Katherine Clary (b. 1986) is a writer, editor and producer based on New York. She makes The Wine Zine, a biannual magazine about natural wine, and is the author of a forthcoming book on natural wine being published in Spring 2020 by Hachette/Running Press.
01 NOSTALGIA: What was felt more deeply because it took you back to your past?
Late one night I came across a lo-fi scan of a Scholastic book catalog from the 90s. I love old scientific, educational, and promotional pamphlets for their sheer ability to fit in so much information in a digestible way. Seeing a page from one of those catalogs brought me back to being in 2nd grade, the nervous excitement of finding the perfect book (and trying to not blow it — I was only allowed to buy one book). I’d read every description of every book in that catalog. As much as I desperately wanted to be a Babysitters Club girl, I always went for some book about medical mysteries or the Victorian times.
02 DETAIL: James Salter wrote: “Life is weather, life is meals.” Describe a meaningful moment involving each in the last month.
I was eating pizza on a bench in San Francisco (Washington Square Park, clam slice from Golden Boy) when an older man sat down next to me; he introduced himself as James. He was wearing a crisp uniform that suggested he was part of the park maintenance crew. We got to talking (him mostly asking me about my pizza… “Clams? Ew!”) and though I didn’t admit I was just a tourist that week and hadn’t lived in SF for many years, he must have sensed it. His Bay Area pride overcame him and he proceeded to tell me where I should go when I finished my slice:
“Up over that hill [pointing to Telegraph Hill], through the woods—it will be a bit damp—then walk down the Filbert steps, and then stop about halfway through the Grace Merchant gardens. Stop and look out; that’s the most beautiful view of the bay. Stand there in the sun and soak it in.”
This complete stranger had just suggested that I walk over to the neighborhood I stayed in with my late mother when I moved to San Francisco when I was 8 years old. All I could do was nod my head and thank him. Always be going home.
03 ADJUST: What are you amid that is almost (but not quite) right? A draft, a relationship, an injury…what needs refinement and attention?
At 32, I’m finally getting in touch with my corporeal form. I’m noticing where my body lacks muscle (all of it), what sorts of things cause me to hold my breath, how and why my shoulders tense up. I realized I have a lot to learn about this body I occupy.
04 INDULGENT: When were you indulgent?
I had a night out with both new and old friends that lasted until after the sun rose. It felt very bad and also very good.
05 SELF-INDULGENT: When were you indulgent?
Any moment I pause to think about my own existence feels self-indulgent these days, though I’m not sure it should. I was much more introspective in my early 20s and 10+ years later, I miss that part of myself. Is a little navel gazing such a bad thing?
06 MINOR SECRETS: Describe something you did in private.(Perhaps not a "secret," but maybe something that never occurred to you to share…)
Started humming to myself again.
07 PARE BACK: Did you simplify something?
I’ve been working on simplifying my speech patterns and the way my thoughts come out... less filler, less pausing to interrupt myself to clarify a thought, less rushing to get to the point. I think so far it’s led to me getting more of what I want, possibly because people finally understand what it is that I’m asking for. I used to only be able to do this in writing, so in a way I feel like I’m better translating myself via myself.
08 CULTURE LIST: What was read, watched, seen, listened to? And consider the ratio between the mediums.
My cultural consumption is always pretty sparse and often years behind. Try as I might I can’t really seem to change that.
Usually I’ll only listen to a handful of songs for a month or two until I burn them out and move on to the next batch. It’s a little obsessive and definitely boring for anyone other than me.
Daft Punk ‘Giorgio by Moroder’ - Sometimes if I listen to this song at the right volume on the right morning on my way to do some predictably annoying NYC errand, it chokes me up. It also makes me laugh to think of crying to Daft Punk.
Ann Lamott ‘Bird by Bird: Advice on Writing and Life’ - This book totally snuck up on me. I found it for $1 at a Goodwill and was only somewhat familiar with Ann Lamott’s work, and couldn’t have anticipated how much it would touch me. Coincidentally, I got my first book deal while reading it... so I’ll never forget this one.
Michael Krohnen ‘1,001 Lunches with J. Krishnamurti’ - I love books that reveal a bit about the personal lives of artists and writers and thinkers... especially how they ate. I think it says so much about a person. This is a memoir by Krishnamurti’s cook.