Random Acts of Kindness (September 2, 2009)

I am in a better mood these days. I am still riding high from my London experiences, and have renewed my efforts to make a go of this freelance writing career while I look for a more permanent job. I picked up a copy of my third StreetWise cover yesterday, an article about Mercy Homes and organic gardens. It turned out well. I am now working on my fourth cover story and have stepped up my game a bit. I am writing a piece about a three -acre nature preserve and sanctuary, called Eden Place on the South Side. I am sort of turning myself into a local expert on urban agriculture, and am fine with that niche. It is booming and it’s beneficial to develop expertise on the subject.

I went to Eden Place yesterday for the interview and to take photos (my first time doing that). Then in the afternoon, I spoke with the USDA’s Under Secretary. He was in town for a press conference and tour of some of Chicago’s urban food gardens, which is relevent to my piece. I know this isn’t like interviewing the President or anything, but I was really nervous! I am going back to Eden Place for their farmer’s market on Saturday. I think we all my research and time spent, this may be my best piece yet.

I am also back in the swing with the Edge and wrote a review of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, which I saw Monday night at the Greenhouse Theater Center on Lincoln. It was quite good, exploring relevant issues like corporate greed in times of war. The Edge is also sending me a book to read and review. And on the 15th, the new issue of Jettison Quarterly comes out, and with it the story I co-wrote with my friend Bryan on Weird Chicago Tours. So all of this is great and I have to stay positive, even if I am a little dispirited looking for a job with an actual income. The job market is still horrible. But I was reminded in London that I am doing what I am meant to be doing, even if I am no genius like Shakespeare or Austen.

Other areas of my life are looking up as well. Jen’s little Rosebud finally seems to be getting better (please join me in a communal knock on wood). My marriage, which combusted ground zero style in July, seems to be on the mend, with a side order of hard work and counseling.

So anyway, I am inclined to look at everything a bit more positively these days. And yesterday appeared to be a time when fate, karma, what have you, saw fit to remind me that not everyone is mercenary, and if you just open your eyes, little pieces of evidence abound that most people do actually mean well.

Example #1: I parked my car as usual in the Whole Foods lot before meeting my trainer for our twice weekly sweat session. Normally, I use any spare time before the hour to warm up. But on this day, I chose to browse my local Gap store instead (I admit I may have been influenced by Confessions of a Shopaholic, which I am currently reading – great chick lit). I found a couple pieces I liked, one on sale, one not, and was considering which I ought to buy (I do have some spending scruples). When all of the sudden like a retail angel, a woman appears with a 20% off coupon on any full priced item. She had gotten it after taking as phone survey. She said that on this day she saw nothing she wanted to buy, so would I like to use it? Don’t mind if I do! I realize this is small, but it certainly gave me a boost.

Example #2: I am scared of dogs – always have been. I could try to explain but I suppose the point of any deep rooted fear is that it is not rational. Typically, I can only admire cute pooches from afar. But my friends Quincy and DJ have an adorable English Boxer named Ursula, whom I have flirted with petting with for awhile now. Last night I met some of my pals at a bar to wish my friend Joe well as he moves back home with his parents. Ursula was there on the dog friendly patio. I was considering whether I were brave enough to go in for a cuddle, when she unceremoniously looked up and licked my face. I think that says it all. We are now famous friends.

Example #3: I have been thinking about certain family members I haven’t spoken to lately, like my favorite cousin, Little C who has been on a post-layoff road trip with her husband Phil for the last three weeks. Or my A.D., my fellow writer and mentor. As luck would have it, I heard from both of these folks yesterday. As my friend Diane might say, it warmed the cockles of my heart.

So there you have it, nothing much at all. But I think we (I) ignore the little things to often in favor of big picture misery. What can I say? I am sort of a “glass is half empty” gal by nature. Well maybe not any longer. I just sort of got tired of feeling tired and angry this year, you know? It’s time for a new attitude Thanks for the reminder Ms. Patti LaBelle!


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