The right to determine when

There’s something I’d like to share…

When I was first prescribed oral contraception a few months back, the pharmacist said to me as he processed the prescription: “And, it’s free and will always be free.” I didn’t think much about his statement until practically now- when I requested to continue the same prescription through our family doctor.

I’d love to share this, The Guardian’s super helpful infographic on contraception usage around the world.

To learn, for instance, that in Africa, the percentage of couples who use condoms as the primary form of contraception is around the same as those who use ‘the rhythm method’ or timing sex around periods of ovulation (which is ~80% effective) is fascinating and reminds me that the right to determine when to start a family is absolutely a privilege.

A tip for entertaining

There’s just something about having friends over to perk up an evening. I once had a friend share his take on hosting dinners: “I only concern myself with mastering a handful of recipes. What more do I need?”.

Indeed, I am a believer in timeless recipes and food pairings (which goes hand-in-hand with minimizing stress). Here are some of my go-to ideas…

Sketch1

entree: pan-roasted chicken with rosemary, garlic and lemon; sides: caramelized pearl onions, roasted haricot verts, mash; wine: this year’s beaujolais nouveau; dessert: chocolate mousse (just like how they serve it at Chez Janou!)

Sketch2

entree: pan-seared scallops on bed of risotto, seafood broth, microgreens, cracked pepper; sides: pan-roasted asparagus; wine: chenin blanc; dessert: seasonal fruit tart from a favorite local bakery

Sketch3

entree: pappardelle bolognese with grated carrots; sides: heirloom tomatoes with flaked sea salt, arugula with dressing of dijion mustard, minced garlic, worcestershire and olive oil; wine: barbera or barberesco; dessert: apple compote, gelato

 

And of course, there’s no rush on being the only cook in the kitchen.

“I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.” -Julia Child

Are you comfortable nude?

ae782c3f8d53576cb3c6cdc59866ad5e

We’ve talked about body acceptance. Now, I’d like to ask…how comfortable are you nude?

I have to tell you, I’m always surprised by how reluctant Americans are about stripping down. Growing up, I noticed that my extended family in China was fairly open about their bodies…not closing the door when changing, for instance.

When I was 13 and visiting Beijing, my aunt decided to invite all the ladies to a spa unlike any spa I’ve seen in the US. There was an atrium with large whirlpools bathed in golden light, dry saunas adjacent to wet ones, an in-house movie theater with plushy seats where foot masseuses came to you

I was booked for a massage for “the whole body”, my masseuse emphasized. I hadn’t yet been fully unclothed in my new body before anyone and initially felt a combination of goofiness and embarrassment. But by the end, it felt so, so calming.

Since then, I’ve become more and more open about my corporeality, let’s say 😉

Over the summer, I went to visit a friend in Massachusetts. We were driving to the main beach on the island when she commented that a portion of the coast was clothing optional.

Absolutely, I’d thought. “I mean, more for having no tan lines than anything else”. I tried to sound casual.

The water was calm on Lucy Vincent. We peeled off all our layers and frolicked across the sand and sea for the afternoon, surrounded by just a loose band of elderly men and women.

The day spread into evening and as we were packing up for home, one of the ladies from the group approached us.

“Are you dancers? You both look like you’ve just stepped out of a painting”, she’d said.

It’s true that neither of us look like we’ve just stepped out of a magazine, but that was never the point. Her compliment was genuine and kind, the kind that sticks with you.

(image via here)

manifesto

favim-com-26373

We are perpetually made aware, necessarily so but perhaps more than we’d like to admit, of our ultimate loneliness. This is not a generational problem, though how equipped we are currently of handling the realization of our singularity is questionable. In the contemporary age, we all share on social media. We pin and request, email and message and seek to bridge all digital platforms. Collectively, we open our lives to the larger world and foster the internet of things. This connectedness is undoubtedly a feat, but it can prove to be concerning. With wide technological reach, there is need to generate higher and more sophisticated privacy settings. Data must be protected and our daily interactions with software distributed to a network of powerful albeit privilege parties. We can argue that it is by the sheer existence of security infrastructure that we latently sacrifice a sense of control.

As bell hooks argues in All About Love, privacy is easily confused with secrecy, that privacy and secrecy are now becoming more and more akin to one another and that the strength of one enhances the strength of the other. As technology grows and broadcasting more and more authorized, defined and protected, we naturally will see a heightened sense of secrecy. This argument follows:

Continue reading “manifesto”