December 3, 2010

On mood lighting and pencil skirts


I tend to be very concerned with creating the right conditions for things. I always thought I could write best in a café with medium-level background noise and gentle lighting. I have a certain kind of pen I like and favorite notebooks.

I like to have the right kind of music for the right kind of thing. Running music for running. Cooking music for cooking. Dinner party music for dinner parties. I think somewhere along the way, I must have picked up the idea that I would fall in love wearing a little black dress. Or maybe a pencil skirt.

These things are all so nice. It's really sweet to make things just so.

But when I got sick this semester, I really kind of thought I'd lost everything for the first little while. I was afraid to open my eyes and see what was left when the dust settled. I'd gotten so attached to all the little things that I didn't realize I'd mostly only just lost the icing off the cake.

Turns out I did some of my best writing while horizontal, notebook smashed sideways against a hospital bed railing. Turns out I can write with or without a needle in my arm. Turns out I can also write while taking a bath or while frying an egg (although, admittedly, the egg did not turn out so well).

Turns out the pencil skirt and little black dress were kind of unnecessary too. You can also fall in love in your pajamas, not having brushed your teeth in kind of a long time.

I think I knew that. I'm not sure I really believed it, though.

I'm still convinced that the little things really matter, but I've had to remind myself how the big things fit in too. If I had any confusion about my priorities back in September, I suppose I've had a little help sorting them out. When you can only do one thing in a day, then two, then three, you start to learn very quickly what matters to you, what you really need, and who you love.

As for that icing on the cake? Well, I've had plenty of new little things to fill in the gaps left by afternoons in cafés and mornings out running. Here's a little list of my favorite little comforts.

Gatorade flavor: light blue
Comfort foods: soda bread, matzo ball soup, cookie dough ice cream, avocados, cheese, chocolate chip cookies
TV shows: Big Love, Gossip Girl
Movies: Forrest Gump, Good Will Hunting, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

As for the big things, well, you'll just have to come back later. I'm still mulling them over.


  1. Great post, Lisa! It is not remotely the same thing, but moving to Budapest and having a totally new deck of cards to deal with--socially and culturally--you learn how to adapt. It becomes very interesting to discover what things you really don't need that you thought you did. I hope you have been feeling much better! Maybe better enough to come visit Budapest?

  2. I'd love to stop by! I'll have to let you know how my progress goes, though. My first goal for the future is making it to the grocery store on my own, which I see you've been doing a lot of lately. I can't wait to read about your next discoveries.