The Loh Life

The Happiness Project: Rubbery Vegetables-- part 2

Sandra Tsing Loh having fun on a staycation.

So my friend Claudia and I--two middle-aged, BLOCKED women writers?

We’re working THROUGH Gretchen Rubin’s New York Times number ONE bestselling book "The HAPPINESS Project," or, "Why I spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun." Because we are FEROCIOUSLY Type A friends, we are completely STOKED that we can FINALLY have meetings about a PROJECT that does not involve actual WRITING.

With matching yellow LEGAL tablets on our laps, Claudia reads from page ONE. To wit:
"A ‘happiness project’ is an approach to changing your life. First is the preparation stage, when you identify what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse. Second is the making of resolutions, when you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness--"

"Aha!" Claudia exclaims, raising both arms in victory. "I LOVE that! That you can have PERMISSION to get RID of what causes you gloom! Bruce--" Claudia has a crunchy-granola YOGA boyfriend BRUCE who is really into Eckhardt Tolle-- "Bruce is always saying if something BOTHERS me I should look at my EGO mask’s defensive REACTION to it--“

Which makes me THINK Claudia should PERHAPS get rid of BRUCE--
Anyway-- We now INVITE our selves to look HONESTLY at our lives to see what REALLY does or does NOT make us happy.

"For instance," I say, "farmers’ markets! I always think going to the farmers’ market will be a fun weekend ACTIVITY. But I find, in all candor, on a Saturday MORNING, I will DRIVE to a farmers’ market, seeing those pointy little --sort of self-SATISFIED-- blue tents, and I will actually FEEL DREAD.

There is too much PRODUCE--all the same KIND--why am I PAWING through all of this produce? The HIGH point of the farmer's market is the Julia Child MOMENT when you select some fabulous item that will be part of some amazing dish you’re going to cook. Of course, two weeks later you’ve pitched it into the garbage. Organic heirloom tomatillos? Why do I want these? Why would ANYONE?"

"I don’t like the word ‘staycation’," Claudia adds impulsively. "It’s just DEPRESSING."
"Oh sure," I say. "Like when we were going to have Carmageddon, the CARPOCALYPSE, we heard all ABOUT the staycation. But so OFTEN, unless practiced MINDFULLY, a STAYcation can quickly turn into a NAYcation."

"I hate the whole CATION form," Claudia says. "How far are we TAKING this? The claycation--weekend where you work with clay? Graycation--some sort of senior Outward Bound? Weighcation--a vacation from weighing oneself?"

"How about a STAYPOCALYPSE?" I say, still obsessing on the old theme. "The Staypocalypse--the staycation that goes really, really badly. Almost like a Staymaggedon!"

"Look at me! I am having FUN!" Claudia screams manically.

Next week: the crash.


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