The other day, I was leaning over my Mead composition notebook brainstorming topics for my column. Usually, this means reflecting on the past week and wondering if I noted anything interesting that might be interesting to you. Sugar snap pea season? Great summer slaw recipe? Chipmunk hunting starring Tilly and Hugo? This Nars blush shade called “Orgasm” that apparently everyone has heard of for years except for me?
Staring at the list, I realized I’ve written versions of every one of these things already. And that’s when I knew. My column had come to its end. It took me 17 years, but I can now say I’ve written about — and celebrated — every mundane topic I can think of.
Over the years, we have become a sassy coffee mug family. On Saturdays, my husband will regularly walk around the house holding a Princess Bride cup that screams, “Anybody want a peanut?” while I head upstairs with one that says, “Woke up sexy as hell again.” Neither of us really acknowledges the other’s cup, but I’ve noticed we are intentional about the vessels we choose each morning. And we are territorial about our choices.
Last week, I was out for a local lunch for the first time in two years. It was St. Patty’s Day and my friend and I had decided we needed to commemorate the Irish with something green. So, at 11:30 a.m., we ordered two limey cocktails and toasted.
I had dressed up for the occasion, worn a green blouse, carried an emerald purse I’ve learned is called a wristlet. I felt slightly ridiculous being so dressed up, but at the same time, it felt important to acknowledge the fact that I was finally out on the town.
It was my first time out of the house for what felt like a year, and I was hungry and frustrated and wanting a whole bunch of my old life back. I also happened to be standing in front of the freezer at Critchfield’s Meats.
I’d gone to this darling butcher to pick up veal shanks for osso bucco and beef bones to make stock. Having found these items within minutes, I despaired at the thought that this precious errand was over, and it was time to head back home. So I decided, on a whim, to buy some other stuff too. Stuff I couldn’t get in Somerset. Stuff that would push me as a cook. And make me feel less trapped.
So I grabbed sweetbreads. And blood sausage. And then found myself considering turtle meat. Yeesh, was I that brave? I thought of the lovely specimens I see crossing the road and decided I was not. But I needed something. Something I hadn’t tried.
And then I saw the goat.
When I was little, one of my favorite places to be was The Original Shop, a dress store owned by my grandmother, Ann Kaprowy. For more than fifty years, she sold women their bridesmaid dresses, prom confections, mother-of-the-bride gowns, and workwear in this clean, bright space.
When I was at her house, which was a cozy apartment that sat above the shop on Selkirk Avenue, I was usually desperately busy watching Days of Our Lives while eating the Mirage chocolate bars she kept in the fridge. But at least five times a day, I’d head down to the store to see what was up. My grandma and auntie Pam were always busy. Invariably, my grandma was helping customers, giving her gentle but firm opinion about a gown or on her knees puffing chalk against floaty chiffon to indicate where the new hem line should go.
It was the best haul you could imagine.
I was living in D.C., knee-deep in graduate school and had just opened my mailbox to find the usual stack of bills. I pulled them out and then noticed, sitting underneath them, a thin, black booklet from Columbia House Record and Tape Club. Finally, they had found me.
The goal was to buy a “Japanese curry bar” my friend Ang told me would instantly change my life. I didn’t know what it was, but, after a long, quiet winter, I was definitely open to anything life changing. Quickly, my hunt landed me at Somerset’s Asian Market, where I showed the lady behind the counter a picture of the packaging.
“Oh yeah, I know where that is.” She expertly led me down an aisle packed with everything from dried noodles to gold-flecked bottles to fiery looking pastes.
In less than a month, I’m going to see the ocean for the first time in three years. The event will be part of a larger party, which will involve heading down to Miami for a few frosty cocktail-filled days.
Yesterday, my girlfriends and I were texting back and forth about trip logistics. One of my girlfriends is going to arrive a day later, so we were discussing how my other girlfriend and I can get everything ready before she arrives.
Then I remembered what it’s like to group grocery shop for a trip. And I got so over-the-moon excited I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
It’s been a pretty fascinating dieting week. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I learned so many tips and secrets about how to stay low on calorie intake. As such, I thought I’d share a few of them here in case you’re in the same (heavy) boat as me.
Look, I know it probably means I’m unevolved as a 2022 woman, but I still weigh myself. And never more so in January when I’ve decided I’m a new me and am finally going to get myself in check. So, lately, my late morning routine involves taking a few deep breaths and facing the music.