Things I Like

With everything happening in the world, my depression seems less like mental illness and more like a reasonable response. However reasonable, being sad doesn’t often serve me. It’s not fun. So here is a list of five things that make me happy. In no particular order, these are things I see every day that make my world a little bit better.

  1. Podcasts

I listen to podcasts every day. They’re a great way to make menial tasks, like driving, dog walking or cleaning the apartment, entertaining. Currently, I am working my way through the archives of Hello From The Magic Tavern, an improvised comedy podcast about a Chicago man who becomes trapped in a world of wizards, elves, and shapeshifters who basically only take the form of talking badgers. It’s DEFINITELY fictional and not proof of other dimensions. It’s also hilarious. Other great podcasts include My Brother, My Brother and Me (a comedy podcast where the McElroy brothers give terrible advice), The Adventure Zone (these same brothers play Dungeons and Dragons with their dad), The Art of Process (Aimee Mann and Ted Leo interview creative people about how they make their art) and everything on the Escape Artists network (weekly short stories of fantasy, science fiction, weird fiction and YA fiction). Whatever you’re interested in, someone has made a podcast.

  1. My Kitten

His name is Orange Sherbert and he’s currently trying to murder my shoe laces. My neighbors found him and his sisters in the dumpster behind our apartment: small, scared and covered in fleas. We bonded almost immediately. So suddenly, despite our finances, a one bedroom and my roommate’s allergies, we had a cat. Sherbert is the best impulse decision I ever made. Against all odds, he’s happy and healthy, with all his vaccinations and a recent neutering. He runs to the door when I come home. He meows and natters when he sees the neighbor cats or his food dish or a red dot. He walks across my laptop and snuggles with me early in the morning. He’s staring at me right now, probably waiting to bite my fingers. I love him so much.

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Sherbert on my desk
  1. My Bed

I swear I am not getting paid for this post. I bought a Casper mattress last week and it’s changed my life. For nearly five years, I’d slept on an Ikea mattress on the floor. It was never super comfortable but recently it became a torture chamber. Casper has been advertising on my favorite podcasts for years so I knew it would be inexpensive, easy to return and delivered. I got twin XL mattress, base and bed frame for less than $800. It’s amazing. I actually get up feeling rested, allowing me to actually get to work on time. You spent a third of your life asleep. Get a mattress that you love.

  1. My Desk

My Desk is easily the most beautiful item I’ve ever owned. It’s green and weathered, topped with reclaimed wood. I found it at the Melrose Trading Post, a weekly flea market benefiting Fairfax High School’s extracurricular programs. I haggled thirty dollars off the original price and a sweet old man named Ziggy delivered it the next day. I put it next to my window. I can see the tops of buildings, a few trees and squirrels on telephone lines. Every day, I strive to live up to my desk.

  1. Singing

I wrote 50 words about how much I liked candles and then a song came on shuffle that I needed to sing with. There are a lot of songs like that, where I have to stop whatever I’m doing and sing along. I’ve been singing since I was a little kid. I can carry a tune, but I am no great talent. Part of the joy of singing is that I don’t have to be a great talent. I can just do it. I like the sound of my own voice and the way the words seem to lift up to the sky. Whatever wrong note or mistake comes out of me disappears into the ether. Music connects me to people I’ve never met and loved ones I’ll never see again. Music inspires me and I love to be a part of it, even if it’s only belting along to the radio.

The world is hard. Remember the simple joys that help you through it.

Book 2 of 2019: Art Matters by Neil Gaiman

Image result for neil gaiman art matters

There are three excellent reason to pick up Art Matters.

First the message: Art matters. Ideas have the ability to change worlds, both the surrounding society and the ones that exist in each individual human. Art allows these ideas to flow freely and spread from one person to another, without the two ever having to actually meet. Gaiman writes with crisp simplicity of the journey of creativity, personal and global.

Second, Art Matters is small enough to fit into the back pocket of standard American jeans. This may seem like a frivolous concern but it’s absolutely essential when picking an emergency book. Art Matters offers the best practical advice for literally any circumstance, lifted from Gaiman’s 2012 Make Good Art commencement address. What to do when your husband runs off with a politician, when your leg is crushed and eaten by a mutated boa constrictor, when the IRS is on your trail, when your cat explodes, or someone on the internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid.

SPOILERS: You make good art.

It’s a simple message but it’s worth remembering, especially when you’re suffering from doubt and hunger and considering hanging up the thing that gives you the most joy or meaning.

Third: Chris Riddell’s illustrations are charming. They feel personal, like drawings you made with your friends when you were supposed to be learning Spanish or Algebra, passed around for your own benefit and amusement.

There are more reasons but it would save a lot of time if you just picked up Art Matters for yourself. It’s only 100 pages, it won’t wear you out.