Angelus: No weapons… no friends… no hope. Take all that away and what’s left?
-Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Figuring out who we’re meant to be can be a lifelong process. I’ve spent years propelling myself around like a pinball, batted between this gig and that gig. A few months ago, I considered getting back into entertainment journalism somehow—frantically DMing someone who works for a media site for advice and unwittingly bungling the whole thing. I also got turned down for a part-time gig at another outlet—with one of those form letters that tells you they looked at your experience and didn’t find it a good fit. Ten years covering TV and books and it’s not a good fit? Whew. It made me realize that it’s not my field anymore. It’s…a younger person’s game. A gig for people who started out in digital, not the people scrambling to find their place after print began its slow crawl to death.
But bigger that that is the fact that I don’t have a hustle. I don’t self-market. I’m terrible at networking. I’m an introvert, so I hate being out there around people, staking my claim and carving a place for myself. I don’t know how to be a go-getter, at least not anymore. More and more, over the years, I’ve pulled inward. I can hardly reconcile the person I am now with the one who used to interview strangers on a daily basis. The person who went to pre-Emmy parties and even stood behind barricades on the Emmys’ Red Carpet. That gutsy 26-year-old who interviewed for a job in New York City in 2004 and moved there within a month. Where is she?
Forty. Damn. I can honestly say that I didn’t think I’d ever get to this milestone. (And it’s still more than a month away, so maybe I need to knock on some wood!) I’ve been trying to think of how to celebrate the Big 4-O and discarding plans at every turn. International travel? Who has money for that? Vegas? Moooney. Disney World? Yeah, you get the picture. So, in lieu of making my friends go on some splashy, expensive, trip with me in the middle of winter, I’ve decided to make a list of 40 things I want to do throughout the course of my 40th year. I don’t expect to get them all done, but you never know!
1. Go axe-throwing.
2. Get a massage. (I’ve never, ever, had one! Can you believe it?)
a staycation night at the Library Hotel or some other shmancy place. DONE!
4. Get some soul food.
5. Go to an arcade or hit up Dave & Buster’s for Skee-Ball.
Get a famous chocolate chip cookie from Levain Bakery DONE!
You’re so Levain, you probably think this bite is about you. Yum!
Visit the Museum of Sex. DONE!
8. Vacation some place warm!
Hit up Tea & Sympathy again. DONE!
Say “yes” to more things. ONGOING!
Do the boozy-snacky movie experience at the Nitehawk or Alamo Drafthouse. DONE!
Try a regional cuisine I’ve never had before. DONE!
Start or finish writing another book. DONE!
14. Get purple highlights/streaks.
Get another tattoo! DONE!
See Black Panther multiple times. DONE!
17. Make out with somebody.
Eat a churro. (Yes, I’ve never had a churro. IDK why!) DONE!
See more theater! ONGOING!
20. Win the Hamilton lottery (hahahahahahahahahaha)
21. Go on a date! (A good date, not a bad date!)
Visit more museums, zoos, and aquariums. ONGOING!
Try an egg cream! DONE!
Learn how to make an Old Fashioned. DONE!
Have dosa and sambar in Manhattan or Queens. DONE!
See Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom. DONE!
See Love, Simon. DONE!
28. Visit a state I haven’t been to before.
Buy myself a traditional desi masala container. DONE!
Hit up some new museums, aquariums, and zoos. DONE!
31. Level up in Indian cooking and learn how to make an appetizer or a dessert!
32. Take a boxing class.
33. Plan that Scotland whiskey trip I’ve been wanting to do for years.
Do karaoke. DONE!
35. Do pub trivia.
Have a chocolate martini. DONE!
Try an author I’ve never read before. DONE!
Figure out where I’m moving next! DONE! (And I actually moved there!)
Splurge and buy myself a nice bottle of peaty single-malt scotch. DONE!
Pick a nice/favorite restaurant to have dinner on my actual birthday. No spending that day alone! DONE!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the campaign for “the Internet’s Boyfriend” Tom Hiddleston as the new James Bond. For an actor, there’s no doubt that the opportunity to play Bond is next level. It’s a long-running, wildly successful, franchise. You go from stolid period dramas to a blockbuster paycheck. Everybody knows your name. (That was even the gist of the Chris Cornell theme song of Daniel Craig’s entrée into the series, Casino Royale). But, as a viewer, and as someone who is known to have a bit of a crush on Tom Hiddleston, I just cannot get my head around this idea.
You know how there are some dates and days that are tainted? Like when your gaze lingers on a digital display as the numbers blink “9:11” and you instinctively shudder? For me, that’s Tuesdays. For me, that’s all of October.
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?” – Anne of Green Gables, Lucy M. Montgomery
No, it wouldn’t. Because I’d like to scrub Octobers from my memory. I’d like to forget a Tuesday morning phone call and a shaking voice — choked sobs from a throat I always knew as stoic and strong — and a plane ticket booked blindly and a car taken numbly. I’d like to forget that flight, where I fought not to lose it and a well-dressed lady complained about sitting next to two people of color when she’d paid for the extra-legroom seat. I guess it didn’t occur to her that we’d paid for our seats, too. That, for me, it was the only one available as I frantically checked the airlines…as I still hoped Dad’s heart attack was mild and not fatal.
After six seasons, FX’s Justified came to a perfect close this week. Though buckets of blood bathed the episodes leading up to the finale, the last hour was all about quiet, hard-won farewells. Viewers said goodbye to so many memorable characters. Timothy Olyphant’s Raylan Givens, the gunslinger who, despite his white hat and noble intentions, was never quite the good guy he hoped to be. Joelle Carter’s Ava Crowder, the fierce survivor who struggled to look out for #1 and damn the consequences. Walton Goggins’ Boyd Crowder, the charismatic black hat to Raylan’s white and the other side to his coin. Tim, Rachel, Art, Wynn, Loretta…this season’s Big Bad, Sam Elliott’s Markham. Justified was a veritable community of personalities, almost impossible to leave — just like Harlan County itself, constantly drawing its residents back into damnation.
Dal, a lentil-based soup, is a staple of Bengali cooking — at least in my family. It didn’t matter that we grew up in Ohio, about as far from Kolkata and Dhaka as you can get, we had dal with dinner almost every night. Moog dal, musoor dal, cholar dal, toor dal, yellow split-pea dal. You know that whole Forrest Gump riff on shrimp? That was the Bhattacharjee household’s relationship to every kind of lentil in existence. It was one of my late father’s favorite dishes, and my mom liked to joke that he could eat just dal-bhaath (lentils and rice) for every meal. Me? Not so much. I looked upon dal with the kind of horror that middle American white kids saved for their broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
The only way you could get me to enjoy lentils was in khichuri, a classic Bengali comfort food that combines dal, rice, spices and ghee and usually comes with a side of something fried. Let’s face it, fried potatoes on the side make any dish a winner.
Whenever a book is hyped all over the romance blogosphere and Twitterverse, I get a little nervous. Once bitten, twice shy. I’ve bought a few books based on trusted squee and ended up burned. Fortunately, that was far from the case with Radiance, Grace Draven’s first Wraith Kings novel, which came out in January. It’s good. It’s really good. A gentle love story laced with political intrigue, Radiance finds Brishen of the Kai and Ildiko of the Gauri wed to cement an alliance between their countries. Fortunately, they approach this arrangement with practicality and good humor — which carries through the entire tale.