Sunday Sessions

People-Based Infrastructure

I’ve been living in New York for 8 months, and most of that time has been a steady routine of going to work, coming home, and waiting until the weekend when David returns. When nobody is waiting for you at home, you try the city on for size anytime you like—take new routes, hop off the train somewhere random, see the odd movie or show on a whim. And there is a special kind of joy in indulging that kind of serendipity.

But, frankly, sometimes it can be a little lonely too.

And just when that feeling began to crystalize and I started to worry I might never see our favorite friendly faces ever again, Nicole and Bret wondered if we might want to get brunch while they were visiting. Soon, I was talking chickens with Anna and Sarah and Kara. Not long after that, Charlie came up to test oat milk theory and pioneer City Island. I got drunk on rose with Nitya. We had sushi and sake with Brandon. We talked about the never-ending hustle with Heather and Greg. Tim convinced David to give Queer Eye a chance. Jenna and I pondered chucking it all and opening up a bookstore. And in the middle of torrential downpour, we traipsed across the city with Ryan and Kyndra.

In the middle of building a new life, these visits sustained me. And more importantly, they reminded me that you never know when a casual meeting will turn into a long-lasting friendship.

I’m grateful for the incredible network of friends and family who visit, and send me text messages and letters, and let me share in their joys even though I’m further away than ever before. Thank you.

To Read

What’s the line between southern food and soul food?

When I was a kid, my parents distinguished between girl chores (dusting, vacuuming) and boy chores (mowing the yard). It was bullshit then, and I’m sorry to see it is still bullshit now.

The kids are alright: Four millennials have saved Capitol Hill Books

Can you make a career out of being a waiter? Turns out you can.

Why some people leave their hometowns—and others stay.

Feminize your cannon: Dorothy West

These women are reshaping America’s food system.

To Listen

Bodies

The Organist

StartUp

To Eat

It’s peach season. Peel one and put it in your oatmeal. Have one for Elevenses, and another for lunch. Peaches also make a delicious dessert. All of the peaches, all of the time—no recipe required.

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Sunday Sessions

Just the Links

The rain has passed, the sunshine is out, and we should all be outside. It’ll be just the links this week.

To Read

Did you take French in high school? I did, mostly because it seemed romantic at the time. Now, eight semesters of French later and I barely remember more than the “ferme la bouche!” my friend Jennifer and I would giggle to each other between recitations. I’ve now been to Paris once, and am heading back again in the fall, maybe its finally time to learn French for good?

We have to believe women. We just have to believe women.

I worked for a railroad for a year. The maintenance challenges are substantial, the politics obtuse. Call me hopeful, but I think that maybe, just maybeAndy Byford will actually save the subways.

The middle child is going extinct.

Half of all Americans think women should be required to take their husband’s last name. Uh, that’s going to be a hard no.

“The wishes of the dead do not take precedence over the needs of the living.” This piece resurfaced in the wake of Anthony Bourdain’s death, it’s was powerful in 1996, and it still resonates today. Meanwhile, I’m just reading profile after profile after profile of the late Bourdain, of whom I’m not quite willing to let go.

The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf is one of the most prolific writers around. When he writes, you read.

I couldn’t look away from this conversation with the supremely strange Gwyneth Paltrow.

Am I brave enough to do this leg workout at the public park in front of my apartment? Hmm.

I wasn’t a regular read of Los Angeles food critic Jonathan Gold. Much like David Bowie, it’s a shame to really be discovering his work posthumously.

I’m already in for $2.50 in late fees at the library, but I’m hooked on John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies.

To Watch and Listen

NPR has selected the 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women+. Go ahead and open this list up in your browser tab and hit play.

I cried and I have no shame.

To Eat

I was reading a profile of James Beard award-winning pastry chef Dolester Miles. She mentioned her famous lemon merengue tart is her favorite among all of her desserts. Let it be so.

I have never grown a damn thing in my life and now our community garden is flush with cucumbers. These spicy pickles ought to set those up quite nicely.

Replaced the shrimp with tofu, added a little sriracha, and these cold soba noodles with peanut sauce turned out to be a perfect summertime meal.

David’s Instant Pot is getting dusty. Time to put it to work on this miso risotto.

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Sunday Sessions

New York: A Poem

Occasionally in New York,

you will find yourself in the middle of a beautiful day.

You will be tempted to take a deep breath of fresh air.

But do not be fooled. There is no fresh air in New York.

Only the smell of garbage, lightly toasted by the sun.

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Sunday Sessions

Postcard from Vermont

I went on vacation this week, the first real, off-the-grid vacation I’d taken in awhile. It took me a few days to ease into it, to stop obsessively checking my work email, to mute Slack for awhile, to remind myself that if there was an emergency, people know how to reach me. Slowly my shoulders relaxed, and my jaw unclenched, I slept well.

We took two hikes and a 25-mile bike ride along the coast. I finished four books. I also watched a lot of cable, which I haven’t personally had in a decade (turns out Home Improvement kinda holds up). For the first time in awhile, I was needed nowhere, and that felt really nice.

After a few days of simulated hospitality though, I started feeling a sort of existential ache for the routines and comforts of home, but also feeling uneasy about where that is these days. I thought of summertime in Martinsville: my uncle’s catfish fry, morning coffee with grandma, croquet in my parent’s backyard. I thought of summertime in DC, the air swampy and oppressive, only counteracted by brunch and iced coffee with friends. And now summer in New York, the street ice purveyors, a walk or bike ride along Riverside park, watching the kids play in the park.

These days home is nowhere. These days home is everywhere. Either way, I’m glad to be back.

To Read

May there come a day when we are no longer defined by our age.

Like so many others, I went to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the documentary about Fred Rogers. I walked out of the theater and was quiet for a little while, feeling the powers of Mr. Rogers mending my very adult heart. Years ago, one of my favorite writers, Tom Junod, interviewed Mr. Rogers for Esquire and hinted then even then at the nuance of this oft revered man.

Gone Girl. Big Little Lies. Serial. Why are there more fictional stories about dead or missing girls than ever before, and what does it mean about our society? If the topic gives you pause, stay with me: this essay from The Paris Review asks some fascinating philosophical questions worth considering before your next SVU binge.

I read four books last week and it was a glorious, luxurious privilege. A life of reading is never lonely.

This excerpt will make you want to phone up your mother right away.

Love is love is love is love.

“I just know that when she picks me, I feel a little jolt of excitement, as if I have won a small and horrible prize.” The internet is a horrible place. Until—for a moment, or in this case a single email—it isn’t.

To Listen

If you’re like me, you struggle to take in even one more piece of bad news, so it may seem counterintuitive to tell you to subscribe to a podcast about our corrupt justice system. Stick with me here: Season 2 of In the Dark brings laser focus to one story worthy of your attention.

I’ve been seeing a lot of buzz for Still Processing‘s two-week series on anti-Asian racism.

The last time I went to church, I was guilted into attending by my parents. That day—at a megachurch once home to an adulterous pastor—they said:  “A godly woman is one who submits to her husband in all things.” It was Mother’s Day. David held my hand tightly to keep me from walking out. I’m going to take a deep breath and trust the story on this one.

David Kestenbaum, one of my favorite This American Life contributors, selects his favorite episodes.

Listening to this new Panic! at the Disco on repeat.

To Eat

This farro, kale, and strawberry salad is everything summertime should be.

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Sunday Sessions

One Block at a Time

It’s a little daunting to realize that New York is six times the size of DC—that’s a lot of territory to discover. Slowly, but surely, I have been expanding my city footprint one walk at a time. Lately, instead of getting off at the subway stop for work, I’ll get off one early or one late, then I’ll pick a direction approximately towards the office and just start walking. Other times, I’ll grab a Citibike and set off towards a stretch of Harlem I haven’t visited yet and just see what lives on those streets. In doing this, I now know the location of bookstores, and coffeeshops, and cheeseshops (!), and pocket parks, that I may not have discovered if I was limited to Google and Yelp recommendations. I love walking through neighborhoods and seeing the type of people who live there too.

The challenge of New York though, is the sheer quantity of options. Want to find the place with the best dumplings? New Yorkers have told Google and Yelp that twelve places have worthy dumplings, so now you’re left to visit all of them until you find your favorite from among them. A lot of self-discovery, a lot of trial and error. And the same goes for many New York establishments—there is always another customer, so what makes you so special and worthy of our attention?

Mostly though, I miss knowing the quirks of my neighborhood—of being so intimately acquainted that you notice when the Barbie pond changes themes, or the menu at your favorite spot gets an upgrade, or you’ve watched kids grow up over years of Sundays at the farmers market. We’re a long way from being regulars here, but for now I’m living for the subtle nod I get from the old man down the street—a simple acknowledgement that we’ve seen each other before and are likely to again.

Read

I was gutted to learn about the death of Anthony Bourdain. This missive from David Simon sums up everything you need to know about Tony. And this too.

15 women shaping the world we eat today.

24-hours of love and heartache in New York.

For all the Amy Santiagos out there, may you be loved, may you be understood.

For the love of all that is good, please take care of each other.

A new series from The Paris Review seeks to feminize your cannon.

Longer Reads

After 6 months on the wait list at the library, I finally got around to reading An American Marriage, and I think I’m one of the few people who thought it was just okay.

Watch

I downloaded Kanopy, and have been catching up on notable indies, including the visually stunning Loving Vincent.

Listen

If you’re a fan of BBC’s Sherlock, check in on the Johnloc conspiracy.

I am loving this pride playlist from my colleagues at the Bello Collective.

Eat

I’ve been looking for ways to upgrade my “staple meals,” the ones I can make with my eyes closed on a weeknight after work. These noodle salads look very promising.

The potato salad in this list is either the best thing to happen to potato salad or the worst.

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Sunday Sessions

Annnnnd We’re Back to Rain

Good morning. Just a reminder that the U.S. government took 1,500 kids away from their parents and then lost them. So, yeah, “I think the fuck not.”

To Read

A tiny house project that will help people get back on their feet.

I don’t care if it’s just a statement. This means something.

Yesterday I hit a bad patch of road in Hell’s Kitchen; my phone hit the pavement and smashed into a million pieces. Before that though, I was having a pretty good week.

To Listen

On my list this week is a CBC audio documentary about restaurants and their place in our society.

To Watch

We re-upped Hulu for the summer and so I’m catching up on The Handmaid’s Tale and taking a breather between episodes with Broad City (which still, for my money, remains one of the best, most hilarious shows of our time).

To Eat

This breakfast casserole starts with one pound of croissants. Also, where do we stand on carrot dogs?

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21st Century Woman

One Perfect Day

You open your eyes—but just barely.

After days and days of rain, there is a perfect sunrise outside your window, so you hit snooze and just bathe in it for awhile.

You get up and dress for how you feel, which is righteous and made of steel, and even though you have already walked out the front door, you double back and change shoes, because you don’t deserve to be anything but comfortable today.

On your way to the subway you realize the summertime-in-New-York-City garbage smell is there…but only faintly…and gosh, is this what regular air smells like?

Your train ride feels like it’s over in a moment because you’re deep in thought, and even though there is that guy acting suspicious (although what does suspicious even mean in New York anyway?) you decide to let it go, because if this is going to be the day you depart this Earth, it seems like a pretty good one.

The sunshine has sated your appetite and for the first time in your life you don’t start your morning with a carb or even a coffee–it begins with a glass of water. And the funny thing is, even though you’ve hated water your whole life, you don’t mind it today.

You open your inbox and it’s rainbows and good news.

That partner said yes.

The project is a go.

The script you co-wrote slayed.

You look up from your computer at your colleagues who are busy making beautiful, wonderful things, and you marvel at how fucking talented they are.

And then you email some other people expecting they will have forgotten about this thing that is due, but they haven’t, and here it is, and it’s so damn good.

It’s lunch time, so you walk around SoHo, beautiful, cinematic SoHo, and you decide to try a new place, but the salad is lackluster, and the soup is sour. Honestly though, it doesn’t even matter, because there is a pack of peanut M&M’s waiting at your desk anyway. You have another water.

Later, you go to that meeting with a lot of senior people, including those women you admire. At one point they turn to you to ask how the delivery of the project is going, and you realize you are the one with the answers, and though the imposter syndrome (#patriarchy) will never go away, for today, it has been vanquished.

Your phone blinks and it’s a friend sending you a poem that made her think of you, and how lucky are you to have friends who read poetry? And how lucky are you to be remembered?

Then, before you know it, it’s the end of the day and you’re shrugging off your introverted tendencies to meet a new person who might also become a future friend. Who knows?  Today anything is possible.

And then it’s getting late and even though you’re 57 blocks from home, you decide, fuck it, why waste this beautiful night underground? So you grab a bike and ride along Riverside Drive as the sun is setting and turning into twilight.

And your legs are pumping, working to shed their winter lethargy.

And the blinking light on your bike is keeping synced with your heartbeat.

And the motion of the waves is hypnotic.

And the light on the water is so perfect you think your heart will break into a thousand pieces.

And you pass the people who are out for a night stroll.

And you pass the people in love on their picnic blankets.

And you pass the people sitting so close to the water they seem to hope it will rise and just carry them away.

And then it’s dark and you haven’t seen anyone on the trail for a little while, which is a little scary, but also thrilling.

And then the wind catches your dress and it flies up around your waist, and you laugh, because, thankfully, no one is there to see your underwear selection.

Your neighborhood comes into view—it’s the one with blinking signs and unsightly billboards—but you don’t mind because it’s yours.

You park your bike, and you climb up the hill, and you smile at everyone, this lone white woman with wild and shining eyes.

You turn the corner onto your street and people have brought folding chairs out onto the sidewalk, and they have an old boombox playing music you can’t understand.

And you realize that this is a perfect day.

And you realize that this is the start of summer in New York.

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Sunday Sessions

Making Up for Lost Time

Last weekend two years and nearly one hundred posts disappeared from my site. Hours upon hours with customer service and they are restored. We’re catching up on lots of links in this edition.

Meanwhile, this weekend I’ll be meditating on gratitude: Six years ago I married my person.

To Read

WomenAlsoKnowStuff.com

These brave women, and these brave women, and this brave woman are fighting the good fight. Also, is it weird I forget that Idaho is a state?

Sylvia Bloom. May we never refer to her as “secretary” ever again.

Let no man be so important—to art, to politics, to diplomacy—that we look away from his abuses.

Thank goodness Diablo Cody is still writing about difficult women.

Will there ever be a time when I don’t mourn the loss of Robin Williams?

Some useful Reddit threads.

I mostly find Disney to be saccharine, sentimental, and overtly commercial, but when it means this much to someone, how can you deny that it is also magic?

This is how Benedict Cumberbatch won me over—along his ability to choose genuinely interesting projects. It’ll be awhile before I can see his new series, Patrick Melrose (it’s on Showtime), so I’ll settle for learning more about its author, Edward St. Aubyn, for now.

Where will Rachel Ray go next?

Is this something we love or hate? Jagged Little Pill is set to become a theatrical musical.

Hermione forever.

What does it look like to provide end-of-life care in prisons?

To Watch

If your city could dance, it would look like this.

If you’ve been to DC, you’ve seen Aniekan Udofia’s murals and they are spectacular.

To Listen

There have been a lot of cult podcasts emerging lately, but Bundyville is the first one that caught my eye.

Look, you’re going to have to trust me here. Just turn on this sweet little podcast right before you drift to sleep.

There probably isn’t a week that goes by when I don’t think about this interview.

To Eat

I can’t really explain why, but this seems delicious.

I can vouch for at least 3 of these under-the-radar food cities.

I’m trying to come around on beets. Maybe this gorgeous-looking salad will help.

POCKY!

The humble beginnings of your favorite San Francisco treat.

Summer is on its way, you say? Then you’ll need to know how to construct the perfect tomato sandwich. Now that you know, I’m prepared to accept this in thanks (size small, please).

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21st Century Woman

Six Years

I said:

I promise to dream big with you forever. (We have.)
I promise to initiate adventures. (I do, with proper planning of course.)
I promise to look more like Michele Obama instead of Laura Bush (Still working on that.)
I promise to always protect you from Muppets, particularly Kermit the Frog (Always.)

He said:

I promise you a life full of exploration. (Check.)
I promise you a life rich in experiences. (Gratitude.)
I promise that my love will always be unconditional. (Always.)
And I promise your cold toes will always have a place under my legs. (They do.)

6 years of everything and it’s just the start. Love you.

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Sunday Sessions

Finding Small Town Zen

Last weekend I visited with my family. We traveled “up the mountain,” (read: a tallish hill), traversing winding back roads, stopping off at an antique flea market, enjoying a roadside picnic, and stopping in a general store to watch a bluegrass band rehearse Paul Simon tribute songs. My phone didn’t work much of the time that I was there, and to be honest, that was fine by me.

I don’t often find myself looking for a slower pace of life, but on those days where you’ve been pushed around on the subway, watched a man urinate on the tracks, and drop a bag of groceries 20 feet from your front door, you wonder if this is really all there is. Luckily my neighbor has reminded me that I don’t need to go far to find that small town zen. This morning we’re putting on our work gloves and I’m learning how to garden. In the middle of the concrete jungle, I’m going to grow things.

We’re traveling again next weekend for the wedding of our good friends, so I’ll see you back here in two weeks. Take care of yourself until then.

Read

I live across the street from a school and a park. It has been a pleasure to watch kids “loiter” there. In this space, they’re interacting with each other, playing tag, swinging on swings, giggling and flirting—most of the time, they’re not on their phones. Maybe we should say yes to loitering more often?

I’m discovering David Bowie after his death.

Oof.

A decade ago, we took my little brother to Medieval Times for his 21st birthday. The food was terrible, but it was a lot of hokey fun. Looks like it just got a lot better.

Do you know about Tiny Desk Concerts? Did you know you can watch all of them on the website or as a video podcast? I often turn one of these on the Apple TV while I’m getting ready in the morning.

I only worked in a restaurant for one summer (turns out I’m not very good at waitressing), but I was in awe of the expediter—the brains of the operation.

A magazine you can only read when you disconnect from the Internet.

The overwhelming whiteness of cookbooks.

Ramona Quimby will be age 8 forever. Meanwhile, her creator, Beverly Cleary, is 102.

I just finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Underground Railroad, just two more gems in what has been a spectacular year of reading so far.

Listen

Last night, David and I attended a taping of Live from Here, the successor of A Prairie Home Companion, and very much unlike its predecessor. I’m not sure if the impact of the live show can be gleaned from the audio (linked above), but it’s well worth your time to give it a try.

 

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