Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gotta Collect 'Em All, Or Something

My Dear Reader,

I was in junior high when they started making quarters that honored each state. One day, all quarters were the same, and the next, there were these cool new ones with what looked like Paul Revere* on them. I kind of hoarded them. A little. They were just so awesome!

And guess what? There were more of them! There were quarters with trees and ships on them. One even had a peach! It was a pretty exciting time to be a distractible pre-teen.

And I know it wasn't just me, because other people were going crazy for these new quarters, too. My grandpa even went so far as to get me a board that had a slot for every quarter in the series. Lots of people had them. And, like me, lots of people waited in anticipation for the next quarter to be released so that they could gleefully fill another empty slot.

And, like lots of people, I lost interest about two or three years in.

I always figured that I'd finish it eventually. When I got around to it. I mean, it's not like the quarters were going anywhere.

And a few months back when I found that quarter board in a bunch of packed stuff, I didn't really think much of it. Then, a few weeks ago, life threw me a few curve balls that hit me right in the gut. All of a sudden, I had all these problems, and there was nothing I could do to solve them. Sometimes it just happens that way.

An unsolvable problem is complete agony. There is nothing that you can do but hurt, and wait, and hurt some more.

And it's funny how in a situation like that, something trivial can suddenly become very important. Next thing I knew, I was determined to finish that quarter board as soon as possible. I couldn't change the laws of physics or the choices other people made, but I could find South Dakota, by jingo.

Luckily for me, I work at a place with a cash register. Soon, scouring the quarters was an almost hourly routine. To the annoyance of my co-workers, I enthusiastically looked for state after state, and the work went quite quickly. I was able to get a state almost every day, and four or five on good days. By the end of the first week, I'd gotten around forty-five of the fifty states.

I ended up finishing the whole thing before the second week was over.

And when I placed that final quarter (Texas, for those keeping score) in that final slot, I wasn't Cecily the Loser anymore. I was Cecily the Finisher.

Cecily the Solver of Problems.

Cecily the Conqueror.

And that felt pretty good, considering the situation I was in. Sometimes, you just need a challenge, even if it's not very difficult. Sometimes, you just need to remind yourself that you're actually capable of something, even if it's not something important. Sometimes, you just need to win one.

And thanks to a loving grandpa and a fad that died a decade ago, I was able to give myself that small victory. It's the small victories that give you the courage to fight for the big ones.

My problems, of course, have not gone away. They'll be around for a while yet. But guess what? They also made quarters for the six U. S. territories. And they're starting this new ten-year series for state parks. My grandpa even sent me two to get started with.

So I'll chip away at that. And at the other things, when I can.

You don't happen to have a Guam quarter, do you?

Regards, best wishes, and coping mechanisms,

-Cecily Jane

*I didn't even realize until I looked it up that it's actually Caesar Rodney on the Delaware quarter, not Paul Revere. I somehow feel used. Also, Delaware missed out some pretty fantastic symbolism, and that's just unacceptable behavior.

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