Pre-holiday Fluff Cavalcade One: Small Pleasures

Today I whanged myself in the eye with a mascara wand, so I got to put on new disposable contacts. Man oh man, I don’t want to disparage my boyfriend or my job or my friends or anything, but new contact lenses may be one of the greatest joys available to me. What else makes the world suddenly look so much brighter and sharper and clearer? Nothing legal, that’s for sure.

I frequently change my contacts before a major event (I was going to change them this weekend anyway, because of going away for the holiday), because it makes me feel renewed. It’s like a ritual event for putting a new face on things, only it does it literally as well — a less dingy, brighter face. I’ve got weird vision — I basically see static all the time, sort of like what you might see if you looked at a blank wall, anyone else have this? — so the fewer scrims there are between me and the world, the happier I feel.

What’s your favorite small pleasure?

67 thoughts on “Pre-holiday Fluff Cavalcade One: Small Pleasures

  1. I have those thingies too. It makes looking at a blank wall marginally more interesting for us than it probably is for other people. Silver lining.

    Small pleasure: plucking the loose hair from my rabbit’s pelt. Related: peeling off sunburned skin in largish sheets.

  2. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind if it were only for dressing up blank walls, but sometimes it gets in the way of stuff I want to see. Especially at night!

    Peeling sunburns is TOTALLY a small (guilty) pleasure of mine.

  3. I’m totally astigmatic (no near or far-sightedness), which means that without my glasses, everything looks like one of Joan Collins’ soft-focus Dynasty scenes, or a White Diamonds commercial. While this is annoying, sometimes when I’m sitting in a boring lecture I can take off my glasses and feel like I’m suddenly in an otherworldly soft and fuzzy cocoon protecting me from whatever tedious bullshit I happen to be experiencing at the time.

    That’s not my small pleasure, though. My small pleasure is probably on weekend mornings when I get to sleep in and my favorite cat climbs up on my chest and does this cute thing where she stretches a paw up next to my face and purrs at me and I stay in bed and read a book. My other small pleasure is probably fancy cheeses.

  4. My favorite small pleasure is standing under the hottest water in the shower that I can stand and that tingle/borderline pain/chill that you get from it. Of course, then I have to slather myself with lotion when I’m done so I don’t look like a dehydrated raisin! :)

  5. Using a brand-new good pen. I go through so many pens that I usually have like five nearly empty ones in a given bag, so using an actually new one for the first time makes me sigh in pleasure.

    Maybe I’ll buy some new ones today.

  6. Tea in a real china cup and saucer. Usually I slug back gallons of green tea in my oversized plastic bottle, but sometimes it’s nice just to sit and pretend I live the lush life.

  7. Fillyjonk: I hear you with the night driving. Doing anything in the dark basically means I’ll be cut, bruised, burned or stubbed within milliseconds.

    Just want to clarify my small pleasure for all those concerned bunny lovers out there: my rabbit likes being plucked. She considers it grooming and purrs when I do it. She is also my smooshy love.

  8. This is cheesy.

    When I walk my dog he typically pays no attention to me whatsoever. His nose barely leaves the ground, and he only looks at me when he’s extremely frustrated (e.g., I make him sit before I let him sniff for an extended period of time, and he’s very stubborn, so sometimes he hovers between standing and sitting for a long time). Sometimes, though, he accidentally steps in a hole, or a thorn bush surprises him, and his immediate reaction is to make eye contact with me. I like to think he’s looking at me for reassurance that the world is not out to get him, and he feels safe in my presence. It makes me feel pretty good.

  9. Crawling into a bed with fresh flannel sheets. (NB: this pleasure only works if you live in a cold climate, I think.)

    Ordering a cocktail in a restaurant.

    Walking along and feeling ice and snow crunch under my boots.

    Occasionally catching a whiff of my perfume or lotion when I wasn’t expecting it.

    And, of course, getting to curl up with a new book for several uninterrupted blissful hours.

  10. yes! kind of–when they get groomed or pet or generally experience pleasure they rub their front teeth together. it doesn’t sound like a cat purr at all, but makes a soft “chuka chuka” sound.

  11. Picking out a new yarn to crochet something with. I love going out and petting the skeins :)

    (I know that sounds slightly perverted, but whatcha gonna do?)

  12. yes! kind of–when they get groomed or pet or generally experience pleasure they rub their front teeth together. it doesn’t sound like a cat purr at all, but makes a soft “chuka chuka” sound.

    I just died. And I need to meet your smooshy love.

    Man, just about all of the aforementioned small pleasures would go on my list, too.

    First one that comes to my mind, though, is coming inside after walking the dogs at night and knowing that now I can play video games/watch TV/get in bed with a book, without anything else on my plate for the day.

  13. Coming home after a long hard day and watching my Yorkie fly down the (long) hallway to greet me, blond ears flapping, eyes shining, stump of a tail wagging him sideways. Since he’s got four legs, he usually beats my husband to the first kiss. :)

  14. My small pleasures:

    *being able to take a long shower using a variety of bath products (I want to make out with my LUSH shampoo thingies, I swear to God), and then hopping out to slather Neutrogena Body Oil all over me before drying off. Oh, mercy. Smells fabulous and feels so delightful.

    *snuggling into my cocoon of pillows and blankets and getting all comfy

    *the silence that comes with a heavy snowfall. I love how quiet it gets. I even kind of like to shovel.

    *getting stuff together for a trip I’m taking overseas at the end of February. It’s the first super big trip I’ve ever taken as an adult (I’ll be gone for two weeks), and I’m having a great time assembling all my tickets and hotels and such.

    *Playing hooky from work…like I did today. :)

  15. new socks and undies.

    having time to put on lotion after a shower and blowdry my hair.

    when my kitty falls asleep on my lap.

    buying a new card full of bobby pins. i just like how they are so neat and tidy and all perfectly lined up.

  16. Freshly laundered sheets on the bed. It’s the only time I actually make the bed, just so I can climb into that perfect sleep-inducing unwrinkled cleanliness every week :-)

  17. OTM: she’s not an angora, just a fur/meat mutt that I rescued from a restaurant. She sheds enough as it is. I absolutely could not handle an angora.

    Kate: if you ever find yourself in Iowa and looking for bunny and Sumac companionship, let us know!

  18. Kate: if you ever find yourself in Iowa and looking for bunny and Sumac companionship, let us know!

    If I ever find myself in Iowa, I will probably be very confused, but I’ll try to remember.

    (J/K. I actually like your hometown quite a bit and might even visit on purpose one of these days.)

  19. TeeCee, on the same note, I find new tubes of paint intoxicating. If left to my own devices, I would buy every possible color, including ones I could probably mix myself.

    Actually, I guess I have that problem with anything that has a range of colors available — polymer clay, markers, colored papers. I often leave the art store empty-handed because I’m just so overwhelmed with the choices.

  20. In the spirit of the season, a perfectly wrapped gift (wrapped by moi) brings me great pleasure.

    An imperfectly wrapped gift makes me cranky.

  21. Ditto on just about everything above but the contacts stuff (I’m a non-glasses-wearer, so can’t share that one). Blank paper & new pens, soooo tasty!!

    My additions would be playing with a slinkie (they make the coolest sounds!) or watching the Sunday morning political shows with good coffee and a lap full of napping cats.

  22. Yup, no night driving for me whatsoever. I have retinitis pigmentosa, an eye condition which means I pretty much can’t see anything in the dark. I totally get what you mean by seeing static – that’s exactly what I see at night or in dark rooms. (I can’t even see really dark scenes in movies! I have no idea what happened in the dark, ocean-y climax of the last Superman movie.)

    My guilty pleasure: going home instead of making plans on a Friday night, wearing comfy pjs, and watching movies I’ve seen a million times before on tv until it’s really late, then falling asleep around 2 am and sleeping as late as i want.

    And french fries. Really crispy, hot fries. With gravy.

  23. The smell of cookies coming out of the oven, and the taste of them when they are still gooey-warm.

    Like lexy, I love perfectly, creatively wrapped gifts. Crisp corners, especially, make me happy.

    Being the first person to make footprints/ski tracks in fresh snow is possibly one of my most favourite experiences in the entire world. Ever.

  24. Oops, you said “small” pleasure, not “guilty” pleasure. :) Well, my late movie watching and fry-eating count for both, I suppose…

    Another small pleasure: waking up and seeing snow gently falling outside, for the first time each winter.

  25. Right, no guilt about pleasures here! :)

    (Except for my slight guilt about peeling sunburns, which I’m almost certain I’m not supposed to do.)

  26. Ooooh, Tari — I actually got all four of our adult cats on my lap at once this week. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!

  27. My small pleasures, in no particular order:

    – Falling asleep every night snuggled next to my wonderful, wonderful husband.

    – The warm smell of vanilla wafting through the house

    – The purring of my kitten (whose fur feels like bunny fur) as she curls up on my chest

    – Hearing the brief but oh-so familar strands of Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in a department store or at the bank. The song is played in the movie Somewhere in Time, which formed the inspiration for my husband and I getting married on Mackinac Island, Mich. this summer.

    – Cleaning out my work email inbox and in not seeing the voicemail alert on my work-issued cell phone.

    – – I have incredible freedom to report on stories I want to report on at my newspaper job. So, I give considerable attention to small and locally owned businesses. The gratitude I see on the faces of owners is so worth the above.

  28. Oh! I forgot one of my all-time favorites because I haven’t been out in the snow much yet this winter, but I absolutely love being out at night when it snows and seeing the circle of snow that’s lit up by a streetlight.

  29. Here’s one I bet a lot of people can relate to: watching my dog do the “You’re Home!” dance after work. It cracks me up every time.

  30. Wow, these pleasures you all are listing are yummy. So nice, and not really fluff! Mine are…

    – when I drift off to sleep, sometimes I have little moments of startlement. It’s as though a nightmare is trying to get rolling, but I wake up just enough to dislodge it, but I still have little trails of fear fogging my brain and making me whimper a little. *That* is not pleasant, but if I am sleeping with my husband, then in my half-sleep I will hear him murmur “I’m here, I’m here, it’s all right” and he will roll over and cuddle me until I am soothed. That is pleasant.

    – because we are living in separate states right now, I don’t often get that pleasure. However, we talk every night on the phone and I love falling asleep talking to him and hearing my own voice get sleepier and more childish until he tells me to go to bed. That time of semi-conscious drifting off.

    – Tendons in a bowl of pho.

    – A full tank of gas and a sausage egg mcmuffin at the beginning of a road trip.

    – harmonizing with the indigo girls on full blast on the stereo.

    – wearing red cowboy boots.

  31. Slipping between soft, freshly washed cotton sheets with lots of pillows right after a nice warm shower.

  32. The mornings when my husband showers first then comes back to bed all clean smelling and shower warm . I curl up and lay my head on his shoulder and kitty climbs up on his chest and delicately sniffs his goatee, just once, then lays down right on his breast bone. She’s purring before she even gets settled. Husband and I then pet the cat, and husband strokes my hair.

    Pure bliss everytime.

  33. I have a small pleasure that I only experienced once. The memory of it still gives me pleasure.

    When I was a kid, I went with my mom to a friend’s house. Her cat had had kittens. My mom’s friend wanted to gossip shamelessly, and she told me to go upstairs and mess with the kittens.

    They were in this little cove, and I played with them for about two hours. Imagine: seven kittens bopping and jumping, swatting and patting. Then, as if on cue, they marched into my lap, formed a pile of kittens and fell asleep. I enjoyed a heaping lapful of kittens for another hour.

    Bliss, I tell you.

    Bliss.

  34. I thought of another small pleasure I don’t often indulge because I live in Texas, where all four seasons come to die, then roast in hell, then come back and sit like a big, blistering, roasting pig all damn year.

    When I lived in Kentucky, we went to a tubing party. It was a fresh snow, and the hosts torched a bunch of trash cans and hauled out the hot choclate. We all jammed into innertubes and went flying down the hills. God, that was outrageous fun.

    And in spite of being happily mated to another woman, I find a small pleasure in looking at or listening to “lumberjack men.” You know, tall-ish men with solid arms and beards, deep voices. Dunno why.

  35. I find pleasure in many of the same things mentioned above, but I particularly wanted to co-sign on those very rare times I look around and realize I have nothing that HAS to be done and that I won’t suffer guilty pangs if I decide to curl up and read and sip tea all night. (There are always things that COULD be done, of course.) It’s especially good if I don’t have to get up the next morning, which leads me to…

    …the turning off of the alarm on Friday night. Only happens about half the year, as the other half of the years, we have soccer. But during off months, my kids are old enough now to wake up on Saturday and grab a book and a bowl of cereal and leave the Huz and I to our slumber as the sun slants in on us. Bliss. Double bliss if it leads to morning snuggles while we quitely laugh over the kids being silly together in unguarded moments.

  36. Ooh, I feel the same way about a new set of contact lenses (the disposable kind, I mean). As you say – as if you are literally get a new look on your world. It’s lovely.

    I feel the same way when I go in for a haircut, especially if I’m overdue. I walk out feeling like I’ve been snapped back into my “self” again. It’s marvelous.

    Another small pleasure – a new bar of hand soap. I don’t care how much they cost, I buy the fancy ones with fancy scents and I especially love the first week or so with a new bar, when every time I wash my hands it’s all I can do not to huff the soap suds. But I enjoy the whole thing – watching the soap slowly disappear, seeing what shape it takes along the way, discovering any bits which might be hidden inside. And finally, the end when I’m washing my hands with this little sliver of soap wondering how much longer it’s going to last, debating if I can continue to delay the gratification of bringing out that next new bar (and pondering which bar that’s going to be), the whole thing.

    Wow. That’s a lot of loving description about soap. In case anyone is concerned – no, I’m not hiding OCD (or at least, not that particular brand of OCD) behind a supposed love of soap. I don’t wash my hands excessively, I just really really enjoy it when I do.

  37. 1. The first sip of a really good cup of tea or coffee (depending on my mood).

    2. When my husband lazily puts an arm around my shoulders and starts petting and playing with my hair. It makes me want to purr.

  38. Ooh, I just read comments, and just remembered another one (though a lot of those would go on my list too):

    Wearing one of the pairs of wool socks I’ve knitted for myself. They’re more cushiony than regular cotton socks, and softer than any commercial wool socks I’ve ever tried, and basically they’re just wondefulness incarnate. And the fact that I made them myself means I get to be proud of them, as well as enjoy how nice they feel on my feet.

  39. - the feel and sound of a strong wind on a bright, crisp, cool October day

    – the combination of freshly shaved (shaven?) legs and brand-spankin’ clean sheets

    – getting a car wash after days of driving a filthy, slush-spattered car

    – raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… :)

  40. Walking into a freshly clean house, that still has that hint of lysol, ammonia and bleach smell (I think that is from childhood, when my mother stayed home).
    Christmas Candles.
    Turning off the TV at night and turning on iTunes- reading or stitching in the quiet.
    When my dog gets back inside from her early morning visit outside, she comes to curl up by my head and snuggle.
    Watching movies or TV curled around my partner, and/or snuggling with a pillow that smells like him when he is not here.
    (Makes me feel a tiny bit naughty sharing)
    Airdrying after a shower, especially in the summer out here. I then use my favorite White Musk lotion from the body shop, which adds to the enjoyment of being clean and pampered and nekkid. :)

  41. Oh another simple pleasure is when I go to my hometown on the Oregon Coast, as you drive into town from the east you go over the crest of a hill and suddenly the entire ocean is right there and you can see the bay and the bridge and the whole town and it makes me almost tear up everytime.

    Then I roll the window down and smell the fishing boats and the packing plants and the ocean and I tear up again.

  42. *delurks*

    Baking bread, and then cutting or breaking into the first piece, especially if it comes out nice and crusty.

    Also, having the time for a bath instead of a shower.

  43. lexy, I LOVE that moment. LOVE IT. You can’t even really get it where I beach anymore — the Delaware beaches are a hell of a lot more built up than the Oregon coast, and at the spot where you should be getting that first ocean view, you’re mostly getting shops. But I remember it, and it gets me excited about going to the beach anyway.

  44. Ooh, yes, the beach moment is a good moment! For me, it’s driving on Lakeshore Drive and seeing the Chicago skyline spread out before me on one side, and the lake on the other. Still gets me every damn time, even if traffic is miz.

  45. My favorite thing to do is go to the fabric store and touch all the fabric. I always find myself wishing I lived at a time in history where clothing was essentially tons of draped fabric, just for the purely luxurious feeling that would give me.

  46. Hearing the brief but oh-so familar strands of Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in a department store or at the bank. The song is played in the movie Somewhere in Time, which formed the inspiration for my husband and I getting married on Mackinac Island, Mich. this summer.

    I LOVE this movie (Christopher Reeve, rrrowr)! One of my fave trips ever was where I stayed a night at the Grand Hotel (could only afford just the one! but so worth it) on Mackinac. Also, that melody makes my short list for most beautiful piece of music ever (also in the running: “Londonderry Air” and McCartney’s “Yesterday”). Fabulous way to get married, for sure.

  47. lexy, your moment reminded me of one of my favorite moments: when we go out to visit my mom on Long Island, and we come back home at night, and we take the exit on the Long Island Expressway that leads us into our neighborhood in Queens – as you come off the exit, you go up a hill, and as you come to the top of that hill, you see the full NYC skyline before you, and it’s just amazing. The Empire State Building is straight ahead, but you can see everything else, and on a clear night, it’s just beautiful. And totally distracting, if you’re driving. :)

  48. A bubble bath in a claw-foot tub, with a glass of wine and a good book.

    Clean sheets and clean jammies on Sunday night.

    Slathering homemade buttercream frosting on cupcakes.

    The leathery smell of new shoes.

    When a small person of my acquaintance asks me for a hug instead of the other way round.

  49. I had Lasik in 2001. Can’t imagine a better-spent $4,800.

    I take large pleasure in so many small things. Buying new makeup. Rollerball pens. Or gel pens. ooooooh gel pens. A flock of birds flying overheard. Seeing the moon for the first time in the evening. Solving puzzles.

  50. When my 17 lb cat crawls into my arms, rolls over on his back, and falls dead asleep. I know he’s really asleep because he becomes dead weight, and while that’s not always the most comfortable thing in the world, I get inordinate pleasure from it. It means he trusts me.

    Chocolate. I have some of the good stuff (70%) every night and it’s bliss.

    Wearing my ankle boots with 3″ heels. They’re wildly impractical but I feel so powerful and confident and TALL in them.

    Leaving the first footprints in fresh snow.

  51. Running fingers through DHs chest hair. I loves me a strong hairy man!

    Looking at the closed eye “I’m in ecstacy!” expression my bird gets when I scritch the feathers on her head just right.

    I’ve only had a chance to do this a few times, but its the most amazing thing. Riding a bike late at night when its just snowed about two or so inches and no cars have mucked it up yet. Especially if its still snowing gently. Just like riding on a cloud or something.

    Making the bed. I just love the way its so neat and tidy and the covers lay just right, smooth and flat. Oh, and it makes everyone think you’re this incredible neatnik, even though you’re so not.

  52. Most of my small pleasures nowadays come from my three-year-old. I am just utterly in love with her. She is the funniest and sweetest person I have ever met, and part of that has to do with how innocent and unselfconscious she is, and how being in her presence makes me feel that way too. And more than anything, the intensity and pureness of her love. It is just glorious when she wraps her little arms around my neck, looks earnestly into my eyes and whispers, “I love you too, Mama.”

    Fillyjonk, your small pleasure (well, not the pleasure itself, but the condition that makes it possible) actually made my heart sink. I’m having to switch to soft contacts, and I’ve been hoping that the lack of clarity that seems to come even as soon as the second wearing has something to do with my eyes still adjusting. My eyes are really bad, and I have one I can hardly see out of at all, and double vision to deal with, so clarity is important to me because it’s really all I have. Or had. I think I’m going to go cry now.

  53. Oh man, you’ve all reminded me how much I love getting my hair cut – and now that I’m home for the holidays, I’m getting it cut tomorrow! It’s the place that did my hair for junior and senior prom, and I’ve been getting haircuts there since I was about thirteen. Love it.

  54. Snuggling into the crook of my husband’s shoulder and smelling his hair. I couldn’t describe how his hair smells, exactly, but I’d recognize rhat smell anywhere. Mm.

    The way my cat responds when you give her a good massage up the sides of her cheeks…she stretches her neck and transforms from a normal shorthair moggie into an elongated, almost-Siamese look. We were told my her previous owner that she might have a little Siamese in her, but this is the only time it shows. And the way she does her little silent miaow at you when she wants attention. Sweet.

    Being fresh from the shower and snuggling into a really good thick towel.

    Knowing I have a pile of art stuff and time on my own to have a good journaling session. Bonus points if the weather’s horrible outside and I have hot chocolate or better still, mocha in the vicinity.

    The moment when I open my ‘cello case and take the little velcro strap off from the top end of the strings, and they all bounce up with a soft little pizzicato plunk. Also, the smell of rosin, and the ritual of taking it out of its little cloth wrapper and rubbing up the bow.

    And…art stores. I like it if I have money to spend, but I like browsing anyway. I’m both a pen freak and a rubdown alpabet freak. (Yesterday was hog heaven, because one of my favorite stores had found what I think was a pile of old Letraset fonts from the 70s and was selling them off cheap. Very freaky retro stuff, and I usually find the older ones rub down more evenly.)

  55. You folks are sending shivers down my spine, in the good way.

    One of mine: smoothing on lip balm that has a particularly un-waxy texture. I’m an addict, sure, and a picky one at that, but my naturally desert-like lips pretty much demand it anyway. Always a little joy when the balm’s not hard, waxy, sticky, smelly, or gooey. The one I just used is juuuust right. Mmm.

    Oh, and another beach one: going out for the first time in forever and feeling the nice warm sand smoosh under my feet, and that first time the tide laps up against my toes… aah.

  56. This is a very nice thread. It’s nice to think about all the ways in which people are getting all these happy moments. Here’s some ones that haven’t been covered.

    Dental hygiene. Man, when you floss and brush and do everything very carefully and very slowly, and your mouth feels soooo clean… I love that shit.

    slightly salacious: taking off the bra at the end of the day. Especially if you have big boobs like me, and it’s like ahhhhh. I always just stand there for a few seconds enjoying it.

    Watching a good movie/television show I’ve already seen. There’s something I like, the familiarity of knowing what’s going to happen and not needing to hang on to every word, but still enjoying it, especially if you haven’t seen it in a while. I love to do this with early episodes of The West Wing.

    Putting on the favorite shirt. You know how you always have a favorite? It changes every couple years, but there’s always a favorite, the one you’d pick every time to wear if all your clothes were clean. Putting it on and feeling like “yeah, that’s right, that’s why you’re my favorite.”

    Uploading/organizing/editing photos. I love coming back from a trip or event or day of picture-taking, lying down on my bed and cranking up some music, and losing myself for hours in uploading to my computer, choosing the best ones, doing some edits, and uploading to the internets. All told takes a couple hours and I feel a great sense of accomplishment.

    And how could no one mention, BLOGGING. Writing something up all quick-like, hitting post, going to the URL to see that yes, it’s really there on the internet, re-reading what you wrote and thinking “hey, that’s good!” Mmm so tasty.

  57. I just got out of the shower and I put pj pants on with a huge old t-shirt.

    There’s a corn casserole (comfort food extraordinaire) in the oven due out in ten minutes, and while I briefly considered going out to see a Sweeney Todd matinee, it’s kind of gray outside so I’m staying in to have a Johnny Depp DVD marathon. Don Juan de Marco for the 100+ time just seems perfect right now.

  58. FJ, I have the static thing, too. I’ve only ever met people online who have it, and it’s generally called “visual snow.” Crazy. I’ve had it for years, and am mostly used to it. It’s annoying, but mostly at night, because it makes everything look grainy.

    Funny things about the contact lenses, because I feel the same way. But I’ve mostly stopped wearing my lenses to work, so now they are pretty much reserved for special occasions.

    Favourite small pleasures: blackcurrant flavoured soda (from Loblaws in Canada), my ipod, and spending a day now and then hidden in my apartment pretending the world doesn’t exist.

  59. And how could no one mention, BLOGGING. Writing something up all quick-like, hitting post, going to the URL to see that yes, it’s really there on the internet, re-reading what you wrote and thinking “hey, that’s good!” Mmm so tasty.

    Duh! Of course!

    Also? Comments. :)

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