Saturday, October 23, 2010

File Under: Happiness, Miscellaneous Benefits of

I got in the cab (wearing a ridiculous outfit—I was traveling home and these were the leftover clean clothes) and chirped “Good morning! How are you?”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the driver slightly warily. “How are you?”

“Great!” I said. Then I used a line I’ve never used before that I’ve heard some of my favorite patients say: “Every morning you wake up is a great day.”

“You got that right!” he said, and we were off on a wide-ranging conversation in which I learned how much he loved driving a cab (“I’d truly do it for free if I didn’t have to pay bills”), how he spent his summers as a boy learning from his Cherokee grandfather how to survive in the woods, how some riders don’t talk, “but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad people, they might just be in their own heads,” how he got an insider trading tip from overhearing a broker on his cellphone and then invested in the stock and made enough money for a cruise around Greece …

As he dropped me off (and after I’d paid), he said mournfully, “I can’t believe what a great team we make! You are such a lovely person, I don’t want you to leave.”


The workshop—well, it went better than any workshop I’ve ever attended, much less given. I was nervous beforehand, but the room was full, nobody left to “answer their phone,” and at the end, they asked us to keep going. And applauded. One person confessed that she’d gotten choked up during it; someone chased me down at the airport to tell me again how much he liked it; I even got a job offer. (The topic included a lot of what I talk about here. How fun is that?)

Best of all, I did it with someone I used to work with and have sorely missed since she moved away. I suckered her into doing it with me and then after I got the grant left her to do a lot of the heavy lifting as far as preparation was concerned. Half of the time we were “working” on it I was chewing her ear off, because I love talking to someone who gets it, and I had forgotten how much she does — and with my “screen” gone, I have nothing holding me back. The workshop sort of felt like an extension of the conversation. (Incidentally, she is a also new Maggot, though she resists the designation. Welcome, B! Hope those knees are holding up.)

I churned through my recommendation letters, sat for my Boards recertification, covered for a colleague on vacation, and am pretty much through to the other side and can focus on the grant work.

I have bad hours and even days; my car got sideswiped ($1300), the garbage disposal cracked, HB wanted to punish me severely for going on my trip—and: every morning I wake up is a great day. Put it on a poster. With a cute kitty. But not a dog. (I was at a stoplight when I took that. I did not get sideswiped while using my phone.)

(Re HB’s knitting: he learned to finger knit at school, and as is his wont, insisted on taking it to the next level: needle knitting. Fortunately my mother is a master knitter and taught him on a recent visit. This is what he made for me to take with me on my trip for when I missed him and needed something to cuddle.)


foodmathquilts said...

Sounds like a great cab ride, and a worthwhile trip. Hopefully HB forgives you for leaving soon.

Always glad to hear about another knitting boy! My brother (24) is a great knitter - its a wonderful conversation starter when he travels by bus or train. The skinny, scruffy boy with a duct-tap covered duffle bag and a lap full of knitting always attracts older ladies who want to chat and give him knitting tips.

I'm an amature myself, but had to comment because I'm starting a knitting club at my school - and have about 20 kids signed up to learn on monday.

Love your writing style - even if you haven't quite convinced me to start running yet.


Orange said...

This whole post is a bucket of awesome. Yay on all counts!

Linda said...

Hooray! This all sounds great! What a nice cab is so nice when you get affirmation from strangers. I love that. And I'm glad your presentation went well.

HB is doing spectacularly in the knitting department! I love knitting and find it very soothing. I don't know if I said this on your alst post (I think I tried to leave a comment and it failed and I gave up) but knitting was originally a man's domain. Scottish shepherds used to "clickit" when watching sheep at night. It kept them alert and handily, they made socks to keep them warm. So HB is continuing in a noble tradition. (Although even if it was "womanly" work he was doing that would still be great. And that is some fine knitting. And I kind of wish my husband was a knitter because then I could more easily acquire knitting paraphenalia with less resistance.)


Anonymous said...

HB knitting - simply awesome. What a great mom you are.

Sarah said...

I wanted to let you know what an inspiration you have been to me since I came across your blog in late 2007. I was never a runner and was one of those people who said, "oh, I CAN'T run". Well, I am proud to say that I completed my first marathon last weekend! Thank you so much for all of your advice! I have referred so many people to your blog whenever they say "oh, I could never run like you are". Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I love reading this blog! I don't have kids but am aunt (official and unofficial) to a bunch of kids and have learned some great parenting skills from watching my sister.

It is a wonderful thing that HB was born to you - your unconditional love and your openness and your sense of humor are exactly what he needs in this world. Please keep us posted on his knitting progress!

bobbi said...

Love this post - glad you are doing so well. And HB's knitting = awesome.

I just wanted to credit you - I started running back in the day after reading your "maggot" posts. On 10/10/10 I ran the Chicago marathon. It's all your fault ;)

E. said...

How great to make a real connection with another cool human like that. I love those moments.

(Today at the gym the young woman who works the desk came into the locker room while I was there and said "Does my makeup look OK? I had to put it on in the car." For some reason, that totally made me smile, esp. since I was not wearing any makeup and I was holding my bike helmet when she approached me. She's always struck me as a little surly, but I won't see her that way anymore.)

It's great that HB is knitting, and I love the little cuddle swatch. Sweetness. O went through a knitting phase this summer (taught by his wonderful aunt), and he got halfway through a scarf before he lost interest. Hope he picks it up again some day.

Jules said...

Folks like your wonderful cab driver help me remember that humanity isn't beyond redemption. I just about got choked up reading that bit - I guess lately I've gotten a bit too soaked in all the world's misery, so things like this just really, really make my day.

p.s. just as soon as my foot chills the hell out, the running will re-commence!

Jessica Mae said...

i love your outfit. tops!

Anonymous said...

My god, you're turning into Atul Gawande, saving lives and writing and researching and publishing all in the same day, without ever losing your cool. I'm a little intimidated.

I learned to knit 25 years ago and love it as much as anything I've ever done, except maybe rowing, but then, knitting can be done on a plane, or a waiting room, or the passenger seat of a car. It's endlessly satisfying and portable and that's pretty hard to beat.


Anonymous said...

I am so happy that HB has taken up knitting!

Also, I'm a long-time reader (and never-commenter) and I became a maggot 7 months ago. I've never felt better. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Going back to Gender Bender Fender Benders, I just read the following post by a fellow Mom who has a gender-bending son. She's written a great post but sadly it's about the shit she and her son got on Halloween. I thought you might want to give a shout out of support.

Aleksandra Nearing said...

Awwww! He made you a mini lovey!! I didn't know kids could finger-knit. Clearly Lily is missing out. I was taught to knit at a young age. I used to take them on trains and planes but unless you have plastic knitting needles, it is not a good idea to bring them in your carry on. Those TSA people are tough.

ozma said...

I love this story. Why is talking to cab drivers such a compelling thing. It's very much like the confessional. They are there but you can't see their face, really. Is that it?

This is fascinating but from you, I can hear something like 'every morning when you wake up is a great day.'

But only from you. Anyone else I would stab them in the head.

Why is that?

I think it's because you know the whole story--why someone would think otherwise. Your saying that would be the result of a full scan of the human possibility.

In other words, you are the one person in the world who could be my motivational coach. I was thinking Darth Vader, but no--it's definitely you.

DoctorMama said...

Darth Vader or me! I love it!