Stay for Tea

Category: that’s life

Instagramification

A cocktail glass with straw and a red mixed drink sitting on a marble counter next to a red album for 45" records, with words "My Record House" printed on the cover in gold letters

Sometimes I think about the ease with which we can document the minutiae of our daily routines. It seems like it’s changing the way we store memories, and I’m conflicted about whether or not that’s a good thing. Like many others, I use social media, and I take photos with my phone. Because it is still the easiest app to use for editing and sharing photos on the fly, Instagram has become a bit of a habit.

Against the grey twilight sky, a black silhouette of a fountain statue of a woman holding up a torch and palm trees surrounding the statue.

A small chocolate pot-de-creme glass sitting on pebbles. It is covered in parchment paper and wrapped with twine. In the background is a red rose bush.

I am aware that through the simple act of pausing and taking a photo, we’re altering the experience and casting an editorial glance that changes our perception. I understand the disruptive nature of documenting, and it’s something I try to think about a bit more. I do my best not to be egregious with photo taking, and having been reprimanded on some occasions, reach for my phone as little as possible while out with friends. I’m also starting to come to terms with the fact that our way of experiencing and interpreting life is going through a major shift. I’m curious about our relationship to these photos when we look at them at a later point. Am I, in fact, preserving a memory when I take a photo? Or am I crafting a somewhat altered, carefully edited and selected version of a moment, so that in retrospect, it seems more ambiguous and interesting, almost cinematic? Maybe a little bit of both.

A night time shot of a downtown with many high rise buildings with lights on. The window through which the photo is taken is framed in multi-colored Christmas lights.

Three musketeer figurines with swords and capes, one riding a toy horse, sitting on a wood grain table next two three champagne cocktail glasses.

While taking snapshots of the everyday may be an exercise in self satisfaction, there is also a benefit to it. Looking through my set of pictures, what I see is a life that often has lovely, interesting moments. The fact is, these snapshots are still a documentation of at least some degree of reality. I am reminded that my life often has moments of joy, creativity, learning, and comfort. Given the human tendency towards dwelling on the negative, I am OK reflecting on only the positive moments I choose to capture. Bad experiences and frustrating memories will find their way to us regardless, so why not balance it out with something pleasant.

A small black kitten with white paws and cream stripe on her nose asleep on a green couch. She is wearing a pink flower on her collar and a 90s celebrity teen magazine is in the background.

A white sign with bold black letters saying "Wedding this way" and a gold arrow, tied to a white metal post at the entrance to a wooded grove. The ground is covered with yellow leaves.

How do you feel about documenting daily moments in pictures? Do you think it’s a reliable way to record memories? What do you feel when you look back through your photos?

Cocktailing

I have a tendency to get involved in far too many activities, meet-ups, projects and the like, and sometimes those don’t have a long life span. It’s been a particular point of pride and pleasure for me that for several years now I’ve managed to remain a consistent and active member of one of my groups: LARC – Ladies Advocating Respectable Cocktails.

I seem to have amassed a goodly amount of spirits & cocktail recipe books.

I seem to have amassed a goodly amount of spirits & cocktail recipe books.

Since late summer of ’09, we’ve met more or less once a month to mix cocktails on a theme, share personal stories and reflections, and get to know each other over a tipple. I started out timidly, browsing cocktail recipes online instead of inventing my own. As I’ve learned more about the nuances of a balanced cocktail, I’ve gotten more adventurous, actually crafting my own (at least, I think they are) cocktails. We’ve had all sorts of monthly themes, from base spirits, to countries of the world, to more abstract ones, like creating a drink inspired by a song or a passage in a book. Our group is a small and manageable size, and we never drink a full glass of each cocktail, instead passing around a couple of tumblers, or decanting into small tasting portions. At each gathering, conversations go from academic to intimate, sometimes devolving into silliness, like writing (in the spirit of exquisite corpse) a short passage inspired by a side-splitting reading of that awful 50 Shades of Gray book. But mostly, we’re there for the friendship, and the booze. And pizza, which seems to be our general go to food for the evening.

Below are two of my most successful – because I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some disappointing flops –  recent creations. (I’m afraid I’m terrible at noting quantities, but it’d be roughly 2 measures first ingredient, 1 measure second, and half a measure or dash of each of the remaining. Give or take. Sorry. Play with it!)

habibi

Cold brewed coffee, brandy, Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters, Torani Amer, home made orange-cardamom simple syrup (with some orange peel in the shaker). The theme was “vessels” hence my glass coffee cup & saucer.

The theme was songs, and I picked this eerie, entrancing, synth heavy Bee Gees song. Vodka, Galliano, St George Spirits’ Aqua Perfecta Raspberry liqueur, and Scrappy’s Chocolate bitters. No photos of this one, so instead, listen to the song.

week off

It’s just a rule, ever since I was a kid, I’d get sick right around the holidays, last week of December. UNWAVERING rule. So earlier this weekend I had a fever, and then was feeling better, and I got to go to Christmas dinner with my darling boyfriend & some of his family and their friends. I brought some pryaniki I’d made, in a white tin I decked out with peppermint plaid packing tape.

Cocktails (Bulleit Rye in a shotglass for me, please and thank you) before dinner were in the large kitchen, with lots of chatter, followed by a delicious meal and a fluffy walnut cake. Towards the end of dinner I felt like my temperature was rising again, so J. took me home. I did not have the horrid fever dreams, and today I am just very stuffed up and going through tissues like a loon, but I no longer feel sore or headachy.

J. is expert at giftwrapping

J. gifted me with many delightful things. Two items that will get put to use soon, possibly even this week as I might bake something for my brother’s birthday dinner, are a lovely French style, tapered rolling pin and Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cook book, which I’ve been talking about getting for ages. The recipes are intense (that’s a good thing): Chinese sausage foccacia, PB&J cake, cereal milk ice cream pie? WHAT?

My gift wrapping job

I have all of this week off work. I wish I hadn’t gotten sick, because now that means I’m not feeling well enough to go check out a new (to me) karaoke night on Tuesday. However, at least I get the sickness out of the way so I can feel better for the rest of the week, right? I also have to finalize gift shopping for my family (advantage: Russian immigrants and the fact that we are still pretty used to exchanging gifts according to Soviet tradition).

I hope everyone out there is happy and healthy. Holiday seasons in general are loaded with a lot of expectation, and sometimes heartache. I know not everyone celebrates any particular holiday, or some are really cash strapped, or going through a rough patch emotionally. Ultimately, I just really hope that you are feeling happy and healthy, and that you are spending time with some really lovely people who make you laugh, and that on cold nights you have a nice drink and a plate of food to warm up the spirits. That’s all we really need, right?