Because Mr. Magpie does most of the cooking in this house, I do most of the dishwashing. I used to rush through this bit of the evening, eyeing it as an impediment between the joy of the dining hour and the relief of bedtime. On more than one occasion, I would glance back over my handiwork and notice a waxy section on the interior of a pot — oil residue I’d missed in my haste — or items teetering precariously in the fridge, evidence of my careless hurry.
Now, when I feel that surge of hastiness rising in my chest, I pause and tell myself: “Slow down. This is time to yourself.” And so with considerable mental effort, I have learned to view this segment of the evening as relaxing rather than burdensome. I take the time to put on an audiobook, or music I like, or a show on the TV Mr. Magpie mounted in our kitchen wall–curiously, one of the most satisfying indulgences of my adult life, as I always begged my parents to install a television in our kitchen as a child, mentally configuring it as the ultimate in luxury.
But sometimes — as I did just last night — I poured myself an extra half-glass of wine and, in between sessions scrubbing our saute pan and rinsing our glasses, looked out the window by the sink of my Upper West Side apartment kitchen and took it all in, listening to the hiss and hush of the rain punctuated now and then by car tires and taxi horns and ambulance sirens. I looked down at the beautiful little courtyard at the foot of our building, where neighbors have stationed a broad teak table and twinkle lights and an ivy-trimmed trellis–a small and perfect secret garden that Mr. Magpie and I often discuss in tones of overt envy. As I dried the steak knives and wine glasses, I noticed silhouettes in windows: neighbors putting children to bed, clearing tables, preparing for sleep. Mainly, I stood at that sink, letting my thoughts wander as I appreciated the sounds and shapes of this city, and when I crept past my son’s nursery a few minutes later on my way to bed, I found that my slow and deliberate pace had given way to a feeling of tranquillity.
Consider trying this next time you find yourself sprinting through a chore. I mean: we can’t lollygag around and chase rainbows all day, and I don’t mean to gild the ungildable (dishwashing is still a chore), but sometimes you can transform the daily or even the detested into something winsome by adding music–or an extra pour of wine.
Post-Scripts: Simple Clothes I Love.
I veer toward the feminine, floral, and frilly in my fashion taste, but I have the deepest appreciation for a woman who dresses with restraint, like the gal above: Levis and a white linen blouse, no earrings and barely-done hair. Below, a few of my favorite “simple clothes” — no prints, lots of neutrals, in modern shapes — that pack a powerful punch:
PINTUCK MIDI (CANNOT BELIEVE THIS IS $120 — LOOKS SEVERAL HUNDRED DOLLARS MORE EXPENSIVE)
MY FAVORITE “MOM JEANS” — I OWNE THESE AND THEY ARE SOOOO GOOD
THIS BLOUSE DOES HAVE A RUFFLE BUT THE COLOR AND SHAPE ARE INCREDIBLY SOPHISTICATED…FEELS MORE LIKE A MODERN ART STATEMENT THAN A TREND
+If you’re desperate to get engaged…you are not alone.
+Please remember that you are enough.