How This All Came About
Happy-making things in a difficult world:
NYC. Fat goldfish. A really good burger. Long walks. Your foot sticking out from under a blanket in order to find some cool air. The music intro to NPR’s All Things Considered. Short naps. Times Square late at night in the rain. Sondheim. Someone forgiving you. Someone believing in you. A really bad DJ at a wedding turning into a really good DJ at a wedding. Stephen King’s Twitter. Twin Peaks (season 1 still holds up). College basketball. An unexpected phone call or text from someone you haven’t talked to in a while but just thought of moments before. An old, gray-muzzled dog with happy eyes. Any movie of Katharine Hepburn’s, especially her entrance in The Lion in Winter. A small piece of chocolate that leaves you wanting more. Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies.” A long road trip on a crisp fall day when the leaves are just post-peak and there is a scent of wood smoke in the air. An extremely green grasshopper. Lin-Manuel Miranda. The whistle of a train. Katherine Johnson. Newly sharpened pencils. Civility. Bacon. Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings. Freshly cut yellow tulips. Caillebotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day. The trip home. E. L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
Special Edition: A to Z
Happy-making things in a difficult world:
Aperitifs at 11:00 p.m. Backup plans that are rendered unnecessary. Close-ups of your favorite movie star. Driving the Pacific Coast Highway at dusk. Eveready batteries at hand in whatever size you need. Focusing on the task at hand as if your life depended on it. Gutting the pumpkin while watching Garfield’s Halloween Adventure. Hand quilting. Immersing yourself in a sunken, bubble-filled tub. John F. Kennedy Jr. playing touch football in Central Park. Kitchen talk with a friend during a busy holiday gathering. Last chances that bear fruit. Making the most of an unpleasant situation. Nancy Drew and the Secret of the Old Clock. Obeying the rules and then breaking them because they were wrong. Purple martins. Q is for Quarry. Requesting your favorite song at a dance and hearing it minutes later. Spontaneous classroom laughter. Taking someone’s dream seriously. Under-the-bed storage. Vanquishing a long-held fear. Watching a scary movie with a group of friends. Xanadu. Your favorite smell. Zero regrets
Things to Look Forward To
Flying home and seeing your parents waiting for you in the baggage claim. In-person author events. Hearing a crowd of fifteen hundred people in the theater cheer together at the end of the 11 o’clock number. People-watching in an extremely busy hotel lobby. Singing along to “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway. Saving the ticket stub. A boring day in the office. Crossing that thing off the bucket list. Dancing to Stevie Wonder’s “As” in a large group. Betty White’s hundredth birthday. Browsing. Commuting. Meetings in person. Dinner with friends in a crowded restaurant. A slow news cycle. Margaret Atwood’s new short story. John Grisham’s new novel. Annette Gordon-Reed’s new nonfiction. Kadir Nelson’s new painting. Annie Lennox’s new album. Tony Kushner’s new play. Wes Anderson’s new movie. Tyler Mitchell’s new photo. A Saturday movie matinee with the beverage and snacks of your choice and an engaged audience. A ridiculously fashion-filled red carpet. A digitally restored print of The Lion in Winter. Going to the opera for the first time. Early lost recordings of Whitney Houston. That new thing that brings you joy and then you tell someone about it and then it brings them joy. Uninterrupted glee. A worry-free day. Science embraced at large. Concerts. Hugs. Handshakes. Necessary trouble. Reaching the other side of something challenging (which you will!)
Things You Might Need to Hear Today
“Here comes the sun” (the Beatles). “No day but today” (Rent). “Carpe diem” (Dead Poets Society). “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” (The Handmaid’s Tale). “There’s no place like home” (The Wizard of Oz). “Smiling’s my favorite” (Elf). “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack” (The Empire Strikes Back). “Katherine Johnson knew: once you took the first step, anything was possible” (Hidden Figures). “Everything’s impossible until somebody does it” (Batman). “Screws fall out all the time. The world’s an imperfect place” (The Breakfast Club). “Sometimes you have to look hard at a person and realize he’s doing the best he can” (On Golden Pond). “Go the distance” (Field of Dreams). “I got through all of last year” (Follies). “No one is alone” (Into the Woods). “Yes, everything was beautiful at the ballet” (A Chorus Line). “Don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars” (Now, Voyager). “You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to” (Good Will Hunting). “Goodnight you princes of Maine, you kings of New England” (The Cider House Rules). And the best advice I ever received, from my amazing grandma Peggy when I was whining about something or other during my visit on the day after Christmas 2013: “You’re gonna have to be like your grandma.
You’re gonna have to Get. Tough.