Pop Culture Happy Hour, the awesome NPR pop culture podcast hosted by Linda Holmes, ends each podcast with a round-the-table of “What’s making us happy this week.” And one of the things that’s making me happy this week is their Oscars Omnibus podcast (all about the nominated pictures) — an even more awesome than usual feast of smart, clever people being intelligent and entertaining about pop culture from high to low.

Other things that are making me happy this week: having been reminded of a poem I’d somehow forgotten about, Philip Levin’s “This Be the Verse” (the one that begins “They fuck you up, your mum and dad”), the two books I’m reading, The Bullpen Gospels, recommended by a friend last summer because I liked Scott Simon’s Home and Away so much, and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, a mystery with, as the blurb promised, a heroine who’s a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Eloise, which I picked up at Mercer Street Books on a jaunt to lower Queen Anne last weekend. 

Which brings me to another thing that’s making me happy this week, which is how many bookstores there are in Seattle. Portland has Powell’s, which is of course like 75 bookstores in one place, and I’m not knocking Powell’s, Powell’s is great, but Powell’s is too overwhelming to browse in that small bookstore way. It’s great if you know what you want, Powell’s is, but it’s pretty hard to have that random idle browsing, that unexpected find, that book you didn’t know you wanted but you do. Seattle has lots of those kinds of bookstores, and they’re all different, and there’s one within walking and three within a 25 minute bus ride, and another big one a bit of a bus ride beyond that. That makes me happy.

And the last thing that’s making me happy this week is the forces-you-to-think-of-something-to-write aspect of doing a poetry challenge (one of those “write 30 poems in 30 days” things). There’s a plastics manufacturing plant on my street (they make the insides of airplanes, I asked someone at a shift change once, the plastic parts like tray tables and window shades). The forklift which moves pallets out near the dumpsters outside has a back-up beeper that’s lost its tone, it just makes this very loud weird metal noise that sounds almost like an animal of some sort, a lower register than the usual obnoxious beep. And I’ve noticed it almost daily since I moved here in October.

And because I had to write a poem tonight for the challenge, I wrote about it. Tried to describe it, tried to get the sound right. Toned some muscles I might have ignored working on of my own volition. That’s the great thing about a poetry challenge. I mean sure, of course most of what you write for one is terrible, eek, ick, dreck! But it makes me write some more of the possible poems there are for me to write than usual. And even if that draft doesn’t go anywhere, having done that makes me happy.