five good things

1. The late-winter emergency trifecta of Lush Dream CreamJosie Maran Daily Moisturizer and Bag Balm. I am officially so old I need three different lotions to keep me from cracking into a billion pieces and blowing away like so much dust.

2. Linda has a tumblr, and it’s about cooking and eating and loving yourself. I cannot even properly explain to you just how much this is all the things I love in one place.
3. Dirty Dancing, aka a perpetual good thing both on this blog and in my life, because a man in a position of power recently tried to shame me for liking it WHEN HE HADN’T EVEN SEEN IT TUNA ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Little did he know I am impervious to shame. JK I am not at all impervious to shame, 1 Shame Street is pretty much my permanent address, but I AM impervious to shame when it comes to the things I like that men in positions of power think are stupid. There’s a blog post in me about this. Stay tuned.
(I’m punchy this week. Can you tell I am punchy this week?)
4. Moving next month means trying to use up every weird ingredient in your pantry, and trying to use up every weird ingredient in your pantry makes you feel like you are on Chopped every night, only without the pressure and occasional bloodshed. Recently: sausage and brussels spaghettisesame-ginger chicken with rice. Also full disclosure I made a pudding pie with a graham cracker crust and the crackers were so stale it tasted like legit play-doh and had to be trashed (uhhh but not before I scraped all the pudding out of it and into my mouth, duh). Win some, lose some.
5. The plan is to shake up the look of this website for the springtime and am thinking about shaking up the content while I’m at it. What do you all want to see here? Guest posts? Articles from my imaginary feminist zine, Me + Uterus? A small collection of pornographic images? Hit me up on twitter and let’s discuss.

Happy weekend, yous. I’m wearing new boots.

things to do in Boston when the winter refuses to end

Read romance novels. Throw parties. Watch John Legend and Common’s Oscar performance over and over. Drink margaritas with your sister and laugh so hard you snort salt up your nose. Fill your spring capsule with sweaters, because sweaters are on sale right now and frankly you can’t imagine when you might be able to wear anything that isn’t a sweater. Nap. Take the train to New York to see your family. Put band-aids on your cracking knuckles. Write your novel. Fix your thesis, sort of. Start a Pinterest board, but a secret one, because you still think Pinterest is kind of embarrassing. Burn a lemon basil candle. Watch five hours of Fixer Upper. Anticipate House of Cards. Make soup. Make granola. Make brussels sprouts. Make lists. Dream of tomato plants. Dream of the ocean. Watch the sun come back.

five good things

1. A very small, very cute little boy who hopped off the T at Park Street yesterday and called “Thank you!” to the driver. “That was very nice,” his mom said.

2. The other day I was cleaning my office and I found a $100 gift card to Williams Sonoma which I somehow had forgotten I had, or thought was empty, or something? Anyway, it felt like God was telling me to order a waffle iron, so I did. If you want to come over for waffles you’re invited.
3. It’s Lent. I love Lent because it means spring is coming, and also because it’s a time for projects, and I love projects. I’m doing a Lent project. It’s small but good. I’ll let you know how it goes.
4. The other night I was cutting an orange and I had the strongest smell memory of sitting on the couch with my dad eating
oranges and watching ER when I was in high school. It made me miss my dad and my house and being a teenager and Noah Wyle’s handsomely beaky face, but more than that it made me happy. It was a good orange.
5. One more from the T, which can frankly use all the good things it can get: last night I was on the Red Line when a girl in her twenties approached an old lady sitting across from me, said, “Excuse me, I’m just gonna…” then knelt down and re-velcroed the old lady’s boot.
I want to be like that girl. I want us all to be like that girl. Happy weekend.

this is a post about anxiety.

On Monday, I dropped my phone in a toilet.

It was in my back pocket; I was out at a bar. I forgot it was in there, ran to the ladies’ room, and:

plunk.

Fuck.

The funny thing about dropping your phone in a toilet is how many people, when they hear about it, say, “Oh man, I’ve done that.” Friends on Twitter. Friends in real life. My husband, when I told him, shrugged and said, “Remember when I dropped mine in the urinal? I washed it off with soap.”

What I am to take away from this, I suppose, is that dropping your phone in a toilet? Actually not that big of a deal.

For how completely, profoundly wrecked I was about it, though, you’d think I was the only person who’d ever committed such a horrifying, mortifying act. It was like, with that one dumb accident, the Pandora’s box I’ve been keeping shut all winter with washi tape and prayers sprung wide open, and every single thing I am afraid of in both this universe and the next came screaming out.

I ran next door with a friend of mine, to the late night Chinese restaurant. We put my toilet phone in a bag of uncooked rice.

“I can’t believe I did that,” I kept saying, over and over, my heart thumping its fight-or-flight inside my chest. “That was so fucking dumb.”

It wasn’t just about the phone, is the thing. It was about being irresponsible, about the house we just bought and the fact that this is emphatically not the time to be wasting money being an idiot. It was about being a clumsy mess and everybody knowing, about not being a very good wife or friend or daughter or sister or person, about the snow and the endless winter and my husband being out of town, about my thesis which feels like a disaster, about every questionable choice I’ve ever made and most of all about the certainty, deep in the marrow of my bones, that something even worse and unnamable was about to happen.

I brought my phone home and put it on the table. I ate a large amount of food I wasn’t hungry for. I had a hard night.

I’ve struggled with anxiety almost my whole life, since I was eight years old and had to go play checkers with a gray-haired woman named Alyce every Monday while I explained to her that I couldn’t pay attention in school because I was scared my parents would die in a car crash. One time in college I couldn’t eat anything but peanut butter sandwiches for a week and a half. I had two discrete panic attacks at my bridal shower, sitting in an upstairs bedroom while my friend M tried everything she could think of to get me to stop crying. There is something weird and hinky in my brain.

The phone dried out. I could turn it on like normal and it worked. But I’d messed something up with the charging port, somehow—the charger wouldn’t fit in anymore, no matter how hard and insistently I tried to jam it. You could have corroded the parts, the internet told me. You probably need to have the thing replaced.

So I brought my phone to the phone place, where the woman peered into the charging port under the bright, clinical lights. Then she looked at me like I was the stupidest person she’d ever met.

“There’s rice in it,” she told me. “You can probably fix it yourself.”

You made this harder than it had to be, is what she meant.

Most times I am bigger than the million things that scare me. Most times I can take a walk, drink some water, scrub the gunk out of my refrigerator with a Magic Eraser until I am breathing like a normal person. Most times I can talk my own self down.

But sometimes not.

That’s the way the game goes (phone bounces).

I brought my phone home and I hung up my jacket. I poured myself a big glass of wine. I sat down at my desk with a sewing needle and tweezers, tried to dig out what didn’t belong.

five good things

1. The 100, which I started on a whim a couple weeks ago and which, in spite of being kind of a nonstop gore-fest, has some of the raddest, most well-rounded lady characters I’ve ever seen on TV. Buffy Summers would be proud.
2. That Barack Obama video that you’ve probably already seen, and that Florence video you’ve probably already seen, and these Fretful Porcupine recordings that are maybe new to you, because they were new to me yesterday, and they made me really happy.
3. The feeling of writing something you are, for this one moment at least, really, honestly excited to share with the world.
4. It seems like it will never be warm again and we’re supposed to get another foot of snow this weekend, but yesterday morning I woke up and heard birds singing. Spring is coming. I know it is.

5. I’m seeing 50 Shades of Grey today, because this is America and I do what I want. Happy Valentine’s, loves of mine. Have the best weekend.

five good things

1. A rather brilliantly successful weekend in New York, during which we celebrated birthdays and babies alike; I drank free beer, ate fried chicken, navigated the Brooklyn shuttle without getting murdered and managed to make it home in the snow. Frankly I deserve a prize.

2. The Longform Podcast, introduced to me by the always-brilliant ladies at Two Bossy Dames. Writers! Talking about writing! And other stuff!

3. The fact that my commute has been twice as long as normal all week has, at the very least, given me a lot of time to read. Just finished: Richard Price’s Lush Life, which, while not the kind of thing I’m usually super into (think gritty crime drama of the decidedly non-Serial variety) was kind of a pleasing New York analog to the Wire rewatch happening in my house these days. Plus truthfully it had been taking up space on my shelf for like 5 years and I am glad to have it gone.

4. Tanya’s blog, which I just subscribed to recently and which is smart and cool and beautiful, just like Tanya herself.

5. My plans for this weekend are the BSB movie and doughnuts from Blackbird. That’s it. Right on.

snow day pasta

photo

I didn’t grow up in a cooking house. My mom fed us every night because she loved us and didn’t want us to die, but for the most part she found time in the kitchen both boring and exceedingly stressful. The first time I called her on the phone from Boston and told her I was making chicken stock from scratch, she was quiet for a minute and then she said, “Whose child are you?” She taught me a lot of things, but making a tear-free Thanksgiving dinner was not one of them. There are no secret, sacred marinara recipes in my family.

I love cooking, though, and I’ve been doing it pretty regularly for eight years now, which sounds like a long time, the age of a third-grader, but in terms of what I actually know how to do doesn’t actually feel like that long at all. I’m still pretty scared of sauces. I think I hold my knife wrong. I set off the smoke alarm literally every time I cook bacon, and while to be fair I think that has more to do with the air flow in my house than my culinary abilities, it still makes me feel like a dope.

However! I figured out recently that I must be getting better bit by bit, because the percentage of improvised things I make that are totally inedible has decreased pretty dramatically, and if you look back at the dubious archives of this blog, you will see that that used to happen a lot.

A recent winner: this snow day pasta, which I made for lunch last week when I was out of bread and my only requirement was that I did not want to leave my house.  This is the kind of recipe you could easily adjust depending on how many people you’re trying to feed; my numbers made enough for two big bowls.

3 slices bacon, chopped

1/3 pound whole-wheat linguine

½ cup frozen peas

¼ cup Boursin cheese

¼ cup grated parm

½ lemon

salt & pepper to taste

Cook your bacon (don’t set off the smoke alarm if you can help it); remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Boil your pasta for 7-8 minutes, until al dente. A minute or so before the pasta is finished cooking, add peas. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Toss the pasta and peas with the Boursin and parmesan, adding the pasta water to thin it out a bit. Garnish with bacon and the juice of 1/2 lemon; add salt and pepper to taste.