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Things That Made Me Happy This Month–June 2016

2016 July 5

Somehow 2016 is half over. How did that happen? Do any of you know? Things remain pretty static for me–same job, same apartment, same people in my life, for the most part. There’s a certain restlessness because of this status quo state, but I’m also taking advantage of the quiet time–sitting on my porch a lot, taking walks, writing, just trying to be more mindful. And isn’t that what summer is for?

Here are a few things that have made me happy over the last month:

  • Did I mention how much I love my porch? I find myself having coffee out there, having a post-work beer, reading for hours on weekends. It’s shady and my roommate has planted flowers, and you can hear life going on just beyond the porch on the busy main street I live on. But you’re also apart from it, somehow protected. It’s my own little piece of vacation, right outside my front door.
  • All Songs Considered: The Worst Songs of All Time.  This is an old episode, from 2014, but they replayed it recently, so I listened during the times I normally listen to podcasts–on walks and while I wash the dishes or cook dinner. This particular episode made me laugh out loud several times–and Carrie Brownstein returns, and it’s wonderful, although I did disagree with several of the hosts’ judgments. (I have a weird fondness for Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry.” Don’t ask me to explain it, for I cannot.)
  • Temeraire. I don’t “do” fantasy, as a rule. I don’t watch Game of Thrones, I’ve never seen Lord of the Rings, and I’m not a Harry Potter fan. The ladies in my book club, however, LOVE dragons, and were determined that we read a book about them, so I went along with it, fully expecting to hate it. I’m happy to report that I was totally wrong. We read His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novick, a fascinating blend of historical fiction and fantasy where dragons are commissioned to fight in the war against Napoleon. Temeraire, whose egg is seized from a French ship by a British vessel, turns out to be a very rare and highly prized Chinese breed of dragon, fiercely intelligent and loyal and, frankly, adorable. There were points (like the battle scenes) where I got bored, but Temeraire and the other dragons totally charmed me–so much so that I actually found myself CRYING, IN PUBLIC, during a particularly heart-wrenching scene involving one of my favorite dragons. Who even am I? Anyway, it’s nice to read outside your comfort zone and surprise yourself sometimes.
  • The off-leash sections of Boston Common. Many evenings after work, I find myself cutting through Boston Common on my way to meet friends, and one of my favorite parts of these walks are seeing dogs playing in the off-leash areas. One particular Friday when I had some time to kill, I just stood and watched the dogs playing for about fifteen minutes–not creepy at all.
  • Lady Dynamite.  THIS SHOW. If you haven’t seen it yet, please drop everything and go watch it (it’s on Netflix). It stars Maria Bamford as herself, telling the story of her breakdown and diagnosis of bipolar disorder and attempt to rebound and find balance in her life. Though it sounds dark, it really isn’t–but it’s not all puppies and rainbows either (although there are plenty of those). Bamford tells her story with a rare mix of grace and humor and self-awareness and honesty–and talking pugs. That’s right–in addition to being a laugh-out-loud hilarious and touching show, it also features adorable pugs who dispense wisdom in German accents. Seriously, what are you waiting for? It doesn’t get any better than this.
  • As many of you know, my mom was in and out of the hospital throughout May and June with a mix of ailments, but I’m happy to report that she’s home now, and has been for almost two weeks, so we’re optimistic that this time, it’s going to stick! She’s feeling better and moving up and around on her own, which is encouraging. Thanks for all your good thoughts!
  • The Senate filibuster and House sit-in for gun control. After the tragedy in Orlando, it was heartening to see at least some of our government representatives fighting to make a difference in gun control legislation. It’s a small step, but it gives me hope that they will continue to fight against the NRA and corruption in Congress, protecting the rights of gun makers, sellers, and owners at the expense of the vast majority of Americans who support universal background checks and public safety research around gun safety. The state of politics and violence in America has really been getting me down lately, so the sit-in an filibuster were at least temporary balms.
  • Narragansett/George’s of Galilee. Last weekend, I went to the beach for the first time this summer. I went with my sister and her husband, and after laying out in the sun for a few hours, we drove to George’s, a waterfront seafood restaurant in Narragansett. I sat in the backseat and enjoyed all the scenery as we drove with the windows down through Southern Rhode Island, scenery that makes me happy that I grew up in a really beautiful state. George’s (and Aunt Carrie’s and Iggy’s and other places like them) makes me nostalgic for childhood in a weird way–not that we went down to the beach all that frequently, but when we did, it was something special, something that symbolized summer. And I get that feeling back every time I’m down there, eating clam cakes and chowder, smelling the salty air.
  • My new H&M jumpsuit. I was very, very skeptical of jumpsuits and rompers. Sure, they looked cute on other people (most of the time) but they just weren’t me, I told myself. And then, one day, I went to H&M on my lunch break, as I’m wont to do on especially stressful days when I need some retail therapy, and decided I was going to try something new. So I picked up a blue patterned jumpsuit and never looked back. It’s one of the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn. I wore it to work the very next day and it was perfect–I felt confident and comfortable and cool all day. So next time you find yourself saying “Oh, I could never wear that,” tell yourself to shut up and try it anyway. You just might pick up a new favorite item for your closet.


One Response Post a comment
  1. Courtney permalink
    October 13, 2016

    Jill, I’m totally on the same page as far as being thankful for reading time spent on my porch! I just finished a handful of romance novels, but my favorite by far was Bascomville by Mark Calde. It was recommended to me by my best friend because I’ve been in a bit of a romantic rut lately and she said it would help remind me that men are capable of appreciating and respecting the women in their lives. Boy was she right! Found it here on the author’s website ( and I think you might enjoy it as much as I did! Cheers!

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