What did you learn today?

In the past two months, I got COVID, ran an inordinate number of ill-conceived and hot miles, traveled to Clif Bar headquarters, dog sat seven pups across three different towns, and limped to the finish line, a bachelorette weekend (though very mellow) in Savannah. I probably spent a week total in my own home in July. And as exhausted as I am, I know that once I settle back down in Colorado Springs, I’ll start bitching about how BORED I am after about a week. I think I’m resigned to living my life in this constant battle between hating and craving routine. I suppose I’m living consciously enough that I care one way or the other.

Accumulated notes to follow —

I have a friend from college who recently inspired me, though he doesn’t realize it. He lived in my hall in freshman year, and I remember that every time I happened to have a meal with him and other friends, he’d always ask us, “What did you learn today?”

I always thought this was such a great conversation topic, considering the group eating usually consisted of people of all different majors and classes. The things we could learn from each other were somewhat limitless, and it kind of showed you what you had retained from class that day, or at least the most interesting tidbit from the topic you had learned.

Not long ago, I started noting how I often learn little factoids on a daily basis, but I rarely remember them or share them with others. Inspired by my friend from college, I created a list called, “Things I learned today,” and I update it as frequently as I can. Today, I learned that we have approximately 2,000-3,000 thoughts per hour. Last week, I learned that 90% of orange cats are male. On June 3rd, I learned that boulangerie is a French bakery, as opposed to a pastry shop. (Bakeries must bake their bread on-premises to hold the title of ‘boulangerie’ in France.) Meanwhile, pâtisserie is used to describe French pastries and the pastry shop they are sold in.

You learn something new every day.

“Nazi lives don’t matter.” — a bumper sticker I saw a two months ago.

When I first began rock climbing, I often would unintentionally get chalk on my face. It’s kind of like having something stuck in your teeth — noticeable, but people often refrain from telling you and you have to discover it on your own in the mirror. One of my early coaches, Steve, would usually let me know — but he’d reassure me that I looked hardcore.

My climbing partner, Ryan, gets chalk on his face all the time, and I usually wipe it off. I’ve grown so accustomed to doing so that now when I see strangers at the gym with chalk on their faces, I feel compelled to go over and wipe it off for them. One of these days I may accidentally do it and make everyone involved feel weird.

On our all-company service day last month, a large group of coworkers and I went to Ocean Beach to clear sand off pathways with the guidance of the National Park Service. Meeting the service director that morning, I was reminded how trustworthy park rangers appear. It’s not just their appearance — though those vests, Carhartt pants, sturdy boots, and cowboy hats really inspire confidence — but it’s also their soft-spoken, knowledgeable instructions. In this day and age, non-flaky, steadfast people are hard to come by. But never, in my life, have I encountered a park ranger who didn’t make me feel comforted and calm. It’s a noble career.

It was 3:30 a.m. when my Uber driver picked me up to go to SFO. I’m not usually very chatty in the morning, especially at that hour, but my driver was easy-going and I decided to make some conversation. At some point, we started talking about animals that freak us out (for me, spiders, sharks, and snakes are a big NOPE). She and I were largely on the same page in this respect. “You know what really scare me, though I don’t know where I would encounter one?” she asked. “HIPPOS.”

“You’re so right!” I responded. “I mean, when you think about it, hippos are like the moose of the water. Like, no one thinks they’re gonna f*ck you up, but actually they can seriously f*ck you up!”

For 3:30 a.m., I’m pretty proud of this analogy, and my driver agreed that the comparison was spot-on. I will be making this comparison again.

For this bachelorette weekend, I had another heinous, early flight. I left my house at 1:30 in the morning, got to airport parking at 2:45, and was on the shuttle bus at 3:00. So commenced several agitating things that made me want to stare deeply into the fourth wall, praying someone was watching me on their TV screen.

To begin, there was an incredibly chipper old woman on the shuttle bus. Incredibly. She was engaging with literally anyone on the bus who would listen to her, asking questions and having entirely too much energy. Ma’am, it’s 3:00 a.m. Shhhhh.

I made it to my flight with plenty of time, boarded and landed no problem. I needed serious caffeine when I arrived at my layover, so I got my oat milk latte before settling down to work. Cue a cashier calling out, “I’ve got a large pepperoni pizza?” It was 10 a.m. Cue me wanting to barf.

When I finally landed in Charleston, a sign for “Hyman’s Seafood,” made me even more nauseous, and, still recovering, I passed an eatery called, “Caviar & Bananas.” It felt like the universe was trying to make me ill.

I managed to make it a few days before a couple more signs rubbed me the wrong way. I took an evening stroll to the river walk in Savannah and glanced over at a sign for “Waving Girl Dock.” I don’t know why this dock title bothered me so much, but it really did. I glanced to the other direction to see a sign for an establishment called, “Wet Willie’s.” I really hope you don’t eat at this place.

Maybe this is all a sign that I should avoid traveling (to the south).

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