Tell me On a Sunday please

I woke up early this morning and sat on the sofa and dialed up WQXR while I read the paper, and halfway through this article on Terrence McNally and his art collection, I suddenly missed New York very palpably. I could feel it in my bones. I moved at the worst time of year, during the ugly season, and I went back twice over the summer, which plucked at no heartstrings, but I always knew autumn would be hard. There’s a reason people write songs. So this morning I closed my eyes and for a few minutes I let myself miss the streets and the sidewalks and the Saturday brunches and SarahB and Sally and Potato Killer and walking home through the park and running down to the coffee shop and riding the bus up Central Park West at twilight, the hush and the quiet and the great gorgeous romantic brilliant grownup beauty of it.

I read once that a certain strain of Capricorn is bound to be dissatisfied with their lives no matter what and thus run the risk of growing sad and angry and bitter, and I wonder sometimes if I’m that kind of Capricorn. If I’m that kind of person (it can’t only be Capricorns). But what kind of person doesn’t long for things? What would life be without yearning? Every time I say I miss New York a friend will ask “Are you going to move back?” and the answer is no, I will never move back, but my heart will never leave it.

personalKari GComment
What you can do about it

I walked to my polling place (a church) before work. In Manhattan I voted at a public school down the block; now I vote at a church across the street, both approximately the same distance from my apartment. You never get as far away from yourself in life as you think you will. I’m constantly surprised by this. Turn any corner and there’s your dumb old self, following you around.

There were more poll workers than voters, but it was also 7:30 in the morning. I couldn’t gauge the vibe: it was me and a lot of elderly, which was also the scene in NY. Apparently most people vote early these days, by mail, but I missed that memo. I like the chore of showing up, the faces, the snatches of conversation. People striking this minor chord for the future before getting on with their day. The lady who helped shove the ballot into the machine was waylaid by a chatty customer in front of me, and we both waited patiently for this woman to say her piece and move on. She wanted to have a conversation. She was out to be heard.

Anyway, no sign of the apocalypse in the outer suburbs of Chicago on this windy, rainy morning. We perform this one American duty and then we sit and wait.

personalKari GComment
It feels deeply personal

One unpopular opinion I hold is that everybody should have a blog, where they just check in a couple of times a week. They/you don’t need to have much of anything to say, just raise a hand and say hi. Here’s what time I woke up this morning, here’s what I had for breakfast, here’s what I thought about when I brushed my teeth. Is it raining where you are? I’d like to know.

I’m not going to lie to you—many people wouldn’t care, probably most, but I would. I’m interested in the routine habits of others, and their observations on their moods or surroundings. I was very fond of these daily weather reviews of New York City that used to run in the Awl, for example. Somebody could do that. Or take a photo of their/your coffee cup every morning, I would like that, too. It could be the exact same cup in the exact same location day after day, it wouldn’t matter. There would be glimpses of life happening around it, detritus caught in the frame or the quality or slant of the light shifting as the year went on, etc., little unspoken hints passing by. The mysteries inside of details. I would like that very much.

Another unpopular opinion I hold is that the end of daylight savings time makes me really, really happy. I don’t know anybody else in the world who enjoys it and I get anxious every year when there’s a concerted pitch in the news to dump it, so I will hold on to this joy while I can. The world is quieter. Less insistent, less grabby. More internal. It’s dark out there, so you need to go slowly and lightly. Take care. Is that such a bad thing? For a little while?

Be the kind of person

I’m looking for new things to get excited about. Last week I thought maybe it would be bread, but I took a bread-making class at Sur la Table yesterday morning and realized no, that wasn’t it. Bread isn’t the answer, and anyway bread hasn’t been missing from my life. I’d eat bread 24/7 if I could, I just feel no burning need to make it a goal.

So. What other things are people excited about, if not bread?


1. Go read this story, please. It is so weird and magical and good, so measured but hopeful. Especially now. Especially today.

2. I watched Mamma Mia 2 last night, followed by the many special features and then the director’s commentary. It took up approximately 1/3 of my day. One of the special features was an interview with the leading ladies of the film, and at the end the interviewer asked them all to name the most important thing they had learned from their mothers. Cher said, “If it doesn’t matter in five years, it doesn’t matter,” and Christine Baranski said, “Don’t give it away cheap.” I couldn’t have been happier with both of them for having such wise mothers and for learning such valuable lessons. If I die watching Mamma Mia 2 you can be sure it was a good & happy life.

3. Cooking is still a goal, because I finished Salt Fat Acid Heat last week and want to be Samin Nosrat when I grow up. The “heat” episode where she makes rice with her bossy mother was delightful. At one point she’s explaining her cooking philosophy to the camera and her mom wanders through the shot in the background, and both Samin and the director just laugh and keep going. That’s my kind of food show.

4. And garlic! I’m pretty excited about garlic.

amuse-boucheKari GComment
Love After Love

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other's welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life.

— Derek Walcott, "Love After Love"

poetryKari GComment