By Ron Scopelliti
An Early Thanksgiving
My columns have been pretty downbeat lately, filled with anxiety and anger. So this month I tried to focus on the positive. Mind you, I’m talking about my own particular brand of positivity. The kind of positivity that truly believes the glass is half empty, but takes comfort in the fact that it’s not three-quarters empty. Yet.
So I decided, largely for my own mental health, to sit down and make a list, off the top of my head, of five things that I’m thankful for.
Cereal has always been my go-to comfort food, but lately I’ve become particularly thankful for Honey Nut Cheerios. In the past I’d always considered Cheerios a bit too bland. But as I’ve become older, I think my personal blandness has risen to the level of Cheerios. And the “honey nut” flavor takes away just enough blandness for me to identify with the cereal while maintaining my self-respect.
One thing I’ve noticed is that I like the way Cheerios float around like little life preservers waiting to be found by shipwreck survivors. They’re a reminder to be thankful that I’m eating slightly bland cereal in one-percent milk, rather than swimming around after a shipwreck looking for a PFD. Thanks for that, Cheerios.
I have to say, BuzzFeed let me down a bit by publishing unsubstantiated claims against Donald Trump. As much as I enjoy seeing Trump slapped around by the press, I can’t abide poor journalistic standards. Especially when there’s so much substantiated information to throw in his puckered orange face.
But enough about Trump – this column is about things I’m thankful for. And when I’m feeling overwhelmed, one thing that eases my tension is taking BuzzFeed personality quizzes.
I’ve learned from their quizzes that if I were a member of the Skywalker family, I’d be Luke, and that, based on my preferences regarding pizza, my crush will like me back. I probably should have picked someone to have a crush on before I took that quiz. But it’s just as well that I didn’t, since previous quizzes told me that I was 5’11”, and would be turning 26 this year.
The inconsistency of BuzzFeed quiz results are just part of their charm. There’s a sense of empowerment in going out of your way to have an algorithm make a snap judgement about you, and then reveling in its wrongness. It makes it that much easier to ignore snap judgements made by actual people.
The odd thing about YouTube is that half the time I have it running, I’m not even watching it, but just listening – usually to some obscure song that’s eluded my CD collection. It’s an amazing music repository.
Where else can you find three different live versions of “Wandering Star” by Portishead, or audio of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall singing with Bing Crosby? “Land of the Glass Pinecones” by Human Sexual Response never even made the transition from vinyl onto CD, but it’s on YouTube. – the original version, two live versions, plus an explanation of its origins that clears up decades of misinformation. Who in their right mind wouldn’t be thankful for that?
The snooze button
During the holidays, after three days of sleeping in, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. thinking it was not only too early to be awake, it was too early to even be alive. Then, I rethought it and decided it was actually too early for life to even exist, and that I should still be a collection of random amino acids floating in a pool of primordial ooze. Then I hit the snooze button and went back to sleep.
I’ve been known to go into the double digits on snooze button hits. Often, my alarm will wake me from a dream, but I’ll hit the snooze button, fall asleep, and immediately go back to the dream. Sometimes, before I fall back asleep, I’ll have a chance to influence the direction a dream takes. I’ll go on dreaming in chapters until it’s an hour past my intended wake-up time, and then maybe hit it just once more…
This is a tough one to explain, because I’ve never actually played golf. It’s a game that people become obsessed with, and that has a whole culture and support system to fuel this obsession. The fact that I’ve never become obsessed with it is why I’m thankful for it.
I’ve already got too many things I’m obsessed with. And golf is something that I could easily see myself becoming obsessed with if I took the first step and tried it. The fact that I haven’t done so gives me confidence in my level of willpower. And if one of my pre-existing obsessions starts to lose its appeal, I’ve got golf waiting in reserve to replace it.
So I’m thankful for a game I don’t play, alarms I can ignore, videos that I listen to but don’t watch, personality quizzes that don’t tell me anything about myself, and cereal that reminds me that I’m not drowning. In a world where so many things upset me because of their senselessness, I guess I can’t help but be thankful for all the good things that also make no sense.