Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bones & Neuron

“I don’t know what the point is,” I sighed to Friend. I woke early and mopped the kitchen, then showered and began to dust as I waited for time to pass so I could dress for church. I continued to watch the clock hands move when I should have gone to put on something pretty.

“I feel like I’m putting in time when I’m there,” I elaborated, a small devotional and a Bible open on my lap in lieu of going to services. “I’m thinking about where to go for lunch or when I’ll get to see the puppies or what work I have to do. It’s not so worshipful lately for me. And then I read this,” I glanced down at my book, “about the reward coming later and how God knows when I lose and that if I persevere, I will eventually be all lovely and wonderful.

“I want to be lovely and wonderful now!” I cried. “Not later - I’m not interested in eternal happiness at the moment - give me something now.” So I thought about my current distance from God and sighed and got sad. I tried to figure out how to move closer - how to feel that tug of motivation to pray and think and be a good person.

“What if,” I proposed to Friend, “SPB wasn’t being cruel just for the sake of exerting power? What if he read my email and noted that I said I’d be plagued by lack of resources in my time here so he talked to Boss about making sure I could do what I needed to do? That he thought this was genuinely the best way to help me long term? I don’t think that’s the case - he made me jump through hoops and ignored me and was generally awful - but there could have been something good in him through this process. Maybe. It just doesn’t fit with my worldview that people are inherently evil.”

I was doing some work a couple hours later, copying and pasting numbers from text files into an Excel document, mindlessly passing time as my dread for this workweek increased alarmingly.

“I can go get lunch by myself,” I offered absently. Friend has been unwell the last few days and she thought she could try eating something more substantial. “You can stay here if that appeals.”

“I think I will,” she decided. But when I pulled on a sweatshirt and some flip flops, Chienne trotted along behind me eagerly.

“Do you want to go get some lunch?” I asked her. She pranced into the garage and hopped in the car and sat proudly in the passenger seat even as I warned her we had a bit of a drive to get to the barbeque place with potatoes and cheese biscuits. I ordered behind the restaurant and pulled around to the window as Chienne sniffed, putting a paw on my leg to lean across my body as much as she’s allowed.

I greeted the girl who took my credit card and smiled when she said she wanted a dog. “She’s a sweetheart,” I said of my canine, noting that her tail was wagging at the appearance of a new friend.

“It smells good in here, doesn’t it?” Restaurant Girl asked Chienne. She smiled and disappeared back inside and returned to hand me my receipts and asked if Chienne would like a bone.

“Oh,” I said, surprised, “I’m sure she would. If it isn’t too much trouble, that would be really nice.”

She returned moments later with a huge takeout container. “There are 4 in here - we have lots and they didn’t mind me taking some. The two at the bottom are cooler, but the top ones are hot and fresh. And I put some meat in for her too.”

“Aren’t you sweet?” I breathed, taking the large box from her. She smiled and waved off my expressions of thanks. “You’re a lucky girl.” I told Chienne, opening the box to her wide-eyed delight and offering some of the meat. As I turned to accept the bag of food from the girl, again offering my thanks that her gesture had been very kind, I noticed that my resourceful pup had nosed the container open and finished the meat. She was contemplating a bone, but I nudged her away and told her she could wait.

“Pick the one you want,” I offered when we got home. I told Friend of the kindness extended to Chienne - she agreed that it was very nice - and we watched her chew at her treat for upwards of an hour.

I’m still not sure what the point is. Why some times are inexplicably hard and why bad choices sometimes feel really good and the reasoning behind us all being here for a limited time.

My feeling, though, is that it has something to do with moments like those. When someone extends a kindness. Offers some unexpected bit of happiness.

Marlie gave me a birthday present and smiled when I exclaimed over how lovely that gesture was. I grew a bit weepy when, after a rough day, Friend said she received a neuron and thought it was pretty, then handed it to me. I’d told her I wanted a neuron, and when she found one, she saved it for me. I had taken her leftover chocolate chip cookies because I know she doesn’t often make time to eat when she’s working long days. And I took Marlie’s IACUC protocol and typed and copied and pasted her pdf file into the relevant Word document. It was nearly impossible to edit the former and while the latter took me a couple hours of tedious work, I felt better about the neatness and utility of my work. Before she left with many thanks for the new document in a useable format, she left 2 sticks of wintergreen gum on the corner of my desk. I smiled when I tucked the extra stick in my drawer next to the chocolate Ken gave me last week. I preened when the bus driver complimented my purse the other day. I'm touched when you leave comments that are supportive or sympathetic or otherwise kind.

It’s nowhere near ideal for me lately. I seem to have settled into a mostly resigned state of dread. But I still notice - and very much appreciate - the warm moments of kindness at times. And it seemed important to note that as time ticks toward another week I find I'm not at all eager to face.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited about the plush best departmental friend is defending in a month and I'm so going to get her the 3 little neurons in a dish... :) I may have to get myself one too...

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