Things are terrible. And when things are terrible, I often want to reenact the Lady of Shalott scene from "Anne of Green Gables," where Anne dramatically floats down the river in a sinking canoe. Starting last week, women began accusing Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of inappropriate conduct, ranging from sexual harassment to rape. Both the New York Times and the New Yorker published damning exposés of Weinstein's mistreatment of women over the years, which then resurrected less-than-flattering accounts of Ben Affleck, David O. Russell and Michael Bay, among others, who have been accused of inappropriate, verbally abusive and lecherous conduct, respectively. Fortunately, this has also caused many victims of sexual harassment and assault to tell their own stories with the hashtag #MeToo.
And this is on top of all of the natural disasters, the horrific slaughtering in Somalia, the refugee crisis in Myanmar and the impending doom of whatever Trump will do or say next. But since this is 2017 and we must suck what little marrow there is out of life, there are some silver linings. There's a new "Star Wars" movie coming out this year! "Stranger Things" comes back soon! You will apparently be able to stream Amazon Prime sometime this fall on your Apple TV (but I'm still waiting on that, Jeff Bezos)! Thanksgiving is just around the corner! etc.! Below are 20 more things that are giving me joy right now.
1. Rachel and Griffin McElroy's new podcast, "Wonderful!"
If I'm being honest, "Wonderful!" inspired me to write this listicle, so credit where credit is due. The wife and husband duo used to host a show called "Rose Buddies," which was a "Bachelor"/"Bachelorette" fancast. But after some skeezy news came out about "Bachelor in Paradise," they felt they could no longer in good conscience talk about the show. And since that's what the McElroys do best, they zagged on 'em, and changed their show to "Wonderful!," which is literally just about things that the couple enjoy. It is so incredibly sweet and positive, and it's adorable hearing their loving banter.
2. "Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body" by Roxane Gay
I just started Gay's latest book, the subject of which is eerily relevant to the national (global?) conversation on sexual assault. It's not a feel-good read, per se, but "Hunger" is a moving portrayal of how rape victims cope with the aftermath of horrific abuse — depression and extreme weight gain, in Gay's case. Plus, it's also just great writing.
Luke and I have two, beautiful cat children, and they give us so much joy. Right now, Yashi is meowing out the window at some unseen friend, and Harper wakes me up in the morning rumbling with purrs. They always want to hang out, always want pets and give so much love in return. Isn't that the best feeling in the world?
4. Dumb music that makes you happy
I like lots of good music; I also like lots of really dumb music. I don't think it matters. In high school, I used to care a lot about the appearance of my music taste. I tried listening to sad music because my friends liked it — stuff like Brand New, Bon Iver and The Postal Service — but honestly, I mostly loved stupid dance music that was popular at that time, like FloRida, Pitbull and 3OH!3. Was it good music? Of course not. But was it enjoyable, and did it make me feel like dancing? Yes. Pitbull is no musical auteur, but he makes bangers. So listen to whatever makes you happiest. And remember that, to some people, slow sad music may be comforting, and to others it may be triggering and sad. Learn to avoid what triggers your anxiety, and don't feel bad about it.
5. Pumpkin bread
I make this recipe all the time. I use coconut oil in place of the butter and vegetable oil, add 1/4 tsp of ginger, then bake it for an hour. Also, I wrote this entry last week before I started doing Whole30, but I am coming for you in 28 days, pumpkin bread!! (And plz pray for me during this difficult, nutritious time.)
6. The Norwegian TV show "Skam"
I recently watched this DELIGHTFUL TV show about broody teens in Oslo, and in doing so learned a staggering amount about Norwegians, such as the fact that everyone loves wearing hoods. In one scene, I saw a guy wearing a beanie, a windbreaker with the hood up, and then a SECOND hood over that! If you need more reasons to watch "Skam," you can read an article I wrote over on Reel Honey.
7. Putting on stretchy pants after a long day of wearing jeans
This may be female-exclusive because our jeans are so unforgiving, but that sweet, sweet release I feel when I pull on my favourite black stretchy pants is simply unparalleled.
8. "The Good Place"
Starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, this Mike Schur and NBC brainchild will fill the "Parks and Recreation" withdrawals you've been going through for the past *counts on fingers* 2.5 miserable years. I was on the fence about this show when it first aired last year, but the plot (involving the afterlife) has slowly become more interesting, and the writers constantly reinvent the show's premise. So if you've ever wanted to watch Ted Danson laugh maniacally or Kristen Bell act like a total D-bag, try "The Good Place" on for size.
9. Fiona the Hippo
I hope you haven't heard about Fiona so I have the singular joy of describing this princess to you: She is a very fat, baby hippo who resides at the Cincinnati Zoo with her mom and dad. The zoo's social media manager deserves a significant raise because I am kept up-to-date on all of Fiona's weight gains (she is now 530 pounds!), how many neck rolls she currently has and how her parents are doing. Fiona for president!
10. "American Vandal"
This incredibly stupid Netflix mockumentary follows a troublemaking prankster named Dylan Maxwell, who has been accused of spray painting penises on a bunch of cars at his high school. This "Serial"-style, true-crime show was "created" by Sam and Peter, two fellow students at school, and the duo try and uncover who really drew the dicks. It's hilarious and surprisingly moving by the end.
11. Two Dots
I am obsessed with this beautifully designed, highly addictive free phone game. I was never into Candy Crush or anything else before Luke introduced me to Two Dots a few years ago, but there is something so repetitively satisfying about it. The premise is to literally just connect same-coloured dots, and I do so every day on the subway and while I'm watching TV. It sounds dumb, but if I have to explain Two Dots, then you don't deserve Two Dots.
12. The Dodo
This Upworthy-like site for animal stories is probably the most earnest account that I follow. I am regularly brought to tears with accounts of three-legged pitbulls who overcome their obstacles and find loving families. Right now, as I scroll through their home page, I find these gems: "35-Pound Shelter Cat Finds the Perfect New Family," "Dog Born with Only Two Legs Gets Her Very Own Wheelchair" and "Blind, Deaf Dog Is Obsessed with Being Outside." There are so many animals in this world, and they all deserve love!!!!!
13. "Saturday Night Live" is back
Even if you don't want "SNL" every week (I do, but I understand that it's a big commitment), you probably watch the popular clips that float around on social media the week after. I can't stop thinking about the Papyrus sketch from Ryan Gosling's episode.
14. The Twitter account Titular Lines
@Saythetitle is a fairly new account that superimposes made-up quotes onto scenes from famous movies (and sometimes made-up ones?). My favourite tweets are about "Taxi Driver," "Scarface" and "Citizen Kane."
15. When your skin is finally in a semi-good place
I've had pretty terrible skin for the past ~10 years. I've done every acne treatment under the sun, including Accutane, Spironolactone (would not recommend — it worked for my hormonal acne, but I was dehydrated 24/7), Benzoyl Peroxide, Erythromycin, Retin-A, Doxycycline, Minocycline, tea tree oil, etc. etc. etc. What used to be oily and pimply is now pock-marked and dry and occasionally irritated. So when my skin is in that sweet spot, ooooh baby.
16. Animal Instagrams
Luke knows best that when I'm in a bad mood, all he has to do is scroll through Reddit.com/r/aww with me. So of course I love seeing adorable animals going about their day, via the everyday joys of Instagram. This adorable account, tamanegi.qoo.riku, follows a very big poodle and her adventures with an adorable Japanese toddler. Life with Malamutes showcases two fluffy, possibly overweight Alaskan Malamutes and their cat friend, Milo. Bone Bone is a thick-boned cat who wears a backpack and looks mad all the time. I follow countless corgi Instagrams, but this one has a corgi puppy who wears a little Adidas hoody!! Sgt. Bulldog loves life, wakeboarding and sticking his tongue out. Honestly, what else do you want from your Instagram feed?
17. House plants
I'm obsessed with Pinterest. I know that's lame because it's "not cool anymore" or whatever, but in case you haven't noticed, I don't play by the rules. I have boards for essentially everything, and I mainly save external products, recipes and photos (with the Pin It button) onto my boards. I love researching ways to improve our apartment's #aesthetics, and 50 percent of that is just thinking about what house plants to get. Do I own a burro's tail succulent? No, but umami do I want one! If our beautiful children would stop knocking over every cute little succulent I've ever bought, our living room would be a greenhouse by now! I've currently got my eye on a peperomia, so I'll keep you posted on that.
18. The ability to watch shows that are now off the air
My main hobby is binging TV shows that I missed while growing up overseas. Shows like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Mad Men" and now "The Sopranos." And I've started taking that accessibility for granted. I am very #blessed to have services like Hulu, Netflix and HBO at my fingertips. (And Amazon, but like, do I really want to watch stuff on my laptop if I have a TV? Jeff Bezos, PLEASE save me from this Amazon limbo! I wanna watch "Search Party" in a television environ.!)
19. That feeling when you wake up early and realize you get to sleep another hour
No explanation needed.
20. The band Partner's new album, "In Search of Lost Time"
I found this queer rock band through my Discover Weekly playlist (Spotify finally came thru!) a few weeks ago, and I've been obsessed with this album ever since. The lyrics are clever, the songs are catchy and the electric guitars go hard.