I can hear birdsong even in the busiest parts of the city. The natural world is within my hearing range these days. Is this what happens at 60? Listening for bird chatter and stopping to admire trees?
I recommend getting older. As a woman, there's a new freedom. It comes down to the personal work I've done over a lifetime and the work I did during the pandemic. The quiet activities of reading and writing play a role too.
Here are a few of life's pleasures right now:
I get to eat with others at work. I live alone. It means a lot to me. I've met some lovely people. Gold-star standard bearers of the hospitality industry. Sitting to eat as a cook is important. I got into cooking because I wanted to eat. Period. And nourishing the spirit and sharing ideas and culture outside of the kitchen with others is rich — like good gravy on a plate of golden fries.
I saw the film Past Lives, a beautiful and life-affirming love story. It's up there with Moonstruck for me. Celine Song, the writer and director, is Korean-Canadian.
Reading a book on the subway on the way to work. Thirty minutes of uninterrupted time before I've had coffee or breakfast. Right now, in my backpack is Under the Sea-Wind by the American naturalist, Rachel Carson. At 6:30 in the morning, speeding east across Toronto, my imagination is steeped in New England coastal birds and maritime aquatic life.
I like it when my mom tells me she had pie at PJ's in Strathmore. She loves their pie. Mostly she orders lemon meringue, chocolate, and coconut cream. It makes her happy. I can hardly wait to have a slice with her. It's been almost two years.
Knowing the hollyhocks will soon be back. And if they're in your garden, I'll tramp through your yard to get closer.
Good eggs fried in the fat from roast chicken — when the white gets a crisp bubbly frill.
A summer day to myself. Packing up my journals and a book and heading out for a walk and one or two Cortados. Creatively, this is a freeing practice for me. Good things happen when I leave the house (the words of a wise friend). The quality of my week is measured by how much time there is for writing. And time for getting out.
I've shut down comments on my website and YouTube and my contact form on my website because of comments and emails I've received since the start of this year. I keep a file with details. Do you do that? It's par for the course when you're a woman with authority and opinions. At this point, I protect my voice and ideas.
I'll spare you the distressing stuff, mostly because my mom reads this. Ten days ago, I got an email from a stranger I had to block on Twitter. It was awful and again, anonymous. Below are two minor examples of online interactions. Always these individuals operate behind the veil of anonymity — approaching me incognito — like creeps.
Why do you need to create an identity to share a link to an article? (Left image) Walton.john64 had zero followers and posts and was following no one. His alias was Samuel the Prophet. There's no human connection, no friends in common, and no context. It's not normal behaviour. I don't read on command. Share the article as yourself with a few nice words of introduction, or take a pass, please. This is not Watergate, and you are not Deep Throat.
Months after this piece ran in the Washington Post, these comments appeared on a YouTube companion video. (Right image) I was torn about leaving them up. I'm not ashamed of this discussion. I told "Davey" that I pitched an idea, an editor bought it, and I was paid well.
I covered Regan's alcoholism in a piece I wrote in 2018. Frankly, I don't find relapse interesting, and I say that as someone who's spent almost 30 years in recovery. It's a regular, everyday occurrence in my experience. It's not extraordinary. I say that without judgment. I want people to do whatever it takes to be free.
If you have a story angle, go sell it. Write about alcoholism and relapse, or wrap something else around it. I'll probably read it.
What I loved the most about Fieldwork was how Regan was maturing as a writer. And a second book is always interesting. Most chefs and restaurateurs only have one in them. The focus also reflects where I'm at as a writer. I covered it beautifully.
I also believe in privacy, especially for someone who's written a memoir. In sharing themselves candidly — showing up as human — the writer has been of service. They don't owe us more.
Why did I break the golden rule and respond? Because I'm human, and it triggered me. I've spent a long time dealing with strident individuals in recovery. And a lot of alcoholics believe they're fascinating.
"The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring their way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead." Real depth and gravity there.
I'll take "Davey" is jealous for $500, Alex.
I'm grateful for the social media community I've built. I'm mindful. I've been curating it for many years, and it's full of culture, broadly speaking. People talk real and nice. It's mostly peaceful.
It's safe to be me. I'll do whatever it takes to keep it that way.
Voting is a vital tool of democracy. Can we please make it cool again? Do it this Monday in Toronto, please. There are one hundred and two candidates. Go fucking crazy.
Turn this song up.
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