Here’s to people who do productive things with their spare time…

I’m dreading having to go back to work on Monday. That office just makes me feel…ugh, stuck. I’ve been feeling stuck all day, mostly because I just realized that I had two weeks of paid vacation (courtesy of the State of Florida) and what did I do with it? Not a damn thing!

So I remembered a little blog thingy I wrote on my MySpace page back in September and it totally made me feel like I just blew two weeks. Which is basically what I did.

September 25, 2008


No, really. Wow!

I just created a “homepage” for myself for my online class, Introduction to Mass Communications. I looked at a few of my classmates homepages. These are the kind of people who have recorded music, written sports articles for ESPN-type publications, fought in Iraq, published poetry, and decided already what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Most of them are barely in their twenties.

My shining moment? A double back handspring on the balance beam. In 1992. That’s it. That’s my moment? Yes, folks. That was my moment.

Then I realized that I am surrounded by people everyday who have done some really incredible things. For example, my boss was once a commercial flight attendant who volunteered to travel into warzones in the Middle East under the cloak of darkness in order to bring military members home from war. Another guy I worked with just finished research on the early education system of Belize and discovered that there is no standard program. He has since returned to Belize in order to implement his own program. He is changing lives and will ultimately be a part of an educational boom in Belize!

I don’t want anyone to think that I’m sitting around here moping, that I am asking for pity or, even worse, compliments. I am just simply looking back and wondering if I have made that much of a difference in someone’s life, if I will one day be able to say, “I did this!”. My younger brother climbed the steps of a Buddhist temple in Korea and my older brother climbed up a mountainside in order to reach the remains of passengers in a plane crash in Bosnia. I climbed over my garage and onto my roof and jumped into a huge snowdrift in my front yard!

Seriously, it was a HUGE snowdrift.

Things I’ve done:

that balance beam thingy, fed pigeons in Italy, ate baby squid that was prepared by a crazy Filipino woman across the street, survived 20 seconds trapped in an elevator, survived motherhood, wrote some really funny stories when I was high, wrote some really good stories when I was sober, learned all the words to R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World (As We Know It)”, shaved my legs this morning without cutting myself.

Things I haven’t done (but would like to):

start on The Arlington Project, write for a U.S. travel magazine, attend a summer Art Camp with my daughter, become fluent in italian and ASL again, learn to go underwater without holding my nose, complete an algebraic equation without breaking down in tears, meet Governor Sarah Palin (don’t start with your assumptions!), visit every place that is represented by a postcard in my ever-expanding postcard collection.

See what I mean? Think about some of the things you’ve done…or haven’t done. Which do you wish you had more of? I don’t see these as bragging points. I really do see these kinds of things as topics of conversation, a way to connect with other people who have done the same things…or haven’t done the same things but want to. There is a difference.


About Dena

I'm a suburban Clevelander by way of Oklahoma City, by way of North Florida, by way of Southern Maryland, by way of Upper Michigan, by way of Northern Italy, by way of Lower Michigan, by way of Texas. Because of living in so many places, I have something in common with almost everyone I meet. I love reading, writing, and American history (especially reading or writing about American history). I'm interested in culture of place, historical trauma, and writing about the kinds of histories most people don't know about.
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One Response to Here’s to people who do productive things with their spare time…

  1. Sra says:

    That’s a great post. I find that there will always be people out there who are better than you in some way. And not just a little better, but a lot better. So, for me it’s easiest to try not to compare myself to anyone but myself. Am I doing better than I would have done previously at something? Then that is an accomplishment!Here’s my advice on learning to not hold your nose under water. First practice taking a breath, and then make as if you’re going to blow the air out your nose, but before you do, stop the air flow by blocking the nasal passageway with the soft pallet in the back of your mouth. Practice doing this, and then when you can do that successfully, do the same thing just before going under water. This will keep water from going up your nose. It will become natural after awhile.I think it’s great that you have experience with Italian and ASL. I can say “sign language” in ASL, and nearly nothing else!

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