Saturday, November 20, 2010

Material things that make me happy

The New York Times ran a story a while back that said, in a nutshell, stuff doesn't make you happy. (Read it here. No, really. It's a good article. I'll wait for you. OK, are you back? Cool.) For the most part I agree with them. There are, however, some possessions that have genuinely made me a happier person. To wit:

1. My cast-iron skillet. After reading that Teflon frying pans do bad things to you (I forget what; Google it if you're interested), Mr. SZ decided I needed some nontoxic cookware. Not sure if he saved my life or anything but this pan freakin' rocks. It weighs about as much as a preschooler and everything I've cooked in it has been edible (which, if you've ever had dinner at my house, you know is saying a lot). I also love that you don't wash it with soap and have to season it every once in a while with olive oil.

2. My hiking boots. I used to think people who wore just-for-hiking gear were poseurs. But before a trip to Glacier in 2003, I decided that if I was gonna go to a big fancy national park I was gonna get me some big fancy boots. Holy crap. It changed the whole hiking experience. Rocks and tree roots that used to kill my feet were no longer a problem. I stopped twisting my ankles and I could stomp through streams without getting soaked. Hiking boots: four-wheel drive for your feet.


3. My bathrobe. It's one of those giant white terry deals you can steal from hotels buy from hotel gift shops. My sister gave it to me several Christmases ago and it makes me smile every time I step out of the shower. It's starting to get a little ratty but I worry a new one just won't be the same.

4. My art. Behold "Yey Tree," a woodcut by Roman Klonek. OK, it's not to everyone's taste, and at least one visitor to our home has asked, "Did you make that yourself?" But Mr. SZ and I thought it would be fun to invest in some actual art, made by a real live artist with paint and everything. We don't generally agree on these things, so when we both liked this when we saw it in a gallery in Williamsburg we decided to drop a few bucks on it. I love the colors and sense of humor. And yes, I know he spelled "Yay" wrong, but that's part of its charm. Now go tell all your friends about Roman Klonek so he gets really famous and our woodcut increases in value.

5. My SmartWoolsocks. No, this is not a paid product placement. (I wish. Are you reading this, manufacturers of SmartWool™? I CAN BE BOUGHT.) I don't know how they do it, but the folks who make these take wool — a fiber that normally makes me want to claw my skin off — and turn it into the softest, warmest socks imaginable. Also, they are pretty. And machine washable and dryable. Hey, January? My toes are ready for you.

6. My Queens throw pillow. Suck it, Brooklyn.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The biggest lies on television

1. America's "Funniest" Home Videos

2. Dancing with the "Stars"

3. CSI: "NY" (more like CSI: L.A. Soundstage)

4. America's Next "Top" Model

5. "M"TV

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Things I have to let go

The older I get, the more I realize my chances of being named King of the World are slim. So perhaps it's time to abandon my control-freak ways and accept the things that bug the living crap out of me. Some highlights from that long, long list:

1. Annoying cell phone conversations. I can give all the dirty looks I want: people are never going to stop yapping about their health problems and hookups on the street, on the bus, in the restroom, on the treadmill at the gym... The New Me is going to embrace their candor and possibly offer advice. You know, as a public service. 

2. The spelling of Caesar salad on menus. I could travel the country with a tanker truck full of Wite-Out® and still not be able to fix all the Ceasars and Cesars. Go ahead, diner owners. Spell it however you like. I'm done.

3. Bad perfume. The supremely irritating Andy Rooney once said that the closer a person smells to nothing, the better. As much as it pains me to admit it, I agree with the dude. But short of yet another edict from Bloomberg's hyperactive Department of Health, people wearing godawful scents are gonna sit next to me on the subway and in movie theaters. I'll just have to keep popping Advils for the headaches. (What, you thought it was easy being me?)

4. Meanness on Internet message boards. I used to think people were basically good. Then I started reading the comments on Yahoo! News stories. Give someone a computer and a little anonymity and... wow. Just wow. (And don't even get me started on the grammar.) Yahoo, of course, is on the mild end of things: how decent folks can spend time on the really nasty sites is beyond me.

5. My gut. True confession: I've had a bit of a potbelly since 8th grade. I'm now in just about the best shape of my adult life and still the gut remains. It's going nowhere unless I start a strict regimen of Pilates and Abs of Steel. And that, my friends, is Not Gonna Happen. Hey, that's why they make control-top tights.