Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Superficial Things That Made Me Happy In 2017

Buckle up for some hyperbole, folks.
1. I got my first tattoo on my sixteenth birthday after at least a year of wishing and planning. My second came when I was twenty-three following a couple years of consideration. I promised to get my third with Erin a few years ago, but ultimately backed out because I wasn't absolutely positive. My track record of lengthy contemplation has led to my never for a minute having regretted either of my previous tattoos, despite their not being particularly cool anymore (if they ever were). But this year, after months and months of total certainty, an intense search for a skilled artist, and a lot of saving, I invested in a big ol' tat right there in your face. This lilac is a piece of artwork I'll get to have with me for the rest of my life, reminding me of my mom, every place I've ever lived, and that I'm kind of a badass. It thrills me every time I see it, which is obviously a lot.

2. Once upon a time I tried on a pair of Tom Ford Snowdons at an airport duty free shop and fell in love. They were a totally unjustifiable expense, so I'd resigned myself to never having them. Years later, I found that I needed glasses to drive and prescription sunglasses became, if not an absolute necessity, at least a very practical want. On a whim, I checked and found that prescription Snowdons somehow cost much less than the non-prescription ones I'd found at the airport all those years ago. I can easily say that this classic pair of prescription sunglasses that makes me feel like a boss is one of the best purchases of my life.   
3. This is silly, but this set of sheets just really makes me happy. Every day, without fail. 

4. Podcasts, you guys. I am learning so much. I eased into them over the years, but now I don't get into my car without listening to one. I can become a little stressed when I think about how much great content there is out there, so I'm going to try not to overwhelm you with the dozen or so podcasts I listen to regularly. The best, and the ones I'll recommend here, are the ones that have made me think about things differently: Rough Translation is about how other places and cultures are handling the same kinds of issues Americans are talking about, Heavyweight is a laugh-out-loud show about real people confronting someone about a moment from their past that they can't shake, Invisibilia is about the invisible forces that shape our lives like ideas and beliefs, and Uncivil is teaching me untold stories and busting myths about the American Civil War. Uncivil ought to be compulsory for Americans. But the very best podcast I've listened to - ever - and, in fact, the best bit of entertainment I've experienced in a long time is S-Town. It is a complex work of art and no description I could write here would do it justice and NPR's own doesn't come close either:  John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life. S-Town is about seven hours long, and I've listened to it nine times since April. I cannot recommend it enough.

6. I also managed to see a lot of good TV last year. Freaks and Geeks, which I've started a few times, hooked me in November and I finally stuck with to the untimely, yet joyful end. Transparent is such a quick watch, I was able to re-watch the first three seasons as a refresher in anticipation of the fourth. I've literally had to pause it at certain moments during season two and three specifically to wonder out loud what in the world kind of brilliance I was looking at. I saw the complete Mad Men series for the third time in 2017 and am tempted to start again, it's that good (in case there's anyone reading this that doesn't already know that). And finally, Dear White People (the series - I haven't seen the movie), which should also be compulsory for Americans, was so much fun to watch, but, more importantly, woke me up and made me wish I'd seen it a decade ago. White people: do yourself a favor, spare yourself any further humiliation, and spend five very entertaining hours on Netflix getting woke.

7. I grew up in Montana. I spent years in Cleveland. I've survived eight winters in Sweden. And almost every single day of every single winter since I've been tall enough to reach a windshield, I've scraped ice and brushed snow off a car. Not this winter, though. I now have a car with a pre-heater that I can start from an app on my phone. The car is warm on the inside and clear of snow and ice on the outside when I get into it in the morning and after work, you guys. It is the bougiest thing I can think of (this from the lady with the designer sunglasses) and I'm almost embarrassed to mention it, but in a way I kinda feel like I earned it. Any anyway… 

8. … I stopped getting my hair colored professionally. The salon raised their prices, so I bought a box of L'Oreal, saved myself a couple hundred bucks a year, and I CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE. 

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