The Loh Life is writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh's weekly take on life, family, and pop culture in early 21st century Southern California.
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The Happiness Project: part 1

Sandra Tsing Loh and her friend adopt The Happiness Project.

Thank God for Gretchen Rubin, author of the New York Times Number One Bestseller, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT!

Rubin has made it finally SAFE for EDUCATED, financially SOLVENT, productively working, happily married MOTHERS with just a BIT of unresolved free-floating MELANCHOLY to come OUT of the closet. First World women don’t have to feel SHAME any MORE over the fact that many of us aren’t terribly happy.

Of course, it is going to take some extra EFFORT -- Some CLUES as to WHAT are in the book’s subtitle: "Why I spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun."

My friend CLAUDIA has decided that THIS is the book for us, and I leap ENTHUSIASTICALLY on board. With one VARIATION. Rubin STATES that she began her happiness enterprise due to a kind of "midlife MALAISE" quite DISTINGUISHABLE from such more SERIOUS conditions as being either depressed or having a midlife crisis.

By contrast, Claudia and I are both fully DEPRESSED and having HUGE midlife CRISES-- We are also MASSIVE night EATERS, we DRINK too much and play WAY too much computer SOLITAIRE-- So much so that our FINGERS ache, we look up at the CLOCK, see two hours have VANISHED, and are so DEPRESSED by this gigantic waste of TIME we IMMEDIATELY attempt to SLAKE the gloom with a huge menopausal shmear of estrogen gel and two VALIUMS. I am speaking of Claudia, of course, not of myself. Very much.

PERHAPS that SEEMS melodramatic, but you HAVE to understand that Claudia and I are both midlist WRITERS stuck on our next WRITING projects--and there is no torture QUITE like WRITER’S block. It’s like being home alone, unemployed, and yet with calculus homework while everyone else is away working COOL jobs--PARTYING, really--on the set of FRIENDS. That SAID, because book ADVANCES are so SMALL these days, it’s not like our families will STARVE if we don’t finish--

"So let’s stop TRYING to work on our BOOKS that no one WANTS,” says Claudia, “and instead make, as our project, HAPPINESS!"

“And I LOVE that she calls it a PROJECT!" I agree, suddenly feeling free and heady and joyous that I can FINALLY drop my ill-thought-out book on health tips for dealing with MENOPAUSE. "It’s not like that book "STUMBLING on Happiness," where it seems like you will stub your TOE on happiness only if you are quietly MINDFUL and ZEN--"

"Which NEITHER of us are--" she adds.

"Oh no," I say, "for US, happiness is something we’ll have to hunt down with a club, kill, chop into pieces, and drag home!"

"Argghh!!!" she says, making a bear sound.

Next week: Game on!