Some of you (Hello! You're lovely, you unknown readers out there, waking up on Sunday all over the world, making coffee in a tiny apartment in San Francisco or steeping tea in a sunlit, white-washed kitchen in Connecticut. Or dressing your smiling, chubby toddler in a messy bedroom somewhere or sleepily walking to a workout class on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan.) have asked about the poetry. You've asked where I find it. The truth is that (outside of school) I've never read much poetry until this past year.
I guess when you open yourself up to something, it streams in easily. I read it online, stumbling from author to author. I give myself over to long, leisurely hours in the poetry section of my local bookstore, paging through small volumes as I kneel on the carpet and awkwardly try to move when aggressive New Yorkers sweep past me, searching for a day planner or the latest crime bestseller.
However I find it, I fall in love a little bit with each new poet. Just like a good novel, I marvel at how people can articulate the human experience so intensely and vividly. Like, oh hey, I'm not the only person who feels that way! (Ditto when I realize that there are other humans who like to eat 3 times their body weight in cheesy popcorn while watching old episodes of Project Runway. Life, guys! We're all in it together.)
So today, for you all, read Matthew Rohrer's exquisite words. If you're wise, you'll skip to the bottom of this post and make the recipe first, then read these poems while you eat a warm slice of banana bread studded with crunchy millet.
and also this:
I think my happiest place is reading with something good to eat. I can picture myself, age 17, perched on a bar stool in our kitchen at home on the farm, reading my first John Grisham book with an intensity that nothing short of an earthquake could interrupt. I remember this particular day because my little sister had made, for the first time, these stellar homemade chocolate sandwich cookies (faux Oreos but so much better) which are now famous in my eyes. I had a plate of them, warm, in front of me. I demolished them slowly, crumb by crumb, as I read.
Other, similar memories arise. I'm 14-years-old, sneaking hefty spoonfuls of nubby, buttery oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough from the fridge at home and stealing upstairs with them to slowly savor while I read old L.M. Montgomery novels. Or lying in the hammock up by the garden with a stash of my mom's cheesy rolls (a tender yeasted dough in a swirled cinnamon roll shape, with a savory filling of gooey cheddar cheese that gets crunchy and golden on the edges) and a stack of Harry Potter books.
I honor this about myself okay? Find what you love (CHEESE ROLLS) and love it, fully! As an adult who works alone from home, I'm careful to break from my schedule at lunchtime to curl up on my couch with a bowl of soup and a biscuit, or an oversized salad, or a snack plate of hummus and crackers and salsa. And true to form, I always read a physical book at lunch while I eat. (My Kindle is nice at night, since the soft light is easy on my eyes and doesn't wake my sleepy fiancé, but during the day I prefer the heft of a real book.)
So for you, try this. Make this banana bread. Put two slices on a plate and open a book. Read. Lose yourself in another world. Lose yourself in a slice of bread! These are the small pleasures we can give ourselves in an often chaotic world.
Extra-Moist Banana Bread
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5 5/8 ounces) brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces Greek yogurt (full-fat preferably) or crème fraîche or a mixture of both
4 medium bananas, mashed
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup uncooked millet
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease two standard-sized metal loaf pans.
Melt the butter in a large bowl. Add the sugars and whisk well to combine.
Add the eggs, mixing in each one at a time, then the vanilla and salt.
Add the softened cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and crème fraîche. If your cream cheese doesn't fully incorporate, and has some lumps, transfer your batter to a stand mixer (or use a handheld electric mixer) and beat on high for a few minutes. The batter will lighten up in color and the lumps should smooth out.
Add the mashed bananas and mix well.
Add the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon if using. Stir until the batter just comes together. Stir in the millet (you could also use up to a cup of chopped toasted nuts, chocolate chips, or even coconut!).
Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for about 1 hour, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool before turning out of the pans and slicing.