54 / matters magazine / fall 2018 finalmatters L et’s face it: Life can sometimes be overwhelming. We’ve all been there. Thankfully, our community is chock full of quaint yet casual spaces where you can channel your rage and anxi- ety, dare I say, in a healthy way. What do you need? A quick bite to eat and a hearty sob? Or maybe just a sturdy wall you can punch? Here are just a few of my local faves. 1.Village Ice Cream Parlour, Maplewood Summer may be over but Ye Old Village Ice Cream Parlour is still open! Which is reason in and of itself to start whining. I tend to use this place as my go-to for all bribes and unfulfillable promises. The staff is courteous and delighted by my family’s unending stream of questions, like: What makes the Crazy Vanilla so crazy? Can I have a taste of just the moose part of Moose- tracks? Mom, why do you make life so haaaaaaard? This is definitely a favorite spot for us all to “let it out.” Especially when I realize I have no cash and try to barter one of my screaming kids for a quick jaunt to the nearby ATM. Hours: 10am-10pm. 2.CKO, Maplewood One of the most popular fitness centers in the Northeast, CKO Maplewood is my personal refuge both physically and mentally. This is more than a kickboxing gym. This is a way of life. Every time I get to jab-cross-jab, I release another posse of de- mons and pent up aggression with a feral howl (fol- lowed by uncontrollable weeping during cooldown). Maybe it’s the full-throttle exertion, the torrent of adrenaline, or the incessantly peppy soundtrack. Or it could be the fact that my body just doesn’t bend that way anymore and I may be dying. In fact, I am dying. And I never notarized my will or told my dog I loved her or learned the French horn, but there’s no more time for regrets. Hours: 6am-my last breath. 3.The Bottom of Flood’s Hill, South Orange Perhaps New Jersey’s least-appreciated roman- tic spot. Perhaps not. I’ve never witnessed anyone who wasn’t either wracked with sobs or crumpled in pain here. Yes, I only visit this particular vista for ill- conceived workouts and sledding, but still. It’s called Flood’s Hill for a reason, right? This tidal wave of land will do damage to egos and patellas alike. Hours: Dawn until dusk. 4.The Bread Section at Trader Joe’s, Millburn Forget Taylor the Turtle. The one you want to find is Roger the Breadman. He’s not only a fabulous raconteur who knows the ins and outs of all sprouted wheats, he also listens. He listens to me moan about gluten-free confusion and work-life imbalance and the myriad ways I’ve failed at this game called life. All in the time it takes to scarf down another sample of orzo arugula quiche. Hours: 8am-9pm, but check Roger’s schedule first. 5.The minivan Any will do – just pick one that’s double-parked by the new art store and climb in. Make sure to ex- plore the rugged beauty and chaos called “the back row,” where the thicket of gummy bunny wrappers and abandoned fidget spinners is densest. There is no better place to fold yourself up (crisscross apple- sauce if possible) and bawl. Mourning all your great- est failures and losses – those abandoned dreams and senseless fights; those trips to the Grand Canyon or even to the South Mountain reservation that you never took because you figured a pinecone air fresh- ener would be just as good. And there it is now, dan- gling from the rearview mirror, mocking you. Hours: Until the lease is up. Abby Sher is a writer, performer, and aspiring ukulelian. Her latest book is All The Ways the World Can End and she co-produces the Chucklepatch Comedy Show and teaches at Writopia Lab. abby-sher.com. A Place to Vent The five best local venues to have an emotional meltdown BY ABBY SHER