Lately, I’ve found myself eating a lot of snacks. Normally, I’m not a snacker. I eat two big meals a day and, for roughly one week per month, a third meal consistently entirely of chocolate around three in the afternoon. But as an adult I rarely snack the way I did in, say, junior year of high school, when I regularly polished off entire boxes of Cheez-Its while mindlessly surfing the still nascent internet.
But lately as in right now, here I am tossing back a plastic cup full of Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies (so much tastier than their Pepperidge Farm predecessor) on the heels of two pieces of pork jerky and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. I look around the office. An economy-sized bag of peanut M&Ms holds court in the middle of a work station. Cheddar Bunnies are piled everywhere. It’s snack time at Ralph Lauren!
Point being it’s okay to have snacks in the middle of the afternoon if they’re lying around, and I probably didn’t need to eat that entire Chipotle burrito last night.
"Don’t use very sad; use morose."
Robin Williams as John Keating in Tom Schulman’s Dead Poets Society (1989)
Oddz ‘n endz.
Had a great birthday. Mister took me to Eleven Madison Park for dinner, and I found a new wrinkle on my forehead. Best 29th birthday so far!
Signed up my BFF PH for the Hamptons Marathon. Surprise!
First visit to the Row House for a cardio class last Wednesday. If you’re in New York City, you should definitely try it out.
About 300 pages into The Great American Novel by Philip Roth. Baseball is not my forte, but this book rocks. Hilarious and prescient.
Listening to AWOLNATION's “Sail” on repeat like a major dorkus.
Ordered a Topsy Tail because I practice what I preach!
Net-a-Sporter launched! There go my savings.
OK, happy summer, y’all! I’m off to the beach (again).
"At the beginning of my life was a forest."
When I was small—a time that grows more rapidly far away with every blink—my favorite picture book was Once Upon a Time by Pamela Prince—a collection of short stories inspired by the artwork of Jessie Wilcox Smith. The idea that a picture could inspire a story was then new to me, and I pored over each page for hours, creating my own little worlds peppered with water fairies and seashells and children in sailor suits and pageboy haircuts and beautiful Edwardian mamas who wore dresses to the seashore and hung the laundry out to dry. When I stumbled upon one of Ms. Smith’s illustrations the other day, it took me right back—I jumped in my mind to that garden above—hiding, imagining, so tiny I thought I’d never grow up. Well, I grew up.
It only occurred to me yesterday that my Uncle Marc, who died in February 2010, would not be known by his grandchildren or his grandnieces and nephews. And that they, even worse, will not know him. And every day, my own memories of him become more mythic till one day I’ll look back and only remember remembering him—I may not remember him at all. He was my mother’s brother, but we lived so far away from him and he was so much larger than life that even when he was alive he seemed mostly legendary to me. Still, he was real, and as much as my children will not know him, I never knew him in his everyday form. And that loss, that loss of potential, I miss it even more.
Yesterday, some of my family (and all of his friends) gathered at Christopher Newport University to unveil the school’s new trading room his friends created in his honor. I couldn’t be there, but I called my mom before and after, and Marc was on our minds all day.
Pain and grief and mourning never go away; they adapt with time. Where he, still living, once resided in my heart, where he, then gone, left an empty space, there is now something solid and resilient. It is him, but it is the absence of him, dark matter where a star used to be.
Do you write Thanks at the end of every work email? I do this even when I have nothing to be thankful for and when, worst of all, I should really be saying You’re welcome. Or if I have been thanked, I’ll write You’re welcome, and thank you! Thank you for thanking me. Thank you for making these countless hours of Outlook correspondence so joyful. Sometimes I write Thanks! to be on the safe side, like in case I should be grateful, in case something important happened for my benefit and to eschew Thanks! would be to drive a stake between my colleague and me. And then I feel foolish. What if the recipient of the email (and my gratitude) reads it and thinks, Thanks? What does she have to be thankful for? I just dumped a pile of work on her desk, and it’s all due tomorrow. Or what if my uniform Thanks! become useless with overuse, a word devoid of meaning like love on a drunken first date or Peter’s Wolf!? What if? What if switched to the insufferable Best or the unprofessional (but most truthful) TTYL!* What can be better than what I think might be the worst? But I just sent an email without saying Thanks! and it felt cold. Heartless.
*Talk to you later!
Lately: white tulips (with a streak of lavender), vintage Ralph Lauren cowboy boots, and massive piles of crudités for dinny din din. I’m trying this: dress easy and focus again on home and health. Lost myself in the last few months, forgot what made me happiest, etc. etc. Always grasping, pushing, sprinting uphill, straining to see what’s beyond the horizon, and swearing to improve, improve, improve. If not tomorrow, then by the end of the week, the month, the lunar cycle; if not here, then there; if yes, if no, if if if. Goal: Ride high by April; don’t get shot down in May.
In honor of Valentine’s Day…
…this is the speech that I wrote and delivered at my friend Kate’s wedding this past New Year’s Eve.
One of the greatest mysteries is the bond that exists between a husband and his wife. Seven billion people in this world and an infinite number of pairs—mother to daughter, brother to brother, son to sister—but of all these great mysterious couplings, the greatest is that of a man and a woman wedded together.
Kate has been a best friend of mine for ten years now. I lived with her once, in college, and I could finish her sentences, I could almost read her mind—but I never did. Now Scott has known her half as long, just over six years, but he knows her better than anyone else in the world. And she knows him. And today, they not only join hands in marriage but become in the eyes of God, one—one pair made one whole person—two bodies, one heart, one mind, and the mystery of their bond grows.
Even since Homer’s Odysseus endured his famous sojourn in the Trojan War and on the Mediterranean Sea, absent for twenty years from his wife Penelope, great romantic love has been defined, it seems, by its fortitude in the face of adversity. Superhuman physical strength beats the odds for love in movie theaters the world over, in poetry and novels and our imaginations. In reality, it is not brute force that conquers all but the strength of getting up in the morning and facing every day loving this one person as much as you always did and always will in spite of real odds: growing older, raising children, earning a living, facing death and taxes and new life together.
Life will not be perfect for Kate and Scott, just as it never has been before, and though their dreams may not always come true—Kate will likely never become a ballerina nor Scott an astronaut—they will still find in that mysterious marital bond something extraordinary. No one but they will ever know or understand their love for each other or their secrets or their weaknesses; no one but Kate or Scott will ever know what it means to be Kate and Scott, and from that private knowledge, from that secret is, I think, where the strength of love is born. It is the only love that cannot be shared between anyone but Kate or Scott; it is theirs alone to cultivate, to evolve, to make fruitful.
Love is a cage and it is freedom, it is strength and weakness and joy and resolve, and, yes, love is patient and love is kind. Today, Kate and Scott will redefine their love for one another in a new and ancient way, and we—not knowing the mystery between them—can only guess and wonder, confident, at least, that they have each put themselves and the other in good hands for their odyssey that lies ahead.
"When I’m driving the highway by myself is when I write best."
Miami was pretty amazing. A colleague and I flew down last Tuesday to cover Art Basel for RL Magazine, but of course there was as much play as work. I had never been to the art fairs, never seen so much beautiful, crazy, enraging, and shocking art in my life; I had never been in a room as big as the Miami Beach Convention Center. It felt as though I had just woken up.
As in Capri, I arrived with no expectations and no real game plan but listened and watched and asked questions and tried to make a story out of everything I experienced. The artists we met have so much passion and believe so strongly in what they’re doing, I mean, you’d have to totally believe in it or else you’d go crazy, and I left feeling as if I too would go crazy if I didn’t start doing what I love most again, which is write. With real love behind it.
Anyway! Long runs on the beach every morning, late dinners at Lure and La Sandwicherie, a private coastal tour by seaplane, and you bet I got a story.
I took this photo underneath a bough of palms at the Soho Beach House; Saturday, December 7, 2013.
Dang. Where have I been all your lives? Time is moving too fast. We spent Thanksgiving at the beach; it was just the unplug-and-do-nothing break that I needed, but something was missing. Mom, Dad, Jane, Emily. I had a cold. Couldn’t play outside. Never enough fresh air and the light faded at four. Still, chocolate cake every day and Nebraska, which was very good.
Tonight through Sunday: Miami! Six days of beach running, art party hopping, and a private tour of the whole joint by seaplane. Follow my adventures there in real time via Instagram.
Last night: While running, made a pit stop at the mid-Manhattan NYPL branch. I haven’t checked out books in years, but it was all so familiar: finding the right stack, searching the author by last name alphabetical, seeing where that search lead—one, two, three—three books was enough to carry home (while still maintaining an 8:00/mile pace). They really do smell like nothing else—words and aging paper and, yes, a little bit of filth, but that’s part of why reading is so thrilling. You never know what you’re going to catch. Finished one last night (The Lost Boy by Thomas Wolfe) and starting Philip Roth’s Goodbye Columbus on the plane. Have you read either? What do you think?
Mister: good. Work: okay. Running: not much. Home: Liquiteria on 15th and Eighth. Want: long hair again and a tan! One of those is attainable. The other, patience, patience, grasshopper.
"I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air."