For portions of every day, she manages to lose herself in realms of memory: the faint impressions of the visual world before she was six, when Paris was like a vast kitchen, pyramids of cabbages and carrots everywhere, bakers’ stalls overflowing with pastries; fish stacked like cordwood in the fishmongers’ booths, the runnels awash in silver scales, alabaster gulls swooping down to carry off entrails. Every corner she turned billowed with color: the greens of leeks, the deep purple glaze of eggplants. -Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See)
 Only now, in a small hotel outside of New York City, have I managed to sit down and compose the thoughts that have been swirling in my mind for the past three weeks. I honestly don’t know how I have the energy to write (a Thursday “morning” red-eye flight took us to Pittsburgh and we spent most of yesterday driving across Pennsylvania and Jersey, then zigzagging to a little town called Hawthorne in Westchester County), but I suppose that there is, despite the distracting, but gentle hum of the air conditioning, no better moment than the here and now. Back in California, I have not been able to spare a moment; there has simply been so much to do lately: some of it fun, like the trips to wine country we took with my colleague (really, my first real friend after graduate school) and then again when my oldest friend in the world visited en route to the Comic Con in San Diego, but some of it, like collecting and packing boxes–is nothing but tedious and purely logistical. 
It’s amazing, though, because, in spite of all butterflies that have been fluttering about in my stomach recently, everything is suddenly coming together. We’re here in New York for the wedding of dear friends, while Elektra is spending time with her great-grandparents and their chocolate-colored dachshund in Pennsylvania (this is not to say, however, that watching her howl as we drove away today was anything but heartbreaking). Come Sunday, we’re going to Delaware to see the place that will be our home; if pictures are to be believed, it has a fenced-in yard, a patio, a beautiful kitchen with lots of light, counter space and a dishwasher. If this fact didn’t make our move real enough, we also, after putting together a to-do list, finally rented a moving van, definitively planned our route and have found places to stay in 5 of the 7 places we’ll be staying during what I’m now referring to as “The Great Move East”: Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Amarillo, Fayetteville, Kansas City and Indianapolis. While there are moments when it all feels very crippling or when I feel like the task is so huge that I don’t know where to begin, I’ve also started seeing it as a bit of a crazy adventure…Me, the Greek, a Penske truck and the American South. Minus the Penske truck, it’s precisely the adventure I’ve been craving this past year as I sat at my desk and contemplated all sorts of legalese. Speaking of which, I even still have a job, which is probably the thing that has been most surprising about this whole situation. I’ll be keeping my current position, but working remotely and flexibly; that I will not have to ride BART and sit in a chair for hours on end is quite possibly the happiest of all possible endings to my giving notice…So many things seem like they’re too good to be true that I’ve started waiting, as a friend and I used to say to each other throughout graduate school, for the other shoe to drop. The only question is, will it actually–and when? It may just be that there is no second shoe.

Although I’m beyond overdue for my monthly food for thought post, I’m going to ease back into blogging with the various links I’ve compiled over the last month. Then,  when we get back to Pennsylvania on Tuesday, hopefully I’ll get to make something refreshing and sweet with some summer peaches. If not, there’s always the recipe for chocolate waffles that I’ve been wanting to share. Until then, I leave you with July’s food for thought:

I haven’t been reading as much as I would have liked recently, but what I have managed to read–one collection of essays by the hilarious and incorrigible Calvin Trillin, Alice, Let’s Eat, and Anthony Doerr’s incredibly beautiful and suspenseful All the Light We Cannot Seehas been nothing short of amazing. I read the latter with my long-distance book club buddy and it was one of the best books I’ve read all year (it joined The Department of Speculation and Bleak House). Next on our list: Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red. In the meantime, my current road trip book is Go Set a Watchman; despite the early criticism I read, how could I not return for the adventures of Scout, aka Jean Louise, at 26?

I was excited to learn recently that Jhumpa Lahiri, whose short stories I find as captivating as Chekhov’s, wrote a collection of essays in Italian (!)–she has been living in Rome (one of my dream cities) for several years now–that will be translated into English and published in early 2016. One reason I’m interested in this collection is that it discusses what it means to live in another language, how one recreates oneself when given new words and expressions…I often felt this when speaking Russian, a language in which I was known to be a “flirt” (koketka), which seems like the most preposterous thing in the world. The funny thing was that, in Russian, it was essentially spot on, although the word flirt also doesn’t do it justice.

Before leaving California, I decided to make cherry butter; call it my way of avoiding the reality of the move, or my desire to take some of California with me, but I spent a good hour one recent Sunday pitting cherries and watching my fingers turn a vibrant red. I also recently tried cherry plums, which are an interesting hybrid worth whatever outlandish price you may be charged for them (my sampling occurred at work, where fresh fruit is a staple snack).

Although a topic that won’t affect me for too much longer (not that it ever has since I’ve always lived in the East Bay), I think this article sums up the San Francisco housing/rent crisis quite nicely. Something is going to eventually have to give.

There’s nothing better than fresh herbs: a visual guide.

A meditation on pesto’s many charms.

A friend recently sent this to me and it embodies everything I love about the compactness of the Japanese language. I, for example, a person who practices tsundoku, the act of buying a book and leaving it to sit unread with other books.

When we get back to California, I’m going to eat my first ever batch of cheese curds. Any suggestions as to what to do with them besides eat them and enjoy (?) the squeaking sound they make? If not, I have this as a guide.

4 thoughts on “Food for Thought

  1. That will be a road trip to remember! Cameron and I had plenty of adventures just on 40 through New Mexico and Arizona… Places we really enjoyed that you guys might as well (depending of course on travel timing, etc. etc.): The Turquoise Room at La Posada Hotel in Winslow (an oasis!), the Painted Desert (right off of 40). In ABQ, The Grove Cafe is great and Flying Star is quite good, and it can be fun to drive along Central Avenue and see the old 66 motel signs… Cameron's blog can give you a preview of any of these if you're curious!

  2. What a marvelous adventure! And your new house sounds FAB (the description of the kitchen caused me to shed a tear or two). Good luck with it all and safe travels!
    PS Have you read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson? I think it makes an interesting companion book to the Doerr.

  3. Hello, Eric! Thanks so much for writing and for your suggestions (I remember seeing the photos from your various New Mexico adventures! It looked amazing and stunning–this, I think, is the leg of the journey I'm most excited about! I'm open to being pleasantly surprised, though!). We'll definitely try to go to both the Painted Desert and The Grove (I've heard many good things). We want to see as much as possible because, once we're back east, I don't know if we'll ever get another opportunity like this….I will be heading to the faithful Chronicler of all things beautiful (Krug, of course!) tonight to add things to my list. Truly, this is a fantastic time to be a list maker. 🙂 hope you three are well in Pasadena!

  4. Thank you, Ann! It does feel like an adventure–a wonderful, crazy adventure. We spent the past weekend driving around Pennsylvania and Delaware, so, in a way, it feels like the adventure has already begun…

    The place ended up being everything we had hoped it would be, which is a relief. Before you shed too many tears, let me just tell you that our new home is a bit secluded (in Delaware, we'll definitely have to drive most places, which is sad for a card-carrying pedestrian like me), but I suppose the many amenities will make up for it!

    As for Life after Life, I read it last year and thought it was amazing (I thought of it often when reading All the Light); it made me want to read more Atkinson. Did you know (or read perhaps) the sequel? I've heard good things, although it's very different…

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