August 30, 2019

A mile in someone else’s shoes

I was reminded that L (my wife) and I wear the same size of footwear—yes, I have small feet—when she recently came home with a pair of shoes with a floral print that I immediately started to covet. I have been lobbying her to let me borrow them since she brought them into the house; so far, my efforts have been unsuccessful.

On one of our first dates, many years ago when L and I had just met, she wore a pair of glitter-covered flats as we strolled around Toronto Island. They were new, and about two hours into our island walk, she began to feel quite a bit of discomfort. Knowing that we wore the same size by then, I offered to swap, and she spent the rest of the walk in my comfortable loafers, while I enjoyed breaking in a new pair of glittery flats over the next hour or so.

I’ve been thinking about that date quite a bit recently, and not just because I’ve been coveting her new floral-printed runners. As we walked across Toronto Island that day, I felt the ground beneath me much more intensely than I had when I was wearing my own shoes; every pebble on the ground felt more jagged, every crack in the pavement felt more destabilizing. Some of this was perhaps because her soles were much thinner than the ones I was used to, but part of it was probably because my feet was taken out of their (proverbial and literal) comfort zones and exposed to something new, something different.

That the world looks and feels different when you walk in someone else’s shoes—metaphorically or literally—is a reminder I give to myself often these days. There’s a beauty in being shaken out of routine, even if just for a short while, and even if that shaking is somewhat uncomfortable. There’s a lot to learn, big and small, in that discomfort—and I have a lot more learning to do.

Two poems

When People Ask How I’m Doing
Rudy Francisco

I want to say,

my depression is an angry deity, a jealous god
a thirsty shadow that wrings my joy like a dishrag
and makes juice out of my smile

I want to say,

getting out of bed has become a magic trick.
I am probably the worst magician I know.

I want to say,

this sadness is the only clean shirt I have left
and my washing machine has been broken for months,

but I’d rather not ruin someone’s day with my tragic honesty
so instead I treat my face like a pumpkin.

I pretend that it’s Halloween.
I carve it into something acceptable.
I laugh and I say,

I’m doing alright.”

The Women
J. Mae Barizo

An evening of expected rain. Out the window clouds lifted
their skirts and the wind poured in. We were the mothers
lingering over the dessert tray, placing the sweets in our
mouths, one by one. We were the soothers and givers,
keepers of children and men. Those days, our skin bunched
up at the bra line, eyelids gathering like crinoline as it folds.
Yet standing there at the table, there was nothing in the world
we were in want of, not even the loves that had escaped us.
Whatever we suffered, we let go of willingly. To know we
were not the same women as before did not pain us. When
the others spoke their voices swept over us like bees hovering
over lilacs. Outside, lights strobed over the Hudson; we watched
a white boat riding the crest of a wave, headed to sea. We
felt an ache we realized was happiness, almost unbearable.

My grandmother, still to this day, will cut fruit for me every time I visit her. It doesn’t matter what fruit it is, or what else I’m eating; it’s her way of showing that she loves me.

A rumination on normal accident theory, and how depression can be seen as a normal accident.”

We are weighed down with so much judgment and expectation, but the public pool is a glimpse of a world where, with practice, every body can be buoyant, every body can be free.”

We are on the tail end of a particularly deep bad summer, something I’ve felt for so long but never had the words to articulate.

I know a lot about the breeding and growing of different apple varieties, but this piece on the launch of the Cosmic Crisp taught me so much about how marketing and business affects what we buy in our grocery stores.

The Californication of America’s restaurants.

A few good pieces on the Jay-Z + NFL deal and how it feels so disappointing to many of us:

The folks at the New York Times have come out with a podcast to complement their excellent 1619 Project magazine issue, and the folks at the Pulitzer Center have a study guide to go with the 1619 Project.

If you were wondering what that delicious pink beverage was that we served at our wedding, the good folks at Gastropod have you covered on all things sharbat.

For many Americans, the nuclear family has become a lonely institution — and childhood, one long unpaid internship meant to secure a spot in a dwindling middle class.“

On the evolution of fatness in society.

This year’s measles outbreak in the US is the largest in decades. Nick Paumgarten breaks down the history and effects of the outbreak.

Sikh drivers are transforming U.S. trucking, an industry so integral to the way we live right now but is mostly invisible to all of us.

On the love hotels and pleasure quarters of Tokyo.

Guy Fieri allowed me to ask: who do I fear noise and brightness for? Who do I fear food for?”

Dynamically generated LaCroix flavours. Recently, I got essence of sourdough and I can’t lie: I’m intrigued.

Version Museum showcases the visual history of popular technologies that have shaped our lives.

The first books published by some well-known publishing houses.

The majority of the goods sold by Amazon aren’t sold by Amazon itself; there’s a whole population of Amazon nomads’ who help stock their shelves, too.

I’ve been thinking a lot about memory, and its role in how we perceive, enjoy, and appreciate food. This experiment, The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders, is a beautiful way to think about choice, memory, and our ownership of the dining experience.

An important (and often unvoiced) reflection by Anil Dash:

Questions to regularly ask ourselves when we’re outraged about injustice:

Find some joy in some discomfort this week, my friends. We’ll talk soon.

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