Weekend Reading
November 20, 2022

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

When I posted a cozy butternut chickpea stew on Thursday, I mentioned that I’d been eating freezer leftovers all week.

Part of the reason for this is that I was home with my second round of Covid.

Fortunately, I’d gotten my booster on October 17th, and it was very mild. I only had upper respiratory congestion this time—it never moved into my chest. And I didn’t have an on-and-off-again fever or aches and pains, as I did when I had it last December.

It took me a few days to even test myself, because until that point I thought it was my fall allergies flaring up.

The only symptom that was more pronounced this time was fatigue. Who knows whether that was the virus, or the fact that I’d been feeling burnt out anyway.

In any case, I greeted the whole thing as a reason to do the very thing that I said I needed to do last weekend when I wrote this post: take care of myself.

I took four full days off of work and got more sleep than I have in months. I read a couple books. I watched the new season of GBBO. I took a (relative) break from social media.

I fed myself lots of nourishing, cozy, and tasty meals.

Most of these came from my freezer. While I was grateful to friends and neighbors in my new neighborhood for their offers to drop off groceries, I actually had everything I needed for nearly a full week at home.

I felt, as I always do when I defrost leftovers, very grateful to past me for taking care of future me.

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, one of my yoga teachers led an online nidra class in which she invited us to say the mantra, “I have everything that I need.”

At the time, I had some resistance to saying those words aloud. I was more freaked out and lonelier than I could admit at the time, and I was angry about the sudden, forced solitude.

As those early months of quarantine went by, I was able to accept the mantra. There was no other choice, and it was true: I did have what I needed.

I washed clothing in my sink because there was no laundry in my old building. I stood in line 3 feet apart from others in grocery stores and got what I needed for food. I practiced yoga on my apartment floor.

I had heat, water, and I had a roof over my head. I was alive and healthy. I had everything that I needed, and I was lucky to be able to say that.

Yet those words—”I have everything I need”—always made me wince a little. Because spiritually, I didn’t have what I needed.

I didn’t the city that I know and love surrounding me.

I didn’t have physical proximity to anyone that I love.

Much as I know that family members drove each other crazy during lockdown, I didn’t have the company that most of my friends had. I was by myself for months.

The spring of 2020 made me reckon with my independence in a new and profound way.

I’ve changed a lot of things about my life, both internally and externally, as a result of that time. And my short-lived isolation this past week is evidence of those changes.

I was a little lonely, but basically, I was OK. I felt assured in the knowledge that there were many folks around me whom I could turn to if I needed anything.

Psychologically, the busy quality of my new neighborhood—even something as simple as foot traffic outside and street noise outside my window—made me feel less isolated.

But the main thing is that I’ve created a life that is fuller and more connected than the life I had been living. And that connection has fed me to a point where I could actually relax and enjoy my solitude this week.

Reading, heating up food, watching TV by myself, curling up at night to rest—these activities, which I used to cherish so much my in my twenties, felt nourishing again.

It’s been a long time since I could say that. And I smile to think that I’m making good on my intention of befriending myself, dating myself, or whatever you want to call it, again.

This contentment with alone time is only possible because I’ve engaged myself more fully and meaningfully with life in all ways: community, friendship, work, and a full experience of New York. Because I’ve put down roots in those directions, I can be alone without being too lonely.

At least for one week.

As we move into a week of giving thanks, I’m thankful for the community and connection in my life, including you.

I’m also grateful for the renewed connection that I’m finding with myself.

Both are essential, and I don’t take either for granted.

Happy Sunday. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

Haven’t thought to make a pasta sauce with walnuts before, but what a good idea.

Here’s one cool thing you can do with mashed potato leftovers this week: pizza crust!

Jessica’s sweet potato soufflé looks delightful.

Mushroom tapenade is a perfect vegan holiday-season hors d’oeuvres to serve to friends and family.

My mom and I are eating out, very happily, this year for Thanksgiving. So I’m having my own, one-person, simple Tofurky feast for the next few nights at home. I made a modified version of this cranberry sauce as an accompaniment, and it’s great.

Reads

1. Sauerkraut in chocolate cake?! A peek into the origins of this surprising pairing, and a look at the appeal of “secret ingredient” recipes in general.

2. I feel as though plant-based eaters have long known that Thanksgiving can be—and maybe really is?—all about the sides.

3. I struggled to understand what prions were when I was a biology student, and I might still be struggling. But this NPR Short Wave is helping me.

4. Red blood cells can still surprise us! A new antigen is the subject of research, and here’s why it could prove to be important.

5. I’ll never forget how I felt when my best and oldest friend moved to another state. In many ways, I agree: home is where your best friend is.

After a week of solitude and rest, I’m entering a quiet holiday week, which will be followed by a decidedly not-quiet, ultra-busy December.

All part of the push and pull of life, which I’m learning to flow with.

Till soon,

xo

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  1. Gena it is so good to read that you had mild symptoms with your bout of Covid and that you were able to take some time off and get rest!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours and thank you so much for all your recipes and inspiration!

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