Small Joys

Two ex-boyfriends ago, I learned a hard lesson: it’s a risky business, to put ninety-plus percent of your happiness into somebody else’s hands. No matter how much you may like those hands. (And no matter what those hands have been known to hold.)


We can buy our own cookies. Buy or make. (Buy! What do you say we forgive ourselves? We can file it under Getting to Know the Neighborhood.)


I learned that, in addition to do not neglect your friends. Along with — this is very important — do not pretend to love his pancakes. Do not do it out of love, or something like it. Rein it in. Resist!

Rave about those leaden bricks, and it will be too late. You will have signed yourself up for Sad Pancakes. A whole stack of them, you see. Every Sunday for the next twelve weeks, probably. (The timeline may vary — but the takeaway will stay the same: you will be COMMITTED.)

Rave about something you do feel all fluttery about, instead: the way he saved your name in his phone, the way he looked in cobalt blue stripes, the way he would slip into the future tense, the way his voice sounded first thing. Last thing.

But before you get to that point…it might be a good idea to find a few other things you can rave about. Apart from him. Things that make you impossibly, irresistibly happy. Things you can count on. Now and later.


Writing is one of those things, for me. It has been for a long time. For one, two, three, four, five ex-boyfriends, now.

I’ve noticed it feels extra important when I feel like I’m not connecting with anybody. When I’m feeling very far from the nearest white picket fence. Which would be, you know, now.


But sometimes it’s hard to get going, anyway. Sometimes it’s hard to get going, and sometimes it’s hard to keep going. Coffee helps — I’ve learned that too.



“Don’t lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.” -Pearl S. Buck

“I worry everyone sees the desperate in me like a beggar on the street, my heart open like a paper cup. A person can survive without love and without money but the wanting will always be there. I’m afraid of the wanting always being there. I’m not less of a person for being alone, but I’m lonely. I’m afraid of the loneliness always being there.” -Anne, Want Want Want

“You don’t know how to be touched. You don’t know how to be loved. You are lonely and yet you push away anybody who tries to get close. You are a ship going under because you cannot stop pouring water onto your hull. And I am the bucket that will never be big enough to hold all of the drowning in you.” -Lora Mathis, Just So It’s Clear

“I know what you want to hear — that I slayed the dragon and swallowed my demons and laughed in the face of my nightmares and lived happily ever after — but the truth is much more ordinary. The truth is I breathe through the pain even on the days it whistles between my ribs on every inhale, every exhale, and I celebrate like hell on the days it doesn’t make a sound.” -Unknown

“I am a pile of ideas, a pile of dreams, a pile of plans, a pile of doubts, and so many other things. I am a pile of piles and it is so overwhelming. Should I get rid of some piles? Should I climb them? Or should I just give up and hide inside them?” -Bshayer F.R.

“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.” -Benjamin Disraeli

“The axe forgets; the tree remembers.” -African proverb

“The poison leaves bit by bit, not all at once. Be patient. You are healing.” -Yasmin Mogahed


“As time goes on, you’ll understand. What lasts, lasts; what doesn’t, doesn’t. Time solves most things. And what time can’t solve, you have to solve yourself.” -Haruki Murakami

“I’m not totally mad at you. I’m just sad. You’re all locked up in that little world of yours, and when I try knocking on the door, you just sort of look up for a second and go right back inside.” -Haruki Murakami

“I have my mother’s mouth and my father’s eyes. On my face they are still together. ” -Warsan Shire

“Books don’t offer real escape, but they can stop a mind scratching itself raw.” -David Mitchell

“I think you know you’ve found someone special when you meet them for the first time, and it feels like you’re just picking up where you left off. You kind of look at them and think ‘Where the hell did you come from? Where the hell have you been?’” -Caitlyn Siehl

“Hang in there. It is astonishing how short a time it can take for very wonderful things to happen.” -Frances Hodgson Burnett


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