I hope everyone’s enjoying the weekend. These photos were from a few years ago when David and I took a road trip through Gettysburg and spent the Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend visiting around the monuments and cemeteries and retracing Pickett’s charge. It was a somewhat chilly, misty weekend, which is kind of close to what we’re getting in Boston this evening and tomorrow. We’ve been flip-flopping between sunny almost-warm days and damp, chilly weather. We’ve celebrated the long weekend a bit by having friends over last night for a cookout and then going to brunch this morning at the Lower Mills Tavern, where I had one of the messier sandwiches in recent memory (but with Sriracha mayo, cheese, runny eggs…)
Here’s what I’ve been reading and cooking this week:
Weekly Menu Plan
(In case you need inspiration):
Sunday: Chickpea curry (from Small Victories by Julia Turshen)
Monday: Leftovers (after a long day at work)
Tuesday: Turkey and Ricotta meatballs with roasted broccoli (from Small Victories)
Thursday: Shrimp + sun-dried tomato pasta with a side of asparagus
Friday: Kimchi fried rice with eggs on top
Saturday: Homemade brunch of blueberry sour cream waffles, then an afternoon of grilling with friends – BBQ chicken (chicken thighs with Annie’s BBQ sauce), grilled veggies (asparagus and zucchini), bruschetta
What I’m reading and enjoying this week:
It’s been such a good week in reading, although there’s also been a lot of not-amazing things to read in the news. I’ve been enjoying the books I’ve picked up, which is nice on the heels of a stretch of some more lackluster titles earlier this spring, and I’ve had the chance to dive into some really fun cookbooks over the long holiday weekend.
There was also a really interesting and surprisingly funny interview of Martha Stewart on Radio Cherry Bombe that I really liked and is worth listening to.
I’ve also enjoyed the Food52 site’s monthly cookbook book club, which has new picks for the coming summer months (I’ve already checked out Melissa Clark’s Dinner: Changing the Game, which was excellent).
This, this, and this were all interesting reads on the concept of “wellness” and how being thin and weight loss get (wrongly) conflated with the concept of health and how the pursuit of wellness through alarmingly restrictive diets (that are nonetheless labeled “healthy”) can be extremely detrimental to our mental and physical health. This is a topic I explore extensively in my one-on-one work in my private practice.
Charlotte’s also been requesting Zootopia, which she calls “Fox and Bunny,” over and over again. It’s a good movie, and I’m grateful she’s latched on to such an entertaining and enjoyable choice. Now I just have to get her hooked on Mulan.
This was an interesting and enjoyable read, a look at life in NYC through the eyes of four striving adults (not young adults, not twenty-somethings) and the impact that technology, success, and stumbles have on their lives.
It is not the tired four friends living life in the big city trope; all four are Russian immigrants, and this means we’re seeing the ideals of American success stories and what that all entails through the prism of people who get introduced to American life decades into their own lives.
It’s also interesting because these immigrants are in a lot of ways quite successful: homeowners, gainfully employed, doing interesting things and living in interesting places, meeting interesting people. One is part of the 1% (but also says she and her husband really aren’t that rich). But I used the word “striving” to describe characters because they all have an element of desperation. The characters all had elements of real-life challenges and grief (death, job loss, dissolution of relationships), but the saddest parts of their lives were the constant comparisons against some vague ideal, the idea that what they were waiting and hoping for was just around the corner, which we see through the vantage point of each of the four friends at various times. Vapnyar presents all of this through thoughtful character development, which keeps the narrative engaging rather than depressing.
A few of my favorite excerpts:
“The major difference between Russians and Americans was that Americans believed that they were in charge of their lives, that they could control them. Not just that, but that it was their responsibility to control their lives as much as they could. They would try to fight to the very end against all sense because they considered letting go irresponsible” (pg 54).
“She could afford it, but twenty dollars for bread and coffee! When she could buy a bagel from a breakfast cart for just a dollar! No that was ridiculous. Vica turned to leave, then hesitated. What about her Facebook photo? Vica, smiling, relaxed, sipping her seven-dollar coffee as if it were perfectly natural? No, she decided, it wasn’t really worth it. She wouldn’t be able to drink that coffee without constantly running the price through her head. So the picture would come out as anything but natural” (pg 160).
“All her social media was abuzz with the news of Ethan’s death… Vica found it insulting. But what she really hated was the speed with which some of Ethan’s fans appropriated his death… Ordinary individuals dug up and posted their selfies with him. Those who didn’t have a photo to share just described their devastating sadness, all-consuming grief, and shattering despair… Vica felt that this absurd public outpouring stole her grief from hear, cheapened it somehow, cheapened the memory of someone she might have considered a friend” (pg. 237).
Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.