From the city and beyond

Summer is flying.

I just got back from an extended weekend at Myrtle Beach with 15 other nutty (current and former) Richmonders. I hadn’t seen most of them in a good while, and it’s nice we can meet up somewhere to wreak havoc.

I’d intended to take pictures and even lugged my digital SLR along (which eventually caused a minor delay on my way back when Myrtle security was at a loss for what this was. Hint: it rhymes with slattery). But the few times the camera left the bag were at airport checkpoints. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel like documenting. It likely was the only time I went on vacation and seriously kicked back, soaked it all in and let my mind wander. I read about Bourdain’s culinary indiscretions, allowed the waves to mercilessly batter me and the boogie board, and let the sun coat my skin a slightly darker hue.

It was a welcome break from here. New York has a way of beating you up and making you think you want to move to a remote island or mountain or scenic hideaway, somewhere that doesn’t throw at you the day-to-day nonsense the city all too readily provides. But then you get away from it all, you get to what you think is your nice, happy place only to realize your nice, happy place is the one you so desperately wanted to leave behind. It just takes a bit of distance to fully appreciate that.

What keeps me sane is I’m surrounded by amazing people. From around the city, outside the city, on the other coast or a bus ride away. The last few weeks I’ve been hit by a wedding bouquet on a mission, lost my voice — multiple times — at karaoke, ridden in a crumbling limo, danced the night away with a chili pepper bouquet, laughed so hard my stomach hurt, gazed at fireworks on the beach, routinely ate quite possibly the best pizza ever to be consumed on a stoop, and we all know about that bike thing. Moments like that I wish could last forever. But alas, all great chapters come to an end. Summer is winding down; soon the leaves will fall. And one of my very favorite people has left for more mountainous pastures.

The city once again is changed.

8 responses to “From the city and beyond”

  1. hi karen!! you don’t know me but i’ve been reading your blog for a while – i just never comment.. think i got here through a friend of a friend of a friend’s blog.. i really don’t know – anyway i really LOVE your writing style.. you really have a way with words and i appreciate your humor and the way your thoughts unfold.. i live in nyc too and feel the EXACT same way as you do.. it beats you up and once you leave you find relief only to want to go back to the city again.. very perfectly put 🙂 anyway hope the summer hasn’t been kicking your ass.. it’s been brutal here!!

    1. karenmaywrites Avatar

      Summer has indeed kicked my ass, and I was so, so glad to see rain today. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment (It made my day!). New York is an amazingly difficult place to live in, but it inspires me like no other. Glad to know I’m not alone in this.

  2. I am so glad you are having a good time and that you are enjoying your summer! Would you recommend the Bourdain book? I recently watched one of his TV show episodes on Cuba and was once again intrigued by his approach to food, cooking and the dining experience…

    1. karenmaywrites Avatar

      I’m not yet halfway done, but I generally enjoy his self-deprecating humor, sarcasm, honesty and insight. This rings true on his show and in his book. I don’t cook, have never eaten a lot of the things he talks about or been to the places he’s seen, but he has the ability to find a universal theme that others can relate to or strive for: finding adventure, connecting with all sorts of people, taking pride in belonging to a tribe (his of course is one of chefs), working to reach the pinnacle of his career and being lucky enough to not only get there but to share his passion.

      I like seeing how he got to where he is (which he talks about in his book), and I find that his insights can transcend food stuffs:

      “What most people don’t get about professional-level cooking is that it is not at all about the best recipe, the most innovative presentation, the most creative marriage of ingredients, flavors and textures; that, presumably, was all arranged long before you sat down to dinner. Line cooking — the real business of preparing the food you eat — is more about consistency, about mindless, unvarying repetition, the same series of tasks performed over and over and over again in exactly the same way. The last thing a chef wants in a line cook is an innovator, somebody with ideas of his own who is going to mess around with the chef’s recipes and presentations. Chefs require blind, near-fanatical loyalty, a strong back and an automaton-like consistency of execution under battlefield conditions.”

      Just replace chef with principal architect or Super Big Fashion Designer, line cook with lowly architects or design monkeys, and it’s all pretty much the same thing. I equate it to having to learn from the best before earning the privilege to innovate.

      If you want to get an idea of his writing, here he answers whether aspiring chefs should go to culinary school. Again, I feel like a lot of what he says can be applied to other fields, though much of it is uniquely meant for his world:

  3. It sounds like you’ve had such a fantastic time over the past few weeks and even more so this weekend! Hurrah! Isn’t Kitchen Confidential such a great read?! I love his candor and the way he doesn’t hold back when he writes. My kind of thing.

    1. karenmaywrites Avatar

      Definitely missed you over the weekend. A reunion is in order! Are you going to be in Richmond in November? I really do admire his brutal honesty. It’s such a difficult thing to do in writing or, heck, life. I’ll come back with a full report when I’m done.

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