08/14/2012 09:37 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Best Worst Brands of the Week: View Master, Spiro Graph, Nasty Gal, The History of Nearly Everything

Over the years I had come to notice a distinct sign indicating I was in times of extreme happiness -- fluorescent colors in flashing Spiro graphic formations would appear whenever I closed my eyes either before bed or when I’d rest my eyes from my computer for a moment. 

And I was in a time of major happiness, until about a week ago. I’d been optimistically planning for the future. Planning things like marriage or domestic partnership? And what will I wear to see Paul Oakenfeld (Earrings and Jordan Skinny Peace jeans from Nasty Gal)? And quel delight, I had been imagining other mothers who would be in awe of my French mothering techniques and tell me how my future children are so well behaved at our lovely dinner party. You get the point. I was excited about my future. But, it all came to an end. Not the plans part, the optimistic part. My mind mechanically clicked from florescent colors to grey like a Viewmaster slide.

Nothing happened, really. Just compounded disappointment in our social and economic welfare that got too heavy and broke my heart. One too many senseless killings -- Tucson, Aurora, and now, Oak Creek. One too many presidential hopefuls who think the 24-hour news cycle is also the cycle of the human brain. I turned to my friend Dan Gerstein, a political pundit, to deal with this heartbreak. I cried to him, “Does Romney really think we have forgotten the Health Care Bill Republicans so firmly repudiate is based on a system that he has already put in place in Massachusetts as Governor? Does Obama think I have forgotten that he was going to create more jobs, not focus on this Health Care Bill?”   

My heartbreak came out of nowhere. I mean, only last week, I was citysurfing up to Martha’s Vineyard for a night, never once thinking about Massachussetts' former governor. All I thought was how cool it was that John Tiernan, the owner of our hotel -- The Dockside Inn in Oak Bluffs, quit his 9-to-5 job, put his savings on the line to renovate this hotel and have a job that allowed him to spend more time with his son. His gamble paid off getting a Best of Boston honor for inns in Martha’s Vineyard. The following week I merrily headed to Southampton to see an amazing reggae band, Jahstix.  There wasn’t a hit of sadness or cynicism when I was reminded by a local sundry store who was tallying up which of their plastic cups, Romney or Obama, were selling the most–that our future is in serious jeopardy. Romney was winning, by the way, as of August 8. 

It was no accident that on my journey back from the Hamptons that my Jitney seatmate recommended a must read for me, The History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. I see how I needed that book. Mr. Bryson’s gem of a book got me out of the street view of our mundane yet very real problems and into the universe. He writes lovingly about the miracle of the Big Bang and supernovas and all the astronomers that were kind enough to have looked out there to discover these miracles.  The way he describes our existence, it’s really quite a miracle that humans, atoms with a life force, ever made it here. That makes me feel grateful for my life so I decided to switch my thoughts from politics to outerspace for a bit. No more radio and the television, for now. I just closed my eyes for a second. I can see in color again.