Weekend Reading
May 19, 2024

I’ve wondered about Murphy’s Law, the saying that asserts, “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

People reference Murphy’s Law when complaining of multiple unfortunate things that happen in a short period of time or in an interrelated way.

And it’s true that certain days or events or projects seem a little cursed, right?

Or is it that, once one thing has gone wrong, we become more sensitized to what’s not working? Were there always a lot of things going off the rails, but we didn’t pay as much attention to them?

I don’t know the answer to this question, but I do know that yesterday was one of those Murphy’s Law days.

Misunderstandings and miscommunications, forgetfulness, transit disasters and circumstantial inconveniences, and bad judgment calls just kept piling up.

By the end of the day, I was stressed and irritable.

As luck would have it, I had been looking forward to the evening for months. I had ballet tickets for me and my mom. They were my birthday present for her, and I’d even sprung for fancy seats.

It was all supposed to be so nice.

Yet by the time the two of us arrived at the theater, nearly late and disgruntled by a chain of dinnertime events that had cut close to the performance time, we were edgy. Trying to perk up, but edgy.

The lousy mood hovered around us through not only the first act of the performance, but the second act, too.

Prone as I am to disappointment when reality doesn’t align with some vision I’ve had about how an experience will go, I felt let down.

Fortunately, the last act of this ballet was Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces, set to the music of Philip Glass.

I love this ballet. It’s a work that captures city life in all of its bustle and energy. It’s simultaneously a ballet about living in community and also a celebration of individualism.

In the first act, people march no particular formation across the stage, briskly and busily.

Intermittently, pairs of dancers stop, leap into the air chest-first, land on their feet, and smile joyously. For a moment, these dancers have nowhere to be but right where they are.

It felt so appropriate to witness this exuberance on a day when I’d totally lost sight of the big picture.

By the time the corps de ballet reached a crescendo of movement in the last act, my irritation had fallen away, replaced by excitement.

I didn’t want it to end, but it was such a thrill when it did, the dancers frozen onstage momentarily before we all started clapping and cheering.

My mom and I left in a state of overwhelm. We both knew that we’d just experienced the transformative power of art firsthand.

So far as I can tell, people tend to speak about Murphy’s Law with some amount of humor. When truly bad things happen in close succession, there’s no time or capacity to make quips.

But that’s the thing about yesterday: as stressed out as I became, nothing that happened was a big deal. There were many inconveniences and no real problems.

Of course I wish that I had been able to summon up that perspective in time to turn around my bad mood. But sometimes clear thinking isn’t available when we’re on edge. Instead, art swooped in and turned the bad mood around for me.

By the time I got home, I could only think about how lucky I was to have witnessed the ballet with a loved one.

Access to art, time with family: in the deepest sense, everything that could go right yesterday went right. What’s the opposite of Murphy’s Law?

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

Recipes

1. I’m putting this grilled zucchini, corn, and white bean salad on my list of summertime side dishes to try.

2. Wish I had a plate of these vegan garlic parmesan fries to snack on right now.

3. I’ve managed to warm up a little to Swiss chard (my least favorite leafy green) this year. Am I ready for Sam’s Swiss chard salad?!

4. Lindsay’s sheet pan BBQ tofu looks like a perfect low-stress summer meal.

5. Will be making these tahini rice krispy treats with vegan buttah and marshmallows immediately.

Reads

1. “I’m finally the person I always was”: Abby Tickell’s essay on her trans awakening at age 66 is so beautiful and uplifting.

2. As a studio-dweller, two bundt cake pans is as many as is reasonable to own. But that won’t stop me from admiring every single one on this list 😍

3. A new umbrella review highlights some of the associations between plant-based diets and reduced likelihood of mortality from cancer and heart disease; NBC reports here.

4. How the supermarket scanner changed the way we buy groceries.

5. E. Alex Jung has written a lovely short tribute to the “home-base restaurant”.

What are these? According to Jung, “they’re usually within walking distance, ask little of you, and reciprocate your love.”

I know exactly the kind of place Jung is talking about. As much as I love exploring new restaurants, there’s nothing quite like one that feels like home.

“Every visit confirms my belief that when I arrive, I’ll be taken care of,” Jung writes.

For those of us who have created community and even a sense of family through eating out, that’s such a special feeling.

Speaking of, the chef at my go-to neighborhood spot is cooking their final meal tonight before moving on to a new chapter. I’m excited to celebrate them and their food, which has fed me so well in my two years living downtown, tonight.

Have a sweet rest of your evening.

xo

 

 

 

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