For years, one of my Core Beliefs as a Human™ has been the importance of holding fast to whimsy, even in the shitty times. Especially in the shitty times, even.
This is a shitty time.
When I think about it, I feel confusingly lucky that my mental illness isn’t to blame right now. My anxiety and depression—or at least the versions of them that are caused more by my brain than by external factors—are solidly reined in at the moment. (Shout-out to self-care, therapy, an SSRI, and my thrice-daily clonazepam!) (Yep, I am taking that as prescribed!)
So I can’t deny that the shitty time would be shittier if my brain were being a nincompoop. (Wait, should I just say “dickhead”? Is this ~that kind of blog~? I guess I’m establishing what ~kind of blog~ this is, and I mean, it’s me and my brain, so—DICKHEAD.)
Anyway, for once, my brain’s not being a dickhead—it’s just r e a l i t y ! Beto lost! Trump fired Sessions! RBG’s in the hospital! The White House released a doctored video of a press conference to make a reporter—who is already, according to Trump, the enemy of the people—look bad! There was another mass shooting last night! Bernie Sanders can’t seem to own up to racism being a thing!
All that to say: I am not in denial. I am, somehow, not curled up in a ball under my desk at work under whatever this season’s version of a fashionable blanket is called. But I do need a reprieve, if a brief one. A balm. A metaphorical peppermint mocha to at least bring me some modicum of warm fuzzies.
So without further ado, I present to you—
My Current Warm Fuzzies Sources
Literal peppermint mochas with a side of constant Christmas music
This one was brought to me via my brother, who shares both my feelings about and my history with the Christmas season: specifically, that the holiday itself is rife with emotional bullshit if it’s made more complex than food and decorations—BUT the formulaic, socially constructed sounds, sights, and flavors of the season are utterly effective at suffusing joy into us.
I kicked the Christmas music season off with Pentatonix; Mike, I think, went with Nat King Cole. Go ahead, reserve some energy to judge us for treating our ears to manic pep and the soothing sounds of the man who’s essentially everyone’s figurative Christmas grandpa. We’ll be over here basking in joy in rebellion.
Oh, and Christmastime tastes like peppermint and chocolate. Period. Yes, I am susceptible to marketing and probably addicted to sugar. No, I don’t care right now.
Noticing the pretty on purpose
Because the universe is occasionally petty in its cruelty, I had to wake up before 5am to make it up to Wisconsin for a corporate training thing yesterday. I got off the train in Milwaukee, and the city struck me as grey and dismal and short. I knew my grumpiness wasn’t a result of my surroundings, really—I love cold, cloudy weather, and I’ve long considered Chicago a little too big for me—so I decided to find stuff I actually enjoyed beholding with my eyeballs. I sought out beauty and took a bunch of pictures of it, and it turned out there was a river, a mural, and a massive, inexplicable painting of cows on my path.
Of course, I would’ve seen all these things, but I wouldn’t have really taken them in if I hadn’t consciously decided to.
And no, I don’t want to know the reasoning behind the enormous cow painting. Sometimes there’s just too much beauty in the mystery.
Indulging in some light-hearted fiction
When young adult lit hit peak dystopia, I was genuinely confused why people were so annoyed by it. As a clichés go (and can entire genre be discarded as cliché, or is that some agist, classist bullshit?), dystopian lit is pretty great—especially dystopian YA. Give me a heap of political bullshit that people fight and fight and fight and eventually start to topple. How could a person not want that?!
And anyway, we need to accept that Millennials and our even younger counterparts—as well as PoC!—are going to be the ones to save us all. Embrace it, even. I am a white woman, and I know we’ve been fucking up, voting-wise. You know who hasn’t? Young people. And Black women! KAMALA HARRIS 2020, PLEASE.
All of that said, I can’t handle fictional dystopia right now—or anything dark, for that matter. I couldn’t even get through all of Mr. Robot. So I’ve been literarily jamming to some fantasy and romance. At the moment, I’m in the middle of The Paper Magician, and I fully and unabashedly plan to add some holiday-themed romance novels in the mix soon. I reveled in the spooky shit last month, media-consumption-wise, and I refuse to wait until the ~proper time~ to flip the switch to the holiday season.
And yes, that includes holidays other than Christmas, as well as purely generic holiday fluff. If you’re limiting your holiday book and movie choices to stories that tie back to Our Lord Jesus Christ, you’re seriously missing out.
Being nice to people on the train and hugging my dog
These two are pretty obvious.
Firstly, the train sucks. Don’t make it worse. If someone bumps into you and apologizes, smile and say it’s fine! Don’t hug a pole! If no one else is taking a seat, take it for the sake of saving space! Pay attention in case someone needs a seat more than you! Don’t manspread!
Yes, some people call it selfish to embrace the joy that comes from your own kindness. My only counter to that is this: Who cares? Be nice (or at least not a dick). Feel good about it.
Second, pet something fluffy if it’s available. Hug a stuffed animal if it’s not.
In sum, seek out joy. Don’t be a dick or a buzzkill. Let people like what they like.
The world sucks in a lot of ways right now, but there’s solace to be found.
We just have to find it on purpose.