When I was a kid I had a board game called Séance. The players are all the nieces and nephews of Old Uncle Everett who passed on and left the bulk of his estate to his parrot Zeke, kind of like Leona Helmsley, only unlike little dogs, parrots live forever and probably do need a lot of money to get by on. Weird Uncle Everett leaves his nieces and nephews some money and the chance to get more if they all come to his scary mansion for a séance where he will give further instructions from the great beyond on how to do so.
In Séance you set up a room and I think some of it glowed in the dark, but I could be making that part up since it was a long time ago and it makes it sound more interesting. There was a big plastic table you assembled that had a button you pressed in order to get Uncle Everett to speak when it was your turn to find out what your move was to be. It had a bunch of canned sayings, most of which either put you ahead or put you behind and one that essentially meant you had no turn because you got this, “Nothing is sure in life but death and taxes”, it was kind of like getting the dud was supposed to be in Mystery Date, but since we all thought he was the cutest one it was not. I hated getting that saying when it was my turn. It made life and the future seem bleak and I did not get any valuable possessions to sell for more money and that was the whole point of the game. I really loved Séance and as an only child (sort of) I often times played it with my dog or the cat or by myself if neither of them were down with it. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do when you are the only person in the house under forty whose dad thinks Cribbage is fun for children. Let me tell you it’s not, but Séance or Mystery Date sure were.
I did not want to imagine life to be nothing but death (duh) and taxes (how else do you pay for stuff like schools, parks and cops?). Even my ten-year-old self figured there was a lot more fun stuff in life than boring stuff. One of the best things about being an adult with your own money is you get to decide just what you want to spend it on, within reason of course since we all have bills to pay. Just like Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle from Parks and Rec, sometimes you just have to treat yo self, whether you had a bad day or a good day, or you just feel like it because life is far too short to only think about death and taxes.
Bodywork: no, we are not talking about cars here, or CrossFit or even plastic surgery, Botox on the other hand someday, maybe. Manicures (not so much my thing), pedicures (much more my thing) massage (yes please) and facials (mega yes please) are an excellent way to treat yo self. Whatever floats your proverbial boat, body work does your body good and it is not just me saying that. No less medical authorities than the Mayo Clinic and Emory University have done studies that say the very same thing. Human touch can help relieve stress and anxiety and I only wish my health insurance paid for it so I could go more often.
Now I have what could be called troublesome skin, much like a juvenile delinquent, the simplest thing can set it off down a bad path so I am not big on experimentation because once you are a grown up you can’t stay home from work because a bump appeared on your chin. Nope you have to suck it up and go in and pretend that it isn’t there even though you and everybody else on the planet damn well knows it is. So I tried Good Karma Skincare with more than a little bit of trepidation and am pleased to say that not only were there no awkward I-don’t-see-it-if-you don’t-see-it-moments with my co-workers or elevator mates but it also smelled heavenly and felt luxurious and that it precisely what treat yo self is all about.
I test drove all the products in their Lux 7 kit, using the four-in-one cream instead of the oil. Chemical-free, cruelty-free and in the grand scheme of skin care products you don’t need to be an heiress or a trust fund kid to buy it. And since we are also advocating treating someone else as well as yo self, it is worth mentioning that GKS donates a portion of every purchase towards providing meals to animals in shelters awaiting their forever homes.
Leave the country: and no, spring break at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico does not count (but props to you if you have done that, Mexico is awesome), nor does any location in Canada count, except maybe Montreal or someplace in Quebec, but only if they speak French and are rude to you. The point is to go some place else and even if it is an English-speaking country and it seems pretty much the same it really isn’t and the longer you stay the more that will become true. Go to the grocery store, take public transport, don’t stay at an American hotel, eat KFC or only go to the usual tourist-y attractions. The point is to experience a different way of living if only for a little while.
Truth be told, I never really realized how very American I was until I went to another country, Ireland to be exact. My family heritage is seventy-five percent Irish, and that heritage was celebrated and not by getting drunk on St. Patrick’s Day either. In fact we never had liquor in the house, except weirdly a bottle of Mogen David that was in our fridge for years–not exactly sure why, but I did grow up in a predominantly Jewish town and my mother probably thought she was just blending in with the neighbors.
It took spending part of a summer in college in Ireland for me to find out just how very American I was and that was not a bad thing to know. I would have figured it out no matter where I went but the fact that is was Ireland was a shocking revelation to my seventy-five person Irish-American self. I had a great time, the people were lovely, the food and the weather were meh but I would not have changed a thing except for maybe that time we chased George Michael down Grafton Street but it was the 80’s and he was at his hotness peak so on second thought no, I for sure would not change a thing. Finding out you are American and what exactly that means to you is invaluable. This does not mean you all of a sudden become a cheerleader for ‘Murica and start watching Fox News. Nor does it mean you get to come back and be a pretentious twat and start every conversation with “When I was in Prague “. Don’t be that guy.
Great Footwear: before you leave the country it might not be a bad idea to think about some good walking shoes. Nothing ruins a vacation more than not being able to enjoy it because your feet hurt and the shoes that didn’t bother you in one whit in America all of a sudden bother you big time in another country and you have blisters the size of quarters and the very thought of walking another step seems impossible. Been there, done that, don’t ever want to do it again. Between bad trip experiences and my feet just not being able to take wearing the towering platforms that have been my friend since sophomore year of high school, good supportive shoes have become my saviour. Having always liked borderline ugly shoes to begin with, the transition to MBTs was pretty easy for me. I have worn these shoes and walked all over NYC, from the Upper East Side to downtown to Battery Park and I could have kept going on until Jersey as far as my feet were concerned, but for my head, not so much. The simple fact is with a pedicure and good pair of walking shoes, no matter how ugly, you can go just about anywhere you want.
Treat someone else: I am not sure I 100% agree with the saying that it is better to give than to receive, because it kind of depends on what you are getting but I understand the sentiment. Sometimes if you can make someone else very happy it does come awfully close to getting something really good yourself. Way back in the 90’s there was this girl group from Britain that a certainly little someone in my life really loved. She had all the CDs and the dolls (which all looked abysmal because she thought they were bath toys) and when they came on their one and only US tour she really wanted to go. So a friend and I got up super early and went to a ticket location at a grocery store in a tiny town because we figured it would be the best way to emerge victorious with tickets for the show which was destined to sell out quickly as these things do. Months later when we went to the show and the lights came up and the Spice Girls, minus Ginger (who had to be a jerk and quit because she very mistakenly thought she could do better on her own), the look of pure joy on that cute little face made me realize that yeah, sometimes it is better to give than to receive. Despite the show starting late, the constant high-pitched screaming of thousands of ‘tween girls and poor deluded Ginger not being there, it was a blast. By the way, Victoria “Posh” Beckham will always be my favorite Spice Girl. She might not sing that great, and you could practically see her counting her steps out loud as she danced her little heart out that night, but man she looked FIERCE while doing it.