This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
I decided early what I wanted my word to be, because I wanted something simple and untaxing today.
I wanted something I didn’t actually have to “figure out”. Nothing that required me to think too hard or wax poetic or dig deep.
In fact, I didn’t want to think at all.
So I picked the first random word that came into my head. I was looking out the window at the time, looking at the pink light where the sunrise would eventually be, and the word that popped into my head was blue.
As in, the color, not the mood. Nothing profoundly emotional, but something emotionally satisfying.
So maybe it wasn’t exactly random, and the sky inspired it. But I decided then and there that today I would notice all the blue things.
I periodically like to play noticing games because it’s really easy to go through a day and see nothing. You get this tunnel vision of work or preparing dinner or whatever the task is and everything else fades into non-existence.
Sometimes I think that if my clothes caught on fire I wouldn’t even notice.
I’ve been a bad noticer my whole life. I remember when my parents bought me my first car, there was a big to-do about getting it in the driveway with a big red bow on top, and they wanted it to be a surprise except like most surprises, things happen to make them less surprising.
Except with me, I had no idea what was going on. I seem to never do. People who know me well make fun of me for it, because on any given day I could be walking down a quiet street and a ten foot tall clown in rainbow clothes blowing a trumpet would walk by and someone would say, “Whoa, did you see that?” And I’d look around, bewildered, and say, “What?”
I spend a lot of time in my head.
The thing I remember most about getting the car was that my parents got me to go out to the driveway, on my birthday, and there was this shiny white car with a big red bow and I said, “Oh, who’s is that?” Like not even ironically, I was literally just curious about the shiny new car.
I have one even better.
My mother and grandmother planned a surprise bridal shower for me. I knew exactly nothing about this, and even if they had stood in the kitchen one day discussing my surprise shower, and used my name in a full sentence, I probably still wouldn’t have noticed.
The way they got me to the party was that my mother told me we were going to look at a place for the wedding reception. She told me to dress nicely. She told me to do my hair.
Did this phase me?
I guess I was just obedient, who knows.
But wait, it gets better. You know how you have surprise parties and you worry that the to-be-surprised person is going to see cars they recognize in the parking lot and wonder what on earth Aunt Sally’s car is doing there, so you park them far away? Well, not everyone even did that and I noticed exactly zero cars.
But it gets better, because when I walked in with my mother, fully expecting to be shown sample menus and place settings, my actual grandmother walked by on her way back from the bathroom to the party in waiting.
In a case of bad timing, she happened to walk through the entry area at the same time that I walked in. I actually saw my actual grandmother hurry by and I STILL didn’t notice anything.
Well, I noticed my grandmother hurrying by but that triggered exactly zero ideas in my head.
The point is I’m a bad noticer.
So that’s why sometimes I pay extra attention to noticing things, and today was one of those days.
It was kind of illuminating.
My first thought on thinking up the word blue was, “There’s not a lot of blue stuff. I mean, how many blue foods exist?”
Then I walked smack dab into my breakfast, which was yogurt, granola and… guess what.
So today I noticed the blueberries before I crammed them in my mouth while checking my morning email.
They were pretty tasty. Not Farmers Market tasty, but good enough to notice.
I noticed a surprising number of blue things today, considering I thought it was not a very prevalent color in my life.
My favorite color is red, so red is pretty much everywhere. My dishcloths and placemats, my blankets and t-shirts.
But no sooner did I notice the blueberries than I realized that our entire couch, the one I sit across from and eat breakfast every day, is blue.
I mean, I knew that. I picked it out. But I don’t often pay attention to the color so much as the fact that I’m sprawled on it.
Other things that are blue:
The very tip of my toothbrush bristles. Not all the bristles, just the ones at the top of the brush. Reasons?
The lids for a good number of my plastic storage containers.
The flower pattern inside the bowl that I ate my blueberries from.
The plastic lighter I use to light my candles (although to be fair, I have a red one of those too.)
The sand inside the timer on my desk, a little bit of sky in a photo on my desk, a highlighter. The envelope where I keep my stamps.
The icon on my computer desktop that opens the app that I use when I want to text my brother and tell him I just remembered that I decorated our entire guest bathroom in blue. Towels, floor mat, shower curtain.
The stripes on one of my Hello Kitty’s bows, and the tiny scarf that my mother knitted just for her.
Little pops of blue show up in surprising places. Places I never thought to look, or places that I normally don’t look because what I’m really doing is trying to get my client blog written and the pork cooked for dinner and the shelves put together so we can stop putting our clothes on the floor… after almost three years of living in this apartment.
Perhaps the thing that made me smile most today, as I realized my pencil case is blue, as is my eraser, and at least a few of the pencils inside, was sort of like the “grandma walking in front of me” moment.
As I was picking the blue out of book covers and note cards, I noticed that the word “yoga” is woven in blue right at the top of the mat I use every single day. The one I have my face in during down dog, and the one I stare at during cat. My forehead probably sits right on it when I’m in child’s pose.
If you had asked me yesterday what color the word yoga is on my mat, I probably would have asked you, “What word?”
So really it was a light experiment, and a fun one. A revelatory one, too. I can (believe it or not) close my eyes on any given day and visualize my desk. I know I have some photos there, and pens and supplies and things, but if you had asked me what color highlighter was in my writing cube, I honestly don’t think I would have said blue.
It also brought up important questions, like is that really blue, or is it more of a purple? When is something blue-green vs. green-blue? And are the stripes on that dress black and blue or gold and white?
Turns out this was a more fun experiment than trying to evaluate the tasks I accomplished in the day.
In case you were wondering after yesterday’s pseudo-rant, I set one task today. Exactly one. And I even accomplished it, in addition to about 90 other things I did not set out to do but which insisted that they had to be done NOW.
There are so many interesting things in the world, and so many everyday things that don’t get the credit they deserve.
So here’s to blue, in weather reports and on catalog covers, as candle jars and string lights, from the vast sky to the smallest print on a sticker stuck to my laptop cover.
Maybe try your own blue project. I feel like Tuesday should be Bluesday every week. You never know where a color will turn up next.
Photo: one of my many Hello Kitties with a scarf my mother knitted for her, hanging out with a few other blue things in my apartment.