Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Be on the couch chillin shorts on, reading a book

Happy 2010! It snowed for most of January and I spent my time in the coziest spots I could find: my bed, the library, Paris in the 3eme. I slipped on the ice a few times, but I didn't fall... not that I'm ruling it out as a possibility for February.

Here are some foods that I want to try to make:

pie crust with interesting flour
a savory ricotta cheesecake, maybe this one
the perfect zucchini pancakes (still searching...)
caramelized onion butter

I have been listening to: Beach House, Lady Gaga, The Gossip, Ghostface, a romantic Phish mix that was made for me, a writing mix of sad bastard songs, Julian Casablancas, Rhino's New Wave Hits compilation (15 vols), La Roux (sounds good again after it sounded bad for a little while), and all the old faves. If you want me to, I will make you a personalized mix.

I have also been trying to find a good website for buying deadstock designer glasses after Baker told me about this one that is for deadstock Swatches. Any suggestions?

I will try to blog more!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

we live in switzerland!

Our apartment is cute, made cuter by scrubbing, airing out, and adding our own. The neighborhood is laid out like a tree branch, with one big street and lots of alleys and side roads winding up and down the hills, even under buildings. Last night we found a pizza place and a store that sells baskets, honey, and beans, just steps from the library where we've been meeting to walk home at night.

The library is where I am now and where I'm planning to go most days. It's a medium-sized library two and a half flights up, inside a big building, Palais de Rumine. The first time I came, I missed the library and ended up in an atrium full of Museum of Natural History-style taxidermied mammals and birds. There's also a cafe in here, with the most affordable sandwiches in Lausanne.

The reading room at the library has long blond wood tables (no veneer here) with individual reading lamps and laptop plugs. It's perfectly quiet. In the past nearly two years, it's been hard for me to write. Sometimes it has felt like I've forgotten how I ever got words onto the page, turned pages into a cohesive something. I have felt stuck, unable to make anything. But I've also felt trapped by the obligations that my writing has produced in my life: papers, screenplays, reports, treatments, stories, instructional resources... more and more, the obligations began to overwhelm me, and I wished for the freedom of pre-graduate school life. Had the last few years of my life been a mistake? I thought, if I could only have a semester free of work, free of new obligations, I could catch up, I could finish. But I also thought that I was kidding myself: that something deeper was wrong.

Well, maybe it was, maybe it is: I looked at the wikipedia page for "Writer's Block"; a neurologist thinks she's found a brain-related explanation. All kinds of things can make the creative mind falter and struggle. But this is about more than creativity, it's about catching up, getting organized, getting free: working. And even when I can't find anything else to inspire me, I am inspired by a desire for my friends and loved ones to see me productive, thriving; not failed, not lazy. Working.

So, I sit here at a desk on the mezzanine of the reading room at the library and I type. It's mostly fits and starts, with some bursts of inspiration. Doing silly things like writing emails or posting to my tumblr sometimes helps if I'm feeling stuck. I don't know if I believe the neurologist, but still, it reminds me of what people say about re-learning to walk or talk after a brain trauma, at least metaphorically: your neural pathways adapt, networks shift, and (hopefully) some day your limbs or words are your own again. Until then, I'll keep working through the fits and starts and see what I can make happen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

que onda lausanne

Switzerland is the Orinda of Europe. Orinda is a town I used to pass on the BART the autumn that I lived in Walnut Creek. It has a movie theater marquis that looks beautiful from the train, and people say it's one of the most desirable places to live in northern California. I often thought about what it would be like to live there, although I never actually got off the train to look around.

Here, people are really friendly at the bank, and at the supermarket everyone calls you "madame" and tells you to have a good weekend in French that's as sing-songy as my elementary school French teacher's.

Lausanne, the city I'm going to live in, is pristine and boring-looking, with a mixture of nineteenth-century apartment buildings that have big windows (kind of Paris style, but frillier) and 1970s Euro apartment blocks.

We're going to be living in a Euro apartment block, but for right now we're staying in a town about 20 minutes from Lausanne on the train, with an American expatriate who got laid off from her finance job in Geneva that she moved here for from Paris last year. She sits on her patio and smokes and talks to her other expatriate friends back in Paris on the phone. I've been cooking a lot, missing home a little, swimming in the lake, and trying to avoid spending any money whatsoever.

It's hard to remember what the new apartment looks like, because we only saw it quickly last Thursday, after a week of apartment-related rejections and immediately after seeing a share occupied by a Polish science graduate student, a ferret and a cat, and by the time we got to this place (our place) I think we both felt too desperate to judge the tile floors and peach-colored wardrobe too harshly. When the woman told us she was offering it to us, I didn't believe it would really work out. I still don't completely believe it, but something clicked for me when we went back to the building on Saturday and accidentally met the super, and he knew about us: the young American couple.

On the streets of Lausanne ladies wear bright colored jogging suits and sit at outdoor cafes with purebred dogs and shopping bags. The public art features giant squirrels, swirls, dream-catchers, and "murals" made out of different kinds of plants.

But on our street there's an Asian grocery store that sells jars of pickled shrimp and giant spiky fruits, and a Salvation Army. Down the street you can buy young coconuts for only 3.50, which would be a good price anywhere. I think this apartment, whatever it actually looks like, is going to be a nice place to sit and write, listen to neighbors talking, and drink coffee while it gets cold outside.

Come visit!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Beerito Nights

I'm moving to Switzerland tomorrow! This may come as a surprise to some regular readers of zoelikespets, but some of you already know.

Tonight, I had my annual check-up and now I'm drinking iced coffee and listening to David Byrne, packing up some boxes of my mom's old clothes and my old clothes that a Japanese woman I found on the free-cycling message board is coming to pick up.

Last week, the reason I am moving to Switzerland came to visit me in New York. He learned about Brooklyn, saw how crazy my family is, and helped me eat enough Mexican food to last us a year.

Last month (August!) I went to Florida to staycation with the family of the reason I'm moving to Switzerland and got tan enough to last me a year, then went to Louisiana and got mosquito bitten enough to last me a year. It goes without saying that I met some real great people, fell in love with some dogs and some places, and also that now I talk like a southerner (a fact that was confirmed by Mara last week).

This summer I taught some kids who I thought would be less bratty than other kids I've taught, because they were "underprepared," but who turned out to already be prepared (personality-wise, at least) to attend one of our nation's elite institutions. I also took NJ Transit a bunch of times, which led to me setting a record re: getting depressed on/about public transportation, and made me disillusioned about WaWa too.

Tomorrow I will wake up, get a leg wax, buy a camera, eat lunch with my dad, take yoga, maybe say goodbye to some neighborhood friends, go to the airport, and get on a plane!

I hope they have kombucha and watermelons in Switzerland!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Seven weeks of river walkways

In other news, I still haven't seen that Harry Potter movie, or Star Trek, or the Woody Allen movie with Larry David! I'm annoyed by everyone who tells me the Woody Allen movie is terrible when I tell them I want to see it. To me, that's like if you were eating Cheetos and you offered me some, and I said "ugh, Cheetos are gross." Or if you offered me a sip of your Coke, and I told you that it contains high fructose corn syrup.

Um, another thing that annoys me are those blogs about misspelled signs. "Panini's" is not funny. It's nice that you're good at noticing spelling/punctuation errors, but taking pictures of them and then writing captions like "oh, you have panini's? Do you also have salad's and soup's?" makes you sound like a proofreader who just got laid off from their job and is angry with the world. The only part of it that is funny to me is that the people who made those signs probably don't care about spelling as much as the spelling bloggers do, and would probably actually think it was weird or even funny that someone else was making it into a big deal. In your FACE, spelling bloggers.

Seven weeks of reading papers, seven weeks of feeling guilty

This summer I have a job that is lucky but at the same time boring and annoying. I guess that's how it's been with all my summer jobs, but this time there are no friends to bet on horses/sing karaoke/eat tapas with... just co-workers who gather once a week, when we're all in town at once, to eat nachos and drink pinot noir and complain about students.

The job is in New Jersey, and at first I was planning to stay there for the whole summer, but after one weekend in an empty dorm building, having ghost-y nightmares and irritable days (possibly fueled in part by the new antihistamine I was taking), I realized I couldn't handle a summer of silent contemplation in the Garden State and became a weekend commuter, staying with my dad or friends and toting my laundry around to wash for free in the basement of the dorm, right next to the university's radio station.

I thought it would be relaxing not to have to worry about having an apartment, but it's annoying. I feel like I'm forgetting something, and I kind of feel like I've already forgotten something. My stuff is stored in four places, so I'll probably never know for sure. When I left for Paris, I was in a hurry. Last week I looked for my mom's wedding ring and couldn't find it, but I didn't really get too worried. I'm sure it's in some other jewelry box inside some other carton in some other closet. I found my French press instead, and made some coffee.

I'm staying at my dad's this weekend and I've been cleaning out the kitchen. High up on a stepstool-accessible shelf is cookware that my mom packed up in plastic bags, to keep away the greasy kitchen dust, and labeled: juicer, ice cream maker, ceramic dishes, birthday napkins, espresso machine. I think she always imagined that someday she'd have a kitchen big enough. Now, my juicer is up there next to hers, unbagged, gathering dust and I'm using a vegetable brush to scrub the smudged fingerprints my dad never notices off glasses and plates, scrape the tea stains off spoons and mugs.

The disappointing unremarkable-ness of this summer is a letdown. I was hoping it would be something that it's not -- I was hoping I'd get swept up. I keep hoping for something really fulfilling, maybe even amazing, but I keep ending up on the train, by myself.

If there's such a thing, I'm an expectation addict. I love to dream about the future -- it makes me feel creative and focused. I like to believe that someday I will have a big enough kitchen, or even if I don't, that someday after that, I will. I like to think that everyone will get along in the future -- not, like, worldwide, just the ones that are around me. I've been trying to live in the moment, on the couch, out of a suitcase, not knowing where I'll be in one month or six months or a year, but I don't think like it. It scares me. It bores me. Spontaneity is rad, but is it really spontaneous if it doesn't interrupt some plan that you thought you had?

On Wednesday I bought a plane ticket, out of New York. The idea is, I'll be gone for the year. The idea wasn't mine, but the plan is mine now. My plan is, I go away to Europe for a year, and when I come back, maybe I won't come back to New York at all. Maybe I'll go to Los Angeles, or New Orleans, or some pond upstate. Maybe I've got it even more than that all figured out already, but I'm just not going to tell you. It's all gonna go down the way I figured it out, or maybe something else will happen. I will try to keep you posted.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Arts In Review

You know that Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt movie that's all about how their characters' relationship doesn't work out? (In case you haven't heard of it, that's not a spoiler, that really is, supposedly, what the movie is all about.) Well, I just don't understand why anyone would waste Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt on a movie about BREAKING UP.

It is almost as bad as how that movie "Pumpkin" used every single Belle and Sebastian song from "If You're Feeling Sinister," and now every time I hear those songs in other movies I think of special needs athletes.