lucky perro

I'm Laura. I live in DC and blog about real dogs, downward dogs, and my latest eats, reads, and adventures.

Month: February, 2013

A Bulgarian Holiday

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As much as I love traveling, I absolutely hate packing.  I agonize over whether I’m bringing the right things, I always end up overpacking, and it just feels like the worst kind of chore–one you’re going to have to undo in a few days anyway!  So I end up putting it off and then am even more stressed when I’m rushed.  All of which is to say…I have to go pack!  I’m off to Sofia, Bulgaria for a quick trip for a friend’s wedding.  There are currently protests going on, but I’m assured it’s safe.  And the wedding falls on a Bulgarian holiday, so I have a patriotic red-and-green wedding outfit planned.  Stay tuned for pictures!

It goes without saying that I will miss this face, though:

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P.S.  When trying to figure out if I should pack gym clothes, I double-checked whether my hotel has a gym, and found this charmingly translated note: “The fitness club has an artistic atmosphere and state-of-the-art equipment.  Take a sip from refreshing drink, proteins, vitamins and mineral water at the fitness bar, right at the entrance of the fitness club.”  You can’t make this stuff up!

“A complicated affection, sometimes tinged with shame”

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I love when I attend a discussion or reading by an author and it completely changes the way I view his or her work, the craft of writing, and, occasionally, the world.

A few weeks ago I attended a discussion and reading by two authors I haven’t read, but had heard a lot about because they are both young and very successful: Chad Harbach and Karen Russell.  I invited a friend who had read both their books–and whose opinion I trust–and she was not entirely enthusiastic about their work.  So I didn’t plan to read either of them–until I heard them speak!

The discussion was kind of all over the place, because the person leading it seemed unprepared and a little loopy, but it ended up being, as my friend Sarah cleverly summed up, a great illustration of the contrast between a truly inspired artist (Russell) and someone who sets out to write a great book and, through hard work and persistence over a period of ten years, does it (Harbach).

I think Sarah had a little more admiration for Russell, but I still have a ton of respect for someone who goes after a goal like that–perhaps even working against his own nature–and succeeds brilliantly.  As he said, he put in hin 10,000 hours, and he taught himself the craft.  His model is, obviously, the less sustainable one (she has just put out her third book, the wonderfully-titled Vampires in the Lemon Grove, while he probably won’t complete another for quite some time), but it sounds like he’s produced valuable work, and he gives hope to those of us who may not think of ourselves as artists.

Russell easily won us over because she is one of the funniest, most likeable people ever, while Harbach seemed aloof and overly impressed with himself.  An example of one of her charming zingers: since she often revisits her southern Florida roots in her work, she was asked about her relationship to the place: “It’s like how you feel about your family: a complicated affection sometimes tinged with shame.”  I heard her again on NPR a few days later and ended up telling Sarah, “I’m not so sure I want to read her books as much as I just really want to be her friend.”

Harbach did say something interesting at one point, quoting a joking statement by a writer friend of his, about how, in order to write well, “you just have to make yourself into the perfect human being and then write naturally”–the point being that writing is a revelatory process, and your deepest thoughts will out.  This seemed like an obvious idea that, at least to me, wasn’t obvious until he said it.

This talk didn’t quite change the way I see the world, but the next one I went to did.  Stay tuned for a read-out of an amazing talk by Alexandra Fuller about violence, death, and the loss of innocence (not as depressing as it sounds!).

An Interesting Talk About Modeling

Since I’m short on time, here is an TED Talks from a supermodel that is both unexpected and kind of enlightening.  And a little depressing, in that it makes you wonder about our culture’s odd obsession with models, and looks in general.  Would love to hear your thoughts.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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So my Valentine had to go out of town, but before he did he presented me with a lovely gift.  There is a wonderful store in Key West called Besame Mucho (their website doesn’t give a sense of their actual inventory), and I had shown him a few things there that I liked.  I received a beautiful necklace and scarf for my birthday and got some amazing earrings this morning before he left for the train station–not the ones below, but those are gorgeous, too, no?  I’m just saying.  They’re by Hortense; check out her shop for more goodies.  small_arrow_earing

Oh, and I gave up booze for Lent, just because, so I’ve had to find a new nightly vice.  Fortunately, four pints of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream arrived yesterday, because my husband “accidentally” put in an order for someone else twice.  Rather than cancel the second one, he sent it our way, and I’m glad he did, because it is the jam.  I really don’t even care about ice cream all that much (given my choice of desserts, I’d probably pick a brownie), but it is soooo goood and the flavors are insanely creative and vivid.  We got Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate, Bangkok Peanut (which is coconut-y and spicy), Wildberry Lavender, and Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk.  Hard to say which is my favorite–I think they all are.

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I hope you and your Valentine had a lovely and sweet Valentine’s Day!

HAIM & Mumford and Sons (More music!)

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So my in-laws called me last week and asked if we wanted tickets and backstage passes to see Haim opening for Mumford & Sons.  Um, YES!  My brother-in-law is friends with one of the lovely Haim sisters (performing above), who kindly set us up.  Haim have gotten all kinds of awesome buzz, and I knew their music was great, but they are also amazing performers.  All three sisters are drummers and they did this amazing drum-off at the end of their set.  You can find their music on iTunes, all sorts of great concert video online (I like this one of “Let Me Go”), and see Haim’s Valentine’s Day playlist for The Guardian.

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Who’s that, you ask?  Oh, just Ben Howard eating a grilled cheese and chatting with Baby Haim after he opened as well.

IMG_2235You can get a sense of our vantage point for watching Mumford & Sons, who were obviously fantastic.  I especially loved all the lights they had up.

The only sad part is that we missed them all performing “The Weight” (in tribute to Levon Helm) at the end, because it was late and we had a long drive and a babysitter who had class the next day.  Oh well–trucking out there was a small price to pay for a great night.

(Excuse the crappy photos and super-short video; I only had my iPhone and it was dying.)

New-ish Music and a Dirty Secret

I am really loving this whole album by Madi Diaz.  The very first song on the album We Threw Our Hearts in the Fire reminds me of someone specific but I’m a glass of wine in this evening and I can’t put my finger on exactly who…it’s a little bit Au Revoir Simone, a little bit Lykke Li/El Perro del Mar/Taken by Trees.

Speaking of wine, I got about four hours of sleep last night because someone’s incisors are coming in.  I realize it could be far worse, but we are used to not hearing a peep out of our guy for twelve hours, so we were kind of out of our minds.  I went grocery shopping today and, unusually, I picked up two bottles of wine (we already have a lot of wine, and I rarely buy it at the store unless it’s for an occasion.)  I’m only now making the connection.

I’m going to have to call this an “occasion.”

That was not the dirty secret.  The dirty secret is that I am completely ashamed that I learned of Madi Diaz because this song was featured on Pretty Little Liars.  The show is silly on a number of levels, but it has pretty consistently introduced me to some great new music.  Or maybe I just have the musical taste of a teenage girl?

Something New: Art, Glenstone and the Barclays Center

New Year’s Resolution #6 was:

Try something new every week.

I am pretty literal about what constitutes “something new:” a heretofore untried recipe, a daring lipstick color, a train ride with an 18 month-old–every day presents new experiences and possibilities.  This resolution is intended to remind me to seek out adventure, and I often try to drag other people along for the ride, which is (usually) a good experience for all.

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Last week’s new adventure was a trip to Glenstone.  It was, in a word, fabulous.  The collection was superb, the setting is amazing, and the experience of having a private docent for our group of two to talk with about art was completely invigorating.  My friend and I especially loved the Richard Serra sculptures.  They’re immense, geometric, and have this weird liquid, spacious quality you wouldn’t expect in a hunk of metal.  We can’t wait to go back in the spring and check out the new collection and see the property in the sunshine.

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One of the things I was interested to see when we were in Brooklyn was the finished Barclays Center, because it’s been kind of controversial.  I really liked it.  It reminded me a bit of the Bird’s Nest from the Beijing Olympics, but the rusted steel gives it a harder urban edge–it’s sleek, but rough and industrial.  And because they were so fresh in my mind, it reminded me of the Richard Serras.  At first I thought this was blasphemous, until I read the following, from someone at the architecture firm behind the Center, SHoP: “it’s what would happen if “Richard Serra and Chanel created a U.F.O. together.”  Is that complimentary?  I have no idea.  But I love the idea.  And apparently I also love rusty metal.

Glenstone doesn’t allow photos, so I have none.  The above pic is Serra’s Torqued Ellipse IV in the MOMA Sculpture Garden, taken by Alexandra P. Spaulding.  Barclays Center photo and quote from ArtInfo.

Brooklyn, Baby

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One of my birthday gifts was a trip to Brooklyn to hang out with these two dudes.  Well, I thought it would just be me and these two dudes, but then…

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SURPRISE!  We had rented an awesome apartment in Boerum Hill through Airbnb, and when I heard a knock at the door, I thought it was the owner forgetting to show us one last thing, but actually my friend and her husband had flown out from Chicago!  Such a great surprise.  And I was TRULY surprised.  I like to think it’s hard to pull one over on me, but apparently not.  Thanks, Meegan and Ty, for making the weekend so awesome.

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We spent the rest of the weekend exploring, eating, and window shopping.  We hit up one of my favorites, Vinegar Hill House, as well as the Brooklyn Flea.

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We also went to Red Hook, which was interesting because it had been really hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, and there was still a lot of evidence of that, from water lines to notices about saving photos to people mucking out houses damaged by mold.  We stopped at this cafe, which seemed oddly familiar to me…

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Finally I remembered that was because I’d seen it in Jerry Seinfeld’s new series, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  The episodes are hit-or-miss, but they are thankfully short and sometimes weirdly profound (see the one with Alec Baldwin).

I also met up with some great friends from college, but failed to get a photo of us together, or of any of us, actually.  So sorry, guys!  Thanks for trekking from all over New York and Jersey to meet up, anyway!  Hope to see you again soon in DC or New York, or somewhere in between.