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The good habits

It happens almost every morning as I'm about to board the bus. I fold out my wallet to expose the central clear pocket that holds my bus pass, and I look past the pass to the two cards behind it -- two different debit cards in the same little pocket -- and then a quick look to the right to another, sturdier but still clear, pocket, with my driver's license. And, right behind it, my one credit card.

They're all almost always there. The one time one wasn't anytime recently was when I hadn't yet activated one of the debit cards so I'd left it on my desk -- in my well-locked building, fear not -- and there was that dissonant moment of Wait. Card not there? followed by Oh. That's why.

And, almost all of the time, the flowing moment of Pass, there. Debit cards, there. License and credit card, there. Good.

It's turned out to be a reassuring habit. At one point, sometime, it became a habit. I didn't wig to it until recently, but when I realized what I was doing I ran with it. A place for everything and everything in its place, which is possible even with my scattered head and my messy apartment. And it means that if the pattern is broken, I can more quickly realize it is and deal: run back the few blocks to my place, were that needed, for instance. Retrace steps. Account for everything that's usually accounted for. Having those cards is important, after all.

A helpful habit is a good habit. Helpful in its own way is my grounding habit. I lived from Grade 5 to Grade 12 in Norhern Virginia. This is a dry place in winter. Really dry. How dry? Static can build up to where it can practically arc out of your fingers like you're Emperor Palpatine using Sith Lightning+. Ouch. Inspired me to both A) write a poem that began "Now is the winter of our being shocked" (alternately "our being zapped") and B) ground myself, a little at a time, everywhere: touch edges of things, run a hand on (say) the side of a cubicle and let little bits of energy out so they don't build up explosively.

I haven't been in that dry part of the world at all since winter 1993 and I still do that. Course, the habit got reinforced when I moved to another dry area: Hermiston, Oregon. (Not dry in the "no drinking" way. This was the Nineties, not some decades earlier.) Semi-desert meant getting shocked again. I opted to get shocked a tiny little bit at a time. It wasn't until I spent a week in Spring 2000 in Seattle -- visiting a cousin and wondering if maybe I should move to that city -- that I noticed I was still touching stuff with no shocks whatsoever. Ah, moistness and temperate climate. But it meant that finally I was really especially aware of that habit. And I thought about it, and realized it was still useful, and in the decade since it's never really gone away.

Here's something to think about, where would we be now without good-ish habits?

Seriously. What habits do you realize are surprisingly useful habits for you? I'm curious.

+ Immortalized in this Peter David lyric I can still recite:
Sith Lightning, you're burning up the Jedi Knights
(Sith Lightning, go Sith Lightning)
Sith Lightning, you're good to have around in fights
(Sith Lightning, go Sith Lightning)
I am supreme
My victims scream
From Sith Lightning!
Heh. Thank you for being tuneful, Mr. PAD.



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 2nd, 2010 02:57 am (UTC)
What habits do you realize are surprisingly useful habits for you? I'm curious.

I have my debit card number and my social security number firmly committed to memory.

I always take a shower before leaving the apartment. Srsly, people like you better when you're sweet-smelling.

I take my morning meds when I wake up, and my evening meds at 10:30 sharp. I always have snacks for that - I have to take them with food.

I put on sunscreen. Winter, summer, rain, shine. I'm fair-skinned and I take meds that turn me into a vampire. I also had a skin-cancer scare - I don't want that happening again.

I pet my cats. Lowers blood pressure. Srsly. Studies have been done. My mom says that petting an animal is like turning a prayer wheel - good for the soul.

When I go on long trips - especially to places I've never been - I keep a paper journal. Internet access tends to be spotty and expensive, so write things down. I did this when I went to Israel, and it helped immensely. (If you like, I'll email you my day-by-day digest of events.)

I smile, ma'am and sir everyone, say please, thank you, and excuse me. It gets me looks from the uncouth Yankees here, but I was raised right, dammit.

And I always know where my towel is. ;)

Dec. 2nd, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
::Pouts:: LJ ate my comment... So, I suppose I shall write it again.

After the Airport incident of 2003, I always *always* make sure I have Wallet keys phone (emphasis on Wallet). I've gotten in the habit of saying a mantra to make absolutely sure I have my wallet, keys, and phone. I have even passed it on to Brian, who way too frequently misplaces one or more of the above. He's gotten better about it though, and I hope one day it becomes a habit of his as well. I should note that to date ever since I got intot he habit, I have not forgotten my wallet, keys, or phone. :)

And if you'd like to know the story, I will be glad to tell you it.

Dec. 2nd, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
Even if I know I just dropped my keys into my pocket or purse, I almost have to actually see/feel them again just to prove to myself they're there before I close the locked door. On the other hand, when I'm at the salle, I've made myself get into the habit of putting the keys in my purse, not my pocket, after too many nights of leaving without my purse! (Which hangs over the back of my chair and is regrettably easy to overlook in gathering everything else up to leave.)
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Whale fluke
Chris Walsh

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