Scenes From A Hat

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This is a short random segment of scenes lying around on my desk that may or may not ever blossom into fully formed stories on their own (most likely won’t).

“Crystalline Maze was giddy with excitement. Her first big interview job, after being just hired at TIME-magazine last week at the tender age of 19! And she got to interview the biggest of the big bigshots in nondescript business: Blazer Blane, the multimillionaire playboy with the secret past. The man with more Bentleys than shoes (at least two). The man all women wanted to be seen with because of his massive… fortune. Crystalline closed her eyes and imagined Mr. Blane’s massive… fortune. Her inner goddess snorted.

‘You know, you can’t keep measuring men’s worth by the size of their… fortune,’ it said.
Crystalline waved her hand dismissively.

‘Don’t you dismiss me, missy!’ her inner goddess barked indignantly. ‘You don’t know this guy! You don’t know anything about him except he has a huge… fortune. He could be a total scrotefaced turdgobler!’

Crystalline gasped and covered her mouth in horror. Her inner goddess was a potty-mouth.

‘That’s right. I said it. Whatcha gonna do about it?’ her inner goddess snapped her fingers.

Crystalline covered her ears and started singing loudly.

The office door opened.

Blazer Blane was staring down at her.

Crystalline gasped.

He was perfect. His eyes were dark and mysterious, with long lashes framing them like a dark pine forest. He had a strong jaw that was covered in manly stubble that Crystalline could feel scraping her skin from two feet away. His abs were popping through the flimsy yet neat dress shirt and Crystalline could clearly see the outlines of his erect nipples.

‘Ms. Maze?’ he asked. His voice was creamy gooey chocolatey goodness dripping from his lips. Crystalline wiped spit from her chin.

‘Durrr,’ she giggled and rolled her eyes to break the undeniable sexual tension. She accidentally on purpose checked out his… fortune. It was huge. She was still covering her ears with her hands.

‘Won’t you come in? I’ve been expecting you,’ he continued, opening the door wide and stepping aside. His office was also huge.

He took Crystalline by the hand and escorted her to the table. She could hear her inner goddess’s muffled protests at the back of her mind.

‘Would you like something to drink?’ Mr. Blane asked.

‘Oh, you know me,’ Crystalline blurted out.

‘No, actually, I don’t. This is the first time we’ve met. Which is a shame.’ He stepped closer.

Crystalline could feel his rippling pectorals radiating heat through the flimsy shirt. Her own boobies were like slowly inflating airbags drawn to his heat. Her mouth cracked open.

‘You can call me Blazer,’ he whispered.

‘Oh,’ she gasped.

His… fortune was inching closer to her thigh and she could already feel the outline sharply poking at her.

‘Oh no you don’t! You don’t even know this guy!’ her inner goddess piped up. ‘We just walked into his office and dude’s poking your thigh with his turkey baster? What’s wrong with him?!’

His inner god didn’t care. It was sitting in a very comfy chair calmly pulling at its left testicle.

‘Hello! HELLOOOO!! What exactly do you think you’re doing with this young girl?’ her inner goddess shouted at his inner god.

‘Hmm.. what?’ it lifted a lazy eyebrow.

‘I said what exactly do you think you’re doing letting your flesh prison run rampant taking advantage of innocent young women who don’t know not to make personality judgments on people based on penis size? Hu?!’

‘Lol,’ it said. ‘Send nudes.’

Crystalline’s inner goddess blinked.

‘No.’ it said in that terrible tone your mother uses when she says your entire name from first name through the middle names and the family name, slowly and surely, enunciating every syllable with painful clarity. When you know you’re in deep doodoo.

-The Moist Fire, a terrible romance novel parody

“They eyed each other under the moonlight. Their skin rippling from deep pinks to blues and cascading into bumps that stretched out to arching necks. The beaks touched gently as they circled each other, claws landing quietly on the moss and feathers stretching out to catch the moon. Katie ruffled her wings in a sign of dominance. Her tail feathers cut an impressive fan against the night sky. Cherry swooned. Her beady turkey eyes rolled back as she let out a submissive gobble. Her wattle shivered with excitement, the minuscule feathers on her it standing erect. The night dew was still around them, enveloping them in a mist of anticipation, beads condensing on their snoods and lashes.

Katie cocked her head to the side. The moonlight made her eyes seem like endless pools. Cherry was drowning in them. Katie took a step forward and spread her mighty wings to embrace her lover.”

-Unnamed FF turkey-shifter romance

“Mr. Darcy shook with excitement as he was handed a caramel chocolate digestive. They were his favorite.”

Pride And Prejudice parody, on hold indefinitely

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It’s the end of the year as we know it, and on to an era of cock

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Now that we’ve firmly landed on the newer side of New Year, it’s probably safe to take a look at the raging garbage fire that was 2016. Why am I so concerned about safety? Well, that would be this cold that I’m nursing for the third week running. It’s started out an innocent sniffle before Christmas and now all I do is sleep and brush my teeth. I’ve had a fair few colds in my time, but I’m almost positive this should’ve been resolved already. So I wanted to wait until I was all clear over the finish line before celebrating surviving 2016.

Aside from the Flu From Hell how was 2016? I mean, really? Much like that song from Jim Carroll; lots of people died. People we knew from TV and movies, people we knew from music, people we didn’t know but who made things we hold dear, and friends and relatives. And there were bombings and shootings and refugee crises and hate crimes and plane crashes and then THAT election. I kanoodled with a man and then stopped when that relationship ended and then decided that my diabetes couldn’t possibly be THAT bad (it is) and threw caution to the wind on my diet for 6 months. I lost a few relatives. As in they died, not that I forgot them on the side of the road somewhere. The Great British Bake Off was sold and a grand tradition of friendly dick jokes was ended. And Mariah Carey got in the spirit of the year and IDGAFed Auld Lang Syne on Times Square, which frankly is the perfect end to the year in public terms. Can’t even be mad at that.

Privately though, behind the flaming turd sandwich that was 2016, there were brilliant things, things that were not reported in the news or just got overshadowed. Lots of people had personal revelation (myself included) and even experienced financial gains. And I’m not talking about politicians here. Chris Hadfield, the astronaut fellow, took to his twitter to remind us of stuff that happened in 2016 that was truly awesome, but didn’t get a lot of mentions… possibly because it wasn’t inflammatory nor could it be used to beat people over the head. The number of homeless US veterans dropped by 20% in 2016 alone, the giant panda is no longer endangered and the number of tigers is steadily increasing. There’s a Canadian developed Ebola vaccine that has a 100% efficacy. Both grizzlies and manatees are also increasing in numbers. World hunger has reached its lowest point in 25 years. Beyonce continued to be her excellent self. Loads of wanted and waited babies were born. BAFTAs announced works that didn’t sufficiently represent diversity, would no longer be eligible. Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green developed laser-activated nanoparticles for treating cancer with little to no side effects.

So in the end? I don’t know. I’m WAY too bunged up on flu medication to say one way or the other. It’s taken me 19 hours to write 450 words.
I can say though that I personally took from this a few things: eventually everyone older than us has died, which is why it’s important for everyone to be the idols they were to us, to the people coming after us. Be the Carrie Fishers and be the Bowies and do like George Michael and take care of the little ones. Be bold, be you, shine and be excellent. Because we’re most definitely going to need people being excellent in 2017.
Also, if you have diabetes that you’re controlling through diet, don’t fucking mess with it. I don’t care if Gerry says “Oh live a little!”. Yes, I damn well plan on living for a good while longer which is why I’m not taking part in Gerry’s harebrained beer-pizza-peeps fests! Damn it, Gerry, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Not everyone starts out on the same playing field. Go sit in the corner and shut up, you sad little mudflap.

2017 will be, as of January 28th, the year of the Fire Rooster. For me personally that means a lot of work. Nose to the grind, mostly, then starting studies in a new field in the Fall. I don’t make resolutions. My only resolution is to keep alive and stay alive if for nothing else than out of spite, which is what generally pulls me through the years. I do have To Do list though:

  • Stop taking the phone with me to the bathroom. The risks are too high compared to the payout
  • Get back on my normal diet so I can get my blood sugar under control and not go blind.
  • Get over flu so can stay up for longer than a half an hour and get back to writing
  • Write. Like write tons. My 2016 schedule was completely dive bombed by being sick, so everything basically got moved a few months forward. I got 40-something shorts (2 more centaur stories) planned for 2017 and at least 3 novellas. All before September.
  • No more caffeine. It’s either caffeine or my colon and for now, I choose my colon.
  • Contribute good and positive things to the world… which I know is a little vague, but hey, you never know exactly how you get a chance to contribute. For now it’s surviving flu, then it’s writing. Once we got those two things in a groove, then well see on expanding.

2016 was taxing and emotionally numbing for the general public. That’s probably the most I could sum it up. The hits kept on coming. 2017 we gotta do the work. Work hard for maybe not as much gain as we’d like, but for the long haul. For the well-being of not just ourselves but people we love. And people we don’t love. Fuck it, we just gotta make things good. Even Gerry deserves to have good things, the giant fucking towelette. I’ll be there, contributing my piece of smutty fun for you to rest your weary head on when the world gets too full of raging heads of state with big mouths and small words.

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Technical difficulties

I’m currently experiencing some technical issues with my old computer, so have very limited access to the internet. I’m trying to salvage my files from this failing computer and it’s proving a little tricky, so bear with me. Schedules are out the window right now.

Fingers crossed the books can be dug out so I don’t have to write them again from memory.

That’ll teach me to not back up work….

Teaser Tuesday: Even more covers plus another thing

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Yet another boring cover reveal, you say. Well, sort of. Only one cover this time: Any Way You Pump A Centaur 2! Pony Island is definitely not boring. The horse on the right? Admittedly there because I fell in love with the image and it’s now a plot bunny  (horse?) in some drunken horse-shifter shenanigans. Thank you, Nick Page, for the image.

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So what’s the other thing? That, my lovelies, is a publishing schedule. A genuine, bonafide, 100% pure molehair publishing schedule! Which you can find on the front page on the bottom right hand corner. Since I’m frankly shit as clocking things, every new release is set for 5am, which I’m sure you understand, not a realistic time to be rolling things out as any sensible person is still only half way through their sleep cycle. Please ignore it. Don’t ignore the dates. The first two are set for this week: Poking At Their Pregnant Blonde on the 18th and Dracula & The Night Nurse on the 20th. I’m hitting publish the day before and keeping my fingers crossed it wont take Amazon and D2D longer than 24h to push my filthy babies through. Oh yeah, that’s the other thing…. I mean third thing…? Are we counting? Did anyone take notes because I’m on my third bottle of Merlot tonight and that’s about as much tracking as I can manage. AAAAAnyhow.. I’m not going to be exclusive to Amazon for these new titles. So even if you don’t have a Kindle, you’ll be able to explore all my smutty smut to your heart’s content on what ever kind of eBook reader you have. I thought that was a pretty spiffy thing and have been patting myself on the back for it. It’s all coming together so beautifully!

Self publishing vs Vanity publishing

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Self publishing and vanity publishing are not entirely the same these days… well, not according to everyone. If you listen to your uncle Bob who knows everything about everything and definitely knows everything about books despite never having written one, self publishing and vanity presses are all for “stroking yer delicate damn ego cuz you can’t hack it in the Real World (TM) of publishing!”. Sigh. Really need to stop talking whenever uncle Bob is around….

So let’s break this down a little. A vanity press/publisher takes on small runs of books to publish. They may offer a package deal on 1000-2000 copies that would include cover design, but most vanity publishers have a set price for the run and then they want you to buy editing and cover design and publicity at an extra charge from them. You will pay out of pocket for the books that you’ll eventually receive and then have to work your butt off to contact sellers and hawk your wares because the money you just invested (and it’s not going to be a small amount) is now sitting in your living room/garage as physical copies of the book. There are publishers who do this with digital books as well. Point is: YOU pay, you pay a lot, there’s little to no marketing done by the publisher on your work and sellers are reluctant to stock items printed through these publishers because they’re perceived as “of lesser quality”. The out of pocket costs for a few boxes of books in this case can be in the tens of thousands. The product here is not the book. Vanity presses don’t make money selling books to readers, they make money selling publishing services to authors. This whole practice started in 1959-60 when a few publishers started offering to publish poems in anthologies for a fee from the author. You’d pay to get your poetry included. Vanity presses, the worst ones, continue soliciting would-be authors with letters of flattery and taking out ads that say “XYZ Publisher is looking for books!”. God I hope that’s not an actual publishing house… Y’all, that’s an example, so any similarities to an existing publishing house is purely coincidental!

Self publishing through Amazon/Createspace/Lulu/B&N/Kobo etc. print on demand services is a bit different, as your initial, required, monetary investment is very small. Usually about as much as you’d pay for a single paperback book, sometimes even less, and this goes down to you needing to order a proof copy from them. The marketing platform is already there but there’s still little to no marketing on the service provider’s end and it’s easy to get lost in the crowd so you can and should do marketing yourself. BUT you’re not treated differently by the publisher for not wanting to buy editing or cover design services from them as you might get with a straight up vanity publisher. You also wont have most of your money tied up in stock. Createspace, for example, has options for making your book available through Amazon and B&N as well as their own website. That’s already 3 platforms as opposed to 1 or none. Your book exists in a digital form with the publisher and physical copies are made when orders are received, hence the moniker Print On Demand. They make their money by selling your book as well as selling publishing services to authors.

You can also go “full” indie by simply contacting a printer and dealing with them directly to get your book made. Now that’s hardcore self publishing. You find a good printer and you might get good deals for making book related merch as well since, ya know, they print stuff. Books aren’t their sole bread and butter nor are authors their sole client group.

Ok, so why does uncle Bob and a whole host of other people say all self publishing is vanity publishing? It’s not entirely unjustified conflation, but really depends on how you view the extent of the publishing process and not just how you view the author. First “vanity publishing” as a term clearly states what the person flinging it, and uncle Bob, think of the person who takes that route: you think your writing is too good and pure to be touched by dirty, old strangers and whatever you have to say has to be heard by everyone. DO NOT EDIT MY PRECIOUS BOOK, IT IS PERFECT!

The reality is that a lot of smart self publishers do employ someone to edit their work and take on their suggestions, not just the proofreading. If they have the money to spare. Seriously, a lot of the time when you wonder how such a misjudgment of creativity was ever put on sale, it’s not because the author didn’t want to put their best foot forward in a creative sense, it’s because there were limitations like, say, money. Or experience. Or time and place. Take your pick. They also look for beta readers (people who don’t edit but represent your average potential reader) to give input on the book. That’s an awful lot of trouble to go through for a quick ego wank.

That’s not to say that there aren’t those special snowflakes who take pride in never having shown their work to anyone for a second opinion before unleashing it to the world. But writing and publishing aren’t a matter of agreeable personality. Authors, like plumbers and politicians, come in all shapes and sizes.

Another point is that while there are bunches and bunches of publishing houses in the world, enough that you could safely say that there’s a home for all kinds of material, traditional publishers are there to make a profit from selling books, so they can be reluctant to take chances on unconventional material. There’s that story about some YA author who got rejected 12 times… can’t remember her name now… I’m sure it’ll come back to me at some point. And that other author, well a few of them, who is often cited as having written like, really really badly. Like absolute shite. And yet they got published and got really wealthy from it. Point is, it’s obviously misguided to assume that going through the extensive editing of an “official” publishing house would guarantee a good, high minded book. So at this point, you gotta ask yourself: what exactly, would be wrong in just self-publishing?
Nothing mate, on a conceptual level, not a damn thing. In fact, it might be more apt, when talking about self publishing and vanity publishing (because you CAN reasonably say that all self publishing is vanity publishing in the sense that people want their special story to get out into the world, unlike traditionally published people who do it for altruism. Wait,  what?) to instead talk about self publishing and predatory vanity presses like dem eggheads in academia already do. They call those papers who charge budding academics for publishing their articles predatory open access publishers. There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to just make a book and not sit through the very long process of getting published traditionally. People like books. People like stories! If you want to and can afford waiting it out and going through the traditional publishing route to get a home for your books and a nice deal that guarantees you a home for future books, that’s just nifty too. Both routes are equally part of the real publishing world.
Traditional publishing can guarantee you, at least for a certain amount of time, a professional editor, cover design, marketing and distribution. Maybe even a steady paycheck, it really depends on how you play things, how your publisher fairs and how long your book remains in print. That’s a whole lot of good things that you don’t have to worry about and the lump sum of the advance is nice too. The main differences between self publishing and traditional publishing these days, is the amount of creative control you’ll have and how much work you have to put into it to get that money. Because unlike in years gone by, thanks to digital publishing you can actually make a living self publishing, it’s just going to take an exponential amount of work. So uncle Bob with his ego stroking theories can just sit down cuz his ideas of what constitutes a proper job and what’s fiddling with pretty paperweights to give out on Christmas is going the way of the dodo. Self publishing, for profit, is hard work just like working independently in any creative field. To get financially stable (-ish), you can’t really afford much of that vanity.

“You’ll stop being shallow when you get older”

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Perfect truth here: I’m a wee bit on the sloshed side at the moment. But that’s nothing new. Also, I’m old as balls. But not so old that I wouldn’t still enjoy naturally living, breathing parents. I know, I’m a lucky gal that way: booze and parents. One thing though: apparently if your parents were kooky when you were young, they don’t cease to be kooky or cease to give out the weirdest life advice no matter how old you get. You’re old, they’re older. They’ll still treat you like a drunk 5 year old with a pea stuck up her nose.

So among the things my mom says, and I’ve heard other people parrot this, is “When you get old, the looks don’t matter”. Then they say “Monkeys were invented by the Devil, don’t look them in the eye” which is mostly not true but makes a good point since staring wild animals directly in the eyes in generally a bad idea. She also vehemently believes that I shouldn’t have too much sex or my box will fall out. Or something like that. I really haven’t asked her what she thinks might happen if I had “too much sex” since she often says “or too much fun” in the same sentence, so I’m pretty sure she just doesn’t like fun in general. Yeah. Can’t have people having too much fun in the middle of all these taxes. They might mistake life as something jolly.

As I said, I’m fucking ancient by drunk standards. The liquor keeps my skin fairly taut with all the water retention so it’s sometimes hard to tell, but trust me when I say The Golden Girls was a peer drama. I feel therefore that I have some authority on this idea of attractiveness not mattering thing. Also the sex thing. I have had it. My cookie jar is still in place. But more on that clam chowder some other time. “When you get old, the looks don’t matter”; true or false?

Erm, faaaaals-ish? Sorta true?  Look, I didn’t claim this was going to be a simple thing, did I? Right, so it’s kinda not true but it really depends on both the person and how you interpret things. Which is pretty much how life works anyway. Start with this: you remember when you were 10 and I don’t even know what godawful boy band was The Thing all you whippersnappers listened to. NKOTB? The Beatles? Something that had kids about 5-10 years older than you singing in it. Or you got the hots for Little Timmy on TV. Then about five years later you hit puberty and started questioning your crushes. Maybe they got married, or they got into drugs… life happens, you know. Point is, one day you looked at the pile of cassette tapes (just go with this. You can pretend we’re talking about CDs too) on the floor and the poster of George Michael and it dawned on you you didn’t really know why you had those things anymore. You hadn’t listened to the music in months. Where did the fervor go? And you flipped through your Teen People and though “Oh My Gee Willikers this was 5 years ago fuck I’m old! Also, these kids look soooo young”. See, right there. That’s what happened. Time passed, you grew, nay DEVELOPED, and your attractions adjusted. Your biology told you that if you wanted to mate with one of these people, it should probably be someone who was genitally developed enough to be larger in size than a particularly cute newt and would be roughly around your age so bonding for companionship could be made more easily. Those baby faces ceased to attract you. God willing. Or whatever you pray to. Or don’t. I’m not judging. Point is, you were not attracted to kids, because you were not a kid anymore. Similarly, when you get around 35, you stop being AAAAASSSS attracted to 18 year olds (I’m giving y’all some leeway here cuz man, teenagers sure are hairy and tall these days, but the mechanics of this are pretty sound) because they look like fetuses to you and you’re really looking for a bond. Also, if ya got yer wits about ya, you’ll probably consider how totally unprepared teenagers are for most realities of life so your primary reaction should be to protect and guide, not to shag silly.

Around this time, when you’re past your 30s and going into 40s, you’ll start fretting over on one hand wanting a solid meaningful relationship and on the other hand wanting to bang that hunky piece of meat cuz you’re getting older and you’re eventually gonna die. I’m not advocating calling people pieces of meat. But the word might pop into your head. Blame the media. Seriously, I should learn to stop using it. Ok, so you want to bang that extremely aesthetically pleasing 20-something young man/woman. This is what people commonly call having an age-related crisis. You’ll have several during your life. Also by this point your parents start giving you that “When you get older the looks don’t matter”-speech, if they haven’t already. And they’re fucking lying. They wouldn’t fuck someone who they didn’t find attractive. But they just don’t find the same physical features attractive anymore. They went past that. And now you and your kind look like fetuses to them. It’s not that you stop being attracted to attractive people, it’s just that your frame of reference as to who’s viable enough to be compatible changes and you’ll have learned a thing or two about personality traits that will make or break a relationshag for you. You also get more lenient towards personality failings, cuz pooky my love, you can’t change people. So by the time you get to your 50s and 60s, you’ll be all ready to take on someone with consistently hairy ears and drinking habit as long as the drinking habit is contained within family gatherings and week days. But you still wouldn’t fuck someone you didn’t find attractive. If you’re a lady like myself, by the time you get to your 70s and 80s, the dating scene is slim pickings. Guys die earlier. It’s kinda like the first day of school every year; you get new classmates and you have to pick which one you find attractive out of a pool of 5. That, only it’s a pool of 5 in your state.

Add to all of this people being wildly different in their romantic and sexual attractions. Some people don’t get the old wet spot for a fine booty. They just want to cuddle everyone. Some people have massive amounts of money so whatever they want they just buy and can remain floating in a wonderful bubble of self-deception that they’ve never grown older. “All that pouch and bald are just tricks of light. See? I can totally cover them up with a wad of cash! Why would I want companionship when I can just talk to my money? Money never grows old!”. And then you have people that were always more attracted to what the other person says than what their booty looks like. Booty is a nice word, isn’t it?

So is “looks don’t matter when you get older” true? Depends on your perspective and how you interpret  it. It’s just as true as “how are you going to love someone if you don’t even love yourself”, that is, condensing life into slogans rarely works. The context of it matters. Words change their meaning depending on the person and their situation. Just don’t take slogans at face value, they will fucking let you down. (FYI: you CAN and do love people even if you don’t love yourself, but you WILL put the burden of your self-acceptance and well-being entirely on the person you love and fucking wear them out. No bueno. Don’t do that. It’s a dick move.)

12 Steps to Happiness in time of the internet

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It seems to me since my trade is writing out fantastical tales that cater to everyone’s need of being desired (or, you know, having spank bank material), I should also put down a few tips on general happiness when slapping that dolphin silly/flicking the clam just doesn’t cut it. I aim to please. And I also consider myself a semi-professional at dealing with unhappiness. No, I’m not talking about getting drunk. Here’s an incomplete list of things that WILL make you feel good and don’t cost a ton on money as some of these are totally free to do.

  1. Have a cup of coffee. Ah coffee, the poor man’s antidepressant. This can be a double edged sword as coffee does come with it’s down sides and CAN lead to a prolonged state of unhappiness if things like IBS are present. However, if you need a quick fix and coffee is available, it will certainly do the trick. Bonus happiness if you take your coffee outside and/or with friends. Which brings me to…
  2. Hang out with friends. Yes, it’s that simple. Get friends. Hang out with them. Good friends. Friends that make you want to be the best version of yourself. Activities are not specified or always necessary. Sometimes just sitting in the same room at the same time is all takes. Read books, ignore each other, paint your nails, catch Pokemon. At this point someone is going to go “But I do hang out with them online all day every day” to which I say “Well that’s just swell, but to experience the full benefit of friends, you need to be physically in the same location. Also, don’t try to jump their bones if that’s not the kind of a friendship you have. Be cool. Hang out. Hanging out is nice.” Online hanging out only counts in cases of extreme emergency, like your foot fell off when you were stuck down a well. Or your friend is on Mars. Or Poughkeepsie. You will notice the difference in Authentic Friend Experience as opposed to prolonged Artificial Friend Experience. It’s like the difference between a chocolate cake and a Quest bar. That is, it’ll do, but the real thing is going to give you a lot less gas and diarrhea. For all you who are now thinking that I’m the old lady yelling at the cloud: The internet is good. It can be used for great things. Like organizing to hang out in the same physical space with new friends made online.
  3. Listen to music. Now here’s where I can’t tell you what music to listen to specifically, though if you go by Science, metal is just as good as anything, but I personally dislike listening to music that talks about everyone dying or being just rotten people when all I need is to shake my drunked up tushy. So go with what you feel like. Bonus happiness if you can sing along and/or dance to it. Extra bonus happiness if these things can be done with friendly people.
  4. Go for a walk. Obviously this can seem like kind of a terrible idea if the weather isn’t great, but I’m gonna let you in on a secret: it’s still good for happiness even if it pours down kittens outside. Actually, that might be kind of horrific. So scratch that. Ha! Scratch… cat, I made a cat pun! Anyhow. Going outside, for 5 minutes when it’s raining is still better for your happiness levels than sleeping in. If it’s particularly snowy, or cold, it’s still very enjoyable to put your adult pants on and go out the door. It has something to do with sunshine or circadian rhythm or fresh air or something. I don’t know. I just write stuff. You know the drill by now with how to get bonus happiness out of this.
  5. Exercise. There. I said it. The terrible E-word. Even my slush-self dislikes the word even if I don’t dislike exercise itself. I blame women’s magazines for making “exercise” sound like something you do to punish yourself for eating that chocolate cake. Actually, when I’m sober, it’s really enjoyable, hence why it’s on this list; It does stuff to your brain. Don’t exercise when drunk. That’s not good for anything except for viral videos. Though I’m not telling you what to do, so if you’re drunk and the mood strikes you to shoot some hoops, you do you, boo. Drunk hoops are better than no hoops.
  6. Take a nap. This is another technique that is widely abused but use it wisely and it can be kinda nice. There’s a trick to using naps and I’m going to let you in on it: you have to take a nap deliberately, not in the morning and not when you have a huge amount of stuff to do. If you have a lot of stuff to do, for sake of personal happiness it’s always better to go for a short walk to organize thoughts and then do the stuff. If you’re just getting out of bed, it doesn’t count as napping to just stay there for an hour or a day more. Naps are precarious. Use them like they’re cats: if you try to force them when they’re busy doing other stuff, you will get cut up. They might try to interfere with your work and look at you like they’re the most sensible thing to do in the world, but that’s when you need to tell them no and move them aside. The best time to indulge a Nap Cat is when you’re both relaxed and can spare the time. In general though, for heaven’s sake people, get your sleep in! Working 24h a day and flapping your suspenders about it all over town is some grade A bullshit made up by people who want to die by 30 from a heart attack and be buried with their check book.
  7. Eat a good meal. Heck, eat several. Aim for 3 good meals a day. That should do it. Like, eat, man. Eating is the food of gods. It just makes everything in your body function. If you don’t eat, you’re more likely to get cranky and make bad choices in life and love and food. Personal confession: I’m all about the occasional fasting day. That’s not going to hurt you. BUT as with everything, you gotta have some grip on what you’re doing. Don’t let your brain be deprived of fats. Fats make your brain happy and your food taste good. Bonus happiness when you eat with other people. See a pattern here?
  8. Take a hot shower or a soak. Soaking just your feet is also acceptable. Now I’m no scientist, or a historian, but I do believe historically this has something to do with heat expansion. When you soak your feet, not only do they come out ever so slightly bigger (calm down everyone in the back seat there, it’s not a permanent situation!) but the size of the blood vessels in them has also slightly expanded. Larger blood vessels, not so much pressure in them. Easier blood flow, calmer mind. It also just feels really nice. Bonus happiness for bath bombs, Epsom salts, massages, scrubbing and spas. Extra bonus happiness if you can do this with THAT kind of friends.
  9. Cuddle. Ok, you can do more than cuddle, but for your basic garden variety quick fixes for happiness, hugging and cuddling are all it takes. Body chemistry is a wild trip, man. You DO get bonus happiness if you’re cuddling a friend, but a good snuggle even with someone you’ve just met is A-OK. As long as they’re A-OK with it. Or cuddle a pillow. That works too. Just don’t be that tool who’s all like “Let’s cuddle!” and immediately goes for the boob. Nobody likes that guy.
  10. Unclutter the fuck up. Got clutter? Unclutter it. Got frustration? Clean the house. I don’t care if you did just clean it yesterday, you can always change the sheets again, do the laundry, iron some jeans (you can also do this out of spite and I highly recommend this technique if you’re feeling passive-aggressive), vacuum the carpet or build a new bathroom. There’s two really good reasons why this works: you got shit done and now the shit looks/smells good. Bonus happiness for fresh, clean sheets.
  11. Do a thing with your hands. Us humans seem to just loooove being able to show off something. Even when we don’t have anyone to show anything off for. But that’s besides the point. Most good stories you tell the neighbours kids when you’re as old as balls, or that get you street cred when you’re an drunken internet persona, start with “Hold my bottle and let me show you a thing”. Thing often being either a gnarly wound acquired when doing a thing with your hands that you didn’t know how to do, or doing a thing with your hands there on the spot. Do things with your hands. Draw, paint, crochet, stand on them, cook, build a wall, wash the car, origami, blog about happiness. Doing stuff is getting shit done. Getting shit done is happiness. Bonus happiness for doing the thing with friends and getting at least one cool scar.
  12. DO NOT go on social media. So I might get some shit for this, but there ya go. This is more like a fair warning on social media rather than a definite rule about never ever going there. In all seriousness, there are a few books on this that are good, but I can recommend The Shallows by Nicholas Carr which isn’t really about this item specifically but on your brain and the internet in general in a very non-judgemental tone. Are you feeling lonely, frustrated by what you see in your Facebook feed? Did you go on Twitter and post some choice words about it which absolutely no one responded to in any way except for that one porn bot who wants to add you on Skype now? Did you try to cheer yourself up from the news (and Twitter and Facebook) by looking at some funny videos on YouTube only to get stuck on there for 2 hours? Did you feel a nagging frustration about that afterwards even if you DID learn a new thing about pet care and the Mongols probably? The internet and social media can be great for exchanging information, acquiring it very rapidly. You meet new people from across the globe, you see and read new things, you learn and get inspired. But you can also drown in the sea of plenty and if you’re not in a good solid place and you don’t have a schedule in place for doing your thing and then taking breaks to browse the net, it can quickly consume all of your time. Because it is so vast and links you constantly to new information and new sights, your brain is constantly in a state of alertness and that tires it out. You make it feel like it’s doing a shit ton when it’s actually doing nothing or very little and it’s that dichotomy that causes the mounting frustration you feel with your own accomplishments. You talk to friends, but you don’t get the same benefit from it as you would from being physically with them. You learn new things constantly but you’re not asked to recall on those as they’re immediately available through the internet, nor does your brain get to digest things as it’s always hyperalert when online. You see other people seemingly living a perfect existence because you only see a condensed reel of the highlights of their life and not all the sitting and sleeping and bills and skid marks in between those moments. You may consciously know that what you see and read is not the full extent of the truth, but your lizard brain doesn’t and your lizard brain is the one making decisions most of the time. So if you’re feeling unhappy, a few days (or years) off social media can do wonders for you. Bonus happiness if you spend that time with friends.

So that’s an incomplete 12 step program for personal happiness. Costs only what your basic existence in a capitalistic society costs. Doesn’t require a holiday in the Bahamas (though I hear those are goo-ood). Doesn’t require a new pair of shoes or making amends with creepy uncles. Srsly though, no one needs to be on good terms with that guy. What are some of your Go To free happiness tips?