Weekend Worksheet: See “Wild,” Listen To VÉRITÉ & Roast Some Parsnips
Got some free time this weekend? Here are some suggestions for how to spend it…
I am an unabashed Cheryl Strayed fangirl. I love her because she is someone who has been through a lot in life, has done things she’s regretted, has lost and loved and struggled, and has come out the other end a wiser person who imparts what she’s learned with compassion and patience. Her collection of Dear Sugar advice columns, Tiny Beautiful Things, is one of the books I turn to when I’m feeling at my lowest and I always find some new perspective on life through her words.
Wild, Strayed’s memoir about her three-month journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was of particular help to me after my father died two years ago. As much a meditation on loss and grief as it is a travel memoir, Wild follows Strayed as she embarks on an extremely difficult physical challenge than ends up being just what she needed to start healing emotionally from the loss of her mother to cancer, as well as the destruction of her marriage and her struggles with drug abuse. It is a gorgeous book and normally I cringe at the thought of gorgeous books being adapted to the big screen, because it can so very often go wrong. But the film adaptation of Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon as Strayed, is utter perfection.
I very rarely cry in movies, especially in a movie theater surrounded by people, and while I expected the film to move me, I did not anticipate weeping my way through almost the entire film. Reese Witherspoon is quite possibly at her very best in this movie. While I have long loved her as an actress, there is something about her performance as Strayed that’s on another level for me. Many of her scenes are alone, but, like James Franco in “127 Hours,” her acting is strong enough to make up for the lack of dialogue, with the landscape as her primary co-star. Spliced throughout are flashbacks to Strayed’s childhood and early college years, before her mother (played by the perfectly cast Laura Dern) died, and the fallout after, as Strayed sought comfort in heroin and any man, besides her husband, who was willing. Witherspoon is completely naked in her performance (literally, at times, though I mostly mean emotionally) and there were points during the movie where just a look on her face sparked tears in my eyes.
I walked out of “Wild” with a desire to walk right back in to watch it again. Lucky enough to have “Wild” opening in your city this weekend? Watch it!
READ: THE EDIBLE WOMAN BY MARGARET ATWOOD
This week, Ami (Remember Ami? Of course you do!) took me to see Margaret Atwood speak at the 92nd Street Y for one of the author’s many 75th birthday celebrations. Atwood is one of my favorite writers and her work has had a big impact on my feminism and my world view. It is shocking and distressing how eerily prescient her dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale has turned out to be and I highly suggest reading it, for the first time or not. But first! You should actually read one of her lesser discussed works, and my personal favorite, The Edible Woman. This 1969 novel is about a young, recently engaged woman named Marian, who finds herself disassociating from her own body, and becomes increasingly unable to eat as her sense of self is eaten away. The novel uses this metaphorical cannibalism to explore gender roles that, while somewhat particular to the time, will speak to anyone who has ever lost their own identity in a relationship. It’s such an incredible and surreal novel. Read it!
FOLLOW: @MAVENCOLLECTPDX ON INSTAGRAM
If I could move into and live inside any Instagram account, it would be @MavenCollectPDX, a used home goods shop in Portland. Seriously, I’m about to book a ticket to Portland just so I can go shop there. Unlike a lot of vintage home stores, Maven Collection’s prices are actually affordable. They have an amassed an amazing selection of mid-century modern tables and dressers, cool wicker chairs, pillows and textiles in earthy prints, handmade dishes and decorative items and even some clothes, all of which they present in lovely, beautifully styled vignettes on their Instagram feed. The vibes are soooo gooooooood. Most of the larger items they sell are for local pickup only (hence, I’m tempted to fly out there to shop), but smaller items can be purchased and shipped. I suggest following them for a dose of serious home decorating inspiration. Follow them!
LISTEN: ECHO EP BY VÉRITÉ
In the last year or so, many of the albums I’ve added to my collection are from female singers, songwriters and bands. (And I’m not talking Pop 40 either, though y’all know Beyonce and Taylor Swift are also on repeat.) BANKS, Betty Who, Jenny Lewis, First Aid Kit, Mr Little Jeans (who is technically a Ms, FYI), Karen O, Sharon Van Etten, the list goes on and I’ve worn them allllllll out. Basically, if my iTunes Most Played is to be believed, the last 12 months have been fucking killer for women in music. The latest bad ass lady to join my ever-growing list? VÉRITÉ. Yes, ALL CAPS, two accents — DEAL WITH IT.
VÉRITÉ is actually 24-year-old Kelsey Byrne. She’s from New York, which I think totally explains why she’s so good at making the kind of melancholy electro-pop that suits this city’s grimy, chilly beauty this time of year. VÉRITÉ reminds me of Robyn or Betty Who, but after a draining a flask of whiskey and opting to stay in and dance in her underwear instead of heading to the clubs. She’s got musical roots too — her father was a musician and she grew up playing in bands when she was as young as 8, even fronting a punk band in her teens. So she was basically a pro by the time her single “Strange Enough” catapulted to the top of HypeMachine’s charts and seduced the music blogosphere. Her EP, Echo, features that song, the sublimely sweet and upbeat “Weekend,” and two more tracks that show her range, and I have not stopped listening to it for weeeeeeks. Listen up!
MAKE: ROASTED PARSNIPS
I’m gonna go ahead and call it: Parsnips are the new kale (which was the new Brussels sprouts). Parsnips are basically sweeter, bigger, thicker, whiter carrots and they are fucking delicious. Seriously, slice ‘em into 1/2 inch thick pieces, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and a little fresh thyme and roast until their fork tender in a 375 degree oven. Make them!