An American Hello

Do you ever pause for thought when someone asks, “how are you?” or “how was your day/evening?”

I do.

We all understand it’s the “American hello“. We aren’t really looking to hear any significant details or rather the insignificant details. We usually answer with the preferred, “it was nice. I went and saw the latest Bourne movie and it was awful…” (sorry for those who really enjoyed Bourne Legacy.) or with the obligatory, “I’m good. Thanks. How are you?”

It’s good taste and manners to reciprocate with the same question and always with a positive tone or if responding negatively ensure a joke follows to make it lighthearted.

This is when I pause (maybe not literally, but I do figuratively) for thought. I imagine myself telling someone about my day; the mundane details that no one cares to hear.

I think it would be entertaining. At least once in a while because, if nothing else, it would catch someone off guard; a change from the usual; a breath of fresh air.

Let’s try this, shall we? (This is what happens when I’m bored on my Monday evening…)

Jen’s Monday, September 17, 2012:

Wake Up: 6:30am. Too early. Roll over and go back to sleep.

Wake Up (again): 8:45am. Crap! I have really overslept and I have to be to work in 15 minutes.

Get Ready: In record time! I boil water, feed the dog, let the dog out in the backyard, wash my face, go back to kitchen and pour water over coffee beans (french press style), brush my teeth, put makeup on, attempt to do something with my hair, get dressed, let dog in. Pour myself a cup of coffee and I even have time to add cream and sugar.

Look for shoes: Where are my shoes?! Oh well…these other pair will do.

Grab car keys, walk out back door, climb in car and make the 1.2 mile drive to work…I really should walk, but not today.

As I pull into parking spot I spill some of my coffee on my pants.
Phew. Thank goodness I wore black pants. No one will be the wiser that I’m sporting coffee on myself.

I’m the first one to work. The office is an old home in the Ship Creek district downtown Anchorage. I love the smell of the old wood floors. I like the sound they make as I make my way to the back of the office to put down my bag.

I unlock the front door, grab the newspaper, read the headline (something about a rescue by Anchorage Fire Department for a kayaker stuck in high water from recent flooding in Alaska) and set it down to take the place of Friday’s paper.

By this time a coworker comes into the office.

We make obligatory small talk. She’s one cool chick, but it’s still the usual.

I get to work filing paperwork.

Back pain. My back is killing me. I blame myself for not seeing the chiropractor regularly like I used to in South Carolina and don’t even ask me if I’ve been doing my strength exercises; I am, but not with regularity.

I must make an appointment with the chiro.

I take a break from filing so I can sit at the computer and do some work. I begin to realize I sound like an old person in my mind; whining about my aches and pains.

I must quiet my mind. I visit and I listen to Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Shit. (this is the word that goes through my head more than once…just keeping it real.) Things going on in the world are not good. I stare out the window for a good three minutes. I have a view of Cook Inlet and I search the waters for belugas. I will probably never see one, but I still try.

I search for the volcano Redoubt; too many clouds, but the sun is breaking through and it makes me happy. It’s rained for 4 days straight.

I must get outside.

I grab my phone, the director, and some merchandise we have from Salmonstock. I take him outside and I ask him to pose in some of the hats while I snap photos with my phone so we can update the website with new merchandise. He is game.

Thank goodness, because being outside in the sun is amazing.

Work more. My stomach growls. It’s time to eat so I head home.

Who am I kidding? Home to eat? Ha! I haven’t gone grocery shopping in almost three weeks. Matt’s gone and I hate cooking for just me.

I stop by a market and grab some soup, an apple, and an iced tea.

I hate it that I just put my soup in styrofoam. Ugh. I’m a hypocrite.

Homeward bound to let the dog out. I wake him up as I open the front door. I trip over the newspaper that was cleverly stuck by the front of my door in a bright orange plastic wrap. (sarcasm)

World’s biggest klutz right here.

The dog is let out and back in. Time to go back to work, but first I grab a few packages that I need to mail after work.

I talk to myself as I put them in the backseat and almost drop the iced tea I’m holding (remember, world’s greatest klutz reference?). Two people walking on the sidewalk pass me right as this is going on. “Yep”, I think to myself, “they believe me to be crazy.”

The sun is shining and leaves are on the ground. I feel blessed to be where I am, but I have a very quiet soul today. Not sad, but just…quiet.

I finish up work, but the day ends with my “boss” asking me to come up with my plans for what *I want* to accomplish in the next few months, my “perfect job” which is essentially me “creating my own job position.” Yep. Pinch me. Is this why I volunteered my time for the past two and a half years, only pursuing those things that I loved because I knew in my gut that all would be well; that in the end I would see all the hard work pay off?

I leave his office smiling to myself and giving thanks to God for his courage to always press on and for paving the way for me…

I wrap up my day with the sun still shining. It’s 5:00 sharp.

Post office time! I walk in and there is a line with one worker behind the counter. Typical.

I look for two customs forms. None.

I cut to the front of the line to ask for two forms to fill them out while in line.

I get the look of death from I feel their eyes boring holes in the back of my skull.

“Just keep looking straight ahead and don’t make eye contact.”

The woman in the front of the line is eying me. Ha! Don’t worry lady, I’m not going to mess with you. You have earmuffs on. No joke. Earmuffs in September.

I grab the forms and go; screw waiting in line on a nice day. I make my way across the street to the grocery store to stock up on some much needed groceries. What a funny place the grocery store. I listened to the deli worker ask a little girl in the seat of her cart how her first day of school was, I watched an elderly couple choose donuts in the glass paned case, and a 20-something debate whether she should get cinnamon raisin bagels or plain english muffins. My vote? Go visit the elderly couple at the donut case!

Me? I walked away with stuff to make vegetarian chili, some grapes, milk, yogurt and a donut. I blame the elderly couple who smiled at me as I passed the case.

I crushed the donut on the way home. I looked to my right at one stop light and caught a guy staring at me my donut. At this point, I refrained from eating any more until I got home.

The dog greets me as I put the groceries down, throw the keys in the tin, and set three empty travel coffee mugs in the sink that I had found in the car.

Screw the groceries. I will put them away when I get back from a walk with the dog. It’s too nice to be inside.

He goes crazy as I grab his leash. He rushes to the front door, but we are exiting through the back door. He is confused so he whines as he runs back and forth between both doors. I’m mean and I find it amusing to watch him pace between the two doors so I wait a few more moments before I put his leash on.

We go for a walk where I still have to remind him to “heel”. Once we get to the local school playground I let him off the leash and he runs to his little heart’s content. I spy the neighbor kids who are playing some sort of “boy game” with pretend swords and guns.

Time to go home. Tuesday is trash day so I grab the trash cans and bring them to the curb. One is empty of trash but has 4 inches of water on the bottom, I dump it out but realize that someone has thrown their dog’s doo-doo and basically the water is poo sludge. It smells to high heaven and I almost gag. I head inside to wash my hands and grab the remaining recycling to throw in the container.

Man, I wish Matt was home. Poo sludge has made me wish my man was around to take care of that crap (literally).

On my way back inside I grab the mail and find a letter addressed to “Matt K_____ & Domestic Partner.” What? Seriously?

Oh well. It comes with the territory of not taking my husband’s last name.

What to do on Monday? I make some veggie chili, throw some laundry in the washing machine and then balance the bank accounts. One account is completely off so I spend the remaining evening on the phone listening to hold music or “press 1 for English…press 2 for checking…” to get it taken care of.

I click over to my addiction, aka Pinterest. I pin away. I wonder when I will put some of the pins to use and then I realize I just ate dinner that was Pinterest inspired.

Thank you, Pinterest. I was sick of PB & J.

Time for another load of laundry, but not before I crack open a beer. A friend calls. We chat. We hang up.

I check my email. No email from Matt, but that’s ok since I spoke with him the day before.

My soul is quiet. If someone asked me how I am doing, I would say, “I’m fine.” But throughout the day I think of one person constantly; Matt. He’s my husband and he is gone. He isn’t in a good place right now and I’m worried. More so because of news I received three days ago.

I read about in the weekend papers. I listened to it on NPR today. But who wants to know that when they ask, “how was your weekend?” It’s too heavy.

I’m fine. But behind everyone’s “fine” is a thousand meanings…

What’s behind your “doing fine”? Be real…even if it’s with yourself…

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