It’s spring migration at last and this morning I went to Prospect Park with my real-birder friend Nate. Don’t worry: I am not going to describe birds or birdwatching, except to say in passing that best case scenario in the past I have found looking at migratory birds through binoculars to be soothing and effortlessly meditative. The full focus that bird identification requires is like being joyfully immersed in meaningful creative work. It blots out the meta-voice in my head, but in a healthy-feeling way, the way cooking or being totally present in the moment in a good conversation does. (Unhealthy ways: scrolling through social media, watching TV though increasingly I can’t even focus on TV goddess help me). READING A BOOK can also provide this joyous blotting-out but honestly it’s been so long since I had this experience while reading — probably since I read the book I wrote about in my last newsletter, The Friend by Sigrid Nunez. I am pretty sure that the problem is my brain and not, you know, ALL BOOKS. I also don’t think it’s just me? I talked to Nate about it a little bit while we were looking for warblers and thrushes in the ravine and he said that he’d been feeling the same way — happy but agitated, a weird combination of edgy irritation and springtime mania. Our bodies are getting the Spring message but our brains are aware of mitigating intel about the state of the world and our country. It’s a lot. It’s hard to tap out or even comfortably zone out for a minute. When I get into bed though I switch off like a machine.
Of course, I’m also 31 weeks pregnant, which is a good excuse for pretty much anything. I feel I’m walking through Jello, which is a great recipe for feeling low-key irritated all the time. Also I live in a city that was designed and optimized for young healthy people with no physical restrictions or encumbrances. If you walk down the street or up the subway steps slowly people will fucking TAILGATE instead of finding their way around you. Often I try to go at my normal nonpregnant pace just to keep up with the crowd and then find myself exhausted and hating myself for caving to the pressure instead of acknowledging my limitations and unabashedly doing what I need to do. Being pregnant is a great rehearsal for being old. It’s also a real empathy-enhancer; some people spend a lifetime being seen as obstacles.
One nice thing that’s happened lately though is that I started going to THE WING to work, thanks to the generosity of Audrey Gelman who wisely decided to neutralize my onetime public Wing-skepticism (I get it, the “Coven” thing, the pink, Chanel, etc, it’s a lot) by allowing me to witness the wonder of A WORLD WITHOUT MEN. At this point though the only negative thing I have to say about The Wing is that if you join it will ruin you forever for any other work environment, because you’ll realize how much having men around ruins everything. It’s hard to explain how much freer I feel there. I had thought it would be like working at Vogue or something, all bitchy judgment and punishing footwear. But while it’s true that some people do bring their outfit A-game (bless them), there is in general a feeling of license and acceptance. It’s nothing specific, it’s just everything — it turns out that, for me at least, the mere fact of having men around makes me feel like I should make myself unobtrusive. When that feeling of having to be on guard all the time is gone, it’s just so much easier to get shit done. Also the bathroom situation is truly A+ — the doors go all the way to the ground, there’s lots of ambient noise, it always smells great, there are trays with Glossier moisturizer and mouthwash and floss picks and menstrual products in every denomination.
Least favorite things this issue: feeling low-grade mania that shades into rage at the slightest provocation. Most favorite things: The Wing, Trader Joe’s gluten free dairy free frozen pancakes, Pixi lip balm, Forever35, worm-eating warblers.