I'm Thankful for Philadelphia

If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with.

Today was one of those days. I had a full-on case of the Mondays. There wasn't any one thing that put me in a mood, it was just a compilation of a bunch of little annoyances that dragged me down into a pool of gloominess. My computer decided that Calibri (the default font for Microsoft Office 2007) needed a lot of smoke breaks; hence only five words of a fifty-word email were visible unless I hit forward and switched to plain text. Add to that a mound of filing, an acne flare-up, and feeling hormonal beyond belief, and you've got yourself one grumpy Business Support Manager.

It got so bad that I decided to listen to music. I carry a 30 GB iPod everywhere I go, but fewer than 10 GB are music. I listen to podcasts constantly; stand-up comics interviewing other stand-up comics, overly explanatory BBC audio documentaries, and audiobooks in the public domain. My brain was wired at a young age, through constant exposure to NPR and WCCO, to appreciate the chatter of people talking to people. I've never been a big music listener and my tastes are pretty conventional, breaking out the music only when I need to exercise or when I don't want to think my own thoughts any more. Turn the music up, turn my thoughts over to the band for a while.

I'm convinced that everybody has an album - their album, the one that never gets old no matter how many times it gets played. The desert island pick. In an effort to drain the pool of gloominess, I broke out my desert island album and immediately felt the change. Perhaps it's because I listen to this album every time I work out or perhaps it's just a great album; my breathing changes, my muscles relax. I feel good.

Halfway through the album (I always listen in track order), I stepped outside for a short walk to the office supply store. One Liberty Place is directly across the street, a beautiful glass skyscraper and symbol of the city. I looked up at it, something I don't do often enough, and noticed that it was set off by a crisp blue sky with perfect white clouds. No rain, little wind. There, on the sidewalk, at 3:30 p.m. on a gloomy Monday, Philly and I had a moment together. God was in his heaven and I was in Philly on my way to purchase certificate holders for our quarterly awards dinner with my favorite music blasting in my ears and everything was a-okay, Microsoft Office be damned.

I spend too much of my time wishing I was back home in Minnesota and not enough time enjoying the city I'm in. Most days I'm perfectly happy with Philadelphia (moving into the new apartment in Media has helped enormously), but on gloomy days like today I find myself thinking "if I was just at home, I'd be happier." Research - specifically the affective forecasting error - tells me I'm probably wrong. My happiness depends not so much on where I am as who I am and how I tend to view the world. I have to say, in spite of my earlier grumpy mood, Philly was looking pretty nice today.

I still have trouble believing that I've been in Philadelphia for four whole years. I never expected my stay to last this long, but overall it has been a very positive experience. My job is the presiding factor in that happiness; I work with a great group of people that put a lot of passion into their work and extend a lot of compassion to each other, and tonight was a great chance to celebrate that. We have these get-togethers quarterly to celebrate our accomplishments and catch up as a company on all the exciting projects in the works. It felt extra-special to hold a potluck instead of our usual happy hour or catered dinner; there's something special about sharing a home-cooked meal and all of my coworkers turned out to be excellent cooks. I brought a good old Minnesota specialty, Tater Tot Hotdish. It's been a long time since I've had a hotdish and it was a pleasure to share it with all my Philly friends.