Saturday, June 29, 2013


My last day of work at Cook’s Illustrated was on a Monday. On Tuesday, Greg and I drove to Maine. We spent a day in Portland, where we ate oysters and lobster rolls, house-made charcuterie and stout-flavored ice cream before we yet again hit the road. We arrived in Baxter State Park on Wednesday evening, where we camped in a lean to, learned how to play cribbage, and listened to the sounds of an aggressively gurgling stream. On Thursday, we climbed Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine.

I knew the hike would be hard. We’d heard about the boulder scrambling, the long and steep ascent, the long and steep descent. But I guess I didn’t think too much about it. I’m a runner. I used to be a backpacker. I’d just left my job for a new one. Summer was here. I won at cribbage. The world was my (local Maine) oyster.

But that hike? Man, it was hard. We climbed that mountain for almost 5 hours, sloshing in streams, scrambling up rocks, passing the tree line to reach the bald head of the peak. It was beautiful up there, all rocks and knife-sharp edges, fields and hills for miles and miles.

The descent was what really took it out of me. We hopped and jumped, balanced and hauled ourselves down a different (*slightly* less steep) trail. And at the bottom, 4.5 hours later, I was zonked. My quad muscles screamed. Even my wrists were sore. All I wanted to do was curl up into a little ball and sleep. The problem? We were still 2 miles from our campsite. We just needed to stroll along a flat dirt road to get there. But those remaining 2 miles felt like 1,000 and we decided to do the only logical thing: hitch hike.

A few cars ignored us, spraying clouds of dust into the air as they sped on by. But then one stopped. Two nicely dressed tourists from Japan let two supremely sweaty hikers climb into their pristine rental-car backseat. We tried to make small talk, but language was a barrier. We must have looked as bedraggled as we felt, because when they stopped the car in front of our campsite, the woman turned around and handed us a candy bar from deep in the recesses of her purse. “You need energy,” she said in halting English. It was a green tea flavored Kit Kat bar. She’d brought it from Tokyo. “This will help.”

The next day Greg and I drove to Acadia National Park and watched the summer solstice sunset from the top of Cadillac Mountain. It was just a sunset, but a gorgeous one, the sun a haunting red. It was the longest day of the year and time felt elongated. We stood on a rock and watched the sun sink beneath the earth, the season change, the beginning of something new. The next week I would start my new job as the managing editor of Modern Farmer magazine. Next month Greg will be moving to Texas for a new job of his own. In a previous life I would have felt crippled with anxiety over such momentous change. But then, there, I just felt happy. Energetic. I guess the Kit Kat worked.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

oh, hi.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

On a Dime

Last weekend I rented a cargo van and drove to Malden with my friend Mary to pick up the last of my things from Matt’s storage unit: A big cherry-wood desk and matching chair, given to me by my mother when I lived in New York. It’s been exactly one year since Matt and I split. The symmetry of this date was both pleasant and painful. The multi-story storage center was empty when we arrived, halls of concrete and bright orange doors fanning out in front of us, like we had wandered into a Stanley Kubrick movie. When I opened the unit, a small one in the back, I saw my desk and chair alongside a number of items I once knew so well (his Army backpack, our bike rack) and a few things I did not (a Christmas wreath, a bag of women’s sweaters). Mary and I lugged my desk out, down the hall, and into the van. I locked the unit and we drove home.

The next day I woke up with a cold. A bad cold. A sore throat, body aching, tissue grabbing cold. And all I wanted, as is true whenever I have a cold, was soup.

I made a tomato soup—(this soup)—one creamy and thick with sourdough bread and bright with cumin and cilantro. It’s from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s JERUSALEM, which, as you know, is a book I love. Jessica made this same soup for my 30th birthday party a few months ago—a lovely, raucous night filled with great friends and goofy photos. I loved that evening, for both the fun of the moment itself and what it represented as a start to a new year. Because last year? It was a hard year. A good year, but a challenging year. A lot of things changed. I learned what it means to be proud of myself. I learned what it means to let go.

I shared this soup on Monday night with someone new, a someone that wants to share soup with me on a Monday night even if I’m sick and he may or may not believe soup actually qualifies as a meal. It’s early, so that’s all I’ll say about that. I know as well as anyone that life can change in an instant, can turn course on a dime.

But on Tuesday, I put the key to Matt’s storage locker in an envelope, which I then sealed, addressed, and stamped. I carried the envelope tucked in my purse for a day before I remembered to drop it into the mailbox outside my apartment building on my way to work.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


There was Christmas. I roasted lamb. My brother and I grilled oysters. My mother and I made toast out of brioche baked by my talented colleague, Andrew. We may or may not have had a family dance party. Then there was New Years. Jess and I made potato gnocchi with tomato sauce. We made salad with fresh ricotta. We played Cards Against Humanity and laughed a lot. There have been breakfasts in bakeries. Early morning walks. Late mornings writing in bed. I spent a weekend in Vermont, where I went downhill skiing for the first time in eight years. I grew up ski racing, but I hadn’t touched a pair of skis since before the accident and resulting knee surgery. My knee has felt stable and strong for a while now, but I’d been holding on to my fear. I was afraid that I’d forgotten how to move. Afraid that I’d get hurt. It came right back, though, that muscle memory of boot in ski, of ski on snow. And as I stood on that mountain this past Saturday, an abnormally warm Saturday for January, the sky a brilliant blue above the lingering haze of fog, it felt good to let the last vestiges of my injury go.