5 Random Things That Are Better Than Money

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All right, don't get me wrong, money's great. I love money--how else am I going to blast the heat directly onto my bed in this frigid weather, or nurture my recent Gap slim-fit obsession? There's no denying that money is terrific. But it's not the terrific-est. There ARE things that out-wonderful it if you think about it.

Consider the following:

1. Struggle.

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Before you shout, COUNTER-INTUITIVE (!!), from your fancy little soap-box, allow me to differ. No one wants to suffer, but a little struggle makes things interesting. I'll explain through an anecdote of how a power outage led to my first religious experience:

During a particularly bitter winter while I was attending the University of Connecticut, it snowed. A lot. So much in fact that it broke the town's power. We were without light, heat, and a running toilet for A WEEK. We gradually adapted, ordering out (because chinese restaurants never lose power apparently) peeing in the river, and wearing somewhere around 13 sweat-suits to bed. In the middle of the night, around 3 am, we were all fast asleep, exhausted from living like neanderthals, when ALL OF A SUDDEN... the power came back. Little did we realize that when the power went out a week prior, every light in the house was on, including the lamp right next to my bed. As I was mid-REM, my newly revived lamp jarred me awake and I thought the light in my room was the second coming of Christ. I raced into my roommate's room, which was ablaze with her three revived floor-lamps, to tell her an angel broke into my room. She had already flung off her covers, and flopped out of bed, wiggling like a hooked worm in a desperate attempt to remove all 12 layers of clothing--now would be a good time to mention that the heat had come back on as well, which some really considerate friend of ours had set to 85 degrees. It was the most hilarity I have ever experienced before dawn and I'd gladly lose power again for another visit from Jesus.

2. Eavesdropping

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Just sit down at a coffee shop and wait by someone who appears to be waiting for someone else. Chances are you're about to witness a blind-date. Coffee shops are the new restaurant when it comes to the first date. The non-committal luxury of ordering items that you can easily carry away with you make it prime real-estate for meeting someone for the first time. Even if it's not a date, people get coffee to catch up, learn about one another, share stories about their lives, and all that reveal-y kind of stuff. Bring a pad and a pen so you can write down some good lines you hear. It's fun to peek into the window of someone else's life that you would otherwise remain forever ignorant about.

3. Pretending you're a back-up dancer when no one else is around.

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I'll admit it, when people ask me where I "see myself in ten years" (bleck) I usually tell them the typical stuff (editor at a press, teacher, writer, etc.) but I always reserve a small corner of my future for Missy-Eliot Back-up Dancer (Where IS she btw?). Knowing that dancing is probably not in my foreseeable, English-degree-having future, I take the time to blast some hip hop and let loose. It's the best. I don't even care that my walls are paper thin and my upstairs neighbor might think I'm struggling with a split-personality crisis. I couldn't recommend it more if you need to blow off steam, or get some miraculous spurt of energy.

4. Not caring when someone catches you pretending to be a back-up dancer.

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It's easy to get "lost in it" when jamming out solo to some glorious diva track. Sometimes, it's too easy, and by the time you turn around and see your roommate standing in the doorway, mouth agape, color drained from his cheeks, you've already tried to pop, lock, and drop it in a way that would be fit for a carnival side-show. However, being able to stare your terrified roommate (who never signed up for this) in the eyes and simply say "sup?" as if nothing is the matter, is something you cannot pay for. That's self-esteem, baby, and it doesn't have a price tag.

5. Favorite-questions

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Take the simple joy you get from asking someone what his favorite color is and indulge yourself. When we didn't want to go out and spend money, we'd ask one another what our favorite things were. Every time someone new to the group hung out, we'd interview them with the questions we'd ask:

If you were stranded on an island, what movie, book and music album would you want with you?

Top three Disney movies. Go.

If you could see any band (dead or alive) perform right now, who would it be?

What wild animal would you raise as a pet?

What's your superpower and why?

Total Recall is real. What alternate life would you live?

What literary villain do you find most attractive?

What kind of opportunity would you drop everything for?

If you could choose between teleportation or time travel, which would you pick?

The list is endless, so it provides entertainment for a good chunk of time. It's a fun way to get your friends to reveal something about themselves you might not have known otherwise.

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