Issue #109: 5 Seasonal Intentions and the Perfect Fall Picnic
Plus, a fall preview, purchases, and to-dos.
Morning Person is a weekly newsletter packed with obsessively-curated recommendations and ideas—let’s get to it!
🎥 ‘Deadlocked’ documentary on Showtime: This new docu-series by Dawn Roberts (whose previous subjects include John Lewis and Pete Souza, Obama’s White House photographer) examines the history of the Supreme Court. A fascinating and important context, given the power the nine justices have to make life- and history-altering decisions, and the intense scrutiny we should be putting them under, now more than ever.
📚 The Fraud by Zadie Smith: Smith’s latest novel, The Fraud, may look like a doorstopper, but the English author’s first work of historical fiction moves at a clip, thanks to its engrossing, short chapters. It takes place in Victorian England during one of the most notorious trials of the time, The Tichborne Trial, told through the perspectives of a Scottish housekeeper and a formerly enslaved Jamaican man who is a witness in the trial, in which a poor butcher claims to be heir to a large fortune. Smith’s research is impressive and her descriptions of 19th century London and Jamaica are all-encompassing. When I saw Smith speak in Portland last week, she talked about how we tend to see Victorian England as flat, when it’s so multidimensional.
🎧 “The Dream” Podcast, Season 3: Although the latest season of Jane Marie’s podcast begins in an objective, journalistic style, delving into the questionable world of “life coaches,” her second episode takes a hard pivot toward the personal, illuminating why she feels she needs a life coach. (In short: The pandemic was destabilizing, with health concerns and deaths of loved ones, and she’s just gone through a breakup.) The pivot is grounded in compassion—Jane illustrates that she personally understands the desire for a coach—and intriguing enough that I plan to keep listening, albeit with a skeptical ear. As a counselor-in-training, I’m wary of anyone who markets themselves as a “life coach” as the lack of licensed oversight and education increases the possibility of doing harm, spreading misinformation, and even preying on the vulnerability of clients. Curious to see where this season goes. Until then, here are a few podcasts from licensed therapists and counselors I love: “Other People’s Problems,” “A Little Help for Our Friends,” and “Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel.” This conversation on self-care with Dr. Pooja Lakshmin also fantastic.
When I committed to taking the day completely off last Saturday, I doubted my ability to stick with it, amid a swirling list of move to-dos I’m still catching up on. Even as I waited for my coffee to brew, I had to physically place my phone in another room to resist the impulse to check emails. Eventually, something in me softened when I noticed that it was overcast, a seasonal reminder to slow down; it’s impossible to always be burning bright.
I sat with my mug for a while longer, forcing myself to slow down, before heading on a hike with Toast, where fall’s transition could be seen on almost every red and yellow leaf. As soon as I returned home, I took a hot shower, changed into my favorite well-worn college sweatshirt, and spent the rest of the day reading, watching shows and movies, and cooking. There are some aspects out of my control this fall—school, in particular, is going to be incredibly busy—but my day off felt like a reminder of what I want less and more of this season:
Less shopping, more enjoying what I own: Moving into a new house meant placing a frenzy of online orders for things big and small. I’m finally at a place where I feel like I have everything I need for a while, so I’m placing a buying freeze at the end of this month to settle into things (and learn to make-do with what I have, even when I “want” something).
Fewer frenzied plans, more intentional outings: This was a summer of “yes,” but I’ve already warned friends that I’ll be hibernating this fall. Instead of filling every free block of time, I’m prioritizing fewer, more meaningful gettogethers.
Less eating out, more cooking at home: The thing about living alone is that one Costco run means I’m set for pretty much the rest of the winter. My freezer and pantry are well-stocked, so I’m ready and excited to make tons of involved meals and desserts this season (like the torta below!).
Fewer workout classes, more outdoor runs: Although I recently bought a treadmill in anticipation of Portland’s rainy days, Toast and I have been heading on outdoor runs most mornings, enjoying the chilly edge of fall.
Less busywork, more rest: The gift/curse of working for myself is that there is always more I could do (and living alone means that I often work late into the evening without any accountability to stop). This fall, I’m committing to ending work at a reasonable hour and prioritizing rest.
Read on for my dream fall picnic and a conversation with my friend Gracie, as well as the books, shows, and movies I’m most excited for, and a few cold-weather appropriate purchases…is my favorite chef you probably haven’t heard of—yet.
The two of us met earlier this summer at the retreat we helped run with psychoanalyst and author, where Gracie prepared three gorgeous meals a day. Gracie has worked in kitchens like Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and started a food delivery service on a remote island in Canada during 2020, yet she graciously accepted me as her pseudo-sous for the long weekend. During our long days and late nights cooking, cleaning, and prepping, we talked about life, careers, relationships, writing, her hometown of New York City, and, of course—our true, shared love—food.
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