Sunday, April 11, 2021

Sam's Weekly Quarantine Digest #49: April 11, 2021

 Hi all,

I am officially a suburbanite now.  We've been in the house for about 7 weeks, and each day I look around and feel so grateful that all these pieces are finally clicking into place!  In the past few weeks, I've leased a Subaru, put together rocking chairs for the front porch, planted tomato seedlings, and declared war on the woodpecker that has identified the chimney in our bedroom as the best "singing-post" to drum on to attract a mate (at 6am).  Instead of sirens and neighbors' bass beats, the sounds that interrupt my meetings are cranky birds, the Chicken Dance blasting from the elementary school soccer field nearby, and (only once, thankfully) a squirrel that climbed down my office chimney mid-day and began screaming (it made it out ok).  My weekends are spent making trips to Home Depot or the grocery store, picking out towel bars, or raking up leaves in the yard.  We even piled into the car yesterday and had our first real in-person visit, playing games and running relay races in the yard with two of our closest friends and their kids - I cried when we hugged good-bye at the end because I'd been missing hugs (and friends) so much!

And then, today, I discovered Costco.  Ok, so I've been there before, but I think I can count the number of times on my fingers.  I remember my first trip with Petra in high school, when I (naturally) wandered into the chocolate aisle and then walked around the rest of the store clutching my finds in my arms as though someone would try to steal them from me, while wondering who was ever able to get those items from the top shelves (answer: no one).  Then there were the times in college that Mary drove me there to get chips and sodas for our full-dorm parties, and one or two trips more recently with Jess and Anthony to get supplies for backyard barbecues (obviously including the two-pack of jumbo Nutella jars to take home with me).  But I've never shopped there for my own home before.  And it's intimidating!  I'll be honest: I feel a little guilty - do I really need that box of Cornflakes that's fully the size of my entire torso?  Unlikely.  Will I really eat the entire Dutch oven's worth of shrimp scampi before it goes bad?  TBD.  But mostly, I found the entire experience to be magical.  Being able to plan ahead in a way I've never had space for before is so satisfying!  And capping off the experience with a gigantic $1.50 hot dog combo in a front-seat picnic was such a treat!

I don't have any deep life lessons to share from my trip to Costco today - I'm just plain happy.  Perhaps the lesson is to keep your eyes on the prize - know what you want, and keep working toward that until your dreams come true.  I've wanted this day so desperately for so long, and it feels like every single struggle has been worth it to reach this moment, in this exact position in life, as exactly who I've become along the way.

As always, previous digests can be found on my blog at  If you have suggestions or would like to stop receiving these emails, just let me know.


Fun & Games
  • In March 2021, 28-year-old Linjie Deng, a Chinese conceptual artist, was attacked in the NYC subway while being referred to as "yellow."  He decided right then and there to reclaim that Asian slur and started working on three pieces featuring yellow as the main color.  This art exhibit intended to combat Asian hate, titled Asian Art SPA, features those works and some of his others; you can see it at Carlton Fine Arts Ltd. at 543 Madison Avenue through May 24.
  • Iconic Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama has taken over the New York Botanical Garden with her whimsical pumpkins and flower sculptures, plus one of her popular infinity rooms.  I'm not sure what will be the most startling aspect - going to a public place, being surrounded by so much beauty after being confined to the four walls of our homes for the past year, or the sculptures themselves, which you'll stumble upon as you walk through the gardens, just as you would a beautiful, attention-grabbing flower.
  • Coney Island reopened this weekend, including six new kids' rides!
  • Works & Process is a street dance project filmed at Lincoln Center as part of The Black Dancing Bodies Project, an ongoing documentary effort to represent Black women in street and club dance culture (including street and club dance, hip-hop, house dance, Waacking, and Lite Feet) through a series of sessions that include photography and interviews. Check it out here and catch the third premiere of the series next Sunday at 7:30pm.
  • Although it likely won't be ready for the summer rush, the Brooklyn Bridge will be getting a two-way bike lane this year!
  • Miss comedy clubsThis one in Brooklyn is now offering outdoor shows daily.
  • Not sure if his dream will come true, but one of NYC's mayoral candidates has proposed a series of pop-up pools across the city (and its waterways).
  • If you haven't seen it already, this video has been circulating lately, showing the New York City waterfront in the 1930s.  The film came from the Prelinger Archive, but it was enhanced and colorized with the help of AI.
  • The Brooklyn Public Library is offering outdoor "whispering libraries" at 10 locations across Brooklyn this spring and summer.  Each branch will hide speakers outside and play music, poetry, oral histories, podcast excerpts, and spoken literature up to five times each day, and each will feature customized playlists reflecting the neighborhoods they serve.

Recipe of the Week: Everything Bagel Cookies
  • NOTE: This is an experiment.  You will be putting garlic and onions in a cookie.  If that makes you say "ew," a) be more open to trying new things, but b) this probably isn't the right recipe for you.  It is time-intensive and legitimately hard work.  But I think it's delicious.  Also, Rosie and Caitlin, I dedicate this to you.
  • Add 1.5 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1/4 tsp salt to a bowl; whisk gently to mix.  Beat 1/2 cup softened butter on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute.  On medium speed, mix in 3/4 cup light brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar until combined.  Beat in 1 egg (room temp), 1 tbsp milk, and 1.5 tsp vanilla extract.  Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients; stir on low until a soft, sticky dough forms, then stir in 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (chips are optional).  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer.
  • While dough is chilling, combine 4 oz cream cheese (softened), 2 tbsp butter (softened or even slightly melted), 1 tsp vanilla, and 1-2 cups powdered sugar and mix until thick and creamy (it should spread a little in the bowl, but it shouldn't be liquidy - if it is, add more powdered sugar; if it's too thick, add a few drops of milk or vanilla at a time).  Freeze for a couple of hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Pour some everything bagel seasoning into a small bowl.  Scoop 1 heaping tbsp dough into your palm and flatten it out.  Use a teaspoon or small melon baller to scoop a small ball of cream cheese filling (maybe 1/2 tsp, or the size of a hazelnut), or maybe a macadamia nut for a bigger scoop of dough.  Seal up the dough around it, and roll lightly in your hands until smooth and round.  Roll each ball in the everything bagel seasoning; press gently into the seasoning if it doesn't stick right away.  Place two inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Bake for 10-11 minutes, until just set (and not shiny) - the tops may not brown, but the bottom should.  If they don't spread and stay very dome-shaped, press them down lightly with the bottom of a glass right when they come out of the oven.

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