Just another day.

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We’re painting our house.

There’s a mess all over the floor, and opened containers of paint on my kitchen counters, and wall things that have become floor things, and an overall sense of life being askew and order being put on hold.

My dog ate a bird today. Okay well, really, just killed it and played around with it for a second and wore a big old dog smile like, “What a great way to kick off a Wednesday, am I right?” It got me thinking about when Roxie was still alive and Rocco had killed yet another bird and she kept hopping around in a gleeful little circle, head snapping back and forth between me and the bird in an attempt for me to truly understand how amazing her life was in that moment. Heck, she hadn’t even killed the bird, and she was pretty darn proud of herself.

I’ve always really respected her for that.

Today, my daughter’s main project was to sort through the U-haul moving box I’ve used to store all of her school work and art projects from preschool to present day. And by store, I mean dump into the cavernous inside and cram under the extra desk in my husband’s office. She dumped out the contents all over the floor, and everything that’s made her who she is today stared right back at her. She was perplexed at the number of teacher write ups she received in a not so flattering vein: Ava decided to randomly bite her friend today as they were sitting quietly next to each other; Ava refuses to listen, so we need to start utilizing the sticker chart again; Ava started a small fire in the girls’ bathroom and convinced her friends to burn their shoes while she sang the theme song from The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Okay, that last one may or may not be exaggerated a bit, but you could tell she wouldn’t have been surprised if she came across something like that. It was such a reminder of the pain of wanting what you used to have, when at the time, it wasn’t worth the pain of holding it in your hand. But now, spread out all over the floor in the presence of drying paint and dog breath that stinks of bird innards, I think on that pain, how it must mean we’re still here, still alive. And I thank God for the little moments that never seem to matter.

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The long game.

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She says something smells, and it must be me. I sniff at my clothes and she laughs saying, “Did you ever think you’d end up this way back when you were cool?”

She gives me way too much credit.

But no. I didn’t think I’d end up like this. There’s a multitude of good in it. Sometimes, something that passes as news catches my eye when I run at the gym, and I think on how grateful I am. How grateful I should be. But there’s always that bitter lining of reality that’s stitched in the seams. It’s my own foul attitude toward the things that define me whether I should be grateful for them or not.

I suppose that speaks more to who I used to be. A creator of lies I thought I’d one day live. If somebody irked me, no matter. They’d one day witness me winning the Pulitzer Prize and that would surely put them in their place. Why I imagined a nine-year-old would ever be intimidated by a fancy writing award is beyond me. I guess I thought I’d play the long game.

I am not a Pulitzer Prize winner. I did win a gold fish at a carnival once that lived for three years, so I suppose all is not lost. But I’m finding winning isn’t in the bigger things but in the small building blocks of an every day life. One foot in front of the other. One seed planted in a row. Sprinkle it with water, watch it grow.

She shoves her laundry into the open mouth of the washer, and I sniff at myself my again. This time, a little less obviously.

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