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  • Melissa Westemeier


It's a sleeting, slick and slothful day here in northeastern Wisconsin. Ice is dropping from the honey locust tree in our front yard, chipping off like intermittent hail. Everything got cancelled and that, friends, is AWESOME. (Except that I left all the papers I need to grade back at school. And it's midquarter this week with parent-teacher conferences scheduled tomorrow night. Whoops.)

A whole day stretches before me with only two actual chores: 1) bake cookies for Mr. B and Mr. D to bring to the State Wrestling Tournament Thursday and 2) write some pages of my next book. It's luxurious to get this chunk of free time after a total grind of a month has chopped me up and spit me out feeling wasted and wanting. Instead of writing about events that have devastated my heart, today I take the unusual turn of writing about STUFF that make me feel happy.

1. SmartWool socks If you don't own a pair, get some. They last and last and feel so good and never stink. They also never bunch, sag or get holes. 2. Lash Boost by Rodan + Fields I've used their skin products for a long time now and my consultant talked me into trying this magic eyelash growing elixir. It works. People have complemented my long lashes several times in the past two months. In case you are old like me and didn't get the memo, aging means you grow hair in strange places (hello, 3-inch-long eyebrow hair!) and lose it in more desirable locations, like your eyelashes become sparser and shorter. Fun fact: a tube of this product lasts almost 5 months before you require more. 3. The Winter Olympics I park my butt in the recliner every night to tune in. The skiing, the racing, the figure skating, the snowboarding--all of it enchants me. Bode Miller's commentary is riveting and I adore that people know so much about obscure sports and are able to share their knowledge with amateur fans like me in an intelligent way. Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir make me feel like a skating expert because thanks to them I drop terms like "twizzle" and "axle" sounding soooo savvy. It's wonderful how by the end of one week the athletes become so familiar. I can't understand why anyone would waste their time watching anything else while there are Olympic Games to watch on TV.

Maé-Bérénice Méitér rules the ice.

4. Polka King Porter by Door County Brewing Co. My new favorite winter brew. Flavored microbrews have become a thing that I can't get behind, so I'm glad to have discovered a non-coffee/berry/chocolate tasting beverage. 5. Tessa Hadley is fan-freaking-tabulous. Go get her books. If you're a fan of Elizabeth Jane Howard or Rosamund Pilcher, writers who master the character-driven family drama, she's your new favorite author. I don't know how her work slid under my radar until now, but my friend Heidi Honeyman, AKA small town me, led me to her and I am grateful. 6. Target's Dark Chocolate Himalayan Salted Almonds I keep a bag in my desk at work and eat them every day. Addicting little buggers. Salty, crunchy, sweet and just a touch of bitter. Do try them. 7. UntitledTown Green Bay's annual book and author festival is coming in April and the anticipation has me babbling about it to everybody. Mary Roach will be there! Christopher Moore! It's going to be LIT! 8. Lit The slang definition is "exciting" or "excellent" and since we know it's awful when old people use the hip words, of course I have taken to saying it ALL THE TIME as an English teacher. We just started a sci fi unit in English 12 (literature units are rare in Room 212, I'm much more comfortable teaching writing). I greet my students every day lately by cheerfully declaring, "This class is LIT!" 

This past month has reminded me that life is short, the little pleasures matter because they make the hard parts more bearable. Spill it, reader. What indulgences can you recommend?

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