You all are on your own for Christmas.

This year I have cooked prolifically. As our global, uh, situation spiraled out of control in March, I helplessly began making and freezing a ton of soups and stews, because what else was I supposed to do? I baked my obligatory breads this spring, like everyone else. Generally spending more time at home in my kitchen makes me more inclined to nourish myself with food I already have at home. Lots of salads with homemade dressing. Lots of braised chickpeas. Lots of chicken thigh skillet meals. Lots of meatballs with various accoutrements. Plenty of cookies. The apotheosis of my casual home-cooking peaks every year at Thanksgiving. Every year I look forward to Thanksgiving — even this year, knowing I would be cooking for just three other people in my quarantine pod, I was thrilled by the prospect of having a Thanksgiving meal that was entirely my own, no dry turkey in sight. …


I’ve known my roommate Larissa since college and have lived with her for a couple years, though it feels longer, possibly due to the amount of time we’ve spent indoors together this year. Larissa has many great qualities. …


TW: discussion about disordered eating.

I got a Peloton last month. I’m one of those people now. I sit on my stupid little bike almost every day for as long as I can stand it and I pedal nowhere for 8 or 10 or 12 miles until I feel like I’m going to puke and then I unclip myself and I drink a lot of water and stretch my dumb little legs. It is fun, in the way that anything you spend $2000 on in a series of monthly payments can be considered fun. Spin class is the only kind of communal fitness class I miss, and it feels good to move again (not that my 15,000-step days when I walk from Brooklyn to Chinatown and then walk back again aren’t also movement). Every time I take a class with Cody Rigsby and he plays a deep cut song from Britney Spears’ first album I incredulously find myself enjoying an exercise. It’s fun, like actually, really fun, and I’m still not sick of it. …


According to my inbox, nobody wants me to go VOTE more than the brands. In particular, some of the sensible women’s clothing brands whose emails get shuttled into my inbox: “PSA: Go vote tomorrow,” Madewell sent me yesterday, followed up with another reminder today: “You vote, we vote!” Everlane also wants me to vote. “Closed 11/3 for democracy,” the subject line of their email read, leading a message about how their workers have the day off to vote. …


For as long as I can remember it sat, every November, on our Thanksgiving table, next to the turkey and the stuffing and the cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. I assumed it was a universal tradition, a side dish everyone was familiar with. In first grade Mrs. Kulina asked us to draw a picture of what Thanksgiving looked like to us. Using only the brightest green crayons I could find, I drew my masterpiece, a quivering green lump inverted onto a glass plate: Seafoam salad. Everyone gawked at what I’d drawn, viscerally unhappy with my description of the Jell-o side dish. …


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If Zoom Dick has reinforced anything about journalism, it’s the reminder of a stark stratification in the industry. There are people who feel totally fine literally jerking off at work and collecting a comfortable paycheck, while the media underclass writes SEO posts in a permanent stress-crouch position for barely enough money to cover rent. …


There’s a human-interest story I can’t help but think about whenever I see an ad for a personal injury lawyer on TV. It came out in 2015, according to its Wall Street Journal law blog dateline, but it has lodged itself into the crevices of my brain in the five years since it was published.

It featured a normal family in Louisiana and normal two-year-old boy named Grayson Dobra. For his first birthday, Grayson had a normal Mickey Mouse birthday party theme. But for his second birthday, his mom chose a theme more aligned with Grayson’s passions: Morris Bart, a personal-injury lawyer in Louisiana whose ubiquitous ads (“One Call, That’s All!”) are all but unavoidable throughout the state. …


I don’t really have a “thing.” Some people do: I have a friend whose things are pottery and running, and a friend whose things are hiking and taking care of her one-eyed cat, and a friend whose thing is tending to her surprisingly bountiful pandemic garden. The closest I think I come to having a “thing” is maintaining an internet presence so interested parties can know I’m still alive, occasionally writing, and also baking. This blog post exists where those two activities intersect.

I’ve always been a baker. In college I had a short-lived cooking blog, an extension of my Tumblr, where I examined the possibilities of baking in a shitty on-campus apartment kitchen using an oven that allegedly heated up and had a door that only fell off once in the year I lived there. It felt good to come home from class and bake brownies, or make an elaborate cake for a friend’s birthday. I don’t think I need to over-explain why baking is rhythmically soothing and materially satisfying, a hundred people have already done it. …


And how much each thing has dulled my existential dread

I was not a prolific online shopper in the before times. This is more a matter of living circumstance than anything else. In my old building in Crown Heights, I had a set of plates from Ikea, some masks, and two pillowcases stolen from my apartment lobby by the building package thief, who probably needed these items more than I did. All UPS packages delivered to my apartment were rerouted to the neighborhood corner store, which was seldom open and once gave a Sephora box of mine to someone else. …


Brain empty. No thoughts. Only cows.

I can trace my aversion to taking vacations back to my first job after college. At the company where I worked, I was introduced to the policy of “unlimited vacations,” which sounded nice in theory but meant nobody was ever reminding you to take time off, so I never did. I worked five and sometimes six-day weeks and occasionally took a “comp day” when work didn’t feel totally overwhelming and still ended up checking my email on my day off. Anyway, vacation is a luxury, and it’s not one I’m familiar with being able to afford for myself.

But then this year I started a new job, one where I have managers who know how to manage people very well and say things like “please take your vacation days.” So I did. This summer, I chose a destination from dozens of open tabs on my laptop: a farm sanctuary bed and breakfast in the Finger Lakes. The suite had a hot tub overlooking an expansive backyard, and the whole thing was surrounded by wineries. They had an opening one week in September. Plus, the very sweet-looking couple from the Netherlands who owned the place rescued cows and horses, allowing for you to sign up for a one-hour “cow cuddling” session during your stay. It’s the kitschy thing some idiot city slicker would sign up and pay $65 for, which is exactly what I did. …

About

Maya Kosoff

i’m a freelance writer and editor. you can also read me in places like the new york times and vanity fair.

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