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.

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

Standard
Sunday Sessions

The Hunt for Mr. Softee

For weeks, a Mr. Softee ice cream truck has stalked my neighborhood. From about 10 AM until 9 PM every weekend the incessant sounds of “Pop Goes the Weasel” have invaded my ear drums. And the thing is, Mr. Softee is wanted here. The park across the street is like our town square—the neighborhood children and their parents spend their entire Saturday there—and Mr. Softee is like the mayor.

So yesterday, after loving and loathing the Mr. Softee truck from afar for so long, I decided today is the day I would have an ice cream. We go outside, our ears perked for the now familiar noise, and…nothing. Mr. Softee was no where to be found. We walked ten blocks to the other corner Mr. Softee is known to frequent and still, nothing. We finally decide to settle for a Dominican fruit ice (a delightful sorbet) and begin the trek back home, our faces and fingers sticky with mango flavors.

As we round the corner to our apartment, we wonder…is that…could that be the faint tinkle of the Mr. Softee truck? I powerwalk ahead (because I am a GD adult) and there it is, the off-brand Mr. Softee, in all of its summertime glory.

He gets chocolate/vanilla twist, I get a chocolate dipped vanilla cone. We stand at the edge of the park, giggling, and trying to recover as much ice cream as we can before it melts.

To Read

Were you a woman into literature as a teen? You will never feel more seen.

I don’t generally care what men think about #MeToo, but their responses to this survey often demonstrate a lack of empathy—and more importantly, self-control.

6 things you’re recycling incorrectly.

Taking a flight? They’ll have a story waiting for you when you land.

There are so many interesting women lost to a history mostly owned by men. Get to know Natacha Rambova.

If you don’t listen to podcasts, you probably have no idea who the mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder is, right? But if you do listen to podcasts, this is a really cool interview with my favorite gender fluid, anonymous music maker.

To Watch

I saw The Seagull and have decided Annette Bening can do no wrong. Molly’s Game was also surprisingly good.

To Listen

I listen to music one song at a time, which is to say, I find a song I like and play it on repeat until I hate it. Right now that song is Friends by Francis and the Lights (ignore that it happens to briefly feature Kanye).

My buddy Grace had a great disco show at Radio Free Brooklyn for awhile. The archives are still up so you can boogie on down forever.

I’m enjoying the quick 15-minute food stories from Meat and Three.

Did you know Stevie Nicks covered Dave Matthew’s “Crash Into Me”? Would you be surprised if I told you it’s so much better than the original?

To Eat

I’ve been working on overcoming my introverted tendencies by inviting people over for dinner, and first up are our neighbors. My usual go-to for family style dinners is a vegetarian mashup of this insanely good mushroom ragu and the classic Marcella Hazan sauce (and which I will now forever be serving with bronze-cut pasta), but I started thinking it felt a little heavy for an early summer meal.

Over on Facebook, I asked my friends about the meals they make when company comes to visit. The thread, I must admit, turned into a bit of a magical place. Here’s what they recommended:

Meat-based

Zuni Cafe’s Roasted Chicken + Bread Salad

Roasted Pork Shoulder

How To Put Together A Great Cheese Plate At A Regular Supermarket

Here’s How To Make A Perfect Cheese Plate And Look Like You’re Fancy AF

Standard
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?

Standard
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.

Standard
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).

Standard
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.

Standard
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.

 

Standard
Sunday Sessions

Remember That One Time It Was 70 Degrees?

I don’t talk about politics here a lot, because it consumes much of my headspace already. I suspect that you come to read this for the same reason I write it–a little act of escapism and community. But the past week felt like a lot, one of those weeks were I felt small and powerless, where I am flattened by the atrocities my fellow man can inflict, where I wonder again how it could have gotten this far? Where I just want to shake someone and ask “What the fuck is happening?” I don’t have an answer for that. All I say is just try to keep hope. Try not to be so self-interested. Do one more good where you can.

To Read

Clothes are just not a medium I use to express myself, which is good, because my sense of style is utilitarian at best. When I moved to New York, I worried I would feel out of place, ostracized for my work uniform of jeans and a sweater, but everywhere I looked the clothing seemed less avante garde than I had anticipated. Until the first spring day happened. Now there are colors, midriffs, and uncomfortable-looking shoes everywhere. Oh well. Here are 8 stories by women writers about clothing.

I’ve been subscribed to the Pome newsletter for a few months now and am delighted by the little ray of sunshine it brings each morning.

Stories don’t only happen in English. Radio Atlas visually translates foreign language podcasts so we don’t miss out.

Can a book club change a life?

I picked up a book on New York desserts at the library. And then I made a map so I can visit them one-by-one. Come visit and we shall eat sweets.

I am here for all of the indie food magazines.

There is now a graffiti camp for girls, because there isn’t a single place in the universe where women don’t lag behind in access.

Taste looks at the treasures (and horrors) that can be contained in the a simple can.

No description has ever made me want to read a book more than this one for The Chandelier.

I’m working my way through A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. What magic!

To Watch

I went to a theater at 10 AM on a Saturday morning to watch A Quiet Place in case I was too afraid to come home alone at night afterwards. While it was a really good thriller, I can’t help but think: who is selfish/stupid enough to get pregnant during the apocalypse?

To Listen

Nancy is back. It’s one of my favorite podcasts. It has personal significance for me. And now it is my literal job is to share it with others. If you’ve never listened before, start with episode one. If you’re already a Nancy fan, welcome back.

This week in new-to-me shows, I’m looking in on Heritage Radio Network--a whole network of podcasts about food.

To Eat

Why won’t my salads turn out like these?

Don’t sleep on these spring recipes.

Standard