That last post was wearing some heavy boots, in the language of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which is a novel I am reading but very slowly because while it is beautiful the story itself has heavy boots, anyway let’s shift gears to an incomplete list of things that have been bringing me joy:

A Keurig coffee maker. During the summer John came home from a yard sale with an old clunky Keurig in tow and at first I was like THIS WASTEFUL AND HULKING BEHEMOTH ON MY LIMITED AMOUNT OF KITCHEN COUNTER SPACE I THINK NOT SIR but after a couple trial days I can’t help it, I love the damn thing. I love its cheery burble, its polite “More water please” message, the oddly satisfying double-pour strategy of 8 oz-plus-4 oz. I’m not sure why it’s somehow more delightful to go through the brewing process each time rather than pouring from a pot, but it IS. (I will say there’s no denying the expense and waste of the pods although reusable ones are an option.)

Schitt’s Creek. You’ve likely either been a fan of this show for long-ass time or you’ve decided it’s not for you but if you’re in the latter category and you’ve only seen a couple episodes let me be the 900th person to encourage you to stick with it a bit longer because maybe the magic will eventually come and you, like me, will eventually be doling out the final unseen shows with the sad knowledge that the end is nigh, like the last few M&M’s from one of those bags that says SHARING SIZE and you’re just like LOOK I DIDN’T ASK TO HAVE MY PORTION CHOICES JUDGED HERE.

You’re Wrong About. I am super in love with this podcast even though they changed their theme music recently which was a damn shame. The hosts are much younger and smarter and funnier than me so I resent them a tiny bit but they are also, like, my best friends?

Dyeing my hair. After decades of having my hair professionally highlighted I started coloring it rose gold this summer, starting with a color mask from Moroccanoil and moving on to a variety of semi-permanent brands before settling on Overtone. My hair is usually somewhere between bright reddish pink and faded rhubarb, depending on washout, and the cool fingerpaint glop of working in the dye never fails to deliver a satisfying combo of nostalgia (those ‘90s era Manic Panic vibes) and anticipation.

A cordless vacuum. I just went for the Dyson v11 and did very little comparison shopping so my experience in this product category is limited but let me tell you that a light, cord-free vacuum is a LIFE CHANGER. Honestly I cannot recommend it enough, particularly for high-traffic pet-clogged areas. Cordless 2020: make vacuuming great for the first time ever.

Bubble baths. I have ended my day with a bath for years and years now, it’s become a sort of start-fresh-tomorrow smudge stick for my brain. I love a good bubble bath product, which can be weirdly hard to come by (even Bath & Body Works, which has bath in its name, only had one in their mega-selection of shower gels, and now when I look online it’s not even listed there) (so if you come across a bottle of “In the Stars” jump on it, it smells terrific) (I also highly recommend their “Sugared Snickerdoodle” candle, man oh man) (also their “Sweater Weather” hand soap OKAY I’M DONE), although here in Oregon you can buy CBD-infused bath salts. I am unconvinced they bring on any sort of effect aside from “I paid more for these so they must be superior” but I occasionally toss them into my nightly reboot-soup like dimes in a mall fountain: can’t hurt, might help.

What’s been lightening your boots lately?

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My car starts alerting me when the gas tank is below a certain amount, I don’t know the specifics but it’s definitely a conservative system built around the sort of person who will stubbornly keep driving, enduring the startup low fuel alarm BLEEEEEEEP again and again while thinking “Oh, it’s just a quick trip to the grocery store” until the needle is finally hovering in an area that cannot be ignored.

I feel like I have been living in that orange empty-tank zone for a longish time now, aware of a distant clamor of warning tones but sitting idle because hey! There is no gas to be found.

It’s hard to write because I feel empty of words, corked up by all the things I can’t talk about while carved clean of lighter fare. It’s hard to read because I feel incapable of focusing, my mind drawn to far more compelling activities like staring blankly out the window. It’s hard to think about anything but the same hit parade of sorrow and worries that’s been on repeat since last March.

There is, in the mess of all of this, a whole lot to be thankful for. I try to think about things like that, I even have a little gratitude journal app that prompts me to jot down “3 AMAZING THINGS THAT HAPPENED TODAY” and I dutifully fill it in each night even if I end up typing “I WASHED MY HAIR.” (This is actually a fairly significant and dare I say even amazing occasion because my default scalp status these days is at least 90% Batiste.)

There are also things to be hopeful for, of course. I’m hopeful about having a new president and a vaccine, I’m hopeful that 2020 will truly stand out in the history books and that we aren’t just staring down a new year’s barrel of More, But Worse. I’m hopeful we all find more and more chances to fill our tanks from all sorts of sources as we endure and adapt and even flourish.

But mostly I am ready to move on from the orange-light deadzone, this long airless stall of me.

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