summer lulls

last night i had a dream i was chewing on a bic pen at a check-in counter, and the lady in charge kept saying “ma’am, it’s covid.” then i’d keep chewing and lock eyes with her.

it’s an AC-less august here in quarantine. i feel like a historical figure craving lemonade, stories by way of oral tradition, and empty thoughts – thoroughly placated by sweat season.

these lulls have also been piqued by a few adventures: a roadtrip across the midwest to cleveland, indiana, ohio, and michigan (where i climbed a massive dune after consuming a large cup vanilla soft served); bike rides to coney island beach; regular prospect park hangs with friends; early morning trips to whole foods in the prius (#thisisthirty+); and my forever quest for the perfect throw.

i always feel angsty at this time of year. those back to school vibes don’t go away with age! my august playlist has had the same cozy-season favorites since 2007.

i drew that ^rag tag house in ditmas^ and the paper wilted. the photo is from november.

forever crushing on my nest, feat. real housewives of atlanta and a cheeseboard [pano makes it look big]

other than my own sweat, here are the things i’ve been absorbing lately:

the overstory by richard powers – the sentimental style was a little hard for me to get used to since i haven’t been reading much fiction lately, but i appreciate lots of things about this book so far – themes of immigration, women in science, relationships between fathers and daughters, and of course the extended tree metaphor.

nice white parents podcast – thanks to steve for suggesting we start listening to this last night. i was feeling agitated post-work and didn’t want to, but no excuses. on the insidiousness of segregation in nyc’s public school system and white parents’ unchecked power in gentrifying these schools.

i really appreciate a good gardening store, and kings county nursery in prospect lefferts garden really came through for me on sunday afternoon. i finally got a stake and twine to train my monstera, whose air roots are literally climbing their way across my floor to my bed (halp).

one whole week of not drinking on a weekday (live from cnn). because i’m taking this lifestyle out for a test drive, i’ve been making SO MANY VIRGIN BEVS. like this peach thyme iced tea, a cucumber peach elixir, and also a million iced coffees and matcha lattes. i also discovered that oatly oatmilk is gluten free. game is changed.

we submitted an application to adopt a sweet black and brown chihuahua puppy named ms. florence dombey on sunday night from badass brooklyn animal rescue (!!!). pray to your AOC shrine for us! #dogsrule including this guilty friend (tweet cred steve).

headed to hudson tomorrow with friends! going to work remote, swim in a lake, eat the foods, hike and drink the wine (what was that about sobriety?). @hudsonvalleyhikes on instagram, new obsession.

pickuplimes’s youtube channel is my #1 favorite to balance out moments when i feel like tattooing my entire body in peacocks or getting a tongue extension.

i’m trying to wrap my head around how to celebrate glass ceilings shattered, get biden/harris elected, and still be a vocal critic now and when they’re in office. saving thoughts for next time…

volcanic spurts

damn. a lot has happened since my last post. i was very close to deleting this blog and never putting my inane ramblings on display ever again because of the state of the world and a worthy fear of self-centering, but here we are.

with a photo dump of the last 1.5 months. starting in DC during the first week of BLM protests whereupon i got maced directly in the eyes by the police. the next day we went to the mall and saw the outside of the national museum of african american history & culture. a beautiful architectural design, on prominent real estate, sold out within nanoseconds of ticket sales each day :: in contrast to real bodies on the street, fighting the invisible but treacherously felt structures that keep too many of us trapped in the airtight cage of poverty. i know i know.

then back to BK. immediately more protests. they are cathartic and maddening, energizing and physically exhausting, all-consuming and only feasible to do within the privileged confines of a working schedule. they make me feel relieved by the individual’s inability to self-center as a protester in the moment (i’m pretending like those instagram influencers don’t exist) – you’re just swallowed in the mass demanding change. i just hope to god those masses get the fuck out to vote and challenge their political ideologies enough to get on board with radical change/ progressive politics. imho!

even though nothing else besides protesting seems important right now (and increasingly ever) – there are other things in muted periphery. like hydrangeas and reading the power broker (ish) at jacob riis and feeling meta-planner as hell. and steve appreciating/constructing meals. lmk in the comments below if you want me to delete these, steve!

then we went to the beach with friends and it was GLORIOUS – humans – quarantined in a house away from any other humans – interacting like it’s peacetime with no corona or trump. pure joy and highly spiked lemonade. conquering my fear of board games (#manifestationsofanxiety) and learning how to play wingspan. THIS BIRD’S FEET! that game taught me about that bird’s feet.

to this past weekend celebrating my dad’s 60th birthday. bought an orchid and made some mint watermelon juice to survive #wfh without AC before our drive up. got amazing quality time with the fam, swam twice in a lake, had wine outside in two rain storms, got my ~*portrait*~ taken in the dark, shopped in downtown hudson sweating through our facemasks, ate doritos on the lawn, went for hot runs by horses. feeling so lucky to be able to navigate quarantine within six feet of friends and family. and to be able to work through the moral hierarchies/imperatives of risk-taking to drive this movement and moment. keeping in mind that what’s happening is volcanic spurts but we’ve been playing on top of a volcano for 400 years. feeling flexible and permeable to change and new ideas, but also taking deep breathes and remembering to celebrate what’s right here. <<< monday morning mood turning super sentimental, time to sign off :).

mood board?

i’m realizing that, despite my ~mission statement~, my posts so far have been heavy on the world stress and psychoanalysis. sweet virginia!!! here i go again. thoughts on this medium: i love blogs because they are brain chronologies. spasms of joy. but there is so much SHIT happening in the world, now – but also always, and it feels gross to be mood boarding about a very laddish connell and my new garmin watch while minneapolis is on fire. it also feels gross to be virtue signaling my thoughts on social justice on social media, or here, to make sure everyone knows that it is front of mind (which it is. am i virtue signaling?). i think there are some people that are good at inspiring action through their online presence, but i think i am best for the world if i just absorb from others, commit to a life of understanding these issues so that the actions i take actually drive radical change, and also don’t make things worse. so anyway, what was i saying about a fucking mood board?! this month is travel lust. it’s the one drawing i’ve done so far. it’s laddish connell and the permanent mood normal people has put me in. it’s bracing myself for a summer of sleeping in the prius trunk to escape my apartment. it’s dark blues and mandarin bleeding into magenta plumes on white stucco. the garmin, of course. my irish kick. doulours price – a very bad b (and patrick radden keefe for writing about women in war history so inconspicuously in “say nothing,” i almost forgot that those kind of books never do). it’s an ode to the chipmunks and bees of hudson who haunt my dreams. it’s molly baz’s $300 jumpsuits i hate that i want. finally learning what kind of trees the joshua trees are (yucca brevifolia!). hammocks.

…escape!

this is the week steve and i were supposed to be in portugal! let me tell you, it’s all fine. the world has bigger things to worry about like alison roman’s apology. instead we’re outside of hudson, ny, at my parents’ place doing a little backyard quarantine. we finished short work week on tuesday and are taking a little vacation to try to stave off the portch ache! i’m a sheepish photog but steve helped execute a drive-by photoshoot of these hudson babies (we activated the yappy dogs in a few yards so didn’t get all that i wanted). colonial revival? once homes 2 rich whalers, now homes 2 yappy mutts.

escape versus escapism. i’ve been trying to do the first here in hudson, but i can’t quit you instagram! i’m ashamed but going to be honest here. molly baz’s portugal vacation is a ripe and repeatable fantasy. every foamy coffee thefirstmess consumes on her porch. those pups. i watch, i re-watch, i almost feel like they’re mine. it’s not an interesting thing to psychoanalyze here, but it’s happening to me a lot these days.

that said, yesterday was a near perfect day. we went hiking in the catskills and my brain was deliciously BUSY loving the climb, the sweat, the moss. it couldn’t wander. i fantasize about days like that when i’m on the subway going to work, preparing for a day – a week – an unforeseeable end – to sitting at my desk. work stress is an inexorable force in my life, in part because i love what i do and the mission is core to my identity. but also because it’s just… hard? and hard to constantly be living, breathing, physically or mentally thinking about how to get ahead with work.

but hiking is a true escape, even from my addiction to escapism. i immediately start thinking i need more of this my life. when do statements like that, which i make regularly, become a reality? can they? it’s a white collar millennial problem/pipe dream for sure.

pipe dream, sure. but i’ve been thinking a lot about my constant state of work angst in the context of the covid, and how millennials will characterize this defining time in our lives. staying couch-bound as our civic duty, upping our SSRIs, tempering our malaise with WWII documentaries or band of brothers. it’s coping with the burn out, the leakiness of remote work into our personal lives, and dealing with the third “once in a generation” crisis while ensuring our productivity stays up so we don’t get canned (or worse, judged). ^that vox article felt like goddamn church.

and yet for me, this isolation sometimes feels so smooth, i feel wary of its inevitable deceit. not having to perform against the routine stressors (the subway, hierarchies and interpersonal dynamics, spending money) have made me hellbent on self-determination. how can i get my life back when all of this ends?

some friends of mine are either scheming or have already figured out how to quit the 9-5, get that daily hike, say g2g from that post-work bottle of stress wine, and make money on their own terms. it’s a charmed sphere i’m talking about, not the norm (or should be norm) for sure. but it’s a sphere i’m orbiting around, winking at. what would i do if i could do exactly what i want?

today it’s anything that makes me dog-tired, sunkissed, and free from the tyranny of my thoughts – the 10 mile hike. but would that only feel good in its infrequency, or would i be a new human if i could do it every week? analyzing, reanalyzing, leafing through ideals and time. it’s so hard to be present anymore.

things:

this post much-inspired by this ezra klein podcast “work as identity, burnout as lifestyle” sent to me by my sister frances!

if you’ve watched mrs. america on hulu, tell me what you think. i appreciate it for the range of narratives it tackles (though so far it’s white women focused, and i don’t think that will change) and getting deeper into the motives and intelligence of the ERA opposition. a good watch for the liberal echo-chamber. but also fuck you phyllis.

there’s hope yet: we can maybe sit in circles this summer.

hanging with friends this week meant dueling t-shirts.

yesterday i surprised myself at how well i can sing k-ci & jojo while driving. we also stopped for ice cream on a sleepy quarantine main street and debased the town statue. a little eye candy 4 the road.

misnomers

i may have lied about the centrality of plants for this blog. now that that’s out of the way, for the last week, all i’ve wanted to talk about has been my anxiety to anyone that would listen (poor steve). my brain has felt totally broken, no matter how many of my coping mechanisms i diligently try out. anyone else feel me? for the first time since the ‘tine began, the big work stress came hurdling back, and i haven’t wanted to take a single picture of a plant(!), read a single page of the goldfinch, or really do much of anything besides focus on getting through *refresh refresh refresh outlook*.

in times like this, i find myself unable to take in serious outside information. it’s fluff or nothing. so this week i watched, honest to god for the first time since 2012, real housewives of beverly hills for about 7 straight hours on sunday, massaging my ego with the promise that i’d never end up looking like a bespoke wax creature. i listened to wellness podcasters tell me how to feel about productivity and week 5 of quarantine on the few morning walks i could muster before sprinting back to my laptop to make sure i hadn’t missed anything.

i’m also ridiculously nostalgic. i think the lack of stimuli has me fantasizing about the prettiest places i’ve ever been. i’ve thought more about the trip i took to hawaii to babysit my cousins for a summer in 2011 more than i ever have before; about being alone in yogyjakarta, indonesia and trying to wander without getting too lost – look at everyone and everything without trying to stare; and about what it would have been like to be preparing for steve and my trip to portugal next month. i have been craving a euro-rave for basically two straight years now, and every time my endorphins peak on a long run with my music blasting i imagine myself sweaty, looking fab, in some portuguese club (any recommendations btw?), and the feeling of waking up the next morning, legs tired, makeup caked, euphoric.

but in POD (plants of ditmas, not “payable on death” which appears to be the name of a death metal band that i now share an acronym with. hi guys! good tidings!) form, here’s the homespun fun i’ve enjoyed this last week.

i’ve made this very fancy tahini granola recipe a few times, but it’s delicious and i just made it this morning subbing a few things (raisins for mulberries, chia for sesame seeds, omit cocao nubs). i LOVE laura wright and the first mess blog. i also made these crispy coconut tofu lettuce wraps last night. mine were not nearly as beautiful as hers but were weird, summery and delicious – three meal descriptors i seek regularly.

bloodline on netflix is the florida panhandle family drama i’ve been needing. FNL coach taylor lookin’ fly as a southern good old boy once again!

reading this 10 hours in ditmas park post made me SO SAD, but also made me realize how wonderful all of these magical spots will be when i can go to them again. get me my gin martin in the sycamore backyard beneath the northern catalpa soon please! *adjusts spectacles*

the one non-fluff thing i have been into is the science versus podcast. i’m finally curious (stable enough to handle?) about the epidemiology of coronavirus – weird that it’s hitting so late? the host is so perky/nerdy/australian that it’s hard to feel stressed.

i went a little crazy and got a few things from aritzia this week, including this ribbed bra which i am really enjoying. also got these slippers from amazon and i am very pleased (looks like they don’t have the grey color i got anymore though!).

this ring is on my wishlist.

lastly, i got tagged in one of those email chain things where you share poems and shit. i don’t know why i felt annoyed initially!? probably because i’m a psychopath?! but then random people started sending me quotes and shit and i cried at a few because i’m an emotional water balloon. one i really liked was this:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” – Ira Glass

do i have killer taste? i’m not loving the new fiona apple album nearly as much as real housewives this week…

hill productions

^title is in honor of my mom :). today is a tough day to -keep it light- tbqh so i’m just going to share some night viz pics of my room, which was giving me very summer getaway vibes and the other night. it had rained hard all day and the sun came out at 7ish, and was bright and glittery for an hour or so before it got dark. i felt like i was in portgual which steve and i have been trying to go to for a goddam decade and were supposed to go to next month. everything that’s bad for me is just a joke in light of the world, which it always has been, but feels more caricatured now.

which is why throughout this ‘tine, i’ve been determined to keep things as simple in my brain as possible. it’s involved limiting news intake and texting, but yesterday i watched obama’s biden endorsement speech which led to a CIRCUS of brain chaos. it was, pretty shockingly, the first downwards spiral of the ‘tine, and it’s taken a full day to recover. on my walk in prospect park just now i saw six turtles hugging each other on a log with their necks to the sun and i would say i am feeling much better.

another fun fact which i’ve admitted to a few of you – i’ve been dressing like chessy from the parent trap for the full ‘tine. tevas and socks know no bounds. in pure millennial urban homesteader fashion, i also ate this blueberry ginger tahini smoothie on my fire escape last sunday morning (from molly baz’s daily smoo) which turned out to be both cold and precarious but definitely worth it.

next, i’ve been thinking about how most slang i discover 100 years after it’s been in use i either hate or feel very inappropriate using, but “hundo p” (100%) is one that i really enjoy.

for music this week, i’ve been very happy with my april playlist which is out of control girly because the ‘tine has me staving off that depresh ONE LEON SONG AT A TIME.

i really love the attic and closet show #2 of reply all; not a podcast i ever thought i enjoyed but have recently appreciated for its levity (particularly pj’s(?) story about how he was walking home from the studio 6 days after hurricane sandy struck, and the power came back on in the lower east side and there was a thunder of cheering all around. the post-Covid parties are going to be amazing. we have that to look forward to!).

have you followed @pigvibes on insta (thank you kathryn!!!) because it’s the jackpot of happiness.

to end, in a genre i think is best described as fan boy lit, emily dickinson at the poetry slam made my day (minus the turtles).

hot romance

just kidding, this has nothing to do with ho-ro (don’t worry, posts of this genre to come). i just wanted to show you some cute houses in my hood. steve and i play a game where we proclaim our top five whenever we see one we love. i think our top five’s are about 20 right now. in general, things i appreciate about the houses in ditmas park is the mish mash of architectural styles, the decay, and the steady war that the plant life has waged against its manmade intruders. no house or landscaping is quite like another, even though the entire neighborhood feels like a distinct organism with tightly drawn boundaries and defining style. that’s partly because the neighborhood was developed by one person, lewis h. pounds, an ohio-born “real estate man” who pioneered the suburban method of flattening all land and laying street, street plantings, and sewage infrastructure before developing any houses. he purchased the land from the van ditmarsen family farm in 1902, by which point the area surrounding ditmas park had already been opened up by new stage line connections from northern brooklyn (the brooklyn bridge was completed in the 1880s, which opened up brooklyn to suburbanization/urbanization).

most of the time when i’m describing ditmas park, i use the shock and awe vocabulary of “victorians!” “lawns and drive ways!” “in new york city!”. but beyond that, the total fanfare of architectural styles – bound by pounds’ form-based zoning regs – never gets old. there are shingle-style bungalows on 16th street around newkirk you would expect to find in california, or somewhere with real proactive sun – but are instead nestled between the Q train, multi-story walkups, and c town. then there’s the georgian/greek revival combo, defined by its tall ionic columns and primarily reserved for the churches around flatbush – but takes me back to college campuses in the south (but are apparently relics of christopher wren/british baroque architecture). there was also some norwegian architect who sprinkled a few spanish mission style houses throughout, because why not.

now that we’re in quarantine times, i’ve been going on even more house-gawking walks than usual, fantasizing about the lives lived in dwellings with actual “quadrants”. i love my tiny apartment like my firstborn but there is literally no where to go, nowhere to hide. and nowhere for steve to hide when i become hellbent on memorizing “one week” by barenaked ladies about 20 years too late.

floor scooter

last night i had a fantasy about the house i grew up in, using one of those floor scooters to survey the grounds (two floors!) at breakneck speed.

at the end of all of this, will we be nicer to each other? meaner? how many of us will be ensnared in the cuomo crush? will trump be dead? will i pony up for an overnight teeth whitening (ouch!!) regimen? will i devour my vile of star anise “because i can?”

bye!

goldfinch, glutiny, croissant ring, fleabag

17,549 step/124 step days, sore hips, records, house gawking, boxy-front-heavy, dirty trees, one cute one – art deco #s, borough park, secret diagonal street, hasids, quiet, magnolias, high bloom, peak bloom, ditmas trees, quiet streets, stroller sidewalk follies, zigzagging, umbrella shields, brook shields//laura linney were friends, instagram, instagram, instagram, my-boring-stories, “what page are you on?”, book race/I’m always losing, Amazon cart, slipper hunt, grout cleaner, matcha reviews, smoothie art, fridge reorg, plant reorg, minibar, kings county wine pick up, essential ingredients, masks, satin masks, john oliver jesus figure, recipes, recipes, recipes, alison roman everything, sunken lemons, bread too dry, garam masala, high protein milk, sunny runs, abs?, will run every day, just 30 minutes, hangovers, rain, savoring WFH, worried, anxious, productivity, online, email, email, email, job search, raise, saving, bank account, portugal, madewell, boho throw, screen, offline, green chair, lunyas, reading, goldfinch, new york, bad slang, las vegas, alone, loneliness, new yorker article, depressing ending, friends, family zoom, finding art, how do you find good art, camping, tea, logs, woodsmoke, soft pines, hard ground, zipping noises, fruit fly, podcasts, dirty john, vocal fry, laguna, college, alone on the beach, mom, string lights, fancy, pilcro, marzipan, grocery run.

^brain dump from quarantine sunday #3. below is a photo dump from the last week. pretty obsessed with it all. new york has never felt this simple and i’m enjoying it for now.

awkward lines lent

i told a few of you that i would be drawing all of the pretty houses in ditmas park for this blog and then mail you the hard copies. oh it’s just a little something!, she said. nothing fancy!, she said. but honestly having attempted 3 (and purchased $100 worth of framing supplies for my christmas gifts) i feel i will not be doing it any more until i fix the part of my brain that can do artsy things again. because the drawings aren’t great tbh. tbh also, i hate colored pencils. so little yield per stroke – so many awkward lines lent – the misery of textures.

as it appears i’ve slipped into the saga of my many failings again i’m going to stop here… going to try to embrace a style of writing that is not self-deprecating and prescriptive! would elizabeth warren hate on her sweet little house drawings and colored pencils? i don’t think so.

bye guys!