Sometimes writing is a matter of staring at a screen and hoping words will appear. I mean, you know you have to type them, but you wait for something — anything — to write about. When I am in a good place, feeling flush with ideas and writing easily, I try to make note of ideas to write about.
This is one such post.
The draft of this post — just a headline really — was started in March 2016 and my life was very, very, different back then. Work was humming along and I regularly worked 60+ hours each week along with all of my usual extras: teaching, socializing, creating a great relationship . . . you know, life.
The things I imagined I couldn’t live without were based on needing order in my life; I was too busy for anything less than serious structure and organization. Although, honestly, I’m not exactly sure what I was going to write about. I left myself only a few cryptic notes. (“Home” was one note.)
Here it is six years later and I am much clearer on what I absolutely can’t live without because I just purged my life of 90% of everything I once owned. So, here it is . . .
A Selection of Cooking Things
Turns out I have a real love of the slow cooker. Winter soups and summer feasts all come out of our (tiny) cooker. Even now when I have tons of time for the mechanics of cooking, I like the ability to just throw pieces into the cooker and walk away. And to be able to braise food and cook hot meal without having to turn on the stove in the heat of summer is a real joy. (Our building doesn’t allow for outdoor grills, or I’d be using that more in the summer.)
Similarly, my toaster is in heavy rotation. I don’t use it every day, but nearly so. Back in the States, my Breville toaster oven was a revelation in perfect toast and so much better for re-heating almost everything that we basically stopped using the microwave. Here, my toaster has a fun feature: it has a pop up frame on which I can toast buns and other over-sized items. Other than than that, I require a bagel setting.
Good knives. Defining “good” is a bit variable, as there are different perspectives on knife weight, composition, and shape. For me, having a steel chef’s knife, (serrated) bread slicer, and paring-type (steel) knife is the minimum. I guess I’d have to add the knife sharpener here as well. A dull knife is a danger.
Finally, a set of really good cookware. For me, that means All-Clad; specifically the set I gradually put-together over a decade or more: 12″ and 8″ fry pans, a big roaster with rack, 2 qt sauce pan, and a small sauce pan. With this set I can produce pretty much any meal I can imagine, even if I’m cooking pasta in the sauce pan and cookies in the roaster.
Cotton Bedding and Firm Pillows
I’m a side sleeper (sorry is that’s too TMI for you) and having excellent neck support is an absolute must. Sadly, I did not bring my (perfect) pillow from the US and have struggled to find the equivalent over here. (I guess its just not available anymore? I mean, I’d buy it on a visit if I could find it.) I end up doing a lot of self-care around neck pain because I lack a proper pillow and it makes me sad. Good, 100% cotton, sheets, comforter, and towels are vital. I’m neutral on whether the cotton is organic, but I think Egyptian cotton is decidedly nicer than other varieties. We did without this last winter, but I think having flannel in the cold months is extra cozy. (Obviously, we did without, so flannel is only barely on the list.)
Good Walking Shoes
Like knives, what defines good for you will likely vary. Like art, you’ll know what you like when you find it. For me it’s Hoka’s Carbon X2 sneaker. Not that brand in general, however, which is disappointing. I love this sneaker so much that I bought two more pairs even though I haven’t work the current pair out and am contemplating buying a few more just so when they (inevitably) stop being made I’ll be ok for a bit longer. (Ugh. already out of circulation. Good thing I bought when I did.)
I almost regret this, because it says so much about how I spend my time, but my laptop is indispensable. It’s how I communicate with so many, either in talking on Zoom or through writing (like this). Yes, it’s also my biggest time-waster, but that in no way diminishes it’s value. (Relatedly, my journal is very important. It didn’t make this list because I can, technically, journal on my laptop, but writing things by hand creates a very different mental process.) My laptop is the first thing on this list I’d grab if the apartment caught fire.
Any ereader will suffice, although mine starts with a “K”. I have, literally, thousands of books, mostly in epub format, although some are pdfs (a lot of the books I review are sent to me in this format). Converting my library of physical books into ebooks took a lot of time and resources. I’ll always miss the physicality of a book, but as much as I travel, I need something portable.
I know, this isn’t a Thing, per se. Nonetheless having J. in my life has been a true and genuine blessing and I cannot do without him. The few of you who have known me since before him know how much our relationship has changed me. He pushes me to be far more adventurous than I would be, and that brings amazing fortune to us both.
That’s it. All I need to be happy in this life. Everything else can be borrowed or is just an object, not something that brings me satisfaction.