Saturday, April 13, 2013

Happiness Is the Boxer Around My Neck...But That's Better Than an Albatross Any Day

Are you ever in the throws of life being pretty rad and also scarily sucky? YES?! Then let us be friends and gorge on Thin Mints and throw our arms around one another and watch many, many TED videos in succession to help gain perspective!

I know I often border on hyperbolic when I'm being silly, but, seriously, this is what I have spent my weekend doing and my Thin Mint reservoir is dangerously low. One of the best playlists of TED vids (yes, there were TEN EPISODES IN A ROW on a single topic!) I watched was about being happy.

Hello, my lovlies! You look so very lonely in this picture! Perhaps you'd like to come closer? No! I would never devour every last one of you like a starving animal. NEVER. Maybe.


I think being a happy person is a little like playing a vapid airhead in a movie. People assume it's easy or because you're truly dense, and, actually, the opposite is true. Seriously. This big-ass smile? It's work, lovas! WORK!

Recognize this lady? You probably know her as flaky airhead Phoebe from Friends, and some people assume she's not very bright in real life. Did you know she also graduated Vassar with a biology degree and a plan to follow in her father's footsteps and become a physician? Luckily for all of us, she chose to share her hilarity and brilliance in film and television...or unluckily for us. Cause I bet she would have been an amazing doctor, and it's a little scary to imagine what she maybe didn't get to share with the world, doctor wise!


My husband is what I like to call a "nervous Nellie." Or, also, a "hyper-paranoid freak who always anticipates the worst possible scenario times fifty jillion and with a zombie apocalypse and the sudden, inexplicable destruction of all Thin Mints thrown in for drama."

I say this affectionately! You all know I adore that crazy guy! And his insanity works like a counterweight for me. When I'm sliding down and feeling maybe a subtle shade of baby blue, he's already dark-wash denim and slinking towards navy. So I have no choice. I don't. I have to be happy because, otherwise, we'll both sit around weeping with Thin Mint crumbs stuck to our lips and trapped in our running snot rivers.

A typical convo between us will go like this:

I peruse my sales reports with pursed lips, feeling a teeny, tiny bit of panic and unhappiness. "Huh. I haven't sold as much as I expected this month. I wonder how I sold last spring? Do you know where my graph thingy is from last year?"

"I can't talk." His face is pale, his fingers are trembling over the keyboard keys, as if he's about to pass out and topple off the bed. "I'm looking for a second job."

"Why?" I ask, staring at him like I can possibly comprehend his mania just by looking. My unhappiness is already ebbing away, because he needs intervention and it's only been two seconds since I voiced a single, indirect worry.

"Because I won't let this family sink. I won't let you down."

He's totally all like this! You know, unless he can't find his keys. Or he needs me to sit on the counter while he cooks eggs because "it's lonely in the kitchen." Or if some relative he doesn't want to talk to calls and he's begging me to say he's in the shower again. For the eighth time. If all those exceptions are excepted...total warrior.


(Sidenote: my husband really goes totally iconic warrior  leader when things go wrong...never mind the fact that whenever we hear a weird sound in the night it's TOTALLY me tiptoeing through the pitch black house with a bag or pretzels or a Kindle or something equally as useless as a weapon. Not like we ever need a weapon. It's ALWAYS our stupid boxer knocking an Easter basket off the kitchen table while chowing down on Peeps or falling off the couch in his sleep. That dog is the bane of my sorry existence.)

He's going to fall off the couch any second and scare the crap out of my husband...


"Dude, chill. You can't work a second job, 'cause I'd never see you. And I said I'm selling less. Next month, I might be selling more. No worries. Let me have the laptop. C'mon...let me have it." He gives it over, hands sweaty, and asks me to promise--promise-- that we will be okay.

And I do it. I promise like I'm some kind of omniscient Buddha, because what the hell else can I do in the face of such adorable uncertainty?

Cute guys asking me to tell them it's all going to be okay? My. Kryptonite.

But it's hard some days, to be sure and smile and be the captain of a ship you're not totally sure is going to make it through this damn storm. It is. When I look back, always and forever when I look back, there is nothing at all to have feared. The beauty is, things work out. Not always the way I want them to, but often better than I could have anticipated. So why worry?

TED videos tell me it's because I'm a human and worrying is pretty much evolution's way of keeping us one step ahead of a predator's teeth. And now that there aren't carnivorous animals breathing down our necks, the things that keep us searching the internet for second jobs like primitive humans sprinting away from a pack of saber-tooth tigers (wait, did they live when humans lived??) have different teeth: they have teeth in the shape of financial ruin or limited health care.

But TED also told me (TEN TIMES!!) that the things I worry about are also N-O-T the things that will make me happy. It won't be money. Which is a relief, though I technically have more than I need anyway. And it won't be security, because that's all fleeting and based on impression and memory. It will be the peeps I love and loving them hard.

So I'm happy. I'm happy that being happy is a daily part of what I do for my husband and daughter. I'm happy to peddle books like a semi-famous folk star popular in a hundred mile radius of the area she grew up in (still, totally rockstar, right?!). I'm happy to have a body that's doing alright and really could do better if I just put down the damn Thin Mints and a clear mind and freedoms and love and safety (other than the occasional dog-based bumps in the night).

I'm even happy for Duke. My dog. Who interrupted this blog post by upending his food bowls even though I just fed him because he'd love to test my happiness by vomiting the contents of his over-stuffed gullet in half an hour. Even for him I promise--promise--I'm going to take care of things. And it will all be cool. For all of us. It will be. I promise.

This is Duke being scared and sitting on my lap, where he clearly fits. I know, right? How can you be unhappy when you've got a guy like this in your life? Like I said before: all good! I promise.