I haven't written much of late.
Part of that is a function of my work schedule. I was asked once again to work nights, this time for the week leading into Thanksgiving and the week recovering from it.
I don't mind. Actually, as I think I've said before, virtually everything about the night shifts themselves I find enjoyable. From the rides in and home, when I have the streets practically to myself, to the trust placed in me to work utterly without supervision...the only thing that would make night shifts better is the ability to listen to music while I worked. (Can't; they think it's a health and safety issue. They think I'll get so caught up in my music I'll forget to look around me and I'll be run over by the floor scrubber. Shit, I think they know me.)
One of the nicest things about a straight night schedule is a night off. I've worked six varying degrees of gruelling shifts in a row; my left ankle is fairly badly swollen and I'm beyond stiff (get your mind out of the gutter...) Tonight, between bouts of puttering in the kitchen and laundry, I'm going to write some, listen a lot. relax, and try to be thankful.
I guess first of all I should be thankful I have a job.
I've pigeonholed myself something fierce being in retail. People tell me I should go out and get something that pays a little better, and I would...if I had the resume to do it. I know I'm chronically underestimated. I try not to let it bother me anymore. My job is not my life's purpose.
I've been way, way, up on my employer and way, way down. Two and a bit years in, I've stepped off the mood swing and just accepted the place for what it is: retail. Walmart throws its own wrinkles at it, and you can get caught in the folds of one of those wrinkles if you're not careful, but by and large it's just retail. To borrow a saying I can't stand, "it is what it is". (What else would it be? What it isn't? There's a Zen koan for you. "It is what it isn't.")
I can't be thankful for work without singling out Haley, my putative boss. I was her boss for a short time when was made meat department manager. Now she's mine. We get along quite well, and she's been putting in yeoman's hours helping everything run smoothly. Coupled with the rest of the help I've been drawing from all over the store, Haley and I have made this Thanksgiving much more of a success than the last two. Out of stocks were minimized this year. There are a couple of things we have far, far too much of, but we'll deal. Thank you, Haley, for being someone I look forward to seeing every day.
At home, I'm beyond thankful. One of my work colleagues -- I'm out to a limited degree at work -- told me, with unmistakeable envy in her voice, that I'm living the life of Reilly. It's hard not to agree, and so I deflect: so is Eva. I won't dwell overmuch on this. Suffice it to say I love and am loved, and it's wonderful. Thank you to Eva, to Mark, and to Kathy.
As always, I am thankful for my friends. There are vestiges of little Kenny deep within me that still wonder how I've managed to attract such amazing people in my life. I must have done something right, somewhere. Thank you all.
I try to be thankful for the little pleasures, of which I have a multitude. The next time you're putting on fresh socks, stop for just a moment and realize how good that feels. Savour your food. Be thankful for the day and your presence in it. Wear the grubby clothes you keep because they're comfortable as all get out. Love your pets. Feel each sun ray and raindrop. Gather enough of these little pleasures into each day and the whole day becomes pleasurable, or at least more bearable.
A couple of those little pleasures tonight. I am currently listening to John Pickard's GAIA SYMPHONY performed by Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag. It's a 65-minute long tour de force for brass band. Next up after this album -- if I don't decide to listen to it again -- is currently ranked #6 in sales in the iTunes store: the Vinyl Café's Unreleased Stories (the album title is a lie; the stories have now been released!) RIP Stuart McLean. You were a Canadian treasure and it's going to be good to hear your voice again.
In this age of Trump, it's harder and harder to be thankful for the world outside. It's much simpler to cocoon, to practice the Danish art of hygge. The word is related to the English word hug and it's maybe best described as creating an atmosphere that hugs you. (Article very much worth your time.) That said, it's vitally important to engage, to do what we can to minimize the damage "out there".
It's exhausting work, emotionally. But we should be thankful, both that we have the capacity to perform it, and that so many others are willing and able to perform it with us. There is great evil in high places, but we are not complacent. I'm gratified that my American friends are safe...one's relocated to Ecuador, while another is back in California, a state that is making a serious case to secede, in spirit if not in fact. That leaves two friends in Pennsylvania whom I care about...Laurel, Steve, if things deteriorate much further in the years ahead, you should come north...
Be grateful our country hasn't succumbed as yet to the forces of hatred...and let's do our part to make sure it doesn't. I'll be writing about Jagmeet Singh eventually; now isn't the time. But whatever your politics, you might consider being thankful that we just elected the first person of colour to head a national political party. It means something.
I'm thankful that for the first time in my life, I can write a sentence thus:
"The Toronto Maple Leafs are contenders"
...and not be dismissed as a raving lunatic. There will be a hockey blog coming soon too, dad, cool your Jets--just like the Leafs did in the opening game, 7-2, ha-ha.
And finally, I'm thankful for you, dear reader: without you, I'd just be scribbling to myself, here. Thank you for reading.