One thing that happens when I treaure myself is I don't postpone Beach Day...
Coincidences (and Spontaneous Unsolicited Upgrades) (aka signs of Forming)
Several things have coincided over the past couple weeks, a number of them literary. Here are some:
- Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad. My respected friend Isaac dreamt I wrote something very like it. So I will start it again, although I found the first chapter, which involves a bathroom-stall theft, very distressing. (An earlier Egan work, The Keep, is my all-time favorite gothic novel. Recommended!)
- Two people encouraged me strongly to pick up Richard Russo. Why has it taken so long? I will start with Nobody's Fool, Havi's pick, though Mr Jones is very absorbed in Empire Falls, everyone's seeming favorite.
- Also, the novel Eeeee Eee Eeee by Tao Lin, which some people call "the best book about Domino's Pizza ever written" - I mean, there's Snowcrash, but ok - and which others say makes an excellent bedtime story for kids. It features dolphins who speak human language but use the sound "eeeee eee eeee" to express strong emotion. I love novels about communication with dolphins. Obvs a Must Read.
- And Ferdinand the Bull. Deathless genius.
In the realm of Spontaneous Unasked-for Upgrades, I had been thinking about doing the School of Womanly Arts's Virtual Pleasure Boot Camp, but had decided not to spend the money (nearly $1,000), and instead look forward to doing horse work with the Rowdies at Martha's ranch in October and Miami with Mama Gena in November. The day after I decided this, the School of Womanly Arts sent me a free membership. Thank you! I'm dancing!
What is this Wayfinding?
It's a search for something more compelling than chocolate, more satisfying than sausage, and at least as delicious as pizza.
Clearly, we are talking about magic.
And I continue to discover buried treasure in a box of perfumes that my friend Amelia Joy's mom gave me last year. Most recently, I pulled out a sample of L'Instant de Guerlain. I think of Guerlain as very heavy-handed, old-lady scents. Like, perfumes that are sad on a woman of a certain age. Maybe also just dated.
(Note to Antonia: Not Mitsouko! That is fabulous, especially on you.)
L'Instant is different. To me, it's darkish but not sultry. It's got gravity but not it's not so heavy as to club you over the head and drag you into a cave, which Shalimar does. I looked up reviews to see what other people were saying - always amusing; perfume people are so synesthaetic in their perceptions and descriptions and half the time I can't understand how they could be talking about the same perfume I have in front of me, like, This is so the sunny hillsides of Corsica, and the lavender honey they make there, and also white horses tra la, and I'm like What NO. This is like coffee and toast in the fog at the far end of Ocean Beach in late summer and your boyfriend's 5am shadow, but anyway, this one reviewer, a self-described 20-year-old wild partying Aussie said, "L'Instant is a scent for tea parties and reading a book in bed." In other words, old old-lady.
And apparently perfect for me, as I intend to spray myself and Take to My Bed with some Literature later, namely Gone Girl, which I can't believe I JUDGED BY ITS COVER. Omigod you guys this is such a devious little masterpiece.
Imagining what treasuring myself looks like. Exactly.
Last week I was in Portland, spending a lot of time writing at a desk under a sign Havi had made that said "What happens when I treasure myself?"
I know for sure that's a question worth asking, but even before I can ask that, I have been wondering What does it mean to treasure myself? What does treasuring myself look like, precisely? How can I treasure myself right now?
Do you think this might be different from ordinary self care? I think it might be. Or maybe not. I don't know. I mean, I know we are talking about more than pedicures here, obviously, but of course we are not not talking about pedicures, either. (FYI, current shade Samba-dy Loves Purple. Hmmmm. Maybe Chez Wayfinder's Quest Post we are never not talking about pedicures.)
Anyway, I went to Cannon Beach while in Oregon. (Left, extremely underdressed for a 50° beach day.) That felt like treasuring myself, especially sandwiching the rainy day with writing and coffee at the Sleepy Monk and a convivial supper-with-strangers at the Irish Table.
Updates on Past Experiments
So this one time about ten years ago my sister and her then-boyfriend were visiting from Santa Cruz. We took a walk around Area 4, the only nameless neighborhood in Cambridge (sample others: Huron Village, Alewife, Harvard Square, Kendall; it's not like we're all Areas 1, 2, etc.) where I lived then - ugh! ugh! ugh! - and saw that the public school (styled "Academy," perhaps to make up for "Area 4") had gotten a huge new rope gym put in, and we started climbing it. As one does, right? My brother-in-law had got to the top when a woman walking by saw him and yelled at him to come down. Not for his own safety, but because he was an adult, without a right in her mind to be on playground equipment (weekend, by the way), and in danger of destroying it. You know, by being on it at 200 pounds or whatever.
The woman was extremely loud, and fairly spitting with fury at our presumption, which perhaps she thought was based on assumed white privelege. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE! GET DOWN OFF THAT NOW! Etc.
Well, we simply obeyed her. Without question, hesitation, or sneering. We wondered at this later, and said to each other, Would you want your kid climbing on playground equipment that could break under adult weight? And, Would you ever consider it your right to order another adult off public property?
A decade later, it remains a bit upsetting to me that we responded to her bullying fury with instant compliance and left silently. I don't wish I'd yelled back. But I do wish I could have regarded her mildly and carried on.
Ten years later...
So this weekend when I was out paddling the Charles, I got a courteous warning from a woman on the bank that there was a race on, and I should keep an eye out for my own safety. Which I assured her I would, and I followed her directions about where the rowers were heading and how far the course went.
When I was ready to head home, I crossed the river, making sure no rowers were about to start. I started going downstream, hugging the shore like an overly eager-to-please gold-star-for-conduct little river-sharer - oh and can we just pause here for a Golden Retrospective Moment of Dear Heaven FUCK. THAT - when the elderly race official picked up his bullhorn to yell across the water: PADDLEBOARDER, YOU NEED TO GO UPSTREAM! NOW!!!
Oh, hahahaha, like HELL, I did not respond. Instead I said, Actually, I need to go downstream now. And I kept paddling.
He became furious and crossed the river on his little wakeless coach boat to yell at me up close. Still on his bullhorn. There is a race on! You want to go upstream!
I so wish I had said Actually, I am going downstream for multiple valid reasons I will not be sharing with you. And you didn't tell me about your race, or I would've stayed off the river, unlike all the pleasure boats whose wakes I have had to negotiate today. I also did not add, And you didn't rent the river, or you'd be able to make me stay off it. Ain't yer river, Mac.
But I said, Actually, I will be going downstream, because that's where I live, and I can't carry this board three miles.
So he said, angrily, Well you better be careful because you could get run over!
(Um, so how 'bout don't run me over.)
I will hug the shore, I said mildly. And I was not entirely calm, but I carried on. As a taxpayer who would not be instantly dismissed from public property. Possibly, as a person who has learnt, if not everything about treasuring herself, at least not to automatically place her value below that of anyone with a megaphone. Because, man, are there ever a lot of people with megaphones out there.
So there! Progress on Not Being Good.
Destination: Date night
What has happened? I went to Toro Bravo on my own, because Mr Jones couldn't join me in Portland, so I was a bit forlorn, and almost turned back when they told me the wait would be about two hours. But the host pointed me to a little standing table near the door that I shared with a couple having their 22d (I know, rite?!) anniversary. We had the loveliest conversation and then were all seated miraculously soon. I had, of course, the Squid Ink "pad thai," because I wanted to compare Toro Bravo's with their cookbook's.
No comparison! I have never achieved anything like this following their recipe.
When questioned closely, the waitress mentioned that I might need to find anchovy syrup. Well I might. It took months to find Red Boat fish sauce, which the cookbook calls for, but this dish is worth the tinkering and the searching and the eating again and again. And while Red Boat is my new jam, anchovy syrup it is not.
For my birthday, we went to No. 9 Park, one of the two fancier Barbara Lynch Gruppo joints. (To me that is so hilarious and baller, to call your restaurant group a "gruppo." I love Barbara Lynch so much.) The food was fantastic, especially my foie gras, which I don't know how they did this, but it tasted like the best bacon I've ever had times a million, and a gorgeous Division Bell, which Mr Jones gives me a hard time about asking for because he seems to think it's a very esoteric drink, but they had it right on the menu, and it came in a beautiful and dramatic shade of Key-West-sunset orange.
But it was a bit of a bloodless, Boston brahmin style room and feeling, and it made me hungry for the elbow-jostling, tattoo-covered, big-deep-red feeling of Sportello. Which apparently I never tire of.
- Alden & Harlow
- Alinea (Chicago)
- Area Four
- Battersby (Brooklyn)
- Beast (Portland)
Belly Wine Bar
- Franny's (Brooklyn)
- Myers & Chang
No. 9 Park
- Pok Pok Noi (Portland)
- Roberta's (Brooklyn)
Toro Bravo (Portland)
- West Bridge
That should keep us busy for a while, but please feel free to suggest additions.
What are you experimenting with? What have you noticed about treasuring yourself? You can also just say Hi. Right here.