hi, again.

Hi. I’m alive… I think (??).

I’ve obviously completely forgotten to update this blog since I’ve been back. When you have an international trip and cross-country move on your mind, these things tend to fall on the wayside. I’ve been trying to think of the best way to summarize my past few weeks, and I believe I’ve hit upon it.

Places I’ve Cried in Public

Chiang Mai, Thailand. I’d said goodbye and was walking through the security check, turning around every few often to see a slowly-diminishing figure through a blur of tears. I walked around confusedly sobbing before mustering up enough energy to buy a cup of noodles from an airport cafe. I was actually pretty impressed at my ability to function/eat. It sounds melodramatic in hindsight, but it broke my heart.

Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. We were sailing through craggy, mossy islets at sunset. I watched the sky turn unimaginable shades of warm pastel, throwing the silhouettes of local fishermen into sharp relief. The air was warm and the waters calm. I wanted, more than anything, to turn to someone and exclaim, “God, this is beautiful, isn’t it?” — but I was alone on the deck of our junk boat. Intense sadness and happiness, in equal measure, spread through me as I accepted that this moment was, really and truly, all my own.

San Francisco, California. I sat on the bus headed for my parents’ home, watching familiar landmarks pass by: my friends’ apartments, my old neighborhood, the gently sloping hills and glimpses of ocean. This is the last I’ll see of SF in a while, I thought to myself. I imagined my loved ones, only a few miles away in their homes. I yearned to wrap them all up, and the entire city itself, in one big, all-encompassing, eternal hug. I then put in my headphones and listen to the below song on repeat, feeling so truly that I belong to you, California.

Tucson, Arizona. On our road trip to Texas, I’d planned a stop at the famed Pizzeria Bianco. My mom balked at ordering more than one pizza, which somehow initiated a total meltdown of the sitting-there-and-silently-tearing-up variety. So many hormones and so many mixed-up feelings: grief, at leaving California; anxiety, at moving to Texas; irritability, at how much my mom reminded me of myself; and lost-ness, at the state of my entire life. My poor family sat uncomfortably as I dabbed at my eyes with a napkin. Eventually recovered enough to eat a bunch of pizza.

Houston, Texas. Once again, I found myself at the airport — this time, to drop off my gurlz. I clung to my mom, so teeny-tiny in the circle of my arms, before my sister came over and wrapped us up in an extra-big hug. I tried not to lose my shit and squeaked by with a reasonable amount of tears. I got back into my car, attempting to watch them walk through the doors, but it was futile. I drove off into the literal thunderstorm of my new city and ~into my new life~.

So, um… A lot has happened. The good news is that, beyond these experiences, I’ve been mostly even-keeled and self-aware during these past few months. In the thick of the most radical change I’ve ever undergone, I have somehow managed to assume the pose of a zen master. This was even true last weekend, when I found out that I’d had $600 stolen from me in debit card fraud & that someone had mistakenly served me a court summons in San Francisco. I’m cool, y’all.

An update on my Actual Life in Texas to follow. Good news: I kind of love it so far.

Friday finds

(Yup, not the least bit punctual… but here it is!)

A few weekends ago, my mom visited me in San Francisco, loading up her rental car with most of my worldly possessions before she drove home. This weekend, we’re packing up the remainder of my things and driving it down an hour south to my aunt’s. From there, my family will ship my miscellany for me: shoe boxes, adjustable barbells, an air purifier, an alarming number of windbreakers, etc. What would I do without the generosity of my relatives? What would I do without my pack-rat habits? I know it’ll be easy enough to live out of my suitcase for the next two weeks. How is it, then, that I manage to accumulate so much extraneous stuff? Quel mystère.

Besides a trip to the South Bay (with a requisite stop by their Mitsuwa marketplace for Santouka’s ramen), my weekend is looking nice and leisurely. I’m getting my fill of Bay Area life: attending the final installation of brunch club and catching up on Silicon Valley.

Above: I made Grass Fed Girl’s tapioca pudding, adding in cardamom for kick and apricot for sweetness.

This home. Are you kidding me?

Getting me excited for my SEA trip! Should I take it a step further?

I’m an unabashed reality TV show watcher and thus can’t wait to get into this.

Will this get me closer to my goal of becoming Beyonce? (I’m already moving to her hometown. Fingers crossed.)

And for the weekend: this.

Friday finds

This weekend, I’ll be attending an engagement party (congrats K&D!), having a date night (one of our last in San Francisco), and indulging in donuts and pizza (with my dearest K, who else?). All in all, a well-rounded weekend. Only three more to go in this fair city…

* This date night will consist of going to see an Actual Movie in Theaters. The last time Jay and I went to the movies, we were totally taken aback by how many people were still out when it was done… at the ripe old hour of 9 pm. Weren’t they tired? We’re basically grumpy old folks. Anyway, that’s all to say that only a true guilty pleasure could draw us out of our lair.

Kalief Browder’s story is so fucking important.

Little Caesar’s, obviously.

I quite enjoyed this.

Reading always makes me happier. U?

It doesn’t feel like summer in San Francisco at all, but this helps:

Stockholm: to do

Nine people, six days, one house in a foreign country. Sounds like the premise of a new reality television show, no?

Fortunately for me, my friends are more Real Simple than Real Housewives. The most dramatic thing we did was book the trip itself in the fall. One serendipitous day, our little jetsetter A received an alert about cheap direct flights on Norwegian Air. An hour’s worth of breathless emails later, we were officially Stockholm-bound!

Knowing next to nothing about Sweden before my trip, I imagined a fair land full of fair people. This, it turns out, isn’t far from the truth. Stockholm is full of blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauties, many of whom ride bike around the city with effortless grace (often while wearing black cocoon coats and wood-soled heels). The Swedes truly own their aesthetic, including beyond fashion. Stockholm itself has very clear architectural identities, capitalizing on their gorgeous natural setting. At times, I felt like I was on a Disney set; the streets were so clean, the parks so green and the buildings so chic. It nearly felt sterile, in a way that made me miss the diversity and nitty-gritty of American cities. Soon enough, however, I found myself warming up to Scandinavia’s prim, proper charms. As an American, I felt welcome; as an Anglophone, I had no trouble communicating. I studied the simple design elements around me, from pot lids to cafeteria seating. I enjoyed the mild weather, which mirrored Northern California’s quite closely. “I could get used to this,” I thought to myself… and then, of course, it was over.

I now find myself back in the mists of San Francisco, dreaming about my week of spring in Sweden.

Continue reading

Friday finds

Coming soon: my post on Stockholm!

Let’s ignore the fact that I’m posting this (backdated) Friday finds on the following Wednesday, shall we? Had I been more responsible, I would’ve said something like…

Happy weekend! This weekend is the first of June and one of my last in San Francisco. I’m going to begin the terribly unpleasant process of packing up my many, many possessions. It’s insane how things just accumulate the longer you live at a place. I really want to start practicing the life-changing magic of tidying up… though I am much too sentimental to be too austere. Balance!

In the name of balance, I’ll also be counteracting my chore-filled days with a day trip to Santa Cruz. Happy birthday, S! Can’t wait to walk the boardwalk and stuff our faces with fried potatoes and popcorn.

Congratulations, San Francisco, you’ve ruined pizza.

I’d like a pet judgmental tree frog, please.

Will your job be done by a machine?

The speedy Proust questionnaire.

Confessions of moms around the world.

I wanna be a part of Rihanna’s girl gang.

My niece’s future holiday presents.

Getting me a bit more excited: Bun B eating his way through Houston.

All the best parts of using using AirBnB.

Soundtrack: my man, forever n ever.

realness.

If we’re being perfectly honest, it’s been a little hard for me to find the time or emotional capacity to write here lately.

I’ve never wanted this blog to be some meticulously curated, rose-colored vision of life. I’ve struggled with representing myself here genuinely — between providing consistent content (light-hearted anecdotes, poorly-photographed recipes) and capturing the true breadth and depth of my experiences. Most of the time, I’m happy to keep my inner life private: to selectively share the cheerful, on-topic bits while holding tightly onto the dimmer and sadder parts. Lately, however, I’ve felt it difficult to continue the charade, so to speak.

Every day, I wake up and question what I’ve done and how I’m feeling. Why am I giving up everything (my home, my relationships, my happinesses) in pursuit of my PhD? Is this truly what I want? Am I fixing what’s not broken? This entire process has exposed my vulnerabilities, neuroses, and fears. Now more than ever before, I am afraid… of the unknown, of failure, of loneliness. Lately, these three demons follow me every step I take, whispering worries into my ear even as I sleep.

One year ago, my life was bright and full of contented attachments: date nights, dinner parties, workouts, Whole30s, CSAs and cooking. Simple, fun, and only a little bit unfulfilling. I had been living in the Bay Area for nearly five years. I’d built communities with whom I could watch The Bachelor, escape to Russian River, hike on the weekends, wait in line for brunch. I’d built a comfortable home with my partner, who anchored and grounded me. I’d come to know and love San Francisco, sinking my roots into my surroundings and drawing strength from the rich, wet earth.

And yet? I found myself wanting more. I’d stare despondently out of my office window, watching the omnipresent gray mists of Land’s End, and wonder what I was truly doing with my time. My existence was happy, yes… but I wanted to be more than just happy. I wanted it to be whole and meaningful. I needed to challenge myself and achieve meaningful goals. At first, I struggled with this desire, trying to neatly compartmentalize it, afraid of disrupting my idyllic lifestyle. Soon enough, though, I stopped fighting it; I let my dream expand and take shape. I respected my ambitions, knowing I’d regret never acting upon them. I gathered as much information as I could, applied to graduate school, made an informed decision. I am now poised to begin that journey to self-actualization.

I should be excited. Is this not exactly what I wanted?

Standing at the edge of the precipice, I need to remind myself of a few important things. California, my beautiful home state, isn’t going anywhere. My people, those beautiful beings who I love and who love me back, will always be there for me. I can always cut my fall short. I have a safety net, now and always.

Now: to jump.

Friday finds

My dear friend S scooped me up for a mid-week picnic at Devil’s Teeth Bakery (see: the edge of one amazing peanut butter choolate chip cookie at the bottom of the photo!).

Weekend’s here and I’m flying off to Sweden, Stockholm, with eight of my closest friends! I can’t wait. We’ll be exploring the city and having fika (the beloved Swedish equivalent of a leisurely coffee break or tea time). Be back soon!

Some beautiful (and very relevant) advice I received recently.

Yay for inclusive dolls!

In undergrad, I taught a class on Mad Men. It was so fun thinking critically about the television show, as this piece does with one of the series’ shockers. Less serious but still fantastic: Mad Men, millenial.

The modern day yuppie.

Growing up black.

More on Myers-Briggs personality types — love!

The real cause of addiction.

The genius behind Google Brain on life and careers: “I think that “follow your passion” is not good career advice. It’s actually one of the most terrible pieces of career advice we give people… So when I think about what to do with my own life, what I want to work on, I look at two criteria.”

Entrepreneurs on doing what they love.

Soundtrack: it could only be Robyn + Royksopp.

Friday finds

A sweet brunch at b. patisserie.

As much as I prize my lazy weekends, it looks like I won’t be getting another one for a while. In a few hours, I’m hopping on a plane headed home. My little sister is graduating college (hooray!), and I can’t wait to celebrate with her. We might even get a little crazy while I’m there. Stay tuned…

How not to deal with the fact that gurlz run the world.

Awkwafina’s NYC.

A day in the life of Pinterest.

Square meals.

What do you think Alice Waters makes her kid?

Life in Slomo. Just beautiful.

A somber story on Palo Alto suicides.

Can’t wait to change my life by tidying up.

The sweetest personal ad.

This summer, I’m (in a sense) quitting my job to eat my way through SE Asia.

Lots of good articles on love this week: The one that got away. The truth behind being single. Marriage rates, mapped. Choosing a life partner.

Did you know I love Miley? I truly do. She’s so phenomenally talented. This cover, in particular, blew me away. As much as I wish I could hate on the tacky costumes and Ariana’s plywood-like personality (as my dear friend K so eloquently put it) — I’m helpless against the beauty of these two voices.

snickerdoodle-off: classic vs. cardamom

When presented with a cookie variety plate (which, to my great chagrin, does not happen daily), I’ve been pretty predictable. CCCs please. The more mix-ins – oatmeal, walnuts, cherries, what have you – the better.

Recently, however, I’ve rediscovered the simple. Case in point: snickerdoodles. Their pure texture allows a satisfyingly chewy experience – but the satisfying cinnamon-sugar coating prevents plainness or one-dimensionality. OG cookie realness. I made the Smitten Kitchen recipe for classic snickerdoodles and found myself itching to eating every other cookie that emerged from the oven.

Though I did, indeed, love these snickerdoodles, I later came across a version that seemed a potential, impossible improvement on the original. That’z right… cardamom! Dorie Greenspan and Joe Yonan had thrown the magical spice into the mix. After immediately fixing up a batch, I had to (very impatiently) wait for the batter to meld in the refrigerator or whatever it is that cookies do when they rest. Once I pulled the finished products out of the oven, however, it was clear they were worth the wait. Jay, my sweets-averse gold standard of taste-testing, absolutely devoured these fragrant snickerdoodles.

Two baking authorities – two recipes – two incredible hits. What happens at the end of it all? I’m torn. I can’t decide. Jay would probably have me make the cardamom version all year long, but those classic snickerdoodles have a firm grip on me. The only thing to do, it seems, is to continue making both, forever and ever.

Classic snickerdoodles

Recipe at Smitten Kitchen

Cardamom snickerdoodles

Recipe by Joe Yonan, courtesy of Dorie Greenspan