January was the first time in a long time that I was sick sick. Like take-off-work, hole-up-in-the-corner, eat-only-soup kind of sick — which should come as no surprise since almost everyone I know has been hit by sort bug or another since the new year began.
If a friend were to come up to me and say they were feeling ill and considering taking a sick day, I would nearly insist that they did.
“That’s what they’re there for!”
“Your health is a priority above your work ALWAYS!”
“No one wants you to bring your sickness into the office, so go home and take care of yourself!”
I’d say these off without even thinking, believing in them wholeheartedly because, well, they’re true. But despite knowing there is nothing more off-putting than someone showing up to work visibly ill and on the brink of contaminating the entire office, on a Tuesday night in January I found myself Googling at 3am, “how sick should you be to take a sick day?”
^^ Please excuse the couch cover that needs to be mailed back in the middle of the room. ^^
A week before Thanksgiving, encouraged by a friend to just do it, I spontaneously booked an appointment on TaskRabbit to have my apartment painted. I had been casually flirting with the idea since the summer when, during a rough mental health patch, I had looked up from my couch — which had become my new favorite companion — and realized my walls were gray. Had they always been like that, I wondered, or were they just reflecting my own current state of being? Painting felt like a fresh start and coupled, with a large clear out of my belongings, a way of truly claiming it as my own. I went with yellow and cream, both which I hoped would fill the space with cozy warmth, and since then I’ve been on a mission to make this space into a home.
I wanted to start this blog post off with something profound, but all I want to talk about right now is Hem sitting with her paws extended towards the radiator, snoozing away on her scratching post. She only wakes up when fat squirrel runs past on the fire escape and after the excitement has died down, she puts herself right back to sleep, content with the warmth and the music and the constant snuggles from her over-loving mother. It’s so adorably cute, how am I expected to focus on anything else?
If you had told me ten years ago this would be my daily view from New York, I would have been both a little bit skeptical and anxious with anticipation because it’s where I hoped to end up. And yet, the journey to get here has been so different than I ever could have imagined.
It’s always the first and last months of the year when the real reading momentum kicks in. In January 2019, I found myself devouring five books before the month was up. Despite best intentions, this momentum began to ebb as the months got warmer, my workload heavier, and my willingness to just sit and relax often felt at odds with my desire to get things done.
But just like the activity of walking around the city, I learned this year that reading is meditation for me. Sometimes I find it so easy to fall right into a book (like with The Silkworm, whew!), while other times, it takes real restraint to make myself stay seated and reading, ignoring the 64 “do not forget” notes my brain keeps interrupting the storyline with.
While I didn’t hit my reading goal this year, I did manage to shave down my in-house unread book collection from 130 to 90 books thanks to a jet lagged clear out session inspired by the question: Am I actually going to read this? Once I unburdened myself of the idea that I needed to read things just because they were famous/popular/historical, it felt so much easier to get rid of books I’d been carrying around for years. And I mean YEARS! I am currently reading a book I bought in 2009. That was 11 years and five moves ago! No book should be waiting in the wings for over a decade, they deserve better than that. So my quest to finish all my unread books continues and fingers crossed, by 2022 I will have completed it.
As we close the page on another year, here were some of my favorite books I read in 2019.
There is something deeply humbling about being a beginner as an adult. Covered from bangs to cuffed ratty jeans in clay, I’ve spent many a pottery class watching the vase I spent 45 minutes working on fly off the wheel in front of me or the glaze on a piece I loved coming out looking rather vomit-ish.
In 2015, I signed up for a wheel pottery class — something I’d never done before. Arriving the first day, it appeared I had hit upon a secret club of other 25-year-old ladies having quarter life crisis as we dawned aprons and spent hours hunched over our wheels waiting for our creations (or perhaps lives?) to take shape.
That first semester, my class included a girl named Laura who took to pottery like a YouTuber takes to a photo op against a wall of fake flowers. From the first class, Laura was making mugs that held their shape, graduating quickly to complex designs like tea pots and casserole dishes with lids while the rest of us stumbled along in the dark creating bowls without bottoms and vases that “purposely” leaned to one side. At 25, I was a beginner beginner again, something I hadn’t been in years. It was a humbling feeling, to say the least. But as I continued to pursue pottery over the next three years — showing up each week to cover myself in mud in the pursuit of making a mug — I realized just how important that feeling was to me.
For me, there is a fine, almost invisible, tripwire between admiration and jealously. Often times I don’t even know I’ve crossed between the two until I find myself muttering on the sidewalk such statements as “But she’s so cool and friendly and successful and focused, and I’m so … *waves arms in the air like a deranged mime or cat being forced into a bath.* When it comes to comparing my insides to other’s outsides, rarely do I come out on top. But after reading a recent piece from Inthefrow, I couldn’t help but wonder, is comparison always a bad thing?
This morning I opened my inbox, and after a week of mulling this post over in my head, felt incredibly validated to find that Smarter Living had the exact same thing in mind. Self-care, it’s more than just a sheet mask, it’s a lifestyle.
I just heard the best, most wonderful news EVER — Call Me By Your Nameis getting a sequel at the end of October and the news has warmed me from the inside-out. If you’ve yet to read the book or see the movie, I envy you because that means you get to enjoy both again for the first time. In both the novel and its adaptation onto film, Love is a lead character along with Oliver and Elio, and written in a way that reminds the reader that love is never just one thing.
When I first moved to the New York City I had just gotten out of a long-term relationship and was single for the first time in my 20s. Until then, I had felt that when people talked about love, while there were countless types of loving relationships one could have, the ultimate love one was supposed to seek was romantic. It was the creme de la creme, the penthouse suite, the first class of relationships, and the one you were expected to want the most, to work on the most, and to envision defining your future happiness. And to that *hits mic and clears throat* I CALL BS! Hear me out.
Walking to dinner at a friend’s house the other night, I came to the realization that New York City is full of a lot of umbrella judgement. Unless it’s raining so hard that Noah’s Arc sent you a text telling you they’re three minutes away, DO NOT open your umbrella. It is like everyone else made a secret pact to muscle through the downpour and give sideways looks to anyone (me) who dares to show up to a social event not looking like they’d just jumped in a pool.
Look New York, life here is already challenging enough. I carry my laundry on my back every couple weeks hoping I don’t drop a sock (or, God forbid, an actual piece of clothing) on the sidewalk because once it’s down, I can never touch it again. So lighten up about the umbrella judgment please.
What a tangent but no, this post isn’t actually about umbrellas or sometimes judgmental New Yorkers or laundry. It is about (believe it or not) the life lessons I’m taking away from Freestyle Love Supreme and having an out-of-the-blue, one-for-the-books, totally-magic New York City night.
The other night I went to a birthday party where the only person I knew was the host. If you’ve been following my writing for a while, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that being the new person walking into any social gathering is my kryptonite. Give me medical emergencies, traveling to communist China, but please don’t invite me to your wedding where I know zero people. My nervousness started as a low hum the week before and each day, the dial would turn up incrementally. By the time Saturday night rolled around, my nerves had grown from ignorable background noise to headlining act at Madison Square Garden. But this time around, I was determined to go come hell or high water — or in reality, come four trains, one Lyft, and three hours of delays.
As you might expect, the party was lovely and after chatting for a couple hours, I was reminded how much I really do love connecting with new people in this city. But perhaps what surprised me the most was that the night left me feeling brave. Like proud-of-myself, call-my-mum-on-the-phone brave. Not because I had done anything particularly courageous on paper, but because I had done something particularly courageous for myself.