Rest when you are tired, eat when you are hungry


Food is exploration. I am 24 and riding an undercurrent of adrenaline and the slight buzz of a cocktail made with ingredients that I had never tasted before tonight. I am in another city, Chicago, or maybe Atlanta. Sitting around this restaurant table are bloggers and chefs, photographers and magazine editors and me. Plates are placed before me and I eat from them. I can talk now about foie gras and rapini puree and Castelvetrano olives. Food is a map of the world. I am feeding my wanderlust, my desire for knowledge, my hunger for more. When I am full, or past full, I climb into a hotel bed with white sheets and rows of pillows. Sleep comes quickly. I am groggy and aching as I stand before the bathroom mirror the next morning, but then there’s a cappuccino and at the back of my brain, the siren song of another new ingredient. I roll my shoulders back and stride out into the brisk day. 


Food is fuel. I am 27 and chopping onions and kale and mushrooms. My roommate and I share a small kitchen in our cozy rented bungalow, the contents of our weekly CSA box spilling across the wooden countertops. Standing at the sink, I realize I know how to feed myself. On Sunday afternoons, I cook frittatas and brown ground beef, wash and dry and slice endless piles of vegetables in preparation for the week to come. I would fight the first person who asked for a meal’s worth of protein that I have purchased and prepped, awaiting me in the fridge. I could fight them, too. I feel strong, smart, equipped. I take long, solitary walks in the wooded park nearby, feeling the ache in my legs as I climb the steep hill to gaze out at the skyline. Success in dating eludes me, but I feel safe within the walls of my small room, held by the soft powdery blue walls and the billowing white curtains.


Food is love. I am 30 and happy to have some of my best friends in my new city. I’m standing in my small kitchen, scraping strands from half a spaghetti squash as I hold it with an oven mitt, feeling the steam on my skin, knowing I’m rushing this meal but wanting to feed my friends. Slightly impressing them never hurts, either. We’re all still convincing ourselves that we’re adults. I pour generous glasses of Malbec and set the timer on the oven. We sit around my small table and talk about religion and relationships and finances. The love I feel for my friends seems to pour out of me and into the room. We inflate my air mattress, pushing aside chairs in my little apartment. Two of us take my bed and the other two pull the blankets over themselves on the air mattress. We sleep soundly, confident in the way one can only be when surrounded by those who see her.


Go to bed on time

subtitle: A Primer on Sleep

SUBJECT: Self, age 28. Dear girlfriends from college are welcome on occasion. Younger sisters are begrudgingly accepted. All others by invitation only.

WHAT: Sleep.

Note: This may not come immediately. On some nights, sleep is postponed indeterminately due to late weeknight concerts or successful dates. On less desired occasions, sleep may be worsened, lessened, or found altogether impossible for extended periods due to episodes of anxiety, including unnecessary concern for one’s cardiac health or repeat compulsive urges to use the restroom.

WHEN: Around 10:00 p.m. on weeknights, maybe 11:00 or so on weekends, depending upon activity. Screens off at 9:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, with iPhone to charge in the kitchen and laptop stored in any location that is not the bedroom. Lights out by 10:30, strictly by 11:00.

WHERE: A small bedroom with periwinkle walls and a paper lantern covering a bare bulb in the ceiling. The bedroom’s inhabitant had intentions to replace the lantern, but she has lived in the bedroom for 15 months now and change is unlikely at this point. A queen-sized bed with creaky box springs and firm but slightly bowing mattress, particularly on the right side where said inhabitant sleeps. One set of white sheets has a blue ink stain from a pen used for journaling. Small tear in floral duvet cover toward lower end. Blackout shades over windows. Tower fan standing across the room for overly warm nights. Teetering stack of books and reading material on and near nightstand including various issues of The Sun magazine, Tin House, Poets and Writers, and The Atlantic Monthly, the ultimate of which room’s inhabitant will likely never read, but receives because she exchanged unused and expiring Hawaiian Airlines miles for a subscription. 

Books include Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir and Sinners Welcome, Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, Rookie Yearbook One, My Struggle (Volume Two) by Karl Ove Knausgaard, and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

Wear lightweight and loose pajamas, Rick Steves travel eye mask, hair in “pineapple” shape (essentially a ponytail loosely gathered atop one’s head) to maintain optimum curl pattern overnight. Ear plugs are optional and almost guaranteed to fall out during sleep, but can help muffle television sounds or conversation. Fitbit can be worn within wristband on non-dominant arm to track sleep length and quality.

HOW: Begin by following preparatory steps above, as well as removing contact lenses, brushing and flossing teeth, and washing face. Once in bed, it is acceptable to spend 30-60 minutes writing in journal or logbook and reading from any matter of sources. It might be found enjoyable and calming to read a few poems aloud.

Once light has been turned out and sleep mask secured, the most comfortable position is lying on stomach with one knee bent out at an angle and arms circling head underneath pillow. Other positions may be more conducive to preventing fine lines and blemishes, but this position is decidedly most comfortable.

WHY: Sleep is a necessary and renewing activity for brain and body. By sleeping six to eight hours per night, one may maintain healthy weight, lower overall stress, have higher focus and energy levels, and not view every other human on the earth as an asshole.