I’m heading off to a multi-family extravaganza, so this seems like a good time to focus on everything I’m grateful for. In no particular order: Good arthritis meds and a good doctor who doesn’t think pain should be accepted as a natural part of a woman’s life. My health: all the things that aren’t wrong with me. Chiropractors and naturopaths–the fact that those things are covered by my health plan. My health plan (despite the fact that… okay, I could go on but this will not turn into a health insurance rant. Focus, Sonya! Gratitude.) I’m grateful Healthcare Now! called me for a donation last night, and grateful that people are selfless enough to sit near a phone and call down a list of names, all the invisible grind work of changing the world. I’m grateful for my husband, a writer and hilariousness machine. He just got a piece accepted two minutes ago by The Rio Grande Review. I got to marry a writer who is also a nice, kind, funny, and strange-enough man. I’m grateful for every damn car accident and moment of frustration because I get to work it out with him. I’m beyond grateful, just a little in awe of the universe, that he came into our lives four years ago. I’m grateful for his family and his whole damn hometown, which treats us like we’re from there. I’m grateful for literary magazines and literary blogs, the literary community, the people who write. Books. Yummy new books that are way better than you even expect them to be and then when you read them you feel less alone in the world. I’m grateful for my colleagues at Fairfield University. Mentors: Bill Roorbach (he’s got a new book out!), Lee Martin (he’s ALWAYS got a new book out!), and many others. Ohio State University, which allowed me to go to grad school without debt–TWICE! (I am not grateful for the “The,” it’s too cheesy). And my former colleagues, now friends and compadres, at Ashland University, for my friends from Georgia Southern, especially the AAUP activists. It’s great, in general, when people get to know you enough over years that they know the ways in which you will freak out, and you know the ways in which they will freak out, and it’s just funny to everyone. Do you know what I mean? I love being known by my friends and not rejected for my secret recipe of anxiety and exuberance. I love being around people long enough to notice their patterns. I love being in touch with people I knew from high school, including the excellent poet Nicole Stellon O’Donnell. I can’t believe our constellation of farm towns produced two writers. I’m grateful my dad made up the word ex-huber-ance. I’m grateful for my relationship with my family members, alive and dead. I’m grateful for having been in enough pain at various points that I turned to writing, because look what I got: writing. Grateful for Buddhism, for the fellowship of friends and family of, for the Lois W.’s. Grateful for my kid, my son. The reason for so much focus and work and… I can’t say enough. I’m grateful my child has a massive sense of humor. Other things: sausage and wurst. Coffee. Tomboy dresses that feel like sweatshirts (they didn’t have those in the ’80s, did they?). Limes. Fish sauce and Frank’s Hot Sauce. The Midwest I miss, the Rust Belt. Clearance racks. Libraries and highways and the post office. Day care workers who have SAVED me. My old car. The kindness of strangers. People who know that meetings should be short and everyone should leave with something to do. I’d be a big big liar if I didn’t say I was grateful to therapists for their sheer practicality, the hardware store of the soul. Writing classes, writing workshops, writing groups. Bookstores, especially small and strangely-organized higgledy-piggledy independent ones where you run into stuff you didn’t knew existed. Grateful to be 41, for the feeling I got starting at age 40, when people getting mad at me for stupid reasons began to seem a bit more ridiculous, when I became a bit less eager to please any random stranger, when the numbers 4 and 0 somehow made me feel mortal, and therefore that I had no time to waste, and therefore that I did not have to put up with meanness or waste my time with stuff that’s not worth my time. And I could go on and on, I realize, but it’s time to write. Biggest gratitude, or near the top of the list: time to write.