Tuesday, April 22, 2014

how to seem brave

Last week, I received a card: "Family isn't about where we are. It's about who we are, And how much we mean to each other. You're always in my heart. Happy Easter." My mom and dad both signed it, adding, "We are so proud of your bravery and strength." I smiled while reading. How sweet and silly. If anyone is familiar with the frequency with which I'm frightened by real life, it's them.
Then again, they're right in that my best experiences have been driven by such nervous adrenaline. I think it's because my greatest fear of all is being stuck in the midst of what ifs. In other words, it's less "I think I can" (go, confidence, go) and more I insist on "knowing better". If most of our lives are defined and articulated by what we believe should and shouldn't be, I prefer to challenge the mediocracy, ya know? Though I trust everything takes place as it should, I also believe we give it the opportunity to do so. To let our lives happen at all. To play that small yet significant role in who and what comes our way, where, why, when and how...
It means I'm vulnerable, I get my hopes up, and I'm sometimes hurt by disappointing people, places, and things--nouns, basically. But, it also means when I'm far away from my family and ma famille on Easter Sunday, I have friends to clink Kir Royales (and more) with on the Seine. And how I adore them. Brave or not, I wouldn't trade our memories together for anything else in the world. Life does work out in our favor every now and again; and when it does, it's so oftentimes better than we'd ever imagined.

Friday, April 18, 2014

the dreams that come true

{Auxerre, France}
He told me he wanted to sail a boat around the world,
He wanted to take me with him.
We'd explore faraway lands and love each other and live exceptionally,
simply.

I smiled warmly as I sat in front of the computer screen
1,230 miles away. Northeast.
Thank God for AIM
and the college prep summer program that brought us together.

I was entranced by his intelligence and sense of adventure,
by the way his opinions varied from my own,
by his accent, of course.
I wanted to live his dreams in all their vastness.

That was for eventually though.
For now, I had a boyfriend and a part-time job,
and we were only entertaining a someday idea;
no harm in that.

There was, of course,
I just didn't let myself realize it until later.
We never did sail around the world,
and we fell out of whatever love we thought we were in.

Nothing turned out
as we'd so naively planned.

It was never supposed to.

He chose planes over boats.
I accumulated more dreams of my own,
and have gone about living them.
Still inspired by memories of a high school romance.

Also inspired by the recent passing of Colombian novelist, Gabriel Garcíá Márquez, who'd "entwined tales of time, memory ... love".

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

biodynamic in bourgogne

Putting together the first draft of my master's thesis has kept my brain rather consistently scattered (i.e. the sequence of recent posts: blog curation, neobistro lunches, actual 'good' peoplesimple, seasonal menus?). I hope it's forgivable as I've compared the process to "knitting a quilt for a giant." Are quilts even knit? Should I ask someone? There I go again... luckily, a milestone has been reached. I just submitted it for review! And I doubt I could have done so without last Saturday's much-needed break in Burgundy.
Lorelei and I joined fellow AUP students on a day trip. Though I fell asleep soon after boarding the bus, I awoke to fields of vibrant yellow flowers as we approached the town of Auxerre. We wandered past quaint, timbered houses for two hours, stopping at all the major sites: the cathedral, tour d'horloge, and abbey. Then, we had boulangerie sandwiches by the river to bask in the gorgeous sun.
Afterwards, we went to Chablis to visit Jean-Marc Brocard's vineyard and learn about biodynamic agriculture--a system that views the vineyard as an ecosystem, accouting for astrological influences and lunar cycles. It produces a natural (not quite organic) wine.
And, as I happily discovered, it also produces a wine that is just lovely to taste on a warm, sunshine-y afternoon in the countryside. Good to know: Chablis is a white wine (almost entirely Chardonnay) from the northernmost area of the French Burgundy region. It's crisp and dry, with a refreshing acidity brought about by the fossil-rich limestone soil. I highly recommend you sip some soon :).

Sunday, April 13, 2014

le plat du jour

Though I do sometimes enjoy restaurant meals with friends--and love to photograph and write about them so as to relive the special occasion, I mostly cook for myself. Breakfast at home is simple: banana oatmeal; muesli with yogurt; yesterday's toasted baguette with butter, raspberry preserves, and a handful of almonds. Lunch and dinner are, too. I get into seasonal routines, cooking for one.
This past winter, the dish above was a favorite of mine. Broccoli and carrots were oh-so plentiful! And I'd make a dozen of these falafels at a time. Recently however, I've been changing the à la maison menu for spring's vegetables. This sautéed zucchini with feta cheese, capellini/penne with garlic, olive oil, lemon [and spinach], and that roasted asparagus, parmesan-poached eggs have been parfait. Up next, ratatouille with chickpeas. Have any go-to meals to share? La cuisine and I can always use more inspiration...

Friday, April 11, 2014

altruistique

While catching up on the Daily Show recently, I saw an interview with Samuel J. Jackson promoting his latest blockbuster, Captain America. I've been thinking about good guys and bad guys ever since; mostly because there's no such thing. And yet, I also believe "character is the culmination of daily action" (to borrow Brianna Wiest's words). So I've been pondering the really good and less good people I know, and based on my own experiences with them, what actually makes one a better human being than another.
Clearly I'm writing this post because I've got it all figured out :). My working theory is that goodness is equal part intention as it is reaction. Although when it comes to poor choices, "not meaning to" doesn't take away from the negative effects of having done so, we shouldn't reduce the value of effort in redemption and forgiveness--especially, and for instance, after the most horrific events.
{Bois de Vincennes}
Soon after coming to this conclusion, I received an email from ScienceDaily. This headline--People with higher bonuses don't give more to charity--caught my eye. Apparently, "higher earners are less inclined to give, and donate a similar share of their money compared to those on lower incomes." Disappointing, I thought, though not all surprising. (I've been following Kristof's opinions on related issues.) Research lead Dr. Tonin said, "the distorted feeling of entitlement [coming from monetary bonuses that are often a result of skills, effort, and luck] may furnish subjects in the higher earner group with the moral ground not to act more generously."
Then a recent conversation with Lorelei about 'the halo effect' that accompanies benevolence came to my mind; as well as research findings I've shared previously: "Next to quitting smoking, giving is the best possible thing you could do for your health--making virtue truly its own reward." Upon closer examination though, as much as we may feel good by doing good, this hardly selfless feeling encourages a "positive feedback loop" that, in turn, encourages more altruism. Not bad, right? It's likely those great people I spoke of are reveling in such a state of being. And... they deserve to. Amidst more sad news, this world needs more like them.
*For the record, "altruistique" is entirely Franglish-ish. It has no meaning whatsoever yet accurately reflects the way I tend to communicate on a daily basis in Paris. All good, right?