January 13 2017
Happiness/Living in Brooklyn

Three Awesome Things This Week, and One Sad

Another cold and wintry week, another little handful of awesome things that I have stumbled upon.  I reveled in a rustic winter wonderland that miraculously exists in the middle of the densest city in America.  I started reading a book that kept me in the snow, inside my apartment, while giving my brain a much needed work out.  And I found inspiration from two excellent essays, which convinced me that, perhaps, it might be a good idea to lighten up on the casual drinking…

1. Unexpected snow…

Living in New York City is a constant detente between the very good and the very bad.  Many a long, soupy winter day have I stared out the window of my tiny apartment, asking myself why the hell I live here.  But then, just when I need it most, my fairy god city sprinkles some magic dust, sending me an unexpected little snow storm.  This is all it takes to turn me into a rapturous evangelist for the wonder and beauty of living in New York.  We grabbed the kids, threw them on the sled and headed to the park.

First we had to endure the the sledding hill.  Don’t get me wrong, I love sledding.  But our sledding hill tends to be mobbed like Times Square.  Density. File under: “the very bad.”  But after sledding, we headed deeper inside the park.  There, everything changes. For me, there is no greater magic than the paradox of these vastly different landscapes butting right up against each other.  In the span of a ten minute walk, we went from the cityscape of our front door, to the hushed horse paths inside Prospect Park, where we could have been anywhere in the world.

prospect park brooklyn snow
Greetings from…
brooklyn winter
Brooklyn.

When you live in an urban environment, parks are a great gift.  The overwhelming beauty of my park reminded me to be grateful for the people who, years ago, had the foresight to bestow these green jewels upon future generations. And to remember why I live here.

2. Meanwhile, inside, Dr. Zhivago was challenging my brain and probably lighting up some otherwise-about-to-die brain cells.

Dr. ZhivagoAfter reading the excellent Gentleman in Moscow, I wanted to delve into some classic Russian literature, which is a kind of big hole in my literary education.  I chose Dr. Zhivago because I wanted to learn more about Russian history.  And snow.  (Though I assume you get snow in all Russian literature?)  I knew this would be an ambitious read, now that my brain has a hard time staying focused on anything longer than a tweet (thanks, internet).  But it seemed important to pursue for that very reason.

So I bought a guide to read simultaneously.

I mean, who consumes culture nowadays if it doesn’t also warrant consuming ten different “recaps” as well… am I right?  I admit it.  I am a recap reader.  Sometimes they are annoying with the over-theorizing, but sometimes you need a little help in understanding what you just read/ saw.  Like it used to be, in school.  Naturally, the more you understand, the richer the text becomes.  The greater chance of your mind being blown.  So if I need New York Magazine to provide added context to Game of Thrones, I knew I was going to need some guidance through Dr. Zhivago.

And I was correct.  The guide powered me through the difficult early chapters, which would have otherwise been confusing.  Now I am getting thicker into the plot and enjoying it.  But not in the way I enjoyed a Gentleman in Moscow.  This is a work-out for my brain.  And that is something I need.

When we make our brain sweat, we preserve it for the long haul.  Assuming we even get to that point, before every last brain cell is eaten alive by a digital junk food diet that is draining our ability to focus and think.

3. Mindfully Spent and Raptitude convinced me to cut back on the drinking.

Brandy Alexanders
Brandy Alexanders, all December long.

Mindfully Spent is one of my favorite blogs.  Melanie talks about a lot of things that are solidly in my wheelhouse and I love the way she writes.  She recently wrote about having a month of no drinking, which I read just as I was already fretting over indulging too much.

She inspired me to resolve to cut back on alcohol.  When I went back to her page, she had new post linking to a blog called Raptitude, which I had never read before (though I am seemingly the only one).  The writer, David Crain had just published his own essay about quitting drinking for a few months. It is excellent.

I feel like this is one of those times that the universe is talking to me.  And it is telling me that I need to drink a little less.  I see the calories adding on (which I will vainly admit is my main concern), and I feel certain that that glass of wine or beer that I so crave after work needs to be put into check.  Hopefully this will go better than my no spend January.

Finally, Obama’s Farewell

Sad!  As Donald Trump would say.  Except, really sad.  I was not planning on watching Obama’s farewell because I knew it would depress me, but I reconsidered.  Bearing witness to history on the days when it is unpleasant is perhaps our most important duty as citizens.

So I watched this classy, dignified, eloquent, graceful gentleman implore the country to find unity and to take part in protecting our democracy.  He spoke with respect to people who will never respect him (I noticed he referred to his fellow Americans, rather than his enemies) and he set an example that a generation of young, idealistic people can be proud of.  He looked to the future and refused to give in to despair.  He will be judged by history.

  • “When we make our brain sweat…” Love it, Brooklyn. I need to do more of the intentionally difficult reading. What a great way to work on focus. And you know I’m with you on the drinking. Best of luck with both endeavors. Continue to improve, that’s the name of the game

  • We’ve been drinking some Kahlua spiked hot chocolate on cold days. I know what you mean about those calories adding up. The weather has been crazy here. Less than a week ago it was in the 20s and we had our fire place on (and were drinking those hot chocolates). And yesterday it hit 75 degrees. Good luck with cutting back!

  • Those snow scenes look magical Linda, love the lighting! While we live in a small community outside of the city and I enjoy small town life, I’ve lived in a few large cities in my life (one being Vancouver, B.C). I often miss the energy I get from urban life. Last summer, I was in downtown Chicago for a day and felt so inspired, it was wonderful. I can’t wait to get back. 🙂

  • I have to admit that I was looking forward to a bit of snow and we haven’t had it yet. Each time in the forecast they call for it turns into a rainy mess.

    So here’s hoping that I can drink some hot cocoa and enjoy some good books while the snowflakes fall outside my window in the near future 🙂

    • We don’t get enough snow at all, so I am jumping for joy even when we get one inch! Snow is my favorite thing in the world. Especially in the city- everything looks like a different era, quaint and lovely. I think that’s what I love most…

    1. How to Survive Expensive Urban Life 08:54am 21 February - 2017 - Reply

      […] life for themselves in high-cost New York. And Mrs. G and I love reading her take on family, kids, living in Brooklyn, saving money, and retirement. Great freakin’ stuff. Linda is no impostor. She’s the […]

    2. Mustard Seed Money 09:55pm 14 January - 2017 - Reply

      I have to admit that I was looking forward to a bit of snow and we haven’t had it yet. Each time in the forecast they call for it turns into a rainy mess.

      So here’s hoping that I can drink some hot cocoa and enjoy some good books while the snowflakes fall outside my window in the near future 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 08:59am 16 January - 2017 - Reply

        We don’t get enough snow at all, so I am jumping for joy even when we get one inch! Snow is my favorite thing in the world. Especially in the city- everything looks like a different era, quaint and lovely. I think that’s what I love most…

    3. Mystery Money Man 09:18pm 14 January - 2017 - Reply

      Those snow scenes look magical Linda, love the lighting! While we live in a small community outside of the city and I enjoy small town life, I’ve lived in a few large cities in my life (one being Vancouver, B.C). I often miss the energy I get from urban life. Last summer, I was in downtown Chicago for a day and felt so inspired, it was wonderful. I can’t wait to get back. 🙂

      • Brooklyn Bread 09:01am 16 January - 2017 - Reply

        I should have been born in Canada! I love the cold and the snow. We do not get nearly enough of it down here!

    4. Mrs. Groovy 03:45pm 14 January - 2017 - Reply

      We’ve been drinking some Kahlua spiked hot chocolate on cold days. I know what you mean about those calories adding up. The weather has been crazy here. Less than a week ago it was in the 20s and we had our fire place on (and were drinking those hot chocolates). And yesterday it hit 75 degrees. Good luck with cutting back!

      • Brooklyn Bread 08:41pm 14 January - 2017 - Reply

        Thanks Mrs. Groovy! Didn’t help that I had a going away party for my very dear neighbors who are returning to Spain tomorrow. We all drowned our sorrows a bit!

    5. Adam 03:18pm 14 January - 2017 - Reply

      “When we make our brain sweat…” Love it, Brooklyn. I need to do more of the intentionally difficult reading. What a great way to work on focus. And you know I’m with you on the drinking. Best of luck with both endeavors. Continue to improve, that’s the name of the game

      • Brooklyn Bread 08:42pm 14 January - 2017 - Reply

        Thanks Adam. It is so important. Alzheimer’s runs in my family and trying to keep my brain fit is something I am just so very aware of… -Linda

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