Discover more from is this emotional labor?
tea time with Nico
date: august 18 2020. moon phase: waning crescent. recipe: The Strawberry Lioness // if i were to categorize my albums autobiographically...
date: august 18 2020
moon phase: waning crescent
recipe: The Strawberry Lioness
Recently, I began a new project. I decided to go through every vinyl collection–previously alphabetized in a spur-of-the-moment re-org–and to play every record in order, no matter what it was. Why? Because I realized that I didn’t actually know what some of them even sounded like!
Frequently I wonder, “Oooh, it would be fun right now to have a Record Moment. What record could I put on to enhance or alter or improve my mood?” But I’ve never been able to just pick something that I definitively know can transport. How could I choose a vinyl record and know it would be something I could enjoy? What could keep me from just letting the iTunes algorithm say what I should listen to?
Vinyl is an intentional medium. Especially the way I have it set up. First, I have to turn on the surge protector that the receiver and record player are plugged into (please don’t call the fire department). Then I have to turn the receiver on, but just from standby mode–(it’s fine, I got this receiver for free)–and then I have to make sure it’s set to ‘phono’ and the volume isn’t too loud and then I get to put on a record. I negotiate it out of its sleeve. I set it on the player. I push start and watch the needle decide to raise up. As the record starts to spin, I wipe off any lingering dust. I watch as the needle continues to shift a few inches over before it hovers over the record for a few seconds.
Then I hear the first moments of the record. It’s the sound I’ve been waiting for. But what if it doesn’t fit the mood? What if I made the wrong choice? I could never anticipate how and if I could enjoy any record after all of that anticipation… so I decided to eliminate the guesswork and get some data. As I listen to each record, I have also been tracking it in Notion. (Perhaps I’ll share the template in a future missive.) Currently, I’m approaching the middle of the alphabet. (Just not quite the half of my collection, but it is just before the end of the first shelf.*)
*yes, I have two shelves. I’m fancy! I remember when I made the intentional choice to split the two shelves around the middle of the alphabet and discovering that no matter how many Beatles or ABBA records I have, if I tried to end at the Ms or the Ns, it just doesn’t work. So I ended the first shelf at the Ps. I did separate Paul McCartney and Paul Simon though. I think you can tell why from this eerie collab I found on the dark web. ^^
As I move through my collection, I find a groove. Now I know where I’m going and what I’m doing. I can feel when it’s time to flip a side and appreciate the turning. I’m entering important metadata and listening again to some I had avoided for a long time, because I was anxious of the mood they might put me in. The plan is working!
I am even reminded of a few gems that were my mom’s, and find one that belonged to my sister’s mother. I enjoy learning about all of these albums. Not only am I getting to take a few minutes to learn about the recording history but I’m also becoming more familiar with their physical history. I see the wear and tear, read the liner notes, look for producing info (you’d be surprised how many records do not include a year). Some of them I know, and I yearn for the nostalgia that comes from listening again. Others I’m discovering for the first time and I’m happy to welcome them into the collection.
I often think about if I were to categorize my albums autobiographically...
And if I am being honest, I'm most excited for the albums I purchased for myself, because they were chosen deliberately. But every time I go to choose a record, not only am I impaired by not knowing how to setup the perfect Record Moment, remnants of this scene from High Fidelity flood in, threatening to drown me. (It always happens in just one area of the room, where the ghost of my high school ex-boyfriend sits on the edge of my bed that is still on the floor 17 years later, playing the guitar.)
At some point during the process (I think it was after I had listened to a majority of the entire Beatles discography and George Harrison’s Material World & All Things Must Pass with all of its apple jams) I realized she was coming. I was approaching Nico. How could I ever be ready? It’s the height of summer. Overcoming my anticipation, I made a plan. I wanted to establish the perfect mood, and set aside a moment to re-introduce myself to Nico in 2020 with a delicious beverage in hand.
The Strawberry Lioness
Nico’s Chelsea Girl is one of the few albums I do know. I know exactly what it will do to me. I used to choose it for intimate evenings with guests, a habit I abandoned long before the pandemic. Regardless, typically for this album I want to be in a specific mood. So I set it.
In the warm summer evening after work, I crack open my journal and slightly elevate. I put on the record and let the now familiar process take hold.
Eventually, the first few gentle guitar chords begin and I am immediately transported. Is it 1967? Is it 2001? Whatever year it is, Nico’s haunting voice and Jackson Browne’s lyrics take me to another world for another hour or so. I make the most of it, thanks to this recipe I’m sharing with you.
“The Strawberry Lioness” is delicious, sweet, and decadent. Starting with The Cat & Kettle's Leo Astrolo-tea (iced), I added some sliced strawberries from the farmer’s market and homemade simple syrup.
1/4 cup strawberries, sliced
2 tsp simple syrup*
2 shakes bitters
1 1/2 oz vodka, gin, or rum (optional)
Iced Leo tea (hawthorn, calendula, mullein, rose, lemon peel, ginger, and lemon balm) to desired amount
*To make simple syrup, mix 1:1 ratio sugar to hot water until sugar dissolves. Cool before using.
It really can be served any old way: toss in some strawberries, bitters, tea, and top with soda water; or set your shaker up with gin or vodka and serve it in a chilled coupe glass with a sugared strawberry rim and sliced strawberries. Or you could keep it simple (yet boozy) with a rocks glass, muddled strawberries, ice, bitters, light rum, and some tonic.
Whichever path you choose, just make sure to follow your heart.
And if you’re new to making cocktails and need a guide, I strongly recommend The Infatuation Guide to Making Better Cocktails, which includes tips for home bartending at all levels.
I hope you enjoy this beverage and story as much as I did. & Stay tuned for more musings and recipes. I do happen to have an unusual CD collection…
Now that I've tried
Now that I've finally found that this is not the way
Now that I turn
Now that I feel it's time to spend the night away
I want to know do I stay or do I go
And maybe finally split the rhyme
And do I really understand the undernetting?
We remember being excited. We were always ready to go, eager and willing to follow them wherever they might lead us, especially if it meant we got to go out and play. We were always game, we were ready.
Now we're stuck, and we can no longer go out. There is no more play.
Because when we played, it was rough. Rushed and frantic and sometimes, harmful. We were so reckless. Was it really better? Why do we yearn for that time when there is no hope that it can go back to the way it was? And do we truly hope that it could be?
Why go back to a time where the pain and suffering was constantly concealing itself. As we tirelessly expose the pain and suffering for what it is, we can feel hopeless. Are we lost?
What if we could find our way. Not back to playtime, but to something better. What if we could make our own hope? We could leave ourselves sweet reminders of discoveries and new knowledge. Then, some time later–much later–we might stumble across a sweet reminder we left for ourselves. The reminder can be simple. It can complex. It can just be to hope.
As we remember the pain we’ve made and see the pain we continue to make, are we finding moments of hope for ourselves, or for the people around you? What might you hope for? Compassion? Understanding? A better world?