“Featured Things” is a new monthly series dedicated to the work of some of our favorite writers and photographers. We are delighted to present our first contributor, the eloquent and sublime Meera Sethi, an editor from Cambridge, MA who really knows her way around around a Canon 10D. She also has exceptional taste in fruit.
It is always kind, intelligent, handsome, full of love and good humor, and every other day it feels wonderfully soft and smells incredibly good.
We will draw a veil over the days in between when it is slightly sandpapery and/or smells of salmon.
The Giant Fin Whale skeleton…
…hanging from the ceiling in the Great Mammal Hall at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
Because it’s a hundred years old, covered in dust, adorned with fake baleen, and still amazes the hell out of me every single time I walk into that room.
Until about a year ago Ross and I spent every night sleeping (if by such a name our paltry slumbers could be called) on a full-sized bed that I had bought second-hand, for the princely sum of 80 dollars, shortly after graduating from college. By the end of its lifetime its stiffly uncoiling springs were so close to the surface of the mattress in some spots that I gradually learned to curl my body into a shape that avoided the worst of the stabbing. Then we decided we had avoided living like grown-ups for long enough, and ventured out into the soothing, blue, starry-ceilinged sanctuary that is Jordan’s Furniture. We lay on beds and took notes. We rolled over experimentally. We consulted a sleep specialist. And we signed a credit-card slip with a number on it that was roughly equivalent to the cost of a plane ticket to Beijing.
Our new bed is a queen, in every sense of the word. Her cushiony top hugs and supports my weary spine in all the right places; she is firm (yet gentle) and soft (yet supportive). She makes life a dream.
Blindness, by José Saramago
Somehow, Saramago manages to make me love the fact that he never uses any form of punctuation except for periods and commas: as if in compensation, the latter are sprinkled wildly, indiscriminately, and often incorrectly throughout every paragraph. It is an editor’s nightmare, and at the same time a wholly effective tool for forcing me to share a faint taste of the infectious blindness that afflicts the characters in the novel—it makes me feel like I am wading through a thick fog of words in the midst of which I can’t seem to find even a pinprick of air.
I am currently on page 115 . . . the crumbling, stinking mental asylum where the blind have been housed is full to bursting and there is “nothing to be heard except the noise of two hundred and sixty mouths masticating.” Brilliant stuff.
Druze mint tea
So good it is almost worth risking death by attempting to marry into a secret religious sect.
My Nissan thermos
Japanese engineering companies are so good at multi-tasking. You would think making perky little cars would take up all their time, but no! They also
find it in their hearts to make the Best. Thermos. In. The. World.
I’m not really a person of morning rituals, routines, or protocols—it’s enough of a triumph if I manage to trip out of the house before 8:10am with my keys in my pocket and matching socks on inside my fraying boots. I almost never make time for breakfast, despite the fact that editing on an empty stomach tends to make me a trifle . . . pugnacious, shall we say? For the past several months, though, there has been at least one bright spot of tradition in my morning, an observance I adhere to with all the devotion of an acolyte: after I turn on my computer at work but before I type in my email password, I pour black, steaming coffee (freshly made by the owner of Thing #1) out of my shiny Nissan thermos and into my favorite mug. I ignore the red light on my phone. And I drink deep of the tincture that brings me to life.
I love this thermos with the kind of love usually reserved for family heirloom jewelry or really good chocolate. It has been known to keep its caffeinated contents drinkably hot for up to 8 hours, but I almost never give it a chance to show off.
When I was a girl it was all about blue, but baby, now that I am a woman I can’t get enough of that viridian glow.
If I had my druthers I would wear nothing but shades of jade, emerald, olive, bamboo, sage, lime, forest, bottle, pea, sea, sap, fern, and luscious grass green every day. . . funny how I can never remember to water the plants.
See previous thing. Is there anything in this world so perfectly beautiful as a ripe, sliced kiwi, ready and waiting to be scooped out into sweet morsels?
Two weeks ago I was so moved by the perfection of the kiwi that I waxed lyrical about it in an email to a friend: “I have been eating kiwifruit all month long and it makes me happy—those crunchy seeds, like tiny black freshwater pearls between your teeth, and that absurd green, so bright and impossible.” I’m not the only one, either.
Every week a lovely Scottish man named Mark and his equally lovely and equally Scottish sidekick Kara get together in a little studio in the west of Scotland (did I mention the part where they’re Scottish?) to record an amazingly well-organized, easy-to-follow, thoroughly addictive Spanish learning podcast. The two are unflaggingly professional and upbeat, and the satisfaction of manipulating the sounds and grammar of a new language is one of my favorite things in the world.
I sometimes listen to shows I’ve already heard just to put myself in a better mood. Oh—and by the way— ¿hay una discoteca por aqui?
Do I really need to say more?