Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It turns out German rest stops look a lot like American rest stops.

Okay, so you know how sometimes you get on a plane and you think, 'This plane will land in the location I chose and paid for!' and so even though the plane may be delayed two hours before taking off, that's okay! You're going where you want to go!

Except for now. The gig is up, people. It turns out airlines can take you ANYWHERE THEY WANT TO. Like say you board a flight and you think it's going to Munich. That's the ticket you bought, after all. It says it right there, on the ticket! Munich! And everybody else around you is ALSO going to Munich, so you are definitely not boarding the wrong plane.

So you're feeling pretty gosh darn confident you are on your way to the city of your choosing until about ten minutes into the flight, when an announcement is made. 'Hey! We're not going to Munich. We don't really feel like it. But look, since you bought tickets to Germany, we'll at least drop you off in Cologne! Cheers!' This is like getting dropped off in LA when you need to be in San Francisco. Or Memphis when you're aiming for Tulsa. 

This is exactly what happened last night. You can only imagine the uproar. But it's okay, they say! There are arrangements on the other side to get everyone to Munich! Sure, they aren't FLIGHT arrangements, but come on! You'll still get there! Plains, trains, or automobiles, you should get there anyTIME this week!  

I know. I KNOW. 

So we all get off the plane a short while later, bleary-eyed, disoriented, and not a little upset. We're shuffling around an empty deserted airport at one a.m. in the middle of nowhere and still not sure exactly how it happened. We are then gathered round the luggage conveyor belt and given our options: take a bus now and be at Munich in five or six hours, or take a train at 3:30 and arrive in Munich by 8. They strongly encourage the bus option for anybody who wants to get to Munich early. 

In hindsight, this was a trick. They just wanted us to leave as soon as possible and quit hassling them with our thousands of interjected questions. Tricksy Germans!

So we all shamble on to the bus, like so much brain-dead zombie cattle totally confused and just wanting to be moving in the right direction. Or any direction, really. 

We wake less than an hour later to the smell of burning. SMELLS LIKE BURNING! We aren't sure what it is--plastic? rubber? our bus's soul?--but it's rank and it's bad and it's clearly not going to survive the autobahn and we have to pull over and shut it off before it turns into a giant ball of fire. It will not be coming back to life.


Our night has officially gone from bad to THIS HAS TO BE A JOKE WHERE ARE THE CAMERAS? Everyone is laughing with hysterical delirium. We are never getting to Munich. We are all becoming friends in our shared disaster. One girl is pretending we are on a desert island together and fighting for survival and every human moment becomes part of the montage in the future movie about us. 

The driver calls a second bus to come pick us up. It arrives nearly an hour later. But we aren't allowed to change buses yet. It seems the local police that have pulled over to watch the show want to make the second bus tow our bus off the highway due to some regulation that said passengers couldn't disembark on the autobahn.  Eventually they give this up as it is clear we are all thisclose to throwing ourselves into traffic, anyway, in a mad attempt to find some other route--any other route!--to Munich so they finally let us get on the second bus. It is now around 3:30 in the morning.

The second bus is more modern than our current bus--maybe 25 years old instead of 30--and significantly more compact. My knees are up around my chin to fit into the seat. But it will get us there. Albeit slowly. Our new driver is a grumpy old man who likes to take a lot of breaks. 30 minutes here, 20 there, 10 there. We see all of Germany in rest stops. Our driver also likes to yell a lot, but the direction of his ire isn't clear. His honking at other vehicles wakes me on a number of occasions but eventually it becomes a soothing background because at least it means we are not pulled over taking a break. 

We finally arrive in Munich at 10 this morning. Roughly twelve. hours. late. I nearly kissed the pavement.

On the bright side, the charming city of Munich appears to be pulling out all the stops as an apology for their airline and bus failings. Snow is falling from the heavens in great plump white swirls of plump swirly whiteness, the shops are all twinkling away, and every two feet is a stall selling sausages or sweets or gluwein or pretzels or dark baked bread. It's a lovely Christmas wonderland. 

And just in case you wondered what Santa is up to this week:

I must take a bit of a nap now--soon two friends are arriving and we'll be off to dinner and more market fun times! Word on the street (actually, word from one of my new German friends from the bus this morning) there's a tiny market in the courtyard of the old palace that's excellent, and a medieval market where they actually dress in costume and serve your drinks in goblets, and a romantic market that's all super duper twinkly at night, and also an art market, and a charity market, and a * on and on and on *!  I really can't wait. So much to do, so little time! And off to Salzburg for a day trip tomorrow! 

I hope you're all having a good week and staying away from all major airlines! 

Big hugs and lots of love, 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Now to find my mittens.

It's a big day! Notably, my last day at my computer for some time. Right now I should be packing for a night-time flight to Munich-town. This doesn't seem urgent, though. I mean, what do I need? Jeans, boots, coat? I can WEAR all that.

I'm really hoping the Christmas markets will be like that awesome one in Chicago that I went to years ago on my road trip (I still have my mug in the shape of a boot!) or the fantastic one I went to here in London a couple weeks ago, Winter Wonderland (motto: 'We look just like a German Christmas market, if you don't look too closely'). 

These are GERMAN crepes. Don't be so uptight.

They even had curry sausages. Also of German origin.

This is Anna. She is awesome. She is not German, but she totally could be with her rockin' Bavarian style.

Bratwurst. By far the best part of Winter Wonderland, other than Anna's hat.  My love, my heart, get in my belly.  

I can't wait for the shopping. I clearly need a wooden Santa that smokes when you light incense inside him and maybe an elf to sit on my shelf but one that doesn't report to Santa because he's gone rogue and also I think I'd like to try and find a snowflake ornament that's tucked inside a snow globe ornament inside a reindeer ornament all dangling from a sprig of holly in a wreath around the neck of a bigger reindeer ornament. That would be perfect.

I look forward to seeing you soon! I hope you have a very merry Christmas!

Love and hugs,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

That's right. Another post about hot dogs.

"Stay hungry. Stay foolish." - Steve Jobs

I like to think that I follow Steve Jobs's advice every time I travel. The first thing I plan whenever I'm travelling to any given city is where I need to eat. If I'm lucky, my travelling companion will be interested in museums, boat cruises, and walks in famous parks, and our two lists will come together like magic. If that's not the case...well, I can't be held responsible. Now open up!

In Chicago, this food-centric tour took the form of donuts, hot dogs, and other such healthy, hip-loving delights. The Doughnut Vault being no exception. Everyone warned about the lines that stretch around the block and also how they close as soon as they sell out, but I got lucky--arriving at eleven, I was able to walk straight up to that tiny, tiny counter in that tiny, tiny hallway and load up. I can only assume there was nobody waiting because they all thought the Vault would be sold out and closed by that time. But there were four whole donuts left! A chocolate AND a gingerbread stack, all of which I bought and promptly devoured. That's right. I closed the place DOWN.

(This is what bliss looks like.)

This is also what bliss looks like: pig face at The Girl and the Goat. Imagine a maple breakfast sausage covered in shoestring fries and a perfectly fried egg: basically, all you could ever want in a meal. Also, GOAT CARPACCIO. I know! There was SOMUCHDELICIOUSGOAT on that menu. And not ONE was a curry, thank you very much. It was like I died and went to bleating heaven. 

The next day I took my classy, ever-expanding self across town to wait in line for what was to become the best hot dog experience of my life: Hot Doug's. And I actually MET Hot Doug because he WORKS there and I made him take a PICTURE with me. And waiting 45 minutes was ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT. We went on Duck-Fat-Fries Saturday and while they were fantastic, the real star of the show was The Dog--I ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger Dog with Coca Cola BBQ sauce and maple-smoked cheddar cheese and I kid you not, IT REALLY TASTED LIKE A BACON CHEESEBURGER. IN A DOG. There was bacon and cheese INSIDE the sausage. INSIDE THE SAUSAGE! With every bite, cheese gooed out. SERIOUSLY. And if that doesn't make you realize you haven't lived, nothing will. It was, hands-down, the best hot dog I've ever had in my life. That is, until I tried my friend's Chicago Dog. Then THAT became the best hot dog I've ever had in my life. Which makes me think they're ALL the best hot dog I've ever had in my life. EVER.

I actually want to try every single item on this menu. Don't judge me.

And lest you think all I did was eat (uh), check out this architectural boat cruise! It went through the rivers/canals/allthosewaterways and a lovely old lady told us who designed all those gorgeous buildings and I learned a LOT.* 

Like did you know one of the Batman movies was filmed here? I know! I remember all the good stuff. It is SO Gotham City. Look at that fog over the top of the tower. I didn't even photoshop that in.

I'll release you all from my Chicago tour now--two posts on it far surpasses how I usually cover a city. But I couldn't resist storing my food memories somewhere, and here is a much safer place than my head.*

Until we meet again,

Big hugs and lots of love,

*Mostly that I have zero capacity for remembering names. Which you may have already suspected if you've ever met me at a party.

Monday, November 7, 2011

On Highgate Wood, a new friend, the pleasures of fall, and the difficulties of self-pimping

Remember back when I used to blog post all the time? Yeah. That was awesome. I was amazing.  Don't spend too much time on that link; I think I used to be mildly illiterate if those posts are anything to go by.

In other tidings, I've made a new friend! She is GREAT. We met for the first time after corresponding through our blogs and it was like a blind date and I was all nervous that she wouldn't like me but then she was so much fun all my nervousness went away and now I want to hang out with her all the time but I'm totally playing cool so she doesn't think I'm stalking her. We spent an afternoon in Highgate Wood and it was such a beautiful fall day, all blue blue skies and red and yellow leaves and the light was so golden like an apple that I thought maybe I was in a different place like Vermont or Maine, and I was going to go home to my farm and my chickens and my jug of maple syrup and my barrels filled with something organic from my local market and then I would turn on some Philip Glass while I made dinner. That's how nice it was.

I think fall is London's best and my new favorite season. Normally spring or summer would be neck-and-neck and fall would be somewhere down in 'yeah, when I'm moody' territory, but this year spring didn't actually lead to summer, so I'm still a bit mad at both of them. And if I know London, winter is definitely coming. So right now fall is in the lead, if for no other reason than promises delivered. Go fall!

And honestly. Look at this: 

 I know!

My new bff! If she lived in America, she would totally listen to NPR. You can tell.

And then a ram appeared in the thicket.

Did I mention I have to create a personal brochure? I do. It's difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is that I'm not actually sure what I'm selling here.  It's certainly not my ability to design furniture. And apparently the capacity to spot a designer chair from a mile away isn't something marketable. I'm also having trouble making 'retentively organized' sound artistic and sexy. I'm clearly going to have to start making things up...What would Jasper Morrison say...

I hope you're doing well! I miss you.

Big hugs and lots of love,

Friday, October 7, 2011

On Chicago, old friends, veal brains, and zoo porn

Chicago. I love it. IloveitIloveitIloveit.

Me and Chicago, we go way back. Most of my past visits are a bit blurry thanks to my dementia and the fact that I didn't have a blog in those days to record things in, but I still have snapshots in my head that tell me I've been there so I'm going with it. Once in college, I went with my roommate (a native) and we snuck into the Signature Lounge in the John Hancock Tower because we were 19 and looked about twelve and wanted to see the view. I remember going another time with a volunteer group and tutoring inner city kids and seeing Cabrini Green pre-demolishment (we weren't allowed out of the van) and all the little girls I worked with wanting to know 'Why I ain't got no baby?' And then, years later, I road-tripped through

But this time it was different--I wasn't staying with friends and I couldn't afford to be a lazy planner. I had to pay attention. Chicago became a whole new city to me because of this, and I absolutely fell in love. Not a little credit is due to a wonderful reunion with old friends at a 30th birthday party, around which this entire weekend was centered. (I never miss 30th birthday parties. Especially when the birthday girl is an award-winning black belt.) 

(That's her. Behind the waffle.) 

We had a blast together: we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo, had lunch at Hot Doug's (more on that in the next post because omg! hot dogs!), followed by dinner at the Publican (holy veal brains, batman! So...creamy...), and capped off the whole day with the Blue Man Group. 

(Not pictured: Blue Man Group.)

Have you been to the Lincoln Park Zoo? If not, you should. It's free. I think that's the best part. I'm not really a fan of zoos in general (not because of anything noble, I just think animals are dull when all they do is pace and sleep), but I'll take a free zoo any day. Especially a free zoo featuring zebras molesting one another, which this one did. It was pretty much the greatest thing I've ever seen in my life. I couldn't get my camera out fast enough to capture the wholly one-sided amorous encounter, but I did get a snapshot of the aftermath: 

This is what shame looks like. 

It was fantastic.

I've got to go now--classes began this week and they are NOT messing around. Among other things, I have to research workstations* for a design project and make a giant poster on materials and processes. I know you're all going to clamour for a copy of that poster when I'm done, but I'm sorry to say it's not for sale. You're just going to have to figure out how to cast non-ferrous metals on your own.

I miss you tons. 

Big hugs and lots of love,

*Does anybody happen to know a designer or architect in London that I can talk to about their workspace? Anybody?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You should see my shopping list.

I'm going to America tomorrow. I'M GOING TO AMERICA TOMORROW!! I don't know if that's okay to say. I had a girlfriend come visit me here in London once and she spent half her time on Facebook pretending to be home so people wouldn't know she was gone and try to break into her house. I don't know what kinds of friends she has.

That said, don't break into my house while I'm away. I'm totally home. 

But if I WEREN'T home these next couple of weeks, I'd be in Chicago! And then Tulsa! And then--* pitter patter *--SAN FRANCISCO! Did your head just explode? Mine did. Please, someone gather up my gray matter and push it back in. I am so excited!

All the things I am looking forward to:

 A walk along Lake Michigan

My beautiful nieces!

Everything else.

And in closer-to-London news, I got a job! Well, sort of three. You know, when it rains and all. But two are unpaid, so I like to think those are just for 'fun'--one is that internship for the literary publicist, one is a potential readership for a book agent, and one is contract work as an admin assistant! (That's the paid gig, since we all know admin is my x-power.) And of course I cleverly timed everything to start at the same time as my classes, because what is life if not overbooked?

I would love to stay and talk but I really should get back to my trip preparation. I've done the laundry and cleaning and travel document organization, so now all I have to do is pack and eat all the food in the fridge. YES!

Big hugs and lots of love and see you soon,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On liking, loving, and assumptions of obsession

A bookshop in Dublin, quote by Flann O'Brien

So I took down my last post because I may or may not be doing an internship with a literary publicist soon and the last thing I wanted was for them to google me and find me posting about experimental sushi hot dogs (I KNOW!) but now I'm in a position of having to write about something that makes me sound smart.


Maybe the absence of something embarrassing will suffice in the place of something meritorious; I'm drawing from an empty well here.

True story: once I told someone that I liked children's literature. Later, and unrelatively, I mentioned that I went to a sci-fi exhibit at the British Library. Ever since then, this person will preface any discussion we have of books with 'Well, I know this isn't a kid book or sci-fi, but...' 

I love that.

It's like when you're ten and you draw a picture of Mickey Mouse because it's easy and makes you look talented and your family thinks because of this that you must love Mickey Mouse and so for the next five years everyone is giving you Mickey Mouse tee shirts and watches and pillows and radios for Christmas and birthdays and there is nothing you can say to stop it because the idea has taken root. (Not that this happened to me, but it totally did.) Once a person has a notion in their head about you, it is nearly impossible to change. I think the best you can do is hope to redirect. Perhaps with the person above who thinks I'm obsessed with sci-fi this means talking about a fascination with Jewish literature, or light pollution, or the wonders of peppers. That could sufficiently throw me across another train track. When I was young, I should've taken to drawing pictures of gold bricks and LP's. Who can say where I'd be now if I had derailed the Mickey train and replaced it with wealth and music taste?

Either way, I've got to build myself a new box soon, and hopefully one with more than two sides.

(Dublin again; it's a city that understands me)

Before I forget! I must apologize to subscribers of my feed. There's some sort of glitch that causes random posts from the past to come flying out of nowhere and back into your inbox. I think it's triggered by me taking down posts, but I don't really understand why that would be, so I don't want to conjecture too much. Suffice it to say, I'm so sorry for spamming you, please do delete these extra posts when they arrive.

I have to go now, but here's one last photo from Dublin; I'm off to Galway on Friday for a wedding and I hope it's as beautiful as this. 

Big hugs and lots of love,

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

That's right. Photographic proof that I know how to read.

I am blessed to have particularly talented friends. Some of them, like Cindy Bridges and Annelies Z, cook beautifully. Others, like Leslie Goshko, are not afraid of standing on a stage in front of a roomful of people and making them laugh. Deee Trip. makes the most gorgeous fabric flowers you've ever seen. And Kyle Erickson writes poetry.

The latest gift comes to me in the form of a book. A hand-made book, lovely to touch and hold, of which there are only ten copies (gone within seconds of their release), of which I received lucky number eight. I didn't consider this my lucky number until yesterday, when I got this in the mail:

(Looks a bit like me, doesn't she?)

Kick Assonance is an anthology of four poets (Kyle, Steven Leyva, Christian Ericson, and Sei Shiroma, who I secretly fantasize about marrying so I can be Sharona Shiroma) containing evocative, moving work that makes things stir inside my little coal heart. Kyle also did the book illustrations, just in case you didn't think just being a poet was enough talent in one human. It's no small wonder his wife is a successful comedienne who has also performed on Broadway and--for kicks, mind you--has recently started a band. Meanwhile, I find great pride in being able to eat a shortbread cookie without dropping crumbs in my lap.

But look how smart I look when I'm holding a poetry anthology.

Needless to say, this book has raptured the better part of my day and now sits with pride on my coffee table, where I like to think it will impress any future house guests that I may or may not invite over with the express intent of showing it off.

I should go now; I need to work on some limericks if I'm going to have anything worth submitting to next year's edition. I think they'll really like where I'm taking this. A little 'teaser,' if you will:

Sometimes I like to kick assonance around,
Like a wall or a ball or anything sound
But then it kicks back
And throws me off track
And so I kick alliteration aground.

Big hugs and lots of love,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writing about thinking about books does not make a good blog post

"For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business." - T.S. Eliot

It's dark right now, at 2 in the afternoon, the skies about to open as they do daily and have done for weeks. Every day the clouds blacken and roll, then crack and dazzle with sunlight, then pitch to black again. This cool summertime June is hardly a summertime at all, and the longest day has passed.

I just got The Wasp Factory for The Increasingly Morbid Book Club. Over the spring we* read The Killer Inside Me and The Collector (taking a break in June for Enduring Love! What??) because apparently one can never dive too deeply or too often into the mind of a psychopath. I clearly need to go in with a Sweet Valley High recommendation soon. But until then, has anyone read The Wasp Factory? Thoughts? I can't resist good black comedy, but I'm a wuss when it comes to the truly macabre.

Ego romp! Romp romp!: The other day I was thinking about posting every single book I read for, I don't know, the next year or so. Not in the sense of giving a review or anything, but more with the intent to see what full disclosure would do to my reading habits. Would my choices embarrass me if they were visible to everyone? (Yes, hi, young adult dystopian fantasy.) Would they embarrass me several consecutive times in a row? (There are six in the series!) And what would they say about me? (I have the attention span of a ten year old and I'm a total poser.) But (maybe) most importantly, would knowing that I had to tell what I was reading change the books I read? Would my vanity drive me to tackle those literary greats just so I can casually list 'War and Peace' in place of 'The Hunger Games'**, all no-words-needed, what's the big deal, Russian lit is how I roll for a good time, I don't even know who Scott Westerfeld IS. That I'd change my usual reading material for vanity is an appalling thought, but one that I must confront nonetheless. And while I'm 99.9% sure I won't actually start this List O' Embarrassment,'s personally challenging. If you'd be interested in trying this with me, though, let me know! We can give our experiment a clever name and create a blog badge*** to legitimize it and then we'll pretend like we're part of a literary movement because we're so cutting edge with our transparent lifestyles in today's exhibitionist culture.

On a completely unrelated note, I took this picture in Paris of two girls clearly having a great time together, and it reminds me of me and my sister:

We traded off on the torment fun times once I outgrew her.

Random, but...I'm having a poetry craving. I KNOW. I don't know what happened. It's probably because of this bleak London weather, you know how clouds make a person all moody. And I don't even know where to begin. I just looked in my shelves and all I have is one book by Neruda and Ginsberg's Howl. I also found (how often do I actually go through my stacks?) three copies of Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenters, two copies of Nine Stories, and one copy of Franny and Zooey. This ratio makes sense: the inverse correlation reflects the order in which I give them away. (Godspeed, Franny. Go! Fulfill!) But anyway. I don't know what to do about this strange and persistent need to find and eat some poetry. Do I indulge it? And if so, with what? Or should I banish the whim altogether with a good zombie romance? Clearly that seems safer.

So I don't know. I need to think on that. In the meantime:

If you're a Vonnegut fan

If you were a voracious reader as a child and you were as lucky as I was to have a mother who took you to the library every week and let you read anything you could get your hands on and this literary freedom made you who you are today. Also, if you love Sherman Alexie.

It must be book day. I should go find mine. (The Wise Man's Fear, Patrick Rothfuss)

Hugs and love,

*And by 'we' I mean 'they.'
**Which, by the way, is fantastic
***I don't actually know how to do this. And of course you wouldn't need a blog to play. There's also Facebook, or Twitter, or Tumblr, or the Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A handful of Paris pictures and some hyperlinks you don't want to follow

I don't have that many words today, and goodness knows I gave you enough yesterday--many apologies, I tried not to waxy wordy when I can help it--so I will do a post of pictures! Paris, to be exact; a sampler.

From top left, clockwise:
1. Aya-bee, being typically fabulous.
2. The Pompidou, tricky tranny hot mess fierce.
3. A picnic on the canal, not ours, but next to ours.
4. Musee de l'Orangerie--the perfect size, and you feel so smart.
5. Tea time at Laduree--breaking the heat of the day with pistachios and orange blossoms and strawberries and little golden napkins.

Much love and hugs,

p.s. I just went to Laduree's website for the first time so that I could get that link, and I kid you not, it's TERRIFYING. I felt like I was about to get attacked by fairies. Whatever you do, don't click on it if you want to sleep tonight.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On Roosters, Summer Vacation, and a Milestone Birthday

"When the rooster crows on the dung heap the weather stays the same, or it changes." - German proverb

I'm home! I'm home! My travels are done, school is officially out, and the days stretch open before me. The first thing I have to do is process the past two months worth of photos from Paris, Luxembourg, Brussels, Florence, and Athens, and's Resume Time! I've got to dust that old thing off and start sending it around town. I'll admit I'm thrilled about entering the work force again. I'm sure that will wear off the first time I'm called into my boss's office about 'my overwhelming enthusiasm and volume,' but for now, I feel like the world is my oyster! What shall I do?? Where shall I apply?? Someone, quick, tell me.

In other news, D-Day approaches! On June 6, I turn the Big 3-0. I have to admit I'm not being very graceful, very 'Life Just Gets Better with Age' about it. I really thought--back when I was too young to think 30 was actually going to happen--that I would bound into this decade, breaking that winner's tape, flushed with the victory of wisdom and experience and ready to take on new challenges. But no, it turns out I'm not that mature. Immaturity is something I can still admit to in my 20's and receive some level of grace. As a 20-something, one is still considered somewhat naive, and decisions that don't look too far ahead are tolerated. But now! I will be in my 30's. No longer will women flap their hands dismissively at me, saying, 'Of course you say that! You have all the time in the world, you're so young!' And no longer will men laugh, 'Ahhhhh, I remember that energy. Now go refill my coffee, only one sugar this time, and then fax this report.'  Nor will I automatically get the ignorance-of-youth free ride anymore. From now on when I'm ignorant, I'm just ignorant (though maybe I've always been just ignorant and will just now be facing the music). At 30, one is expected to be a mature, responsible human being, with a real career and a ticking clock and a purse that has a moisturizer with sunblock in it. There can be no more 'When I Grow Up' procrastination. Nobody likes to see a 35 year old still talking about some dream he'll fulfill when he gets big. 

On the bright side, it will be nice to start lording all my lofty experience over all those 20-somethings, gifting them with the same dooms-day predictions I was privy to: 'You won't be able to eat like that forever!'  and 'One day you'll break your leg doing that!' and 'Just wait until you get your first chin hair!' 20-somethings love that. It totally sinks in and makes a difference. I'll also say annoying things like, 'I just can't drink that much caffeine anymore,' and 'I need shoes with more support' and 'I can't sleep a wink with that fly in the room!' So that's exciting. I've also been practicing my 'Why are movies so LOUD these days??' moan for next time I'm in a movie theater, digging out my earplugs. 

I guess there IS a lot to look forward to, now that I think about it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I should go lie in the sun. I only have four  more days to flippantly damage my skin. I'm just so young; I don't know any better. Premature aging and skin cancer are but strange threats on a distant horizon. You have to forgive me.

Big hugs and so much love,

p.s. Let me know if you need my address for my birthday present.

If I were aging in Paris, I'd just become more dapper. And discover an uncanny ability to complete a crossword.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Hi friends!

Between recent travels and a mass of school projects due (oh happy semester end!), it's been a bit crazy in Rona-world as of late. And there's a lot to share with you: thoughts on and photos of Paris, Luxembourg, Brussels, and Florence, and an upcoming visit from a San Francisco girlfriend that I am very excited about. But since today is not that day, I thought I would at least come say hi. 


This is how I'm gonna be dancing next week when everything's finished.

I hope you're doing well!

Big hugs,

p.s. On the title of the post: this is the noise I have been making today when stretching/leaving a thought process/getting up for a new cup of coffee/writing a spontaneous blog post/etc. It comes out like a vehement sigh and I think it is the sound of taking a break. FWHA.

Hugs again,

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Life's a jolly holiday with Mary

Have you ever mixed up the date your taxes were due with the date of the Oklahoma City bombing and thought you had until the 19th to get them done? Yeah. Me, neither. Except maybe something similar to that just happened, so I didn't do my taxes last week because I thought I could do them this weekend. And then when I realized what happened, I shot out of bed in a blind panic (realizations like this can only happen at six a.m. on a Saturday), my heart racing, the old familiar self-reprimand of 'Sha-roooooo-NA!' going through my head. But when I went online to see if I could file an extension, I found out that due to some obscure Abe Lincoln holiday in Washington D.C. last Friday, I now have until Monday to turn it all in!! That's right. MONDAY! How lucky am I?? My hide has been saved by emancipation. As usual.

Today I'm going to put a pretty picture in my blog before any other picture because facebook only shows the first picture when my blog is posted, and when that picture is a mangy cat or a really tiny picture of San Francisco, it ends up looking a bit rough. So here's one to make my blog look warm and welcoming:

Doesn't this remind you of Bert's painting in Mary Poppins where they go skipping around on carousel horses? That Bert! These trees are all the rage in Engrand-town in the spring. They make me happy.

This weekend is a manic birthday weekend--but not mine, which is lame. Other people's. There's a birthday party tonight at a place that I keep calling The Golden Egg, but that's not really the name, it's just what I call it because I can't remember the real name. But calling it The Golden Egg makes me crave wontons and there probably won't be wontons there. I should just skip the party and go out for Chinese food. 

And then there's another one tomorrow. Again, not mine, and again, not involving Chinese food. Ridiculous, isn't it? People are so selfish.

But let's bring this back to my birthday, which I think we can all agree is what we really care about. My big 3-0 is coming up in June. D-Day, to be specific. I don't know what I'm going to do for it yet. I thought--five years ago, when I was living in SF--that I'd be doing this huge huge thing and it would be Super Magic Wonderful Good Times but now that I'm here in London, I'm at a bit of a loss. I should make this London thing work for me, and I don't know, maybe check on Wimbledon or horse racing dates or something. Then I can dress up and wear a big hat. That would be wonderful.

On a plus side, my friend Cassandra's 30th is in May and as a joint-celebration, she's flying out here! She'll already be gone by my birthday, but we'll have so many mini parties while she's here I'll have a nice stockpile to draw from.

And today, as a pre-birthday present to myself, I'm going to visit one of my favorite local shops and fondle all the silk flowers. You can never start celebrating too soon.

Big hugs and happy Saturday,

Friday, April 15, 2011

On mice warfare, stopping to smell the roses, and tell me what to do in Paris

"I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value." - Hermann Hesse

The mice are still a problem. No solutions (that I have the stomach for) are working--the mice don't enter the catch-and-release traps and they aren't touching the poison, either, no matter what goodies I mix in with it. And even though I've long since mouse-proofed every item of food in the kitchen (for all intents and purposes, you may imagine it locked into safes suspended from the ceiling), they still insist on holding squeaky family reunions behind the fridge and using the countertops as one long, joyous chamberpot. I don't know why they're still here. I suspect it's just for the pleasure of witnessing my descent into madness at their capable paws. My hands permanently smell of bleach these days, as does every surface I think they may have touched. I wield my cleaning products like heavy artillery and have a box of matches the size of a bread bin that I'm fully prepared to use to set the kitchen on fire. They appear oblivious to the wild glint in my eye, the desperate hoovering, and the frantic disinfecting, as they cavalierly chatter on, throw parties, and wreak general havoc. But I refuse to give in, to give them the satisfaction of pushing me over the edge. I'm now pulling out the big guns in this war: professional pest control, my own personal mercenaries. At the very least, I'd be thrilled if these experts can plug up all the openings that are allowing the mice in, although I do hope they have some success in mouse-extraction, as well.

I hope they come with a terrifying cat.

In other news, last weekend in Pretty Little Seaside Hastings was chock full of one of my favorite things: Old People Looking in Windows.

I love the way they just get right IN there. Like a shop front is actually an exhibit that calls for full attention and study and conversation. (And really, isn't it?) I can't remember the last time I stopped at a window front and had a nice, long perusal of the wares on display. And yet there's an entire generation that goes nose-against-the-glass, examining the contents. I love it.

I actually went into this shop and got a tea plate and a handful of rusty forks, just because I could. All for a pound! Oh, man. It was great.

Okay, so this one wasn't * technically * taken in Hastings last weekend, but I can't resist putting  it up because it totally fits. 

Now back to my spring break research...if you have any tips about what Aya and I should do/see in Paris, Luxembourg, or Brussels, please let me know! We're totally winging it here. And anything awesome you recommend I promise to photo to death and then post on here, giving you all the blame. I mean, thanks.

Big hugs and love,

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A quiet one

I have an unanticipated free evening: a project was completed today and Friday's assignment can easily be done tomorrow, so for the first time in a long time, I'm finished with my work before 8 p.m. I feel positively buoyant at this gift of time, so rarely untainted by a niggling deadline. There's still light in the sky thanks to last weekend's time change, which serves to make the day feel earlier, the time more expansive. The world is my oyster! Should I take a bath and read? Watch an Audrey Hepburn movie? Watch an Audrey Hepburn movie while taking a bath and reading? I think I'll sit on the roof terrace for a while and be quiet and still while dusk approaches and then decide...

Monday, March 28, 2011

On a new blog feature, bowling, and Edinburgh Castle

So this morning I helped a friend of mine install some widgets and plug-ins and other such funtimes on her blog and while skipping around internet tutorials, I discovered that I could install a third-party commenting platform to my blog which would enable me to respond in-line to comments! (I know--I just revealed how behind I am in the blogging world. Don't judge me. And wordpressers and typepadders, don't you dare gloat.)  I scoped out review after review and finally decided to try one called Disqus. So if you go to leave a comment today, you'll see that it's a little different now, and I hope that's okay. If you find it difficult to use, please let me know; I'm happy to switch back to blogger's basic commenting system if that's the majority preference. Oh! And if you post as a 'guest' (versus, say, using your facebook profile), don't be alarmed when it asks you for your email; the information isn't displayed. I know, because I tested the new system by personally posting a dozen different comments with a dozen different log-ins, just to see what they all looked like. 

Because I apparently have loads of time like that.

Did you know right now at the Barbican there's this exhibit called Beat the Champ involving bowling video games? Ranging in history from the 70's Atari to the most current playstation/x-box/whatever, this guy created a loop on each machine to make it play a recurring gutter ball on a giant screen. It's awesome. It's also crazy how different each one is--from the sounds to the graphics to the varying degrees of the 'you are a FAILURE!' message. Check it out:

She was really good. Even though she got a gutter ball.

And now one last thing before I go tackle my laser-cutting homework. Which of the two below do you like better? Both are of Edinburgh Castle and I can't decide if I like the building in it or out:

Although this one is the clear winner:

Big hugs, and I hope your day was as productive as mine,

Thursday, March 24, 2011

On coronation chicken, springtime, and very little else

I know this is incredibly unsophisticated of me, but I'm totally craving coronation chicken. I know. It's hard for me to say out loud. It's so outdated. And just now I caught  myself googling recipes. And maybe--just maybe--I'll make it today for lunch and then eat it in secret and love every bite. 

Omigosh. Coronation chicken was created by Constance Spry and a friend of hers! I feel so validated. I just learned about her in my design course on Tuesday. They Say she has single-handedly impacted the way that all of us decorate to this day, whether or not we're conscious of it. And when the Design Museum had an exhibit on her in 2004, it so inflamed the menfolk that James Dyson himself left the Chairmanship of the Board and Terence Conran--the founder of the Museum--also nearly quit. Isn't that crazy? All because of an exhibit on the influence of a society florist from the 50's. Maybe they were actually upset over her creation of coronation chicken. Someone should look into that.

I'm going to Luxembourg next month with Aya! We are going for spring break. One of our classmates, the Leggy Amarylis (see previous post), is from there so we're going to go stay with her and her family! I'm so excited. I can't stop thinking about the cheese. And Aya and I are spending a weekend in Paris on our way there, and a weekend in Brussels on our way back. And we're doing all our travel by train, which is SO NICE. I won't be stuck wearing nine layers of clothing (literally) to get my baggage weight approved, and I can bring back cheese food, and there's so much nice reading time on trains...* sigh * It's just the nicest way to travel.

Two days ago I was looking for some garden-esque pictures to use for a presentation, which led me to one of my old blogs, which led me to this picture that I took years ago, which makes me happy.

It's been so sunny and warm the past two days. It feels like spring and makes London seem like a completely new city, high-spirited and charming and not at all like the brown-and-gray depression-trap of the winter months. I feel high from the feeling of the sun on the back of my neck.

I'm defrosting my stash of corn tortillas right now! I'm going to make my friend and favorite food blogger Annelies's homemade tortilla chips. I can't wait. And then I'm going to spend the next two days eating chilaquiles and migas, also using her recipes. yumyumyumyumyum.

I shouldn't be hungry-blogging. Let's return our thoughts to Spring, in the form of Oxford, where I had the pleasure of spending a weekend a couple years ago:

Isn't it so charming and picturesque?

Ooh, I forgot the Dean made a scramble from the eggs straight out of his chicken coop. That was delicious.

Alright. I gotta go strap on the feeding bag. I'm starved. And I've got more school work to do. Or something.

Big hugs and love,

Monday, March 7, 2011

I can travel to other countries, but I can't take a bus across town.

One should always be a little improbable. - Oscar Wilde 

I was recently recommended a book called 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,' only I misunderstood the person and thought they said, 'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wilde.'

It made sense at the time.

I need to go to the V&A today, but must admit to not wanting to make the lengthy journey there and back again. I just know I'll fall asleep on the underground and wake up feeling foggy and disoriented. I was encouraged to take pictures while I'm there to blog about it (this is how people motivate me now, and usually it works), but then that only serves to remind me that I'm behind on blogging my Stockholm pics and anyway, I've already done the V&A.

So...back to Stockholm! This will probably be my last post with anything Sweden-related, so quick-quick in list let me mention the highlights of my time there:

-the furniture fair and festivities around town for design week
-snow snow snow and wet nose toes and ice-crunchy mittens
-gastronomic delights: salmon and dill and red onions and gerkins and goat's cheese and sunflower seeds and anchovies and mustard and roe and herring and meatballs and lingonberries and hot dogs and oh I miss you already...

I should post the food photos--notably those of The Greatest Food Hall Ever--but a lot of that will depend on whether or not I photo any dead birds today and my blog path re-routes.


Without much further ado...Stockholm!
I don't think there are words enough for how much it snowed beautiful it was. Even with the storm that started on Thursday morning, when I took the bottom-right photo of the still-dry streets. I was touring with the school-friends below and we were about to embark on a 'scenic walk along the Soder cliffs' when it started to fall. 'Oh how charming!' we thought as the first flakes began to dust our pretty scarves. 'This will make the view from the cliffs so lovely!' And so we started walking. And it kept snowing, heavier and denser and oh so thick. By the time we got to 'the scenic views,' there was zero visibility ('Can you see Ostermalm?' 'I think it's that fuzzy mass across the water?'), Caio's Italian leather loafers were committing suicide, and we were windmilling across the icy footpaths.

It was fantastic. 

'Okay, Aya, now let's play that Amarylis is Mommy and Caio is Daddy and you're Baby!' 
I would like to point out that both Amarylis (Belgium-Luxembourgian) and Caio (Brazilian) come from modelling families. That's why they're so tall and gorgeous. Aya comes from a Japanese family, which is why she's so tiny and gorgeous.

The rest of the day was spent blissing in and out of warm design shops and boutiques, having a cosy, hearty lunch at a sweet little cafe, and taking one more view-laden walk. (small cough)

If you squint real hard, you may see the tower in the mist. This might've been a castle, or a museum, or a house of lords, or the most striking architecture in all of Stockholm. Either way, this is all we could see during our blizzard hike. That is, when we were able to blink the snowflakes out of our eyes. It was awesome. To me. Maybe not to the others, who were cold, wet, and bedraggled, coerced out by my promises of 'the best views of Gamla Stan!' My attempts at cheer were futile: 'Hey, forget that silly castle! I'm sure it's nothing! Look at all that ice in the water! Guys! Ice! In the water! Isn't that wild??'

I don't think they were impressed.

This photo was taken before the hike, when we were all still friends.

I should really be getting to the museum now. If I stall much longer, it will be closed before I arrive. Unless, of course, I just go on Wednesday...


Big hugs and love,