Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
On his encounter with immigration at Charles De Gaulle Airport.
LP: I wasn't exactly yelling at them, but I was saying unpleasant things.
While walking at Fort Point in San Francisco with CGC, CG, and MAR.
CGC: If you could be either a pelican or a seagull, which would you be?
MAR: A pelican.
Thoughtfully, a few second later.
MAR: But you know, I worry that I wouldn't be very good at being a pelican.
LP: You know, when I come to this great country, I realize that if you want someone to like you, you show them your boob if you can.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
With the beginning of a new school year and business quarter--bear in mind that this is only the third Fall since I was two that hasn't seen me marching off to school--Fall also signifies a time to re-assess my current habits and practices. And so, unable to face the post-Rosh Hashanah/pre-Yom Kippur crush at Fairway this afternoon, I decided to embrace the seasonal spirit of new beginnings and place my first order at Fresh Direct. One would think that oatmeal, tea, potatoes, and one giant fillet of wild Pacific halibut--among a few other sundries--would not necessitate an online grocery order, but one would need to understand not only how little I desired to force myself through the crowded aisles with a heavy basket and then lug my grocery bags eight blocks home, but also how much Fall makes me miss shopping at the Ithaca Wegman's.
Yes, you read that right. I LOVE the Ithaca Wegman's, and I especially love it at the beginning of September, when its thousands of square feet would burst with mountains of local apples and jugs of apple cider. I loved the wide open aisles and the huge organic produce section, and the fact that I was always able to find every single thing on my list. And I loved how familiar Wegman's was to me, in spite of the delectable surprises that often awaited inside. I loved that I knew the fish guy at the fish counter, that I knew the man who sliced my turkey at the deli and the woman who picked out my favorite Pont-l'Évêque at the cheese counter, that I knew where to pluck Yorkshire Gold off the shelves in the enormous Imported Foods aisle, and that I knew where to find the chocolate-covered macadamia nuts in the model train-ringed bulk foods alcove. I even loved searching for my Subaru in a sea of Subarus in the gigantic Wegman's parking lot. I loved that I could take my time and think while I looked--for anything.
But since I no longer live in Ithaca, just as it's now no longer summer, it's time to find some new things to love. Clicking through the Fresh Direct links, I quickly liked that I could easily review and reject things in my cart, that I didn't have to engage in basket-to-basket combat with any other shoppers, and, most importantly, that I could go back (a swiftly jettisoned tactic in any assault on the Fairway battlefield). Still, the whole experience was a little too sterile for my liking, so after scheduling my delivery, I headed out to my absolute favorite grocery shopping experience in Manhattan--the 77th Street Greenmarket. There stood my favorite peach purveyor and crates of wax beans, the farmer with the cider doughnuts and the beekeeper from the Berkshires. And as I walked back home with a heavy bag of apples and haricots verts, I noticed, standing prettily in a giant tin canister, the last cosmos of summer, a parting gift from the sun and the blue sky before Autumn's first frost. Just as they've brightened the Spanish mission gardens on the West Coast for hundreds of years, the cosmos now brighten my living room desk, and serve as both a reminder of all the things I love that won't return for a few more seasons, as well as a portent of all the new things to come.
Cosmos: the harmonious, well-ordered whole of the floral world
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Likewise, I find my day-to-day life in New York to seem, on the surface, as placid as the seasons' passing: I wake up early, run/bike/or swim, work, buy groceries, see friends, cook, write, read, and sleep. As elusive as its certainty may be, this routine provides me with a sense of both comfort and anticipation; who knows who I might meet at the grocery store? What new idea I might encounter in a book before I fall asleep? How the morning light will look above the swimming pool? Of course, each period of life possesses its own inherent routine; as a graduate student, I would study, teach, and attend class instead of go to work, and I biked in the afternoons and evenings around the Finger Lakes instead of in the early mornings in Central Park. As an undergraduate I never went to the grocery store, but I did eat my meals communally every day, and on spring evenings I would walk past the same heavily scented rosebushes on my way home from the library. Now I pass the tall plane trees towering above the Museum of Natural History, and in Ithaca I walked home along the rocky cliffs above Cascadilla Creek. And in each one of these periods these unique yet seemingly passive routines provided me with the strong lattice necessary to grow.
This past week in California was a difficult one, but I relished the elements of my home that have remained the same, year after year, even as I have changed--the pelicans dive bombing off of Baker Beach, the coastal trail wending its way through the fog, and the hot Indian summer that descends upon the Bay Area every September. We call it earthquake weather with all the heavy certainty of an old wives' tale, and each year we wonder if the Big One will strike. Most years it does not, but some--like in the hot October of 1989--it does. And every year the chance that it will grows.