Little fixes between the heavy lifting

dog looking up at a treat

I have been doing a lot of walking lately.

I try always to do a lot of walking, but since I have been hard at some gnarly change-making, I have actually been doing a lot of walking. When I feel like it, I take a walk. When I don't feel like it, I take an even longer one.

No matter what kind of walk I take, though, I try always to walk with a purpose. I know, I know, walking should be purpose enough on its own, for the mental health benefits, let alone the physical ones. But I still associate walks sans errand with my Crohn's recovery, and sorry, I just don't want to be reminded of that right now. I have made a small concession to non-utility by walking sans headphones, but that's as far as I'm prepared to go right now. So to speak.1

Anyway. For today's walk I decided to drop the Netflix envelope in the corner mailbox, so I might get Disc 4, Season 2 of In Treatment a wee bit faster. (Hel-lo, Gabriel Byrne, and Gabriel Byrne's sexy Irish accent, and Gabriel Byrne's sexy Season 2 haircut!) It wasn't a long enough walk, so I brought along a book to return to the library. It was not due, but it would do.2

As I walked, to double-dip, I thought about what I might write about today.

Then I thought, "I'm tired."

Then I thought, "I'm a baby for being so tired when there are people in the world who have REAL troubles making them tired."

Then I thought, "Damn, I'm mean to myself. If someone else said this to anyone, even me, I'd give them a piece of my mind."

Then I thought, "I really hope I'm not saying too much of this out loud." Because I have been doing that a LOT more lately.

Then I stuck the library book in the return slot and it struck me: I clean my library books; I wonder if anyone else does that.

I do clean my library books. Each one of them, after I get them home and before I read them. I take some window cleaner, spray it onto a paper towel, and wipe all the schmutz off of the protective covers. Because (sorry) I have found a few things lodged inside of library books that made me wonder about the hands, the dozens and dozens of filthy hands, touching the outsides of library books. And even though I know that by the time the next patron who actually checks out any of the books I've checked out finally touches the book, it might be contaminated again, at least I know it will look nice. Nicer. That there may be a germ or two there, but the crusts of filth I found it with will not be there.

It occurred to me, in other words, that I do a (very) small thing that makes life nicer. For other people, I hope, but definitely for me. Which got me to wondering whether there were other little "hacks" like this that I had come up with which I could share, so that maybe people who hadn't heard of them could use them, or that maybe people who had could say, "Hey! I do that, and I also do this...." Because you know me: I like a good hack.

So here is a very short list of things I have done that have made my life nicer far out of proportion to the amount of time, money or effort they took to implement. I only wish I'd learned them earlier in life.

  • I carry dog treats. I recently bought a bunch of Charlee Bear liver treats which I parceled into little baggies (previously purchased! I'm repenting!) and distributed in the pockets of my jackets. I like saying "hi" to dogs on my walk, and if the owner is amenable, I will give the dog a tiny treat.
  • I bought two dozen each of my favorite pens and pads, and stuck them everywhere. I still end up without one or the other at times, but far fewer times. They're both more expensive than such things need to be, but it finally occurred to me that when I did have them around, I used them more because I enjoyed them more.
  • I wear a vest in the house in cool weather. I'm actually wearing a cardigan right now, because I had it on under the vest while I walked, and it is a little chilly. But I love the freedom of movement and air flow afforded by the vest (nylon, quilted) compared with another set of sleeves. I also wear a very old cotton jersey scarf from the moment it gets at all cool in L.A. (under 75ºF, for me). If you are a weenie, or have throat issues, you might find it comforting, too.
  • I put a tiny bit of water at the bottom of the votive receptacles. My sister taught me this, I think. She is a retired professional candle expert. Makes the melty stuff at the very bottom pop right out. Pop!
  • I keep an extra set of Tweezerman tweezers in the change drawer of my car. Believe it or don't, the rear-view mirror is the most awesome thing to look in for eyebrow plucking. In daylight, when you're parked, and hopefully no one is looking. Fantastic quality glass, and you can really get in there. When you have a big honker, this is an issue.
  • I also keep about five neatly folded up dollar bills in there. You see people at off ramps all the time here in L.A. Lots more, recently, it seems, although maybe that's Yellow Volkswagen Syndrome talking. I used to stress out about it: what do I give them? Will the light change? Do I have small enough bills? Will they be offended if I just give them parking quarters instead? Now I just roll down the window and hand them a dollar bill with a "Good luck." Easy-peasy.
  • I keep "enh" food on me at ALL times. I learned this on the SCD. If you have non-awful food on you, you will be less likely to eat crap food. The Apple Pie and Cherry Pie flavors of LaraBars are "enh"–palatable, but not so delicious I will eat them out of boredom. If I carried the Coconut Cream Pie ones, on the other hand, I would weigh 200lbs. Holy fucknuts, are they good.

I could go on (and I might, later, if the Heavy Lifting Phase continues). Instead, though, I will take my leave with a final "ask": looking over this list, are there things that you're thinking of that you do that offer such a high ROI on enjoyment and comfort without being totally jackass?

Because really, I would love to soak in a bunch of those right about now.3


Image by emdot via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

1Oh, god. You have no idea how off my game I am these days. Puns. Ugh. And too tired to fix them. UGH.

2YOU SEE? Ugh. Sweet Mother of Pearl, get me through this Heavy Lifting Phrase before I accidentally kill myself with blunt wordplay.

3And I realize that to a degree, this is what Lifehacker and similar sites are all about. But I'm looking for serendipity, not a long wade through a swamp. What have you found, O Wandering Fellow who has landed here?