The things you think are the disasters in your life are not the disasters really. Almost anything can be turned around: out of every ditch, path, if you can only see it. -Hilary Mantel (Bring Up the Bodies)
After many flights, too many heavy bags and too little cooking, my life is finally settling back into its natural rhythms. I can also now assure you that there will be no more lengthy absences; after having clocked in too many hours in front of a computer this summer, I have finally had a much-needed break from the computer. It’s nothing short of an understatement to say that this in and of itself has been both liberating and welcome. Of course, the other side of the coin is that I have a lot of things I want to share with you: posts from time in both Brussels and Pennsylvania, recipes that I’ve been salivating over…But there will be plenty of time for that later.
My primary goal these days is to find an occupation. Even though this is a slow and arduous process,ย  I have to admit that I’m also really enjoying my current freedom. Maybe it’s easy for me to savor this time since I made a conscious choice to remove myself temporarily from the rat race, but I also feel that this is the natural result of years of hard work. One needs to breathe, to see what the other side is like. With Russian literature I had long been feeling that I was like a girl who had fallen in love with her high school sweetheart (11th grade humanities was when the boy who wrote Notes from the Underground caught my eye) and married him; only later did I discover how demanding and exhausting he could be. This feeling was compounded by a sudden thought I had yesterday as I was walking in San Francisco in the afternoon: I felt like a girl who had just gotten out of a long-term relationship. Thus, what I was doing as I wandered first through a Mexican grocery store and then to an ice cream shop to get a Brown Butter (!) ice cream cone was simple: I am currently dating myself. I’m spending my evenings as I please, reading whatever my little heart desires, reconnecting with my dreams and hobbies that have nothing to do with the metaphorical him. I’d be a liar if I didn’t say that I’m still very aware of the life that is going on without me and that there are things about it that I miss (perhaps we’ll even eventually reconcile?), but for now I’m relishing my singledom and the fact that my time is my own.
In addition to sharing the many things I’ve discovered in the last month or so, today’s post is largely about featuring some of the pictures I took during my last few days in Athens. I wrote pretty extensively about Athens last summer, but I nevertheless want to reiterate that I find it to be an incredibly vibrant and fascinating city. It’s an urban jungle with so many nooks and crannies, so much noise, a lot of filth and an incredible amount of heat trapped within it, but for the fiery sunset, breakfasts and dinners on the balconies, the outdoor movie theaters, the bread studded with sesame seeds and lightly colored by cornmeal, and the looming presence of the Acropolis over the city, I would live there and never complain.

On that lovesick note, here are the links that have either given me pause or put a spring in my step:ย 
I love technology, but I also have an innate fear of it. This video on smartphones reminded me to put my phone down and to live, really live, at least a little.
After slowly reading Wolf Hall in four different airplanes and three different countries, I whizzed through Bring Up the Bodies, which paints a fascinating portrait of courtly revenge and the way that Henry VIII’s whims shaped history. Read them; you won’t be sorry. Even better news: a snippet from the third and final installment and the BBC’s plan to turn the books into what will hopefully be a good miniseries.
Now that I’m out of Mantel’s books on Tudor England, I’ve turned to Meg Wolitzer’s The Wife. It’s both funny and painful to read, especially given its theme of gender inequality.
I’ve also been meaning to post about this forever, but Veronica Mars basically got me through my first year of graduate school, which is why I cannot wait until this movie comes out.
In food news, I often check in over at Serious Eats, especially for their weekly Cook the Book column by Kate Williams. I could get out of bed earlier than usual to whip up an oatmeal parfait for breakfast; also, as a lover of seaweed thanks to my time in Japan, I also want to try Seaweed Tartare.

In PA, I tried walnut liqueur for the first time and hopefully it won’t be the last; I’m now thinking that if the opportunity strikes, maybe I’ll try my hand at making it at home.
That is, if I can tear myself away from Thai cooking. I started a class, a series of four, earlier this week and the first installment was informative, fascinating and resulted in a spicy meal that definitely cleaned out my sinuses. I hope to feature a few of the recipes in the coming weeks; I’ve already practiced making one curry at home.

4 thoughts on “Summer’s End

  1. I also feel like I am the girl who married my high school sweetheart; we met when I was seventeen and I decided marriage was our only possible path (i.e., “becoming a professor of Russian literature)… without knowing anything of what's up ahead on this path. Thank you for the metaphor! And for narrating a possible post-factum experience…

  2. This is the best metaphor. And I think it is kind of true for me too. My swooning started when I was 16 and such a romantic. I am so glad you are free! And I hope you enjoy dating yourself:) It has probably been the most fun I've had in my life;)

  3. You're welcome, Josefina! I do think it's an apt metaphor, although my current experience is limited. I have no idea where it's all going, but I'm going to enjoy myself for now. Each stage has its perks, I think. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Weren't we all such romantics? The dark and complex Russian soul? The wonders of reading (which I still very much believe in)? It's all very Tatiana Larina and Evgenii Onegin; this metaphor shaped a lot of my grad school experience…for better or for worse. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And, yes, the early stages tell me that I'm kind of a keeper. I'm having fun and feeling optimistic; I'm glad to know the fun can last!

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