Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press, a newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind.
Thanks for reading. I hope you find this issue to be worth your time.
Comments and reader suggestions are always welcome.
If you’re reading this on Wednesday morning, I may still be covered in flour.
Otherwise, I’m probably cleaned up by now. That’s because today is a big day. Today is my lovely partner’s birthday. Part of our celebration plans today involve baking my hit banana bread (as featured in Issue #8 of The Good Press).
So hopefully, by the time most people read this, the banana bread is already in the bag. Or the oven, as it were. I’m not the best baker but I’m always confident when it’s a recipe I’ve done before, and this one’s good every time.
Big birthday bashes are a tradition for her. She’s a social butterfly, and last year, we partied with friends until the sun came up. It was such a fun night. That won’t be happening this year, hunkered down in the countryside, but the least I could do was offer to bake her a cake, from scratch and with love.
She counter-offered with a cake and a banana bread. She’s a good negotiator. I wasn’t sure what to make. I knew I wanted it to taste good, to find a good balance between tasting good and not being such a cheat meal. I wasn’t sure if it’s possible. Perhaps there’s a reason “healthy cake” isn’t a popular genre.
Nevertheless, I am fortunate enough to be hunkering down with her parents, who have a lot more experience in the kitchen than I do, so we teamed up to brainstorm. We ended up choosing a flourless Italian chocolate walnut cake:
Flourless Italian Chocolate Walnut Cake | Food.com
Said to be an extremely rich cake that tastes even better on day 2
I can’t wait to try it today. We made it last night and it is currently resting comfortably in the fridge. We went heavy on the walnuts and used a stevia-based sweetener instead of sugar. The batter tasted good so, -fingers crossed-
In Other Words
No matter how the treats turn out, I’m determined to make it a memorable and happy birthday, as happy as a birthday can be in these challenging times. Just as we should take time for gratitude, we should always try to keep the things that make us happy at the forefront of our minds. Maybe we can’t celebrate a birthday with all of our friends, but we can celebrate a birthday.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions around the world will never celebrate another birthday because of COVID-19. That’s not lost on us. She’s my everything. Keeping her happy and healthy is everything to me.
She’s Why: Love and Life Sheltering in Place with a High-Risk Partner During a Viral Pandemic
A first-hand account of what it’s been like to shelter in place with a high-risk partner in New York City during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic
So I’m happy to spend every December 2 lavishing her with love and gifts and delicious things. I hope I can do it for 100 more years. This birthday will be quite weird, but it’s not the weirdest day we’ve had this year. Hopefully, by next year’s birthday, we’ll have a lot more people to share these treats with.
At any rate, we’ll keep trekking along, the way we have been since March. Things could be better, but things could be much worse. After where this thing started back then? I’m so happy to be able to celebrate with her today.
So today is her day. If it makes her happy to see me sweating, wearing an apron, and covered in flour, then I’m happy to oblige. It’ll be a sweeter birthday celebration than ever, after all we’ve weathered together this year.
Friday, my partner and I will make a semi-monthly trip back to NYC. We’ve got a piece of furniture we’ve been meaning to haul up to our apartment, and we’ve got a couple of weeks of mail to collect, among some other errands.
Before we head back to the country house in the Poconos on Saturday, we’ll be heading up to Westchester, where I’m thrilled to report that my brother and his fiancée will officially become my brother and my sister-in-law.
It’ll be a small courthouse ceremony. They’ve been together several years and they simply couldn’t wait any longer. A wedding and a reception will come post-vaccine, when congregating together becomes hip and cool again.
We are going to try to take as many precautions as we can. We are driving from NYC straight to the courthouse and then heading back to the Poconos afterward, minimizing contact time as much as we can. My partner and I will be wearing chemistry lab-style eye goggles in addition to our masks and our finest wedding attire. I expect funny looks, but I’m hoping to lean into it and preserve the moment photographically so that we can all tell the kids one day that Uncle Jon was dressed like a dapper astronaut for a very good reason.
I am more than willing to look silly in official wedding photography if it means a safe and happy day for all. It stunk to miss out on spending time in-person with family on Thanksgiving and my brother’s 30th birthday last weekend.
We’re well aware that there is legitimate risk going to the courthouse for the marriage ceremony. These are precisely the moments that are so dangerous at this stage of the pandemic because we trust the people we are interacting with. I’m breaking my own rule on this one, but wearing our masks and goggles, trying to distance as much as possible, we’ll be there for my brother and his soon-to-be wife when the moment comes. I’m nervous but excited. It’s the way I’m wired. It’s not the riskiest thing in the world but it is not without risk, so I will be nervous about it. But I’m so, so excited to be there.
So here’s to my brother and future sister-in-law. May they have a long, happy, and healthy marriage (complete with a spectacular wedding someday soon).
I’m happy to have the people I have in my life. I’m grateful and appreciative every day. I’m happy to celebrate my partner’s birthday today and make her a happy lady for so many birthdays to come. I’m happy to see my little brother all grown up and head-over-heels in love like I am, so in love that he’ll be spending his first week as a thirtysomething a newlywed. How great is that?
Stay safe out there, folks. Happy days are ahead if we can stay warm and stay healthy this winter. Stay vigilant and draw strength from the things in your life that make you happy. My mom always recommends taking out a pen and a piece of paper and making a list of all the things that make you happy. Even in times like these, there are enough to fill the page and then some, I’m sure.
Be more vigilant than I’m being this weekend. After we weather this storm together, we can all get together and have cake. So make your list (and check it twice). Keep adding to it as inspiration strikes. Find the things that make you happy and immerse yourself in them as much as you can this December.
Till next time,
Previously in The Good Press
The Good Press — Issue #32: Gratitude
Being grateful amid the strangest Thanksgiving of our lives
November 25, 2020
The Good Press — Issue #30: Forward
The 2020 election was a battle for America’s soul with democracy itself on the ballot. It wasn’t “right vs. left” but “backward vs. forward”
November 11, 2020