Saturday, June 28, 2014

california, here I come

Before my grandma left to visit my aunt in Belgium, she told me she'd wanted to live in Los Angeles. There was so much more space and sunshine than in Queens, she said; flowers and produce, too. She savored those 9 months helping her aunt. Decades later, my mom took me to see her cousins. It wasn't her first time (and apparently not my own either--we'd visited while she was pregnant) but I remember it specifically because I brought Elmo with me... and promptly forgot him on the shuttle bus. I was devastated as you can imagine. And though watching "Seepy Booty" did help, it took me another 18 years to get the nerve to go back myself.
{Leslie & I's Airbnb - Biarritz, France
Now, when my flight lands this afternoon, I'm returning to live. I'll first enjoy the weekend with K and her husband. Next, I'll visit my office for the first time, and see my apartment, and meet my roommate. My mom will arrive a few days later. We'll pick up my car and bedroom furniture together, as well as celebrate the Fourth. By then I should feel like a Los Angeles resident, right? Words cannot express how anxious and eager to make myself at home--mostly because this New Yorker is hoping for that je ne sais quoi... eek! Be in touch as soon as I'm barely somewhat reasonably settled :) see you on Instagram in the mean time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

elevator music

As anticipated (though not mentioned), three weeks is too long to wait. I've been uncomfortably nostalgic and sensitive, and anxious, to discover the life that awaits me. But, three weeks seems to have been just enough time to leisurely reconnect with those who matter. My family and I barbecued last night, and in the days before, I caffeinated/lunched/museum-ed/hiked/picnic-ed/happy hour-ed with the best of friends. This past Sunday evening is especially noteworthy. La crème de la crème and I dined at The Cleveland:
From beginning to end, it was the perfect meal experience. We shared a bottle of crisp and chilled rosé, our appetites soon piqued with the addition of black sesame bread, soft orange blossom butter, and jalapeño pesto. As the sun set on the streets of New York, we then savored Chef Max Sussman's New American cuisine (brussels sprouts salad, crisp duck pastry, grilled whole eggplant) with more wine. And after, much to my surprise, our waiter treated us to "good luck in LA" almond cake, served with a fantastic rhubarb curd and creme fraiche gelato.  Had the ladies not enticed me with a digestif at Mother's Ruin, I quite possibly may have never left. One thing's for certain though: in just a few days, I will definitely miss being able to enjoy their company.

Friday, June 20, 2014

la pause new-yorkaise

Can I complain for just a minute, please? Because all the "...before you leave again"s are becoming unbearable. C'est trop.
If only they knew how much I wish I'd been able to settle; to have stayed with comfort and ease in a familiar setting, enjoying the countless benefits of having family and friends consistently close by; to have appreciated New York for everything it is and isn't, and to not have longed for something different. I have no desire to be a nomad nor gypsy, despite how far my "globetrotting tendencies" have taken me. I'm simply working towards a destination that includes roots and routine alongside great love and adventure. Or at least trying to. And so few parts of the journey have been simple at all, and more often than not, the experience is isolating, but I do think I'm getting closer to contentment. I truly want that. And I hope with all my heart that the life I've created is leading me there.

So, please, don't playfully criticize the many mailing addresses. It's because I've tired of missing you that I need your support more than ever. You'll always have mine, you know. Besides, if it matters, I've never not wished you could've been there, too.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

an ode to mon quartier

The first time I crossed neighborhood lines into the Batignolles, I was meeting a classmate for brunch. And though the meal itself was disappointing (the food, not the company), the quartier got under my skin. There were boutiques like Superflu, blou, and EnApARThé--places that seemed cool and inviting without even trying. There were hipsters and elderly couples and young families. It was a quieter Paris; "authentic", without the tourists. I wanted to live there. As luck would have it, as of last year's July, I did.
To some, living 20-30 minutes from most Parisian attractions would be a deal breaker. But I appreciated the distance and the refuge. It meant my favorite farmers market was right around the corner, as was even better good pizza. My preferred café to caffeinate, read, and write was a brisk 10-minute stroll; a block closer than the beloved Artisan. There was even a great Portuguese bakery, handmade jewelry shop, and happy hour spot. It didn't take long for me to find a good brunch resto (with live Sunday night jazz).
There were other highlights, too, such as my Mary Poppins-esque landlady, neighborhood blend (who happened to live above the best wine bar), and the boulanger and caviste who always remembered my face. I felt at home, and I loved it; the Square especially. Amy and I commemorated my last night as a resident with dinner at this favorite resto and a walk through Martin Luther King Park. I can hardly believe it's been two weeks since. New York has been awfully kind to me again, but how I miss this Paris so.

Monday, June 16, 2014

the kingdom of alba

My grandpa made his Instagram debut yesterday. It's because of him (or his parents, rather) that I can attribute some of my multicultural heritage to the Scots (and Irish); specifically, that of royal blood. Please note: It wasn't until two weeks ago that I discovered the second part of that fact. (Please also note: its legitimacy has yet to be thoroughly investigated. I'm on it though.)
And thus, I promptly fell in love with and felt at home in Edinburgh. The friendly warmth and thoughtful courtesy of the Scottish people paired with the city's incredible historic charm and vibrant greenery may also have had something to do with it. Behold:
Having dinner plans at the Vintage with Stephanie didn't hurt either. Nor did Lorelei and I's twilight adventures with the British Army. To recreate such a positively unforgettable experience, I'd additionally recommend: strolling down the Water of Leith Walkway, shelling out for Edinburgh Castle, saving pounds at the National Gallery, enjoying Princes Street Gardens, having casual afternoon tea, visiting Her Majesty's local residence, dining at Khushi's, and winding down with Brass Monkey brews. Slàinte!
Now for the context to this Scottish getaway: I'd just moved out of my Parisian flat. My parents were gone and my birthday had been celebrated. I'd been crying pretty consistently for about a week--mostly through goodbyes. Thankfully, a month or so prior, I'd decided to soften the bidding-Paris-adieu blow with a city trip I'd been hoping to make for just about two years. And so I left two big suitcases at Charles de Gaulle airport to fly to Edinburgh for "the jolliest last European hurrah (in the UK (pour l'instant))" with my dear friend Lorelei. Upon our return, I had roughly four hours to then switch terminals, check in, and board my flight to les États-Unis. Never a dull moment, eh? It's no wonder I've already tired of the present-day quiet and calm wait for Los Angeles! Speaking of, by the way, mi abuelo is already planning his visit. He told me so last night. 'Twas a happy Father's Day all around.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

mes parents

My parents touched down in Paris a mere 30 hours after I did (having just returned from K's wedding in Lake Tahoe, California). It was hectic and ambitious to have them around: (1) because I was very adamant about them enjoying themselves, especially as it was my dad's first ever experience in Europe and (2) because I was very dedicated to enjoying myself as well in the last two weeks of my actual-living in the City of Light. We somehow managed to eat and drink well :) a brief overview of how we spent their five days:
{Saturday, 1-5pm: overpriced bus tour}
{Saturday, 8pm: dining at Le Quincampe with my French family; competitive Mikado game included}
{Saturday, 11pm: boat cruise on the Seine by night}
{Sunday, 9:30am: breakfast at Rose Bakery}

{Sunday, 2:30pm: simple lunch en famille in Melun}

{Sunday, 5:00pm: stroll down the Promenade plantée}
{Sunday, 8:50pm: El Nopal tacos on the canal}
{Monday, 11:30am: visit to the Châteaux de Chantilly}

 {Tuesday, 10am: AUP graduation and delivery of MA degree}

{Tuesday, 2pm: graduation lunch at Bistrot du 1er with Marie, her mom, Rachael, and Lorelei}
My dad fell in love with Paris (despite ever-gray skies) and my mom is happy when he is, so I'd call the visit a success. I basically celebrated my birthday all week basking in their company and generosity, too. Yay for "traveling" with my parents for the second time this year! Growing up is a funny process in and of itself, but I'm finding the evolution of our relationship most intriguing. This just in: they're two especially wonderful and imperfect people, doing their best and figuring out life as they go along. Lucky me.