This will come as a shock to absolutely no one, but I’m not exactly an optimist. I prefer the term “realist,” although I’m sure some of my friends would describe me as a pessimist. It’s been almost a year since I was laid off, and my life has been a bit of a shit show since then. Yes, I still have my health and home and friends and family, but it’s amazing what losing a job can do to your perspective. Now that I’m back to job hunting for the umpteenth time (I was working a temp job, but that ended a couple of weeks ago), I can already feel the old “What does it all mean?” / “Why me?” pity party creeping back in. But I’m trying to avoid those feelings as much as possible this time. Being the logical person I am, I figure at some point my life has to right itself. Surely, there’s some law that your life can only be shitty for one year at a time. To stave off feelings of self-doubt and general gloom, I’m taking solace in the little things that make me happy. Here are a few things that are currently making this pessimist a little more optimistic.
1. Curls, Curls Everywhere
If you follow me on Instagram (I’m @brittany_nm), then you might already know that I’ve decided to go back to my roots, so to speak. After a decade of relaxing my hair, I’m giving my head a break from all the harsh chemicals and am letting my natural curls grow out. I got my last relaxer Tuesday, so it will take a while for my hair to grow out, but I’m already dreaming of long, wild (but also nicely tamed) curly hair.
2. Quality Southern Goods
This year I’ve become infatuated with the South. It might have something to do with Gravy and the Bitter Southerner. Gravy is a podcast from the Southern Foodways Alliance, and its mission is to tell stories about the changing American South through the foods we eat. Topics range from the infamous Hand Grenade cocktail found on Bourbon Street in New Orleans (I had one when I visited in April, and I’m still recovering) to the Barbecue Capital of the World to the effects the BP oil spill had on fishermen in coastal Louisiana. I always learn something in each episode (and I usually end up hungry).
Gravy also deserves credit for introducing me to The Bitter Southerner, an online magazine that publishes a long-form feature about the South every week. Like Gravy, food is a common theme, but so are the great outdoors, heritage, race and a host of other things. Recently, the site added videos, personal essays and short features. Even better? The Bitter Southerner understands how annoying it is when websites send you 200 emails a week, which is why it only sends subscribers two a week: one on Monday with the main feature for the week and one on Friday spotlighting a few items from its general store. I’m currently eying this print.
3. The Best Meal Of The Week
If I’m being honest, I could devote an entire blog post to the reasons brunch makes me happy. I know it’s a totally Millennial thing to love brunch, but I don’t care. I. Fucking. Love. Brunch. My friend Jen and I have made it our mission to work our way through Cleveland’s brunch scene one Bloody Mary at a time. (It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.) Our last stop was at Heck’s Cafe in the Ohio City neighborhood. I had the chicken and waffles (pictured above) and a Bloody Mary (‘natch).
4. Hello, Cleveland!
In honor of its 20th anniversary this year, the Rock Hall is hosting Sonic Sessions. The monthly concerts are a great way to discover new artists, and all the shows are super-cheap (or free!). So far I’ve seen Elle King [pictured above right], Vinyl Theatre and New Politics [pictured above left]. Up next is the phenomenal Philly band Hop Along, on Aug. 12.
5. New Music from Old Favorites
It’s as if the universe knew I was having a rough year so it decided to reward me with music from two of my favorite artists. Frank Turner‘s sixth album, Positive Songs For Negative People, comes out next Friday (!!), Aug. 7. How great is that album title, by the way? It’s like Frank gets me. I was lucky enough to hear the album (job perk of being a music journalist), and I seriously love it. I liked his last album, Tape Deck Heart, but it didn’t grab me like some of his previous work did . This one though, it’s still holding on.
Also, The Front Bottoms. God damn, do I love this band. Their third album, Back On Top, comes out Sept. 18. They’ve released three singles, which definitely sound different than their previous albums but not so different that I’m left scratching my head. They also announced a headlining tour, and I cannot wait to see them play Cleveland.