California

July 22, 2010

I was in California for the last week, mostly in Los Angeles visiting Marshall and then in San Francisco for the weekend visiting Lindsay. LA is always fun–laid back with good food, a lot of time outdoors hiking and running in Griffith Park. I got to see Marshall and Heather’s house for the first time. It was formerly owned by one of the members of the band 311 and they definitely had some whacky decor choices. I wish I had taken more pictures–for example–of the Little Mermaid Bathroom. A few steps down, every surface is covered in blue and turquoise glass tiles. Marshall and Heather have done an amazing job making it theirs, with a screening room, a bright kitchen, and a peaceful pool in the back.

We started off with a hike, and then later than night went to the Barnsdall Art Center for their weekly wine tasting. Marshall is now the co-president of Barnsdall, and he and his friend Avidan started and run the wine tastings. It was packed with families, all of whom brought elaborate picnics. The setting is beautiful and as we launch into wedding planning, I wish that there was someplace like that right in the middle of Manhattan.

If Cookie still existed and I still worked there, I would definitely include Barnsdall. It’s also such a nice community event. So much LA schmoozing. They also attract food carts–a great Vietnamese one and also Lets Be Frank, Alice Waters’ fearless hotdog truck.

Saturday morning I jetted to San Francisco to help Lindsay move. It’s been five years since I was there, and it was nice to be back and jog my memory again. I really feel like I should live there at some point in my life. Saturday night we hung out on the patio of Lindsay’s old apartment and then Sunday we got up and went for a run along the marina, to the farmer’s market for some breakfast, and then drove to Napa. We visited a few vineyards, and aside from being incredibly convenient and easy to get to, it was stunning. Breathtakingly gorgeous.

I already can’t wait to go back, ideally with a bicycle. The wine was great, too. Monday I went back to LA where Marshall picked me up and we went to a heavily Hispanic area where the tacos were UNBEATABLE. The salsas, red and green both, were perfectly fresh and spicy, the tortilla chips were just fried, the cojita cheese was salty. Everything about it was heavenly. It’s one thing we definitely don’t have here in New York.

To continue with the eating (there was running and insanely hard pilates in the middle) we had dinner on Tuesday night at a new restaurant owned by Ilan Hall (of Top Chef fame) called The Gorbals. The menu featured bacon-wrapped matzoh balls (as Marshall said and Scott added on “Bubbe’s Bacon Nightmare: A Hipster’s Revenge”). The food was mostly really good and the restaurant itself was in this whacky hotel/ballroom/apartment building/movie set hybrid space that was a little bit grand and a little bit rundown. On the way to the men’s room, Marshall discovered this television set. Creepy, no?

We rounded out our last day with a drive to Venice, a walk along Abbott Kinney, a stroll along the canals and a final stop at Watts Towers. Our detour almost made me miss my flight, but it was worth it.

Now, after a layover in Vegas and a pretty uneventful, if rather sleepless redeye back to New York, I’m home.

This morning I got up and went to my old yoga studio, Exhale, in Soho. I’ve been to all of the Exhales so many times over the last five-ish years I lived in New York, post-Vietnam and pre-Brazil.  The Soho one was the one I went to most often in the last year or so before we left.  I would go in the morning and walk from there to the UNICEF office, down Crosby Street, or up from Water Street after work.  Today I left a full hour to get from Brooklyn to the Spring Street studio.  It was ridiculous.  I got to Fulton street in about three minutes and realized I still had an hour before class started, so I got out and walked up.  It’s amazingly fun for me to see New York, the most familiar city to me, with new, fresh eyes.  Walks that I grew so tired of seem interesting again.  I know it won’t last long, but it’s working for me for now.  It’s also fun to see the new things that pop up.

I noticed for the first time that there’s an Osklen down by the Patagonia store in Soho.  It was one of my absolute favorites in Rio, and I’m excited that the Brazilian chain has one in New York, too.

I also walked past a new surf shop on Crosby Street, which seems out of place, yet sort of cool.  I guess, in a way, it’s another Rio throwback, but this store doesn’t look like anything in Brazil.  A surf store for the Ditch Plains set, or for those who like to hang surfboards in their Soho lofts.

The last place that struck me as odd was this Soho Synagogue.  Huh?

So we’ll see how long it takes for me to realize where I actually live and how far, or really how close, it is to everything.  I’m sure the days of being an hour early for things will subside soon.

Yesterday was a perfect day for a baseball game.  The sun was shining and it was opening day at Citizens Bank Park.  The field was green, everyone was excited.  Bob, Scott and I made our way into the stadium and we had a lovely afternoon watching the Phillies win, eating crab fries and cheering.

This morning I went to Philly Power Yoga, which was great, and after tearing my favorite jeans last night, went on a quest to find another pair.  I think that doing things in Philadelphia is generally easier than in New York.  I was looking for a pair of lightweight minimal sneakers to switch out with my Vibrams and went to the Philadelphia Running Store, where the people who worked there were extremely knowledgeable.  I needed black shoes to wear to the six weddings we have between now and next March and it was easy to find those as well.  After a hot, relaxing yoga class, I felt ready to bend myself into any pair of jeans that Barneys Co-Op could throw my way.  Not so simple.  It was lucky for me that Anthropologie next door had a great selection.

Now it’s back to New York to see all of our cousins for dinner!

Ommmmm

August 31, 2009

I went to my first yoga class in Brazil this evening.  It was at a studio in Ipanema, and their website looked modern and promising.  I walked in early (I am still American, after all), kicked off my flip flops, grabbed a mat and found a spot on the floor in the dim room.  The teacher was sitting cross-legged on the floor playing a tune on a sitar.  A little om-ish for my taste, but it was a nice environment.  I was too self-conscious (what was everyone else doing? how were they stretching? how were they preparing to meditate?) to notice that the teacher looked like every other deeply tanned, tattooed surfer on the beach, with navy spandex shorts, brown eyes, three-day scruff, and an easy smile.  The other thing I didn’t really think about was that the class, and all of its instructions, were going to be in Portuguese.  It was oddly relaxing to listen to these murmurs in another language, half understanding the commands, mostly keeping my eyes closed as I moved through the vinyasa poses.  The room grew hotter and it felt great to stretch everything out.