It’s on the cusp of sweater weather and about to thunderstorm and I can smell someone grilling hamburgers down the block. If I lean over and stretch I can rest my chin on the windowsill like a puppy and take it all in. Today is the best today ever.

Some days a slice of toasted rye bread is a beautiful thing, and the butter carries with it all the comfort and safety of your childhood home.

Corduroy

I’ve been having a weird few weeks where I wish I smoked cigarettes. I don’t actually want to smoke them though—just hold them between my fingers. They seem kinda perfect for a variety of situations I’ve found myself in lately: Fidgeting. Gazing out the window at the snow. Sitting around in underwear and a tank top singing along to the same Pearl Jam song thirty times in a row, daydreaming about the late-night dregs of some backyard party when the stragglers are all sitting around a table not eating the last of the food, and there’s a string of little white lights in the background. Maybe some bats in the sky. Flecks of ash and ember.

“Though I sometimes mocked the scented-candle-pushing brand of happiness building, I discovered that there is something nice about working in an office with a candle burning. It’s like seeing snow falling outside the window or having a dog snoozing on the carpet beside you. It’s a kind of silent presence in the room and very pleasant.” —Gretchen Rubin in The Happiness Project

For years I’ve avoided candles even though I really like them. They seemed too much like a cliche of a late-teenage girl trying to be bohemian—especially if I had a candle burning while I was writing. But I got a candle for Christmas this year and I’ve been lighting it at night, and I miss my dog, and there’s been so much snow falling the past few weeks. A kind of silent presence. What a redemptive description.

My Year in Books: 2013

I’ve always been the kind of person to push through and finish any book I start. Last year I let some people convince me I didn’t “have to” do that. As a consequence, I only read eight books all year. That’s just 2/3 of a book each month.

“I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou’s as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn’t afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life—so beautiful, painful and dazzling—does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.” —Laurie Anderson, on her marriage to Lou Reed. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Beautiful.

There was a time when I was young and artsy and a borderline back-to-the-lander. In seventh grade I used to wish I could change my name to Shenandoah. As if so many other changes would follow from that. — Though who knows. Maybe they would have.

To be barefoot and step on a warm patch of rug where the sunlight didn’t used to fall even a few days ago: I got your picture on the back of a 45 / a placeholder till you take up mine.

One of those days. My heart and my hands want to write but my brain says “……….”

One of the things I miss about living in West Philly is how it was OK to bring your own Pyrex containers when you got takeout.