Monday, August 31, 2009

Things Around Me

Greek yogurt with boysenberry jam

Swimming fishy oven mitts.

A face on the house next door.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Voila Le Portrait Sans Retouche

Recently, an icon of mine passed away. She permeated my identity, unwittingly and unknowingly. I had an image of her in my head, and when I met her for the first and last time, it was as if she had known exactly how to act and speak to make everything I had imagined come true. My grandmother's cousin Claudine was Paris for me. She was my tie to that world, that part of my lineage and lifestyle that made me make a French flag placemat for a project in the 2nd grade.

Below is an account of my afternoon with her, written for London Loverly.

A Whim Deserving of a Longer Entry
I decided to visit my grandmother's cousin in Paris on a whim. This, I reasoned, was better than planning a visit. First, because had I arranged a meeting, I would probably have gotten too nervous and backed out. Second, I would have brought a translator, making the whole meeting entirely too formal. But while preparing to go the Louvre that morning, something told me to grab Claudine's address out of my bag, so I did.

In between Italian, Spanish and French 16th-18th Century Paintings and Greek and Roman Antiquities, I decided to look up her address on the map of Paris I had in my bag. I discovered that her apartment was in the same arrondissement that I was staying in. Not only that, but I had walked by her apartment while exploring the area two days before. I decided it was too coincidental, too serendipitous to pass up. So I took two Metro lines to her apartment building.

I had no plan whatsoever when I got there. The apartments in Paris don't have numbers, and I had no idea which apartment was hers, much less how to even get into the building. I thought maybe I would stand outside the building and wait for someone to go in or out and I would ask them, "Connaissez-vous Claudine?" But then I didn't know what I would do with the answer I got, or even if I would understand the answer. I stood outside for a good two minutes, staring up at the balconies with their perfect potted pansies and feeling a little like my on-a-whim adventure may have been a fruitless idea.

I then noticed her last name on the callbox. Now, this is lucky. I have yet to see another apartment building with last names written on the callbox. The people inside must be important enough and receive visitors on a regular basis in order to warrant a callbox, as not to continually run up and down the stairs to open the door.

I wrote myself a little script of what I wanted to say, and stood in front of the callbox thinking, "Okay, should I press the button? Would I regret it if I didn't? Is this the right button? I shouldn't press the button. I don't know who is behind this button. I should press this button. No, I shouldn't-oh, I guess I pressed the button!"

Silence. And then, "Oui?"

"Uh, bonjourjem'appelleNicholejesuislapetitefilledeMicheline."
"Je m'appelle Nichole? Poinski? Je suis la petite-fille de Micheline? Poinski?"
"Ah, oui! Nichole! Second floor!"

The woman I met at the top of the stairs looked stunningly like my grandmother. She welcomed me into her beautiful apartment, inviting me to sit on the couch. We spoke stilted Franglish, working together to convey what the other meant. She started telling me how she met me when I was six years old, and I started to cry. She looked worried, like she had offended me, but I said, "Non, je suis désolée, je suis..." But I couldn't find the word I was looking for in either English or French. It was a combination of fulfillment, missing my family, Stendahl syndrome, happiness, and possibly caffeine withdrawal. It was then the language barrier didn't matter anymore. She said, "Emotive?" I nodded. She handed me a tissue and smiled.

We talked about the family in the States. She showed me pictures of her time in Morocco. I spoke to her daughter on the phone. She gave me a tour of her apartment. We talked about her late husband the professor. I gazed longingly at the bookshelves. She showed me her map of Paris, pre-Revolution, that took up an entire wall.

When I took my leave, she said, "Thank you so much for visiting me. Je suis très contente." I said, "Non, merci beaucoup, je suis très contente". Several merci beaucoup's, au revoir's, and cheek-to-cheek kisses were exchanged.

When I left, I was reeling. Something had told me to look her up, and it was lucky I did, because she was leaving for Bretagne the next day.

Upon reflection, the whole exchange doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but I cannot properly describe what I was feeling before and after meeting Claudine. All my life, I have been told of my grandmother's life in Paris, my distant relatives in Paris, my father's adventures in that one club with the band in Paris. But to be in Paris, this pseudo-mythical city where all of this stuff happened before I was born but that defined who I am as a person, was wild. I don't mean to border on maudlin, but it was like a dream come true. I've been dreaming of Paris, creating it in my head for years, and to experience the city for itself, with Parisians and friends who knew the city, was amazing.

C'est tout.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Blackbird Must Have Kissed You Last Night

The above is a saying in the South, used when talking about insomnia and the resulting black circles under your eyes.

Today was the Low Impact Vehicle show down at Seward Park.

I went down to visit Lucas and his paper mache truck, which turns the "truck's impact on the environment" on its head and showcases the "environment's impact on the truck." Rain, pollution, and high-mile freeway gulleys have soiled the pristine of the paper mache, to where now there is visible wear and tear.

We had a picnic of barbeque chicken, grilled zucchini, apricot kolaches, and a peach, goat cheese, and basil salad, which I highly recommend and have copied the recipe below:

Peach Salad with Wild Arugula, Goat Cheese, Almonds, and Basil

(Serves 2)

1 large bunch wild arugula (or use the regular supermarket arugula), stemmed
1 perfectly (not excessively) ripe peach, cut into thin wedges
A handful of blanched whole almonds, lightly toasted
A few very thin slices of red onion
About a half a small log of fresh goat cheese
A dozen basil leaves, left whole
1 teaspoon Spanish sherry vinegar
A few drops of balsamic vinegar
Black pepper
A pinch of grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Place the arugula in a medium-size salad bowl. Add the peach slices, the almonds, and the red onion. Crumble on the goat cheese, and add the basil leaves.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sherry and balsamic vinegar with the olive oil, and season it with salt, black pepper, and the nutmeg. Pour it over the salad, and toss gently. Serve right away.

Lucas won a beautiful trophy for his entry!

Next, Leila and Blaire joined us for a walk around Seward Park.

Blaire made a delicious salmon and creme fraiche dish for dinner, while Leila made a dangerous chocolate pudding cake for dessert. Lucas and Blaire taught us to play Hearts. The cake made for a giggly game.

Friday, August 14, 2009

One Of My Favorite Things

One my of my absolute favorite past times is listening to my friend Richard play his songs on the piano. He has a Red Vines voice and writes witty, Wildesque lyrics. I tend to giggle and curl my toes inside my shoes when I listen to his rag-time inspired songs about Borne-orne-o.

As right now, his music can be found on his Myspace page, but hopefully soon he will have recordings of his latest work. Currently, he is writing a musical based on Dr. Walter Freeman, the man who "performed nearly 3500 lobotomies in 23 states, mostly based on scanty and flimsy evidence for its scientific basis." Sometimes Richard performs at Cornish shows. One of these times, he's going to help me to fulfill my dream of playing tambourine and singing backup.

Friday, August 7, 2009

If You Don't Know Where You're Going, Any Road Will Take You There

Saturday night, some of the Lady Loves and I went to the Through The Looking Glass: The Burlesque Alice in Wonderland. To say it was "amazing" is an understatement. It was a rollicking, rocking, rolling, gyrating, floating, graceful, hilarious, beautiful, bawdy, bright night.

The production was not put on by any one company, but all the dancers were of Seattle's burlesque elite, and almost all teach at Miss Indigo Blue's Academy of Burlesque. Below are some photos from the night, taken by the lovely Briana Taylor.

The caterpillar!

The Jabberwocky! At which point, being the nerds we are, Leila and I recited the opening of the poem along with the emcee.

And representing the talking flowers, Tiger Lily!

The Mad Hatter's tea party. The waitress Eat Me was an uninvited guest.

The White Rabbit as the emcee.

The only boylesque performer, The Cheshire Cat, whose performance consisted of scratching at the arm of the chair and putting clothes on.

The caterpillar transformed into a butterfly!

And was drop-dead gorgeous!

Alice and the Queen of Hearts played strip poker.

The Queen lost.

The two halves of Alice in the say goodbye to each other through the looking glass.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Jasol's Show

Friday night was Jason Hirata and Sol Hashemi's show at The Dirty Shed. I enjoyed reuniting with old friends, twinkle lights, discussions on the transcendent properties of Rumi, and being told my outfit was reminiscent of a "constant deep tissue massage."

Below are glimpses of the Jason and Sol's work. For more, read Jen Graves' write-up in the The Stranger.