Letter of Rec #057: And then my daughter asked, is god real?
Plus flaming tulips, a red velvet jacket, outfit ideas for Thanksgiving dinner and coats
I was walking my kids to school last week and one of my daughters asked me if God is real. You expect that your kids will start to ask questions like this as they grow more curious and complex, as the size of their worlds begin to expand beyond what we as their parents predict.
She asked this question no more seriously or straightforwardly than she would if we were talking about a Disney character and I knew this but still felt this sense creeping up, like a barrage of words were about to come out and I had no control over them. I said,
If you imagine God as a man who lives up in the sky watching over you, then he’s probably not real but if you can think of God as the warm feeling you get inside of your body, that gushes when you’re cuddling with someone you love, when you’re laughing with your sister or sharing snacks with your friend and it makes her so happy that you’re happy too, when you’re sitting alone at the kitchen table but you don’t feel alone because you’re with yourself, drawing a picture that somehow possesses you — and if the feeling you get when you give it to me or to dad to whoever you decided to make it for feels like warm water that is bursting out of a balloon, then yes, God is real.
The feeling you get that makes you want to share, to be generous or kind, to seek to understand, have compassion, curiosity, to feel compelled to create, with your pain, with your joy — that’s God. The feeling that makes you want to live is God. And whatever it takes to help you touch that — no matter how frivolous, “superficial,” or silly it may seem: now more than ever, take it seriously.
I’ve been thinking about creative work lately — the stuff we make that often desires conditions that make us feel safe enough to produce it. It’s the kind of stuff that implores you to find beauty.
In moments of severe adversity, often it’s anger that provokes new creative expression. And it’s up to us to parse through the difference between anger that seeks a way out through art, and the kind that tries to shut you down.
I keep thinking about how important it feels to honor, respect, and support creative work. When anyone shares with you what they have made: drawn, cooked, written, sung, sewn, sculpted, arranged, that is their laying bare the most vulnerable, soft part of themselves, the thing that helps them touch into expansion, see God as they do or don’t call it.
And I just keep thinking how lucky we are to live in a world where so many are willing to show us and share it. To extend their gush and invite us in too, to lay bare in the ooze with them.
How lucky we are when we feel the courage to show and share what we make too.
So I guess my recommendation no.1 for this edition of Letter of Rec is to turn towards the eternal, creative. To one soft thing you’ve deprioritized lately, something you do or indulge in that fills you up, disrupts the anger or fear, and makes you feel that sensation of warmth.
If I have learned anything from being Jewish, it’s that pushing up against pain could be as soft as a will to see light through the darkness. And if I have learned anything from being a woman — one with deep imprints of suffering in her lineage, it’s that it could be as strong as a will to turn the pain into beauty.
More than ever, we are desperate for light. If you can find a way to feel it for yourself, you will no doubt relay it wherever you go and that ripple is worth its own weight in gold.
So please, for the sake of us all, bathe in whatever brings you light, brings you calm, helps you feel peace.
Some soft, bright spots I’ve recently found and made, in places both unlikely and not:
(1) The flaming tulips are back in stock at the farmer’s market and last week I fell for the crimson-red bunch.
They have given so much life to the room where they sit. They seem so confident to me, you know? Clear about what they are and what they bring. Not trying to turn themselves into annything else.
Why do we accept it when we try to bend ourselves into different shapes? I wish the same confidence and clarity for myself. And if you need it, I wish it for you too.
(2) This little, Japaense book, called A Dictionary of Color Combinations.
Which contains exactly what the title teases: a compendium of ways to combine color.
It makes for a great gift to the extent that it’s exactly the kind of thing you probably would not get for yourself but which is so great to have when it’s starting to feel like your head is about to collapse into itself and you crave simplicity but the kind of simplicity that creates space and is gentle to look at.
The descriptive names of the colors in pairs somehow seem like they are kind too.
The person who gave me this book was at my place two weeks ago for a trunkshow that spared no type of dried fruit (kiwi, melon, ginger, mango, pineapple, strawberry — you name it!) or mixed nut from the spread.
But the real winners this go around were the pesto sambusaks (traditional Syrian cheese pastry — Abie’s grandma makes the best ones, but I buy mine from a kosher Middle Eastern market in Brooklyn) I served.
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While we’re talking food, I’ll also drop in a pretty gross dish I have been ingesting and enjoying ad nauseam but not ad nausea, with minimal preparatory effort: lots and lots (and lots) of egg salad paired with Isle of Us’ Aleppo pepper honey.
The base on which I consume this concoction — these Laetitia Rouget plates — is just the icing on the yolk.
Also, look at this ceramic pencil that is actually cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil. Apparently, you can only get it at one place in New York and that place is the gourmet grocer on the north east corner of 88th and Madison, Madison Fare.
If you make the trip over, do yourself the favor of picking up a batch of Amin’s homemade feta cheese spread too.
Back to the trunkshow I hosted, which wasn’t a trunkshow for food if you can believe that. It was for UK-based brand Liberowe, by Thalia Loubaton, who makes beautiful jackets.
I wore this one on the occasion of the event and am dropping it in because holiday dressing season is upon us…
But also like this:
Meanwhile, I might wear this to a Friendsgiving I have tomorrow:
Have also been tracking the happenings of these sandals, which seem like they’d be a good foil to grey socks and stiff jeans, dark wash like these (or something more festive, like this). If any of you have them or have tried them on, what’s the back strap like? Per my ask from a few weeks ago re the pursuit of silver strappy sandals too, thanks to all who sent me a link to these from Rabanne for H&M.
Still on shoes: another pair that recently caught my attention are these from Arteana.
From the realm of things to wear over your outfits: look at this hat from Cawley Studio
Great to know it won’t blow away when it’s windy, even better that it can be fashioned into a choker if you want to take it off but only a little.
How do you think it would look with these sunglasses? A surprise delivery from Christopher Esber and a nice departure from the round frames I’ve been wearing — not quite a cat eye or bug-eye but a nice mix between the two.
Changing tracks now to outerwear, I’ve been wearing one of two By Malene Birger coats a ton lately. The first is this one.
And the second is this one. It’s boxy and loose, but rigid and thick enough that its comfortable when worn with a heavy sweater under it, which means it can prob keep you pretty warm through a New York January (or even February) —
But woah, I fell down a hole in the pre-sale sales, and some of the good jackets and coats I found include:
Next order of business, while we’re in the spirit of whimsy: this extremely dramatic collier de pearls.
But I’d totally go for the Westwood ones too.
With the exception of these pearl collars, I have definitely been going hard on longer-rope necklaces. Most recently, this is my favorite one. But I noticed this strand of beads on Net some time last week too. Good for the broader whimsy movement.
And then…have you been thinking about holiday party outfits? I really like what’s coming out of J. Crew on the more widely known scale
And Nue Studio/Artdealer Journal as far as younger, or lesser known brands.
Now to bring this right back around to where we started —
Here is one gorgeous accent lamp to consider should you find yourself trying to light a dark corner.
That concludes what I have for you this week. I won’t be publishing next week, so have a great Thanksgiving and I’ll see you back here soon. Also, if you liked this edition of TCA, (which is typically reserved for paying subscribers), please consider becoming one!
Have a good weekend,