Weekend Reading
January 8, 2023

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’ve mentioned a few times now that it’s taken me a while to get my place set up. But I haven’t elaborated on what that means.

It means that I just finally got a TV a few days ago, which is what made me think to write this post today. There are still some unpacked boxes in corners, and I haven’t hung a single thing on a wall.

I’m probably 70% of the way toward figuring out kitchen storage, but I’m not there yet.

A bunch of electronics (wires, hard drives, random adapters and cords) are still sitting, very unaesthetically, on my windowsill.

There was a 2-3 month saga in getting a new mattress and bed frame, which probably deserves a post of its own. And I wouldn’t want anyone to see my closets, the repository of all-things-I-don’t-yet-have-a-place-for, right now.

I’ve become very self-conscious about all of this, which is probably silly. But I can’t help feeling as though most people are more than 60% unpacked and furnished six months after they move.

At some point in the fall, when I was feeling stressed about unpacking and getting situated, I set the goal of having it done by the new year.

It felt like a very reasonable goal, and yet the new year is now undeniably here.

Friends keep asking me, very sweetly, if they can come over and see my studio. Sometimes people DM me on Instagram and ask if I plan to do a “reveal” of my furnishing and decorating. Maybe at some point, I say, but I have to get my act together first.

Somehow it feels freeing that the arbitrary goal I set of being unpacked by the new year is now officially unmet. It reminds, weirdly, of turning 40 over the summer: I tensed up and struggled so much in anticipation, but breathed an unexpected sigh of relief when it was just behind me.

Now I’m resisting the urge to set a new, also arbitrary, goal. Instead I’m telling myself that it’s all going to come together when it comes together.

And really, who cares that it’s taking a while? There’s no one else here to witness the limited stuff, the clutter in my closets or bare spots in my living space.

The part of me that has felt so embarrassed about taking my sweet time to unpack is the part of me that wants to be the sort of person who gets things done quickly and right away.

I’d also like to be the sort of person who gets very into tasteful home furnishing and decorating, which I now realize I’m definitely not.

I’ve so often stopped to wonder in the past few months how so many friends of mine have managed to move, unpack, and enjoy their new homes within a span of weeks. Or at least a couple months, rather than six+.

But these are just little affronts to my ego, and they don’t matter. I’m doing fine here with what I have. I even got used to not having a TV; it was nice to have a reason to read more. When I stop imagining other peoples’ judgments—I say imagining, because nobody is actually judging me except me—I can just relax and let it all come together.

And it is coming together, one piece of furniture, one unpacked box, and one bit of tidying at a time. I’ll never be an interior designer, but I’m doing my best.

Last week I wrote about the fact that we often get what we want, or get to where we want to go, but not in the way we thought we would. Another part of ego surrender is to trust in the unfolding.

I think there will probably be a moment one day when I look back at this moment in my life and feel fondness, if not even a shimmer of nostalgia, for many of the things that I struggle to accept now: the lack of other people to be responsible to or for, the way I try so earnestly to do things in an organized way and so often do them haphazardly.

I might smile to remember those first few weeks of sleeping on a mattress on my floor, each day climbing (literally!) over my mountain of boxes to find something I hadn’t unpacked yet. I’ll remember the single tidy and professional-looking corner from which I took Telehealth appointments with my clients.

I’ll have memories of working on my laptop in bed into the wee hours, like I did in grad school, and memories of realizing that there were places to eat and good friends to eat with nearby. If no one was free, I could go and eat by myself, because no one needed me at home.

There’s a good chance I won’t want to relive this moment, just the way I don’t want to return my TV or my bed frame now that I have them. But I’ll be able to appreciate, at least, the funny chaos of this time and the way I stumbled through it.

As a matter of fact, I’m appreciating little pieces of it right here, right now, tonight.

Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

Love how tofu is transformed into vegan chicken cutlets for this recipe.

This cashew broccoli stir fry is a perfect simple meal. I’d love adding some of the baked teriyaki tofu cubes I just posted about!

How stunning is this platter of crispy smashed potatoes and vegan dips?

Eager to try this roast pumpkin quinoa salad with my tofu feta.

Speaking of things-I’ve-failed-to-do-in-a-timely-fashion, I never did get around to making my cookie boxes for friends at Christmas. Maybe it’s not too late? If not, then these vegan vanillekipferl will be included.

Reads

1. A fascinating story about the work of paleobotanist Else Marie Friis. Friis has uncovered some 200 species of fossilized flowering plants, which look to have burned in wildfires more than 100 million years ago.

2. NHS provides publicly funded healthcare to people in the UK. This story, written by a healthcare assistant who works with older patients, is a troubling look into the challenges it faces, including shortages of resources and desperately overworked staff.

3. I really don’t love the idea of ranking diets from worst to best, because nutrition is personal. It’s mediated by culture, preference, access, health, and a lot of other factors that defy a grading rubric.

But from a nutrition perspective, I’m never surprised when the Mediterranean diet tops US World News and World Report‘s annual list of best diets. I’m a big fan of this eating style, and a couple days ago The New York Times published a quick, informative Q&A with health experts about the diet and how it can be approached.

4. Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or EDS, is often misdiagnosed, missed, or dismissed by healthcare providers, as many inherited and chronic disorders are. This article tells the inspiring story of young scientists who were gaslit as EDS patients and are now dedicating their careers to ensuring that future patients will be heard.

5. I stumbled on this post via Kottke.org. All of the video links are worthwhile, but I was so touched by the first, an animated short called Out of Sight.

Out of Sight is about a girl whose guide dog runs after someone who steals her purse. In the moments after the dog leaves her side, the girl reorients herself through the power of her senses. It’s lovely, and the comments are worth reading, too.

On that sweet note, I’m wishing you an evening of feeling warm, safe, and empowered.

xo

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    2 Comments
  1. Moving is so tough! It is stressful, exhausting, disorienting and seems to go on forever. It seemed to take me ages to get unpacked when I moved several years ago. I had greatly underestimated how challenging the entire process was. I think it’s great you are taking your time and trying to accept your own pace. Plus, settling in in your new surroundings and neighborhood is equally as important as settling in in your new living space. Sending you peace and good humor as you continue the process (or don’t!).

  2. Today I really do feel empowered Gina, I exercised my body and felt really successful in my efforts. The best bit about staying consistent with my goals is that my little wins come when I least expect them ☺️
    Hope your week is filled with little wins xoxo

You might also like

We had almost a 50/50 split on the question of whether I should work some product finds/reviews into Weekend Reading or not. In the end, I think I agree with a bunch of my readers that the weekend reading series is pretty complete on its own. So from now on, close to the start of each month, I’ll share 10 new finds–be they products, recipes, books, or whatnot. Should be a fun new addition to the blog! For now, another edition of weekend…

Last weekend, I mentioned that I have a tendency to try to fix or manage difficulties as soon as they arise. This can be a good thing, at least when it comes to concrete problems that demand ready solutions. It can also be a handicap, especially when the issue at hand defies easy troubleshooting. In trying to “fix” something that’s inherently complex, I sometimes create difficulty, rather than alleviating it. When this happens it’s often because I appeased my aversion to discomfort–I wanted the problem to go away quickly, so…

Happy Mother’s Day, friends! If you’re celebrating a special caretaker in your life, then I wish you a lovely time. I came to NYC for the night so that I could take my Mama out to dinner, and I’ll be headed back to DC in the morning. It was a weekend of summery weather and fun in the District, thanks mostly to the annual Sweetlife festival, an all day music+food event in Maryland hosted by the same wonderful people who created SweetGreen salad….

“When you don’t know what to do or how to move forward, stand still.” This is a piece of advice that my mother gave me during my post-bacc years. That time in my life was marked by a lot of indecision and agonized choices–most often, the choice of whether or not to keep going with my program for another semester or not. I’d receive yet another poor score or a discouraging comment or simply be hit with a spell of burnout, and I’d doubt what…