Sunday Sessions

A Very Good Post

From Kurt Vonnegut:

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Read

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

Longer Reads

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

To Eat

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

Finally…

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

Standard
Sunday Sessions

Voyeur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Quick Note

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

To Read

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

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

To Listen

Little Grill Collective! Harrisonburg! An unknown band!

Consider the Grackles (The Organist)

To Eat

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

A Poem

For My Lover, Returning To His Wife
Anne Sexton

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

Standard
Sunday Sessions

Windows Down

Good morning, friends. Are you feeling the first glimpses of spring where you are? Yesterday it was a sunny 60 degrees here and I could feel myself 1up like a video game superhero.

I don’t often miss having a car, but yesterday was the kind of day where you might just jump in the car, roll the windows down, turn the music up, and drive without a destination. On days like yesterday, my parents might have said: “Let’s go up the mountain today,” or “Let’s go find some good yard sales,” and you’d spend the whole day in a kind of joyful, sunny fog. As adult, that might have meant a road trip down to Shenandoah or Occoquan, and an impromptu stop with the dog at some trailhead.

Here though, without a car, we’re still finding other ways to replicate that kind of reckless abandon (Manhattan has a kind of gravity that can make it difficult to breakaway). If our first year here was about learning about our own borough, the second year is about exploring the boundaries beyond. Storm King. Hastings-on-the-Hudson. Cold Spring.

Bring on the sunny days.

To Read

A Digital Detox Reading List (and Roadmap) (Long Reads)

Does life have to have a purpose? (The Cut)

The progressive politics of Julia Child (The New Yorker)

What is dietary fiber and why is it healthy? (The Cut)

Productivity Isn’t About Time Management. It’s About Attention Management. (New York Times)

Democrats have an unprecedented range of solid women running for president. They should pick one. (Vox)

To Listen

Not sure how I stumbled on Starchild and the New Romantic, but digging its low-key waves right now.

The timing of last week’s This American Life was painfully prescient. “Beware the Jabberwock” explores the Alex Jones conspiracy theory.

Hi-Phi Nation is the podcast I listen to when I think: Who has time for moral philosophy in this economy? A thoughtful episode on the “forever war.”

To Watch

I’m going to make a bold statement: Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse is maybe the best superhero movie of all time. Better than Star Wars, better than X-Men, better than whatever stuff Marvel is pushing this week. And the soundtrack is…whew.

Did you love Pop-Up Video like I loved Pop-Up Video? And by that, did I mean did you obsessively seek out every possible episode with the same enthusiasm you saved for the #1 video on TRL? Then you’re going to love Mooj Zadie’s Anatomy of a Music Video.

A poem

JUNE by Alex Dimitrov

There will never be more of summer
than there is now. Walking alone
through Union Square I am carrying flowers
and the first rosé to a party where I’m expected.
It’s Sunday and the trains run on time
but today death feels so far, it’s impossible
to go underground. I would like to say
something to everyone I see (an entire
city) but I’m unsure what it is yet.
Each time I leave my apartment
there’s at least one person crying,
reading, or shouting after a stranger
anywhere along my commute.
It’s possible to be happy alone,
I say out loud and to no one
so it’s obvious, and now here
in the middle of this poem.
Rarely have I felt more charmed
than on Ninth Street, watching a woman
stop in the middle of the sidewalk
to pull up her hair like it’s
an emergency—and it is.
People do know they’re alive.
They hardly know what to do with themselves.
I almost want to invite her with me
but I’ve passed and yes it’d be crazy
like trying to be a poet, trying to be anyone here.
How do you continue to love New York,
my friend who left for California asks me.
It’s awful in the summer and winter,
and spring and fall last maybe two weeks.
This is true. It’s all true, of course,
like my preference for difficult men
which I had until recently
because at last, for one summer
the only difficulty I’m willing to imagine
is walking through this first humid day
with my hands full, not at all peaceful
but entirely possible and real.

Standard
Sunday Sessions

The Big 5-0

I went into this week knowing it would a lot, so I decided to be laser-focused on the bright spots. A near-perfect cup of coffee. A co-worker’s laugh. A letter sent to a friend. Finding a yoga studio that feels like home. A chat with my grandma. Becoming lost in a book. Watching a colleague pivot beautifully, gracefully, into a solution. An afternoon planning session with my building’s garden club. A morning text message exchange with a friend I miss dearly.

And by putting the focus there, on the bright spots, it sustained me. Through the long work week. Through the constant shit storm of American politics. Through the hours until David was back at home.

Here’s hoping there are bright spots ahead for you this week.

PS: Although I’ve taken a few weeks—and sometimes a few seasons—off, this marks 50 editions of our Sunday Sessions together. Thanks for continuing to read along.

To Read

Nearly all Americans fail to eat enough of this actual superfood

Hint: It’s fiber. I don’t think about fiber the same way I think about, say, carbs, but a few years ago I started adding a couple of dried prunes to my diet each day and noticed a difference pretty immediately.

Like This or Die: The fate of the book review in the age of the algorithm

Yikes, who knew the world of book criticism was so cut-throat?

Stacey Abrams for ….

Keep your Beto and Buttigeig, I am endlessly fascinated by Stacey Abrams.

The Makeover Scene Gets a Makeover

I haven’t seen Shrill, but like most people with a beating human heart, I love Queer Eye. And yet I can acknowledge how little the show does to actually evolve a person physically or emotionally—I mean, I literally skip through Karamo’s pandering bromides about self-care, confidence, grief. As Soraya Roberts writes here, the suggestion that “internal metamorphoses” can happen overnight is a dangerous one.

Does Femtech Give Users Control of Their Health or Take It Away?

Fuuuuuuuuuck.

From Birding in the Bronx to Birding on Your Screens, It’s Been a Journey

I’ve discovered New York (and surprisingly, my office) has a vibrant birding community. Bronx native and bird-lover Jason Ward has a new series about the birds of New York, and in the first episode he visits Central Park.

5-Minute Therapy Technique to Manage Your Anxiety

If you don’t have anxiety in this economy, what the heck is wrong with you?

The particular sheen of America by Amtrak

I didn’t love my time as an Amtrak employee, but I still think trains—and train travel—are endlessly fascinating. After taking a cross-country train trip alone in 2017, I felt more at home in America than I had in a long time.

Longer Reads

I finished Another Brooklyn this weekend, and am closing in on the back half of Circe as well. Couldn’t put ’em down. Add them both to your reading list today.

PS: No more Amazon links here—I’ll be linking you to some of my favorite independent bookstores.

To Listen

The (Indoor) Garden State

Meat and Three is the kind of podcast I usually put on in the background, but this week’s episode—about New Jersey, no less—had my full attention during a segment on the ways one school is building food into their curriculum.

The Weatherman

A haunting episode about a weatherman looking for answers.

Envisioning AIDS

Compassion. Fear. Release. A facilitator from the Shanti Project leads an intimate visualization through the process of dying from AIDS. A really stunning piece of audio.

To Eat

I keep buying fennel and then forgetting what I intended to make with it. Turns out this simple fennel and arugula salad is a very solid standby whenever you find yourself with a spare bulb. I’m guessing this kale salad would do quite nicely as well.

You know that cute scene in rom-coms where she doesn’t like carrots, and he doesn’t like pickles, and they spoon their carrots and pickles on to each others plates? Yeah, friends, that’s me and David IRL. But lately I’d been feeling that, as a grown up, I should really give carrots a second chance, and the only way that was going to happen was if they were slathered in sauce. These tahini and mustard roasted carrots might do the trick.

Standard
Sunday Sessions

Document(ary)

Good morning there, friend. It’s a little chilly here today, but the sun is shining and it’s like the serotonin in my brain finally remembered its purpose.

A few years ago, on a quiet New Year’s Eve, I remember looking back at the year and feeling that it was a complete blank—I could not recount one book I had read, one notable event. And to be honest, it scared me a little, to have a year of my life so thoroughly undocumented by memory.

This blog is its own sort of diary, documenting my week-to-week, but there is a lot that doesn’t make the pages here—especially things that feel steeped in mediocrity (but, which are poignant in their own way). So, this year I decided to keep a sort of list. The list includes books I’ve read, restaurants we tried, films I saw, people we met, and my travels, among other things.

The list is often a starting point. Adding the purchase of a new plant to the list becomes a quest to learn more about it. Adding a Broadway play to the list can send me down a rabbit hole of the late ’90s feminist punk rock we heard while waiting for the show to start (see below). And every time I pull up the list to add a notation, I am met with the earlier submissions, deepening their recognition in my memory, and generating little sparks of gratitude for these experiences.

This list reminds me that it’s only March, and 2019 was already a good year.

To Read

If you read one thing: The Tragedy of Baltimore

I mentioned last week that I am rediscovering poetry lately. And unfortunately, it’s often death that pushes me to better explore a particular poet’s oeuvre in an attempt to understand the fullness of their contribution (RIP David Bowie, Donald Hall, Mary Oliver). This week poet laureate W.S. Merwin died—lucky he for us he left much behind.

I just subscribed to Written Out, a twice-weekly newsletter about women’s literature (past and present). Check out the second issue here.

Have I been sleeping on Uniqlo?

Foot-binding has always struck me as perhaps the most cruel fashion statement ever inflicted on women—but is it really so far from the exacting beauty standards perpetuated by our own generation? An excerpt in Granta connects the dots between tenth century A.D foot binding and our own modern performance of gender and sexuality.

“…Book collections become a pantomime of erudition, or a flex, as I often think when walking past the lit windows of tony brownstones in Brooklyn and catch sight of a large built-in bookcase.” Mik Awake on the complicated practice of owning many books.

We’re going to go with “cute” on this, right?

Sesame Street stamps are coming!

Every single link in Laura Olin’s newsletter (particularly this week‘s edition) is worth your click.

Sizzle, burn.

To Watch

Better than any Super Bowl ad I’ve seen.

To Eat

This Tuscan tuna sandwich has a whiff of spring about it.

To Listen

David and I went to see a Broadway play last night called What the Constitution Means to Me. The play was interesting and had potential, but the pre-show playlist was really special—Ariana Grande and Sleater-Kinney.

 

Standard
Sunday Sessions

A Stolen Hour

How is it that one hour can make such a difference? I yawned and stretched and tried to come to life this morning, but it’s raining outside and David is in the kitchen making waffles, so maybe just 15 more minutes?

Yesterday, I boarded a bus to Philly to catch up with my pal Jenna. We toured the Museum of the American Revolution and walked around Center City, stopping at this perfect little coffee shop before basking in the sunshine on the steps of the National Constitution Center for awhile.

My friend Sahar and I have started a book club at work, and it was a really fun way to meet people who don’t usually bump into around the office. We read Killers of the Flower Moon, which is not a book I’d normally pick up, but it sparked fascinating conversation about government corruptions, race and identity, money and power—making it a very good selection indeed.

On Tuesday I stopped by a tea shop to ask a few questions about brewing methods and smells and flavors. The woman at the counter patiently answered my questions, no doubt amused by how much one person could overthink the application of water to tea leaves. I didn’t mind being at the heart of her amusement.

To Read

Go Home to Your ‘Dying’ Hometown
People leave their hometowns for a lot of different reasons, and often there is no reason to ever, ever look back. But sometimes we are drawn back there—because of family, because of nostalgia—and if we do return, perhaps we have an obligation to make it better for the next generation.

Trader Joe’s Is Eliminating a Million Pounds of Plastic From Its Stores

I do 80% of my grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, which I think many of us view as a sort of alternative to traditional grocery stores. But even the halo effect of “alternative” could not sweep away the shame of their wasteful packaging practices (or unsustainable fishing). This decision moves the needle closer to “ethical alternative to traditional grocery stories.”

What Happens When You Drink a Gallon of Water a Day?

I’ve spent most of my life trying to trick myself into drinking more water.

Meat and Three & Ten Dollars’ Worth of Regular

David returned from Texas one time, eager to tell me that he had tasted the best BBQ of his life at a gas station. My reaction: “Okay. And?”

American Women: The West 

Women: may we always be this full of contradictions.

Nursing Homes Are Closing Across Rural America, Scattering Residents

Take good care of your family, y’all.

A Shorter Read

Poetry—or music—is not something I usually seek out. Their forms seemed stiff and tightly controlled, and meanwhile prose was left to rise and tumble in gorgeous waves, untamed. But this year I want to be surrounded by poetry, and I find myself sweeping it up, like leaves, into an ever-growing pile around me.

Gift

A day so happy.
Fog lifted early. I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over the honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw blue sea and sails.

—Czeslaw Milosz

To Listen

Borrowed

A new podcast from the Brooklyn Public Library launches this week—can’t wait to check it out.

The Known Unknown

Friends, I knew this story—I remember seeing it unfold on the news—and I was still completely moved by this episode of 99% Invisible.

To Watch

David and I were catching up on the Oscar nominees the past few weeks and finally watched A Star is Born, Blackkklansman, and The Favorite. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if you have to pick one, make it A Star is Born (which I kicked and screamed about watching all the way through the opening credits).

On Netflix, don’t miss After Life, a new dramady from Ricky Gervais. And later this month, Colette comes to Amazon Prime.

 


I know, I know…Macklemore. But this a fun video and a decent song.

 

Look, I won’t tell you to use this video in your meditation—after all, exactly how can you meditate in the face of extreme wealth—but maybe more as an appreciation of nature and architecture and wonder.

 

We all know Gene Kelly’s infamous Singin’ in the Rain scene, but this It’s Always Fair Weather scene was new to me—and on roller skates too!

 

Standard
Sunday Sessions

Not Here, There

I’m starting to get winter cabin fever, and my mind is drifting to all the places I’ll be traveling soon. Next weekend, I’m heading to Philly to meet up with my pal Jenna and to see this Hamilton Was Here exhibit. In a few months, we’re going camping in Acadia National Forest with my brother and sister-in-law. This August, we’ll travel to Palo Alto for a friend’s wedding.

I like having these little map dots on my calendar—the give me a sense of direction for the year ahead. If you know of things I should do, see, or eat while I’m there, drop me a line.

To Read

The Greeter

If you read anything this week, make it this stunning essay.

My Mother’s Daughter

An excerpt from the memoir of Molly Jong-Fast, daughter of acclaimed feminist writer Erica Jong. Parents, amirite?

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable

I’m just going to put this…right here.

The Strange Things I’ve Found inside Books

People are weird.

The Comforting Fictions of Dementia Care

A fascinating exploration of the many ways we’re coping with dementia—at personal, familial, and systematic levels.

People Fought for Time Off From Work, So Stop Working So Much

A look at how we arrived at the modern work week.

What’s Next For New Yorker Reporter Jane Mayer?

I didn’t know Jane Mayer by name, but, boy, do I (and you) know her work. A powerful profile of an investigative reporter.

To Listen

I’m into a new series from the BirdNote podcast called Sound Escapes.

I don’t usually seek out true crime podcasts, but Who the Hell is Hamish? is a pretty compelling tale of a serial conman.

Sometimes you’re just not ready for a podcast when it comes out. Two years later, I finally listened to The EP; it delivered exactly what I needed, right when I needed it.

To Eat

Look: food is how I communicate affection for people, so this week at work, I hosted a mini waffle bar for my colleagues. Along with our tiny-apartment-dweller-sized waffle maker, I carried three containers full of waffle batter, fresh cut fruit, and syrup into the office. It was easy to make, easy to setup. Highly recommend.

10 Big Ideas in Coffee Right Now

I am here for fourth wave coffee. Make it so.

Go Get ‘Em Tiger

I’m really digging the coffee flavor chart on this page.

Standard
Sunday Sessions

A Late Edition

This week has been about resurfacing from the flu, and I was surprised to find that even with a lingering cough, I suddenly had this incredible energy. I can’t tell if this is just my usual energy level, or if being forced to slow down for two weeks had allowed me to rebound in a bigger way. Either way, I’ve been doing yoga in the mornings before work, becoming less dependent on coffee, and not falling asleep as soon as I get home. I fully recognize that this is temporary, but I’ll take it for now.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I spend my time online (and if you throw a digital stone, you’ll see all sorts of essays on digital detoxes, etc., so I’m not alone there). A few years ago, I stopped caring about having the latest phone, you’d have to work hard to convince me to download a new app, I’ve always denied push notifications, and I regularly block all social media websites (I haven’t had those apps on my device in years, and the browser tab experience was supposed to make it harder), and yet I still feel weighted by my device.

I noticed that, in particular, a lot of my anxiety is tied to my phone, mostly because it represents all the work left undone. My phone is the work emails I should answer, the Bello Collective articles that need editing, the texts that should have a speedy response. It made me feel like I was letting everyone down, all the time. At the same time, moving to a new city where I felt isolated and alone, the phone was my lifeline to the people I loved. It was a dualism that kept me tethered.

Winter is a challenge and so I’ve been working harder to put the phone down and go out in the world. I no longer look at my phone first thing in the morning. For an hour in spin class, I’m not thinking about the tweets I’ve missed. Sometimes I’m daring (or dumb) enough to leave the phone on the counter when I take Jack for a walk. And in those moments, I feel just a little lighter.

To Read

Everything We Love in the Food World Right Now | Observer Food Monthly

How to Write About Food: In the Classroom with Jonathan Gold | Foodaism

The Most Important New Woman in Congress Is Not Who You Think | Politico

The Remarkable Life of Margaret Rudkin, Founder of Pepperidge Farm | TASTE

Recipe Introductions Matter. Here’s Why. | Food52

A Critic for All Seasons | Eater

To Watch

The Kármán Line | The New Yorker

Chef’s Table | Netflix

Wow, wow, wow. This is a stunning season. Come for Sean Brock, stay for Mashama Bailey.

To Eat

Last week, when I was really sick, I found a lost looking bag of instant mashed potatoes in the back of the cabinet. It was better and more filling than any chicken soup. When I have the time, I’m going all in on this grown up version.

Growing up in south, I really only knew about Lipton sweet iced tea, which tasted bitter and harsh to me. As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate a well-prepared cup of tea—an iced cold matcha, hibiscus on a warm day, Harney and Son’s Paris Fog on a cold day, a flavorful chai. The latter is tough to find, at least a good version, so why not make your own at home?

Standard
Sunday Sessions

The Lost Week

This week David and I succumbed to perhaps the worst flu I can remember. I spent the first two days taking care of him, he spent the next two days taking care of me, and then we both had to push through independently as he made his way down to DC. I took two days off work and existed in a sort of fugue state of fever dreams and coughing. Since I don’t remember much about it at all, I’m calling this my lost week.

To Read

The Town Where Retirees Can’t Retire, Citylab

Citylab has done some of the best reporting on aging anywhere. Here they look at people clocking into jobs past traditional retirement ages not because of economic necessity, but because the town needs them to stay on the job.

Want To Be Happy? Live Like a Woman Over 50, Lit Hub

“This year I experienced a vivid illustration of the happiness of older women. I switched recreational centers from the university where I have taught for many years to a gym geared toward older people. I noticed a great change in the locker room atmosphere. At the university, the young women were mostly stressed and unhappy. They talked on their phones or to their exercise partners about their weight, finances, studies, and relationship issues. Almost all of them hid their bodies by crouching as they undressed. Except for occasional happy talk about weekends or school holidays, conversation was generally gloomy.”

Coffee for Overachievers, WSJ

I know a thing or two about coffee, so most of the information in this series was not new to me, but if you enjoy learning more about your brew, this is a fun way to do it.

The Soothing Promise of an Artisanal Internet, Wired

“Read newsletters instead of News Feeds. Fall back to private group chats. Put the person back in personalization. Revert to reverse chron. Avoid virality. Buy your own server. Start a blog. Embraceanonymity. Own your own domain. Spend time on federated social networks rather than centralized ones. And when a big story breaks, consider saving your appetite for the slow-cooked, room-temp take.”

There are plenty of reasons why I would not walk into a restaurant and order six ounces of prime rib, mashed potatoes and gravy. I’m mostly vegetarian, of course, but also, where did the meat come from, and how hard am I going to have to work at the gym to counterbalance it? Meals like this just seem to be of a new other time. But food critic Tejal Rao reminds me that these traditional meals have value beyond their nostalgia and are worth revisiting because they are simply good food.

Why Can’t We Have Decent Toilet Stalls?, Slate

“In America, our toilet stalls are awful. The flimsy partitions start at least a foot off the ground, don’t go anywhere near the ceiling, and fail to block the reality that we’re pooping and peeing right next to each other. Sometimes, these stalls are so shoddily constructed that there is a gap at the edge of the door through which a toilet sitter and someone outside the stall can make eye contact.”

That’s it for now. See you next week.

Standard
Sunday Sessions

Sunday Sessions Returns

Winter in New York is a wretched season. Even if you can forbear the cold, the people of the city change too. In my neighborhood, that looks like people letting their dogs shit on the sidewalk—in the very middle of the sidewalk—and not picking up after them (turning any trip outside into a horrible game of hopscotch). It is being as cold on the subway platform as you were on the street—maybe colder. It is seeing cars stop at stoplights, opening their car door, and off-loading all their trash into the middle of the street. It is morally bankrupt slumlords not properly heating the apartments of low-income and immigrant families. It is a person sniffling and coughing without a hand over their mouth and giving by-standers a steady glare that says fuck all the rest of you.

In the winter, New York is irredeemable.

To Read

Dark-Sky Tourism: Under the Idaho Sky, a Sense of Belonging

What I Do as a 911 Dispatcher

Jim Windolf posts a new short story on Medium every Sunday night.

Cooking Tomato-egg Stirfry

Is There Anything Else I Can Help You with Today?

A New Breed of Hunters Focuses on the Cooking

I Cut the ‘Big Five’ Tech Giants From My Life. It Was Hell

The Quest for the Multigenerational City

Here’s what I’ve read/am reading so far in 2019.

To Listen

Walking podcast matches my mood.

I thought brown noise was a secret only I knew. Now you can know about it too.

New to me: Billie Eilish

To Do

Build a jump rope workout

Learn how to meditate

Take this yoga ass class
This class is a doozy. I walked bow-legged for a day after, at least.

To Eat

Sheet Pan Cuban Chicken and Black Bean Rice Bowl

Chocolate Semi-freddo

Come for the story, stay for the Mango Pie recipe.

I’m pulling out my best chocolate cheesecake for a Valentine’s Day party today. This recipe has never let me down.

Post Script

My brother and brother-in-law have decided to stop smoking and I wanted to cry with relief. What does one get for a “you stopped smoking 2 months ago this week” gift?

And a reminder: in winter especially, take your multi-vitamins, kids. Vitamin K. Vitamin D. Vitamin C. Iron.

Standard