Reconnecting

Finally back from DC, where we snuck off for the weekend to go visit college friends who have made it their hub of higher learning. It’s so fantastic to reconnect with people who were part of your formative era, and find that you can pretty much pick up right where you left off. Granted, they have a lot more to teach you about Important Governmental Workings than they did four years ago…but that’s only an added bonus.

It’s also pretty great to escape the freezing air of a open-deck cigar bar by huddling in the bathroom with your homie and taking awkward, blurry self-portraits.

Unlike most mad-dash weekend trips, we actually got to see everybody long enough to have real conversations. Which made me realize…I kind of love these people. Not that I didn’t know that already, but forging your way in a new city means you have to make new friends. The people we’ve met in Boston are wonderful additions to our lives, but being with people who knew you “when” really feels like coming home.* We have history with these humans.

They're there for you when you accidentally order a cupcake the size of your head.

We also have brunch with them. Dim Sum brunch with unlimited guava-lychee mimosas. I know.

These two lovebirds were our hosts for the weekend, and they were just unbelievably gracious and fantastic.

Everyone should know the nirvana that is Salpy cooking for them. This is only a tiny sampling of what she just “whipped up.” Let’s just say that she made the garlic sauce from Zankou Chicken from scratch and that I spent a lot of time last weekend standing on the kitchen threshold watching what was transpiring. And learning how to hold a French knife the right way. No big deal.

Maybe the most fun of all was watching M getting to be his silly dude self with the friend that brings out his little boy-ness in a major way. If I told you they spent the better part of the weekend playing Mario Cart, would you believe it? You should.

Just heading back into the week so grateful to have these lovely people in my life, and hoping all the talk of everyone moving back to Southern California “at some point” proves true… I’d sure love to see you all more often. And get more homemade hummus.

Just sayin.

*I am aware that college was only five years ago. But that’s like a fifth of my lifespan. So.

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Accidentally Awesome

Sometimes a day that you think is going to be kind of a drag turns out to be the best thing since sliced bread. (Sliced tomatoes? I don’t know. Something grain-free). Exhibit A: Today. We had to get fingerprinted by the police because the California Bar exam nonsense was due, which meant trekking out to a part of Cambridge we never visit. In the rain. Lame, right?

But then it all just got crazy awesome. The guy doing the prints was incredibly nice, even when he had to re-roll every single print literally six or seven times because…I don’t know, I’m secretly a Man In Black? According to James the Harvard Police Detective, I have “the worst fingerprints ever,” and “Your husband just raced right through this. Best fingerprints I’ve ever seen. Rolled them all himself! You should call him Ace!” I was dying. This man alone would’ve made my day.

After bidding adieu to James, I called M to see where he was. He had found a hide-out in this fantastic little coffee shop right across the street. It was exactly like a place we went frequently during the random 4 weeks we lived in Santa Monica (in a haunted house…don’t ask), complete with individual coffee press and free Intellectual Magazines so that Monsieur could enjoy his beverage in the finest possible environment.

We were super hungry at that point (finger-rolling is exhausting) but the rain had broken into a completely open, gorgeous sky, and so we walked to this fantastic Portuguese place in Inman Square called “Casa Portugal.” Spontaneous lunch dates with your husband are pretty fun, especially when he totally engages with you in a debate about the benefits of French v. American parenting styles despite the fact that bebes are totally hypothetical creatures at this point. (I really want to read this book!) The absolute best thing about this place is their dessert, “natas du ceo” (quite truthfully translated as “cream from Heaven”). With these tiny espressos, you could pretty much be in Europe, and I am in everlasting, committed, tend-you-when-you’re-ill type love with any place that gives you that feeling.

And then. On the way back to the square to mail the Bar Bizness, we happened to pass a used bookstore (aka the kind of place that should be all over Harvard Square, but it only has the Gap because the rent is too high and all the independent businesses get shunted to Central). I ran in just wanting to look for a second, but then it was the BEST used bookstore ever, because everything was in amazing condition and five dollars. And instead of housing tons of Pliny the Elder and other books you should want to read but just don’t, it was full of everything I had been stalking on the Kindle. M caught my bug, and we walked out of there with quite a haul.

There’s something about being around books that seriously quickens my pulse. I love everything about them: the way they smell, the cover illustrations, the weight of a stack in my arms. On the walk back to the Square, we talked about all the books we’d loved when we were little (The Giver! The Phantom Tollbooth!)…..or rather, I rambled on and on about them until he laughed and said, “Our kids are going to be pretty well-read, aren’t they?”

Yeah, they probably won’t have much of a choice about that one. But as much as I want tiny bookworms with whom I can read in the park, I really want kids just like M: always open and ready for the kind of random fun the world has to offer.

Open Sesame Pretty Much Settles It

The other day, for the first few disoriented moments of consciousness, I thought I was in Belmont Shore. The first thing I saw was gray, balmy sky, and my mind immediately leapt to the walk down Santa Ana street to the ocean. The gray sky was real, of course, but the bright purple hibiscus flowers lining that path were three thousand miles away.

I wouldn’t have called myself a “California girl” before spending three years immersed in a culture that is anything but. Growing up, my fantasy life involved urban city centers navigated by public transportation, places with bright marquee lights and scarves and cafes where you could spend all afternoon with Austen or Faulkner without a strange look from teenagers in string bikinis.

I’m sitting in one of those cafes right now. Admittedly, I spend more time with my Google reader than with Austen, but that dream has been realized all the same. A train takes me to school each day, I own enough scarves to outfit a small boutique, and I can tell you where to get the best chocolate-chip cookie in Manhattan.*

Being the child of parents who are still happily married, I feel like this is the closest I’ve ever come to being torn between two poles. I love Boston. Twenty minutes and some flat boots can get you anywhere in the whole city, and the place you’re going probably is some speak-easy restaurant with dollar oysters.** But, as my early-morning subconscious can attest, I am longing for the sunny, salty air of the open expanse where I grew up.

M always teases me that I’m a split personality when it comes to cities. When we land in Boston each August, I’m all hopped up on the Q, rhapsodizing about culture! And ethnic food! And intellectual communities! And as soon as the first 20 degree day hits, I’m angry at the weather and making kindergarten paper chains to count down the days to when we fly “home to California, how could anyone even consider living somewhere else!”

So, it’s safe to say that I have trouble making up my mind. Except that when I look ahead to our return home after the bar exam, to living among our core loved ones again (instead of the dreaded exercise of “splitting time” among people I would rather lavish time upon)…I feel nothing but unadulterated excitement.

Perhaps that’s my answer after all.

*It’s Levain Bakery. If someone says otherwise, they’re telling a falsehood and they don’t want you to be happy. Get the chocolate chip walnut and then write a poem about it. We’ll compare our sonnets*** while eating the double-chocolate chip.

**Hi, Marliave. Let’s talk about your gin cocktails and how they’re just…I like them. A lot.

***You were going to do a sonnet, right? Haikus look like you’re not even trying.

Spoiler Alert

Dear Caveman Josh Groban,

Obviously we’re all going to keep watching this season; we’ve come this far on the journey with you. So, Imma let you finish “opening up” until you find whatever it is you’re looking for, but you should know: everyone thinks you are a full-size nutball. You getting rid of Kacie B. is essentially tantamount to a human rights violation. And that’s not true at all. But it was just offensively dumb. We are disappointed in you, Benjamin.

P.S. America wants you to get a haircut. No one is okay with that situation. You can tell it takes every fiber of Chris Harrison’s being to just say, “This is the final rose,” and not grab it and use the thorns to shear off the business end of whatever is happening there.

In Case You Are Also Missing Your Mommy

Today, I didn’t accomplish half of what I needed to do…so, it was basically like every other day in my entire life. My personal limitations seem overwhelming sometimes, and I get frustrated and blocked. So, like every other twenty-something female… I call my mom. But sometimes I don’t have time, or I can’t reach her. The beautiful thing is, though, I can just tell myself what I already know she’ll say. It’s a simple mantra, but it keeps me sane.

This, essentially, is my mother: Never be unkind. Everything else…well, whatever.

Try again tomorrow. You probably needed your sleep. One test is not everything. Too much pie never killed anyone.

Maybe they come off as excuses. To me, these bits of forgiveness and space are the little corners of grace that I need to get through the day. Through my life, really. Nothing is the end of the world, and so I can tell myself, because she told me, over and over again: You really are ok.

Life is so stressful, so often. Will my grades be good enough? Will I get a job? Can I compete with all these people? Can I pay my rent? It is so small, but this bottom line saves me. I will try as hard as I can, with the resources I can muster on that given day, and then…that will be it.

And I will not waste any energy on self-criticism that could have been spent on effort or on love. Again, because it is the crux of how I was raised, and the foundation of my life today: on effort, or on love. The only two things that matter in this world, and the greatest of these is love.

May I someday do half as good a job, Pup. Maybe like a quarter.

Monday Morning Randoms

1. Last week I was shopping for valentines in my favorite fancy-pants card store. I didn’t find any non-awkward love-professing cards, but I did find this:

Oh hi, my childhood. Missed you for a while there, but now I remember exactly what it was like.

I wanted to buy it so badly, but…what kind of life would that be for this cute little card, just sitting around my apartment? So I texted it to Hope instead. She seemed to like it.

2. A few days ago, I came home in a crab-tastic mood. When I got out of the shower, M had made me this.

“We can totally talk about it, but I thought you might also want some tequila.”

I am tequila, blood orange and lime juice. Let's talk.

Just encourage your partner’s ambitions to stockpile an impressive bar, is all I’m saying.

3. Sometimes I like to pick up a second language at the gym.

Long live leather indeed. At least, that’s what I think it says.

Seriously though, School Gymnasium, could you please try just like one tiny bit harder when it comes to cardio machine magazine selection? I mean, you don’t have to give us magazines at all. But when you do…and the selections are:

-The New England Gay and Lesbian Review

-The Economist (five issues! Five!)

-The Atlantic

-The New Yorker

…and there is not a female-interest publication in sight, then I just have to question your priorities. More pretty pictures = women spending more time working on their fitness, right? I like Intellectual Magazines as much as the next person, but if you can read The Economist whilst on the elliptical…you’re lying.

 

Really Attractive Raccoon Eyes

Glee hasn’t been good for a long time, but I catch up with it on Hulu every once in a while in binges. It’s musical theater on TV. I can’t not watch it.

And then their Valentine’s Day show was really, actually great again. The type of good where you’re just marveling at how talented all these people are, and how glad you are that they’re sharing their talent…and AND they were throwing some major “Jesus-Loves-Gay-People-Too” action in there, and I couldn’t be happier about that. Much as I love the fabulousness of Kurt, little asides from Quinn and the other Middle America-approved characters are probably much more convincing to those who might otherwise be inclined to disagree. And I am all about winning hearts and minds.

Anytime there’s a particularly wonderful performance, I can be persuaded to shed a little tear (I cry at talent the way other people brake for…whatever). But as I was watching Mercedes do “I Will Always Love You,” (which, come oneven warbled off-key still rates about 7 tissues) I remembered it was a Whitney Houston song… and that pretty much was the end of that. Ugh, that poor woman. Such a beautiful gift, so much struggle…

And now I am a sobby mess.

So that you may join me:

On the upside: Rachel’s gay dads, which I have been waiting for the show to reveal for, oh I don’t know, FOREVER. And they are amazing. As all gay dads are. Please observe:

I love everyone, just have babies and be nice to each other, the end.

Double-cross

On Monday night, I told M I had wanted to make him a super-awesome paleo dinner for Valentine’s Day, but that there wasn’t any time to go to the store for ingredients, so he’d have to wait a day. Obviously a total lie for which only sweet, simple men would fall.

Too bad I only thought I was the only spy in the family. As I was running around the kitchen (okay, stepping. Two feet in either direction. We still live in Boston), he stuck his head around the corner and held up a crinkly brown bag. “I know we said we were doing it tomorrow, but these guys wanted to come home today.”

He normally laughs at my obsession with all things beautiful-paper-related, so I cocked an eyebrow when I saw his card was from Papyrus. He said in his defense: “I had to go in! It was the first time I could look at the ones that say ‘For my Wife’ on them!”

Sometimes adult males can be nature’s most egregiously cute creatures.

And They’re Also Just Really Hot…

I love Valentine’s Day. I know why other people don’t; commercialization is annoying, and being reminded that you don’t have a romantic partner is less than awesome. But even though I do get the benefit of having a man order me flowers, I like February 14th even more because it reminds me to celebrate all the people that I love…especially the ladies (if you didn’t say that with a Tim Meadows accent the first time, try again). These women are crucial to my happiness all year…it’s the least I can do to send some glitter love their way every February to remind them how much they’re appreciated. Admittedly, this is a day late; it just took me a while to be able to handle how much I love you, my…
…childhood friends…

Why are you guys always matching? That's so weird...

They were NOT kidding about how good that pizza is...

…College buddies…

Oh, my beloved personal space invader...

Is it scary that this was taken 5 years ago? Or just awesome that there are two tiny people who would be in this picture today?

At Huntington Gardens...we don't DO weddings there.

Long ago and far away before you moved to the other side of the universe...but now you're home!!

My fellow sufferer through the evils of law school...I plan on using our time together next weekend to talk you into opening a cupcake shop once and for all. Be Forewarned.

…including the ones I wish I saw more often… I miss you guys!
…and the other amazing women who have come into my life as co-workers…

This one's getting married in two months!! So excited!

…or friends of friends….

So fierce. They never even knew what hit them.

I have no photos of you. Can we talk about that?

and stayed to make it a better place (by far).
I love you goofballs.

Quickly…

I’ve been feeling not-so-wonderful lately, (physically) and yesterday made the re-commitment to get back on the Paleo train. I know it’s impossible to keep it up all the time, but I just felt like I hadn’t even really been trying. So far, so good…two days in a row of Greek salads for dinner, and I feel much better. M is thrilled with the re-appearance of the paleo cookies, too. It’s so funny, once those are available, looking at the cheesecake in the fridge kind of grosses me out a little.

Oh, Mediterranean food, you are my savior… This is an incredibly blurry and awful capturing of the falafel from the food tour we did in New York. You can’t really tell here, but it’s green inside, which is how Salpy always told us to recognize a “good” falafel. I was so excited, I texted her this picture. She “LOL”-ed at me, haha.

So, this is really important: I am obsessed with this blog: www.health-bent.com

I found it today by Googling “paleo” on Pinterest (dear Lord, someone please make me start doing my homework) and now I cannot stop scrolling through it and bookmarking recipes to try. It has EVERYTHING. Ah!!