Friday, January 24, 2014

le mexique

Tell someone you're going to Mexico, and s/he'll probably hear you're vacationing with sand and sun soon. Most south-of-the-border trips are that simple. This one's different special though. My parents and I are visiting my dad's hometown; my dad's small, rural hometown tucked beside the Sierra de Mazamitía in the Mexican state of Jalisco. I haven't been there in 15 years.
We're escaping a snowy New York to spend a week at my grandparents' house. I distinctly remember milking cows with my dad and abuelo upon waking, retrieving fresh eggs from the coop, helping my grandmother make tortillas, and playing along the canal with my cousins. I'm excited to (again) experience the festive reunion in San Francisco. Wish me luck with, por favor! Living in Paris hasn't exactly helped my Spanish... at all :). See you in February with photos of our beach-less Mexican getaway.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


As we near the end of January, I have a confession to make: I think better-in-2014 declarations are silly. Not because research has proven only 8% of people ever achieve their resolutions (that's actually a bummer), but rather because an enthusiastic post or tweet is hardly an effort towards the progress we're already capable of making. Plus, if we are to dig deep into those souls of ours, we know the most valuable resolutions aren't accomplished in measurable successes. Take these brilliant intentions:
"This year, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again." -Howard W. Hunter
I've decided to strive for each and every one this year. As for those epic, seemingly unattainable goals? I'll take them on, too, but quietly. We can want and work with all our might. We most definitely should. And yet the biggest and best, who and what we actually need most, oftentimes without even being aware of it, tend to happen outside the realms of our control. Opportunities have a way of creeping up on us once we've cleared the space for them. Go on... be and do, hope and dream, create and trust.

Monday, January 13, 2014

defined by food

A master's thesis is a fascinating beast. I've quickly learned just how much it demands commitment, passion, and tireless effort. As such, my preferred mental break--besides writing an email to friends in Paris or crossing paths with another in New York--is magazines, those same ones I thought I'd wanted to work for just a few years ago. They're mostly light, inspiring reads. There is one common thread that's been bothering me in particular though: weight loss stories that begin with a women raised on food as love.
Food as love is not "the problem." Food is how we nourish ourselves and each other, share traditional memories, create celebratory moments together. Nothing about the affectionate nature of a meal prepared and enjoyed among others is problematic. Then again, I'm referring to a degree of appreciation for the experience that is often associate with the French; a secret cultural formula to being thin on wine, bread, cheese, and cream. What we may not realize is that the "secret" is literally taught, in the home and classroom.
At the molecular level, yes, food is fuel. But the human touch adds love, and we've been cultivating it into cuisines around the world for centuries. While in the Jura, I recall Claire telling us about French researchers that led a group of overweight men and women through a weight loss program focused, not on extreme exercise nor culinary deprivation, but a conscious respect for food itself. They learned how to taste. And in doing so, they also lost a healthy amount of weight and were able to keep it off.
We're privileged to be able to choose what we eat, where, and how. From most disciplines, academics have proven that “what kind of food one eats and how – organic, healthy, local, processed, vegan, or ethnic – is a serious cultural and political issue with vital consequences for one’s cultural lifestyle and identity,” (Hirose and Pih 1483). That's why I'm so curious to look at how 'global cities' define local cuisine and who participates in the process. It's also why I loved Saturday night's dinner with my brother. Before he went back to Arizona, we dined on delectable French dishes (a shared petit plateau from the oyster bar, bowl of chestnut soup, and lamb shank with carrots and potatoes), wine, and espresso at a restaurant with his namesake. We had such a good time. I told him all about my thesis research; he shared his judgement of the restaurant... :) he's become especially opinionated since working at Fortina's. He spoke about his spring semester schedule and hopes for the future, too. What if food is, and should always be, love?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Being home has stirred up emotions, memories, and thought. It's also offered solace. I feel as though I've hit a stride with accepting this awkward amount of time that I'm living under my parents' roof as I research and reconnect. I've also blogged less. I'm not sure how to express what it's like to be with family and friends who embrace me as though I've never left. I doubt I could explain how New York no longer feels like my city yet has welcomed me back with open arms. I will say this though: it's pretty darn great.
Due in no small part, I'm sure, to its impermanence. I'm hardly stuck. I've already got plans for Paris, and London, and elsewhere; and before any of 'em, a few more important to-do's such as tonight's (2nd) happy hour at Murray's Cheese Bar with my darling former roommate. I haven't seen her since the impromptu visit! By the way, when used as an adjective, "halcyon" denotes a period of time that was idyllically happy and peaceful. As we continue to enjoy 2014, let's please not ignore that many who are suffering in this bitter cold--or rather, 'polar vortex'--that's swept across the United States. Here's how you can help the homeless in your city.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

bk twenty fourteen

Remember when it was New Year's Eve and I told you I'd "see you tomorrow"? I meant to check in with snapshots of low-key festivities, and then reflect on my Mom's birthday. Clearly nothing went as planned. Neither did the way I spent December 31st. But, I'm here now and woke up in an extra good mood and loved how my least favorite holiday's celebration turned out... so, yay.
Earlier that day, I sat down for lunch with my family: Italian wedding soup. According to my mom, it inspires good luck in the New Year. Cooked greens are said to resemble folded money and pork symbolizes progress and prosperity. With that said, there's not an ounce of Italian in our blood, so who knows whether or not we're accurate. Here's to hoping the placebo effect proves true anyway.
Later that evening, Debra and I drove into Brooklyn. First, I sipped wine as she and her friends got ready to go to a nearby party. Then I strolled over to Anna's with champagne and Buzzword in tow. Her, Leslie, and I watched midnight fireworks from the roof.
I'd hardly had expectations for kicking off 2014, yet it was perfect. Good food (homemade pizza!), good wine, great friends.
So much so, that I woke up extra-inspired on January 1st. Not in the "ohmygoshthisisgoingtobemybestyearever" kind of way, but in a significantly more realistic acknowledgement of lasting love and good fortune. I'm really enjoying being home right now, and I'm excited to delve further into thesis research, and I'm looking forward to discovering what else 2014 will contribute to my story.
The optimism spilled over into brunch at Kiwiana Restaurant--at which point I ordered lobster eggs benedict. Apparently having lobster on New Year's Day is "bad luck" because their backward movement signifies setbacks. I only recently found this one out. Let's hope it doesn't end up to be true for any of us this year :).

Friday, January 3, 2014

my madre

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. She made us grilled cheeses for lunch and we surprised her with a Broadway show that evening. Before then though, I gave her a card with a quote by Abraham Lincoln: "All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."
Upon arriving home, I almost immediately (and unintentionally) compared my path to those of friends I'd been missing. Yesterday, on the other hand, I considered how my parents' lives have influenced my own; more so than a quick glance would suggest.
My mom moved out of her parents' house at 18 and worked full-time throughout her local collegiate studies. She's lived in the New York area ever since, except for a few months in Los Angeles with her cousin. She had a 1-y/o daughter (me) at the age I am now.
My circumstances have been entirely different because of how she lived her own. I've never met anyone more hardworking and resourceful, thoughtful and clever, and so freaking generous. She helped my father start his business, then started one of her own, and eventually pursued another professional interest in addition. She signed me up for everything, took us on vacation every chance she got (sometimes solo because my dad had to work), and showed me what it means to have an open heart to absolutely everyone.
Though I doubt I'll ever make as many friends as she does waiting in line, it's because of her that I know the courage to turn dreams into my reality. And for the record, I am capable of preparing grilled cheese for myself... she just happens to still do it best.

P.S. My dad gets credit, too, of course, but he has a summer birthday :).