Thanksgiving

I started a tradition with myself where I ring in the new year with a word. Maybe it sounds weird, but every year it feels more like the word chooses me than I choose it. And during the 365 days which follow, this word becomes my grounding point, my focus, my meditation. I learn all it’s meanings and contexts. I study the etymology. I basically spend the year trying to embody this word. It has been ridiculously uncanny how the word ends up becoming a perfect descriptor for the year it’s ascribed to.

2014: surrender (the year my entire world turned upside down)

2015: fierce (the year of facing fears, growing pains, and healing)

2016: expectant (the year of patience and waiting)

Latin expectare | ex– “thoroughly” spectare– “to look”

Await. Defer action. Look out for. Desire. Hope. Long for. Anticipate. Regard as about to happen. Count upon. Trust. Rely on.

All year I have worked to create a sense of expectancy in myself. To trust that good, beautiful things are both here and to come. To fall open to anticipation even when the waiting feels arduous and itchy. To not grow anxious about the unknown, but to be expectant– hopeful.

I spent the first five months of 2016 applying for jobs. Fourty of them, to be precise. This came after four months of thirty-nine applipactions. I nannied part time and volunteered at DMCW and The Alzheimer Association. I started my See Through Stories project. I just kept perfecting, polishing, and pursuing. The only door that opened was one that led me to Edinburgh for the Fringe festival. I had wanted nothing more than to be back in Edinburgh and even though applying for jobs there wasn’t working out, I was ecstatic for the opportunity to return even for a little bit. I knew it would feel like torture when I had to leave, though. And it did. Especially when everyone around me seemed to be getting good news and I was still waiting and wishing.

But I came home with high hopes that I’d be back in no time. You see, during my days off of festival work I researched, cold-called, emailed, and visisted organizations doing dementia-related work and talking about my project. I ended up meeting with the founder of my favorite one and the promise of a potential job opportunity was definitely there. A couple of months later, they posted an opening. You guys, if I could’ve written myself a job description, it would’ve been this. A total dream. I emailed. They wanted me as soon as possible. I thought, this is it. It makes total sense. Everything that’s been happening has led to this. All that hard work is paying off. This is what I’ve been expectant for. I’m so happy.

But a total dream it will remain.

I just spent this week moving into an apartment here. I now have a lease and a marketing job. It all happened really fast. I am thankful for it– all of it. But it is not what I was expectant for. I’m so sad. To have that open door slam in your face the second you’re about to walk through. Oooft. Ouch.

My sad self co-hosted a Thanksgiving dinner at the worker with my friend Joe. There were eight of us (some friends, some strangers) and we probably looked like The Island of Misfit Toys, but oh god, was it lovely. I hung sheets for curtains. Joe lit donated hot pink candle sticks. We drank wine from plastic cups. Some of the kindest words anyone has ever said to me were around that table and I will never forget them. We dined by candle light, sharing stories and asking questions. Everyone went around and said what they were thankful for. When it was my turn, I felt extra aware of my senses. Belly tight with food. Eyes beholding faces I love. The smell of hot candle wax and wine. The taste of Joe’s mama’s sweet potato casserole. Intermittent hums, silence, and laughter. All the goodness was overwhelming.

If this is where and how I get to do this: Await. Defer action. Look out for. Desire. Hope. Long for. Anticipate. Regard as about to happen. Count upon. Trust. Rely on.

…then I am thankful for that. Hell yeah, I’m thankful for that. Perhaps the lesson is to only be expectant for this day and to look no further. To trust that I will find whatever I need to get through this day, is something I can do.”Give me niether poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.”

Love,

Taylor

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Faces of The Des Moines Catholic Worker

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“I wear this hat that says Grandpa on it because I love my grandkids. I’ve got two of them. I haven’t seen them in a few years, though. I’m kind of the black sheep of my family.”

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“Uh oh. You got me smiling.”

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“She’s good for me. She calls me out when I’m lying or drinking. She knows my problems and she loves me anyway.”

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“I want a full body shot because I’m fabulous, baby!”

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Rita and her dog Gizmo, who I think is her doppelganger.

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“You know what I always say: Don’t do what I wouldn’t do and don’t name it after me.”

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“I started living on the streets when I was 12 years old, man. I lived in New Orleans for 10 years. I worked on a tug boat. Had myself a wife, house, daughter, grandkid. Then Katrina hit and an oak tree landed on our house. We came back to Des Moines but man, I lost everything.”

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Guests make and sign a “Get Well” card for a friend in ICU.

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“Canda was fucked up in the 1960s. That’s why I left. Came here to the land of the free and home of the brave, man. But you guys are screwed now.”

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“I’m thinking about dying my hair blue. It’d go with my outfit, don’t you think?”

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He goes by the name Hawkeye and I’ve never seen him not wearing Hawkeye gear. Go Iowa.

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“Do you think this picture will get me a knight in shining army?”

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This is Bryan, but she calls him “Too Tall”.

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“My shoulders are my favorite part of my body but I’ve never had a picture of them. Can my portrait be of my shoulders instead of my face?”

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R. Kelly’s ‘Bump n Grind’ is Jimmy’s ringtone. Everytime I see him this plays and I get “My mind is telling me no. But my body, my body is telling me yeeehuheeesss” stuck in my head.

Love,

Taylor