Can’t you almost smell that color?
When I first saw a Mountain Rose Apple, my breath caught. It reminded me of a professor who said that one of the Impressionist painters — I think it was Matisse — brought an apple as a gift when he visited friends. And that’s exactly what these apples are, tokens of affection. The best way to bring something simple and sweet to someone you love.
When I worked in publishing, I loved my commute. I enjoyed the solitude, the chance to listen to people and observe them without having to interact. In the evening, I switched off my brain so I could navigate the subway, being pressed by strangers on all sides. And when I stepped on the escalator, I played a personal lottery, hoping I might emerge from the heat and pressure of the subway and hear a violin in the station above.
Violins in the subway have always been a private pleasure. There’s something about the contrast of being so close to people you can smell the animal on them, and then the absolute civility of a string instrument. Those juxtapositions are the best thing about living in a city. They give you incentive to be grateful.
For years, I’ve wanted to give an extravagant tip to a violin-playing busker. I added it to my Life List and started plotting. I imagined standing out of view and handing small bills to other commuters, asking them to tip the busker on their way out of the station. I thought it would be fun to use two-dollar bills, so the busker would feel appreciated, but also know something was up. Of course, I wanted to film it for the site, so all of you could see it unfold, maybe take some photos of the violinist too.
I told Bryan about my plan a couple years ago, and he surprised me with a stack of crisp two-dollar bills from the bank. I started thinking more seriously about logistics. I’d need some friends — someone to film, someone to pass out bills while I took photos. We’d need to head out at rush hour so there were sufficient passersby to help us tip, and to provide cover. It might take a few days, because we’d have to ride the subway around in search of a violinist, and violinists are a little elusive in San Francisco. Maybe it would take a week.
You can see where I’m going. In my head I was taking a simple pleasure, a moment distinguished by its serendipity, and turning it into a three-person, week-long slog. The plan was pretty in theory, but it was built to surprise and delight everyone but me.
This past year I’ve had to put my Life List on hold, but a few weeks ago I happened to be on the subway by myself for the first time in a long while. I stepped onto the escalator, and listened with my heart in my mouth.
There he was.
So I wrote him a check.
And I dropped it in his violin case before I headed upstairs.
Give $100 to a violin playing busker? Check.
We did it!
About a year ago, I added “Listen to 1,000 New Songs to my Life List, and started in. You guys sent me music, I listened to a lot of Pandora, and ten months later here we are. This project has enriched my life, so I’d like to do something on the site with music from now on, I’m just thinking about the best way to do it — please let me know if you have ideas in comments. For now, here’s a list of all my favorites over the past year.
These are my top ten:
1. All Summer from Best Coast, Kid Cudi and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam
2. Home from Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
3. Hand Me Down from Visqueen
4. Invincible from OK Go
5. Dominos from The Big Pink
6. Like a G6 from Far East Movement
7. When the Night Comes from Dan Auerbach
8. Dirty Laundry from Bitter:Sweet
9. Make You Feel My Love cover from Adele
10. Those to Come from The Shins
And here are the rest of the songs I linked to over the course of the 1,000 Songs Project. I’ve bolded more favorites:
I and Love and You from The Avett Brothers
I Thought of You Last Night from Jeri Southern
Him from Lily Allen
Vanilla Twilight from Owl City
Listomania from Phoenix
La Alergía from Very Be Careful
The High Road from Danger Mouse and James Mercer on the Broken Bells Album
Young Forever from Jay-Z and Mr. Hudson
Hologram from Katie Herzig
Safety in Numbers from Stars of Track and Field
Horchata from Vampire Weekend
Book of Love cover from Nataly Dawn
Oh Yeah! from Housse De Racket
Boy (extended mix) from Book of Love
Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare) from Kid Cudi, MGMT, and Ratatat
Two Weeks from Grizzly Bear
Undercover Martyn from Two Door Cinema Club
Brand New Shoes from She and Him
Let Me Down Easy from Bettye Lavette
San Francisco from Brett Dennen
5 More Minutes Please from Meghan Smith
Balloons from The Postmarks
French Navy from Camera Obscura
Away with Murder from Camera Obscura
How You Like Me Now from The Heavy
I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked from Ida Maria
Meet Me In The City from The Black Keys
Runaway from the National
God Help the Girl from God Help the Girl
Do You Love Me from Amanda Jenssen
Destroy Everything You Touch from Ladytron
Idlewild from Julia Kent
You’re Not All That (Feat. Jessica Darling) from The Herbaliser
Ik wil alleen maar zwemmen from Spinvis
Not California from Hem
Ce Jeu from Yelle
Comme des Enfants from Couer de Pirate
Robots from Dan Mangan
Cavalier Eternal from Against Me!
Welcome Home from Radical Face
Summer Sun from Koop
Swim from Surfer Blood
Summertime from Josh Rouse
Catch the Sun from Doves
Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap
Know How by Kings of Convenience
The Great Escape from The Rifles
Call and Response from Or, the Whale
My Good Gal from Old Crow Medicine Show
Laundry Room from The Avett Brothers
White Winter Hymnal from Fleet Foxes
Steady Rollin’ from Two Gallants
No Ceiling from Eddie Vedder
So Bad from Arum Rae
Air Plane from Local Natives
You and I from Ingrid Michaelson
In My Cup from Richie Loops
Samson from Regina Spector
Le Moulin from Yann Tiersen
Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk from Rufus Wainwright
Rhythm of Love by Plain White T’s
I don’t know from Lisa Hannigan
There is a Light (but it’s not for everyone) from Rae Spoon
You Turned my Head Around from Dean & Britta
I Sing I Swim from Seabear
Quiet from Non Tiq
Don’t Save Me from Marit Larsen
Cry Me a River from Julie London
Bag of Hammers from Thao with the Get Down Stay Down
I know how you are going to die tonight. from Chris Bathgate
So Sleepy from Fiona Apple
God Loves You Micheal Chang from Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele
Modern Man from Arcade Fire
Good Enough from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Come Alive from Janelle Monae
Shine On from Seth Bernard and Daisy May
There’s An Arc from Hey Rosetta!
Conversation 16 from The National
Summer Special from Land of Talk
Ambling Alp from Yeasayer
Trashcan from Delta Spirit
Don’t Bother Me from the Blakes
Dirty City from Kids and Animals
Roll Away Your Stone from Mumford and Sons
Nothing Else Matters covered by Lissie
The Start of Something from Voxtrot
Just Impolite from Plushgun
Help, I’m Alive from Metric
Lauren Marie from Girls
Fix Up, Look Sharp from Dizzee Rascal
Oh My God from Ida Maria
Lost Cause from Beck
Don’t Stop from Brazilian Girls
Wish Someone Would Care from Irma Thomas
The Garden from Mirah
The Weather from Built to Spill
Acts of Man from Midlake
Little Bit of Feel Good from Jamie Lidell
Such Great Heights cover from Iron and Wine
You’re Gonna Miss Me from Lulu and the Lampshades
Rolling in the Deep from Adele
Be My Thrill from The Weepies
Lover Gone from Peggy Sue and the Pirates
The Rhythm You Started from Sophie Madeleine
Clementine from Sarah Jaffe
One Day from Sharon Van Etten
Smoke a Little Smoke from Eric Church
Before I’m Old from Fictionist
Bullfighter Jacket from Miniature Tigers
Big Jet Plane from Angus and Julia Stone
Holding Us Back from Katie Herzig
Via Con Me from Paolo Conte
I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know from Donny Hathaway
Two of Those Two from Maria Taylor
Doo Wah Doo from Kate Nash
That Day from The Villagers
Firework from Katy Perry
It All from Lou Rhodes
Capturing Moods from Rilo Kiley
Black and Yellow from Wiz Khalifa
Sugar from Dan Wilson
Thanks again for your emails, comments, and mixtapes over the course of the project. The CDs you’ve made me have been particularly touching. I like you.
And again, let me know if you have an idea of what you’d like to see in as a music feature on Mighty Girl from here on out.
This series was hard for me to write. The process was emotional, and made me feel pretty vulnerable, as you could probably tell from all the jokes.
As always, you’ve made this worth it. So many of you are reaching out to say you’ve had health issues too, that you’re trying acupuncture, or exercising for the first time, or just taking better care of yourself because of something you read here. And if I thought writing the posts was emotional, reading your comments, emails, and messages on Twitter has been a bit of a roller coaster. I want all of us well, and I’m thankful to play any role in that.
Checking this off seems profound and flip at the same time. It feels like saying I’ve achieved perfect health, but it’s more an expression of gratitude. I finally have systems in place to help me cope when things go awry. I don’t ignore what my body needs anymore, and I do things every day to take care of myself. That is such a dramatic shift from where I was a few years ago, it’s a little breathtaking to look back.
If you need to improve your health, here’s the whole health series at a go:
One thing we didn’t touch on much is stress. I’ve learned that stress is a huge trigger for my immune system to revolt, and the love and support of friends and community is as healing as anything else I’ve tried.
So thank you for loving up on me all these years, and please take good care of yourselves. I like having you around.
I choose apples the same way I’d choose a puppy, by looking for the one with the prettiest spots. The Black Arkansas apple on the left is so gorgeous. So red, it truly is almost black, except for the mottling on the side. It’s tart and firm, seems like it would make a decent pie apple. The Davisson is flavorful, but a little sweeter.
With the addition of these two, we’re up to 96 fruits. Only 904 to go!
Blackberries were a big part of my childhood, some of you may remember that Berry was my maiden name. We had blackberries in the backyard, and when we went camping, I would spend hours on my own picking berries so we could have blackberries and heavy cream for breakfast. My hands were purple all summer.
My gathering instinct is still strong — the idea of free food is exciting. You do the work, and then you have your bowl of berries right in front of you. So direct, and different from the kind of work I usually do.
It’s been years since I’ve gone picking, and this summer we nearly went the whole season without staining our fingers. The Life List reminded me that it was time to get out and do it. The berries are right there, we just had to choose an afternoon for picking.
It’s been a busy couple of months, so I have some catching up to do on my five things in three months goal — November 15 is approaching like a freight train. How are your goals coming along, lovies?
I’ve always wished I knew more about music, and this is part of my Life List project to listen to 1,000 new songs. Right now I’m up to 570, and on Fridays I share some of my new favorites. If you’d like to share some music with me, please send your picks to maggie at mighty girl dot com, and I will listen to them.
These first two artists and songs are recs from Melanie Levi:
Roll Away Your Stone from Mumford and Sons
Nothing Else Matters covered by Lissie
The Start of Something from Voxtrot
Like a G6 from Far East Movement
Let’s dance this one out.
Still looking for more music? Here you go: Mixtape 1, Mixtape 2, Mixtape 3, Mixtape 4, Mixtape 5, Mixtape 6, Mixtape 7, Mixtape 8, Mixtape 9, Mixtape 10, Mixtape 11, Mixtape 12, Mixtape 13, Mixtape 14, Mixtape 15 , Mixtape 16 , Mixtape 17 , Mixtape 18, Mixtape 19