September 28, 2010

Dr. Koci’s Tips for Happiness and Eternal Bliss

Disclaimer: That might be a slight exaggeration.

We’re changing things up today here at La Kocinera! After weeks and weeks of mostly food-related posts, I was getting a little tired of the same routine, plus I’d always meant to include more real life stories and posts about things other than food in this blog. It’s just that many of my thoughts do revolve around food, which makes things slightly cumbersome.

But that’s no excuse. I like talking about life and I like reading about life. However, I find it hard to talk about my life on my blog. Non-culinary aspects of my life, that is. I worry that my stories cross over the line from “interesting and relatable” to “whiney and complaining.” So, as I dive into a completely life-related post, I need you to keep me real. If I start to get annoying and self-indulgent, let me know. We’ll come up with a code word, something subtle like, “Koci, your level of cynicism makes me despair for mankind.”

Too long?

How about “Skinny, lowfat, sugar-free mocha-vanilla-caramel misto?” There’s no way I’d ever utter that phrase under any other circumstances, so we’d know that something was very wrong. Seriously, I loathe the word “misto.” It’s Starbucks’ term for Cafe au Lait. Every time I go there, I ask for a cafe au lait, desperately hoping against hope that one of the baristas will understand. Usually the response I get is “What’s cafe au lait?

That phrase makes me too angry now, so let’s try this one more time. The emergency, Koci-you’re-ranting, code word will be…


That’s it—cantaloupe. I hate cantaloupe, so that would totally snap me out of any melancholic reverie into which I had descended and send me squirming and cringing my way back to reality.

Okay, code word = cantaloupe. Good?

With that concept firmly established, here’s a happy, whimsical photo of a flower to ingratiate myself to you before I ask for a favor.

Before I tell you Dr. Koci’s Tips for Happiness and Eternal Bliss, I will first ask that you give me 60 seconds to tell you why I needed to follow this prescription for a good mood and overall smileyness. Deal?

In a nutshell, I feel frustrated.

Ever since June—almost five months now—my dad has been unemployed. While I love him dearly, even he has agreed that our family has been cooped up together for too long. Every single day, all day long, we’re practically living on top of each other. All sense of privacy and quiet has left our house. There is always someone else wherever one of us wants to be. We never get a break from each other.

Wherever I go, I’m constantly with other people. Now I know that sounds incredibly antisocial, but I’m just being honest. I like people just fine, I love my family and friends, but I’m the kind of person who needs time alone—time to recharge and process. Not having that has taken a toll on me. Without being able to recuperate and have some quiet time, I feel like I’m living under this constant, low-grade tension that I can’t shake off. Add this to the stresses of college and life in general, and you’ve got a somewhat brief description of what I’m going through.

So there it is. I’m frustrated with living in this state of transition—of somewhere in between—and the fact that there’s nothing I can do to make things better. I’m not where I was, but I’m not where I want to be. As I become more and more of an adult, it feels like there’s less and less that I understand and that I can count on. Basically, I think the universe realized that I’m about to turn twenty and decided to give me one last, whopping dose of teenage angst.

Phew! Okay, venting over—time for the happy stuff.

Whenever I feel overwhelmed and cranky, I turn to some of the following techniques and coping mechanisms to put a smile on my face.

Firstly, there’s the requisite accessories.

In this case, elephants.

Then there’s cute (and mildly disturbing) cupcake key covers.

I call them Chompers, Cap’n Fluffy, and Rodrigo.

Usually around this time I’ll look up a Bollywood video on YouTube, in this case “Kabhi Kabhi Aditi,” which always makes me smile…and wish that people at my school would break out into song and serenade me whenever I have a tough day.

If Bollywood’s not your thing, there’s also that video of that baby…

If you, like me, enjoy photography, there’s always the option to head outdoors in the now beautiful weather and snap some photos of stuff in your backyard.

Random pile of firewood.

Some sort of weed.

Finally, there’s my personal favorite—write your Economics notes as if you were Spaghatta Nahdle.

Yes, your classmates will look at you like you’re crazy, but it’s impossible not to laugh when you read something like Spaghatta Nahdle.

So there it is, just a few little things that help brighten up any sort of gloomy mood or sucky day. Now that I’m done chatting your ear off, I have a little poll to evaluate this whole “real life stories” aspect of my blog.

Question: How do you feel about posts such as this?

a) Love ‘em. I feel like we’ve bonded.

b) Meh, whatever. I don’t particularly care either way.

c) Cantaloupe.

Leave your answer in the comments—feel free to do so as “Anonymous” if your answer is cantaloupe. If you’re feeling chatty, tell me what makes you smile! For that matter, tell me what makes you feel angsty as well.

Thank you and Good Night.


  1. A. Love it. This is your blog. No one else's. As it is, I think you have all the right ingredients (no pun intended) for a great food blog: great recipes, great writing. A bit more personal flavor (again no pun intended) only gives readers one more reason to connect with you and sets you apart from all the masses of food blogs on the interwebs.

    I'm sorry to hear about your dad. This economy is tough, and a lot of our loved ones have found themselves without work too. I'm a lot like you in that I need time alone to recharge and feel whole. Maybe spending a lot of time at coffeeshops or the library will give you the solace that you need? Chin up!

    P.S. Those cupcake keychains are beyond rad!


  2. I like the insight into you! And the photographs...they made me smile :) I like your techniques for getting in a good mood!

  3. @Val: Oooh, I like the coffeeshop idea! Combine some nice alone time with coffee. Very nice! :D

    @baking.serendipity: Thank you! hehehe

  4. Thanks for the personal updates. Loved laughing at the baby video. It brightened my day after lots of stress and felt great to enjoy such simple pleasures. I like alone time, too. And like you, almost everyone I know has had a setback in the current economy. Beautiful photos.

  5. A good cantaloupe is necessary every now and then to clear the air. I bet you feel better now! Hope things pick up for your dad.

  6. Ah pahck ahptian A.) Ah lahked aht!

    Ah lahked tha Spaghhatta nahdle ecahn nahts ahnd tha phahtahs ahnd tha brahcelat ahnd tha kah tahps.

    I'm sorry about your dad. It must be tough and I can see why you feel stressed. When I was at uni, I went to the library lots, for long walks or to cafes.

    My happy-making things:

    1. Fresh sheets.
    2. Cups of tea.
    3. *cough*Masterchef*cough*
    4. Nudging the cat when she's not expecting it & the surprised BRRRR? sound she makes.
    5. Cooking & blogging & eating.
    6. Pretty mornings.
    7. Walking at dusk.
    8. Comedy.
    9. My red, fluffy dressing gown. I like to pretend I'm King Lear when I'm wearing it.
    10. Er, I find tidying up really soothing.


  7. Like you, I feel like there are days when we should all talk about something other than food. I just posted a pic I took this weekend and it's not food related. I probably have people rolling their eyes - lol... Great job!

  8. That is very interesting post, enjoyed reading them, the videos are great and what an amazing shot!

  9. First, my answer is a) sharing is great!
    Second, I feel exactly the same way about the word misto. I am a cafe au lait girl myself and usually get a blank stare from Starbucks employees when I try to order one. It doesn't help that I often use my best french class accent.
    Third, transitions are hard, especially when you're lacking personal space to deal withe them adequately. That's the world urging you towards independence!

  10. @Lady Cooks the Blues: Glad you liked the baby video! It gets me every. single. time. :D

    @Hester: haha Yes, who knew something good could come out of a cantaloupe? Sometimes it's nice to vent a little.

    @Suzler: Thahnk yah vahrah mahch! I love your list of happy-making things, especially nudging the cat. Although I don't have a cat--must find an unsuspecting cat to nudge!

    The King Lear dressing gown made me laugh verrry loudly. :D

    @Eileen: It's definitely nice to mix things up once and a while--keeps things interesting!

    @Treat and Trick: Thank ya very much! :)

    @Anonymous: 1) Thank you for not saying "cantaloupe." hehehe

    2) Hmmm, I haven't tried ordering one with a French accent. Even if it produces the same baffled expression, it would make the whole process much more fun.

    3) Yes, that is what I've been suspecting--a little nudge out into the world. Thankfully, as I've noticed in the past, sometimes you've just got to go through a bit of the growing pains before something great happens. :)

  11. I really like the post so I guess a.
    I hate Starbucks...their coffee tastes watery and burnt (what a weird combination...)...and 'misto' is also what those spray bottles for olive oil are called. In fact, when I hear misto, thats what I think. Why cant they just call a cafe au lait a cafe au lait?

  12. Koci's SisterSeptember 29, 2010

    Koci, you brighten my day! I love all of your cheering up things and I love how nice your other posters are! All of you guys rock! Also, love the human interest piece. ;)

  13. @Indie.Tea: I haven't tried much of Starbucks' coffee just plain on its own--mine's usually in cappuccino form. I did try the Pike Place Roast once and it wasn't my cup, coffee. :D

    @Rick: Thanks!

    @My Sister: Thank you dearie! I think you know very well that you're one of the things that make me smile, too. Especially your Groucho Marx impression.

    And your bawdy olde Englishe ballads. rofl

  14. Koci, I love these posts. It's great to get to know the person behind the blog a little more, and you are totally relatable. Also, I am loving the Bollywood videos! They are so much fun--thanks so much for sharing them!

  15. I am so sorry about your dad and your day. Hopefully things will get better. I am glad you were able to let it out. I feel like your reader can be more connected to you. I was going to burst out into laughter when I saw your notes - I tried to control myself since I am at work. When I am in a boring meeting I practice handwriting my ABC's lol. I also love bollywood movies... since I was a little kid in Armenian - my fave as a kid was Disco Dancer. the latest I have seen is Devdas. Please recommend your movie choices. Oh... also love your keys. Feel better... you made me feel better with your notes.

  16. @Marisa: Glad you liked it! I feel like the Bollywood videos will be a staple on my blog. :D

    @Adelina: I've seen Devdas, too! That movie is intense--I totally cried like a baby when Paro got married. Still, it's such a classic. You'll definitely be seeing a post on my favorites, I just have to narrow it down a bit first! hehe


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