It’s amazing how quickly things can change. I’ve been fully vaccinated for less than a month but it feels like a lifetime. Around us, New York City is hurtling back to life, with every night seemingly a block party. This week’s NYT Magazine was full of exuberant pictures of the cityscape (all taken by incredibly talented young photographers) and it made me feel giddy but with an undercurrent of anxiety and sadness. The accompanying essay, by Jonathan Mahler, captures that mixed emotion: “New York is returning to normal. But is normal what we want?” I am grateful and astounded by how quickly muscle memory kicks in and how things that felt terrifying just months ago — the subway, hugs, anything indoors — are normal once again. I also hope that we can rebound and progress without forgetting the hard-earned and tragic learnings of this year.
In other news, Lilly turned four (so many !!!!) with an Octonauts celebration featuring 12 pounds (not exaggerating) of chocolate cake baked by auntie Annie. We’re all feeling a lot of feelings about this milestone but generally delighted by this stage, which has also coincided with her discovery of Star Wars. Rob is very proud.
As we head into the summer of all summers, here’s what I’m excited about:
Spring produce, obviously: Every year, as soon as strawberries and asparagus start popping up at the market, I experience immediate amnesia about winter. This year that shift has felt even more glorious than usual because the winter was particularly bleak, in all the ways. I’ve been compulsively overbuying at the farmer’s market, and cooking my seasonal favorites: Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, Melissa Clark’s sugar snap peas with feta and herbs, and asparagus grilled or in this simple Joshua McFadden salad.
Rediscovering Duplos: In addition to Star Wars, Lilly is newly interested in Lego Duplos (for those who were as ignorant as me, Duplos are basically slightly bigger Legos). It’s been so fun to see her get excited about building and imagining different configurations. She got a Frozen set for her birthday (which Finn is equally enthralled with) and has an animal set on the way from her generous Grammy and Grandad. And because I was also stressed about a zillion Duplos scattered all of the the house, I copied my ultra-organized friend Vanessa and ordered these Container Store boxes to keep everything in its place.
A kid-friendly stereo: Hayley is always up on the coolest kid toys and she gave Lilly a Toniebox for her birthday. It’s very fun listening device that plays audio books, playlists, and more by placing characters on top of it. Kids pick it up intuitively and can control what it plays without a screen. It kept Lilly occupied for three straight hours yesterday — a record amount of quiet time!
A cute, comfy sleep set: I’m a big fan of Mate the Label for their better-for-you, better-for-the-planet approach to stylish, comfortable basics. Recently I picked up their sleep shorts and matching tank because I was looking for jammies that were practical but also flattering. These are super soft and flattering, and perfect for hotter weather ahead.
My first kaftan!: Speaking of hot weather, I also just acquired my first kaftan. (What took me so long, I don’t know.) I met Dr. Pragati Gusmano, founder of Nesara, during my office hours. I loved learning about how she started her line of gorgeous, block printed house dresses because she couldn’t find anything heat- and nursing-friendly to wear after she gave birth to her daughter (during the pandemic!). The dresses come in a range of gorgeous patterns and are definitely what I want to be wearing on the beach this summer.
Living my best sandals life: I’m pretty sure I’m a couple years late to this but guys, Tevas!!! I finally gave in and got myself a very 90s color-blocked pair — plus a pair for Lilly so we can be Brooklyn cool-nerdy together. And, as a Birkenstock alternative, I got a pair of mustard-yellow Freedom Moses slides for something easy to throw on when I’m chasing Finn down the block.
Book backlog: A short list of excellent — and very wide-ranging — books I’ve loved in the past couple months:
- Crying in H Mart: Michelle Zauner’s memoir builds on her viral New Yorker essay about the death of her mother and how she turned to Korean food and cooking to process her grief and loss. Her descriptions are both beautiful and visceral, and the book will definitely make you cry as well as make you hungry. It also made me think a lot about my Popo, who was a wonderful cook who was also always cooking. I think of her whenever I smell, see, or eat Chinese food, which is to say she’s never that far away.
- Sister Love: The Letters of Audra Lorde and Pat Parker 1974-1989: I found out about this slim compendium via Aminatou Sow’s newsletter (sign up immediately if you haven’t already). It contains the five-year correspondence between Audra Lorde and Pat Parker, both Black, female, queer poets, and is an extraordinary peek into the minds and friendship of two brilliant women — it will also inspire you to read much more of both of their poetry, if you haven’t already (which I hadn’t).
- Shadow and Bone and the entire Grishaverse: For something deliciously page-turny, I highly recommend Leigh Bardugo’s immersive Grishaverse fantasy novels (magical powers, warring countries, strong-willed and witted heroines). I read and loved a couple of them way back in January 2020 and then forgot about them (pandemic) until I saw that they were being turned into a Netflix series. I’m working my way through the entire canon and very happy to have something escapist to tuck into each night.
- People We Meet on Vacation: Pure candy, and the best kind. My friends Becca and Grace chose Emily Henry’s rom-com for their June book club and described it as “the perfect beach read,” which it absolutely is. It also centers on best friends who are fruitlessly denying that they are perfect for each other, a situation I can identify with. (Pro tip: Marry your best friend! It’s the best.)
Finally! Civic duty PSA: We have a very important election coming up in New York City on June 22. Brush up on ranked choice voting and make your lists before you hit the polls. I recently went to a Kathryn Garcia event and am extremely impressed by her and excited about the idea of New York’s first female mayor who can GSD (get shit done). But regardless of who you love, just vote!
P.S. Old editions live here.
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