On making bolognese alone
The thing about wanting to start a newsletter is that you then have to actually write the newsletter. So, hi. Here goes nothing.
It’s freezing cold in New York City this week, the kind of cold that makes snot drip from your nose even hours after you left to grab toothpaste from Duane Reade, the kind of cold that makes you question why the fuck you don’t live somewhere warmer before you remember that it’s New York City, and that’s a good enough answer to that question.
That is to say, it’s cuddle season, and if you have a significant other, they are probably getting you a snack from the kitchen while you read this, and then you’re going to rewatch The Office or binge Yellowjackets, and then prepare bolognese that will simmer on the stove for hours while you bundle up to go get coffee, and then you will play Frank Sinatra and eat the bolognese and drink red wine and get back on the couch to watch “Don’t Look Up” or “Encanto.” You are living as a unit, doing these things together. Hopefully, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’re in love, and you’re also happy.
I, too, am rewatching sit-coms and attempting to watch Yellowjackets (more on that later), making bolognese, walking in a cozy hat to get coffee, drinking wine on the couch. But these days, I’m doing these things alone.
In years past, I might have pitied myself, feeling like I was unlucky for not having a person with whom to share my bolognese. (I don’t know why I’m obsessed with bolognese as like, the quintessential romantic meal to cook with a partner.)
Growing up, I hated being alone. My mom put a second twin bed in my room because I had friends sleep over so often. I never wanted the fun to end: never wanted the playdate to be over, never wanted the laughter to stop.
But, most of all, I just never wanted to be left alone, with my thoughts and my anxieties and my worries and, well, with me.
Fast-forward many years, and… things have happened! I went away to college, moved to New York City, became a journalist, lived with random roommates, had a serious relationship, moved into my own apartment, became single, lived through a pandemic, etc.
And suddenly, even when it’s cold outside, and I know you’re cuddling and kissing and cooking bolognese together, I surprise myself by smiling with my wine and “vibes” playlist on Spotify, chopping onions and mushrooms and garlic (oh my!) and simmering my bolognese.
Now, I’m happy when I’m alone, sometimes even happier than the alternative.
To learn that I love being alone is to breathe a sigh of constant relief, learning that my own company can be enough, and that who I was as a 10-year-old is not who I’m destined to be at 25, or forever.
And that brings us here, to this newsletter.
More than halfway through my 20s, I’m struck by how much I’m learning about myself, the world, relationships, friendships, family, self-love, et al (did you know you’re supposed to clean your shower?).
As my oldest brother says, I’m becoming a “fully baked cookie” — morphing into the real adult version of myself.
It’s lovely. And I want to share it with you all.
So, here’s to joy. Here’s to solo date nights with bolognese and wine, coffee walks on the snowy street, laughing at our own jokes. Here’s to being alone, here’s to being together, here’s to learning how to be.
And here’s to a new chapter, in which I’m growing, trying, thinking, breathing, learning, and seeing what happens.
It’s fun over here.
Thank you for joining me.
THIS WEEK’S OBSESSIONS:
Station Eleven (HBO Max).
You need to watch this show, even though you might not want to because of its post-pandemic premise (the series opens with a variant of the flu wiping out 99.9% of humans on Earth).
This recommendation stands even stronger after watching the season’s finale on Thursday, during which I cried so hard that I gave myself a headache.
I am extremely sensitive to pandemic fiction — I almost had a panic attack when This Is Us introduced the pandemic to their universe and truly have not seen the Pearsons since — and this one leaves me full of joy and excitement rather than fear and solitude.
There’s a lot going on in this series, but chief among my favorite aspects is the conceit that in a post-apocalyptic society, people continue to perform Shakespeare, the man (yes, the man, I am notably not a Shakespeare-was-a-group conspiracist, nor any kind of conspiracist for that matter) we consider to be the greatest playwright in the history of the English-speaking world.
All the world’s a stage, indeed.
Well, kind of. Not technically.
I made it halfway through the second episode and genuinely thought I was going to vomit from the gore. I could not sleep the night I watched the first 1.5 episodes because I kept imagining Shauna and Nat and Jackie and the girlies eating humans in the woods, though I’m not totally sure they all become cannibals because as I said, I am technically not watching this show, but I think, based on the Twitter discourse, that the girls will kill Jackie and then also kill and eat Shauna’s as-yet-unborn baby.
Anyway, I read Vulture’s weekly recaps for the rest of the season and am determined to actually watch tonight’s finale.
Big Mouth (Netflix). I am very late to this, but it is the smartest depiction of prepubescent sexuality I’ve ever seen.
Personally, I’ve never felt like my own middle-schooler era was so well-represented on-screen. I famously had a fight with some friends in 7th grade because I said I would definitely try drugs and have sex in high school (they were not happy about this announcement and thought I’d become a dangerous person, which I did not, at least not in my unbiased opinion.) (Yes, I referenced sex in this newsletter, and yes, I’m a Samantha-Carrie-Charlotte-Miranda, in that order, thanks for asking.)
Anyway, the kids on Big Mouth are just truly vibing and I love it.
Emily in Paris (Netflix). The girls who get it, get it, and the girls who don’t, don’t.
More on this, and And Just Like That… (HBO Max), next week.
This fantastic article by the always-amazing Amanda Mull, in The Atlantic, on changing habits — and how that’s easier for some people than others. (I read this story after writing the top section of this newsletter and was struck by the relevance.)
I am also nearly done with the first book in Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses, after it was recommended by friends and family members who have all basically described it as “fairie porn.” That is the correct description and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series.
Talk to you next Sunday.