life lately

april. and the end of a season

April tries your patience. You’ve worked through four months of bitter winter only to reach a month of sloppy rainstorms and fickle sunshine. But the city welcomed that sunshine, spotty as it was and we pulled through with our equally spotty wardrobes. April was the last lap of class assignments and reading. I got a new job at Maman and started the search for summer housing. I took lots of walks, watching the city come to life. Flower stands exploded with color. The trees over Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn bloomed into a deep green archway. Flower plants snuck up on the city filled to the brim with poppies, hydrangeas, and daffodils.

Spring marks the tearful end to winter, that strange letting go between seasons. It’s marking a change for me too. I came back to New York City eight months ago, a different woman. People ask me all the time if I’m in love with New York. When I started this blog two years ago, I would have said yes, hands down, a thousand times yes (ten points if you get that movie quote). I was a city girl who couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

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march

March is for slipping on jeans with holes in them, for making smoothies, for taking long walks on a Brooklyn Sunday. Spring is deadlocked with winter, but we talk about gardens anyway, spilling the packets of seeds over the table and deciding who will order shears. The men at my favorite falafel shop have their windows open. The cold still bites at my bare ankles, but I’ve put the boots away and have no thoughts of pulling them out again. On an early morning in the West Village, I can hear birds singing. Down by the Ferry, little yellow flowers push their heads out of the dirt. The city is pulsing with anticipation. School will be over in six weeks. I’ve filled my notebook with just a few things. A trip to Asheville, a friend’s wedding, other friends’ visits. Long walks around the city.I’m starting to feel these heart roots wrap themselves around the city, around the strange, angular streets of Brooklyn. Little things have made a big difference: new acquaintances at church, joining our community garden team, reconnecting with old friends. The winter was a lesson in waiting and trusting. Spring is an exercise in resting, in hoping, in releasing control and choosing joy.

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tiny kitchen, winter

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I started nannying for a family late last fall. Part of my Wednesday night task list includes making dinner. We often work from BlueApron dinners, which involve exotic ingredients I’ve never used before, lots of bowls and utensils, and usually about a good 35-45 minutes. So far, I haven’t butchered a recipe and instead of dreading the “cook dinner please” instruction…I LOVE it! I get to put on a podcast and cook in this gorgeous kitchen and make food for a very grateful and appreciate audience of three middle-schoolers.

The habit is following me home. I don’t order BlueApron for myself, but I have started using some of the ingredients. I’ve also started cooking a new recipe at home each weekend, for lunches and dinners during the week. It’s kind of funny: our kitchen is pretty small, we don’t own nice pots, and I think we have one properly functioning knife. So I’ve had to adapt. Some of these recipes I’ve made verbatim. Some I’ve modified. Here are some winter favorites:

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February

February came and went, a series of silver mornings and slow nights. Highlights: dancing with Kara until three in the morning, meeting up with old friends, learning to cook with beets, getting to the halfway point in The Fountainhead, three snow falls in Brooklyn, turning 27, getting started on my list of old films to watch, and learning to enjoy 70’s music. February is the month that teaches us how to be steady and faithful. She’s over now: 19 days until Spring!

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life unfolding

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I choked up last night as I crawled into bed, thinking about the fact that today is my birthday and that I would really miss being 26. It was such a golden year. So much happened. So many good things. I’m 12 hours into 27 and already nostalgic. I have my heels dug into the ground, a little frightened about time and age. I walked along the bottom tip of Manhattan today, talking to my mom, feeling honest, hot tears spilling down my face. We’ve been told all our lives that, we’re young, that anything can happen. But then you wake up one morning and realize that young won’t last forever. And that’s a little scary. Mom talked me out of it, like mother’s do. You are in good hands, little bird. My tears dried. I walked back towards Broadway, watching the sun dance around tall buildings and grey skies. 

I’m doing something different this year. I’m not making any plans. I’ve only got two goals: stay in school and keep paying off debts. I have dreams and ideas too. I have habits to break and habits to make. I want to become better at fighting the monologues in my head. I want to, “live outside society’s stereotyped containers.” I want to live a life that isn’t safe, but full of surprise. I want to stop trying to control life and just receive it instead. I want to live like a child. Carefree, unworried, trusting and expectant. That’s frightening because it means more trust and less control. It means living out the reality that who we are is more important than what we do.

I loved 26. I’m glad it happened. I changed and I can feel it. I’m more sure about what I want. I’m trying new things. I’m taking more risks. I’m saying hello to more strangers. I’m finally breaking out of bad habits like imitating people and beating myself up when I don’t get things done. I’m obsessing less about being normal and fitting in. I’m more resolved than ever to reject consumerism because I know that the things that matter — kindness, generosity, tenderness, authenticity — cannot be touched with a price tag. I’m going to treasure the past year. But I think the best is yet to come. It might take some valleys and shadows, but I’ve got a heart full of hope and four pockets full of courage.

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January

January came and went. February is here now. Not much has changed. I run around town in my blue rain boots and brown coat, sip up bowls full of homemade curry, roam around on white sidewalks covered in salt, and skip over puddles that almost come up to my knee. The stairway is covered in packages: new school books, new sweaters, and a shiny new espresso pot — mom’s Christmas gift. It makes waking at 7:17AM so much easier. Roommates and I killed the city’s pretend-blizzard with six rounds of Phase Ten, three debates, and a bottle of wine. I finally finished The Beautiful and the Damned and started The Fountainhead, which might take me until next January (let’s be real). I am finally feeling at home. Making new friends, picking up new habits, letting go of bad ones, finding grace tucked around every corner, and listening to this album on long train rides home.

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resistance

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The city was so suffocating today. She pulled all the life and concentration I thought I had up through my spine and straight out the roof of my head. It went sprawling everywhere: over the table tops of the student café, over the narrow streets of lower FiDi, over shared booths at the coffee shop where I pinched my forehead and tried to read, all the way up the R Train to Midtown and all the way back to Brooklyn where I slumped on my bed and pulled the covers over my head.

January has been a hard month. It has been quiet and sparse. Work has been irregular. I have had all that is necessary and not much more. Months like these exfoliate your soul. All the crud — the wandering eye, the ever-growing list of things to buy, the earmarked sweaters and scarves in pretty sparkling glass windows — it all comes bubbling to the top wrapped in that infinite desire, laughing and stuttering, trying to be polite, when in reality, the covetousness of it all is deathly and snarling. My body turns in the night, impatient, raging like a caged bird, slamming herself up against the wall. I crave progress and change like caffeine. But I am tempered by hands stronger than my yearning and a wisdom greater than my imagination.

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