When we were packing to move into our new house back in 2012, I kept finding dimes. They were everywhere: in boxes, on the floor, in the couch cushions. I assumed that Sean wasn’t keeping track of his loose change but my mum had a different theory. She told me about the superstition of finding dimes in random places. According to the superstition, these dimes were signs from someone who had passed on. A little glimmer to catch your eye and remind you that they were there.

Sean and I both lost our fathers as teenagers. I lost my grandmother soon after that. If the superstition was ever been based in truth, we had people in the Great Unknown that could plausibly be thinking about us as we embarked on a new phase of our lives.

I didn’t give it much thought until we started to unpack at the new house and dimes started showing up again. Logically, it was because they had been packed with all the other things that make up our home, but they kept showing up in weird places. If the superstition was true, someone wanted our attention.

We settled into our home and the flurry of dimes also settled. I find the odd dime next to a pair of discarded pants or at the bottom of my purse. Sensible places that can be explained away. Sometimes I wonder, but mostly I don’t. Those dimes make sense.

I’ve recently started seeing dimes in odd places again. I see them most often on my walks from my car to the GO train platform and back again. I cross the street from one parking lot to another to get to the platform. I don’t see them in the same place every time. I’m usually deep in thought, but I catch the silver glimmer in the corner of my eye and I pause to see of it’s a dime or just a random shiny thing. I confirm what it is and continue on my way.

I’ve always followed the “find a penny, pick it up and all the day, you’ll have good luck” rule. I know it’s another superstition but I’ve always figured it can’t hurt to try to get some luck. Especially when the next line is “find a penny, leave it lay and bad luck you will have all day”.

I never pick up the dimes.

Maybe more dimes are showing up now that Canada has retired pennies and everyone hates nickels*. Maybe another harried commuter has holes in his pants pockets from all the loose change he’s carrying around. Maybe someone I care about is trying to make their presence known from the Great Unknown.

If that’s the case, what do they want?

* Does everyone hate nickels, or is just me? Ever since I was a kid, I’ll see a nickel overlapping a dime and think it’s a quarter. Then I look closer and see the smooth outline and I realize I don’t have enough change for the desired trinket of the moment. Quarters go in gumball machines and grocery carts. Nickels add to your worth in tiny increments. Nickels are obviously not useless but that beaver mocks me when I’m looking for a caribou.

What’s making me happy right now

Did you know that yesterday was The United Nations International Day of Happiness? I didn’t either until I got to work yesterday. My office building was celebrating with smiley face balloons and cupcakes in the lobby.

I really love smiley faces. I was the girl who dotted the Is in her name with smiley faces from ages 10 to 12-ish. I still sign cards with my name and a little smiley underneath. When I add Flora’s name, I do a little flower for her. (I still haven’t figured out a symbol for Sean, which feels like unintentional exclusion.)

In honour of yesterday’s International Day of Happiness, here is a list of things that make me happy right now.

  1. Picking up Flora from school.
    When I get to Flora’s school, I can look in a large window and see the kids in the after school supervision room. I love finding Flora in the window and watching her go about her business. It’s gratifying to see who she is when I am not hovering over her. I also love the huge tackle-hugs I usually get when I get to the classroom door. They make me feel loved. (I’ve written about this before. The card I mentioned in that post? Still on my cubicle wall.)
  2. The snow is melting.
    I just wish it would stop snowing so that there was no more snow that needed to melt. This winter has been hard and like most of my North American pals, I’m more than ready for it to be over.
  3. The jeans I’m wearing right now.
    Sounds ridiculous but it’s true. I like the colour, the fit, and the feel of them.
  4. Seeing older couples being affectionate together.
    When I see older couples holding hands, or one half holding the other’s arm for balance, or generally being affectionate, I think “I want that”. I want to part of that couple who sits in their matching rocking chairs cracking jokes with each other. I want to have my hand held when I’m 90. I’ve let Sean know this, and I hope we pull it off.
  5. Seeing the lake on my way home from work.
    My GO train station is near the lake and we pass through parkland and nature right before we stop. When I sit on the south side of the train, I can look out the window and gaze into Lake Ontario. It makes me feel centered and calm. Now that the days are getting longer, I get a better view of the water. It’s a nice way to end off my train ride and move into my evening.

I am grateful for these and so many other little – and big! – things that make me happy. What making you happy these days?

I will learn to code

When I was in highschool, I read Microserfs by Douglas Coupland, one of my all-time favourite authors. I used it in my big English project in either grade 12 or my OAC year. (Aside: remember when you thought you’d never forget the details of your highschool existence? Well, you totally do.) I don’t remember the whole point of the project, but I remember that one of the points I was trying to make was that Internet-speak (short forms, emoticons and LOLspeak) was going to dumb down communication and make us all terrible spellers. Keep in mind that this was circa 1996-1997.

Maybe I should have gotten into futurism as a career. At least I can still spell.

The description of Microserfs from Douglas Coupland’s website is this (emphasis mine):

Microserfs first appeared in short story form as the cover article for the January 1994 issue of Wired magazine and was subsequently expanded to full novel length. Set in the early 1990s, it captures the state of the technology industry before Windows 95, and predicts the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.

The novel is presented in the form of diary entries maintained on a PowerBook by the narrator, Daniel. Because of this, as well as its formatting and usage of emoticons, this novel is similar to what emerged a decade later as the blog format.

When I was in highschool. I could have taken a basic intro to computer programming course. I think it covered Pascal and Fortran, but I’d have to confirm that with Sean who did take the course. I thought programming would be too hard so I didn’t take it. I took a word processing course instead (WordPerfect in DOS! Don’t miss that!). That course – along with my journalism class that wrote and designed the school newspaper and yearbook for that year – put me on a path to my eventual career in graphic design and document layout. But now I’m kicking myself for not taking the programming course too.

That last paragraph makes me feel like such a feminine cliché. Remind me to tell Flora not to underestimate herself when she is a teenager. I could blame the general slacker culture of the 1990s for my own hesitance, but ultimately, I know I was lazy. I could have done better in school and tried harder. I just didn’t want to.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for Codecademy, a site that teaches basic coding skills for the web, and in various programming languages. I’ve been working  through the Web Fundamentals track because my HTML skills are woefully out of date. I took my first HTML course on a Saturday afternoon in 1999 back in college. I learned the basics and ran with them. I created several shitty websites. Including the one that got me an interview for my first job as I had posted my resume on it. With my full mailing address. How naive was I?

Today I saw this video from Code.org. It’s less than ten minutes so you should watch it.

I’m not so sure of what I think about little kids learning to code (they get so much screen time as it is), but now I’m finally diving in. I’m desperate to create something I’m proud of. Learning to code adds another tool to my arsenal.

Learning to code is teaching me patience and perserverance. Those are skills I need away from the computer. Being able to create something is almost a bonus.

A small start to a new year

Why it’s probably a good thing we don’t go out on New Year’s Eve:

What can I say? Loud noises scare me.

We spent our evening flipping between college football, kid’s TV and old music videos. I didn’t have remote privileges or much veto power so I worked on (and finished) the book I was reading. When Flora went to bed, Sean and I poured ourselves a few drinks and had a few laughs while watching more old music videos.

Today has been lazy, but not a complete write-off. We took down the Christmas tree and decorations earlier this afternoon. I made beef stew in the slow cooker knowing I wouldn’t want to come up with dinner after a long day at home. Flora spent most of the day in her new ballerina outfit and I spent most of my day in my jammies. We’re both dressed now, but she is wearing a summer dress that is much shorter than it was last summer.

A perfect illustration of time moving forward.

I feel like I should have all these grand plans for 2013. I’m not ready to make any big commitments yet, but I’m thinking about stuff. I want to succeed with small changes – and honour those successes – before I proceed  to any major overhauls.

For now, I’ll go with this:

8am #photos12 artwork on my desk at work

This is author Ami McKay’s Pledge for Digital Humanity. I printed this image out from her blog post “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”. It’s on my desk at work. I find it inspiring there, but probably need to apply the pledge outside of work too.

That’s a start. Happy New Year.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I’d love to tell you that I’ve been having crazy awesome adventures and that’s why I haven’t written here in the last six weeks. While we had a good summer, it hasn’t been anything extraordinary. No big trips, no life-changing events. Just an ordinary life. And that’s okay.

No big stories, just lots of little ones.

Family life is so routine-based that anything new feels weird and hard. Then we adapt and the change becomes normal.

I’m in the headspace where I’ve got so much to say, but I’m not sure how to articulate it. I have loads of ideas jumbled together in my head and no time to figure them out. Then when the time does show up, I waste it by trying to get everything perfect to Express That Thought. By the time I get my act together, the thought is gone and I’m left disappointed in myself and full of doubt.

I can do better than this. I need to reset my routine too. What do you do when you feel like this?

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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