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Dear city I live in

I woke the other day and made miso oatmeal, stirred through with honey and roasted pistachios. Correction: I finished making miso oatmeal–most of the labor had been done the night before and I had slapped a “Julia’s Oatmeal, please leave here :)’ post-it on the pot lid before I turned in for the night. Three months ago I wouldn’t have thought to claim my various food experiments (my most recent ‘meh’ horchata attempt could have sat on that refrigerator shelf for months if I didn’t finish drinking it first, my family is that hands off about things).

But that was three months ago.

Last time I circled vaguely around a Big Scary Thing that I’d resolved to do this year and… well, I did it. I moved at the beginning of February! to New York City (center of the universe, times are sh-tty, but I’m pretty sure they can’t get worse; let’s… not tempt the Evil Eye with that)! Or at least I think I did–my body and my little cookbook collection and my clothes are here, but I still largely feel like I’m on an extended vacation, somewhere between limbo and the present tense.

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Bananas!

Happy New Year, dear readers and friends! [she says–borderline aggressively–while giving 2016 a final boot into its nameless grave] I spent New Year’s Eve with an at-home hotpot session: six of us bumping elbows around the coffee table in our living room (the dining table had been taken over by what appeared to be the entire produce section of our nearest Chinese supermarket) while tong ho, napa cabbage, tofu, crescents of kabocha squash, vermicelli, and various meats bubbled away over our old camp stove.

As my brother and I have gotten older and become–at least in years–Proper Adults, my parents have mostly done away with the sense of ceremony around the holidays. Maybe we’re all a bit tired; maybe it isn’t as necessary now to curate the sort of experiences that they thought children in this country ought to have. I am grateful, grateful, grateful for our years of ornament hanging (who remembers making salt dough ornaments in elementary school? Lumpy “J-O-Y”s with a little portrait in the middle and plastic holly on the ends?) and rosemary-spiked turkeys; I’m not going to lie though–seeing the endless parade of festivity and seasonal baked goods on my social media feeds the past few weeks had me feeling a wistful sort of way, but these chill, unexceptional nights? They’re alright! I stayed up long enough to watch 2016 die and then flopped into bed.

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December 2nd

The other week, one of my oldest friends in this life (16 years!) mentioned to my other friend (of equal oldness) how she gauges how things are going by how often I go between new posts. She was casual about it; I laughed sheepishly and was just north of mortified.

Stan’s* telling me they need to get a better gauge, but ehhhhhhhh Stan’s not altogether the problem here; going full hermit the past x months/years, however… well.

1. I’m still here, though my posting habits suggest otherwise! After many months of tolerating my ancient laptop’s final hitching coughs to its end, I finally have a new computer–I’d forgotten what it was like for pages to load at normal speeds! Not to mention the lack of the fan’s desperate wheezing! And no more spontaneous restarts! So I am back in more certain terms–you’ll know explicitly if I decide not to be.

2. Last week I had the giddy pleasure of seeing Trevor Noah with my own eyeballs at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Downtown L.A., where he sat down with a L.A. Times staff writer to chat about his debut collection of essays, Born a Crime. I wasn’t clear at first whether it would be stand-up or a more open discussion; I’m very glad it went the way of the latter. I had no doubts about the clip his brain operates at, but to see that cutting brilliance and sincerity in real time was remarkable–a pinprick of light shining through the post-election grief of this past month.

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What I know of stillness (Day 2, Part 1)

It hasn’t been lost on me that it’s been over a year since this very Japan trip I’m taking my leisurely time to jot down. You can let fly your figurative tomatoes–I probably deserve them (besides, I’ve been meaning to try my hand at shakshuka, so if you could lob some good ripe ones in my direction it’ll save me a trip to the grocery store).

I have been feeling very February lately, regardless of the fact that it’s gonna be May–the dregs of January still sit heavy at the bottom of these warming days. That is to say I am all static and haze–the kind of restless you can still feel long after you’ve tried shaking it off (think pond weeds, or the dance you did as a child when you were poking around in the garden and accidentally touched an earthworm). But I’m putting my hopes on the softness and warmth still to come (metaphorically and not so much temperature-wise)–I need to believe that.

(And I hope you believe it too, wherever you are in the world, if you need it. We’ll believe together, if you’re in need of a buddy for this kind of thing.)

Anywho, back to our erratically scheduled, will-I-ever-find-consistency-for-this-series Japan trip!

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On figs and not forgetting

There was death in Fes. And figs.

It was the summer of 2013 and one moment I was sidestepping a mule moving crates of soda down another of Fes al Bali’s innumerable labyrinthine streets (one of Fes’ medinas–the typically walled “old city” characteristic to many North African cities–and thought to be the largest car-free urban area in the world) and in the other I was plastered against the wall as a crescendoing dirge came around the corner: a group of men rushed past us, a shrouded form on a stretcher between them. We swapped looks across the alley (which was starting to move again) and our unruffled group leader and friend, without missing a beat: “So… now you’ve seen it all.”

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Fast and loose

Is definitely not what I’d title my autobiography/biopic–“sloth-like and quivery”, maybe, or “confused–yes–gentle, too” more like. This post, though? It’s a quick one (with a present at the end to help you recover from the holiday season hullaballoo) because we all have enough to manage at this time of the year, for better or worse (my uncle and younger cousins descended on our home last night so I’m steeling myself for the endless thumpthumpthump of six year old feet tearing through our hallway at dawn for the next few days).

On last month’s post I had a friend comment:

Your cookbook nightstand sounds really nice, too. Will you show it to us one day? I’m sure it’s terribly aesthetically pleasing. And I think I see some little marks in that book. Is there a system to those colors or?

Two things: yessssssss I will. Or have. Seeing as the photo is right ↑ there. I don’t know how “aesthetically pleasing” it can get when that piece of furniture isn’t in a well-lit corner of my room and I had to contort myself in the most silly way to get that shot (it’s alright though, I’ve decorated Rose Floats before–I know my way around silly, people-shouldn’t-be-able-to-fit-there spaces).

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A very Violet weekend

Thanksgiving was a bust. Okay, “bust” is a little too harsh a word seeing as I wasn’t expecting an evening that boomed either, but it was wholly uneventful. Steamed chicken rice and water spinach (ong choy) with the family and a visiting uncle, eaten too quickly in an effort to avoid any hairy subjects that might come up at the table this time of year (nothing actually came up and I may have given myself indigestion). I had the last of my macaroons made the weekend before and walked over to a friend’s house for a time, where we dared to think we could make it past 11 PM (at our age? The very idea!) without nodding off to the sound of What We Do In the Shadows. I came home; it was quiet.

I keep my [current] favourite cookbooks on the bottom shelf of my nightstand, where those pages of dreams and promises I make to myself are close at hand. So I flipped through one and then another, mulled over scones and tajines, and called Thanksgiving 2015 a night, with little to remember. Read More

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The boldness to dream

A few months ago, over a chocolate tart and a forgettable plastic bottle of Korean rice wine, a dear friend of mine broached the rarely asked to articulate question: Why do you love theatre so much?

I blanched, hands wildly and vaguely gesticulating like a parody of the turtlenecked, ascot-ed, and mustachioed Parisian art critic of my, apparently, cartoonish imaginations. You would think she’d asked me to retake my high school AP Stats course, or admit to watching Death to Smoochy, the way I reacted. I’d never been explicitly asked to explain my Thing before. We all have A Thing (or, in an ideal world, we should all have one): my brother’s an avid rock climber, to the point where he stowed away a bag of chalk and harnesses in his luggage the weekend my family was in Boston for my graduation and left us for several hours in order to scope out a climbing gym in Somerville before dinner; many of us are fortunate enough as we careen through life to acquire multiple Things, no matter how small they might seem.

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Postcards from Japan, Day 2 | Kyoto

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Some like it haute (Day 1, Part 2)

I feel like the one thing I’ve been consistent with these days is apologizing–to the darling Tea Barista around the corner from my workplace for not saying my order loud enough (or saying too much–runaway train of effusive theatre babble, much?), to my dance partners for having scorching hands (I’m a mobile space heater in the winter, but when it feels like a steam bath inside? Oof.), and to you now. Life happens–she says, with a sheepish smile–and I’ve had a less-than-ideal few months trying to transition from one dream job falling through to another fizzling out in its final stages. My default state for the better part of this past year has largely been Edvard Munch’s The Scream: the constant fretting doesn’t leave much room for anything else.

[Bops myself on the nose with a rolled up newspaper] EXCUSES!

But for good measure and old habits: I’m sorry for falling into a black hole these past two months. Trust me, I don’t enjoy these long spells of absence one bit and it’s no fun for you either (I’ll try to give some warning next time around!).

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