On Wednesday, I learned that John Prine had passed away from complications of the coronavirus. A couple hours later, I sat down to read Gabriella Paiella’s raw and heartfelt tribute, “When I Get to Heaven” playing on my speakers. And I had a good, long cry.
I’m not the most knowledgeable of fans, and I never saw Prine perform live. But I’m the un-casual fan that Paiella describes in her article in that my memories of Prine’s music are all personal and profoundly nostalgic.
When I hear “Angel from Montgomery” or “Please Don’t Bury Me,” I’m transported back to my late teens, driving around with my best friend, Chloe, in her car. More accurately, being a passenger in my best friend’s car, because between the two of us, she’s the one who knows how to drive. And ride a bike. And play sports. And win people over. And throw parties. She’s much, much cooler than me, and among her cool traits is the fact that she’s got great taste in music.
Between high school and college, Chloe gave me an education in contemporary music. I’d only grown up with classical music and show tunes, so literally all of it, from the Rolling Stones to Nirvana, was new. Any knowledge I have of any artist after the year 1920 is thanks to her, a series of musical discoveries scattered throughout Friday night summer car rides up to the Hudson Valley.
When I heard that John Prine had passed, it all hit me at once: missing my oldest friend. Missing those young adult years, which weren’t always happy but were uncomplicated in ways that true adulthood isn’t. Missing the freedom to be with friends, to go places, to roam. The sadness of losing an artist whose work has meant something special, and the fact that he is one of so many people who have left us because of the current pandemic. It was, for a moment, overwhelming.
This is why all of the reminders to slow down, to give ourselves grace, and to take care of ourselves in the midst of this crisis matter. Sticking to a routine is helpful, but it doesn’t change the fact that we’re all living through a period of suffering and loss, and we don’t know when it will end or what life afterwards will look like yet.
On any given day, I can be busy enough with simple household tasks and work and keeping in touch with people that I get lost in the flow of things. I don’t forget what’s going on, but I don’t feel afraid or sad, and this is a good thing; it would all feel paralyzing otherwise.
But every so often the seriousness of the pandemic hits me, and when it does, I become aware of the fact that my body knows what’s going on even when my mind is occupied. I was so tired on Thursday that I had to take a day off from everything: my regular quarantine “schedule,” work, responding to texts. All of it. The only thing I did was to listen to some John Prine (the more upbeat tunes—it was helpful to be reminded of how funny his lyrics are).
I’m glad that I let myself do this. I’m going to keep doing it whenever I need to. And I wish with all of my heart that anyone reading will find ways to take care of body, mind, and spirit at this moment, too.
Happy Saturday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.
These key lime overnight oats look so refreshing for springtime.
Kathy’s vegan chili mac not only looks delicious, but I love the presentation (usually I mix my chili mac all together, but it’s pretty with the chili part piled on top of the mac).
This batch of seared vegan mushroom and carrot dumplings from the Milk & Cardamom blog looks so delicious.
Finally, I can’t believe how adorable this Easter bunny cake from The Little Blog of Vegan is!
1. I’ve been taking a lot of comfort in poems lately. “Try to Praise the Mutilated World” by Adam Zagajewski is one.
2. “Joy,” by Stuart Kestenbaum, is another.
3. Passover began on Wednesday, but this article on hosting a virtual seder is still making me smile.
4. I also smiled to read about Oregon’s “Dear Stranger” annual letter writing project, which seems more poignant and important than ever right now.
5. I really appreciated this Taste roundup of writers on what to cook and how to give back during the COVID-19 crisis.
As you can see, I’m posting Weekend Reading on Saturday this weekend. I woke up this morning calmer and more at peace than I was through much of this week, and that’s given me the thought to post a favorite Easter recipe tomorrow. We’ll see if it actually happens—I treat all intentions flexibly lately. But with any luck, I’ll be back soon 🙂
Lots of big firsts-in-a-while this week and last! First few subway rides. First couple of al fresco meals at local eateries. First indoor visit with my mom, though we still wore masks and kept distance. First time seeing a close friend or two. I’ve been building up to this, along with other New Yorkers. Grocery shopping has gradually gotten less tense and scary. Errands and walking around outdoors feels normal-ish again. Wearing a mask has simply become part of my routine; I hang…
Happy sunday morning, friends. I’m in New York, spending some time with my bestie, Chloe, who’s in town to help prepare for her little sister’s wedding. It’s been dry and sunny and not-too-hot here, which is a delightful change from last week’s heat wave in D.C. I hope you’ve had nice weekends. Here are some recipes and reads to enjoy as you transition into Monday. Coffee freak that I am, I’m sort of perpetually on the hunt for a perfect vegan coffee creamer….
Just yesterday afternoon, I stumbled on this piece of photojournalism. It describes what refugee families in the Diffa region of Niger are eating with the few food staples they can obtain. Buzzfeed reports, Nearly one in five people are victims of food insecurity in landlocked Niger, one of the poorest in the world. The reasons are both man-made and natural. The vast, largely agrarian country experiences a rainy season for only two months each year — and, with climate change causing havoc in…
Last Sunday, I came clean about being stuck in a cycle of repetitive, anxious thoughts. My friend Maria shared the following response: When I was in my thirties, I had a therapist who suggested something that sounded really counter intuitive to me about my fearful thought patterns. She said that when I started into a worrying self-critical spiral, instead of getting frustrated or mad at myself, to say “thank you” to myself. “Thank you” to that part of myself that was trying to…