Friday, August 01, 2014

August Happiness Challenge -- Day 1

Today's happiness: The Village Book Fair. I'm so glad that I live in a village of book lovers, where the library has three branches, and the annual fundraiser is an event that has people lined up around the block.

It always offers such great values, too. This year my find was a gift for my friend Kathleen, a scholarly, out of print history of The Chicago Tribune. (She used to work there and that's where her heart remains.) Just $2! As was my hardcover copy of the well-reviewed Sinatra biography, The Voice. I also grabbed an Agatha Christie (I've never read Miss Marple) and a Linda Fairstein. Total? $6 and change!

Another thing I enjoy about the book fair is seeing which book is so over. There's one every year -- the book my neighbors bought in big numbers and then decided, seemingly at all once, to discard.

In 2006, it was The Corrections.
In 2007, The Nanny Diaries.
In 2008, The Da Vinci Code.
In 2009, My Life by Bill Clinton.
In 2010, Scarlett, the Sequel to Margaret Mitchell's Gone with The Wind.
In 2011, The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
In 2012, Sixkill by Robert B. Parker (a Spenser mystery)
In 2013, The Da Vinci Code all over again.
In 2014, it's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

I guess in New York they're kept in pens

My day got off to a bad start. I don't think my cold is a cold, I think it's something worse. I was so weak I actually fell asleep in the bathtub. I knew we weren't going to be busy at work and I was tempted to call in sick, but I've been covering for Phil this week. I didn't get out the door until after 9:00 AM.

A very thin older lady with a big totebag and a map approached me in front of the el. She asked if I was from around here. Lady, I've lived in this town for more than 25 years. You've brought your tourist questions to the right place!

First she asked where my church was. Not because she wanted to worship, but because it's a historic landmark and architectural gem. She complained that she didn't want to tour it, just walk around and wondered it it's always open. I explained that since it's my church, when I go it's for Sunday services so of course it's open -- I can't vouch for Friday morning. Then she asked me about some of the other historic houses. I showed her on the map how to get there.

Then she strangely asked me where "all the people are." I explained that this is a residential area and everyone is at work at 9:15. She went on to say that in New York, the sidewalks are always full. "But this isn't Chicago," said I, explaining that we're a neighboring village. (As printed on the map in her hand. Duh.)

Then she said that the only people she on the train and on the streets this morning were (lowers voice), "black teenagers."

"That's it," I said. "I'm not listening to this." If only the light hadn't just turned yellow I could have swept away.

"I'm not being racist," she said.

"Yes, you are, and I'm not listening to it," I said, crossing against the light as soon as the oncoming traffic past.

"I'm not being racist," she called after me.

"Have a nice day," I said, and kept going.

I wish I'd asked her where they keep the black teenagers in New York. I wish I'd told her that when she visited my church, she should look at her soul. I wish I'd asked her why her skin looks like bad luggage when I know they sell sunscreen in New York.

This is 2014, for pity's sake! I don't want people like her in my village. 

Meet Twirl Girl

I love her freedom and independence, how everyone else is focused on something in the other direction but here she is, moving to her own drummer.

She's my icon for the 2014 August Happiness Challenge. What's that you say? What's the August Happiness Challenge?

Each day in August you are to post about something that makes *you* happy. Pretty simple. And, it doesn't even have to be every day if you don't want it to be. It's a great way to remind ourselves that there are positive things going on in our lives, our communities, and the world.

If you want to play along, just come back here (meaning to this blog, not this individual post) each day in August, looking for Twirl Girl. Every day I will try to have a post with the headline: August Happiness Challenge: Day [X]. Leave a comment and then post your own daily happiness, with August Happiness Challenge in the title to make it easy to find.

Of course you're encouraged to visit the other Happiness participants, but it's not mandatory. And if I miss a day because I'm away from the keyboard, feel free to post on your own and visit other bloggers without me.

Twirl Girl and I aren't much for rules. The motivation behind the August Happiness Challenge is simply to give us each a moment to reflect on the positive things in our lives.

So simply think of it as a pleasant little blogging prompt, not a challenge to be conquered. That's the way I've been doing it every year -- without agita -- since 2007. And that's the way I'm going to continue. Because it makes me happy.