I love the sense of control and order that lists offer. My notebook is full of them; to-do lists and grocery lists, sure, but also lists of qualities I look for in a partner, books people have recommended to me, reasons I’m not interested in getting back together with my ex, how I want my ideal job to make me feel, dinner party guest lists, home improvement projects, newsletter topic ideas. Maybe it’s my Taurus moon or my diagnosably terrible memory but lists make me feel safe, like I have my hands around my life. And when my fried attention span won’t let me focus on writing for more than a half hour at a time, it feels good to work on a list of things that feel good.

  • The brightly painted cornice on the building at 304 West Evergreen
  • The feeling of pressing a hot mug of tea against my face
  • Ordering a book without knowing anything about it just because I love the author and then reading the synopsis and thinking “wow that sounds so good!”
  • When someone uses an emoji so often, particularly in Slack reactions, that it becomes “theirs”
    • Related: the odd, specific things you learn about coworkers just from spending so much time with them, like how Zach Breakstone always scooped out the inside of the baguette roll that came with the meatball lunch he got every day from the Italian place in the mall
  • The blooming redbud outside my window, some cousin of the blooming redbud outside my dad’s home office window. We compare redbuds every time we talk
  • Henna in my hair
  • Podcast episodes so beautiful they make me cry every time I listen to them
  • A song I think of every time I have a song stuck in my head and want to get it out. I’ve never once gotten it stuck in my head so it’s become like a mental reset button. It has served this purpose so long that I now think of it when I want to stop a line of thinking, like a painful or embarrassing memory or an anxiety spiral
  • The feeling of putting on earrings with cool hands
  • Stretching. God it’s so good. I know we talk a lot about how stretching is good, but I don’t think we talk about it enough
  • My weekly breakfast burrito and coconut shake from the diner around the corner from my apartment (they didn’t make me spell my name when I called in my order today, so I think we’re well on our way to “the usual” status, which I’ve never had at any restaurant and delights me to think of)
  • Water
  • Watering plants
  • The way my cat sits up tall, arching her neck and stretching on her front legs, before tipping over heavily onto me, reminding me of the comforting weight of a friend using me as a pillow on a long bus ride
  • The ritual of making a drink (any drink)
  • Bellflowers!! I didn’t know these existed until this week but they might be my favorite flower?? I lent a friend a book and she gave me a bouquet of these in exchange

This list was partially inspired by Hanif Abdurraqib’s essay on collage poetry and Sarah Mirk's essay on joyful participation in a world of sorrows. It was not inspired by Danny Caine's list of delights, but it harmonizes nicely. What feels good to you right now?

Reader recommends: Detectorists and The Young Offenders

"Really any description of Detectorists will make you think that watching paint dry would be more fun, but it's a charming, carefully observed gem of slow-paced comedy. And if you can deal with some (very) thick Cork accents, The Young Offenders is similarly great. Maybe try the movie first if it's easily available to you. It's hard to do good comedy about the lives of young working-class delinquents, but this is perfect.

What both of these have in common is a sense of warm-hearted optimism and a complete lack of cynicism or irony in treating these people as actual people and not just the butt of lazy jokes." —Michael Ashbridge

"Warm-hearted optimism" is maybe the most ideal descriptor of the genre of TV and movies that I gravitate toward so this is extremely on-brand for me. I loved the first few episodes of Detectorists and I'm excited to brave the Cork accents to check out Young Offenders!