Tuesday, January 3, 2023

positivity journal 2022:12

lots of cookies. a couple dogs and made the best of a trip to nyc for christmas. the last one may be seen as a bummer, so sorry in advance

dec 1: i somehow stumbled on an old ’70s song, “romeo’s tune,” in the form of a keith urban cover of it, and have been weirdly obsessed with it
dec 2: closed out leftovers season with turkey tetrazzini, because that’s what you do
dec 3: i read a recipe for orange blossom snickerdoodles and saw it as a base for the lemon coolers i wanted to make. so i did
dec 4: delivered some cookies to my pal susan
dec 5: had cookies for breakfast. there are a lot of cookies

dec 6: my car could die forever at any moment, but i’m grateful every time it gets me home
dec 7: three times today, people randomly quoted things i said years ago, and each time i had to figure out where i heard it before  
dec 8: took my pal michael, an italian chef, to dinner at an italian restaurant
dec 9: not sure why but it seems totally reasonable to wear my neon green camo t-shirt to work on fridays
dec 10: walking to farmers market, saw frito and therefore knew if i looked up, i would see daniela. so i did

dec 11: i love seeing a $95 t-shirt in clothing store because then i immediately know there’s nothing there for me and i can just leave 
dec 12: fritos scoops and french onion dip can change my mood. (this is not technically directly related to dec. 10)
dec 13: got to hang out with tiger, a greyhound that's roughly as tall as i am and looks like a deer when he's laying down
dec 14: running low on lemon cookies, so made another batch
dec 15: weekday afternoon drunk lady stopped me on sidewalk to tell me how much she loves christmas because of pie, which means we have a few things in common

dec 16: tonight’s fried chicken friday comes in the form of general tso’s from lucky danger
dec 17: went to eataly for the first time in 5+ years, but they didn’t have the coffee i was looking for so i left
dec 18: texted tom live updates of the argentina celebrations in times square
dec 19: walking around the village, hit sullivan street and realized that’s a billy joel reference AND a counting crows reference 
dec 20: the new train station in nyc is sooooo clean and sparkly, but i could navigate the old one with my eyes closed

dec 21: watched on zoom as my salad was photographed in colorado  
dec 22: “hey, jim, i know you like pork …” is a nice way for your butcher to start a conversation when you walk to the counter 
dec 23: watched a john mulaney special on netflix but i could only hear andrew glouberman
dec 24: it was so cold that i noticed 
dec 25: green goddess stuffed fried mushrooms and shrimp cocktail became my christmas appetizer tradition last year; this year i added crostini with ricotta, honey and black truffle after having that at via carota in new york earlier in the week (photo at top)

dec 26: spotify keeps recommending that i listen to myself
dec 27: -30 since mid april
dec 28: my current flavor of ocd involves only watching “wednesday” on, well, you see where this is going
dec 29: when i work out with my trainer, his main job seems to be to tell me to keep my head up. today, i was working out alone, but listening to spotify. i realized that i was staring at the ground, and billy joel was in my earbuds singing “keep your eyes ahead and don’t look down”
dec 30: decided i needed to go shopping for whatever i was going to make for new year’s, then realized i don't really care about new years, so didn’t go shopping

dec 31: that
s a wrap on year 4 of this list  about 1,700 entries minus the time i took off over the summer  and i think it's time to go on hiatus for awhile. but it has been fun

Monday, December 5, 2022

positivity journal 2022:11

there's a lot of turkey tangents coming up

nov 1: my new glasses are shaquille o’neal’s line, which probably says something about the size of my head 
nov 2: trainer thinks he slyly raised the weights i work out at, but let me tell you, i noticed
nov 3: work slack: 
hey jim, there's a pumpkin pie downstairs with your name on it.” so literal
nov 4: lol
d at weird al movie. spoiler alert sad he died
nov 5: ponch garcia found me a deal on my too expensive chili crisp

nov 6: salad i made for dinner had oranges in it, but before i sliced it, had the foresight to strip the peel for the cocktail i would be making later 
nov 7: took small detour on walk to work and voted without breaking stride 
nov 8: i told nora i was making tgiving dinner for a mutual friend and asked if she wanted to make a pie to include. she asked if she could make 3. it's always nice when you can see you
ve found your very specific band of weirdos
nov 9: no one notices the contrast of white on white
nov 10: discussed iron replenishment after blood donation with melanie over steak kebabs (that sentence can be read in different ways but i gave up trying to fix it; i don
t think any of them are dirty)

nov 11: my new rain jacket actually works
nov 12: 
i see horses running wild, i wish / i could feel like that for just a minute
nov 13: it was 65 when i went to bed, 55 when i woke up, and it just kept going down all day
nov 14: strategizing thanksgiving duties with jeremy while finishing editing the thanksgiving food section is multitasking in perfect synergy
nov 15: i think it
s funny when mcdonalds suggests it's going to retire the mcrib, because the only time i ever go to mcdonalds is when they have the mcrib

nov 16: because i’m tall, not only could i tell that supermarket had my oat milk, but i could also reach the second one when i saw the top of the first one was crushed 
nov 17: went to see patti smith talk about her new book, and she played a few songs at the end; the first was 
nov 18: when the pandemic started, i was reading “fleishman is in trouble” and now it’s a tv series on hulu
nov 19: “you made coke flavored nocino!”
nov 20: went outside and noticed a big spot in the clear sky. pointed my phone at it and learned it was jupiter

nov 21: thanksgiving prep is like the only time i feel like i know what i’m doing 
nov 22: labeled something to go in freezer and dated it 11/22. meant it as month/year, then thought, whoa
nov 23: podcast drops w tammy and jenna so i get to relive a little bit of italy 
nov 24: hybrid thanksgiving went well
nov 25: i walked 7.5 miles without stopping for a break and then came across this quote: 
the way you walk the path is as important as where it leads, which is good, because i walked in a big circle

nov 26: accomplished nothing all day but kinda feel like i was due for one of those
nov 27: discussed dogs in businesses with lara over coffee while admiring dogs in coffee shop 
nov 28: i love leftovers
nov 29: so. many. cookies. well, cookie recipes, anyway
nov 30: reasonably satisfied with my spotify wrapped. it didn
t have anything completely nonsensical on it 

Thursday, November 3, 2022

positivity journal 2022:10

oct 1: made it 934 days without getting covid
oct 2: it took about 4 cents worth of nylon washers to make the door on my refrigerator finally work right 
oct 3: using fact that i’m technically sick while technically on vacation and had to cancel my plans and it’s raining to justify drinking more averna-and-ginger-beer cocktails 
oct 4: couldn’t find purple socks but found white socks and dye
oct 5: tacos

oct 6: tested negative. might not have guessed i was even sick if i hadn’t tested. thank you science
oct 7: i love it when i pass the ice machine on my way to the hotel room
oct 8: listened to summer, highland falls while driving through the town it was written in and named after
oct 9: brought long pants for a weekend trip in case i needed them but it only went down to 37, so nah
oct 10: as i walked into my building, concierge stopped me to tell me that a recent conversation i had with her inspired her to collect her dads recipes and turn them into a book. i dont remember the conversation, but it totally sounds like one id have

oct 11: due to the intrepid reporting of laura reiley, i learned that DD Perks is the loyalty program for a donut chain and not whatever it is i was definitely imagining 
oct 12: inadvertantly stumbled on another show that features aya cash and so now will watch all those. “welcome to flatch”?
oct 13: me to daniela: the 3 things we’re talking about ordering are all carbs. daniela: that’s fine
oct 14: read a story about the design of my friend jennas condo, and looking at the photos, i was unsuspectingly verklempt when i saw one of my books (which came out years before i knew her) on her shelf! 
oct 15: i was skeptical about the “quantum leap” reboot but when i got to the part where the new mission is to resolve the original series, i was all in

oct 17: sometimes the mistakes i catch are my own
oct 18: shopping for new glasses, i think i was jason’s favorite customer, maybe ever
oct 19: intuition told me maggie rogers tour dates would be announced tomorrow 
oct 20: maggie rogers announced tour dates. i really enjoy being correct 

oct 21: half order of garlic bread
oct 22: i asked jeremy if i could tag along with him to a data conference in the spring because it’s in nashville and going there is useful to me. he immediately said yes and that he already volunteered us to do a bbq demo for the conference. it was like 15 minutes before i realized he meant me and him
oct 23: while out walking, i saw two dogs at different times who were on the other side of the street, but stopped and looked at me and clearly wanted to come say hi 
oct 24: saw soccer on tv and they did a graphic with halftime stats and the category was “ball touches” and i would think that’s a penalty 
oct 25: third dinner option with michelle baker was balkan at a bar, because the first two choices were closed, and it was awesome

oct 26: 
i thought i was out of pickles so i made more. when i put them away, i found 2 more pints
oct 27: read a story about turkey shortage this year. felt fairly immune since i know the farmer raising my turkeys right now, but DMd her to officially reserve anyway
oct 28: after work, stopped to have some wings, then saw jesus smoking a joint outside. did not have that in halloween bingo 
oct 29: tonight’s jesus was just out walking in dupont circle with andy warhol. gen z halloween is weird 
oct 30: was afraid to change my phone screen protector because i was confident all the cracks i saw couldn’t possibly just be in it. but they were. good job 

oct 31: dressed as a journalist who just got off work, i snagged all the 100 grand bars from the candy trough in the lobby; didn’t see any jesuses

Sunday, October 2, 2022

positivity journal 2022:9

by the end of the month, i had somehow ended up in italy. so, not bad

sept 1: holy crap/diver: there's a ronnie james dio doc coming to theaters
sept 2: timehop served up photos of najah from 3 different years. sigh
sept 3: was watching “only murders in the building” episode where there’s a blackout. just as their lights went out, the light on a timer in the kitchen went out, and it was an unexpected multimedia event
sept 4: completed my taco-based vision quest
sept 5: jeremy labors over a corn cocktail


sept 6: edited all day, wrote all night, all without leaving the same chair. the respite was impromptu dinner with nora simon, which included a research element 
sept 7: second straight day of sitting at computer for about 17 hours, which is fulfilling if also exhausting 
sept 8: apparently, at some point, i set slack to alert me whenever anyone in any channel sends a message mentioning “bagel”
sept 9: good timing scores free ticket to amanda shires concert
sept 10: i get inordinately proud of myself when i bail on movies that are terrible 10 minutes in

sept 11: bought candy corn at target, so the season is officially open 
sept 12: all that i feel is the realness i’m faking”
sept 13: getting to the point that i don’t feel self conscious about working out in the gym when someone else is in there
sept 14: my research indicates 70 is the exact correct number of walk-to-work degrees 
sept 15: i was in no way prepared for the staff page of the website of elle restaurant

sept 16: it’s getting to the point that i can almost list other people at the office whose doctors are making them drink 150 oz of water a day
sept 17: went to record store. there was no billy joel, but there was toscanini, prokofiev, liberace, buddy holly, elvis, rock around the clock and lots of heavy metal. so kind of
sett XVIII: got the phone call i always kinda knew was coming one day: “wanna go to italy next week?”
sett XIX: i can go to italy next week
sept 20: if you’ve filled up your vax card, they’ll just give you a new one

sept 22: it’s 73 degrees and i overheard guy on sidewalk say, to no one in particular, "this is SOO much better than when it’s hot." AMEN BROTHER

sett XXIII: went to work but spent all day thinking about packing for italy
sett XXIV: uber driver taking me to airport asks where i’m going. “oh my god you’re going to eat prosciutto!” he wasn’t wrong 
sett XXV: within 3 hours of arriving in florence, had had prosciutto twice 

sett XXVI: gelato’d twice 
sett XXVII: got to fulfill lifelong goal of setting AC to 19 degrees 
sett XXVIII: roamed rome to the tune of XXMCCLXVI steps
sett XXXIX: got dessert bombed at il san lorenzo after getting crudo bombed and truffle bombed
sett XXX: cab driver taking me to the airport in rome opened with “i don’t speak much english,” but we managed fine

Thursday, September 1, 2022

positivity journal 2022:8

nearly 33 percent of the items on this list are music allusions, which is code that i'm still trying to heal, because that's my medicine. anyway, here goes:

aug 1: made template for this list. not sure about it, but figured i’d try
aug 2: noticed that my trainer more aggressively trains me when there’s an attractive lady in the gym
aug 3: to supplement the nagging of my intermittent fasting app, i’ve started to listen to twisted sister’s “stay hungry” several times a day. that was actually my weight loss plan in college anyway 
aug 4: new maggie rogers album arrived and it’s purple
aug 5: i told emily i was going to a concert next week and she asked “billy joel or maggie rogers?” neither, but i like that emily is paying attention 

aug 6: store didn’t have ice cream i wanted AND I DIDN’T JUST BUY SOME OTHER ONE
aug 7: simultaneously held two text conversations with friends named lara about singers named maggie and was shocked i never got my laras nor my maggies mixed up. but both laras are aware of both maggies, so not a huge deal
aug 8: i liked that the woman next to me at the counting crows show knew all the words, but LOVED it when they played a not-favorite of mine and she randomly turned to me and said “ugh, i hate this song
aug 9: las gemelas probably has the best soundtrack of any taco place i’ve been to
aug 10: read something that suggested 2 of my very favorite, very different, billy joel songs, summer highland falls and i go to extremes, are basically about the same thing and my head exploded a little. because it’s not wrong. oh, and the “thing” is manic depression 

aug 11: dinner with alex, but also the guy sitting behind him looked exactly like … well, vincent van gogh. except the ears
aug 12: was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when i heard 2 guys behind me talking about my grandmother's dinner roll recipe
aug 13: it was a 3-taqueria kinda day
aug 14: “i’m good at seeing opportunity where others see mayhem” please watch “we feed people.” it’s on hulu
aug 15: put my watch on its charger as i went to bed and it was at 1% and i feel like i timed that pretty well

aug 16: it’s been a month since i saw brandi carlile in dallas, and i think i’ve listened to “cannonball” about 20 times since then
aug 17: kebabs and rice
aug 18: the only thing i like about summer is wearing sunglasses on the walk home
aug 20: got to hang out at a cookbook photo shoot. i’ve missed that and look forward to the next 

aug 21: watched season finale of 3 shows and that always feels like a weird victory 
aug 22: amalgamated a bunch of leftovers into a rice bowl that didn’t read like leftovers. clearing out space in the fridge always feels like a not-weird-at-all victory 
aug 23: favorite part of working from home is no socks
aug 24: the smell of mint calms me down. i don’t know why
aug 25: i’m against socks that differentiate between left and right, so was kind of surprised at the small jolt of joy i felt when i mindlessly put on a sock, looked down, and saw the R on my right toe

aug 26: saw o.a.r. play r.e.m. and wayne shout-sang all the words (youtube video)
aug 27: accidentally went to get tacos during happy hour. the happy hour part was the accident. getting tacos was totally on purpose
aug 28: successfully made an 83-point turn while pulling a trailer to get out of a parking lot
aug 29: first i saw one braford, and we talked about our mutual deevolutionary interest in old man shoes that don’t need to be tied and that should surprise no one. but then another braford starting slacking me and i didn’t see that coming 
aug 30: sometimes when i work from home, i wear my ID anyway to stay in the habit

aug 31: susan inadvertently alluded to my favorite twisted sister song.

Friday, July 8, 2022

requiem to my true north

i always knew the cliff i was building for myself, every time i punctuated a post about najah with an aside about her incredible age. the point was always that i was just astounded at how lucky we had been to have soooo much time with her, and i saw it as an opportunity to recognize it. ultimately, i was just ridiculously proud to know her

but i knew that the flip side of that was that eventually i would have to fall from that cliff, and how much it was going to hurt when that happened


she could not possibly live forever  though sometimes i wondered  and on tuesday morning, we had to say goodbye to her. we didn’t want to, of course, but she had fought so many things so hard for so long against all odds, and for the first time it was clear that she couldn’t win. all we could do for her is spare her that last, losing fight  


anyone who has followed my posts over the past … well, for as long as i’ve been on social media, because she was actually older than social media, knows much of her story, and i don’t want to take this space to repeat the various mortal afflictions she basically laughed off for two decades. or the vet who told us not to get too attached to her … 17 years ago. or even tell the story about the way i came up with her name for the millionth time. (tho i’m happy to do that one if you ask)


i have had at least one cat continuously since 1987, when i was in college and still living with my parents, and it isn’t lost on me that being a cat guy, like pink cocktails, is part of my personality. all of our cats have been great – razzle, meeko, jazmine; i could tell you stories about them all – but najah was simply next level. i just can’t believe how smart, willful and affectionate she was. and how easily and effectively she communicated with us. she had huge, expressive eyes, and it just never seemed unclear what was on her mind at any given time. if she could have talked, she could not have made herself more clear. she had opinions on everything, and wasn’t shy about them


she had an infinite supply of love. she was a huge fluffball and was happiest when there was a lap to curl up on or a leg to curl up against. and when she thought it was time for that to happen, she was perfectly willing to go sit next to a chair or couch and stare judgingly at you until you relented and sat to become the thing she would curl up on. and then you better not have anything planned for a few hours. she seemed to cherish that time as much as i did, to the point that i felt literal guilt when i was out of town and we didn’t have our couch time


this may be a weird non sequitur, but i can’t remember ever being angry with her. not once. i honestly can’t remember her ever doing anything wrong


i haven’t posted a positivity list for june, and i’m conflicted about it, because i kept one, and there was a lot of good stuff in it. there were also a lot of empty spaces for days that were too hard, and there was a lot of stuff that was outdated by the time that i would’ve posted, and some that became unbearably painful by july 5. because most of the month involved najah’s care. there was a vet tech who was shocked to learn that she was treating a cat that was only 2 years younger than she was (gulp!). there was the night in the vet ER when i was sitting up with her late at night, and at the shift change, i heard the vets excitedly talking about getting to meet the 21-year-old lady that was in the house. and there was the moment of painful poignancy when i was at the paul mccartney concert and he played “let it be” and “live and let die” back to back, and it was more than i could take; it was the first time i’ve ever cried at a show, as far as i can remember. and, i mean, i crumbled


there was also the day she came home from the ER, and the day that she started eating with a bit of vigor, and it looked like maybe she was pulling through yet again


but it all just feels like a lie at this point. so i didn’t post it


which is the worst possible tribute to her. without fear of overstatement, it’s possible that she, more than anyone or anything, made that list – and that general attitude – possible. she made it nearly impossible to be anything less than positive. because no matter how bad my day was, i knew that she would be there when i got home, waiting to curl up on my lap and make me forget anything bad that had happened up to that point. it was soooo easy for her, and it was endless. surely if it was that easy for her to erase the stupid of the world, then there was probably more of that energy out there, if we just looked for it, and took the time to notice it


i haven’t started a file for july yet. i’ve seen and felt things i’d otherwise include. i got to talk to one of my favorite artists after a show and thank her for playing a song i love for the first time at a show i was at. i got to cook for a friend going through his own pain. kind friends who know I’m gutted have reached out to make sure i’m ok when they know im not. a line in a counting crows song connected with me in a new, visceral way. but i’m still overwhelmed with the grief of knowing i can’t just go over to her bed and give her a quick squeeze anytime that i need it. or she needs it. or we need it


but i can feel her big judgy eyes glaring at me. “did i teach you nothing?” so we’ll see

and if I have to make an entry for july 5, it would be that i am profoundly grateful that i was there, sitting on the floor with her curled up against my leg and my hand wrapped around her furry torso at the very instant we lost her. it seems insane to be grateful about the moment a huge chunk of my soul evaporated, but the gift was in how she filled it as long as she did. i wanted to be able to look into her eyes, hoping that she could read mine as easily as i could hers, so she would know in that moment, like all before it, how much i loved her. but she seemed as comfortable as possible under the circumstances against my leg, and that seemed most important. it was the hardest thing i’ve ever had to go through, and days later i’m still breaking down into ugly cries at mere, unlikely triggers. (if you interact with me, be aware that i have no idea how long that will last.) but there is nothing i wouldn’t have done for that cat


it was an honor to know her for more than 21 years, and to be there with her until the last minute

postscript: when i need comfort, i turn to culture where i can. i created a playlist of songs to help me get through. its a work in progress, but here it is if you're interested. 

also, i found a poem from the early 20th century called 
faith. an excerpt:

One more dark passage to come,
One more sharp sorrow to bear;
But still in the sunlight I'll lift up my head,
And feel its warm radiance there

                                     najah woodward

Thursday, June 2, 2022

positivity journal 2022:5

a lot of the stuff here is not really positivity, per se, but it was at least something that modestly amused me. and this month really sucked so hard on so many levels that modestly amusing can seem pretty big in the moment

but there were a few pretty great things. read on, should you choose 

may 1: threw out all my socks with holes; still have a lot of socks
may 2: got emails from two people who are apparently my second cousins, who didn’t know who i was but were pleasantly surprised to read a washington post story that talked about their great grandfather, gigi, who was also mine
may 3: the guy at covid testing complimented my technique
may 4: my war against the non-word okay was restarted through no fault of my own. i will probably lose again, but i made the case better this time, i think. itll be OK
may 5: independent reports of people having pierogi for dinner

may 6: wore three shades of purple 
may 7: my kalimotxo proportions were perfect. if only i had been paying attention 
may 8: blanch dressing
may 9: pulitzers!
may 10: successfully managed to not overexplain something, thereby not releasing unnecessary information. this is a personal turning point 

may 11: unexpected good news that im not prepared to share. but it's pretty cool and i feel like this list is a lie if i don’t at least vaguely allude to it
may 12: last month i talked about how great a tv character beth dutton is and i’m sticking by that but i forgot what a close second ruth langmore is
may 13: sometimes my watch tells me i reached my standing goal while i’m sitting so i’m pretty sure i can believe everything it tells me 
may 14: billy joel 30: random woman next to me at restaurant before show: “you’re going to billy joel, right?”
may 15: i ordered crispy duck and waiter asked me if i wanted duck sauce with it. the utter obviousness was so profound

may 16: working from home after being away for weekend, didnt know what i was going to have for lunch. then i found leftover stuffed cabbages hiding in fridge
may 17: after no live book release events in over 2 years, went to 2 in one night. and they were great. congrats robert, tolu and kwame!
may 18: coffee, conversation, collaborating
may 19: white rice, hold the lawn clippings
may 20: supposed to hit 90, so decided to wear shorts to work. since i recently saw someone in the office wearing a white linen sports jacket, i determined there are clearly no rules

may 21: strawberries at farmers market means strawberry-nutella crepes!
may 22: leftover strawberries means more strawberry-nutella crepes!
may 23: it freaks the literalist in me out a little when someone says someone is beautiful inside and out. how do they know? anyway, made me laugh today. close enough
may 24: watched season finale of three shows in one night and sometimes that passes as an accomplishment 
may 25: “not bad for someone your age” and also that is your body rejecting exercise. neither of these things are things the trainer said, but that i heard nonetheless

may 26: so many sauce options at new fried chicken lunch joint
may 27: i didn’t really pay much attention to music from the time i graduated college until i got an ipod — so, like, the 90s — but if i had properly digested personal jesus back then, it probably would have been my actual religion 
may 28: at farmers market, i confused my egg farmer by buying steak from her
may 29: this is the first season top chef has been interesting in yeeeeeeeeeeaaaars
may 30: remains to be seen how my new intermittent fasting app and my new ice cream maker will co-exist but i think we have to give it a shot

may 31: lisa cherkasky said i should use tom sietsemas watergate cake from the photo shoot in this spot and that seems right