The Loh Life

The Happiness Project: Couponistas-- part 4

Sandra Tsing Loh's friend finds happiness in couponing.

So my friend CLAUDIA and I have been trying get HAPPIER. The original inspiration was Gretchen Rubin’s bestseller, "The Happiness Project.” But NOW everywhere we LOOK there’s a NEW happiness STUDY. For instance, at a National Geographic SYMPOSIUM, I’d just seen author Dan BUETTNER talking about so-called BLUE ZONES.

He RESEARCHED the world’s happiest cities and villages, and discovered?. Not just that strong SOCIAL bonds are key to happiness, but that the activities MOST people across the globe say they do NOT enjoy are childcare, commuting, and housework-- In short, MY LIFE!

Meanwhile CLAUDIA opened her Sunday paper and saw that the COVER story of USA Today MAGAZINE was on the current national CRAZE for COUPONING! The cover PHOTO showed a HOUSEWIFE clutching giant SCISSORS and GURGLING, with ALMOST a feral glee. "Oh my God!" Claudia exclaimed. "All these COUPONERS—they’re doing DOUBLE couponing, TRIPLE couponing, EXTREME couponing-- They buy special indexed BINDERS to hold their coupons-- That could be ME! I could be a…COUPONISTA!”

You HAVE to understand how desperately Claudia NEEDS a new happiness-triggering HOBBY. Claudia is struggling, one day at a time, through a computer SOLITAIRE WITHDRAWAL program-- Friends had suggested substituting knitting or SCRAPBOOKING-- "But I go into MICHAEL’S and it’s so OVERWHELMING,” she says, “with all those crowded SHELVES of pipe cleaners, and yarn, and little button EYES-- And the frizzy-haired CAT ladies who float THROUGH there-- COUPONING is BETTER,” thought Claudia. “Couponing has a PURPOSE--"

“But then I begin clipping,” she says. "I see a coupon for Airwick, regularly 1.29, today a dollar NINETEEN-- There’s a 5 cent OFF COUPON for a TWO pack of rubber BANDS-- Six Irish Spring DEODORANTS for five DOLLARS-- I don’t even WANT this stuff and I’m now painstakingly STUDYING this CATALOGUE of depressing OBJECTS! My day is imploding!”

By CONTRAST, I had just taken my 10 year old to see genius clothes designer Alexander McQueen’s exhibit in New York, to convert her from being a Lady GAGA fan to a fan of the Metropolitan Museum. It’s closing weekend, the wait is FIVE HOURS, still no GUARANTEED entry-- which GETS my adrenalin UP-- I buy museum MEMBERSHIPS, get in the SPECIAL line at six o’clock in the morning, in the RAIN, we’re like the VERY first people IN, doors OPEN and we begin RUNNING through the Met!

A few minutes later, standing ONE FOOT AWAY from an eerily ORNATE Victorian inspired dress in its glowing goth case, my 10 year old turns to me in wonder and whispers: "This is like the greatest moment of my life!"
Ahh! A maternal HIGH point.

If only I’d remembered my COUPON for the AUDIO tour.


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