I learned a lot in the last few weeks.
I discovered that someone whom I considered a friend did not share my assessment.
I determined that another person whom I had no idea liked me — genuinely liked me — might actually hold me in some regard. Possibly this person just shows an enormous amount of empathy, but either way, the discovery delighted me.
A few lonely nights brought home that even a hopeless introvert can crave companionship. A cruise around social media confirmed that I’m not sufficiently bereft to communicate with virtual strangers. Instead, I watched a few clips of a progressive podcast to affirm my wavering belief in the hopelessness of much of the modern world.
I bought an air fryer. Not the highly rated one recommended by America’s Test Kitchen, but a fifty-buck sale item at Target. This led to the inevitable realization that I’m a lousy consumer and an even worse cook.
A few nights ago, I spent a moderately pleasant hour conversing with someone that wanted information he thought I might have. Instead he learned that I hold a good friend of his in rather low regard. I wouldn’t have made such an admission, but he kept raising the issue of how great the guy supposedly is while giving me the side-eye. He left in a funk. I’m expecting to be blackmailed, blackballed, or at least, black-listed. Oh well.
I took two opportunities to be kind to people and ask nothing in return. On a third occasion in the last week, I did something nice for someone whom I found incredibly annoying. When the person strove to compensate me, I told them to pay it forward. The suggestion evoked a wince, which, oddly, I found to be sufficient reward for the small service I had performed.
I watched a reasonably able-bodied person struggle to deal with a sudden, debilitating, though temporary injury. From this experience, I’m learning that my disability renders me both more helpless and more capable than I realized, and a good deal more lonely. The problem with being a nearly-lifelong gimp is that people consider it a character flaw. But if an accident incapacitates you, the sympathy flies nearly as high as the admiration. Go figure.
Today I found out that the Trademark office has a Catch-22. You have to use a trademark before they will register it. The required use apparently includes not one but two iterations of any class you’ve included in your initial application. That’s some catch, that Catch-22. The best there is.(1) I only wish the lawyer whom I hired had explained this to me eighteen months ago when we started the process.
As the week unfolded, I also had a chance to remind myself that I live in a gorgeous environment, that money isn’t everything, and that a ship sailing towards the confluence of the San Joaquin and the Sacramento looks as though it glides across land. I rolled down my car window to confirm this last phenomenon, on a day when my head pounded so that even the warm afternoon air gave some comfort. I watched the vessel make what always seems to be an impossible turn, an indiscernible distance beyond where I sat at the side of the levee road. I wondered where it would go after it eased into the Bay. Maybe south, to LA. Maybe north, to Alaska. Or perhaps it would simply go west, to prove that the earth is, indeed, round.
It’s the twentieth day of the one-hundred and fifteenth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
(1) Heller, Joseph; Catch-22; First published 1962; Simon & Schuster edition 2004. Alan Arkin played the main character, Yossarian, in the 1970 movie. It was one of his most brilliant performances, perhaps surpassed only by his earlier work in the film version of Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter in 1968.