I never intended to take a break from blogging, but it was just one of those things that happened. Since I last checked in here, I’ve edited roughly 60 single-spaced pages.  Not only have I been confronted by embarrassing typos that I never even realized I made on a regular basis (betweeeen), but I’ve also been forced to look for various ways of describing a metaphorical wound (how often do we get to use the words lacerate, fester and seep? Clearly not often enough, given how long it took me to pull them from the haphazardly organized files in my brain). And the speed of the feedback can be rather alarming. With Chapter Two, my excellent streak came to its (inevitable) end, although I can’t complain since the problems within it are apparently so big that no quick fix could save it (and my head adviser is nothing if not a master problem solver). Chapter Three, however, was deemed a success, although I was asked to do a quick revision of the conclusion; three hours later, I think I fixed it. I don’t think I’m wrong when I say that there’s never anything quick about writing. It even took me a good three hours to revamp my resume recently–and resumes are all about bullet points.

To top off the dissertation madness, I have also come down with a rather annoying and untimely cold. While there is a part of me that wants to curl up under a blanket and just watch TV, I tried that on Saturday afternoon and I just couldn’t do it. In these final moments, my dissertation has become a siren song that I can’t resist. Or maybe I somehow realize that deep down it’s the actual cause of this infection– a combination of too many days spent sitting in the dark and time spent deciphering apocalyptic metaphors. There’s something strangely ironic–or is this poetic justice?–that in the final days of the dissertation (I am close, my friends; I can feel the shackles loosening with each passing day. And, yes, I’m aware that I’m now mixing my metaphors), I can’t really taste anything. I think of all the days I spent cooking and baking–probably time that I should have been spending writing the dissertation, but there can be no regrets now–and it seems somehow right that these things should no longer prove a temptation. It’s sad to admit, but I’m just not hungry; actually, I suppose a more precise way of formulating this (my current obsession in life) would be to say that, “I currently derive no pleasure from food.” When I see recipes in food magazines that are celebrating all the beautiful summer produce, I’m just not not moved by any of it. That world suddenly feels alien to me. Who can blame me, though? The joys of raspberries, tomatoes and corn can be relished only by normal, happy people. Writers–of all stripes–just don’t always fit into that category.

Considering that this is technically a food blog, I realize that these words are nothing short of blasphemous. And while I am sorry  that I have no recipe for you today, I do promise that there will be many good things to come. I just have to cross the finish line first. The return of what might just be my favorite sense wouldn’t hurt either. Who can wax poetic about a juicy peach with deadened senses?

In the meantime, I can offer you only links, suggestions and ideas:

I recently decided to abandon the dissertation for an evening and snuck off to the movies with a friend. Our film of choice was pure pop: The Bling Ring. When I got home that night, I decided to read the Vanity Fair article, “The Suspects Wore Louboutins,” that inspired the movie, which definitely makes for some entertaining reading.

A few months ago, I told you about a scholarly mystery that a professor of mine had uncovered.Well, the culprit of the academic crimes recently decided to tell his side of the story.

While I’m not hungry for food, my appetite for the word has not yet been diminished. After I finally finished A Dance with Dragons (fellow GoT fans: thoughts on Jon Snow’s ending?! Can the next book just come out already?), I devoured Maria Semple’s wonderful Where’d You Go, Bernadette? I was at first a bit put off by the novel’s satirical tone, but I quickly found myself laughing aloud. I think it resonates particularly well with west coasters. And because I can’t stop, but don’t want to get lost in another novel, I’m now revisiting an oldie, but a goodie for some episodic entertainment: The Interpreter of Maladies.

Back when I could still taste things, the Greek and I decided to make some fancy lemon ricotta pancakes, courtesy of the recipe on the back of the cheese container. Sometimes, the path to a good breakfast is really as simple as reading the directions on the packaging.

Even though I have a gazillion and one cookbooks, I really want to add Franny to my shelves. Ever since it came out, I’ve been intrigued by the positive reviews; then, I looked at it in a bookstore and almost bought it on the spot just for the Peanut Gelato recipe. Since I’ve been trying to practice restraint and also currently lack the time to make either 48-hour pizza dough or gelato, I valiantly held off. But I stumbled on this review by accident today and I’m thinking it’s only a matter of time before I give in (as a post-dissertation present to myself maybe?).

Who isn’t talking about the royal baby these days? Even so, I was still surprised to discover how much of an industry one little (royal) baby could be. And I couldn’t resist reading yet another article about the Brits–this one about how as one royal star rises, another (almost) royal falls from grace. The media is nothing if not fickle. 

The one thing I still find palatable these days is chocolate; go figure, right? The Greek just returned from Chicago–he was there last week for work–with a few carefully wrapped boxes of coconut clusters, peanut butter cups and salted caramels from Lickity Split. For anybody stopping in Chicago, it sounds like a good place to be.

It’s somewhat crazy to think that next Friday the Greek and I will be boarding a plane to Pittsburgh. After an ever so brief rest, we’ll travel to Washington, D.C. and then from Dulles to Brussels and then from Brussels to Athens. My head is spinning just thinking about it. But I cannot wait to bask again in real life. Since it seems like we probably won’t make it to Berlin this summer after all (it’s always a good idea to be practical), we’ve been thinking that we might go to Corfu or Rhodes! To be honest, I don’t care where we go; all that matters is that, for the first time in three years, I won’t have a dissertation hanging over my head.

Maybe, despite the several jobs I’ve applied to in the past few months, I’ll still be unemployed when I return to California in September, but that may just be okay. To stave off boredom, I’ve signed up for a month-long Thai cooking class with a friend. Unemployment may just lead to the best pad thai ever.

11 thoughts on “The Tasteless Days of Summer

  1. Isn't amazing how lousy a simple cold can make you feel? I've been fighting one myself – what a silly time of year for this!

    Rooting for you as you finish your dissertation! No worries about the rest. Sometimes you just have to fiddle to the song that is most urgent at the moment. The rest will come.

    I have yet to dig into Game of Thrones…recommendation?

  2. A cold really can make you feel nothing but blue, Lisa! Fortunately, I seem to be on the mend, if not entirely mended! I hope you're feeling better, too!

    And thank you for the support; in these final stages, when all I really want to do is collapse, I need all the support I can get! And thank you also for your wise words about the rest; things will fall into place with time. It's important to finish one task before embarking on another.

    I have only the highest recommendation for the Game of Thrones. I started reading the series last May (and got through the first three mammoth books before August 1) and then took a break. Since mid-May, they've again been my steadfast companions. They're fun and they really draw you in; they can also be quite frustrating (especially once you get to books 4 and 5, although I think these books are better than most fans would admit). If you like fantasy and multiple perspectives, give them a go (let me warn you that the first book begins slowly. I only felt really taken in after about 75 pages)! I'd love to know your thoughts if you do. 🙂

  3. Go go go, you are almost there! And touché, I never have the patience to read through and edit anything I've written once it is done – wonder what is my metaphorica wound…

    But: will you stay in Brussels? You know from whom to ask for tips for Bruxelles, à première vue pas très belle, la capitale du surréel…

  4. Oh, I'm reading Where'd You Go Bernadette right now and I LOVE IT. Hope the words fly from your fingers over the next few days. Happy vacation!

  5. Thank you, Ulla! And, to put it mildly, I'm quickly running out of patience on the whole dissertation front, but it is well and truly almost over. Bely, Bal'mont and Kuzmin were approved, so it's the home stretch now!

    About Brussels, no, we will be there only for a 8 hours, although we will leave the airport. Any tips if you get this in time? If not, Kostas has some ideas since he's been to Brussels before. But I wouldn't mind knowing a few of the EU super cool government crowd hangouts..that is, if you can divulge this information. 🙂

    P.S. Thank you for the postcard from Tbilisi! I really want to travel there!!! One day!

  6. Thank you, Ann! I'm so glad to hear that I know another Where'd You Go Bernadette fan. I had never read Semple before, but now I'd like to read her other novel. If it's anywhere near as funny as Bernadette, it would be more than worth it!

  7. Taste is back. And it's the final stretch. This by no means substitutes for a comment on your blog, but since it's the best I can do right now, I love the new layout. It's very pretty and inviting–much like the blogger behind it. 🙂

  8. So of corse I got to see this only after you were already there. But save the tips for the next time (Matongé, any restaurant at Saint-Boniface sq. and L'Horloge du Sud at Trône and Chaussee de Wavre). And when you have more time, Africa Museum is quite something. Wish you a lovely relaxing (?) time on the old continent!

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