Oh what a year! I escaped the country, fell in love, and at 36, finally experimented with adulthood.
As 2013 winds down, I am confronting the things I normally brush off as uptight and un-fun (ambitions, motherhood, money, my future), and enjoying the process of, ya know, dealing with reality. It’s not so scary after all — not when you’re ready.
I finished - but kinda flunked - Italian class. I’m happy I did it, and will try again in a few months. Si si, the universe had some ideas of its own this year: I lost my super-skinny body to super-crispy pizza; I lost an early draft of my next book; and I lost a big job for the first time (now that felt like shit).
But look what I found! I met someone I adore and trust and crave and respect — one day I’ll tell you the story, and you’ll believe in fate. I found a city, Rome, where beauty, power, and passion come crashing together; where tough love, bad moods and good sex are forever in the water. And the water is frizzante.
Rome, where I sleep well; I eat well; I think well; where I’ve learned that being serious isn’t the same as being dark — even though a little darkness is part of any life well lived. Rome, where I’ve evolved in bidets, Berlusconi and Ramazzotti. L’amore è bello se non è litigarello. Rome, where I’m proud to be an American, a New Yorker, a masshole, a Temkin, and a Shelasky.
Rome, I love you, and the rest is between us…
Of course it’s hard being away. I’ve lived vicariously through my New York Mag articles, but who knew I’d miss Brandi Glanville, ethnic food and fucking-Starbucks so much? But hey. Here in my European (“Cal-Ital”) apartment with broken internet and beautiful music, I go to bed smiling and wake up excited - and it’s hard to argue with that.
Last week, my dear friend Kateri sent me a quote which I scribbled down next to my bed, near the framed photo of her father, who I loved. Because she’s Irish-Catholic, I’m Jewish (with a Roman-Jewish innamorato!), and it’s the year of my cool nabe, the Pope, here are some words to live by in 2014:
In Happy moments, praise G-d In Difficult moments, seek G-d In Quiet moments, worship G-d In Painful moments, trust G-d And in every moment, thank G-d
Wishing you a year of blessings, love and laughter. New York, I’m coming for you next week!!
You know that feeling where your entire body is split, torn, ripped in two between I CAN’T DO THIS and YES I FUCKING CAN? Yeah. I started Italian classes, and that is what’s up.
It’s hard, guys. Really hard. I’m not good with new languages, and I don’t particularly like “going to school,” and in my two lessons so far, I was lost and not found.
Even getting to class is an emotional / physical abduction. I ride my bike down two manic highways, where cars and motorbikes come at me like bullets. Roman streets are completely anarchic, and the only way to navigate them is to…pedal and pray.
(In truth, I do like my wild morning bikelife — after all, the language of confrontation, I can speak. But on the record, I am risking my life for the sake of verb conjugation.)
If and when I make it to Monti, where class is, all I do is stutter and sweat. Confidence out the window; tension in jaw. In my mind, I’m the worst Italian speaker in the world — and definitely within the paper-towel-grey room of foreigners.
I should not be complaining about anything. Roma is an incredible city, with which I have amazing chemistry. I’m crazy for it. And life with D is the sweetest love song. Let me tell you. He is everything I wanted and everything I deserve.
Sooo why all the intensity over Italian class?
Because I’m a writer. Because I have always been able to communicate with some measure of grace. Expressing myself through language is my one and only thing. It is my identity. Everyone says to “have fun with it” and “relax,” but no one understands that without the right words, I feel weak. I hate weak.
But I have to do this. As a sign of commitment to D — whom I would do ANYTHING for — and because, frankly, it’s arrogant to make everyone in our life switch on the English language button just for me. Maybe I like the attention, but it’s not right.
Okay. After two hours of reciting I like hip-hop and I hate mayo (KILL MEEEE) this morning, I have make a sandwich and pass out now.
1) Apron Anxiety is in such good company here on Food Riot. I love (almost) all of those books. Makes me very proud … Thanks.
2. Off to US Open with my handsome ragazzo before he leaves for Rome tomorrow. Tears! (And a dozen cupcakes and Dexter binge.) We’re going all tennis-glam with Moët & Chandon. Not normal! (Not complaining). Oh, I interviewed Serena Williams for a story recently. She told me her favorite meal was her ma’s chicken with rice and gravy, and her favorite junk food was something called Moon Pies. She was cool.
3. Made a peach/plum cobbler 2die4. Easy as sin. Slice peaches/any luscious, over-ripe summer fruit and place in a 9 x 13 glass pan. Separately, mix equal parts flour, granola (any kind will do - get crazy!), brown sugar, and…a stick of melted butter to make the crumbs. Spread the crumbs over the peaches.Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees, until golden brown. Serve with ice cream and take a bow - and a spin class.
3. This happened. Lithuanian edition is next. ITALY, CIAO, DON’T YOU WANT ME?! Seriously though, Polish-book-translator-BFF, what a task you had; I’m going to assume you nailed it; sooo … pierogies and dziękuję to you, dear!
Living in a foreign country, constantly trying to keep up with the language, there is nothing like the serenity of a no-talking-whatsoever dance performance.
So, a few weeks ago, just when I couldn’t take it anymore, we thankfully scored tix to THE ballet of the summer, Roberto Bolle and Friends at Caracalla, and let me tell you, it did my soul good. To quote JLo (haha): ”Goosies!!”
Roberto Bolle - the international sex symbol - is a STUNNING are-you-kidding-me kind of creature. (My boyfriend said even the straight men in the restroom were mesmerized by Bolle’s bellissimo ass.) Not to mention his beyond-human talent. And his co-dancers? Magnifico.
Bolle’s solo “Prototype” - a gorgeous mindf*ck of futuristic dance and video art - completely swept me away, sending me straight to another planet in a leotard and perma-smile.
This show, sponsored by Acqua di Parma, is coming to New York on Sept 17. Do yourself a favor and buy a ticket. Then go have Bolle’s babies. Or at least, tell his beautiful bum that I say … ”Ciao baby.”
P.S. This photo is not Roberto Bolle and Friends; it’s a lovely image by Paul Maffi.
What’s a pleasant July afternoon without a few bite-marks and straps-ons … my contribution to New York Magazine’s Sex Issue: The One Paragraph Memoirs. Also out now is my much more ladylike story w/ literary legend, and room service opponent, Prosper Assouline.
You know how I always say, I’m a writer, not a blogger? Yeah, it just makes me feel better about my infrequent posts on this site, because I do have guilt about this Apron Anxiety universe which I love, which I consider the core of all good things, which I should be more affectionate, or at least flirtatious, towards…
In my defense (haha), I haven’t exactly been living under a rock — just a hut in Sri Lanka, a ranch in Malibu, and an 8th floor walk-up in Paris w/ two Tunisian strangers and their cigs & couscous. Point is, I’m around! And hell yes, I feel crazy lucky making a living listening/writing the true stories of chefs, shamans, nymphos and heroes all over the world . . . Like. Whoah.
For Bon Appétit magazine, I interviewed an Olsen, Seth Meyers, Kate & Andy Spade, a mystery champion athlete, and of course, Kelly Wearstler. I’ll let you google that one. On the record - my feeling about the outrage, or whatever, is (as always) LIVE & LET LIVE! Jesus!
In runaway news: Over the next few weeks I’m heading to Zurich, Gstaad, London (Paris for a night - if Ikbal ‘n Muhammad will have me back), Chile, then….I don’t know!! I don’t even want to know! Life will surprise me with something.
My week at the Malibu Ranch was extraordinary. It’s not at all the la-la-la luxe retreat you might think. Can’t say much until the story is published, but gotta say, those long, killer hikes, hours and hours alone in the woods with your true self, it changes you. Three words: Recovering Your Innocence.
Andddd less intense…I’m currently making almond brown rice pudding! Might bake a lemon marshmallow pie… classy riff on Fluff. BTW I wanted to call the second book Fluff (everyone said to forget it - i.e. no fun!). Anyway, need a break from my usual eats, as my blood-type is officially: Kale.
I’ll end here. Life is pretty good. My family is happy and healthy; my friends still love me even though I keep leaving the country on their kids’ birthdays. I’m dating, spinning, sleeping in peace. If someone stresses me out, I practice my mantra from Malibu, “Love them, love them, love them — then send them back on their journey.” Ahhh, so good!
My second book, not called Fluff, is all I can think about, yet there’s barely one word written. Well, maybe one word, and it’s a dirty, delicious swear made for downtown girls not Downton Abbey (another obsession, for another time).
Details are not my style. And I’ve been so preoccupied with my Financial Dominatrix and Both Sides of the Breakup and New York Diet stories that …being blunt… it’s hard to find time to blog at all. SORRY! That’s why I was reluctant to participate in this perky blog-it-forward Q/A sent to me by the talented and delightful Amy Thomas of God, I Love Paris and the book Paris, My Sweet. It all seemed too…mechanical for me. That said, how dysfunctional could I possibly be?! All I had to do was answer the questions below, and tag a couple writer-friends to take the torch next. Easy enough. And by the way, despite my April Ludgate kind-of mood, I’m honored you asked, Amy. I liked doing this a lot. Please & thank you…
Where did the idea come from for the book? I guess this means the post Apron Anxiety book? That one — which I have the title for but am too scared to say — is fiction. It’s dark. Smart. Sensual. It came from this idea that we all have these secrets and urges running through our veins — some more than others — and wouldn’t it be fun to explore that under the costume of a completely fictional character.
What genre does your book fall under? Fiction. My imagination is going fucking nuts.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? For AA, I keep envisioning Lake Bell as the star. I love the way she looks, but she’s also got this cool, Brooklyn spirit, as does the book. For the next one? Let’s bring back Winona Ryder.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A writer’s downward spiral.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?I’d love my Apron Anxiety editor, Emily Takoudes, at Random House, to take it on, but that’s only a dream so far.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? For AA, it took about eight months for an entire draft, a little over a year with edits. For the next one, I’d assume the same.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Never compare.
Who or What inspired you to write this book? I’m very proud of Apron Anxiety. It has heart and humor, and it’s very me. BUT there’s a lot left inside….words and thoughts that were just too harsh, too much. As a writer, I still need to go there. A whole new book, within the safety of fictional characters, is what I need to examine some of the sinister stuff. Which, for people like me, is actually the drug of it all.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Well, I’m planning to write part of it while living in Europe. Where no one is watching.
I have resurfaced from the land of leaving my job and escaping to Europe. Physically at least. Mentally, I’m still somewhere in Italy with blistered feet, sun-kissed cheeks, liquirizia gelato, paprika Pringles and bummed puffs of cigarettes. I wasn’t ready to come home to New York where life is grand yet my silent partner is restlessness. I was having way too much fun with olive-skinned men crying “Alessia!” and a stomach warm with deep purple wine. Yet I had work to do — a whole life to rearrange, now that I’m free again, me again, unbound to any book tour, food blog or boyfriend. But I have to be honest. I feel a big change coming. Another book is pouring out of me, while I explore how and where to write it. It felt incredible to wake up excited every day in Rome, and I want that back. No. I need that back. Meanwhile, the book is doing so well. I can’t thank you enough for all the reviews, interviews, articles, tweets, recs to friends. Grazie mille.
Life works itself out. You just have to believe that, don’t you? The world would be way too scary otherwise. Although some days, if I’m being perfectly honest, for no real reason whatsoever, I start to wonder: But will it really? I turned 35 yesterday. Birthdays always fuck with me. It’s not really about the aging. Although, this year, it’s kind of about the aging. The real issue is examining the year behind and preparing for the year ahead. I am not melodramatic and I am not a worrier. But I do think life is ours to own, manage, set in motion…and it’s important to take inventory, to figure out what we want and how we’re going to get it. That, I guess, is where I’m at. WHAT’S NEXT? Seriously. In which direction do I move? I’m allowed to ask. What the hell comes next? 35 is a funny age, especially when 34 ended on such a high. The book, the romance, the overwhelming sense that this is my moment. Apron Anxiety is on the fast track to success; but then again, what is success? I’m supposed to be coasting, but it feels more like crashing. Tried to cook through my confusion. Made a giant pot of kale and quinoa salad w/ chickpeas and chicken sausage, and a platter of summertime chicken breasts roasted w/ cherry tomatoes and white and green asparagus. Felt better imagining my guy coming home to good food, brain food, girlfriend food. Then bought ripped jeans and cucumber serum. That helped too. Now I’m eating leftover birthday cake. Not quite spirited, not exactly sad. Just reminding myself that everything is alright. And it is. It totally is.
Justifying this outrageous blog’bandonment by telling myself that you’d rather me focus on serious bookstuff than some stream of consciousness ‘bout cold sesame noodles and salted caramel gelato. Just fake agree with me. Please? I feel bad. Here’s everything: Life has been unimaginably delicious. I’m hearing from people deep from my past and thrillingly in the future. Love and warmth is radiating from all directions. Extremely touching stuff, let me tell you. Anyway, I turn 35 next month, and while I’m definitely enjoying the moment, I can’t help but wonder…what’s next?
Can’t wait 4 Breaking Bad; converting from red to white; unapologetically into Joe Gorga; grilling lamb chops via Nineteen Charles; smitten by chickpeas @ La Vara; craving Kin Shop’s goat fried rice; very lovestruck; a little fat; eternally emulating Lake Bell’s breasts; unsure of my feelings for Girls; proud of our Grub Street Diet; turned off the instant-comment-option bc of some crazies - sux and sorry. Favorite press this week was the Bon App story, Elle, USA Today review, and a personal interview with a young-hearted blog called Small Chick Big Dreams Deals. I pasted it after the jump. Enjoy. All my gratitude, Alyssa….
Apron Anxiety has been fluttering between #1 and #3 on Amazon (in “Gastronomy”) since Tuesday … omfg, insane, nuts, can’t believe it, YAY, crazy, pinch me, kiss me, what?!!$@$!@$!!
Off to refuel in Nantucket before my book party in Boston on Thursday. Although I just discovered some high-level-dress-prison-security-tag situation on the left hip of the brilliant, little black number I’m supposed to wear that night. From knockout to stress-out … Sigh.
Ohhh, those who say that I sound “entitled” in the book will just love this post! That’s okay. Reminds me of this paragraph in AA:
As I walk away, through the streets of the Village, looking for fresh air and maybe a falafel, I am oddly unfazed by the experience of being ignored or insulted by the foodie mafia. I will always meet people who don’t like me, or don’t get me, who think I’m dressed like a high-class hooker or raised by wolves. But as all the women I’ve ever admired would say, “At least you’re interesting enough that someone gives a shit.” Which reminds me: There will always be people who think I’m not interesting enough at all.
I’ll sort out the dress jail.
Yesterday, while searching for said silhouette, I saw an old pal walking towards me on Prince. I was wiped, without a speck of makeup, and the last thing I could handle was smalltalk. He’s going to ask me to sign a book…or for my agent’s info…or some idiotic literary advice … Great, I groaned, feeling super-bitchy with low blood sugar.
So I stopped, and smiled, extending my arms for a fake hug, forcing out a phony “Hey you!” And then prepared to be examined, encouraged, applauded …
"Yo, Lys, sorry, can’t talk!" he snapped, brushing right past me. "My wife is giving labor and you, sweetheart, are in my way!!!"
And so it goes. It’s just a book. And it’s all good.
Holy incredible time at my book party. Was SO nervous and somehow let it all go and actually enjoyed myself. I’m in the "Fuck it" stage, as one Berkeley writer recently taught me, and guess what, it feels really good! So much to write and tell and sort out inside myself, but for now, here’s a link to a wild Entertainment Weekly story about my life. And I have to share this email from a sweet, new friend. This whole week has been surreal and magical and her story captures that. With all my love and thanks to all, I’m heading out for the biggest breakfast of my life, Alyssa
Here’s what happened: This morning I was down at the Union Square farmers’ market hunting down green tomatoes and stocking up on goat cheese for Tom with only 10 pages to go in the book. About halfway back to the office I realized I left my copy on top of some heirlooms at the tomato stand. I took the subway back downtown and found the young vendor sitting in the truck, already finished with chapter 1. She said she loved the story and needed to know where I bought it—I asked her to hang on 20 mins, grabbed a coffee and quickly finished the final pages so I could give it back to her. (My apologies for getting in the way of a sale!) I could tell she had already connected with you/the book. I’ve never experienced that reaction from someone when I actually knew the person behind the words. Such a cool moment. I had to share :)
I started this blog what feels like another lifetime ago. I wasn’t even sure I’d tell anyone about it at first, and definitely didn’t have any bold ambitions. Honestly, I just needed something to do. A few years later, this Tuesday, my memoir is coming out with the same title, bursting with stories of the same joy, the same ache — just more. I’ve never identified as a blogger, but I was born a writer. And so, because of this page, these recipes, those photos, this font, that song, and all the stuff in between, the creation of Apron Anxiety, everything has worked out. And I mean everything. I recently gave an interview where they asked for five words to describe myself. “Happy,” flew off my tongue. HAPPY. I’m happy because of the book, of course, but it’s so much more. It’s simple: I feel loved. Not just by an incredible man (newsflash!), but by friends and acquaintances who have been so helpful and generous for no other reason other than kindness. I left work on Friday, two weeks off for bookstuff, and my pals at Grub Street, and the mail room, and the candy stand downstairs, sincerely wished me luck on the launch. They all had the same sparkle in their eye as they sent me off on my so-called sabbatical. Now it’s Saturday night and I’m taking a shower, making crispy kale (take an entire head of kale, drizzle it in *good olive oil, add salt and pepper, bake at 375 for about 10 minutes… better than a bag of Terra Chips, I swear 2 g-d), and staying in. Need to be rested for the week to come. Oddly enough, I’m not even nervous. And I don’t think I’m lying. Life is so good as is; anything more is just ego. Goodnight world.
The things I do, I do hard. When I laugh, I howl. When I cry, I wail. When I kiss, I shiver. If you’re my friend, I’ll fight your battles and find your answers. If you’re my passion, I’ll write you, sing you, shop you, spin you, smoke you, and sweat you until all the muscles of my mind, body or wallet wear out. If you’re him: You have it good. Hard-core commitment - to the things that truly matter, though nothing less - comes easy. Yet it’s this all-or-nothing mentality that kept me away from cooking until I was 32 years old. I wasn’t into it. Foodstuff was fucking lame. And that was the end of that. We are afraid of what we don’t know. Until I got desperate. You all know the story (if you don’t, buy the book!): I taught myself to cook as a last resort. And it changed everything. But unlike the rest, I don’t cook to extremes. There’s no tension or seduction or inner-rage involved, which is odd because I used to thrive off that stuff. Nah. There’s a balance, a kinda, a sorta, a maybe when it comes to me and the kitchen. I cook sometimes, if I feel like it, if I’m inspired, if I’m - oh I don’t know - hungry? I manage my fridge the same, relaxed way I do my closet (fashion being the one category I’ve never been manic about). A few nice choices. Understated, but exciting enough. All good things, not much fuss. It’s awesome existing in the gorgeous grey, for once. Sometimes I even think about phasing out of the food world professionally. I think I’m fine with or without it. We’ll see. Tomorrow I’m judging a grilled cheese contest at Artisanal, and I’m honored. But the other judges are all hyper-ambitious types who know and care so much more than me. They’re committed, and I’m coasting. It’s interesting. Although, that’s the beauty of food, isn’t it? There’s a place-setting for everyone. I just hope mine has no mayo.
I have no interest in ever becoming a “food snob,” sorry, but a “wine snob” is a secret aspiration. Wine talk - at its best - can be a blast … Taste the Ryan Gosling of reds … a rose that will be your best friend, then blow your husband … this white is a paranoid schizophrenic and she’s off her meds … I mean, can we really go there with, like, ramps? Whatever! That said, I’ve become a big fan of Corkbuzz Wine Studio, an elegant wine bar where experts are as involved as you want them to be in the education of your evening vino. You can go to drink alone, on a date, with a group - and you can also go for a class. Classes are smart and sexy; you stumble away all worldly and sophisticated.
Corkbuzz’s owner, Master Sommelier Laura Maniec, has generously offered an Apron Anxiety reader free admission (for two people) to any of her April classes. (Normally would cost $150, or more.) Just email ME your Apron Anxiety pre-sale receipt at ApronAnxiety@gmail.com, with a few sentences about your most amazing wine experience - a 3-dollar bottle swiped from Walmart, or a big, bold Barolo with that evil, incredible boy. Tell me.
This weekend, I’ll announce the winner!So raise your glass, buy a book, and let the games begin.
Twenty minutes before hair and makeup were supposed to arrive at my apartment, and one hour before the fashion team, prop stylists and photographers were set to buzz from below, I got the call.
Someone I loved - very much - had died. He was sick, ALS, and it was time. But that didn’t mean my heart wasn’t ripped out and torn apart.
Immediately, I started to cry thick, hard unstoppable tears. I’m sure everyone I grew up with cried thick, hard, unstoppable tears that morning too.
As more calls came in about wakes and funerals and other awful things, I realized that I had not yet showered for the big group of stylish people who were coming over to make me beautiful.
I hadn’t swept my floors, picked up the Perrier, baked a banana bread, or prepped myself at all for the reporter who went on a limb and made this magazine article come alive for me.
Sweaty and shaky, I didn’t know what the fuck to do. But I chose to pull it together. That felt most responsible.
The make-up artist was first to arrive. She was especially kind, given my red and puffy eyes. The rest of the team strolled in and I filled them in on my morning, trying not to sound too morbid. I might have been repeating myself … he always believed in me … I don’t remember.
Late in the night, the photo-shoot wrapped.
It was gorgeous, and, I think, glamorous, and I tried my very best to look and feel the part. Somehow I cooked a good dinner. There were smiles, flashes, and high fives. Everyone got what they needed.
But I wasn’t quite myself.
I attempted to make a toast - rich, witty words I had imagined myself saying - but my voice shook so bad that I sat back down.
Forgot to do and say and cook and bake half the things I dreamed of in anticipation of this article, which I’d orchestrated in my head every single night for the last few months.
Though, I think it all went fine.
Yesterday was the funeral for my dear friend who was a hero to me and my family for so many reasons. During one of the exquisite eulogies delivered at the church, someone reminded the hundred of mourners of this beautiful man’s favorite quote:
"Courage is grace under pressure."
In his memory and honor, those words will continue to guide me through life and love, friendship and fortune, and maybe even hair and makeup.
Pre-order Apron Anxiety, from any retailer (see links above), send proof of your purchase, along with your mailing address, to ApronAnxiety@gmail.com to win a Georgetown Cupcake gift card valid for one FREE, luscious, sublime, FREE, heavenly, my favorite and FREE cupcake at any GTC location. First 50 emails get the goods - it’s so easy. Buy the book, win a cupcake!
“I loved this book. It’s partly a cautionary tale about getting involved with young career-driven men and a love story about a woman and the city she loves and leaves and loves again. And finally, it’s about good friends, a loving family, and the importance and good fortune Alyssa has for having both. Oh, and there’s a great recipe for mac and cheese.”
The only way to write a book is to conquer the idea of letting go…so….even though I’m totally horrified to hit SEND, here is the first chapter of Apron Anxiety! Just remember, it only gets better, juicier, sadder, happier, sexier, deeper, darker, drunker and more delicious. I’d be hiding under my bed for the next ten years if I didn’t truly believe so.
Listen to this song - I heard it on Californication, which I once loved but now think is so cheap and stupidly over-sexualized, however… the song is a beauty. Hold on tight. And obviously, don’t smoke. But do note the photography by: Miranda Lehman.
“I made peace with the cruel fact that I’d never be quite the same again, that losing John broke me in a way that couldn’t really be rebuilt. But I came to think of heartbreak as an impetus to becoming a wiser woman, sister, friend, and writer, and, in a way, I felt chosen to have had such a healthy dose of it. Strong women don’t just happen.”—Alyssa Shelasky in her excellent forthcoming memoir Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen (via rkb)
Tried to fit two days into one again. Didn’t work out so well. Lost it on a wretched saleswoman at Barneys who wouldn’t take back a couple untouched sweaters that I bought thirty-fucking-four days ago, instead of “thirty.” People who use the word “store policy” are the absolute worst. I’d out the girl, full name/description right here so everyone could join TeamAlyssa but I’m worried that tomorrow I’ll wake up less vindictive, she’ll be ruined and I’ll be sued. But F-U Barneys girl with the bangs!!! Oooh I really hated her. And oh brother, did she hate me right back! She couldn’t stand me from the second she saw me. That happens sometimes.
Long day. But it’s always this way before a big trip, isn’t it? Romantic Paris in 72-hours! A long, harrowing Tuesday will make high tea and higher thread counts all the better. And let’s be real: life’s really not so bad. It really isn’t. We’re planning book parties and press events and all sorts of am-I-dreaming (?) decisions. This sparkly story about me ran on Zooey Deschanel’s blog, and come on, just look at the top of the blog!! THANK YOU T.S., my butch Brad Goreski, who helps me sell books and not kick-box my computer. (Did I mention that I still can’t believe any of this is happening?!)
By the way, it should go unsaid that I went to another Barneys and got my way. Wouldn’t any of us?
Have you started living, breathing ‘n dying for this new food/design/feel-good site yet? Prepare to cheat on me, and every other blog, once you get a taste of SousStyle. Pippa Lord is behind it - she’s like Sienna Miller with an Aussie accent, more heart and less baggage. Raging girl crush!
What was your best food memory this year? I have to answer that for a magazine article. First thing that comes mind (having nothing to do w/ the photo above/I just like it) is a fresh out-of-the-oven almond croissant from Almondine, with a café au lait, sitting alone by the water, after days of stress, sleep deprivation and a sad, empty stomach. But perhaps that’s too simple. Tell me yours…
The last few months have been the busiest, and I think maybe hardest, of my life! Honestly, the next time the universe shows its sharp edges, remind me that I survived July-October of 2011. But barely!
Finishing the book, combined with starting this torpedo-like job, plus the usual NYC warfare, was collectively so much more lethal than I ever imagined. Weeks of euphoria cut with sleeplessness, insecurity, ego trip, celebration, isolation, an overload of scintillating and scary new people all (justifiably) judging…
From the chefs to superstars to colleagues to friends to more than friends…some of whom I loved for hours or hated inexhaustibly; who shared strong words and stronger whiskey; who took my breath - and my judgement - and once, my trust - away. Thank god it all happened during Breaking Bad and raspberry season, otherwise I would not have survived.
I really do like my new job, even though I want to die every time I realize that I can’t visit the ocean without “getting approval” or spend Tuesdays at the movies just because my body says so. Outside the office: I love my shorter hair, my wonderful wench of a city, the fact that I get great tables at showoff restaurants, and empty seats on busy subways.
There are certainly days when I’m sure I’d be happier in a simpler silhouette than this. Get married/have babies/be normal. Or at least some scenario that involves an occasional good night’s sleep. But more often, I’m thinking that I actually want to live harder, faster, freakier. Run away/fuck the rules/find bliss. But that’s the inner-battle I’ve always had, and maybe, probably, you do too. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here…
Autumn found us, work started, Irene came, 9/11 stung, edits ended, friends were made, romance was had. I’ve experienced extraordinary meals, sheer exhaustion, a disastrous flood, a naughty night out, a shit-ton of expensive oysters, dirt cheap (and crazy good) Cambodian num pang, and awkward encounters with Alec Baldwin and Owen Wilson. Love working at Grub Street, dream job, but my free time is precious like never before. It seems I have only a matter of minutes for non-work related pleasure. So I choose wisely.
On the tenth year anniversary of 9/11, a day that has forged my childhood friends together forever, because of the loss of one of us, I roamed around SoHo, avoiding the news and televised tributes. I appreciate it, but Bloomberg has nothing to do with my wounds. So, I grazed the streets, ate croissants, kept it light. At night, I had a press event at Prune. Everyone tweeted and gossiped, and the scene was pretty fab, even by my jaded standards. After the meal, I wanted to walk off dinner. These days, walking everywhere is my only hope for non-obesity.
Somehow, I ended up at Washington Square Park, lured by a large group of weirdos twirling in slow-motion to some music. Inside the circle was a straggly but intense jam session. I’m still not sure if the musicians were famous rockstars or local homeless. But the music. Oh! It was transformative. Especially on 9/11.
The first song I heard was Sittin’ on the doc of the bay. One of my favorites (and so nostalgic!). And then, Love is All You Need, and even some Lionel Richie, which was a trip. But when a gypsy-faced man, with a deep, heartsick voice, led us into Chris Isaak’s I wanna fall in love, I lost it. At three o’clock in the morning, I sang, sobbed and swayed alone, but not, in the park. Like a lunatic, a lost girl, and a New York City survivor, I let it all go…
The world was on fire; no one could save me but you…
Last night, a friend took me to Lupa for a congratulatory dinner, celebrating my first week as the New York Editor for New York Magazine’s Grub Street. (Oh yeah, did you hear!?)
We shared sublime salads of summer corn and tomatoes, primis like peppery bavette and lemony linguine, secondis of whole fish and short-ribs, and gelato of melon and mint. The rosé flowed, the chef sent surprises, sexless couples stared us down, and my dark, handsome friend — who I should be so lucky to sit across from — insisted on the bill.
And all along, I was terrible company.
It’s not that the food wasn’t uplifting (oh it was!), but with everything going on, my inner-over-thinker just couldn’t sit down, slap a linen napkin on its lap, eat an olive, and enjoy the moment.
The new job is the coolest thing to happen to my professional livelihood, and there is no doubt whatosever that I can conquer it one lobster salad saga and suspected speakeasy at a time. But going back to the grind is nothing short of an electrical shock. I mean, I have to wear outfits now, and ask permission before fleeing the country, and try not to say inappropriate things in front of politically correct co-workers and eager, impressionable interns.
And the book, Apron Anxiety, is getting done, but it’s taking its toll. I was so happy to read Molly Wizenberg’s post on Orangette today about the two part recipe of ecstasy and anguish entailed in writing a memoir. It’s a dream, of course, but an isolating one.
To be totally honest, I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for home-cooking right now, as I adjust to a job that plunkers me deep into the heart of the NYC restaurant world. Hopefully, I’ll gravitate to my own culinary wonderland on the weekends, but we’ll have to see how the symphony plays out. It’s not like my adventures in food are slowing down in this never-sleeping, always-eating, pull-up-a-chair-mamasita city… that’s for sure.
So stick with me. It’s because of this blog that all these good things have come to life (or so I choose to believe). And even though I was an ungrateful little girl last night, I’m not going to be one here. xxAlyssa
I’m in Ireland, where skin is dewy, hair is horrific, and itchy wool sweaters are the flirty, flowery sundresses - even in August. It’s chilly, rainy and perfectly unglam here. The Irish are the nicest people I’ve ever met (growing up with the Egan family, I already knew this) and the potatoes, every which way imaginable, just don’t get old. When I’m back I have a wee bit of news for everyone, but until then… Cheers!