The Oprah jar

At some point early last year I decided to put an empty jar on the kitchen counter, and every time something good happened that year I would write it on a slip of paper and put it in the jar. Colin promptly dubbed the vessel “the Oprah jar” and despite the fact that I can’t stand Oprah–atheists can’t feel a sense of awe? Who died and made her queen of other people’s emotions?–I had to admit it was a fair description. It was just the kind of crafty self-empowerment crap she’d promote on her show. Just before giving someone a car. And then bashing atheists. (Yeah, I really don’t like Oprah.)

But I did it as a sort of experiment. Every new year, everyone rants about how bad the past year was and hypothesizes that the year to come will definitely be their year. Now, maybe the year really was a terrible one. Maybe it was the worst year of a person’s life. Really, though, short of a really terrible illness or serious loss, it’s sort of difficult to measure how good or bad a year was. You mostly remember the big stuff, and all the little wins that made you feel really good for a day or two, or possibly even a week, are forgotten by the time the year is over. I figured it would be a nice reminder.

The problem with a plan like this is a) I was immediately self-conscious about what to put in the jar. I mean, I was the only person who would be looking at it and yet I felt silly every time I wrote something down, even if it was something that had made me really happy; b) it was a little too much like a New Year’s resolution and so I treated it like a New Year’s resolution, only haphazardly making entries and then forgetting the jar for months at a time despite the fact that it was sitting right there; and c) my life is already pretty well documented. Between Facebook, this blog, and writing books which sometimes draw on conversations and people I already know, I didn’t need a jar to remind me of the things I enjoyed in 2013.

But I’ve been sick the past two days and my coworkers banded together to kick me out of the office, and working from home gets boring. (I work a lot faster without the constant interruptions and dilemmas that attend working with and managing a group of people.) So, when my eyes fell on the Oprah jar, I was just bored enough to be curious. I couldn’t remember anything I had written on the papers in the jar, and decided to go through it. Mostly, the results were predictable. Stuff about traveling I enjoyed. And hey, I like my cats and boyfriend! And, of course, my mom’s birthday gift of two tickets for Colin and I to stalk Bill Murray through the AT&T Pro-Am made quite an impression as 23.65532_10151333986468355_1241901258_nwell. If I had been expecting some sort of self-discovery or moment of epiphany, it wouldn’t come from the Oprah jar. But I hadn’t really expected to, so I suppose in some ways that was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Nonetheless, here are a sample of the notes from the 2013 Oprah jar:

The woman at The Photoshop fixing my camera for free. 3/13

Making fun of marathon runners in our pjs while eating breakfast. 4/7

January 17: Colin buys the cats a scratching post and rubs it down with catnip. The cats are high and playful.

Memorial Day–Tea with Michael, in a teacup!

Dogs howling their satisfaction in unison after dinner and a good day’s run

Cat Cat flying attack on Jack in a bag

My mushing team: Kermit, Maya, Scrubby, Harry, and Gopher.

02.09.13 Following Bill Murray through 18 holes of golf at the AT&T Pro-Am.

Lena, Neal, Mignon, Matt, Colin, Marianne, Ryan, Kathy, etc. helping me with my book.

Bill Murray writing BOZO on a girl’s head.

Tajine. The only way to eat carrots. 3/18/13

Bill Murray’s red and white hat.

Lesbians fighting an intern over a giant pink egg filled with (bleeped out) on Easter.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Crows flying in California Valley.

On the plus side, I did start considering all the things I didn’t  add to the list, like the KCPR DJ who happened to be playing cheesy ’80s and ’90s TV theme songs one day, prompting Colin and I to call in no fewer than three requests (Darwking Duck, Tailspin, and Duck Tales); falling in love with roller derby and attending a half-dozen bouts, including one in Anchorage; the giant faux cake we made for Maeva’s farewell party, which boasted Aileen wearing a unicorn head tucked inside; watching my brother graduate from college. None of which required a passport or savings account or anything, really, beyond being in the right place at the right time. And, in the case of Maeva’s cake, a lot of frosting.



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