November 22, 2001
Stuff I'm Thankful For 2001

*FootNotes* (and the makers of Alka Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine) proudly present ...

The Fourth Annual
Stuff-I'm-Thankful-For List!

(Eight things i'm thankful for this year
... plus a couple of things i'm NOT-so-thankful for
but what are you gonna do?)

  • Marriage.

    I'm thankful to be married this year. I figure I'd better start out with this one, right off the bat, since we all know it's coming anyway.

    I'm thankful that our wedding was sweet and simple and lovely -- truly the wedding of our dreams -- thanks to a lot of people to whom I owe an unending debt of gratitude.

    I'm thankful that David and I were married in the presence of so many people we love. I'm thankful that the things that went wrong that day didn't go too far wrong, and that the things that went right were positively breathtaking in their rightness. I'm thankful that we laughed as much as we cried on our wedding day. I'm thankful that the memory of that special day will burn brightly in our hearts for the rest of our days together.

    I'm thankful that I'm married to my very best friend: someone who makes me feel brave even when my resolve (and my knees) are wobbly ... someone who makes me feel worthwhile even when I've screwed up again ... someone who makes me feel hopeful even when I'm mired in gloom and hormones.

    I'm thankful that this marriage is more about possibilities than inevitabilities.

    I'm thankful that this marriage feels more like a beginning than an ending.

    And I'm thankful that I'm thankful to be married. There was a time when I didn't believe it was possible to feel that way.

          *      *      *      *      *

  • The American flag.

    I'm sorry and sad and embarrassed that it took a tragedy of such terrible magnitude for me to realize how much I love my country ... how thankful I am to live here ... and how profoundly I can be affected by its familiar symbols of patriotism, freedom and courage.

    (On the other hand, I am so tired of "God Bless America" -- particularly as rendered by that famous CANADIAN, Celine *I Never Said I Was Retiring Forever, Did I?* Dion -- that I could scream. Can we please start beating another song to death now? I vote for "Lust For Life.")

          *      *      *      *      *

  • Glucosamine supplements.

    We may have put bike-riding on the back burner for the season, but my knees are still getting a SERIOUS work-out, every single day.

    Bending down to stuff large manila folders into bottom file drawers. Stooping to pick up fourteen pound boxes of dirt. Squatting to refill the Xerox paper tray.

    I'm spending more time on my knees these days than The Pope and Divine Brown put together.

    Which is why I'm so thankful for glucosamine supplements.

    Even while we were still riding -- during the waning days of summer/earliest days of autumn -- I felt the difference immediately, after just a couple of weeks of taking the glucosamine. My knees didn't hurt as much, during OR after an extensive ride. I had greater flexibility of movement. I could make it up the easy hills without bursting into tears.

    And I didn't have to make David push my bike up the not-so-easy hills.

    So I'm thankful for discovering glucosamine. It made bike-riding more fun this year ... and it will make me less likely to try and find excuses to get out of it next year.

          *      *      *      *      *

  • Intelligent Hosting.

    My new web host and I are still in the honeymoon stage of our relationship: we're as nice to each other in private as we are in public, we return each others' phone calls/e-mails immediately and we have yet to have a relationship-threatening disagreement of any kind.

    (Check back with us in a year.)

    And no, I didn't pick Intelligent Hosting because of its name. If that were the case, I would have signed up with 'We Almost Never Put You On Hold!' Hosting Service ... or 'We Love Your Website So Much, We Want to Pay YOU To Live Here!' Hosting Service. I picked Intelligent because they met all the most important criteria: they were in my price range ... they offered the services I needed, without forcing me to pay for services I didn't need ... their Customer Support Department is demonstrably quick and responsive ... and they explained things in terminology even *I* could understand. No more parallel flange indicators.

    Plus they aren't my OLD web host.

    Having *FootNotes* housed in a secure and reliable new home, finally, frees me to worry about all of the other, more important website-related stuff: whether or not to prune the archives ... how to fit a little more e-mail-writing time into an already cramped writing schedule ... whether Santa can afford to bring me that digital camera I'm craving, or whether we're going to have to be content with another year of muddy Polaroids.

          *      *      *      *      *

  • Alka Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine.

    For a recovering alcoholic/drug addict/hypochondriac like me ... this is as close to stoned as it gets, anymore.

    For the past two or three nights running, I've come home feeling raggedy and congested and physically threadbare ... as though I've got a major head cold waiting in the wings, just looking for the perfect opportunity to swoop in and ruin our Thanksgiving weekend. So rather than spend another night tossing and turning and groping for Kleenex and nasal spray at 2 a.m., I've been chugging down a little Alka Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine, just before bedtime. It not only knocks me on my butt about twenty minutes after I drink it -- fifteen, if I only had vegetables for dinner -- but right up until the moment I lose consciousness, it helps remind me of all the things I really hated about getting high.

    The loss of mental and physical control. That foggy, disconnected feeling. Giggling. Drooling. Trails. Scalp tingle.

    Plus I feel sort of stoopid and tired and headachey for a little while the next morning, right after I get out of bed. It's not as bad as a real hangover, of course ... but it's close enough to remind me how THANKFUL I am that I don't have REAL hangovers any more.

          *      *      *      *      *

  • The woman who had my job before me.

    Thank you, Fiona.

    Thank you for being good at our job: for setting up the file system in orderly fashion, for labeling everything, for maintaining a good relationship with the office supply vendors, for leaving me a detailed and comprehensive "How To" book. It has made transitioning into the position a whole lot easier.

    But mostly I want to thank you for not being SO good at our job that you're all they ever talk about. You know what I mean? Thank you for not being an impossible act to follow. Thank you for screwing up occasionally (and for leaving evidence of your screw-ups behind: the condensation reports are all filed backwards, and you're still getting personal e-mail from "Chuck.")

    And while I'm giving thanks for job-related stuff, allow me to add the following: I'm thankful for my new job ... I'm thankful for my new paychecks ... and I'm especially thankful for my new boss.

    I'll bet SHE doesn't give me a jar of spaghetti sauce for National SecraTerri's Day next year.

          *      *      *      *      *

  • Getting older.

    I wasted my teen years. We all do. I took all the good things for granted -- shiny hair, sharp eyesight, an identifiable waistline -- while expecting that the bad things -- acne, alcoholism, a complete lack of life goals/job skills/plans for the future -- would just sort of magically fix themselves, without any effort on my part.

    (They didn't.)

    My twenties went by in a blur of saddle blocks, Sesame Street and Swanson's Frozen Pot Pies. I don't regret any of it -- I ended up with the three greatest Tots in the universe, as a result -- but I wish now that I would have worried a little less about what was falling apart on the outside, and a little more about what was falling apart on the inside.

    I am regretful about screwing up my thirties. This was the decade that could have been a real powerhouse time in my life, and in the lives of my children ... but instead I spent most of it fat, broke, drunk, depressed and waiting for somebody to save me from myself. After a while I figured it was always going to be this way.

    So my forties have been a revelation, to put it mildly.

    One of the greatest gifts of midlife sobriety -- although there are plenty of times when it feels less like a "gift" than a punishment -- is a restored awareness of myself as a woman. Read this: now that I'm not drunk all the time, I actually notice stuff like *monthly hormonal fluctuations.* (I wasn't even aware of The 72 Hours From Hell until I got sober. Seriously.)  I understand now -- in a way I could never understand when I was forever pregnant/trying NOT to be pregnant/drunk/hungover/otherwise malfunctioning -- how my body works, and what I can do to make sure it's still working, ten or twenty or forty years from now.

    It sounds simplistic, I know. But it's one of those things that you don't even realize you're being stoopid about until you're not being stoopid about it anymore.

    Every once in a while I slip up and refer to The Seventy-Two Hours as "PMS," when they should probably more accurately be referred to as perimenopause. (My mother gently and patiently writes to correct me whenever this happens. I love her for it ... not only because she's right, but because she isn't needlessly shrill or unkind about it.)  I'm not denying or avoiding anything. It's like getting used to the new married name: it takes a little while for the newness to wear off, and for "Rafter" -- or "menopause" -- to automatically roll off my tongue. For me, the idea of moving gracefully into the next phase of my life, with ALL that that involves, is as exciting an adventure as any I can contemplate. I will be forty-four years old in a couple of weeks, and I have never been healthier, happier, more forgiving of past mistakes ... or less afraid of what comes next.

    And I'm thankful for that.

          *      *      *      *      *

  • Family and friends, near and far.

    We're spread out between a lot of Zip Codes/Area Codes/Time Zones this year, it's true -- parents, Tots, siblings, steps, halves, exes, World's Cutest Nephews, in-laws, out-laws, friends (both the online and offline variety), faithful *FootNotes* readers -- but I am thankful for your presence in my life, just the same.

    I'm thankful for those who have supported and nurtured me, throughout the year ... and for those who have allowed me to provide support and nurturing to them. I'm thankful for those I'm permitted to write about, here on *FootNotes* ... and for those I'm not. I'm thankful for those who are speaking to me ... and for those who aren't ... and for those who are still making up their minds about it. I'm thankful for our history, and for our connection, and for all of the ways that our lives intersect.

    And I'm thankful for you, sitting out there reading *FootNotes* right this very minute. After all, without you ... I'd be sitting here talking to myself this morning.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.


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