The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.”
If you ask me, the most spectacular view in all of New York can be seen from the Brooklyn Bridge. This is ironic, of course, given my extreme fear of heights and anything associated with heights (like bridges, or mountains, or Ferris wheels), but it’s true nonetheless. On a good day, the sky is blue and the water sparkles, and the skyline is so magnificent that it will make you believe in an America that doesn’t actually exist.
But that’s the god’s eye view of New York—the one that only exists for those who can’t see the city for what it really is, a complicated collection of streets and stories and histories and garbage…so much garbage. If you could levitate to the West side of Manhattan, you would see that everyone has spilled out into the parks to have their picnics, their family reunions, their daughter’s quinceanera. They have brought their grills and balloons and boomboxes, and the musical cacophony is so great as to be indistinguishable. They will carry on like this until the late hours of 11, midnight, even one am. And if it rains, they will huddle under trees and wait it out, knowing the sun will return and they will dry off. Their resiliency is admirable.
And if you were to pick up again and fly over to Brooklyn in the early hours of a Sunday morning, you would see the Hasdic men with their hats and payot and black coats. You could follow them for a long while and still never see them “arrive” anywhere. If you keep moving, you’ll find yourself in Prospect Park, which at this hour is just a haven for dogs and their people. Hundreds of dogs sprint on a wide open field, and they are the happiest they will ever be in their lives—at least until next weekend, anyway.
You could lift off again and travel just one block or a maybe a hundred, and you would find a scene that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. That’s Sunday in New York.
After today, there are just two Sundays left for us in New York, for now anyway. While my job remains remote through the end of the year, David’s job has called him back to DC to assist with planning for the next version of these life-altering events. The two-city life we’ve been living for the past few years doesn’t make sense under those circumstances, so we are packing up our things and returning to the District for awhile. We’ll be taking over a lease in NoMa from someone else who is coming to terms with their own version of “doesn’t make sense anymore.” It’s next to the NPR headquarters, which even for me is a bit too on the nose.
We both decided it made sense not to return to Adams Morgan, a place we loved and lived for so long. That was a different life, and to return would be pretending like New York never happened.
“…like New York never happened” is so uncomfortable to think about that I don’t think I will.
I didn’t write much here for the last few months, because what could I say? I couldn’t say that living in the epicenter of the coronavirus was so surreal that I’m not sure I’ve even processed it yet. I couldn’t say that we watched people take a shit behind a tree in the park because there were no public bathrooms left anymore. I couldn’t say that the drug dealers on our block became so bold that they cut a hole in the bumper of our car so they could stash their drugs there. I couldn’t say that we watched the park across the street become a sort of Hamsterdam, or that so many addicts lay motionless on the sidewalk in the mornings that you eventually just assumed at least one among them might be dead. I couldn’t tell you how much it hurt to see people with paper masks and holes in their gloves picking up groceries for people situated safely in their apartments. I couldn’t tell you how much I judged people for not accepting the risks themselves, and how one night I cried so hard over the inequality of it that I made myself sick. I couldn’t tell you that we watched the protests from one street over because our jobs wouldn’t allow us to join. I couldn’t say that walking through an empty Times Square is so strange that you will pinch yourself to make sure its real. And I couldn’t tell you how hard it was to stay in the same 600 square feet all the time, even with the person you love.
I couldn’t tell you about the good stuff either. Like how grateful I was to have a roof deck I could sit on alone for hours. That our neighbors looked out for us (as much as people can from behind their doors). That we could buy a car that would allow us to safely eject to the middle of the woods when one more minute inside would be the end of things. For Manhanttanville, which we visited almost every day for 4 months, and for The Grange, and Oso, and Frijolitos, and Harlem Public for figuring out how to safely stay open for the neighborhood. I couldn’t tell you that I’m grateful to live in a city that has invested in parks and green spaces that are available to every single damn person regardless of how much money they have. I couldn’t say that drinking iced coffee in the East Village after the peak of the first wave felt more exotic than traveling anywhere in the world. I couldn’t tell you that riding a bike along the Hudson on a Sunday in May was what heaven looks like, I’m sure of it. I couldn’t tell you about the inherent solidarity with those who stayed in New York—the unspoken sense of having survived something together. And I couldn’t tell you how often I would just look across the table at David and think, “We’re alive. We’re alive. We’re alive.”
A long time ago, long before I lived here myself, I remember telling a friend that it must be strange living anywhere else after living in New York—the world must feel smaller and less interesting. I still think it must.
See you soon, DC.
I had a lot to say here, but when I sat down to say it, it wouldn’t come out. So, here’s a list of links instead. See you next week.
- The case for Peggy Olson as the 21st century’s best TV character
- Jacques Pepin saved my life.
- Why do high-achieving women pretend their lives are a mess?
- What Mister Rogers looked like once the cameras were off.
- Why we should all mourn the death of the rude press.
- The friar who combined flour and faith to win the Great American Baking Show.
- Thank god for this #stillroasting map.
- A fascinating look at how ballerinas are staying in shape at home.
- 17 artists capture the New York outside their windows right now.
- All of the Spotify playlists: For feelings.
- My yoga studio does a short sound meditation at the end of class. It makes me feel like I’m hovering over my own body. Not sure what’s going to happen when I try one that lasts an hour.
- A reporter connects with her grandmother over soup.
- Centenarians talk about life in coronavirus lockdown.
- A Portrait of a Woman on Fire is quiet magic.
- The live bird cams will save us all.
- No equipment kickboxing.
- If you even have the motivation to work out right now, these blogilates videos will do the job.
- I just discovered Jennifer Ehle—forever Elizabeth Bennett—is reading Pride and Prejudice aloud.
- I want to eat every single thing from Benne on Eagle in Asheville. Now go make some biscuits and gravy.
- Make spicy eggplant pasta so you can claim vegetables are somewhere among the carbs.
- Soy ginger dinner scramble will make a simple meal.
- Not sure what to make of this sesame caesar salad, so it should definitely be interesting.
- I am always here to advocate for dishes that contain both tofu and noodles.
- I have pickled red onions in my fridge that are just waiting to meet some farro or maybe top a vegetable hash.
- I can confirm that sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts are delightful together.
As I’m writing this to you, my stomach is in knots. It turns out the Sunday scaries don’t really go away even when your only commute is to the living room table, so I’m here, taking deep breaths and trying to compartmentalize tomorrow’s deadlines from you know, all of that out there.
On some level, we must all be questioning our life choices, right? In our free time, David and I trade pictures of cabins and homey-hygge interiors that we want to build one day. We say that for now, we’d even settle for being in the middle of some woods with a tent and our dog and a campfire. We don’t even try to hide from ourselves that this vision is some real yuppy REI shit. But this all leads to bigger questions too, because how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. And so when this is all over, how do we stop talking about that life we’re imagining and just go do it already. That mostly means we’re looking at beater cars that can take us from Manhattan to the middle of nowhere in a hurry.
In spite of that kind of existential questioning, I’m cautiously enjoying this time. David and I have been living in the same place for 5 full weeks. We eat our meals together. I’ve been sleeping a consistent 8 hours. At my new job, all pretenses have been wiped away—I see my co-workers in sweats, no makeup, looking exasperated because their kid just wants to play—and it’s been a welcome equalizer. I feel like the entire world is at my doorstep. I’m joining poetry readings, and marathon viewings of the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, and listening to music and stories that I might not usually think were my style. The other night, we just laid in bed and turned on old 90s songs on the Apple TV; Apple Music now conveniently shows the lyrics for most songs and we suddenly found ourselves singing a lazy kind of karaoke, sans microphone. My friends are sending us pictures of their kids and they are a gooddamn delight. Our dog is getting fat. My clothes are uncomfortably tight. I try not to care—too much.
Maybe it’s because it’s finally spring—and even though my stomach is currently in knots—I feel something opening up. Just a little bit of hope. A feeling like this was all a springboard—the universe is giving us a mulligan and another chance to get it right. A chance to care a little more about our neighbors and to build a better plan for next time. A way to jolt us out of our complacency.
Let’s see if we get it right this time.
- The last train trip before everything changed.
- “A decade later this instance—like a fingerprint pressed into wet concrete, even with thousands of other days on top of it—will still be visible.” If you only read this piece for that line, it will be enough.
- We’ve lived in New York nearly two and a half years now (shiiiiiit, when did that happen?) and I’ve got a pretty good food map going. I haven’t been to all of these places, but they’ve been recommended in some form by others.
- Fran Lebovitz is never leaving New York. And for now, neither am I. An interview with an unusual character.
- Hard to look away from these photos of a disappearing South.
- Explain it like I’m 3. What a treasure. Thanks, Sameer.
- Better Things and Breeders on Hulu have been the sweet surprises of my isolation TV viewing.
- I did a marathon viewing of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice and discovered Colin Firth and Ira Glass kind of look alike now.
- Table of Contents has become one of my favorite New York activities, even if it means an hour on the train to Brooklyn. They’re doing a live reading tomorrow night. Tune in.
- David Lebovitz is making dranks on Instagram. Join him for his daily Apero hour (live at noon ET).
- Literally days before the shelter-in-place order was given, I was scheduled to go see Emma with my pal Sahar. I decided to pay the $20 fee to rent it instead. Honestly, even with a rockstar cast, it was incredibly flat. Do not recommend.
- I randomly (truly, so randomly) stumbled on Radio Artifact, a local radio station out of Cincinnati, Ohio. I’ve tuned in a few times and have never regretted it.
- I hope we’re all hearing new/old things in lockdown.
- Maybe you don’t know that I’m part of the team making this podcast? It seems to be providing a lot of people comfort right now.
- I’ve worked my way through a lot of sweets these past four weeks. So much so that all of my clothes are, um, a little tight. Why not throw another log on the fire with these homemade chocolate bars.
- These cheddar swirl buns are making my mouth water.
- These vinegar and salt potatoes will go nicely with the cod I have waiting for me in the freezer. Or maybe I save the cod for this salt and pepper fish recipe?
- The Internet is going apeshit over this Spiced Chickpea Stew With Coconut and Turmeric, so maybe this is the week we try it?
- So whipped coffee is a thing now, I guess?
- Sweet potatoes with whipped tahini butter. Uh, yeah.
- You can’t go wrong with the classics: Caesar salad and Niçoise salad.
- Our neighbor made us these insane salted chocolate chunk shortbread cookies. We suspiciously eyed each other when either one of us went over near the cookies—that’s how good they are.
Good morning. You doing okay out there?
We’ve been quarantined for a week now and we’re trying to figure out how to exist in this space where the boundaries are blurred. To be honest, I wasn’t very good at it at first. I’d wake up at 6 AM and work until 10 PM, my work cell phone never leaving my hand. By the third day, I wasn’t sleeping and my heart was racing—I could feel the anxiety, the stress on my systems, shortening the days of my life. 76.9 years. Now, 76.8 years. And so on.
He brings me bagels from our favorite shop, which is now just takeaway. I make dinner with vegetables so we’re eating at least one green thing a day. One of us will randomly put on a song that we had playing over in our head and then we stop everything to have a dance break. But it’s not all perfect in our 600 ft apartment. One day on a stroll to get coffee, we got in a loud fight after he refused to put his phone away for the 10 minute walk. I leave coffee cups everywhere and probably don’t walk the dog enough. His conference call voice is so loud it gives me headaches. This is where we are, negotiating these new spaces.
On Saturday night we watched a movie together, and afterwards he asked if we could talk. “It’s hard to pretend like this is any other weekend. We’re just watching a movie while things are breaking down around us outside these walls.” He wants to be part of the solution—because of course he does—so he’s thinking of moving down to DC for a little while where he can help with relief efforts.
I told my Bello Collective friends that this feels like a defining moment to me. What was I doing with my time before and why does it feel so wasted? How do I make sure that work takes exactly as much time as it needs and not a minute more?
Like everyone else, I’m reading and writing and cooking as a means of sustaining myself. You won’t find much below on the coronavirus—I hope this can be your balm, your reprieve— but I hope you are paying attention and figuring out how to focus on the next right thing.
- I just want to be friends with Samin Nosrat. Don’t you?
- What the literal fuck?
- Why don’t you learn a thing or two about Wuhan, China?
- David Sedaris on eulogizing a complicated parent.
- A photographer’s parents wave farewell.
- How to solve the New York Times Crossword.
- What the Obamas’ portraits reveal about the Changing American art canon.
- At any given time, 65% of my personal anxiety can be attributed to money dysmorphia.
- After reading this, I will finally forgive myself for hating the 10% of Infinite Jest I actually read.
- A review of Katherine Collins’ The Love We Don’t Know (just a reminder that criticism can sometimes be as beautiful as the thing it seeks to criticize).
- The noise of the infinite scroll.
To Do and See
- Take Yale’s “The Science of Well-being” class for free.
- Try a 14-day free trial of these in-home bar method classes. All you need is a chair.
- Now is your chance to do all of the New York things without leaving your sofa. Watch opera. Enjoy standup. See films from the Tribeca Film Festival. Sway along with the virtual piano bar at Marie’s Crisis Cafe. There are so many experiences for you to stream—the world is at your doorstep.
- What a gorgeous way to visit these National Parks.
- Why books are here to stay.
- Every weekday, Flow State send out two hours of music that’s perfect for working.
- A very chill Steve Martin plays a banjo balm.
- You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry for these tahini brownies.
- This vegetarian ramen looks pretty easy.
- All of the “easy” recipes you encounter this week will be for pasta. At least this sweet and spicy tofu with soba noodles also has protein and fresh vegetables.
- You and I both know you need some sour cream and onion biscuits right now.
- I’ve already made this gingery black bean buddha bowl twice, and let me tell you—it makes a mighty fine work from home lunch. I bet it would go well with this crispy tofu with maple soy glaze.
- Eat a goddamn grain. Enjoy these warm overnight oats.
- The weather keeps shifting, so keep this recipe for Pasta e Ceci and Cheesy White Bean Gratin close by.
I haven’t published in a few weeks because I’ve been sitting on something I wanted to write in this header note. Then I realized that the links were starting to stack up and you were missing out on some great things to read (and eat). I’ll be back to revisit the header note I’ve been meaning to write soon, but here are some words from other people for now.
Who Was I in College? University of Missouri
“…the fruit of prizing reconciliation over justice, order over equality, civility over truth…laid the foundation for the reimposition of forced labor on the emancipated, the establishment of the Jim Crow system, and the state and extrajudicial terror that preserved white supremacy in the South for another century.”
A startling statistic: US drug overdose deaths in this decade exceed the number of battle deaths the country suffered in World War I and World War II combined.
The Gay History of America’s Classic Children’s Books, New York Times
“E.B. White, Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein were presumably heterosexual, no matter that Silverstein glowered from the photos on his book jackets like a hot Scruff daddy.”
Where Rent Is $13,500, She Lives Off What’s Left at the Curb, New York Times
“In recent years, an entire economic ecosystem has sprouted from the artificial turf of a 5-cent deposit. Many canners are retired or on disability and need to stretch their monthly payments. Many are undocumented and drawn to a no-questions-asked job without language barriers. As stable, low-skill jobs continue to disappear in New York, canning provides a lifeline.”
The Outer Fringes of Our Language: A Conversation with Werner Herzog, LA Review of Books
“See the world with an incredible amount of human pathos and enthusiasm and rapture.” I love everything about this interview with Warner Herzog.
An Ode to Middle Age, The Atlantic
“You’re not an apprentice adult anymore. You’re more free. The stuff that used to obsess you, those grinding circular thoughts—they’ve worn themselves out.”
- Managing Your Friendships with Technology, The Atlantic
- The Sidewalk Naturalist, Catapult
- America 2024, New York Times
- A photo essay on restaurant dishwashers, Atlanta Journal Constitution
- I Interviewed David Burns From The Real World, The Muse
- A Comet Called Raji, Southern Foodways Alliance
- The Year in Pictures, New York Times
- The Meat-Lover’s Guide to Eating Less Meat, New York Times
- The Art of Decision-Making, The New Yorker
- Group Projects and the Secretary Effect, The Atlantic
- Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Star, Through the Years, Roanoke Times
- The Pioneer of Ruin, High Country News
- An Urgent Request for Slower, Better News, The New Yorker
- Get Yourself a Nemesis, The Atlantic
- Top 15 Food Histories of 2019, TASTE
- Welcome to New York (Now Go Home), N+1
On Sundays, David and I go to Manhattanville and order the same breakfast we’ve been ordering every weekend for the past two years (bagels with cream cheese and coffee), and then we casually nod our head or tap our foot along to the eclectic playlist made by our barista, Joe, while we click around Twitter on our phones. His Spotify playlists are epic: Sam Cooke sits beside Les Miz who sit beside Portishead. You can’t go wrong by starting with The Shop Mix. You’re very welcome.
You still haven’t seen Parasite yet? What the heck are you waiting for?
- 25 Recipes to Make With Your Kitchen Aid Mixer
- Ginger Fried Rice
- Soy Sauce Pickled Eggs
- Maple-Roasted Tofu With Butternut Squash and Bacon
- Hibiscus Mojito
- Sesame Noodles with Crispy Tofu
- Winter Crunch Salad
- Pasta With Garlicky Anchovies and Broccoli Rabe (seriously, give anchovies a chance)
- Creamy Goat Cheese, Bacon and Date Dip
- Cheddar Scallion Dip
- Red Curry Lentils With Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
- Salted Pretzel Cowboy Cookies
As I write this, we’re on a train that’s winding its way from Boston back to New York. There are gorgeous woods tucked away in the snow banks and placid, icy lakes that look at odds with their summer houses and boat docks. We were there to join our friends Galen and John for a special holiday ritual called Nine Lessons and Carols. It’s part holiday dinner, and part something else that’s a little challenging to explain, but it’s important to say that it ends with nearly 30 of us singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and thus, me in tears. We’re still building our own traditions in New York, so it was nice for John and Galen to so graciously invite us to be part of theirs.
For the past few years, winter has marked change. In 2017, we loaded a U-haul of our things and made the trek north to our new home. We spent the night in a hotel in Jersey wondering how our things would fare in the frigid temperatures. Last year we decided we didn’t want to spend another holiday in transit and started thinking about what it meant to enjoy Christmas day on our own, making a special meal for us, putting carols and a digital fireplace on the Apple TV, and just being hygge as fuck.
Although this is technically our second Christmas as residents of this great metropolis, the twinkling lights of New York have long drawn us in around the holidays. I first came to New York as an 11-year-old Girl Scout; we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and saw Phantom of the Opera and I almost shit my pants when my mom made me ascend the top of the Empire State Building with the rest of the troop. For too many years to count, my friend Lauren and I came to New York to see the lights and walk around Central Park and visit the various holiday markets, where we ate soft pretzels and drank thick hot chocolate. Tired of a family Christmas that refused to acknowledge we no longer believed in Santa Claus, me, David and my brother Jesse decided to spend Christmas together in New York. On Christmas morning we looked down from our hotel room on an empty Times Square and marveled when not one person, not one taxi, was to be found. We admired the lights of 5th Avenue (although these are surprisingly more fun when you’re body to body with everyone trying to get a view), and we ate at tourist spots because they were what we knew (even they are part of bygone New York; these days greasy diners are being replaced by grain bowl and make-your-own-salad spots). Last year, we walked several miles from our apartment in Harlem, down through Central Park, and over to Fifth Avenue to see the lights. We talked and sang Christmas carols to each other and watched our breath hover in the cold. This year there is more change: I’m starting a new job in January. It’s not quite real. I haven’t quite wrapped my head around it. I’m taking two weeks off so that I can decide what I will leave and what I take from my last experience into the next one. I want to make pies and wear fuzzy socks and read books, uninterrupted, for hours.
For now though, I’m on a quiet train, listening to holiday music, and eating a meringue—exactly where I’m supposed to be.
“I’ve spent a lot of time reporting on and talking to libertarians and conservatives who object to nearly all forms of taxation and government spending, apart from roads. They believe that individuals should be able to decide which programs are important to them, and fund them accordingly — personally, through non-profits, through churches. I get the impulse; we work hard for our money and we’ve internalized a “right” to agency over where it’s directed. Within that model, there are all sorts of services that would fall through the cracks — and not just weed control. Just look at the GoFundMe model: if you have a cute kid, an incredibly tragic or melodramatic story, and a good marketing sense, your plea for assistance might go viral and be filled. But the vast majority go unfunded and unfound. Leaving services up to subjective giving means allowing so many people, and projects, to fall through the cracks. Taxes create a remove — and foils our very human, but very uneven, impulses.
Taxes. It’s making civilization better, more livable. And I fucking love paying for it. That’s what I say every time I pay my taxes: I love paying for civilization. What a blessing, to be able to care for others in this way.”
—Paying for Civilization, Anne Helen Peterson
“Traditionally, Buddhist nuns have not been allowed to exercise. They are forbidden from singing, leading prayers or being fully ordained. In some monasteries, it is believed that female Buddhists can’t even achieve enlightenment unless they are reborn as men.”
—That’s fucked up. Meet the kung-fu nuns of Nepal.
- I want to attend this Unsilent Night event just so I can hold a boombox over my head, Say Anything-style
- They can finally deign to call it such, but Washington has been a food city for a long while
- Millennials are caring for their Boomer parents in record numbers
- I got chills reading about the efficiency, innovation, and focus Roz Brewer is bringing to Starbucks
- The unexpected joy of repeat experiences
- A journalist accidentally discovered an international scam on AirBnB
- The secret to enjoying a long winter
- A butler at the Plaza Hotel tells all
- I’m completely shaken by this portrait
- NPR’s BOOK CONCIERGE IS HERE! Along with many other best of the year book recommendations.
- A very cool visual history of the New York City Subway.
- Two moving essays that happen to both contain stories about suicide: The erosion of the body. Don’t stop running.
- The world is going to hell. Here’s how to cope.
- The Crown is back! (Netflix)
- I missed you, Midnight Diner! (Netflix)
- Not as good as the first season, but don’t sleep on The End of the Fucking World! (Netflix)
- 100 Outstanding Podcasts: Holy hell, we did it! For the fourth year in a row, we have made this big beautiful list of things full of things for you to listen to.
- Recording Artists: A podcast from the Getty Museum about what was it like to be a woman making art during the feminist and civil rights movements.
- Should America Be Run by … Trader Joe’s?: The quirky little grocery chain with California roots and German ownership has a lot to teach all of us about choice architecture, efficiency, frugality, collaboration, and team spirit.
- Rethinking “The Bell Jar”: why The Bell Jar persists as an act of social criticism.
- Holidays Rule vols 1 & 2: If you can’t possibly listen to Wonderful Christmastime again, some pretty great musicians have made an album of holiday covers
- Dashi Oats With Crunchy Veg
- Rice Porridge With Squash and Brown Butter
- Baked Tofu With Peanut Sauce and Coconut-Lime Rice
- Broccoli Rubble Farro Salad
- Cabbage Noodle Bowls
- Is grating them a better way to make pie crusts?
“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.”
In the morning I drink
coffee until I can see
a way to love life
—From “Suggested Donation” by Heather Christie
I am wearing dark glasses inside the house
To match my dark mood.
I have left all the sugar out of the pie.
My rage is a kind of domestic rage.
I learned it from my mother
Who learned it from her mother before her
—From “Enough” by Suzanne Buffam
We’re just a little more than a week out from Thanksgiving and this year will be a quiet one for our family. Just a few weeks ago, all 11 of us (including grandma!) gathered in a cabin in West Virginia for a long weekend together. Each family was responsible for one meal during our visit and the result was a pretty happy array of food (not to mention shared responsibility). We had burgers and hot dogs on the first night (turns out grilling in freezing temperatures is kind of thrilling), pancakes for breakfast the next day, sandwiches and pitas for lunch, chili and grilled cheese for dinner, and bagels and fruit the final morning. Everyone was asked to bring their favorite snack, which meant the entire kitchen island became a trove of candy and cookies and chips of every kind.
The cabin ended up being a great idea. We built a fire in the fire pit, made gooey s’mores, played card games, slept in. We watched Hocus Pocus (which…did not scare my niece and nephew), and the kids chased Jack until he finally just hid under the table for the duration.
I wasn’t sure why at the time, but when we first started planning the family weekend in late summer, something told me we really needed to have it before the holidays. Later we would learn that two family members would need surgery in the weeks before Thanksgiving, meaning this year’s holiday will need to be a low-key affair.
So, we’re sticking with the basics this year: turkey and ham, cranberry sauce from the can, mashed potatoes, gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, deviled eggs, broccoli casserole, and rolls. We’ll probably make David’s famous sweet potato casserole, and spinach balls too. If I have it in me, I’ll make a pie. If not, I live in New York City and will pick one up from Petee’s or Juniors or Four and Twenty Blackbirds.
But if I were adding something new to the table this year, it would probably be any one of the dishes below, which feel just a little risque for Thanksgiving and that makes them perfect.
Happy eating dear ones.
- Roasted Cabbage with Walnuts and Parmesan
- Salted Honey Butter Parker House Rolls
- Pumpkin Maple Cornbread
- 54 Vegetarian Side Dishes
- 27 Sweet Potato Dishes
The Next Day
One thing I worry about is how little time we spend doing supposedly “New York” activities—the ones you read about in that book that made you think you had to live in New York if you ever wanted to have a life story worth telling. I don’t have a bar. Most of the time, I’m not walking through Central Park wistfully. If New York is the city that never sleeps, I wouldn’t know it—I’m usually in bed by 11.
Last week, though, I broke up my routine. I met up with my friend Tim and we had dinner at Her Name is Han. I went to the Pop-Up Magazine show at Lincoln Center with my pal Justin. And then afterward—when it was nearing 10 PM—I walked to the Upper West Side and got an impromptu late night back massage. This weekend, David and I had free tickets to a city-wide food festival and danced to DJ’ed beats at Pier 97 while drinking beers and eating tacos. It felt good to be out—to see the city at nighttime.
Of course, all of this happened on top of an incredibly busy work week. We launched two new projects: a new podcast about the impeachment proceedings and just a little old podcast about DOLLY PARTON. Even though I don’t create the audio that makes up these projects, my job is to bring them to people like you—future listeners. It’s a pleasure to put myself in your shoes, to imagine when and how you might encounter a Dolly Parton podcast and how exactly I can make you excited about listening.
Of course, all that activity adds up and I’m completely exhausted. My shoulders are tight and knotty. My throat is just sore enough that I think I’m perpetually on the verge of getting sick. And I’ve had a least two surprise stress periods in the past two weeks. It’s not a sustainable pace—something I think about often for both myself and my team.
In a few weeks, I’m taking off a few days to spend with my family in a cabin in a remote part of West Virginia—roughly the midway point between New York and southern Virginia/North Carolina where my family live. I’m looking forward to hitting the reset button.
- How mimolette cheese is made (and a surprise appearance by Walt Disney).
- I don’t know a lot about writer David Milch, but his language here is magnificently poetic.
- An important meditation on public lands.
- Keep making great art. (Thanks, Sameer)
- Victorian babes flexing.
- Of course Type A women love yoga.
- Sometimes I feel like I might be the glue at work. That might be a problem.
- The Helsinki Bus Station Theory is the answer to your creative anxiety.
- Social space is crucial to our well-being—too bad it doesn’t exist anymore.
- I keep seeing Miss Manhattan everywhere.
There is a trend on Twitter right now to name 6 things that bring you uninhibited pleasure. In this moment, in these times, don’t we need that right now? Clicking on one just sends you down a rabbit hole of individual pleasures that often conclude with you thinking, “Ah yes, I love that too!”.
This week, think about some things that give you pleasure and text one or six of them to me. I’ll send you my list in return.
Music is usually something that happens in the background for me. It feels odd to say I’m not someone moved by music—which is also not true—it’s more that I don’t seek out new music. When I find a song I like, I can listen to it on repeat for an hour, discovering something new about it with every replay.
This week though, I asked myself to be more open to the music around me and I found myself drawn to several pieces.
- Max Richter’s Vivaldi Recomposed, Spring One
- Lizzo’s Good As Hell
- Sufjan Stevens’ Chicago
- Beyonce’s XO (I actually prefer the John Mayer cover of this, but Beyonce’s version found a new place in my heart)
- Cold Sesame Miso Noodles
- Fried Eggplant with Chili and Ricotta
- These insanely expensive Café Warshafsky cookies look delicious. So do these anchovy scallion “rounds” (aka biscuits…).
The size of it made us all laugh.
I peeled it and shared it with Robert and Dave—
They got quarters and I had a half.And that orange, it made me so happy,
As ordinary things often do
Just lately. The shopping. A walk in the park.
This is peace and contentment. It’s new.The rest of the day was quite easy.
I did all the jobs on my list
And enjoyed them and had some time over.
I love you. I’m glad I exist.
— Wendy Cope
I discovered “The Orange” on The Gladdest Hope, maybe my new favorite site for poetry.
“Women run our think tanks and our museums, our biggest defense contractors, our most illustrious spy agency, our tech companies, our newsrooms, and our lobbying outfits. To be a woman in Washington, in short, is to bob around at a new high-water mark for our gender—to be surrounded by a crowd of insanely powerful role models, heroes, and superstars.”
What It’s Like to Be a Woman in Washington: 62 Women Explain, Washingtonian
“…cooking is still a highly feminized pursuit; it’s a skill girls are implicitly expected not only to learn, but enjoy doing. To be feminine, we are told, we must be hospitable, nurturing, giving — qualities that are intimately bound up with feeding those around us.”
It’s so much more than cooking, The Week
- An Oral History of Lilith Fair, Vanity Fair
- A Texas Ranger got a prolific serial killer to talk. This is how., LA Times
- The Beating Heart, Washington Post
- Restoring the Sex and Rage to Jane Austen, The Atlantic
- Seeking the Lost Art of Growing Old with Intention, Outside
- What Does Having a Boyfriend Have to Do With Sleep?, New York Times
(I try not to judge, but sometimes people are weird.)
A must watch: a 7-minute video essay on why TikTok offers a credible form of cultural criticism.
I don’t live in Los Angles, but I recently became a subscriber to The Los Angeles Times. Their reporting is taking a more national position these days, and it’s relaunch of the food section has turned into something Jonathan Gold would be proud of. Check out their new YouTube series, Off-Menu.
- Believe me: You’ve been underestimating lemons
- It’s fall! Time for Instant Pot baked potatoes (with kimchi!)
- Where The Times’s Restaurant Critic Likes to Eat, The New York Times
- This butternut squash oven risotto looks dreamy
- My pal Sahar just moved into a new apartment and this granola from Orangette is the perfect housewarming gift.
- Here are 16 fall salad recipes—go, make the most of these vegetables while you can!
- This pork, plum, and pistachio rice dish is giving me heart eyes. Maybe this instead of turkey this year?
- A bread pudding for the morning after Thanksgiving? Christmas? New Years Day?
- These chocolate hazelnut cookies look *chef’s kiss*