Engagement? Engagement!

Dear Optimists,

So it was Thanksgiving part two, my girlfriend and I were at the shore for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, and everything was going well. We had a great time, my whole immediate family came, and my uncle showed up out of the blue and ate with us. Good times.

My girlfriend asked if, after dinner, we could do a walk on the beach. It was about 66 degrees (19 C) that evening, which is oddly warm for this time of year. We brought her iPad so we could stargaze and actually know the constellations we were looking at. We even saw Jupiter! It was beautiful.

So then we started with a walk and chatted, the sound of the ocean soundtracking our evening.

I started. “What a perfect weekend, huh? We got to have Thanksgiving dinner with both of our families, plus got to have two turkey dinners!”

“It couldn’t have been more perfect,” she said.

I stopped walked. “Actually, I think there is one way it could be more perfect…” and I pulled out the ring. Her eyes widened and she started shaking her head.

“Bastard!” she said to me with a huge smile. “Seriously?”

“Will you marry me?”

“Yes!”

And we kissed.

Then we walked to the boardwalk and I slipped the ring on her finger. She’s a bit clumsy and I was afraid to put it on where it could fall into the oblivion of sand. And no, I did not get down on one knee, pretty much for the same reason; I was afraid I would fumble and drop the ring.

So now I’m engaged.

Love,

Den

Guest Post Wednesday: Moms Are the Best

Dear Optimists,

I just posted a photograph of my Mom on my blog and got to thinking of our adventures together. She’s swell, funny and a great companion.

She is aging and slowing down… and doesn’t like that her brain is slower.  I can understand the frustration – she taught herself Russian and Hindi – so she knows darn well what her brain can do.  She is an expert birdwatcher and even invited me to remote-remote-remote Attu Island (way at the western edge of the Alaska Aleutian Peninsula) where we had a blast.

I was living and adventuring in Alaska at the time.

One of my favorite moments of being on Attu with Mom is this:
We were in a group of around 50 expert birdwatchers and I was the 20-something hanger-on.  We stayed in a decrepit wooden coast guard building and slept in our sleeping bags on rickety bunk beds.  We got around on old one-speed bicycles and were expected to ride them in the snow remaining from a storm a while back.  Saw the leftovers of World War II military detritus, including Japanese equipment–you may remember that the Japanese occupied Attu during WWII.

I got ill pretty quickly after landing – some kind of respiratory ailment.  One morning I lay in my top bunk and just couldn’t face the long trudge up the hill to breakfast.   I dozed and coughed and wheezed.  After a bit, folks began to return to the bunkhouse to get ready for a morning of birding.  Mom came back too and she brought a plate of food for me!  I sat up and dug in.

One of our roommates was wandering by to her own bunk and saw me eating in bed.  She asked, “Hey, how come you get breakfast in bed?”  I replied, “Because I brought my Mommy!”

So, thank you for the smiles and gentle reminders to find the optimism.

Best,
Laurel

Optimistic 25

Dear Optimists,

Den really got me, didn’t he? My heart started beating faster from all the love when I read his surprise post, and when I got to the comments my heart exploded with all the love you’d sent my way (on our Facebook page and my Twitter as well!). Thank you all veryvery much!

My 25th birthday was the best (and lasted 25 hours, because of Daylight Saving Time!). I was surrounded by family and loved ones (and cake!) who did everything they could to make my day even more special. They showered me with gifts, it was almost too much for me to handle. I couldn’t stop screaming from the top of my voice: “SCORE!” every time I opened one. Some things never changed.

One of my gifts was a stool. The stool is very special. It spins:I was occupied for the rest of the day.

Love,
Nadia.

Guest Post! Family traditions

Dear Optimists,

Don’t you just love Christmas? When I was younger Christmas was about presents and family and food, but also about the actual Christian meaning of Christmas.  As my brother and I grew into the teens, it became a lot more about the presents than anything else. Then as we grew up and both moved out of our first home, we realised it was about so much more than that! We both, at the ages of 27 and 29 (he’s older), still wake up at 6AM with excitement of the day to come, but the first Christmas we did this and we weren’t together, we had a little cry on the phone to each other.

The years we had spent being excited about presents, we realised we got excited for reasons unbeknown to us back then. We loved waking up together and opening our stockings, then waiting for the all important 8AM wake up call for Mum and Dad. We would head downstairs to see if the carrot and milk we left for Santa and the reindeer had been eaten and drank. We would open our presents from Santa with such excitement, and then get dressed in our best clothes for trips to see the family and then back home to settle for a big Christmas dinner and crackers 🙂 And oh the joy of Christmas films on the TV. Arguing over who got the remote and which film we would watch first was the best!

My brother now lives in Edinburgh and I very rarely get to do this ritual with him anymore. We managed to both be in the same place last Christmas, and I woke up in the morning at 6AM and bounced into his room to give him a big sloppy hug and kiss, with happy tears in my eye, since we were both home and could be like kids again. Every year, our presents are still from Santa, and last year we played our games on the Wii, instead of playing with Legos like we did when we were younger. (Den’s note: Why did you stop playing with Legos? They’re the best! Can I have yours?) But we still argued over the television. Some things never change!

Its amazing how some families have traditions that will live for years, I know I will enforce the same values into my children, and I hope they do with theirs. So my fellow Optimists… I ask, what family traditions do you have at Christmas?

Love always,
Beth of the great blog Life Since Then

Prank Wars

Dear Optimists,

Pranks are fun, as long as nobody gets hurt. Right?

I’m mixed in with a prank war right now, and it’s fun. On a recent beach trip, a friend of mine told us the story of her aunt, the ultimate prankster. She found a dead crab and slipped it into my friend’s bed on this trip, and she discovered the dead creature in the middle of the night and was more than a bit disturbed.

The big question on my mind was “Why would ANYONE tell ME that story?!?!” So we bought a fake crab and slipped it into her bed. Hilarious. Although she didn’t think so.

And so she kept trying to make me think she’d hidden it in my room. I knew she was lying but played along and let her think I was desperately searching for it. She then tried to get my girlfriend (the worst liar EVER) to bring it home, but I caught her packing it.

So weeks later, a mutual friend told me she was going to her house, and I offered her the crab to hide in her shower. So now, weeks later, I sit here anticipating the nasty message from her about how I got someone uninvolved to hide the crab in her house.

Prank war. On.

What’s the best prank you’ve ever pulled?

Love,

Den

P.S. I also once took a page from The Office and put a coworker’s stapler in a Jello mold. Hilarious.

How to stay positive

Dear Optimists,

Today the Office of Optimists is closed, but we made sure to get a Guest Blogger that’ll show you exactly what you need to do to stay positive.

Don’t worry, we didn’t forget about the drawing:

Shooting Star Beach or a Saturday Surprise

Dear Optimists,

As you may know Den is a writer, and a damn good one too. When he’s not writing optimistic stories from his everyday life here, he writes short stories known as flash fiction.

The other day he posted a new story to his blog. It was one of those stories that you just have to read. Which is why I stole it for you guys to read:

“But…” she looked at him, confused.

“I said space alien.”

“Okay…so you think the shooting stars are UFOs?”

“Yup!” he said with a triumphant smile.

“But the place is called Shooting Star Beach.”

He nodded. “Look, there goes another one!”

“Shooting star?”

“Space alien.”

“So let me get this straight.  You think the lights that look like shooting stars are – “

“Spaceships flying. Isn’t it obvious?”

“It’s not obvious. It’s dubious at best.”

He slouched a little as her mother walked up.

“He’s only eight,” she whispered into her daughter’s ear.

I wish you a wonderful weekend and hope that you’ll take your loved ones by the hand and go look for spaceships.

Love,
Nadia (& Den)