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

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

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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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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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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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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.

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Sunday Sessions

Sunday Morning in New York

“By comparison with other less hectic days, the city is uncomfortable and inconvenient; but New Yorkers temperamentally do not crave comfort and convenience—if they did they would live elsewhere.” 

– E.B. White, Here is New York

I live across the street from a school and as of 7 AM, there are already soccer players on the green turf, running and panting as they chase the ball. Further up the street, neighbors carry large bags of clothes on their shoulders for their weekly visit to the lavandería. Bags and greasy paper plates and used up liquor bottles and an empty box of condoms line the sidewalks of St. Nicolas park. There is no traffic, so we wander the streets with a kind of urban machismo, rejecting the protection of crosswalks. In the distance, the Empire State Building feels undressed without its signature lights, but soon enough they will twinkle on again.

This is Sunday morning in New York.

To Read

Late fines racked up (a whopping $1.50) as I rushed to finish the nearly 500-page Pachinko this week. It struggles a little near the end, but still remains one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

Older women in Japan shoplift in order to go to prison, where they find company and a reprieve from anxiety. It’s time to reconsider how we age.

In a New York minute.

In high school or middle school, there were whispers that a classmate had been sent to W.W. Moore, a juvenile detention facility. I didn’t truly understand what that meant. Now I do.

Lena Waithe is not fucking around.

The problem with living in a world mostly designed by men.

This week I was gifted Here is New York, and it spoke to my very soul and it is why I live where I live.

This Humans of New York interview.

Here’s to more short stories.

I love a good food anthology.

To Eat

My friend Matt is my New York City ambassador. This weekend he introduced me to xiaolongbao, or soup dumplings. I am in love with their meaty broth. Find them at Joe’s Shanghai in midtown.

I feel like at this age I should know how to make crepes, right?

To Listen

David and I have found our new favorite coffee spot. They serve Intelligentsia and sick beats. Thanks, barista Joe, for the sounds.

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Sunday Sessions

So Many Links Edition

We are pushing through the eternal slog of winter and I have finally come to the realization that I’m going to have to buy the snow boots, and the new gloves, and the ear muffs, because I live here now.

New York is so beautiful at Christmas—a time when you don’t mind winter so much—but from January on, the cold just impedes you from going anywhere truly interesting. Standing on a freezing platform waiting for the next train? Dream about Central Park in the spring time. Freezing your ass off during a long walk to your next destination? Imagine the July 4th celebration you plan to have on the roof deck. I hauled out to Brooklyn three times last week, and on each trek, I just built an imaginary itinerary for Bear Mountain, or Trophy Point, or Storm King.

Spring can’t come soon enough, but while we wait we will eat, and read, and plan.

To Read

Women, even women of substance and stature, have been roundly overlooked by history.  Finally, finally, a few of these women get the recognition they so richly deserve. Thanks to my friend Olivia for this great find.

I remember waiting to present to an executive one time and wondering when someone was going to notice I was really just a poor kid from the south. That feeling never really goes away.

Despite being a corporate behemoth, SXSW is still producing some pretty good music.

This story.

Sometimes those winter blues get so deep in my bones that I have to find a way to maintain a glimmer of hope that spring is around the corner. For me, that’s buying out-of-season fruit: strawberries, and blueberries, and ohmygosh raspberries—all of which are from Mexico. Here’s why that might be a problem.

A nurse treated his own heart attack. What did you do today?

Okay, confession: I tried lox for the first time last month. The office hosted a going away party with glorious New York bagels, mounds of cream cheese, and piles and piles of lox. It was magical. So magical, that I refuse to have another lox experience until it can be at the very best in New York. This glorious display of Jewish foods and stories from Tablet magazine reminds me I am in a city built by Jews, and now is the time to eat.

Blame it on the fairytales you hear as a kid, but I always wanted a turret. Our New York apartment could fit inside most of these turrets (although none of them have our windows).

Some thoughts on assimilation food.

When I get a seat on the train, I am a reading powerhouse, so this week I finished My Absolute Darling, which is an emotional wormhole I enjoyed very much. Next up: Pachinko.

To Watch

David was generous enough to watch all of the movies with me this week. We both enjoyed The Florida Project and Call Me By Your Name (which is also a most excellent book). I had mixed feelings about Phantom Thread, but can’t deny it is a beautiful, visually rich film. A Wrinkle in Time was also a joy to behold (especially in a theater full of pre-teens), although you’ll have to look past all the plot holes.

The third and final season of Love came out on Netflix this week, and although I enjoyed the finale, I feel like I’m losing a quirky friend. Romantic sitcoms, when done correctly, can be a lot of fun, and I felt Love tackled the tough stuff better than Happy Endings, The Mindy Project, and New Girl, ever got close to.

To Eat

It had been a few months since I’d made a pie, so last week I pulled together the ingredients for my crowd-pleasing Chocolate Cheesecake. This week though, I’m thinking ahead to which of these 47 pies I’ll be making next.

Breakfast recipes, you say…

I love the idea of Nowruz (Persian New Year). Not only does it feel more wholesome and focused than our January 1 tradition, it encourages people to celebrate a new year by eating carbs.

All hail kolaches!

The Washington Post has a new food vertical called Voraciously, and reminds me a bit of Bon Appetit‘s new vertical, Basically. Both have given me a fair number of easy weeknight recipes that I can easily make into a dinner for one, like this one for polenta with cherry tomatoes.

And finally…

My best friend will undergo a bilateral mastectomy tomorrow and that is weighing heavy on my mind, especially because I can’t be there.

Even for someone as determined as my friend, preparing for this kind of life-changing surgery takes a wholly different kind of courage. I’m not religious, and I don’t fuck around with trite pink ribbons, but if you find a moment in your day to send good thoughts to my friend, it would be appreciated. 

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