I am bundled up in a navy wool sweater under another thicker brown sweater, plus a black wool scarf, in case you could only make out a blob. I was alongside the San Pablo Bay on a cold, albeit California, winter morning. The chill seems stronger now than it was at the close of 2013. Last year, riding bikes to the marina just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, I remember hurriedly pulling on a salt and pepper hoodie and leggings. This year, a similar ensemble hardly keeps me warm inside the house. I may have to brace myself for a cooler winter, but the change in the air is exciting. I also tend to feel guilty for staying indoors for too long, quickly suspecting myself of being inherently lazy, but the cold air makes staying indoors the most sensible thing to do. I glimpse the post-holiday blues on the horizon, but I’m trying my best not to suffer such blues preemptively. I want to be present in every moment, or at least every few moments, and what better time to practice than before a brand new year.
The first day of winter was spent under the bright blue sky of San Diego. There is something reassuring about a city that insists on keeping you warm no matter the time of year. I visited the southern tip of the Point Loma peninsula, the kind of place that prompts your cell phone carrier to send a message that reads, “Welcome abroad! Please note international rates apply.” My sister’s dog is in my right arm, a chihuahua named Pinky who traveled from Seattle to be here. I will be in San Diego for just a couple more days before heading back to the Bay Area to celebrate both Christmas and New Year. Safe travels and good vibes as we enter winter and the final phase of the holiday season.
“Why didn’t Don consort with writers? Successful writers, published writers, or even simply ambitious, interesting writers, published or no? Why hadn’t he argued and bantered with the New Yorker editors? Why hadn’t he made them his friends? Forged alliances? Told them about his novel? Why hadn’t he talked about Gramsci or Proust with them? The answer sent a shiver through me: Don didn’t want friends who worked at The New Yorker. He didn’t want friends who dressed in creamy Brooks Brothers oxfords and college ties, friends who had health insurance and degrees from Harvard, friends who’d just published their first Talk of the Town pieces. He surrounded himself with fools — the broken, the failed or failing, the sad and confused — so that he might be their king. Which, obviously, made him nothing but the king of fools.”
My Salinger Year, p. 151
By Joanna Rakoff
I make no intention of routinely penning these greetings and adieus to the passing months, but it somehow ends up working out that way, as if responding to an easy writing prompt. I spent Thanksgiving in an unusually hot and dry San Diego, which allowed for relaxing poolside and wearing shorts and a t-shirt for a sunset walk. The 8-hour drive to San Diego meant leaving the house at 4 AM on Thanksgiving Day, but strong cold brew coffee, 1989, and the 6AM sunrise each worked its magic.
I avoided any and all shopping on Black Friday, but did get a few things on Saturday that had nothing to do with the holiday sales. I got a box of ginger tea from a Korean market, and weaved in and out of a few places before settling on just two candles: fraser fir and tobacco & oakwood.
Holidays come and go far too quickly, which explains our swift transition to Christmas soon after Thanksgiving. I saw several newly purchased Christmas trees strapped onto the roofs of cars the day after, and every little downtown I come across is carefully outlined in Christmas lights. The quicker we dive into the merrymaking, the more time we have in its midst. Cheers to the holidays.