Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The theme from yesterday was therapy. We are one week removed from what is (pseudo) scientifically deemed to be the most depressing day of the year. We swim in stress while a storm of anxiety blasts us from above, yet we don’t drown. How do we remain afloat? It helps to have a few tricks in the arsenal.

Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

The popping of bubble wrap. It’s an act of vehement destruction, yet it is completely self-contained and non-violent. One can channel one’s rage, anxiety, fear, or unfettered jubilation through one’s fingertips and feel that surge of annihilation, yet in the end there is no mess to clean, and nothing to regret. Provided you don’t have a fragile item to ship and now have no way to protect it. Plan ahead a little – that’s all I’m saying.

I (Marty) was feeling a funk yesterday, one brought about by the sheer Mondayness of it all, and bubble wrap became my therapy. I grabbed a chunk from our print and mail room upstairs, then squoze a few satisfying mini-big-bangs on the elevator back down. I ran into a couple of colleagues in the hall and allowed them to satisfy their innate human need to destroy and conquer. Before long I was going office to office, cubicle to cubicle, offering free therapy to everyone on the team. I was like Santa for mental health. Call me Sanity Claus.

(at this point, Chico Marx laughs… “You can’t fool me – there ain’t no Sanity Claus…” – someone will get this joke)

I found I could understand how people’s days were going by the way they approached this therapy. One lady popped just three bubbles with care and announced she felt better. Another grabbed the batch and squeezed it like a sponge, clearly venting a day’s worth of frustration and angst. She also felt better. One lady declined, finding the sound to be akin to fingernails on a chalkboard – I respect that. With this action, I was able to bring joy to each of my coworkers this afternoon, which was in itself a powerful form therapy for me.

As for its primary purpose – packing things for shipping – yeah, it’s great. Bubble wrap was originally unleashed upon the world by inventors Alfred Fielding and Marc Chevannes in 1957. They were trying to make 3D wallpaper. They should have kept trying, because as impractical as 3D wallpaper sounds, I’d kind of like to see it.  But yesterday was not about appreciating bubble wrap’s use in shipping. It was all about the pop, and the therapy.

National Chocolate Cake Day

If bubble-pop therapy doesn’t spritz your lapels you can always tackle a slice of chocolate cake. Friends and family provided us with a few recipes for today, but in the end expediency won the day, and the victorious variety of chocolate cake went to Ms. Betty Crocker. Yes, we have dined on cake much finer than this, but it’s still chocolate cake.

White cake might be more malleable in its potential frostings, but chocolate cake is the dessert of midnight mischief. Forget spice and carrot and lemon – those quirky outlaws of the cake shelf may have their own quirky dance moves, but that creature in the shadows, that lump in the moonlight that coaxes a lump into your throat… that’s chocolate cake. It’s unflappable and unmappable, charting a course to the mightiest and most grateful taste buds.

Back in 1828 a Dutch chemist named Coenraad Johannes van Houten built a device that could suck the fat from cacao liquor, creating cacao butter and leaving behind a batch of solids that could be ground into powder. Suddenly chocolate was cheap and easy to get – the common-folk could enjoy it. Chocolate cake has evolved from those first devil’s food mixes during the Depression, through the fudge-bleeding volcano cakes of the 90s to the fancy artisan artworks you can buy in every major city today. This was a thoroughly delicious celebration.

Holocaust Memorial Day

Not a celebration, but more of a commemoration. First, a revelation: a recent survey of Americans showed that half the nation does not know that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust. This is unacceptable. Ignorance is where it all begins. It’s the asphalt on the road to horror. I’ll say nothing else about this solemn day, other than it’s up to us – those with at least a tenuous grasp on actual history – to keep the fire burning. Don’t let this act of evil be forgotten.

If yesterday was a mansion built on a foundation of therapy, today will be a bouncy house, packed with the warm air of insoluble fun.

  • National Have Fun At Work Day. Jodie always has fun at work – the kids see to that. I will be hosting a home-made Family Feud event over lunch for my coworkers. As if the bubble wrap wasn’t fun enough.
  • National Kazoo Day. For this we will make some horrible, horrible music.
  • National LEGO Day. I get to play pretend game show host, pretend amateur garbage musician, AND I get to build LEGO? Oh hell yes.
  • National Blueberry Pancake Day. The highest form of pancake evolution. Nothing beats blueberry pancakes for dinner. Especially with bacon.
  • Data Privacy Day. Time to update all those passwords I never remember and have to reset anyway.

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