When the world feels like it’s gone to hell in a hand basket, these three things make me happy: new music, the smell of roasting chicken in my house and pretty yoga pants.
SOMETHING I’M LISTENING TO: BECK
I still love that unmistakeable opening guitar riff of Beck’s debut song, “Loser”. When it came out, I was a brand new mom and often felt exactly like those ear-wormish lyrics, “I’m a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me?” I mean, not really, but kinda. I was overwhelmed and clueless and freaked out by motherhood and that song spoke to all the loser-ish feelings I had at the time. And speaking of ear worms, I’ve often wondered if Beck doesn’t find a way to embed subliminal Scientology messages in some of his songs. When “Dreams” first came out, I spent every night for a couple of weeks with the chorus of that song blasting in my head. Then again, maybe that’s just me.
“Loser” debuted over twenty years ago and Beck is still making music. His newest release, Colors, is fantastic. I’m not a superfan, but I’ve always paid attention when Beck releases something new. I also have mad respect for any artist who keeps plugging away, making new music, rather than relying on well-worn greatest hits and doing the casino-reunion-revival circuit. His body of work is vast and impressive–Odelay and Guero were solid personal favorites of mine, only to lose me on other releases like Modern Guilt and Sea Change. I’m happy to report that on Colors, Beck is back to his full-force, upbeat, hook-slinging best self.
The title track is catchy, complete with pan flutes and a chorus you’ll be compelled to sing along with. “Dreams” has been beautifully remixed and is also a “clean” version so I won’t have to time my yoga cues to cover the occasional unsavory word. (See previous note about subliminal messages. You’ve been warned.) “Up All Night” is flavored with straight-up pop and could easily slide in on any Top 40 playlist. Seriously, the only song I would skip over is the slower, blander “Fix Me.” Not bad for ten tracks.
Beck is one of the few artists I’ve loved for decades, but have yet to see live.Ticket prices for his shows are pretty spendy–usually around $100–but starting today, I’m setting aside a few shekels each month in anticipation for his next tour. Don’t you dare let me miss Beck the next time he blows through town. In the meantime, treat yourself to Colors and be happy, at least for a little while.
SOMETHING I’M COOKING: SPATCHCOCK!
Okay, without checking Google or Wikipedia, do you know what the word spatchcock means?
Because I didn’t. Even with my foodie and cooking background, I only came across the word “spatchcock” recently and went immediately nuts for it. Spatchcock. It sounds like something wonderfully naughty, though, doesn’t it? Like, “I went out for my birthday with my girlfriends and wound up getting totally spatchcocked.”
Not to rain on your parade or anything, but spatchcock is actually a cooking term for taking the backbone out of a bird. To butterfly. But I like spatchcock much, much better. The idea is the bird will cook much faster when it is laid out flat, sans backbone. It also tends to cook more evenly, hopefully reducing the risk of that horrible, dried-out breast meat that we all try to avoid.
I recently saw a tweet from someone that read “Every purchase of a rotisserie chicken has been an impulse buy.” I mean, what carnivore hasn’t cruised through Costco and been swept away by the aroma of roasting chickens and wound up with a $4.99 bird in their basket? Costco rotisserie chicken is great, but why does something that smells so good in the store wind up stinking like farts once you put it in your car? Tell me this hasn’t been your experience and I will tell you that you are a liar. My daughter and I even had a term for it: plippin’ chicken. Plip was the word my family used for fart when I was young, hence, “plippin’ chicken.”
With fall comes all sorts of opportunities for roasting. Roasted meats, roasted veggies, roasted pumpkin seeds. Roasted chicken just seems so cozy once the temperatures begin to dip. So, spatchcock I did–this time with a free-range, organic chicken that won’t fill my Prius with farts but instead my house with hints of Thanksgivings to come. And about that spatchcocking–I found it infinitely easier to remove the backbone with my sharp kitchen shears as opposed to a knife, which I was certain would slip away and slice my fingers. I dry-brined the chicken overnight with a generous sprinkle of kosher salt. It’s the same way I do my turkey on Thanksgiving and it’s reliably simple and delicious. I also roasted a pan of delicata squash to go with the chicken. Why has it taken me so long to discover this wonderful variety of squash? So easy to prepare and roast and so pretty when sliced with their little scalloped edges. I used this recipe I found on Epicurious and roasted the squash with red onions, garlic, thyme and maple syrup.
Spatchcocked chicken and delicata squash. Fabulous. And so very fall-ish.
SOMETHING I’M DOING: GRASPING FOR CONTROL
It was just a pair of leggings.
I teach a lot of yoga each week and I’ve learned to appreciate a good yoga legging when I find one. Following the Lululemon debacle a few years ago, I began to be a bit more discerning over where I spent my yoga dollars. K-Deer came on the scene offering beautiful, well-made, well-fitting yoga wear in a wide range of sizes. They are a small, philanthropically-minded company out of New York City and I was immediately smitten with my first pair of their signature stripe-y leggings.
Do you ever feel like everything is spinning out of control?
Over the past two years, I’ve grown my collection of K-Deer leggings to the point where I don’t even bother wearing any other brand. They’re just that good. Fantastic prints and colors that give me that tingly feeling all the way down to my toes. They wear like a second skin, too, without exposing what doesn’t need to be exposed.
The shootings, the wildfires, a government that does not represent me.
These days, sometimes a new pair of brightly patterned leggings is what brings me joy. Such was the case when I took advantage of one of K-Deer’s sales and bought a pair of polka-dotted-teal-and-black capris. They arrived fast, swaddled in pink tissue paper, complete with that new legging smell. I wore them the next day and I sensed that something seemed off, but told myself it was just my imagination. I mean, I know there’s been some stress eating since November 8th, but c’mon. Why would these leggings, in the same size as all my other leggings, be slipping down my hips like a sausage casing off its filling?
After two more wears, I contacted the company. I told them I was a loyal customer, but these leggings were not right. I had worn and washed them several times, so it was beyond their window of permitted return policy. What I got back in response was a short reply assuring me that they had not changed their sizing in years and suggested I give them time to stretch out.
I wore them again. And again. Each time, feeling more bitter. And maybe just a little bit crazy.
In frustration, I reached out to K-Deer again, this time attaching photos, showing the 2-3 inch disparity in length between the new leggings and my slightly older ones. I told them it didn’t feel good to hear “it’s not us, it’s you.”
No response. Crickets.
Let it go, I told myself. Find somewhere else to spend your money, my friends told me.
It was the day after the Las Vegas shootings. The world, again, spun out of control. Anxiety rising in my chest. Social media on fire, fueling debate like kerosine on flames.
A full month after my first email, I typed out another to K-Deer. This time, my words a bit more coarse, my tone less forgiving, admonishing them for their lack of customer service.
(Did you notice that blur breezing past your window Tuesday morning? That was me, flying off the handle.)
Ten minutes later, my phone rang.
We’ve been trying to reach you, the woman from K-Deer said. Their emails were not getting to my inbox. Of course we’ll make it right, she told me, her voice soothing and unfettered by defense.
It wasn’t about the leggings.
Have you noticed the persistent level of anxiety that many of us have grown accustomed to over the past year? I have. I see it etched on the faces of my yoga peeps. I hear it in the heavy sighs in child’s pose and right before savasana. I feel it, thick like an unrelenting November fog, woven into interactions with retail clerks, other drivers on the road and friends with whom I don’t see eye to eye. We stuff it down, we push it into our bodies, our muscles stiffen with One. More. Thing. Our chests ache with broken hearts and eyes tired from the smoke and lies and tears. We grasp for control, somewhere.
Powerless. Hopeless. Helpless. Sometimes, panicked at the thought of our future or lack thereof.
So, I unwittingly took my frustration out on a company who I believed wasn’t listening to me. It was an easy target. Listen to me! I yelled. Validate me. Hear me. Tell me I matter.
Come to your yoga practice and get clear. Ask the question, what can I control? What can’t I control? Where you have control, take clear, decisive action. Where you don’t, find a practice to help you release that. Begin to notice those undercurrents of unrest and anxiety right when they start to rumble rather than projecting your misguided stress onto unsuspecting victims.
Like I did. (Whoops.)
I learned that it wasn’t about the leggings. It was about my powerless feelings. I believed no one was listening. No control. I also learned that sometimes I leap to conclusions and imagine the worst about people and yes, about companies that make awesome, colorful yoga leggings.
Turns out, I do have a voice. A loud, clear one. One that projects and carries. You do, too.
Do the one thing that you can right now.
Make that phone call, tell your stories, support the marginalized and get back on your yoga mat and get clear.
Namaste’, motherfuckers. I love you.