Sunday Sessions

Scene

SCENE

EXT. UPPER WEST SIDE – NIGHT

It’s Saturday night and the sidewalks are crowded with people milling between shops—going to a late dinner, joining friends at a bar, rushing the kids home for bedtime. SHE and HE inspect the neon lights of every storefront and restaurant, gauging whether their popularity is a indicator of quality or just availability. With their desire to take in every sight, they could be tourists, but they are indeed locals. They balance cold ice cream cones in one hand. They clasp hands with the other.

SHE
Why do you build me up (build me up) buttercup, baby
HE
Just to let me down (let me down) and mess me around?
SHE
And then worst of all (worst of all) you never call, baby
When you say you will (say you will)
HE
But I love you still.
I need you!
SHE
I need you!
More than anyone, darlin’
BOTH
You know that I have from the start
So build me up (build me up) buttercup, don’t break my heart!

(END)

To Read

“Technology, in fact, has made us less than oppositional: where beauty is concerned, we have deployed technology not only to meet the demands of the system but to actually expand these demands. The realm of what is possible for women has been exponentially expanding in all beauty-related capacities – think of the extended Kardashian experiments in body modification, or the young models whose plastic surgeons have given them entirely new faces – and remained stagnant in many other ways. We have not “optimized” our wages, our childcare system, our political representation; we still hardly even think of parity as realistic in those arenas, let alone anything approaching perfection. We have maximized our capacity as market assets. That’s all.”

Athleisure, barre and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman

The Inman 300: They tout it as the world’s first urban thru-hiking trail, linking more than 340 public staircases over some 220 miles in Los Angeles. They found that hiking in the city had many of the same appeals as trekking the backcountry, including physical exertion and elevation gain, wildlife sightings, navigational challenges, even solitude.

Why You Should Thru-Hike Your City

To Watch

Every few months I go down The Nerdwriter rabbit hole on YouTube. I’ve seen all of the Harry Potter movies dozens of times—I often put it on in the background while I’m working—and for reasons I’m not sure I’ve understood myself, I also agree that Prisoner of Azkaban in the best of all the films.

Queer Eye is somewhere up there with the Great British Bake-off in its ability to make you feel good about humans. Looking forward to checking out this Ursula K. Le Guin series on PBS. If you need something totally mindless, Derry Girls (on Netflix) is cute.

To Eat

I thought I’d make French macarons for a co-worker’s birthday. A friend had declared them “so easy.” Rest assured: they were not. I threw away nearly a dozen eggs before realizing I would be buying macarons for my co-worker. In the end, I did finish one complete batch—but not enough to celebrate a birthday properly.

In between waits for my eggs to reach room temperature, I made this classic plum tort again. Delightful with coffee. Delightful as dessert.

Not every one is a hit, but I like seeing what’s happening in Eric Kim’s Table for One series.

A Poem

On a Saturday

When you write something
you want it to live—
you have that obligation, to give it
a start in life.
Virginia Woolf, pockets full of stones,
sinks into the sad river
that surrounds us daily. Everything
about London amazed her, the shapes
and sight, the conversations on a bus.
At the end of her life, she said
London is my patriotism.
I feel that about New York.
Would Frank O’Hara say Virginia Woolf,
get up? No, but images from her novels
stay in my head—the old poet
(Swinburne, I suppose) sits on the lawn
of the country house, mumbling
into the sun. Pleased with the images,
I won’t let the chaos of my life
overwhelm me. There is the City,
and the sun blazes on Central Park
in September. These people on a Sunday
are beautiful, various. And the poor
among them make me think
the experience I knew will be relived again,
so that my sentences will keep hold
of reality, for a while at least.

Harvey Shapiro

Standard
Sunday Sessions

Heat Wave

I could complain about the unbearable heat wave we’re all pushing through right now, but I won’t. The thing that scares me most is how frequent and likely these days are going to be moving forward—a new normal. Last month, our air conditioning bill for a 600 sq ft apartment was $146. This is with me leaving only one of our two units on during the week, and turning them up while I’m away (I tried to turn them off completely during the day, but our food was spoiling and our plants were dying).

Yesterday we stayed inside, but were surprised that all of our neighbors seemed to have been turned out of their buildings en masse. Lawn chairs and tents were set up in the park across the street. The fire hydrant caps were broken and water spewed powerfully. They stayed out all day, and only went inside when it started to rain.

Today, we finally ventured outside with a reward in mind. We met up with my friend John—an ice cream expert—to sample the offerings at an ice cream festival on the Upper West Side. John tried no fewer than 5—FIVE—ice creams, while David and I managed two each. Even with cold, flavorful treats, we sweated right through our clothes.

I realize it’s nihilistic, but sometimes I think our eventual extinction seems like a pretty fair price to pay for what we’ve done to the planet in the name of progress. A hot day seems like the least of our eventual worries.

To Read

“DoorDash offers a guaranteed minimum for each job. For my first order, the guarantee was $6.85 and the customer, a woman in Boerum Hill who answered the door in a colorful bathrobe, tipped $3 via the app. But I still received only $6.85.

Here’s how it works: If the woman in the bathrobe had tipped zero, DoorDash would have paid me the whole $6.85. Because she tipped $3, DoorDash kicked in only $3.85. She was saving DoorDash $3, not tipping me.”

My Frantic Life as a Cab-Dodging, Tip-Chasing Food App Deliveryman, New York Times

First, of all, who are all of these trash people not tipping their delivery people? Second, this is not a sustainable system of human labor. I try not to use delivery services like these, and when there is no alternative, I tip well—very well. If something looks too good to be true, it’s probably because it is. Having food, groceries, and whatever else delivered to your door quickly, safely, and cheaply, is definitely too good to be true.

“Cities have effectively traded away their children, swapping capital for kids. College graduates descend into cities, inhale fast-casual meals, emit the fumes of overwork, get washed, and bounce to smaller cities or the suburbs by the time their kids are old enough to spell.

The modern American city is not a microcosm of life but a microslice of it. It’s becoming an Epcot theme park for childless affluence, where the rich can act like kids without having to actually see any.”

The Future of the City Is Childless, Citylab

There is a lot to unpack with this piece. As a currently childless person, it felt like there was a pretty substantial bias here, but what the piece ultimately seeks to map out is that the problem of childless cities is one of equity.

Longer Reads

I’ve been on a streak of abandoning books recently—which isn’t usually my style—but life is too short, eh?

What went into the abandoned pile? My Wife in the Psych Ward (needed a better editor), and A Walk Through Paris (probably a great read for someone more intimately acquainted with the city).

One book I can’t put down is the August selection for the WNYC book club, A Gentleman in Moscow. Frankly, I wasn’t sure how they were going to keep my attention for 462 pages when the protagonist is not allowed to leave the hotel, but then I remembered loving another story set entirely in a hotel and decided to give it a chance.

To Watch

David and I have started a new tradition—or rather, I should say I’ve let David in on an old tradition—which is morning movies at the nearby theater. I love going to the first show of the day, just after my morning coffee and eggs; there tends to be a more diverse audience of ardent movie goers, the tickets are cheaper (a movie ticket in New York currently averages $17 for an evening showing), and I’m less likely to go-to-town on Junior Mints and popcorn.

This weekend we saw The Farewell. About 25 minutes in, I was openly weeping (i.e. sobbing), and the rest of the film didn’t let up either. I left the theater with makeup streaked tear stains. Run to see this movie.

Grantchester is back and they’re replacing the lovely James Norton (no surprise, that star was on the rise after Happy Valley) with a new “hot priest.” And frankly I was offended: You can’t just replace a well-loved character of 4 seasons with a new hot version with just ONE episode as a transition. But reader: They did. And I am as shallow as they guessed, because while hot priest will never be as good as James Norton, he is still infinitely watchable.

Haven’t watched Happy Valley, you say? Go rectify that immediately.

To Eat

Last weekend I visited Tail Up Goat, with my friend Jenna, for the first time in awhile. They have a Michelin star now, but that hasn’t seemed to change them much. For summertime, they have an entire wine list dedicated to Riesling, a wine that, frankly, I had always found to be over-sweet. I decided to trust in the very knowledgeable bartender and ended up with the 2010 “Würtzberg” from Weingut Würtzberg in Saar, Germany, a bright, tart, almost cider-like experience. I can’t wait to go back soon.

When I’m not getting my fill of peaches, berries, and plums, a riff on this spicy peanut noodle dish has been a good summertime fix. I used this sauce, but then added baked tofu, steamed broccoli, and edamame to the dish. The prep takes a little time (baking the tofu, steaming the broccoli), but once those are done, this dish whips up quickly and was something I ate all week long.

Just a reminder that if you want to get these delivered to your inbox, you can do that below.

Subscribe to 18th and Columbia by Email

* indicates required


Standard
Sunday Sessions

Come to the woods, for here is rest.

Summertime is my glory and I am doing everything possible to spend all of these moments outside. Bike rides. Long walks. Trips to the public pool. A half day at the New York Botanical Garden. Give me the heat wave and humidity—they don’t touch me.

Last weekend, we visited my brother- and sister- in-law and decided to rent a speedboat. We spent hours on a Pennsylvania lake, tossing each other around the water on an inflatable tube attached to the back. I squealed like a kid, and I can’t remember the last time since I felt such a giddy rush of fun.

We have declared this our summer of camping, which isn’t quite as easy as it sounds without a car. Earlier this spring we joined those same siblings for a frigid camping adventure in Bar Harbor, Maine, and more recently, we setup shop at a campsite in the Catskills based on its proximity to an Instagram-worthy diner. We have plans to sleep under the stars at least a few more times this summer, which makes me a little homesick for my Blue Ridge mountains.

To make camping an easier and more spontaneous activity, we’ve managed to box up most of our gear into one plastic tub, and it is cross-checked before each trip with an easy-to-use spreadsheet. On our return, we assess what we used and what we wished we’d had, and adjust the pack accordingly. On our last trip, we went from arrival to full-setup of our campsite (including a roaring fire!) in about 20 minutes.

Here’s hoping you’re sitting around a campfire soon.

To Read

A profile on the fascinating artwork of Olafur Eliasson.

More than 50 years after her death, Sylvia Plath’s uncensored letters have been released. Turns out she was quite a cinephile.

Women are here to crash your pool party.

Some vignettes.

Hemingway always seemed like a fucker, but at least we now learn he was capable of remorse.

The Washington Post has suggested a book for every age—from 1 to 100.

The World Health Organization has designated urban noise a serious environmental stressor and public health risk. A new app is helping urbanites find the quiet.

Hillbillies need no elegy.

To Watch

I was waiting for a few books to come in at the library and thought putting on old episodes of Dawson’s Creek in the background would be a fun way to relive my adolescence. Uh. I got addicted to the drama and am now on season 4 of the Joey, Pacey, Dawson triangle. Beware.

Looking forward to checking out Shoplifters on Hulu this week. And despite the fact that the acting has not aged particularly well, I found Maurice to be a gem (RIP Kanopy).

To Eat

It’s been more than a decade since Starbucks was part of my coffee habit. These days I use the French press at home with rotating beans, or make my way to local coffee shops around the city to enjoy a (mostly) black cup of coffee or iced espresso. But sometimes you find yourself in a Starbucks, and when you do, you know better than to order the over-roasted bitter coffee. Instead, splurge on their new skinny iced mocha cloud macchiato. It is, of course, terrible for you, and it does contain, weirdly enough, egg whites, but it is a dreamy concoction of not-really-coffee only made possible by the fast food of the coffee world.

Standard
21st Century Woman

Vignettes

I am convinced there is a psychopath in my neighborhood. About once a week, I stumble on the body of a bird or mouse, in the middle of the sidewalk in front of the same building.

This is not a bird that has flown into a window, or rat that has eaten poison, these are bodies left there, usually smashed.

And when it’s not a full bird, it’s the wings of a bird, its bony protrusions exposed.


I’ve started wearing earplugs on the train.

One of first things I noticed when I moved to New York was the almost unbearable cacophony of the subways. Prolonged exposure seemed impossible, and forget headphones—to hear anything over the sound of squeals and the stops and the breaks meant listening at full volume.

So, the earplugs.

Overtime, I’ve come to appreciate and even depend on the earplugs. If I happen to have a book or magazine to read, I find myself more deeply invested in the story when my earplugs are in. And overall, it decreases my interest in being on my phone—the rare chance to turn down both the physical and emotional noise. Kids are fascinated by them and often point them out to their parents.

Sometimes I miss the anonymous chatter of my fellow passengers, but mostly I don’t.


The other day I had my earplugs in and had zoned out in such a way as to have achieved a sort of commuter zen—not oblivious enough to miss your stop, but impervious to the usual indignities of the ride.

With a sort of semi-consciousness, I realized a woman, a panhandler begging for change, had gotten on my car. This is not unusual, especially during the morning commute, and I admit, a little callously, to often reviewing their appeals for rhetorical effect.

But today the earplugs were in and I could not hear her tale, so I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing.

A moment later, I began to feel the people on either side of me twitch. I opened my eyes to see them covering their noses, their faces green.

And that’s when it hit me—the potent smell of urine.

I looked toward the woman making her way down the train car. The seat of her pants were stained and wet—today’s situation was not a recent or first phenomenon.

The smell was overwhelming. I started to gag and tried to push against the reflex, which felt somehow disrespectful. I watched others trying to do the same—to discreetly cover their nose and their mouth. Others had fewer concerns about propriety and opened the door to the next train car to seek out fresher air.

But most of us just sat still, collectively begging for the next train station to appear so we could have options.

And then the train came to a stop. Held between stations. They would let us know when we had been given the signal to proceed.

And then the desire for propriety ended. Gag reflexes do not have manners.

People pushed to get away from the woman, who was still on the car, asking for spare change. And they breathed into shirts or hands or scarves—anything to filter the smell.

It seemed we were on the verge of panic when the train lurched forward again and people paused to decide whether they could hold out for the station.

Never has a train pulled in more slowly to its destination.

And how funny we must have looked spewing from the car, gasping for air.

I looked down the platform to see the woman moving to the next car, counting her change.


Walking down the streets on July 4th. Every 10-15 steps there is another family with another grill. Chairs. Bottles. Kids with sidewalk chalk. A worn set of dominoes. Uno cards.

And a boombox.

Every 10-15 steps, a new song. Always in Spanish. A strange, urban orchestra both at odds and completely in sync.


We go up to the roof hoping to catch the fireworks—the big ones, down by the Brooklyn Bridge. But even from our vantage point, on top of a building, on top of a hill, the fireworks sit too low, too close to the waterfront over 8 miles away.

Before we can turn away, other fireworks begin to spring up all around us. Over there in Inwood. And across the Hudson in Jersey too. And at 125th. And now two streets over at 134th. And is that Central Park?

There are so close they feel like stars are falling on us.

Pink and gold and green and blue.

Standard
Sunday Sessions

Again and Again and Again

Feet in the sand at Virginia Beach

It’s been a very cool summer so far and that has made it easy to fall in love with New York just a little bit. Walking through Greenwich Village—alive with pride flags. Going to see Oklahoma! with a friend. Replacing our DC night coffee walks with New York ice cream walks. Seeing Much Ado About Nothing in Central Park. Finding an empty swing and going higher and higher and higher until I’m laughing madly like a child. Coffee with old friends. Coffee with new friends. A good yoga stretch while the sunlight (and sounds from the busy street below) pour in. Starting to build a shortlist of favorite places you want to visit again and again and again.

And this summer we’re taking care to spend time outside the city as well—an afternoon on a Virginia beach, camping in Maine, camping in the Catskills, a road trip to a particular diner—I need the trees and the dirt to feel whole again.

I’m hoping to make my way down to DC soon. I miss my friends, some I haven’t seen a year or more. And it isn’t summer until I visit the stalls at the Dupont Farmer’s Market and have my morning cup of coffee at Open City.

Until then, I’m reading and writing and watching the sky scrapers go up and up all around.

To Read

“To face a future of sexual irrelevance—and often disgust—is the surface experience of menopause; the more profound experience is to approach oblivion and endure its education.”

Where Are All the Books on Menopause

Also:

Longer Reads

This week I finished Transit, another book in the Rachel Cusk trilogy. I’ve been moved by the series and Cusk’s use of language. If you enjoyed Ferrante, add Cusk to your list as well.

Also this week: Educated

To Watch

The 10-minute short film Rachel will leave you with goosebumps.

An interactive Pride walking tour of New York City.

Also this week: Woman at War

To Eat

We don’t host much here in New York for a few reasons. First, we (read: I) still miss our DC friends terribly. Second, we live uptown, quite a ways from where most people live in Brooklyn. But we’ve invited some pals over a few weekends from now to hang out on our back patio and that means I’m already thinking about the meal. Should we go traditional and have hamburgers and hot dogs or try something new like this Korean grilled steak and spicy chickpea and cheese stuffed zucchini? Where does one stand on pasta salad? One thing is for sure: there will be blender lemon pie (or maybe this no-fuss lemon tart?).

Also:

Standard
Sunday Sessions

Few words, more links.

It’s been a fuzzy week, friends, and I don’t have much to say. Let’s get to the reads.

To Read

The Toilet Study

A comparison of what men write on bathroom walls versus women.

He Trots the Air (Outside Magazine)

Bring the tissues for this one.

On the Joys of Binge-Reading (New York Times)

“Because the mind — for all its endless rationalizations and solemn prohibitions — is in fact a ceaseless pleasure hound. And pleasure is, after all — once I scrape away the layers of self-image and pretentiousness — the reason that I read.”

Other Reads

To Listen

To Eat

This summer, I’m all about easy ice-box style pies. Blender Lemon Pie? Yes, please. Strawberry Yogurt Pie? Let me at it.

Our very favorite brunch spot in New York closed. These 50 Brunch Recipes will ease our woes.

Standard
Sunday Sessions

A Very Good Post

From Kurt Vonnegut:

“I work at home, and if I wanted to, I could have a computer right by my bed, and I’d never have to leave it. But I use a typewriter, and afterward I mark up the pages with a pencil. Then I call up this woman named Carol out in Woodstock and say, “Are you still doing typing?” Sure she is, and her husband is trying to track bluebirds out there and not having much luck, and so we chitchat back and forth, and I say, “Okay, I’ll send you the pages.”

Then I go down the steps and my wife calls, “Where are you going?” “Well,” I say, “I’m going to buy an envelope.” And she says, “You’re not a poor man. Why don’t you buy a thousand envelopes? They’ll deliver them, and you can put them in the closet.” And I say, “Hush.”

So I go to this newsstand across the street where they sell magazines and lottery tickets and stationery. I have to get in line because there are people buying candy and all that sort of thing, and I talk to them. The woman behind the counter has a jewel between her eyes, and when it’s my turn, I ask her if there have been any big winners lately.

I get my envelope and seal it up and go to the postal convenience center down the block at the corner of Forty-seventh Street and Second Avenue, where I’m secretly in love with the woman behind the counter. I keep absolutely poker-faced; I never let her know how I feel about her. One time I had my pocket picked in there and got to meet a cop and tell him about it.

Anyway, I address the envelope to Carol in Woodstock. I stamp the envelope and mail it in a mailbox in front of the post office, and I go home.

And I’ve had a hell of a good time. I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.”

To Read

My friend Matt has a wonderful newsletter, Suspension Solution, that comes out three times a week. He reviews beer, and new music, and on Fridays he has a free-form letter, usually about his family. I couldn’t help but laugh at this week’s post.

Longer Reads

I’ve been on a bit of a streak and finished Free Food for Millionaires, Radium Girls, Heartland, and am rounding the bend on The Underground Railroad. Next up: Priestdaddy.

To Eat

  • If you can’t make a full carrot cake, these carrot bites seem like a pretty good alternative (Minimalist Baker)
  • I’m a little bit nervous about how comfortable I’ve become with visiting the Mexican restaurant down the block for a quick dinner. The food isn’t particularly good and I know they are suspicious of this gringa who asks to skip the meat on her tostadas. These Spiced Chickpea Tacos with Avocado Cream might do the trick. (A Couple Cooks)
  • Say yes to more wilty salads. (TASTE)

Finally…

It’s my mom’s birthday today—she of the great, full-body hugs. If you are lucky enough to know her, send her some love today.

Standard
21st Century Woman

A Change of Location

Like many of you, I’m spending less time on Facebook these days. That means I’ll eventually stop sharing updates about about these posts on my Facebook page too. If you want to continue reading what I write here, you can sign up to receive the latest posts by email below, or add this blog to your favorite RSS reader.



Standard
Sunday Sessions

Voyeur

Because it’s so easy to be anonymous in this city, I admit to becoming something of a voyeur. From my perch on the third floor of our building, I look down on our street, the park, and the school across the way. I’ve seen fistfights, make-out sessions, people buying drugs. Ahead of their early morning shifts, I’ve watched service workers, with their furrowed brows and white uniforms, walk with still sleepy kids to the bus stop.

Inside our building, I can hear the opera singer on the first floor warming up. The sound of an action movie playing on the other side of the wall. Fights between neighbors. From our bathroom vent, I can hear someone with a deep voice singing in the shower. I don’t know which apartment he lives in, but sometimes I’ll turn off all other sounds and just listen to his joyful noise.

At the coffee shop, I hear conversations about breakups and vacations and the unthinkable thing that Mandy did to Farra. The writers looking anywhere but at the blinking cursor. The lonely looking guy at bar hoping to catch anyone’s eye.

I’ve found that people are at their most vulnerable on subway cars though. They’ve looked around the train, realized there is no one they know, and suddenly they relax into their anonymity.

On the train, I review the details of my companions. I notice their scuffed shoes, the Hermes scarf, the book cover, the groceries in the bag. The badly bitten nails. The student learning English by writing phases in his workbook.

I try to guess where they are going based on what they’re wearing that day. Are they riding in anticipation of something? Are they trapped in the ennui?

Tourists are another thing entirely. Swedish tourists look like they’ve walked right out of the 90s. The FFA kids from middle America look both awed and afraid. The couple that looked like they’d walked right off the set of Jersey Shore if Jersey Shore were set in a Spanish-speaking country.

If I’m lucky, sometimes I’ll catch the express or local train running on the parallel track across the way and will see all the people miserably pushed together there in that car. I try to assess how they’re spending their time in this communal purgatory. Most have headphones. A few read books. Some try to sleep. And every once in awhile, someone catches me observing, because they are observing too.

More than books or clothes, however, a peek at phone offers the most personal glimpse into a life. Next time watch your fellow companions when the train nears the station and service returns to their phone: How do they react to the text that just came through? A laugh? A sigh? A furious scramble to reply?

It’s not unusual to see people watching, ahem, sexy YouTube videos on their phones, and many, many people play colorful games where they stack bars, or dots, or fruit. People tend to scrutinize Instagram posts more closely than posts on any other social network. Most of the time I don’t recognize the musicians that pop up on someone’s device. I almost always recognize the podcasts.

Of course all of this observation turns in on you, makes you wonder what people see when they look at you. When they see this outfit, do they wonder what I do? What does this choice of book convey? How must it look to a train full of service workers at 6 AM to see this white girl on her way to yoga class? Can they hear the pop music coming from my earbuds?

A Quick Note

Like many of you, I’m spending less time on Facebook these days. That means I’ll eventually stop sharing updates about about these posts on my Facebook page too. If you want to continue reading what I write here, you can sign up to receive the latest posts by email, or add this blog to your favorite RSS reader.

To Read

“My folks were always reactionary conservatives — they blocked MTV growing up because it was a “perverting influence” — and they grew up to be Trump voters. It has destroyed my ability to trust them and go to them for advice and help, and in doing so, taken out most of the central columns in the essential parent-child dynamic. It makes me angry every day. Words cannot describe how much I wish I had just one intellectually sound, reliable parent at this time in my life, but Fox News got to them first.”

From I Hate What [Fox News] Has Done to Almost Everyone in My Family

To Listen

Little Grill Collective! Harrisonburg! An unknown band!

Consider the Grackles (The Organist)

To Eat

On the weekends, I play a game: What thing has been hanging out in my cabinet and how can I get rid of it? I had some leftover Gouda in the fridge and decided to make this rich version of mac and cheese. It was a unique take on a classic and I’d make it again.

A Poem

For My Lover, Returning To His Wife
Anne Sexton

She is all there.
She was melted carefully down for you
and cast up from your childhood,
cast up from your one hundred favorite aggies.
She has always been there, my darling.
She is, in fact, exquisite.
Fireworks in the dull middle of February
and as real as a cast-iron pot.
Let’s face it, I have been momentary.
vA luxury. A bright red sloop in the harbor.
My hair rising like smoke from the car window.
Littleneck clams out of season.
She is more than that. She is your have to have,
has grown you your practical your tropical growth.
This is not an experiment. She is all harmony.
She sees to oars and oarlocks for the dinghy,
has placed wild flowers at the window at breakfast,
sat by the potter’s wheel at midday,
set forth three children under the moon,
three cherubs drawn by Michelangelo,
done this with her legs spread out
in the terrible months in the chapel.
If you glance up, the children are there
like delicate balloons resting on the ceiling.
She has also carried each one down the hall
after supper, their heads privately bent,
two legs protesting, person to person,
her face flushed with a song and their little sleep.
I give you back your heart.
I give you permission –
for the fuse inside her, throbbing
angrily in the dirt, for the bitch in her
and the burying of her wound –
for the burying of her small red wound alive –
for the pale flickering flare under her ribs,
for the drunken sailor who waits in her left pulse,
for the mother’s knee, for the stocking,
for the garter belt, for the call –
the curious call
when you will burrow in arms and breasts
and tug at the orange ribbon in her hair
and answer the call, the curious call.
She is so naked and singular
She is the sum of yourself and your dream.
Climb her like a monument, step after step.
She is solid.
As for me, I am a watercolor.
I wash off.

Standard
21st Century Woman

5 Ways to Drink More Water

I’ve written extensively about my challenges with drinking enough water, and the fact that, at times, my dehydration has been intense enough to land me in the hospital with an IV drip. This year I decided to get it under control.

For awhile, I used sparkling water as a crutch, but I noticed it made my teeth sensitive, and I wasn’t necessarily feeling more hydrated anyway. Same for flavor enhancers—the red dye in Crystal Light made my kidneys ache.

No, it was time to take the problem head-on. Here’s how I’ve made it work.

Chug it.

I might be drinking more water, but that doesn’t mean I like it. I treat it like medicine: unwelcome, but necessary. The first thing I do every morning is chug a glass of water. The last thing I do before bed, is chug a glass of water. Boom, two glasses out of the way.

Switch from plastic to glass.

By far the biggest change for me was realizing I enjoyed water more if it was in a glass container. I realized that drinking from plastic often meant drinking water that had assumed the tastes or smells of what was in the container before. Moving exclusively to glass containers helped make sure that the water itself is the only variable.

Find a container you enjoy.

I hated carrying around unwieldy plastic bottles or travel mugs that seemed designed to spill whatever was inside. At the intermission for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I overpaid for a bottle of sparkling water at intermission. What I found was that I really loved the lightweight and minimalist design of the bottle itself—especially how easily it slipped into any bag. I continued re-washing and re-using the bottle for months, and when I inevitably left it somewhere by accident, I just stopped by a CVS and picked up a new one for $3.

Make other drinks the reward.

I realized the thing that was standing between me and what I really wanted was my water consumption, so I turned other beverages into the reward. Want a coffee in the morning? Gotta drink a glass of water to get it. Dreaming about wine with dinner? Go chug some agua first.

Know that the type of water matters.

Not all water is created equal. For me, the water at our office tastes metallic; water stations at airports smell like toilet water; and all electron-infused waters fall flat in my mouth. Maybe you need triple filtered water to make it tolerable or maybe your local tap works. Try a lot of waters, find what works for you, and then build it into your routine.

Standard