humanities

To Be Happy in New York

Joan Didion was famous for saying, Goodbye to All That.

Until she moved back there.

Happiness in New York is like the latest latte. The Cascara latte, just under the shell. Just under the surface, just around the corner. Happiness in New York is waiting for you at the dime store. At Coney Island, in Central Park. It’s waiting on the subway, and waiting at the ice cream truck. Happiness is a slice of pizza, it’s a bagel on a Saturday morning. It’s knowing you can pay your rent on the 1st, and can walk the streets one more day.

Unless you’re an Angeleno.

In which case you think, Well, aren’t there bagels in LA? And, aren’t the tacos much better? And isn’t everything cheaper – like by about, half?

The happiest people I met on the East Coast were from suburban Midwest, the rustbelt, or from the South. For them, New York is the chosen land! Opportunities, diversity. Beauty. Opulence!

But for an Angeleno, you always have that nagging feeling like true happiness is waiting not just around the corner, but on another coast. In another global city that is…your own. And doesn’t have blizzards. Or summer thunderstorms. You can enjoy beauty and opulence on your own time, in the sunshine.

Happiness, like time, is a relative thing. And to each his or her own. But for me, I’ll choose to have my cascara latte with a full-frontal view of the San Gabriel Mountains.

 

On What Really Matters

Two things happened in the news cycle of my universe these past weeks - one was the Planned Parenthood attack, and the other was the news of another difficult bout of cancer for a family member of mine.

While the first was abstract, the second is very personal - beyond procedures and treatments and insurance questions, there is the lurking fear of death. Of actually, literally dying. While being financially responsible for another disabled family member who doesn't have enough funds to survive on her own. 

These are heavy things. This is #realtalk, about real life, about real things that happen to real people. Life is not an Instagram account. And life is in fact not a movie that we can edit.

It is a gift, spanning on average 28,000 days. (Singer Alicia Keys did the math.) 

So much emotional effort goes into the moral but also the perfunctory questions about the beginning and ending of life. Sadly enough, I think that's kind of the clear part. Right? 

There is starting, and stopping. Life is sacred, and finite. Right? 

The harder part is filling the in-between - the days when we're alive, when it really matters. What about a Wednesday afternoon when you're 55, after your looks have faded? What of when you're 73, and no one calls you anymore? What about when you're 3, and you talk funny and no one understands you and you cry all the time? What about when you wear diapers - either when you're an infant, or are elderly? 

That's what really matters. The quiet mornings, and small acts of service. Small tokens of appreciation, and feeling loved.

Speaking of that, I love Alicia Keys. Let's have a listen: