Category Archives: home

Endings… and Beginnings

louvre

When last we spoke, I was alternating between waxing poetic about sunny summer vacations and practically pulling my hair out in anticipation of my move from Paris to California. I am pretty sure that my silence here speaks for itself. As usual, when things got tough, the blog was sidelined. However, I am popping back up to assure you that I made it.

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I want to take a moment to thank all of my friends and colleagues for the time and energy they spent supporting me through the stress of those last few weeks and months of what seemed like perma-crisis mode. I can only hope that our many celebrations were worth it. I still have a backlog of posts I want to write about my last few weeks/months in Paris – to tell you all about the museums, trips and meals I was able to squeeze in before leaving.

gyoza

My story has, in practical terms, come full circle. From California, to Boston, to Paris and back again. Emotionally, however, it is a very different story. I left here at age 22, naïve and idealistic with a list of things I wanted to accomplish in my life that, at the time, seemed to equate to happiness. I return, almost 12 years later, a bit more jaded, much more confidant and knowing that crossing goals off of a list in itself is not necessarily success.

bruges

I learned so much about myself living in Paris. Despite all of it’s beauty and splendor, it is not an easy place to feel at home – especially living alone and not exactly speaking the language. I have a kind of innate confidence in me now – I moved there, I made it work – that no one can take away. Much of that came from learning how to share my ups and downs here. This blog gave me space to find a voice and foster my creativity, whether it was with my photos, crafting or a weeknight meal. More importantly, in this space I never felt alone. I am exceedingly thankful to each of you that read these words, especially those that dropped a kind comment now and then to reinforce that, despite thousands of miles, there are ways we can all remain connected and close.

seals

After all of my international travel and adventures, I am excited to be reinventing myself again, this time with the backdrop of San Diego and the support of my friends and family. I have started a Researching San Diego blog – you can find it here. It may be a bit less exotic of a locale, but there is so much to explore, in the city and throughout California (plus, those last few Paris posts will be posted there soon!). I hope you all will join me for the new adventures yet to come.

Thank you.

Much Love.

Five Things About Me

(I love this and I don’t care who knows it)

To say that it has been too long since I’ve been here would be the understatement of the year (or, two, actually, depending how you count). I certainly have been drafting posts in my mind, carrying my camera everywhere and the food… oh the food I have consumed in the past four months – all with the excuse of sharing it with you. Yet, that is what I’ve come to accept. I do not need an excuse. Not for that 9 course pop-up restaurant in DC (oh, yes, that happened), not for cheese-tastic feasts and, importantly, not for my most recent in a long line of blog recesses… Life got in the way. I do the best I can. I look back and wish I had prioritized differently and I forge ahead hoping that I will have learned from the experience. So, let’s move on, shall we?

(an embarrassment of cheeses riches cheeses)

Inspired by Jenna (who does not know me, but is now my most recent favorite person for unknowingly providing me with the above photo – and post idea), I figured a list is the best way to shake off the old and bring in the new. Who doesn’t love a list of random factoids? I know I do!

1. Yoga is good for me. This is my nod to Mr. Gosling above, and will be my only ‘self-improvement’ entry on this list. Last summer I got into the habit of doing 20 minutes of yoga each morning. It was a slow, conscious way of starting each day and I felt the benefits almost immediately. My posture improved, as did my patience, and I was proud of committing to a small, daily practice for just me (those 15-20 minutes of yoga were certainly a much better use of that time than the ‘snooze’ button). All was good (and balanced) until the weather cooled, skies darkened and winter set in. I fell off of the interconnectedness wagon. The warmth of my bed cocoon was too tempting. I now feel ready to get back to it, but have not found the get-up-and-go each morning (‘snooze’ has reconquered my world) to make it happen. So, I’m saying it here – and hoping that accountability to blog friends and strangers will push me farther than I have been able to push myself.

(that’s my face!)

2. I had both of my jaws realigned in 2005. Due to an overbite and resultantly wacky teeth , I had both of my jaws realigned while in graduate school. This involved getting braces for the second time and several weeks consuming only liquids. In preparation for the best diet ever (joking – sort of), I took the opportunity to be a complete glutton, which had its moments. I joke that perhaps they will unearth my skull and think that I am the missing link between man and machine. Besides rapid onset ice cream headaches (all the metal in my face cools down way faster than tissue and bone do in cold weather), the only perk is to freak people out by having them touch the one screw you can feel, at the top of my nose… Truly one of the best party tricks ever.

(Camille and Meg. Post-cheese – and, perhaps, some wine)

3.  I create a family of friends wherever I land. I have been very lucky in life’s endeavors so far, even if they continue to take me further and further afield from the place I consider ‘home’ (most anywhere on the CA coastline). Although I try to focus on the positive and be enthusiastic about the opportunities I am given, there are some days when this is just downright difficult. Enter my ‘family’. I have, in most cases, blindly stumbled upon the most amazing people in each city that I have inhabited. Intelligent, generous, hilarious people who have welcomed me into their lives, opened their hearts and shared in the ups and downs of daily life, so much so that I feel at ‘home’ when I am with them. I could not imagine better friends – here, in Boston (now moved almost entirely en masse in DC) or, waiting for me to return, some day, to CA. Talk about lucky…

(my *first* niece, Sophia Rose)

4. In this year, I will become an aunt 4 times over.  Speaking of family. Mine has been gettin’ busy! Ours is a modern (re: fragmented, eccentric, wonderful) family that has spent a lot of time apart, each of us finding our own way. Yet, in the past year, things have been, uhm, coming together (?) and two sisters and two brothers will (or have) both bring (brought) bundles of joy into this world for me to love, hug, squeeze and call George (or, Sophia, whatever). Seeing this happen, being part of the inner circle, and frantically knitting baby blankets has made me realize that, for all of my world traveling and far flung soul searching, there is nothing like family. No matter how dysfunctional. Kidding, I swear!

(make. this. now.)

5. I have conquered apple exhaustion and now cannot get enough. There have been stories of apple excess in years past. It is like the Groundhog Day of the panier set; more apples? Yes. OK, at least a few more weeks of winter to go. This year the apples were somewhat offset by an overwhelming quantity of kiwi, a winter fruit I now dread more than the apple (at least you can make something with apples). However, despite the kiwi distraction, I still find myself in early April with more apples than I can fit in my tiny, Parisan kitchen.  This weekend I was done. I had had enough. No more crumbly pies, or last minute tarts. It all had to go. Now.

Applesauce was clearly the answer. Rather than my go-to recipe, I chose to follow Luisa’s instincts (note to self – never hesitate to follow Luisa’s instincts from here on out). Please, for all that is holy, go make this now. Buy apples (if you have to) and then loosely follow the recipe. Maybe you substitute brown for white sugar and, if you are so lucky as to get vanilla-infused butter from your friends as gifts (I told you so), drop a few dollops of that in. Bake until extra browned and mash away. Yes, you must taste as you go, but do not forget to let it cool, or you won’t be able to feel that center-front spot on your tongue for the next few days – believe me. Even better, add a dollop of crème fraiche and slowly savor each sweet, caramel-y bite – like the most perfectly bruléed tarte tatin, without all that crust nonsense to get in the way. I am seriously considering picking up some more apples at the store on the way home tomorrow. Just sayin’.

So, there we go. Not nearly caught up (that will come), but at least reconnected, which, for now, is a big step in the right direction. Bonne Nuit!

Drowsy Sunday

Today I took a clue from the cool, rainy weather – with the exception of a brief breakfast outing, I tucked in, drank tea (and, eventually, a glass of wine) and putted around doing house/heartwarming things.

This included large chunks of time dedicated to exploring several newly discovered photography blogs, all of which inspired me to let images of a grey, drowsy Sunday speak (almost) for themselves.

Walking past tourists braving the rain to see Sacre Coeur on my way to…

…warm my hands and fill my belly with breakfast at Cocoliquot.

Tomatoes, hoarded from the past few weeks’ paniers, waiting…

to become a delicious Sunday afternoon meal,

all the while putting finishing touches on a baby blanket – with one week to go.

A day for meandering, earnest thoughts, kitchen smells, a bit of journaling and dancing alone in the living room. Restful and rejuvenating for the week ahead.

Americana – the Museums

Boston, MA to Washington D.C. – 1h 38min

Over the past (almost) two years I have turned my sights outward. I left my home country and language to take up the challenge of working (and living) in France. Moreover, I have had the great fortune to be welcomed into The German’s family and now look forward to visting the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt and eating bratwurst on many frigid Christmas Eves to come.

Despite my excitement about all of the new places I have explored, I have found myself becoming overtly patriotic. Never before being particularly politically active, my patriotism appears to be inversely proportional to my distance from home – the farther away I am, the more vociferously I defend my home country. Yet, besides AP US History in high school, I have never had the opportunity to delve into the nation’s history or visit the musuems and memorials built to commemorate it.

Several friends from graduate school have transplanted themselves, en masse, to the greater Washington, D.C. area and I was long overdue for a visit. Traveling mid-week meant that I would also have the time to play tourist and explore the city while they went about their work. I first took a bit of time to explore the sculpture garden that is part of the National Portrait Gallery, which was quite fun (including a spot-on replica of a Parisian metro station that really confused me for a few seconds).

(Identical to Paris – minus the stairs and tunnels, but including the sleeper in the corner)

(I like to think of this one as “Donnie Darko meets The Thinker“)

(This tree reminds me of UCSD)

Realizing that I needed a snack before deciding where to go next, I grabbed a hot dog from a kiosk on the Mall and ate it while enjoying the incredible view .

Unfortunately, it seemed that I had brought the rain and cold winds down from Boston with me, but this gave me a great excuse for digging around two fantastic museums – The Museum of American History and The Natural History Museum – for the rest of the day.

(The central exhibit after entering the is the original flag that inspired the writing of “The Star Spangled Banner“, located behind this metallic sculpture. Brought me to tears immediately. Way to start of a museum tour).

(The First Ladies exhibit was excellent – Mary Todd Lincoln had the smallest waist ever and Barbara Bush was a big woman).

(I watched an interactive discussion with children about the civil rights movement that started at this counter and was amazed to watch history come alive through their eyes.)

(Julia Child’s kitchen. Old PBS episodes playing in the background, including the one where she teaches how to make omelettes. She explains that she is making an omelette de fromage (cheese) for herself, omelette epinards (spinach) for her husband and, why not, omelette de fois (liver) for her mother-in-law. The whole room cracked up when she said that.)

(Medical tools from the Revolutionary War period, including a cartoon of amputation above – and the saw below).

(Vietnam War exhibit – as the first war that America watched on television, the exhibit was a collection of clips shown on 1970’s era TVs while sitting on overstuffed couches. Surreal).

(Who does not love dinosaurs, at any age ?)

(Sparkles)

(This guy would be SO dead)

Museuming can be a hard day’s work, but I was sure to save my energy to enjoy the evening with my friends – they were the ones I was here to see, after all. At least until the next day.

Cures for the Blahs

As a warning, if you have a Y chromosome it is best to leave now. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program of bizarrely dressed Parisians tomorrow…

There are some days that are just blah. Today was one of those days. There were definitely highs – great lunch conversation and an impressively well executed chalk talk – but for the most part the day just hovered in the apathy zone. At one point outside forces pushed me into full-force anger but then, like a boomerang, I returned to indifference. Ideas were fleeting, inspiration/motivation at a lull and productivity practically non-existent.

I am sure a lot of this is the post-Bastille Day-I-really-have-to-go-to-work-early realization (and need for sleep), but then again, sometimes I’m just not feeling it. I tried the usual suspects for cheering me up: loud dance music, rambling conversations with funny colleagues, online shopping and even (gasp!) beer with friends. I did stop short of karaoke at an Irish pub. Maybe that was the key…

I arrived home, still feeling out of sorts and I pulled out all the stops. The one thing that will make me smile when all of the above cannot?

Red toes. (Yes, I have freakishly fat pinky toes.)

They just make me happy. Now I feel a bit lighter and I’m starting to dance around the house. I know that out there on the interwebs, the girls get me. The guys are shaking their heads wondering why they didn’t just pay attention and wait until tomorrow to catch up. Told you so.

Happy 4th!!

Growing up in a small town on the central coast of California, I always thought of June through August as the foggy season. Technically, it is. Dry heat inland pulls cool air and clouds from out over the water onto the coast covering the shoreline with damp, grey fog for much of the summer. The only time I really minded so much was on the 4th of July. Hopeful for a clear night, my family would always pack snacks and hot cocoa and head down to the harbor to claim our prime fireworks viewing spot. Every other year (or so) we were disappointed. We could see each rocket shoot up, disappear into the clouds and then the fog would take on a pulsing green or red color for a few seconds, followed by a giant boom. Not all was lost, we still had our town parade and the chance that *this* year it would be clear enough to see every last sparkle.

What I could count on was that each 4th of July afternoon, as it was getting dark in Boston, the most amazing fireworks show over the Charles River was broadcast nationwide on A&E. Here the pyrotechnics were synched to a musical score and prior to the show there was always a lively orchestra performance of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” complete with cannons. This seemed to be the ultimate in patriotic celebration. (Note: Looking to link to A&E, I notice they no longer show the broadcast. This makes me a little sad. And old.)

For the seven years I was in graduate school in Boston, I made it to the oversized celebration on the Esplanade three times. It was everything I had imagined it to be and more. I love my country, but I have never been the outspoken, “my country is the best”, flag-waving type. Clearly, as I am typing this on a quiet Sunday afternoon in Paris, I have yearned to live outside of our borders. However, I can say, without a doubt, that few things have warmed my heart more than standing as one among 1 million spectators, watching fire light up the sky and singing “America the Beautiful” in unison. I miss that today.

I know that I will get more than my fill of picnics and fireworks in 10 days (Bastille Day). And, I certainly am not missing (at all) the crush of humanity arriving on the river and, more so, leaving after the spectacle. However, for the sense of camaraderie and belonging (if just for one day) there are a few events that I miss by being here when I am just plain homesick, and (predictably) this is one of them. I hope you are all having a wonderful (and safe) holiday full of family, friends, food and fireworks. Enjoy and light a sparkler for me!

Lost and Found

I first arrived in Paris in November 2008 at 9:30 in the morning after a red-eye Aer Lingus flight that had been less than comfortable. Once I reclaimed my life at the baggage claim (stuffed into three suitcases) and negotiated a taxi into the city using my best Fren-glish, all I wanted was to drop off my things at the new apartment and take a walk. I needed to take some photos and convince myself that this fairy-tale city was my new home.

Unfortunately, this never happened. My camera had, somewhere over the Atlantic, given up the ghost. The display screen in the back had died (well, not quite, it was black streaked with purple dancing stripes), and the camera was not wired to work with only the viewfinder. Which begs the question why it was there at all. No matter, I took a few deep breaths, stretched my legs and enjoyed the view. Once back home, I tossed the faulty equipment in a bag I keep for miscellaneous electronic appliances and promptly forgot about it.

Until this weekend. On a somewhat mad quest to tear apart my home, clean it and then put it all back together again (i.e. spring cleaning), I ran across the camera again. Looking a little battered and the worse for wear (I am hard on my toys, hence the breaking) I decided to double-check that no photos had been left behind. Sure enough, there were about 50, although several featured the ominous black screen and dancing purple line warning of imminent death. Those that remained document my last few weeks in Boston. Farewell parties, weekend trips to western MA (including the State Fair), an election in full swing and plenty of last minute pictures with The German. It was sort of like finding $20 in your pocket, except with priceless memories.

Overall they left me pretty homesick, especially during the long holiday weekend. But today I am turning that frown upside-down and going to enjoy sharing some of them with you!

A day trip to Shelburne Falls, MA. The main feature of this small town is the “Bridge of Flowers”, an old rail bridge over the Deerfield River that has been converted into a lush garden. After exploring the garden (and peeking into the Obama party) The German and I wrapped up our day with a late lunch on the deck of the West End Pub watching the river flow by.

A day at The Fair. I took it upon myself (as a good American) to take a group of foreign colleagues (with the help of a few locals) to The Big E (Eastern States Exposition – like a state fair – but for many tiny states at the same time). We saw the animals (on display at the Farm-A-Rama, pictured above), rode The Fire Ball, ate cheese fries and saw the butter sculpture. I passed on the deep-fried Twinkie – patriotism only will get me so far.

Lastly, a few images from my last week in the US. The German and I took a well-deserved vacation. We flew to Denver and drove to southern CA, over the Rockies, through Zion Canyon and past The Grand Canyon. It was amazing to be able to share the wonder with him, as he saw all these places for the first time. We stopped to have lunch and stretch our legs in Grand Junction, CO and found quite a few pieces of interesting art (especially the buffalo of mirrors, above).

At the time, being so aware of my immediate departure, I tried so hard to cram each day with poignant moments and happy memories. Now, from thousands of miles away, I am so glad that I did. These lost glimpses into that time mean even more to me today. No matter where in the world my adventures take me, in the end there really is no place like home. Especially when there is fried dough involved.

A Sense of Community

Upon returning to Paris from the US last week, my first stop was the local bakery. This description is not really accurate. It makes it sound as if it is the only bakery for miles around. In this city, local (for me) means ‘closest’ because, really, there averages a bakery every 100 meters. In fact, on my 7-minute walk from the metro to the lab, I pass three.

Due to the touristy atmosphere of my neighborhood, there tend to more sidewalk cafés and fondue restaurants than artisan bakeries. Yet, there happens to be one right at the bottom of my hill that does the trick. I am relatively easy to please, but I do have two criteria: (i) open somewhat late – I usually return from work around 8pm, so to know I can still pick up fresh bread is essential – and, (ii) pain complet. I like baguette as much as the next girl, but I was raised on whole wheat and nut breads, not-so-fondly referred to as “the hard bread” once I realized that my classmates had their peanut butter & jelly on Wonder Bread. Like broccoli (and all those other things your parents made you eat because they were good for you), wheat bread grew on me and now I crave the nutty, dense crumb. Sometimes a baguette just does not hit the spot.

Anyways, this was what greeted me when I returned last week. Sadly, I do not actually know his name, but he is there when I stop in every other night, already prepared with the pain complet (or pain aux céréales, if they are out). What even topped the big smile and eagerness to have his photo taken (despite his worry that I might be leaving the neighborhood, for which I immediately reassured him I was not) was his exclamation that I must have been on vacation, as he had not seen me in a week! I think this means I have arrived – when the baker recognizes that I have not been around. I was delighted.

I shared this excitement with The German, but had a hard time explaining what was so warm and fuzzy about such a small encounter. First, the French are not the warmest people, not even superficially welcoming in the service industry, so for him to take an expressed interest made me feel special. Second, and most important, it made me feel like part of the community. I know that I speak broken (at best) French with a horrible American accent, but even so, he seemed happy to see me and knew that I belonged here and not amongst the droves of faceless tourists that pass each day. Somehow that makes this place, which used to be so utterly foreign, feel even more like home.

I practically skipped back to my apartment with a giant smile on my face. Shoulders back and chin high. This was my place now too. Spring was in the air (crisp, but birds were chirping) and I made myself a simple salad for dinner, with some hummus and the pain complet, of course. It was delicious.

World Traveller

I could waste this post pondering the fact that it has been almost three months since I have posted in this space (sad and shocking). I could (and have) shake my head ironically that those last few entries were full of lamentations describing how difficult it had been keeping up with this blog. Little did I know that I was about to drop off of the blogosphere all together. And, most uselessly, I could expound about how I will not let this happen again. Well, I will certainly try not to – because I have missed it.

However,  the question of where I have been deserves much more attention. In those three months I feel like I have flown to the ends of the earth and back. Twice. I just wish I could compile all of those frequent flyer miles. And then park myself on a beach. For a very long time.

First, I spent the week surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday in central/southern California with my extended family and friends. It had been a little over a year since my last visit to the land of fish tacos and 80ºF late-November days. The sun shined almost continuously.

I crammed as much visiting, laughter, Mexican food, Pacific sunsets and barbeque into those nine days as I possibly could. And then I cooked a turkey. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. My first Thanksgiving dinner as head chef was a huge personal achievement. Unfortunately it also marked the beginning of the (now ongoing) cold war with my bathroom scale.

I returned to Paris. I worked. I tried to restrict myself to salad. That was not possible. The temperature dropped and snow fell. As an aside from this (not-so-quick) summary – since when does Paris get this much snow? I was under the (false) impression that this city gets dusted with the white stuff once or twice a winter – just enough to look pretty. Apparently the snow gods are laughing it up at my shivering expense this season – but it does look amazing…

Last year I was too busy digging into my laboratory work to really explore the holiday festivities throughout the city. This year I was lucky enough to have a visitor (hi Elé!) who was happy to tromp around the multiple Alsatian Christmas markets around town and, most importantly, help me taste-test the vin chaud available at each event.

A very short, and mostly unproductive three weeks later, I hopped a plane to Germany for the Christmas holiday. I spent many days wrapped in blankets, drinking tea, reading my books in front of the fireplace (an ode to the addictive, wonderful cheesiness that is the Twilight saga deserves a post of its very own). Although I very easily could have stayed in my pajamas the entire time, we were adventurous and ventured out to see the original Christmas market in Nuremberg. I think the glüwein may beat the vin chaud (probably because it came in a seasonal souvenir mug).

I was, once again, reminded of how lucky I am to have the German in my life, as well as his incredibly kind, loving and generous family and friends. We all opened gifts on the holiday, lit fireworks for the New Year and ate and drank copiously the entire time. Meanwhile the snow kept falling. It was a bit like a fairy-tale. One that was exceedingly difficult to leave.

I flew back to Paris once again – to the hustle and bustle of work and a head full of New Years resolutions. It had finally settled in that 1 of my 3 years here had already passed. I still have so much to do and so little time. We dove headlong into the preparation for the upcoming 9-day visit to the laboratory in Cairo. Unlike my quick visit in October, this time around a large team from Paris traveled together. Not only did we spend time in the lab troubleshooting technical problems, preparing for new studies and catching up on the last two months of work, but we also presented the past three years of work to the scientific council responsible for the funding and maintenance of our research site. More than a bit stressful. Again, another post for another time, but I must mention how impressed and proud I am of my colleagues in Egypt. Although extremely challenging, it is an amazing experience, personally and professionally, to learn and work in such an environment.

Two weeks ago, I returned to Paris, this time prepared to stay a while. I have spent that time reorienting myself, doing laundry, re-prioritizing projects at work, sleeping and re-motivating after feeling like I have been running, non-stop since November. Slowly but surely I am again getting comfortable in my own skin. I am finally getting myself back on track both at work with my own projects and catching up with friends. In the time that I was bouncing back and forth like a pinball, they also gathered wonderful holiday stories to share, gifts to exchange and, in one amazing case, a beautiful new baby to visit and snuggle.

Of course I miss the German in Boston. And, I miss my family in California. But it is clear to me that Paris has become my home, at least for the time being. And, as we all know, there is no place like home.

Why I am currently writing this from a couch in San Sébastian, Spain is a story for tomorrow…

Hindsight

DSCN0036

(photo has nothing to do with this post, but is one of my favorites – taken my first week here)

Hindsight is 20/20, as they like to say. I am not sure if I agree. Much of my future, at least, can be predicted based on patterns of behavior and, most frankly, of denial.

I got on an airplane, one year ago today, leaving everyone and everything behind to try my luck in Paris. The reasons for doing so were many and varied – at the top of that list was the job itself, a three-year stint at one of the world’s most prestigious research institutes is nothing to dismiss out of hand, notwithstanding the superior location.

So, that was that. I arrived. I worked. I walked. I worked. I took photos. I worked some more. And, around April, the feeling of extended vacation (due to my location) ended and exhaustion and homesickness (due to an overloaded work schedule) started to sink in. I had to slow down – for my mental and physical health. I did and, in doing so, realized that a lot of the impetus for this move was not work. Or Paris. Or wanting to learn French. Or experiencing different cultures. I had gotten so good at selling my move to my friends, family and co-workers that I had taken no time to explore my true motivations.

I had been running away. Running away from seven years in graduate school. Running away from big decisions and lost relationships. After the chaotic ups and downs of Boston, I so desperately wanted to ‘start over’ that I had chosen the place farthest, literally and figuratively, from home to redefine who I was now. Who I wanted to be from here on out. Not surprisingly, but somewhat ironicly, who I am/was/will be (which, of course, had not changed, just had become slightly out of focus) is decidedly American and feeling not a little lost on foreign soil.

People do not change and I am no exception. I have created (and experienced) ebbs and flows in my new Parisian life. There are days in which I talk myself in and out of moving back home at least twenty times. I have learned to calm myself with good food, interesting people, fuzzy wool sweaters and patience. I have pushed myself to experience more of Paris (and less of lab) and have a New Year’s resolution already in place to get me out of the city and into the countryside one time per month in 2010. These things do not completely fill the constantly shifting void of homesickness (the World Series starting tonight, sad, Go Phillies!) but, hopefully, they will tide me over. The amazing blanquette de veau I had at the tiny bistrot a vins across the street last night will fill the rest.

One thing I did say from the very beginning of this adventure holds true: if there is a time in life to experience the world from a different angle, now is it. When else if  when not married, with no children and freshly free of a long, cumbersome period of graduate work? I have earned the adventure; I just need to focus on getting the most out of it. Every day.