Counting down, catching up, to Christmas

My roommates and I bought our tree before the month of December. I started listening to Christmas music at Halloween.


I somehow ended up at Trader Joe’s on Dec. 5th, still without a chocolate Advent calendar. They were all sold out!

I asked the checkout clerk if they were going to get any more calendars in, but I guess they don’t restock “time sensitive” products like a countdown to Christmas because my answer was a straightforward, “No” followed by “those were gone pretty quick.”

I went into work the next day and told my colleagues this “sad” story — the fact that it was now Dec. 6th and I could not properly count down to Christmas.

“Are you Christian?” one of the nurses asked me after I had unfolded said “sad” story.

I sheepishly answered “no” and she followed up with a “What’s an Advent calendar, anyway?”

I couldn’t believe that this middle-age, well-educated woman did not know what a (chocolate) Advent calendar was! I described the rectangular boxes that most of them come in with pictures of Santa or Rudolph on them. I described how there are little “windows” you open and behind each one is a piece of chocolate shaped like some sort of holiday-item. I told her you can only eat one chocolate per day, you’re counting down to Christmas after all.

Her response to all that was something like, “huh.” She didn’t seem amused. Our other coworker seemed to also be surprised that she didn’t know what a chocolate Advent calendar was.

Enter Dec. 10th.

I was well-rested Monday morning (Dec. 10th). I woke up 20 minutes before my alarm went off. But, it was a Monday. I wanted to stay in my warm bed. It was dark and cold outside. When I arrived to the office, I hadn’t shaken off my Monday blues.


I walked in and on my desk was A CHOCOLATE ADVENT CALENDAR!

I looked at my coworker who I share the office with. She also had one on her desk.

“Yeah, I don’t know who brought them. They were here when I got here,” she said.

Now, my roommates and I are playing catch up to the countdown to Christmas. (Thanks to the elf who brought them — aka my coworker who now knows what a chocolate Advent calendar is).


Excuse me, you dropped your bananas

A small sliver of what an evening with me may look like:

Joanna and I are in her car driving back to our house after a trip to the grocery store.

There is a woman riding her bicycle on the road in front of us. A bunch (as in one bunch) of bananas falls onto the ground as she continues to bike down the road. There’s one of those child-trailers attached to the back of her bike and it appears that the bananas have fallen from that.

“Look, bananas!” Joanna yells.

(My response would be “What?” followed by something like, “Oh, ha ha ha. Yeah.”)

Joanna is very careful not to run the fruit over and comments on how it’s unfortunate that some of the woman’s groceries are left behind on the ground.

“Stop! I’ll get them,” I shout.

You see, I don’t even really like bananas that much — there are other fruits that are way more tastier — but the idea of taking some type of food item for free would seem exciting.

As soon as I pick up the bananas and am back in Joanna’s car, it dawns on me that maybe we can return the bananas back to this woman. After all, we are in a car with an engine and she is on a bicycle that is powered by her own energy.

With every turn we make (two to be exact), we mindfully watch the woman as she makes the same turns we need to make in order to get back to our house. When we catch up and are driving alongside her, Joanna tells me to roll down the window.

I do it, but I am about to burst out laughing that I cannot call out to the stranger.

After multiple “Excuse me, miss!”-es and “You dropped your bananas!” the woman turns and sees us. She graciously thanks us and says “how nice” it was for us to return them. She even offers one to us but we kindly decline. (After all that effort we aren’t about to keep a banana!)

This small sliver of an event is what an evening with me looks like. It happened yesterday.

Oh, and the bananas were organic so I’m really glad we tracked her down. Produce doesn’t come cheap these days!


Excuse me, have we met?

It’s one thing when your regular sources/acquaintances/friends/mom tell you you’re doing a good job, but it’s entirely different when a stranger does.

Set scene — Reporter talking to someone at a community meeting. A woman walks by and says something to reporter:

“Thank you for what you’re doing. You’re doing a great job,” the woman said as she tapped me on the shoulder.

I responded “thank you” and looked up at the woman, realizing I did not recognize her. She continued to walk down the hallway and I ran up to her and said something along the lines of, “Excuse me, sorry, I don’t remember. Have we met before?”

The woman smiled and responded “no” but that she had seen me at a recent school board meeting.

“You’re with the ——— paper, right? Keep up the good work,” she said and headed toward the door.

I replied “thanks.” I was surprised that a stranger not only took the time to thank me for my work, but allegedly recognized the value in the work that I do. Did she think I was hardworking because she has noticed the masthead of the newspaper only including one reporter’s name (mine) opposed to before when there were three? Did she think I was doing a good job because my news stories are well-written? Did she notice I have been attending even the study sessions of the school board and am therefore keeping them “in check”? I had no idea. But, appreciated the recognition.

End scene — Reporter drives home from the meeting around 9:30 p.m. but for once, in that moment, feels warm fuzzies from her job. — Cut.

Tarnishing my driving record / an expensive 21st birthday / a stranger’s kindness making it better

While my friends and peers wrote about how sports-team-they-excelled-in helped them become a better person or growing up in a family of boys or overcoming adversity living in a small town, I wrote my college essay on how I did not want to learn how to drive. I had no interest, but was forced to.

Fast forward to present: I drive a lot. Coming back to Seattle from Kitsap every weekend racks in the miles. I used to take pride in never having been in a car accident — until last spring when a woman decided to hit my car in stop-and-go traffic from behind. She was nice about it and her insurance paid for the slight bumper damage — it wasn’t my fault — but I was still sad to see my clean record go. Sure, I may be female and Asian but I’m a pretty safe/good/cautious/yeah, I use the horn a little too liberally if people cut me off or do something stupid, driver.

At least I had never gotten a ticket for anything driving related.

Oh, no, but my “clean” record has been tampered with yet again. Last Friday I got a parking citation while parked in Wallingford during Lucy’s 21-run. I guess I am not that good of a Seattleite as I thought because I was not aware of the no parking from 5 p.m. to midnight in that particular residential zone. When I returned to my car in-between bars, I found a $53 ticket on my dash.

I was mortified. I didn’t even think to check the signs when I parked because I didn’t think such an odd “no parking” time existed.

My driving (and parking) record will forever be tarnished. I was mad that I had to pay $53 for a first offense. Don’t some drivers get away without a ticket when caught speeding by the police if they have a clean record? What about parkers? Shouldn’t they be given that same leeway?

The ticket photo is being stubborn and doesn't feel like rotating now

In the little white envelope to the Municipal Court of Seattle, I included a passive-aggressive note about my situation to whatever poor soul has to open up those envelopes. I’m not joking, of course I included a note — I’m a writer! I even ended it with “I hope someone is actually reading this and is finding some amusement.”

When I went to the post office to mail the letter (and check, I didn’t forget the money!) I realized I would have to wait in a long line just to buy one stamp. Haven’t they heard of express check-out like at the grocery stores? As I waited, I was getting more annoyed for the ticket I had to pay for.

Probably after only three-and-a-half minutes of waiting, the woman in front of me turns around and looks at me. She’s holding a few small boxes and sees that I only have a small white envelope. I thought she was going to let me cut the line in front of her. But, no. She opens up her purse and hands me a postage stamp.

“Here, dear, no reason for you to wait in this long line,” she says.

“Oh, thanks, but I don’t have any cash on me,” I reply.

Of course this kind stranger did not expect me to pay her 46 cents for her stamp!

The thing is, she not only saved me money. She saved me time. I was grateful for that. I left the post office happy to be paying off my ticket. Someone actually went out of her way and did something nice to me. A stranger did a random act of kindness for me. This never happens to me, I thought.

I’d never been so happy to pay a parking ticket before. But, I’d never had a ticket before. I have a pretty clean driving/parking record with a few slip-ups now. And that will be the most expensive birthday present Lucy will ever get from me.