LESLEY'S LIST: Five REALLY SIMPLE Happinesses I Love Right Now (Except For The Washing Machine, Which Is Not Simple At All)
A bunch of you have recommended "Bob’s Burgers" to me for like a year now, given my great love of the late lamented animated brilliance of “Home Movies,” which was also the work of creator Loren Bouchard.
I resisted really hard, for a really long time, partly because I was suffering from Jon Benjamin fatigue, which doesn’t seem like a thing that could be possible but it totally happened. (Benjamin voices the titular Bob but also a number of characters on the aforementioned “Home Movies” and also Sterling Archer on “Archer” which is another show that tends to get played and replayed again and again in our household.)
Eventually, I tried to watch it starting from the beginning on Netflix, and I found everybody on it so annoying I wanted to punch my television.
Something made me stick with it, though. And in time, somewhere around “Sexy Dance Fighting,” I started to warm up to this series. Yes, many of the characters (Linda especially) are incredibly irritating, but now in a charming way instead of a TV-punching way.
And Tina Belcher is completely brilliant. She is nerdy and awkward in ways that are utterly uncool, standing as a grittier antithesis to the cutesy ineptitude of so many of TV’s current crop of zany girl characters. She is also often gross, which is a real thing about teenagers that television tends to sort of gloss over. But teenagers? They’re gross. On like a bunch of levels. And they have really weird sex obsessions. Tina is the whole package.
I realized this show had become a part of our household culture when today, my husband Dennis walked into my workspace here at home, gyrated for a moment, and then said, “Slow dancing.”
Life is full of simple pleasures. I miss a lot of them by being sort of obsessively overfocused on piddly shit a lot of the time. Also having anxiety. Maybe you do too. Maybe it’s like, you know intellectually that fresh bread is awesome and smells really good, but you haven’t actually smelled it in a long time, so while you can think in a distracted way “Fresh bread smells good,” it’s nowhere near experiencing the REALITY of FRESH BREAD SMELL, which honestly, has to be up there with bacon, and sauteed onions, among the top culinary smells.
Dennis (slow-dancer extraordinaire) bought me one of those breadmaker machines literally like 12 years ago (AT MY REQUEST, so it was a welcome gift), and I used it obsessively for a while, but only recently pulled it back out again.
See, I am a good cook, but a terrible baker. Mostly because I hate -- nay, I RESENT -- having to measure things. And with baking, measuring things is kind of crucial. You can’t just dump a vague amount of flour and water and yeast in a pan and sort of massage it into a delicious loaf of bread. I’ve tried.
The bread machine was great because it made baking so ridiculously simple that even I could do it. But then even measuring stuff into the machine became too much. I put myself down as hopeless, put the machine away, and until recently, gave up on this simple pleasure.
UNTIL a couple months ago, when I realized that I could get premeasured bread mix for pretty cheap on Amazon.com. My favorites come from Bob's Red Mill but Hodgson Mill is good too. These mixes are so simple that even without a bread machine, the most inept baker can manage them. I get them in 4-packs and it winds up cheaper than buying supermarket bread, PLUS I get the added benefit of FRESH BREAD SMELL. They also make gluten-free mixes, which I know will be welcome information to some of you.
So bake some bread and make your house smell awesome and reassuring. Plus then you have extra-delicious bread to eat.
My New Washing Machine
Did I tell you about how our washing machine broke? Which was less than eight years old? And then how the nice Sears service dudes who came out told us the motor was shot and the cost to repair would be more than a whole new washer?
I probably also neglected to explain that our condo, which is sort of hilariously complicated in every way that involves large appliances (see: our hot water heater escapade of earlier this year) has the tiniest laundry closet imaginable, in which we can only fit a stacked unit. And the original washer/dryer we bought was ridiculously small, because we had understood that they had to be. And that apparently even though our dryer was functioning just fine, you can’t just toss any-size dryer on top of whatever washing machine you want.
They have to fit. They actually have to be bolted together so the washer’s spin cycle doesn’t send the dryer flying across the room (or rattling around inside the closet, in our case) like a really unaerodynamic missile. So it was hardly a surprise that the size of our weirdly tiny washing machine basically did not exist -- or at least, did not exist for less than $900. Whereas a full-size washer could be had for half of that.
You see, how the frustration rapidly mounts here?
It came down to being more financially feasible to trash the miniature washing machine and dryer and buy a full-size stackable set for slightly more money than just the new tinywasher would have cost. Fortunately this all happened over Memorial Day so there were plenty of sales, and I managed to find a washer/dryer set on Sears.com at a really great discount.
(And then there was the part where I went to actual Sears to see the machines before buying them, and the sales guy was a dick who kept looking at my husband as though he expected Dennis to take charge of the purchase, and who kept smirking at me when I asked questions, and who argued with me, chuckling all the while, when I said that the price on the website was markedly lower than the one in store, insisting that I was wrong, EVEN AS I SHOWED HIM THE PRICE ON MY PHONE. So I went home and ordered online because fuck that guy and fuck his commission.)
So yeah, I have a new washer and dryer. No, I didn't get one of the fancy steamy models, they were all too expensive. But they’re twice as big as my old ones! And there is still something weird to me about buying large appliances and being a homeowner and a sort-of grownup. Like I half expect someone to come in and take them away because I’m not adult enough to have nice expensive things bought at a tremendous discount during an excellent holiday sale.
I mean, they wouldn't succeed. I love my new washer and dryer too much to ever let them go.
While visiting family in Florida last week, my mom and I hit up an antiques mall, not so much because we’re big into antiques as because it’s some of the most fun shopping-without-buying that can be had. (I’m always more partial to the actual junk than legit antiques, myself.)
At one stall, my mom picked up an old book, entitled “Ghost Towns of The Old West,” (my mom really loves the American Southwest) and given that my love of old books is sort of intense, I immediately grabbed it and looked at it too. Hilariously, the first thing I saw, there on the title page, was the identifying stamp from my old high school library.
Used books are my jam; I only got a Kindle a couple years ago, and I still rarely use it except for library books and free books “borrowed” from Amazon via my Prime membership. There is something intrinsic to the experience of holding and reading a physical book that simply can’t be simulated for me.
Also, I’ve learned from trying to read my Kindle that when I need to reference things I’ve read before, my memory relies on the physical placement of the part in the book and on the page -- like I might remember that interesting study cited about two-thirds through, three-quarters down on the left-hand page. This kind of memory is useless with a Kindle.
But while I stubbornly cling to books in general, used books are my favorites, because each one has its own mysterious history. I’ve found half-written and unmailed postcards in old books, obscure notes written on the flyleaves, names and dates identifying the book as a gift or a loan to a friend. Old books, especially out of print books, are little time capsules, interesting both for their content but also for the hints to their backgrounds, the people who read them, the travels they may have taken over the years.
Yeah, I’m a nerd.
Dan Black featuring Kelis, "Hearts"
If you don't love dance pop and stop motion video, avoid the following video. Which is AWESOME because both of those things are AWESOME.
Have a pleasant weekend, kids.