truly feel as though I fit in. The faculty is country-close. There isn’t a tremendous amount of hanging out or after-work shenanigans. It is, though, cordial and professional. I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more a part of something that I feel here. This is not something I take lightly.

My job is to work with words and stories. I am in love with both. Deeply.

My friends have all made amazing and beautiful babies. They are well adjusted. Happy. Joyous. Smart. Loving. Kind. They are the kinds of little people that make other people want to make little people. This is maybe the most amazing feat of human-kind.

There is peace in my head these days, a sweet silence that I can’t remember knowing before and can’t imagine living without. I feel centered in the universe in a way that, if I blinked out of existence tomorrow, I would do so knowing happiness.


There’s more, of course. Always more. But these are the things I’ve been thinking about today, going over in my mind. Amazed by the amazingness of the people around me, who allow me to play in their light. Who make my life better even if we don’t cross paths each day.

I’m stuck, if not daily than at least several times a week, when people tell me that my energy and happiness is infectious. Or visceral. Or whatever adjective they happen to use.

Because it wasn’t always that way for me. My days were filled with as many dark clouds as pink ones. And I now see, in others, the awfulness that can surround you when you are in that vortex. The one that you don’t even know exists.

I hope that my story helps those people as the stories that people who were once like me helped me. Even though I know better, I hold out hope in that way. That’s the difference between the clouds.

It’s an amazing time we live in.

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This newsletter is the outgrowth of The Downtown Writers Jam podcast. What that means is I will collect information about the authors I interview, book happenings around the Web, and other literary events that I find interesting. Without you, I'm just a crazy guy sitting in his office furiously screaming on the page for no reason.
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