Wednesday, April 9, 2014

juice


I want to tell you about how I've been drinking a lot of juice with a 77 year old Danish man, who speaks six languages and has walked across Spain four times. 
He is patient with everything in life. 
Seemingly. 
I am learning from this. 
And slowly improving, in my ability to drink juice, and walk and talk about nothing for hours. 
I am learning, that being, just being, and breathing and moving and drinking a glass of zumo de melocotón, it is enough. 


I am taking joy in this. 

Barbara Chisholm, this remarkable lady I know, once did an interview with a magazine. 
She explained in the interview how she didn't tell her daughter that she wanted her to be happy in life. 
Because happiness is a fleeting emotion. 
Rather, she said she wanted her daughter to live joyfully. 
Because taking joy is a lifestyle. 

For me, the reality of living joyfully is so hard sometimes. 
It's so easy to forget to do. 
Because it isn't like the movies promised it would be, except for when it is, and dumb stuff happens when you're drunk and falling down and getting back up and trying to stay updated on current events and listening to the right bands and not falling asleep at night and remembering everybody's birthday and dietary needs and sending the postcards and trying to say what you mean and almost always doing what you said you would. 
And it's hard. 
Being a person is so goddamn hard sometimes, because the world is generally pretty uninvested in  personal happiness. 

Which is why I'm trying and learning how to take joy. 

I think the secret is drinking zumo de melocotón, peach juice.
I really do. 
And sitting very still, and walking and talking about nothing. Or maybe it's actually about spending time with ancient Danish men. 

I really don't know. 

What a world. 

I love you. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Turkish Coffee

Usually, I know what the story is. 
Life seems to segment itself sort of naturally, and so you collect experiences and anecdotes that define what's going on, with you, for those weeks or months. Little stories of who you are and where you're at. 
I've been thinking about March. 
And what a weird, potent, transition month it is. 



The March right after I turned nineteen was magic. I wore a red dress that was too short and too tight. Everyone lived for the weekend. I stood up and tried to hug the wind through the sunroof of Alison's station wagon, like they do in that book, only I had never read that book. And we got drunk and went swimming at three am and afterwards I sat, shivering and braless in the diner that played heavy metal, and ate hashbrowns and migas, feeling so happy it hurt. 

The following March was dismal. My heart was fragile as an egg. In an effort to un-slump myself I drank buckets of coffee, ate doughnuts every day, and rode my bike late at night. It felt like nothing was ever going to happen, and actually, that March nothing did. 

This March is like Turkish coffee. 
It tastes a little wild. 
The first sip lasts for only an instant. 
But in that instant, the coffee tastes like an ancient pine tree, or a whole cabinet of spices that sit soft and dusty on your tongue before melting away. 

The other night, I picked up two random German boys on the street, and then Julián came and we ate sunflower seeds and drank cheap beer and went to look for a party on a rooftop terrace, but got lost instead and knocked on a random door and ended up in the apartment of a group of Americans from Maryland. An experience that pretty much sums up my story of March so far, i.e., strangeness and spontaneity, the instability that comes from moving constantly, and always running away from and also sitting with, a specific deep kind of loneliness. 
That is what March feels like. 

I want to wring a story from all this randomness, and give it to you with a cup of Turkish coffee. 
And we'd taste the ancient trees and the dusty spices, but only for a second, and you would maybe smile, maybe cry while I told you the distilled version of this March, the one with a beginning, middle and end. 
But I can't. 
Because March isn't over yet. 

I love you. 
I love you. 
I love you. 

Xoxo

Monday, March 3, 2014

orecchiette

You know the days, when you try to walk away from yourself? 
Rome let me do that. 
Rome let me pound the pavement until I was just tired bones encased in tired skin, with only a hungry stomach and nothing more. 

So I ordered orecchiette. 
Orecchiette in broccoli sauce, with flakes of sausage. 
"It's good?" I asked. 
"It's ok." The waiter smiled down at me. 

So I said that's fine, and some kind of white wine please, whatever is the best. 
And the waiter smiled down at me, and brought olive bread that was pretty but dry, and wine that was good, and then pasta that was better. 

The pasta. 


Hot and fresh and simple. 

I melted. 

Lately, my soul has been in need of melting. 

Something about traveling, and constantly moving, is that I'm constantly adjusting and readjusting to fresh places and fresh people. It's fascinating and lovely, but extraordinarily intense, and often a little drunk. These spontaneous and fleeting connections-- some of which last for no more than a few hours, often leave me gasping for air. 
Like a punch of personality to the gut.

I vascillate between vulnerability and abrasiveness: constantly being aware of strangers eyes crawling down my legs, hair, the small of my back, and the fear of being whistled at or followed. 
And then also letting people in-- tell me your story, let me tell you mine, do you want a bite of this? Sharing sharing sharing in the limited time frame that being in a place for only 48 hours allows you to share. 


But every now and then, something undoes me-- and I find myself forgetting about the fear, and forgetting about how much I'm telling, and the protective shell around my heart softens. 

Have you ever had a song that leaves you seeping and weeping everytime you listen to it in the car? Or a person who leaves you joyous and raw? Or an experience that left you empty and whole at the same time? 

This is what the food of Italy does to me-- like it's so good nothing can really be better, which is, really, quite tragic. 

And that orecchiette-- oh lover. 
It undid me. 

And despite all my tired bones and tired skin--

I melted. 



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

21


I started this blog when I was 16. 

I'm about to turn 21. 

I keep thinking about what I would tell my naive and dreamy 16 year old self, or what I would say to my future daughter, if I had one. What I would want those girls to know. 


I want to tell them: 

Be hungry. 
Do not be afraid to be hungry. 


Because being hungry for your next meal and hungry to live a full life, these are basically the same thing. 
Because food is connected to love and lust and happiness and depression and every emotion and experience, all the weddings and all the funerals. 
Because eating is tangled into the fabric of being human.

And yet. 


There are girls who are afraid to eat. 
Who exist solely on salads and cigarettes. 
Who only eat a meal and a half a day.
Who starve themselves, or throw up what they've eaten. 
Who don't eat in front of boys, because maybe the boys will figure out that they are not made of air. 
Who say they were "bad" because they ate a cookie instead of an apple. 

I have known all of these girls. 
Maybe even been one or two of them. 

And I just want to tell that future daughter of mine, or my 16 year old self, that there is no shame in having a real appetite. 
That there is no shame in being hungry and then eating until you are full. 
That no one actually cares if you are a little fat or a little thin. 
That eating and drinking and enjoying it, and really owning the hunger, goes so far beyond the table. 
Because there is no better way to be present in the here and now than to enjoy a meal. 
And being present feels like the opposite of being dead. 
And what is the point in being anything other than fiercely, rudely, gorgeously alive? 

That's what I would say.


So I'm about to turn 21, and that thought makes my stomach curdle a little bit, because adulthood suddenly seems like a very imminent, and very near reality. 

But I can't think about that. 
I'm too focused on getting from city to city, bed to bed, meal to meal. 
But sometimes, like right now, I stop and drink a coffee and write to you and stare out a window and try to appreciate the beauty. 
And I want to cry and I want to kiss you and I want champagne. 
Because it's all so beautiful, and I am still so young and so naive and so hungry, and because I just ate maybe the best sandwich of my entire life.


It was an inspired sandwich. 

So I'm about to turn 21. 
How incredible. 

I love you. 
I love you. 
I love you. 

xoxo


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Black pudding

This morning, I walked in the London sun. 
And I felt brave. 
The sky was very high, and very clear. 
And I felt brave. 
Very alone, but very brave.


Lately, I've been haunted by this line from a Mary Oliver poem-- "Tell me," she says, "what are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?" 

My one wild and precious life. 

Tell me. 

I'm trying to tell myself, trying to figure it out. 
All the time.
The next step, the next train, the next meal. 
It is so much. 
Sometimes the things I carry are so heavy on my shoulders. 
Abiola told me that there was nothing to be afraid of. 
Luca told me to just enjoy making the decisions.
Which is all simple and true and correct. 
But sometimes making all the decisions means you eat very weird British things like black pudding. 
And black pudding is actually fried congealed blood. 
I didn't know, so I ordered it. 
I ate fried congealed blood-- of my own accord.

Yet. 

It's really those moments-- the mistakes I make on my own, that are mine, that only I can correct, that make me feel brave.

The proof is literally in the pudding. 

So maybe right now I'm listening to too much Beyoncé, or wearing too much black, or am too trusting that I'll find the way, or even telling you too much. 

But fuck it. 

My one wild and precious life. 

I ate congealed blood. On accident-- but I ate it. 
And freakishly, I liked it. 

This morning, I walked in the London sun and I felt so alone. 
But I felt so brave. 

I felt flawless. 


Friday, January 31, 2014

James

There is this line, from an Anis Mojgani poem that I love. 
He says in his magnet poet voice, "I fallen in love, six, seven, eight, nine times Quentin!" 


Some days, I feel like "I fallen in love six, seven, eight, nine times Quentin!" 
Frequently I do not feel this way at all. 
But if I am having an I-fallen-in-love-nine-times-Quentin-kind-of-day, I will tell you about James. 

Because everything I learned about falling in love, I learned from James. 

It was early summer, and I was in New York City, and I was often alone. 
And I was having a TIME. 
My nights were like disco balls and everything was messy and perfect. 

And one day, when the messy perfection was making me cry because everything was so wild and beautiful, I walked into this cafe in the West Village. Because it had free wifi. 
And James was there. 
He took my order, and asked me what I wanted to eat and what I wanted to drink. 

And before I even knew it, I was telling him about all the mess, and all the magic. 

And he just
listened. 

I loved his calm, post-law-school-why-am-I-a-waiter-why-is-this-crazy-girl-talking-to-me-demeanor. 
I loved that he never carded me. 
I loved that he was very kind and slightly bored with life. 
He was perfect.

And I had told him so many sort-of-secrets, that once a week, for the rest of my time there, I went back to the cafe and gave him melodramatic updates about the state of things over bowls of spaghetti bolognese. 

And he just 
listened. 

Once, he gave me a free plate of pasta. 

That was when I knew our love was true. 


So eventually I left New York and James for Texas, and so I found H., who gave me bowls of french fries and told me what to order when I came into his restaurant in tears or happy or crazy. 
And now, here in Paris, I've got this beautiful thing going with this wonderful server, whose name I do not know, at a cafe I also do not know the name of. 
But he has my order memorized and told me about this great beer called "Delirium" which is served in a glass with pink elephants on it. 
And the fact that he smiles back-- in a city that does not smile--oh love, it is enough. 
And every time I come back, for my same drink and same meal, he simultaneously takes care of me and leaves me alone. 
And he doesn't look at me askance when I ask for a second beer at 2pm. 
He is perfect. 


Somehow, having just one person, in a city of strangers, who seemingly cares that I drink the correct beer, or who gives me the plate of pasta for free, or who doesn't mind if I say too much or too little-- I don't know. 

It feels like the opposite of being lonely. 

Which is, in essence, what love is. 

"I fallen in love six, seven, eight, nine times Quentin!" 

I love you. 
More soon. 

xoxo



Monday, January 20, 2014

eating alone

I remember one night when I worked in the restaurant very clearly. 
There was a girl. She couldn't have been much older than me, but she came in by herself, and she was dressed up, but she wanted a table, in the dining room, for one. 
I don't think she ordered wine, but I remember she got a salad. 
A salad and something else. 
And she sat down and pulled out a journal and began to write in loopy cursive. 
It was heart wrenching and sweet and pathetic all at the same time. 
Because it was exactly the sort of thing you do after someone tells you that they don't love you anymore, or that they never loved you to begin with, or that they love someone who is not you. 
I mean, after that, what is there to do but go distract your ache in fine dining establishments with a knife in one hand and a pen in the other? 


Her waiter bitched about her slowness and her diary for the majority of the night. 

In retrospect, all the servers detested them: the single ladies who wanted to linger and write or read books over meals eaten alone in the crowded, noisy restaurant, where ZZ Top often sat in the bar and couples frequently got engaged at table 67. 

And so these women were almost always sat at bad tables, and their servers belittled them endlessly, mostly for not drinking enough and eating too slowly. 
But I sympathized with that girl. 
Because in America, to go out and look nice and eat at an expensive restaurant alone, walks the tender line of bravery and cultural faux-pas. 
In the States, eating alone brings to mind second-grade cafeteria rejection. 
You aren't ever supposed to eat alone. 

Paris has been difficult for me. I do not lie to you. 
The sun does not shine as much as I am used to, there is a language barrier, I battle a little bit with loneliness, but even more with shyness, an emotion I rarely feel. 
Yet eating alone here, which I have done a great deal of, is great. 
Wonderful, even. 
No one blinks an eye.
Which is nice and makes me feel good. 


So I've been drinking a lot of beer and some wine and eating a lot of croque Madame and I had one really phenomenal oyster with a squeeze of lemon that I bought for three euros on the sidewalk. 
The romance of that oyster will never die. 
And that is what makes Paris great. 
Because every moveable feast Hemingway ever wrote about, becomes, for a few sharp moments, reality. 


So Paris has been difficult, but whenever I sit down at the table alone, I think of that girl, and I'm happy that I both am and am not her, and I think about the promise of random everyday magic, like the oyster eaten on the sidewalk. 
And so I feel thankful and so grateful. 
For everything.