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call me mary sunshine
lookin' for a little good news
by heather m. millen

If I weren’t such a damn optimist, I’d be one depressed lady these days. I tell ya, I might be sitting here right now with a pink lady Bic in one hand, while composing a suicide letter with the other: “To whom it may concern, I know your lives will be desperately void without me, but do try to go on…”

No, luckily for you, I have a very sunny disposition, not to mention enough spite to never make it that easy on those who don’t love and adore having me around.

But just take a glance at the world today. Have you been watching the News? Or have you been too wrapped up in American Idol? Hell, I can see why people are jumping on the Reality TV bandwagon these days. The ridiculous love lives of strangers and whether or not a celebrity can get off an island are a hell of a lot more appealing a reality than what’s really going on outside our front doors.

Just this morning, I flipped through the LA Times and skimmed the headlines:

Bomb Rips through Bus in Haifa
Death toll 15

Women’s Body Found
Hikers discover the bound remains of Kristine Johnson, 21, missing since Feb. 15

Ready and Raring to go to War
The soldiers at Camp New York in Kuwait are saying, 'It looks like we're going to have to go through Baghdad before we go home. So let's go.'

Slit-your-wrists-fantastic, isn’t it?

I know the journalistic mantra, "If it bleeds it leads." Well, society's just a bunch of sick bastards, aren't we?

It’s not to say that I devalue what’s going on in the world around us. It’s not to say that I’d rather live life in a fuzzy, happy haze of denial and wonderland allusions where everything comes up daisies and farts smell like watermelon.

But I’m tired. And I’m reminded of a song that I heard a lot growing up entitled “A Little Good News.” Yeah, it’s some trite Anne Murray tune (go ahead, laugh), but I can’t help feelin’ a little like a sappy-crappy country western singer today.

…Just once, how I'd like to see the headline say
“Not much to print today; can't find nothing bad to say.”
Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town,
Nobody OD'd, nobody burned a single building down,
Nobody fired a shot in anger ... nobody had to die in vain,
We sure could use a little good news today…

Even in my own life recently, I’ve witnessed two of my friends experience more pain than they should ever have to bear at the violent hands of others. And amidst that, I see their strength and inspiring attitudes and I am quickly reminded of what’s so great about the world to begin with.

Sure, there are things in the world that suck. Things we have little to no control over. Big things like hate crimes, war, AIDS, child abuse, and poverty. Little things like Mondays, fender benders, taxes, and Sylvester Stallone movies. But all in all, the world’s a pretty spectacular place.

Like everyone, I have my share of problems. And sometimes, it’s just easier to focus on that. Hell, sometimes it's funner to focus on that. Trust me, ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I do my share of bitching, whining, complaining, and the occasional moping. But some days, the Mary Freakin’ Sunshine in me manages to shine through anyway.

Like today. So for once, I’d like to take some time spreading around a little good news. Put out of your mind for a moment the ongoing war or fear of nuclear attacks. Forget the fact that the country’s at Terrorist Code Orange (whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean). And don’t one person here advise me on how duct tape is the impenetrable weapon against bio-terrorism. Instead of pointing blame over the shuttle disaster or arguing who shot who over a $100 pair of sneakers, for chrissakes, I want to share the “feely-good” stuff.

I’ll start.

There’s a homeless man down by the Santa Monica Pier. Every day he wakes up in his makeshift bed and wheels all of his worldly belongings down to the boardwalk in an old shopping cart. He’s fashioned a “bubble blower” out of a small motor, plastic bubble wands, and other little odds and ends. Each day, he sets it up and fills the boardwalk with millions of magical little bubbles. The children that have come for the grandeur of the Ferris wheel and the excitement of the merry-go-round often spend hours running through this man’s simple bubbles. He doesn’t sit out a tip jar. All the while, he just watches quietly and smiles. He’ll talk to you if you approach him and you'll then discover that he's a really nice guy. And when the day is through, he packs back up his things and wheels them to whatever corner of the city he calls “home.” And from this, he gets nothing but a day of smiles.

That beats anything I've seen on "20/20" all year.

Maybe sometimes it doesn’t take money, philanthropy, or even a whole lot of time to make the world a better place. Maybe, sometimes, it just takes a state of mind.

One of my favorite quotes comes from the storyteller/artist Brian Andreas: “She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful & life was so short.”

I want to be “she.” I want to pay more attention to the flowers growing along the highway than the jackass that just cut me off in traffic. I want to take time to watch the sunset. I want to focus on what went right in my day, not what went wrong. Wanting all I have, not having all I want. And occasionally having to laugh at life’s little disasters.

And I hate to be the bleeding heart optimist here, but I can’t help but think that if maybe more people would put on their rose-tinted glasses once in a while, the headlines would read a little differently.

So, how was your day?


Heather has a penchant for drama, both personally and professionally. She secretly wishes people spoke in song and wholeheartedly believes that everyone deserves a standing ovation now and again. She finds it appalling that people reserve champagne only for special occasions, when champagne is clearly best on a Tuesday, while riding the subway, accompanying a slice of kick-ass pizza.

more about heather m. millen


let the i dos have it
gay marriage: both lovely and lawful
by heather m. millen
topic: news
published: 2.25.04


robert melos
3.28.03 @ 12:21a

"So how was your day?"


It's a very nice, cheery, sunny column. I used to love that Anne Murray song. I haven't heard it in a long time. We do need good news. You can tell I'm fighting the urge to be jaded, can't you?

Your column did make me smile. The bubble guy sounds nice.

tracey kelley
3.28.03 @ 10:55a

I must be having a hormonal surge. Picturing the bubble man sent me right over the edge this morning.

jeffrey walker
3.28.03 @ 11:39a

Come now, people enjoy seeing tragedy. Why else would they slow down to rubberneck at traffic accidents?
Sick bastards: Yes, please!

jael mchenry
3.28.03 @ 12:20p

Nice new photo. But... are you putting your shirt on? What's the deal?

heather millen
3.28.03 @ 12:24p

Care and concern, Jeff? Okay, in a perfect world.

And actually that photo was captured unexpectedly while I was dancing. Or maybe I was just striking a pose. Who knows!

Anyway, whatever it takes to make you guys smile. And/or send you over the edge.

robert melos
3.28.03 @ 10:48p

Anyway, whatever it takes to make you guys smile. And/or send you over the edge. -- heather millen

Um, chocolate. Yup, chocolate will do it.

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