Concious Recoupling

Now that I don’t have a second job I am inspired to reinvest in the only hobby other than TV that has ever held my attention: cooking. Cooking also makes our household healthier, richer, and prettier. I turned to my number one lifestyle guru Gwynnie for guidance. I opened It’s All Good and made a plan for the week. Of course I don’t really believe in eliminating booze, wheat, dairy or sugar, but the great thing about this cookbook is that if you simply add ice cream and wine to every meal it is a solid lifestyle plan. This cookbook, even if you hate Gwynnie, is amazing. Because it is structured around a detox plan it is really simple and provides everyday recipes rather than dinner party recipes. I find that too many cookbooks focus on impressive meals rather than everyday meals.

So on Sunday I decided to do a little prep for the week and make a dinner that would also be great for weekday lunches.

This posole is stupid easy, cheap and good:

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Then I whipped up her Mexican Green Goddess Dressing for the week, because one of the genius core principles of It’s All Good is that your salads require innovation and forethought in order to succeed. Many of the stunt internet reporters that have tried to only eat from the It’s All Good cookbook have whined about how expensive and time consuming it all was. I call phewy on this. I think these people simply do not cook usually and are not used to cutting vegetables and don’t already have a reasonable pantry.

The dressing was delicious and actually inspired me to have a salad for lunch the next day.

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Then I went renegade, because I ended up at the grocery store without the cookbook and didn’t have a shopping list. So I asked myself, “what would Gwynnie do?” She would obviously stuff roasted poblano peppers with fresh corn, black beans, red onions and a little goat cheese.

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Now, she probably wouldn’t add the cheese, but I think that goat cheese is basically a health food.

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And you know what is really good on anything Mexicanish? Mexican Green Goddess Dressing!

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Then W. was out of the house and I felt ready to go full Gwynnie and only have fish and vegetables.

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Once again, I riffed on classic Gwynnie themes by sauteeing the shrimp in a bit of butter and oil and finishing it with some tarragon and lime.

Recipes from the cookbook that were also total successes:

Mr. Chow’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Thai Turkey Burgers

Siracha Salmon

And yes, you could cook almost all the book’s recipes from the generous plagiarism of the internet, but then you would miss the copious photos of Gwynnie swanning around the Cotswolds with “no-makeup.”

-D

More YouTubery

Never in my life did I think I’d find something as annoying and attractive as farm-to-table culture until I started watching YouTube videos about tiny houses. There has to be a German word that precisely expresses how I am enraptured by tiny houses but also want to tape their owners’ mouths shut.

In this one, owner calls her life in a tiny house “a conversation.” Hush, lady. But keep the cameras rolling, because those are some gorgeous bookcases¬†you’ve got there.

No please, tell me again about your Japanese soaking tub. I didn’t quite hear you the first three times you mentioned it. But, well, yeah, that’s a pretty great tub.

This chick–like literally every other person who talks about their tiny house–has at hand facts about how many square feet people used to live in in the 1950s versus today.¬†I don’t care. But you know what I do care about? Your amazing entryway shelving system.

 

And yes, I really, really want a tiny house.

-C.

Other People’s Children

Following C.’s suggestion I have started listening to Totally Mommy, a podcast about moms, which is kind of weird because I am not a mom. I am, however, a nanny. For three more days. I feel pretty overwhelmed about my last week of nannying because unlike being a mom, nannies are not forever. I am constantly reminded by this when I ask little G. where I rank in his favorite nanny list. I am a firm number two under Crystal because she was prettier and wore more dresses.

But I have become pretty obsessed with child-rearing for someone who does not have my own children. I listen to not one, but two parenting podcasts. Mom and Dad are Fighting is a fantastic podcast about the culture of parenting, and I can’t get enough of it. At dinner parties I am genuinely interested in hearing about how you decided what sleep training program to use, and I actually like talking about the intra-child dramas of the neighborhood kids when I am hanging out with parents on the playground. Boyhood, the best film of the summer, slayed me because . . . kids . . . grow . . . up. When I think about running into little G. in two years and how weird he will look I actually start crying.

The question everyone asks me when I tell them about being a nanny is “Does it make you want to get pregnant?” Is that why I am consuming all this baby shit? To prepare for my own childbearing?

No.

Taking care of G. was a unique opportunity to spend a lot of time with kids, which I have never really done. But the experience did not give me much confidence about my own mothering abilities. Instead, it made see how kids’ relationships with non-parent adults form crucial networks and bonds that make the world less scary, more fulfilling, and fundamentally nice. There is something really nice about a child knowing that they can trust and rely on non-parent people. G.’s ability to trust me and let me soothe him means that there is just a broader array of people in the world from which he can gain support. If he ever gets locked out of his house, I hope he comes over and waits at my house. If he is fifteen, stoned, and scared, I hope he feels like he can call me. These are functions of a trusted adult with whom you feel intimate, not the fun family friend who plays with you at dinner parties.

In fact, I am pretty negligent when it comes to really entertaining kids. It turns out I have no interest in playing make believe or “helping” a child draw in a coloring book. But I knew adults who were fun when I was a kid, and that had zero to do with my security in calling them when I needed help.

Being G.’s nanny also made me more interested in parents, not child-making per se, but in the 80% of parents’ lives that they mostly only talk about with other parents. There is indeed something pernicious about the level of cultish obsession that goes on within parenting culture. I can only listen to so many Totally Mommy episodes for this reason. And on minute 30 of “what do you think of that kid’s development level?” I kind of want to kill myself. But being a nanny was a secret portal into a special status where parents could trust that I was familiar with their parenting woes and that I was pretty immune to standard kid lameness (tantrums). Thus it was a secret portal to knowing more about the parents as full people. Not being a parent seemed to give them a special outlet because they couldn’t ask about my kid’s pre-K experience and thus the conversations could move back and forth between kid stuff and adult stuff. Parent culture, I hypothesize, would be less insular if parents let more non-parent people into their child-rearing world.

So, goodbye G. Thanks for trusting me.

I hope you will watch tv and eat grilled cheese sandwiches at my house if your parents ever come home late.

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Favorites

I failed summer this year. No barbeques, no picnics, no lakeside retreats. I think I ate tomatoes twice. There are still two weeks left, and maybe I’ll get it together and go to a farmers market. But really my summer favorites have been pretty un-Instgrammable.

First, things I do in dark rooms when it is nice out:

Summer continues to punish me with the lack of television but thank god for Married and Masters of Sex. If you are a fan of Judy Greer and Nat Faxon, the show is basically just a showcase for their charm. There are some cringe comedy elements but people fundamentally love each other on the show. Masters of Sex only gets better and better, and if you were bored by the first few episodes just push through. They are doing things on this show that rival Mad Men’s deft approach to history.

All I did this summer was go to movies. Guardians of the galaxy, Obvious Child, and Boyhood boyhood blew my mind while also delivering pure pleasure.

To be totally honest, the single greatest conveyor of pleasure has been Vivianna Does Makeup’s weekly vlogs on Youtube. The scenes of London, her perfect boyfriend, her delicious meals–so good.

For some reason August has been cool and lovely in New York, so I also have garnered some pleasure from leaving my house:

God answered my prayers and opened up a Kimchi Taco restaurant outside our closest subway stop.

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Pork, fish and fried chicken tacos.

 

Red Hook, our neighborhood, is just generally charming and calm.

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And, the nicest Pakastani family has opened up a Dunkin Donuts on the way to kickboxing. This place sparkles.

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Finally, I have found the ideal way to deal with the excess, heat, and general grossness of Manhattan. I go into the Soho Equinox gym and order an “Acai Bowl,” which is basically this genius thick smoothie in a bowl with toppings. And as I enjoy my cool treat I watch celebrities leave the gym looking sweaty and beautiful.

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So far Dom from “Looking” was the prettiest.

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-D

 

 

 

 

 

Not gross ratatouille

Summer peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and zucchini are upon us. I know that these can all be layered in a quick ratatouille that is both beautiful and efficient, but you know what? That has NEVER worked for me.

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These are finicky vegetables that tend towards soggy grossness. I prefer to create a firm roasted barrier on each vegetable. And thus I must cook them all separately. I actually think this is not that laborious, it just means that you need to take them out when each vegetable is properly roasted (so you need to keep checking every ten minutes).

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But it also means that if you chop the eggplant first, you can pop it in the 425 oven when it is ready to go (coated in olive oil) and then work on your next veggie.

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Then when they are all roasted, I toss them together and their flavors meld just fine.

 

-D

Ladies of Habit Prep: Emily Gould

In preparation for our next book “Friendship” by Emily Gould, here is a little review session on the much hated author:

Julie Klausner’s recent interview with Emily Gould, in which Gould was totally charming, made me want to understand why everyone hates Emily Gould for exposing herself on the internet. I read her big cover piece in The New York Times Magazine in which she chronicles her time at Gawker and rise to internet fame, I read her article on how she blew through her $200,000 advance on her first book, I read several of the hate pieces on her, and I have gotten on the list for her new novel Friendship.

Most people (commenters) think she is narcissitic and without substance. Actual literary and cultural critics pile on the qualifications before they call her shallow. “Of course young women should be able to write about the minutia of their lives and feelings.” “Men used to do it all the time and we rewarded them for it . . . BUT . .” And then the critiques are basically the same as the commenters: she writes about a very narrow experience, she has no sense of a world outside of herself, and her problems are boring.

As for the NYTM article, if you haven’t read it since it was published in 2008, it is an interesting piece to re-read. Her life does sound a bit Hannah Horvath-ish in that she keeps doing things she regrets and learns little from these experiences. Many of her mistakes include publishing personal things about loved ones on the internet. My pet theory is that the real reason people were repulsed by her is that she was describing a professional blogger’s lifestyle, which sounded very weird in 2008. Who knew a professional blogger in 2008? Who knows a professional blogger now? Very few people. But the truth is that even less people know a young published print writer like Hannah Horvath either. Hannah Horvath/Lena Dunham (who I think of the celebrated version of Emily Gould) is much more appealing because she still falls into the romantic vision of a young artist who wants to write BOOKS, not blogs, Youtube videos or “content” for Buzzfeed.

Dunham smartly created a modern portrait of young womanhood that still draws on old fashioned tropes of artistry. But God I would love to watch a Lena Dunham youtube channel.

Despite the vitriolic claims that Gould’s description of working for Gawker was a narrow view of the world, it is simply a narrow view of the world that we have not romanticized yet.

But the real issue is whether there is something boring or unseemly about the kind of unstructured way Gould expresses her feelings, a style that feels eerily familiar to any lady of habit who keeps a journal, a blog, or simply shares too much about their exercise routine at dinner parties. Gould raises great questions about whether lady issues are less important than manly existential problems; and secondarily, do these lady feelings require framing that signals their narrowness while also making connections to more universal experiences?

A want to say no. I want to say all lady feelings deserve a New York Times Magazine cover story as much as any other topic. But I think the great lady feelings sharers of our day–Lena Dunham, Maria Bamford, Taylor Swift–all are great because they don’t sound “bloggy” or narrow at all. Their work is on some level fictionalized, and broadened, through the development of alter egos.

So I look forward to Gould’s novel, because it is a novel and not a memoir and thus through the simple process of fictionalizing her experiences I think she might find more translatable ideas. Or maybe the novel will finally make us feel okay about Emily Gould’s bloggyness. Let’s see!

-D

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