Thinkin’ about Trucks

In the world prior to COVID-19, I was sitting in our pickup truck while my husband made a much-needed dump delivery. As he emptied the junk from the bed, the cab swayed back and forth. I tried really hard to breathe through my mouth to avoid that dumpy stench. To pass the time, I thought about how I always feel when I sit in a truck.

Small. Foreign. Extremely not male.

I’ve been in trucks more than a time or two, but not so much as to make myself at home in them. I always feel kind of ill at ease in these behemoths. Climbing into them is a challenge. They’re usually dirty inside and out, and when I’m riding in one, I always seem to be going somewhere I don’t routinely go. A dump. A repo yard. A junkyard. A lumberyard. (Yards, in general, seem to attract trucks, don’t they?)

I’ve bounced down many an unpaved back road in a truck. I’ve hauled things. Moved things. Picked up things. Towed things. Delivered things. Every time I’m in a truck, it seems, I’m about to do something that I don’t find particularly fun. It will be dirty, sweaty, potentially painful and unpleasant, and quite likely long overdue. Either that, or I’m about to go somewhere I couldn’t normally go. Someplace rocky or steep or rugged or muddy.

Trucks often look like they’re about to fall apart, but at the same time they feel like the most reliable things on earth. That’s quite the contradiction. One thing’s for certain, though. I always feel like I’m about to get ‘er done when I’m in a truck.

Yes, indeed. And for some reason my Southern accent tends to come to the surface. I start to use words like “chores”. I start droppin’ my g’s.

I’m always ever-so-grateful to have use of a truck, because whatever it is I’m doing could not be done without one. And I know I’m utterly dependent upon the good will of its owner. That can sometimes be awkward. I’m sure truck owners get rather sick of being asked for favors.

No one has ever loaned me their truck. I’ve been told more than once that I wouldn’t be able to drive a truck or start a truck or stop a truck. I’ve always found that supremely insulting, and sexist, but I’m also secretly relieved, because I really don’t want to be bothered. I can’t imagine putting myself in one of those smelly, noisy, rattling things if I didn’t have to.

Love them or hate them, though, trucks sure can come in handy. That, and they always make me want to take a shower after interacting with them. Most cars don’t do that. So there you have it. Trucks promote hygiene.

Truck

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True Genius

I just finished reading this delightful little article that discuses one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s to-do lists from 1490. I’ve always been fascinated by Leonardo, because he had both an analytical, scientific mind and an artistic flair. That’s a rare combination indeed. It’s rather unusual for a genius to also be well-rounded.

What intrigued me most about his list was that the vast majority of the items thereon had something to do with asking someone else to teach him something. Whether it’s having a friar show him a medieval text, or a professor explain proportion, or an expert on hydraulics teaching him how to repair a lock, canal and mill, Leonardo, it seems, didn’t simply rely on his own mind. He asked questions. He opened himself up to learning something new. He realized that some people had pieces of the puzzle that he lacked.

Da Vinci’s obvious curiosity, coupled with an apparent humility, means that he seems to have mastered networking centuries before Facebook. Don’t know something? Find an expert and ask him or her. Drink from the font of human knowledge. Brilliant.

I’ve always believed that a true sign of genius is being able to make yourself understood by a variety of audiences. And I still believe that. But after reading this article, I think I’ll add to my philosophy by saying that it’s also a matter of knowing what you don’t know, and having the courage to consult with those who have other areas of expertise.

So, thanks, Leonardo, for once again expanding my horizons!

Leonardo Da Vinci

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The Sacred and Mundane in Relationships

A friend of mine used that phrase in one of her recent Facebook posts, and I immediately thought it would make a great title for one of my blog posts. I’m very relationship-focused at the moment, having just started a new one. I really, really want to get this right, so I’m putting a great deal of thought into it.

I believe it’s very important to respect that every healthy relationship will be multi-layered. Not everything is going to be deeply intimate and highly significant. It’s not all inside jokes and passion and the stuff of love songs. No. Some of it is driving to the post office and making chicken soup when your partner has a cold and cleaning his or her pet’s poop off your carpet. It’s delighting in each other’s company, but it’s also deciding what’s irritating enough to speak up about and what is better to simply adjust to.

I don’t know whether it’s the fact that I’m in my 50’s and I never expected to have this opportunity again, or the fact that I’ve lost someone quite abruptly in the past so I know how fragile it all can be, but one unique feature of this relationship, for me, is that the mundane seems to be every bit as sacred to me as the sacred is. I like shopping with him. I like doing yard work with him. I like cooking with him. I’m just as happy holding his hand while watching TV as I am going to a major event.

I’m hardly an expert, but I think the trick is to not take anything for granted. Even the basic stuff. Because the bulk of life is the basic stuff. Just the fact that it’s life and you have someone special to live it with makes it worth cherishing.

boy-girl-holding-hands-on-the-sidewalk

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Adult-y Chores

I was feeling petulant, so I did what petulant people do these days. I left a snarky post on Facebook:

Screenshot-2017-10-20 Barbara Abelhauser

“There’s nothing worse than adult-y chores,” I was thinking. I had to go to the dentist and get a filling. I had to have the rear struts on my car replaced. I had to go to a home improvement store and buy 3 huge bundles of fiberglass insulation to put on the under-floor of my house. I had to grocery shop and get gas. I was tired and grumpy just thinking about it. And to make things even more special, it was raining. I would have greatly preferred staying in bed and cuddling with my dog Quagmire.

Then a friend responded to my post, “Just remember what it was like being a powerless child. Those chores are ok by me.”

Whoa! Perspective!

That’s a very good point. I still go into a bit of a panic when I’m feeling powerless. And that was my status quo as a kid. Sometimes I felt like the only logical person in my world, and yet I wasn’t taken seriously. I could see disasters on the horizon, and I’d speak up, and not be heard. And then sure enough… catastrophe. It was frustrating.

I absolutely hate not being heard. I’ll take a visit to the dentist every day of the week, rather than go back to that powerless place of childhood. As an adult, I get to make choices. They may not always be fun choices, but at least they are mine. There’s an awful lot to be said for that.

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It’s Not That Complicated

I go to work. I come home. I start dinner. I sit on my back porch in my fifteen dollar red plastic Adirondack chair, and put my feet up on my brown plastic thrift shop stool.

My dog Quagmire jumps on my lap. Sometimes I ask him to tell me about his day. He’s never very forthcoming.

I enjoy the sunshine when I have it. I enjoy the rain, too. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I just sit and think about the fact that I’m not spending any money at this exact moment, and that’s a relief.

When dinner’s ready, I eat it, in my Adirondack chair, this time sans Quagmire, unless you count his baleful stare from the back stoop. (He’s been fed, but to hear him tell it, it’s never enough.)

I look at the lawn and tell myself I really ought to mow. I water my flowers. I do that much.

I go inside and put my dirty dishes on the growing pile in the sink. Maybe I take a bath. Maybe not. If I have a pimple, I pop it. Etc.

I change into a tank top and climb into bed. Maybe I watch Hulu. Maybe I check Facebook. Maybe I text a friend. Sooner or later I just spoon with Quagmire and go to sleep. As I drift off, I think about how lucky I am.

The next day, I wake up, get dressed, poach myself an egg, feed the dog and go to work. My life isn’t exciting. But it’s enough for me.

adirondack

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Doing the Boring Parts First

True confessions: I’m addicted to Magic Jigsaw Puzzles on my computer. (Don’t get too excited. I’ve confessed this on my blog before.)

I tend to do them while watching Youtube or Hulu or DVDs. Gone are the days when I can be completely engrossed by moving pictures. I need to be doing something with my hands at the same time. With age, I seem to be losing focus. Or patience. Or maybe I’m just losing it. (Whatever “it” is.) I’d take up knitting, but I’m trying to reduce the amount of “stuff” in my life.

But I’ve noticed a pattern of late. I always seem to do the “boring part” of the puzzle first. If the puzzle includes a huge swath of plain blue sky, for example, I get that out of the way before doing the colorful city skyline. I’d never given it much thought. It just has always been thus. Come to think of it, that’s how I break down work tasks and home chores as well.

Now that I’m examining this behavior, I’ve figured out that this is a combination of delayed gratification and rewards. If I “suffer” through the blue sky part, then I’ll feel like I “deserve” the skyline part. I’ve earned it through sacrifice. (How utterly White Anglo-Saxon Protestant of me.)

And, too, if I were to do the skyline first, I might lose interest and not finish the sky, and that would feel bad to me on some level. I like to finish things. Case in point, a book has to be really, really awful for me to stop reading it midway through. It’s the same with a movie. I always hold out hope that it will get better. Because of this, I’ve been subjected to a lot of really sub-par media in my lifetime.

Maybe, just once, I should allow myself to eat the frosting and not the cake. Maybe I should see what it feels like to color outside the lines. Maybe I should let someone else worry about the boring bits for a change. At the age of 52, perhaps it’s high time I start being a little more selfish. After all, I’m all I’ve got. For that I deserve a cookie, don’t I?

Magic Puzzles. March 20

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