From TV series to dancing shoes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bad news: it has a way of grabbing our pantlegs and screaming for our attention like a 2-year-old having a meltdown. Even if we’re trying to ignore it, it demands our attention. Whether it’s really bad news (exploding buildings, missing jets) or just petty bad news (inane drama courtesy of local officials), what we read in the paper can make us feel all kinds of bad, from low-grade anxiety to apoplectic rage.
Still. There’s so much to make us happy. Chatting with friends in real life or posting on Facebook, we are compelled to share what’s brightening our free hours, whether it’s a tantalizing new recipe, a life-changing novel, an inspired new app or a brilliant podcast.
Starting today, I will be sharing What’s Making Us Happy regularly in the Salisbury Post. I’m pumped up to start collecting happiness-inducing things and flinging them onto these pages like Mardi Gras beads. I hope you’ll catch a few and try them on if they’re sufficiently shiny.
One thing that seems to be making people I know happy in recent weeks is the Netflix series “House of Cards.” Any series that features the Gaffney peach in a storyline has a leg up in the happiness-making department. It also makes me happy to debate with friends about whether Kevin Spacey’s South Carolina accent is believable or not. (I think it’s a notch overdone, but folks with more Southern cred than I think it’s brilliant, but I love the discussions it’s prompted.)
One thing that’s made me extremely happy of late is my discovery of the New Yorker fiction podcast. From a half hour to an hour long, each podcast features a famous writer (such as Dave Eggers, Louse Erdrich or Colum McCann) reading a story he or she has selected from the New Yorker archives. And adding to the fun, at the end of the story the New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman and the reader discuss the story. I’ve learned more listening to these podcasts than I have in some college English classes. It’s fantastic. And it’s free.
And speaking of fiction, Jennifer Hubbard’s recent young adult novel “And We Stay” has been making a lot of people happy, to judge from the reviews and the attention it’s getting, including a review in the Guardian. I’m looking forward to reading it soon.
So what’s making Jennifer happy?
“Old people dancing. Old people dancing who are really good at it and who dress up to go out dancing. Who own special pairs of shoes just for dancing. I like to think of the shoes sitting in the closet all week, and then on Friday night, ta-da!, out they come. I love to watch old people dancing. I love to watch their faces, their bodies, become young again.”
Reading Jennifer’s wonderful description made me remember the evenings when I was 6 or 7 when my mom would put on a swirly dress with a nipped-in waist and a poufy petticoat and my dad would wear a bolo tie and western shirt combination. After the babysitter arrived, they’d drive off in our station wagon to go square dancing. And I do believe special shoes with metal taps were involved.
I’d love to hear what’s making you happy. Send your “What’s Making Me Happy” submission to salposthappy@gmail.com. Include a head and shoulders photo if you’d like! You can also include a photo of what’s making you happy, but no photos are necessary.
Katie Scarvey lives in Salisbury.

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