Unfurled

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“Some things are so impossible, so fantastic, that when they happen, you are not at all surprised. Their sheer impossibility has made you imagine them too many times in your head, and when you find yourself on that longed-for moonlit path, it seems unreal but still, somehow, familiar. You dreamed of it, of course; you know it like a memory.” Andrew Sean Greer

The best thing that happened to me in 2021 just happened.

I know how unlucky am I?

How am I going to get through the rest of the year knowing not a single moment will be able to top this one?

It’s untenable.

Think about what could possibly be the best thing that could happen to you this year and imagine it just happened? (take your time, noodle on it, I’ll wait)

As Pablo Picasso says, “everything you can imagine is real.”

How would that paint the rest of your year?

It would paint mine a mousey brown because everything else will pale in comparison.

Let’s start at the very beginning, the first day of the new year began with a challenging hike to the top of Mt. Konocti, it was not my idea, that one would come from my neighbor Sue, in the form of an early morning text, which I would have ignored, but she also sent it to my husband Larry as backup, as if throwing out a second line while fishing, and guess who took the bait.

“Sure, we love to hike,” Larry messages back.

“I thought we were going to sit on the couch all day and watch football, only moving when necessary, to eat or pee?”

“Now you’re suddenly interested in football?”

“I’m interested in sitting on my ass all day and football is the lure.” My plan had nothing to do with an odd shaped ball, men running around with whistles, and beefy guys with tattoos bulldozing each other on a perfectly groomed field. That’s for the less refined.

My plan is more etherial, reading, writing, pondering that which is sophisticated, elegant, like poetry and online shopping, something that requires good taste, balance, rhythm. Work with me people.

“Get dressed we leave in a half hour.”

“Honey I can’t go, I have to wash my mask.”

I get the look.

Whatever.

Half way up the mountain I thought I was going to barf up my french toast, but after removing my glasses you’ll be relieved to know the nausea went away, and I was able to continue with the torturous adventure without leaving my breakfast on the trail. For some reason after struggling up a steep incline for the better part of an hour, the reader section of my glasses acts as a magnifier, and while hiking it creates this woozy sensation (I believe that’s the proper medical term) that’s rather upsetting to my gastronomical region.

Larry calls this a Cheryl issue?

Very cheeky.

After conquering the mountain, we didn’t plant a flag or anything, but I did stand on the top of a picnic table and sort of roared like an untamed animal, it was really more of a moan, let’s not get all judicial, they’re similar.

And like a sounder of swine, we stormed down that mountain towards Pogo’s Pizzeria (best damn Pizza in the world), and barely managed to scarf down an extra large meat lovers pie in less than fifteen minutes. I know, sluggish. As Andrew Sean Greer says, “his brain sits before its cash register again, charging him for old shames as if he has not paid before.”

We point Jim’s truck towards home, finally my sore ass lands on a blessed couch, happy as a pig in muck, am I low maintenance or what?

This is when my rip, cord, and steal thighs start seizing up as if one of those shrinking garden hoses, it’s painful to reach for my phone, or get Larry to refill my coffee. This is my reward for living healthy? I really don’t understand why people do this to themselves, it’s traumatic, not to be confused with dramatic, whole different issue.

As an aside, I was listening to the top three New Years resolutions on the radio on our way home, which are to lose weight, exercise more, and save money. How original? What about developing a signature drink, reading Remember of Things Past, or actually flossing every day? The way I see it is if you eat less, you save money, and if you exercise you lose weight, you might as well exercise, I mean what else are you going to do if you’re not eating, which also supports the other goal of saving money because you can’t browse Amazon while your working out. Hello people. These are mutually inclusive goals. Can we employ a little creativity?

My resolutions are to keep my succulents alive, sleep more, and meet Andrew Sean Greer in person. #GoalsAF

In other news, I picked out my 2021 word. It’s referred to as WOTY (word of the year), very popular with writer types, words being our thing and all. Kurt Vonnegut says, “we are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be,” in other words choose your words wisely. Am I the only one who thinks that’s funny?

After a leisurely scan of the lake I picked my word. I knew it would be out there. The lake never fails me.

My word for 2021… drumroll please… is sail.

Did you just get goose bumps? Me too.

See sail can act as both a verb and a noun. I really like multipurpose words, don’t we all, you can toss them about in both the front and back of a sentence. It’s totally worthy.

Let’s not get off on a tangent just because we’re “in irons.”*

Sail as a noun has to do with capturing enough force in which to propel one forward. Get my drift?

Now as a verb it gets even better, it means to travel, move smoothly, or in a stately and confident manner.

So there you have it, my 2021 word is sail, feel free to borrow it if you find yourself in need, I welcome seasoned sea dogs.

If you’ve ever been on a sailboat, you’ll understand the importance of wind. Without wind the boat will not move, it will drift about with the current…therefore, it is not the blowing of the wind, but the setting of the sails that will determine our direction in life. Placement is key…

Okay, speaking of sailing, I am flying high after the best thing that will happen in 2021 just happened.

Do you want to know more?

Too damn bad (just kidding).

Okay, strap yourself in because this is going to set your sails.

We walk limp into the house after that misfortunate hike, the sweating, the pizza, and as if a hen I start brooding (when a hen is broody she is sitting on a nest, putting all her energy in sitting, she will only leave the nest to eat, drink, and relieve herself), this is so me. Maybe that should have been my WOTY? There’s always 2022. Anyhoo…I start scanning the recent comments on Living in the Gap, interacting with my fellow bloggers, trying to be clever and appreciative, which is harder than you think.

Then bam, one of my favorite bloggers (a recent epiphany) makes a comment on my blog, she said while reading Andrew Sean Greer’s book Less, she was reminded of my writing. Wait. What? I had to read it three times with my mouth in the form of a hooked fish.

“Just for the record: happiness is not bullshit,” says Andrew Sean Greer

Okay, Less is a book about an aging gay man, who after being dumped by his lover, decides to ease his heartbreak on a lengthy journey, but don’t get caught up in the details.

We’re talking about Andrew Sean Greer, a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist.

I’m sailing.

PS – Andrew Sean Greer just tweeted to me, “may all these come true in 2021.” I’ll never be able to stop smiling!

I’m Living in the Gap, come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me!

*A sailing vessel is “in irons” when she is trapped in the“No Go Zone”, unable to bear away and begin sailing.

Oh and drop the absolute best thing that could happen to you in 2021 in the comments and let’s see how we can support one another.

Ancedotes:

  • “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” Dr. Seuss
  • “The storm only comes to teach you how to skillfully sail your ship.” Matshona Dhliwayo
  • “We can not direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” Dolly Parton

38 Comments

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  1. This post just took me back in time. I am just 17 years old, and I am reading À la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust, in French! It has been suggested by my French teacher. Not compulsory reading for my sudies, oh no. A ‘suggestion’. One that I thought I had better take up, as she was going to write a letter for me to try to get into La Sorbonne!
    Imagine. Living in Paris aged 18, at the end of the Swinging Sixties.
    I set to, manfully wading into the book. Then by chance, I dicovered it had seven voloumes. Seven! That might be the sole reason why I decided to abandon my studies, leave school early, and eventually end up staying in London as an EMT.
    Oh, and I never ‘sail’. I get seasick. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, a 17 year old Pete Johnson trying to read the longest book ever written! Seven volumes no less. How life turns on a page. Do you ever wonder how our lives would be if we had made different decisions? Your EMT work no doubt saved many lives so changing that would literally change the world. Oh I am sorry you get seasick. Sailing on a serene lake is as good as it gets! Warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think I sail, at least I’ve never been on a boat where I’ve had to point it somewhere or rowed or flapped a sail around. But I’ve travelled on ferries to Europe a lot, and I love being on the water going somewhere, it’s always an adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the memory of water is so deeply embedded in our DNA that all circumstances where water is present become physical and emotional points of navigation propelling us both forward and back. I love the water…Warmly, C

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I love that Dolly Parton quote–and your word for the year. Mine is “still”–for various reasons. Mostly I want to gain focus and accomplish a big thing: finish my novel draft, get it beta read, and start querying agents. It’s going to take a lot of wind–to borrow your analogy!

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    1. Hi Rebecca, thank you, your comments always make me smile! Now, this is interesting, I’m sailing while you remain “still?” Well, that makes total sense as you study yourself to finish a novel, find readers, and generate some queries! You can’t hear me but I just yelled out loud, “good luck Rebecca Moon Ruark!” Made my dog jump! I’m doing much the same, let’s support one another? Hold each other accountable! Where are you on the draft? Summarize it for me! I excited to learn more. C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, you sail and I’ll try not to spin my wheels (my opposite of “still”). Thank you for your good luck wishes–I’m sorry you startled your dog. I’ll yell positive vibes into the air for you too, Chery. Oh sure, I’ll watch out for your progress, if you can give me a verbal kick in the pants once in a while! I’m 58K words into the first (very exploratory!) draft. It’ll probably end up being a good 70K. Brief summary: it’s a novel about the power of song and follows three generations of women from Finland’s Winter War in 1939 to 1980s Ohio. Hopefully it helps the reader answer the question: if you were losing something vital–your hearing, your memory, your country, even your life–what songs would you hold on to? The tentative working title is The Keep List. (We’ll see if that holds!) Here’s to a positive early new year for you–no matter what craziness the world throws at us!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. This is really an interesting idea Rebecca! I’m so intrigued! I also like the possible title “We’ll See If That Holds.” I’m working on a memorior type book consisting of short vignettes about “the life of an aging, post menopausal women, with an ferocious need to write,” I’m sure it will find a huge audience! Bahaha. Let’s visulize holding each other’s books in our hands! I can almost feel the pages with my fingers as I read your book! Let’s go…C

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Cheryl,
    I loved this post. You hooked me with the comment about Sue texting both of you like a fisherman casting 2 lines. Our family works that way too.
    We are looking forward to sailing into some fun in 2021.
    Love to you and your family,
    Gail

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Gail! Oh my, thank you, of course I post something silly and light on a dark and desperate day! As things started unraveling at the capital I’m wishing I could pull back my post. Thank you for overlooking the dubious situation and moving towards a more hopeful position for 2021. I too would like to maximize the joy! Hope all is well with you and yours, love, Cheryl

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  5. So yesterday I tried to comment here twice, and both messages disappeared. I’m betting they went to spam due to my overuse of emojis. I say that after stumbling onto my spam folder and finding some comments from people I know, but they used emojis. Lesson learned. One emoji included a fish on a line, another a wave, and another a sailboat. Only because I’m short on words these days. I thoroughly enjoyed your post, as always. Especially your point about the multi-functionality of a word like SAIL.

    I actually had my post written for today with my WOTY, which also functions as a noun and a verb, and then I made some revisions based on an idea that I borrowed from you about the parts of speech. This morning before I posted, said revisions were gone. I probably could’ve found them, but I took it as a sign to fuhgettaboutit.

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    1. Hi Crystal, I just jumped over to my spam folder and found both of your posts! Sorry about that, I almost never check my spam, my bad.

      I’m sorry, I get so frustrated when my revisions get lost, it happens more than I care to say! How does that happen? Try again, your thoughts are so worth it, and I want to read them!

      Anyway…I’m excited to learn about your multipurpose WOTY! Can’t wait.

      So you were the best thing that happened to me for the entire year, sorry to hang that on you, but it’s true. I posted this blog on Twitter and Andrew Sean Greer actually wrote me a note, he said, “may all these come true in 2021,” he was referring to my resolutions to keep my succulents alive, sleep more and meet Andrew in person!

      So here again, you are responsible for making this entire year rock and we’re only one week in, and I’m just going to imagaine it only gets better from here.

      So my wish for you Crystal is that you experience an abudance of joy from this day forward and for you may 2021 be full of unexpected delights! Warmly, C

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      1. Hi Cheryl, no need to be sorry. I blame Hormel. Wow! This little note just made me realize I should up my Twitter game. Seriously, “the best thing”? Well, that unexpectedly tickled me and fills me with an abundance of sheer joy. And how cool is Andrew Sean Greer? He makes me want to buy his book for everyone I know.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I know! I posted this morning, ran around all day, and when I returned there it was! I’ve been smiling ever since! You just rocked my world and I consider that “progress.” Whoot Hoot! C

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I am one of those people who would rather sit on my couch all day barely moving as well so I totally understand your pain- thankfully we have people in our lives that force us to do stuff once in a while lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Daniel, I concur “good health in 2021,” is a priority and may we all have time to enjoy our loved ones! I feel blessed to have my family especially during these difficult times! The Geckos have been a safe harbor for me as you know and for you I am enormously grateful! 💕C

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  7. So many mixed feelings and emotions after reading this post. First off, you have really upped your game. Gail and I continue to enjoy your writing, and now she reads your posts before I do. What is the world coming to?
    Now to get down to brass tacks. Let’s start with the hike. Did this hike not exist when we visited? And is there truly the world’s best pizza at the bottom of the descent? I don’t remember us doing this hike. Is this just an oversight, or should I feel betrayed? Maybe Mac and I will just have to do the taste test to compare with our beloved Round Table.
    Love how you were ensnared by the dual invite. I use this maneuver all the time on Gail, most memorably when she didn’t want to go to New Zealand to hike the Milford track and Routeburn. The girls were game and then she had to hop “on board.”
    Love your resolutions (good luck with the succulents.) Love the concept of more sleep. (I am actually taking one of those Master Classes on Sleep.) Just when I thought I was gonna clean up my act with regards to your bog, I had to look up GoalsAF. I feel so out of it. I need to up my goal game. And my knowledge of catchy abbreviations.
    And then your word of the year: Sail
    Love it. And yes, I will borrow it as I see fit. It has a lazy at times, yet purposeful feel. It can be relaxing, or nail-biting. I have not thought of my word/phrase of the year yet, but it will come (Pretty sure it won’t be GoalsAF.)
    Your song was great. It brings back many memories (piano recital in 7th or 8th grade.)
    Congrats on connecting with and being appreciated by a writer you truly admire.
    Love the Dolly Parton quote.
    When I think of sailing, many songs come to mind. From the tepid song by Christopher Cross, to CSN Southern Cross, Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, and of course Cool Change.
    None of these are worthy of a blog featuring #goalsAF
    So, I have no choice but to pull out the Blaggards. Hide the rusty razor.

    Pablo Picasso….Great song by the Modern Lovers, for art lovers only.
    It is pleasant, when the sea is high and the winds are dashing the waves about, to watch from the shores the struggles of another.” Lucretius. Should have saved this for next weeks post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed Michael, Gail’s comment appeared immediately, clearly, she’s winning the regatta!

      Let’s talk about the hike, for one, it’s not for amateurs (not that you are an amateur) as it is rather arduous, and taxing on one’s constitution. Tackling Mt. Konocti in the summer is non compos mentis, except in the very wee hours of the morning when the sun is barely peeking over the horizon. Now if memory serves our evenings are rather ambitious at the lake, not a good fit for early morning activities, especially one that has the ability to nauseate one’s gastronomical region. Although should you decide on a spring or fall visit, a dance up the mountain is a must, and Pogo’s is our new find, it’s absolutely divine! And we can do the pizza even without the climb? It goes well with beer. Just sayin’

      Yes, dual invites are tricky, Gail mentioned these shenanigans, we’ll have to keep you and Sue separated from now on!

      As far as #GoalAF is concerned, I did a piece on millennial characteristics and language a few years back, stumbled on this hashtag, and continue to feel very chic when I use it. My kids cringe. Feel free to use it for annoying purposes anytime!

      So sleep seems to be elusive for many in our age group? Is it pandemic related, hormonal, old mattresses, or too much wine? A combination of all the above might be the answer. I find it increasingly more difficult to power down and relax as I age up, hence my renowned status with solitaire, the best game for 52 seconds, yeah baby. I also tried a sleep aid called Melatonin which is supposed to help one relax. It works and my children assured me it was legal in California.

      Very relieved to report all succulents under my care are currently healthy! We are still toying with fantasies of retirement, leisurely travel, and COVID resistance. How about you? Any new #GoalsAF?

      Can wait for your thoughts on the Titanic! Bahaha

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      1. I have an idea… we can relax on the couch with cup of coffee and let Mike and Larry do the early morning hike! Pogo’s sounds like a great place to let them rehash the hike over dinner😊
        I am worried that since you didn’t comment on Mikes “rusty razor” song he will try to use it again😳
        With love,
        Gail

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Gail, I second that plan! Possibly we can slip in some antique shopping while they’re out and about!

          Oh my, I listened to the entire song while reading his comment! Excellent choice for a couple of my posts! I need to get out of the water! Love, Cheryl

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