by pieces of moments

There is a deliciously cool breeze that is diffusing into the warm air of my upper level apartment; the invisible equal to cool water hitting a parched throat.  It billows inside to some abstract rhythm, unpredictable.

I have dishes to wash. We keep staring at each other. I’ll get to it eventually. They did their part well, assisting me in the production of kale withered in beef stock, tossed with butter sautéed mushrooms and cracked black peppercorns, mixed with the left-over ground beef with fresh thyme that didn’t make it on top of the pizza the other night. I crowned a little nest of organic whole wheat spaghetti with the leafy concoction and called it a delicious night. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll tackle the red and yellow vine ripened tomatoes.

It’s been a grand week for flavor thus far.  On Memorial Day a group of friends and I grabbed late lunch at a favorite café. And, because I believe in Hobbits and second breakfasts, I promptly headed off to another get-together involving the all important Memorial Day Grill. We made skewers. Lots and lots of skewers. Check this menu out:

  1. Plum tomatoes with artichoke pesto
  2. Cauliflower with spicy lime cream
  3. Grilled tofu with chili sauce
  4. Dry-rubbed flank steak with basil butter
  5. Curried chicken with pineapple

And those titles don’t fully describe all the other veggies that were comfortably sandwiched in between the main items. Amazing. It was a team effort with each person taking on a different chopping, marinading, or grilling task, and that made it all the more fun.

This morning I got to kick off the day by solving repertoire puzzles with a team of brilliant repertoire thinkers. You know you’re a music nerd when sitting with a huge book of orchestral repertoire (the reference ones that list all the technical  instrumentation information) is fun (but then again, I’ve been known to read the dictionary straight up…don’t judge me…I’m actually way more cool than I sound). Thumbing through the pages of the book and the pages of our minds, whilst sipping on the Best Coffee On The Earth (hello, Intelligentsia cafe, how nice of you to be strategically placed on the path to my office) is what I would call the breakfast of champions. It has it’s own soundtrack, too: “What about…?” is followed by wordless sounds expressing exquisite delight or recoiling disgust.

You know what is a sure-fire way toward exquisite delight? Listening to WQXR’s Q2 (the “new home for new music”). I listen to it like the world is ending NOW and I need to stuff through my ears all the sound I can contain. You hear pieces on Q2 that you never hear on any other “classical” radio station. What is even better is that it’s a constant stream, not just a couple of obligatory hours. This afternoon it was stuff like Grisey, Stockhausen and Frahm. Right now, I’m tuned in to what should be required listening for all pianists, their show “Hammered.” It features all piano music. In my piano literature classes at NEC, we would talk about how vast the repertoire is for piano in comparison to other instruments. With all that music out there, you usually turn on the radio and hear the same pieces over and over. Okay, fine. Those pieces are on heavy rotation for a reason. Many are some of the most sublime few minutes of sound ever penned. I own recordings of them. I’m not bashing them. But, I am saying, there’s more to life than Schumann. (I’m enjoying their broadcast of George Crumb’s “Celestial Mechanics” at this moment.)

Speaking of new things, I was reading in the Times today that the New Yorker has released it’s venerable list of “20 Under 40” young authors to watch. Their short stories will be published in the fiction issue (my favorite, next to the cartoon issue) coming out on Monday. I read a short story published in The Atlantic Monthly by one of the authors, the youngest at age 24, Téa Obreht. Her piece, called “The Laugh,” is well worth the 20-30 minutes. Haunting. Can’t wait to find the nearest magazine rack next week. I’m so curious.

George Eliot’s Middlemarch is the book in my bag these days. I’ve tried reading it a few times previously, but always got interrupted with things like writing a thesis and such.  I’m also reading through the poetry of Richard Wilbur. How can you not be enchanted by lines such as:

Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,

Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.

Now they are rising together in calm swells

Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear

With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

…and that’s just about laundry. “Impersonal breathing.” It nearly makes me want to shiver with drip-dry rapture.

I’ve wanted to visit Iceland (very badly) for a very long time. This brilliant video campaign of theirs, “Inspired by Iceland,” is agitating that desire, alluringly. All those shots of broad, rugged, open spaces get stuck in my throat.

Wrapping up here’s something completely different. Hilarious footage from Conan O’Brien’s glorious road show in which he has a dance off with a couple of well known friends. According to my deeply beloved Harvard Bookstore, it was rumored that Conan – a Harvard graduate and Brookline (home of another great bookstore, the Brookline Booksmith!) native –  was spotted last week dining down the street at one of my old haunts, Grafton Street. He has good taste.