We are in the midst of a thoroughly January state of affairs: We got home on New Year’s Eve from our trip to see B2’s parents in Honolulu, where I was lazier, more relaxed, and more rested than a parent with a toddler has any right to be (God bless grandmas), and in the midst of our post-Hawaii gloom, were all promptly felled by the Great California Flu of 2018. Well, more accurately, I was felled by the Great California Flu of 2018, B2 was mildly sick, and B3 was sick for exactly one night before bouncing back to his same exuberant self, charging around the house while casting me mystified looks and wondering why his mom was being such a baby.
We are now solidly into the magical stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas, that no-holds-barred span of weeks that I typically use to indulge all of my wildest cookie and hot cocoa and cinnamon roll whims, and yet, much to my dismay, I’ve spent most of it so far thinking about, not chocolate or candy canes or marshmallows, but vegetables. In particular, these leafy greens. I am as surprised as you are.
My commute here in LA is almost the same as it was in New York, 40 minutes give or take. The only difference is that I sit my butt in a little Corolla instead of the blue-benched 4/5, and so I can no longer do either of the two things I used to do on my commutes in New York — sleep, or read, but mostly sleep — because I would die. For exactly 3 days I filled this void in my travels to-and-fro with music from my own playlists, before I got tired of my apparently very limited musical taste, and then for a few more weeks it was music on the radio, before I got tired of their slightly less limited ones. So now I’m at a happy medium of NPR (I have officially become my dad) and the wonderful world of podcasts.
The day we visited Macau was a rainy one. We splashed around from Senado Square to the Ruins of St. Paul, hunted down Margaret’s Cafe e Nata for caramelized, blistered Portuguese egg tarts only to discover to my utter dismay that it was closed on Wednesdays, and eventually ended up, soggy-toed, in the Venetian Macau, which I suspected meant we were doing Macau wrong but at least meant that (1) we were nice and dry and (2) I got my Portuguese egg tart fix after all at a Lord Stow’s Bakery.
Happy 2017! This is the year that my brother graduates from college (!) and when he first started as a freshman I kept telling everyone that 2017 didn’t seem like a real year that would actually happen. But somehow, it’s here. (Despite 2016’s best efforts.) Our waning weeks of the year were spent eating (of course), avidly watching B2 make a dent in his Christmas present, staying up late with B3 — who is now somehow 2 months old but also evidently has the sleep schedule of a teenager — and seeing how often we could make our chubawub break out into his newfound, mouth-open-wide grin. As much flack as 2016 rightfully got, I’m still a bit wistful to see it go, and our little holiday season, if not quite as quiet as usual, epitomized why I loved it so much — making our new house a new home with our first Christmas, learning our way around a life as a family of three.
Our Christmas tree is up! It’s the first real, live, non-plastic tree to make an appearance in our household. We chose it in about five seconds flat last Saturday with babe in tow, in the signature haste of panicky new parents who are still not very good at this “taking the baby out into the world” thing. (Luke, meanwhile, was just passed out the whole time and didn’t wake up until thirty minutes after we got home. But he could have.) So it’s a fat little four-foot munchkin of a tree that is cheerfully lopsided and very strategically placed in the corner of our living room to display the side with the least lop. But I think that’s what you call “character.”
As some of you might know, especially if you’re as avid of a reader of her blog as I am, the wonderful Lindsey Love behind Dolly and Oatmeal is expecting a baby boy any day now! Since the first time I stumbled across her space, Lindsey has amazed me, not only because of her delicious recipes and her impeccable aesthetic, but because she brings such a calm, lovely spirit to everything she does — the sense of peace and light that comes through in her blog is exactly the way she is in person, and it’s the kind of aura that makes you want to be around someone, because you come away feeling happier and better yourself. For that reason, it’s been especially wonderful following her blog through this exciting new phase of life — she brings that same peaceful spirit to an experience that can be a whirlwind of so many emotions, in a way that continually inspires.
I think fried rice may have been one of the first things I learned from my mother and grandmother in the kitchen. I imagine it must be like Sunday gravy in that every family has their own little way of doing things, though I don’t know that ours was so much a heirloom recipe as just an easy, quick, and comforting way to get food on the table: for us it always began with eggs and a generous pinch of salt, whisked vigorously with chopsticks and scrambled into small wisps in a screaming-hot wok. These were set aside to make way for diced white onion, sauteed until translucent, green peas, most often straight from a bag in the freezer and thawed in the wok, and some form of cooked, diced meat (usually, in a moment of fusion before fusion’s time, bits of deli sliced honey ham), before it all got stirred up with rice, salt, and pepper, to be kept warm in the wok over low heat, crackling softly, until a crispy crust formed on the bottom and everyone got seconds, thirds, and fourths.
Dear diary. Dear everyone. On Sunday, I had my very first cup of coffee in four months. !!! To be fair, I think it was about two tablespoons of coffee in a cup of milk and a boatload of sugar, so it tasted more like melted coffee ice cream than coffee, but I’m going to say it counts. It was the most exciting moment of my Sunday. Or July. I never ever imagined I’d stop drinking coffee while pregnant — instead, I was terrified of going without it, and I’m pretty sure I looked up that “one-cup-a-day” rule way before B3 was a figment of our imagination (and maybe even before B2 was a figment of mine). I was holding onto that rule with both hands and feet and entire being all the way up until one day around week 6, when I woke up and coffee suddenly and inexplicably smelled like the worst thing in the world. Such woe. But somehow this weekend, after four months of matcha (which was, granted, far from the worst), I opened up the coffee tin and thought mm instead of oh no get this noxious tub of poison away from me, and B2 had to listen to me chant “look at me, I’m drinking coffee!” as I sipped a tiny melted-ice-cream for the rest of the morning. It was an excellent Sunday.
Two days after we moved to LA, we promptly left again on what would previously have been practically impossible (or at least, incredibly not enjoyable) from our former home, the quickest weekend trip back to B2’s home in Hawaii. We went for a wedding and for Halmunee-to-be’s first encounter with her grandbaby (whom she likes to call “her baby”). In 48 hours there, we ate our weight in homemade Korean food, I was shut down on every attempt to help around the house (okay, so I didn’t try that hard), and we did a lot of marveling at how gleeful it is to fly to Hawaii from the West Coast and to say goodbye to red-eye flights of East Coasts past. And we saw boars at the wedding! (They were not part of the procession.)
In the week or so since then, most of my time in LA so far has been something like this: learning about this thing called June gloom, adjusting euphorically to having an office with an actual window and actual sunlight in the afternoons after said June gloom, trying to buy out every single supermarket’s abundance of produce even though our Airbnb has very little in the way of kitchens, spending much more time on Google looking at traffic, and, most of all, gaping at the open, open spaces, and the endless expanse of blue sky overhead, which is as bright and all-encompassing and wrapped around you like a sunny blanket as the one in New York felt narrow and distant and shielded from you by high buildings. Of course, there’s plenty to miss about the home we left behind in New York, but I think it’s safe to say we really like it here so far. I get the sense we’ll like it even more when we move into our actual apartment (we found one! yippee!) this Saturday. It’s a happy relief.