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no more white.

10 Sep

Except this isn’t a fashion blog.  It is, however,  after Labor Day.   Moving right along…

I am the worst blogger because I never blog anymore…but I’m really great at Instagram (#humblebrag?) so catch me over at @gillianbcn for more consistent micro-blogging.   That said,  I wanted to give all y’all a little round-up of how my summer ended.  Here’s a random assortment of what I got after:

IPAs + some Cal bears

Once a month,  the Cal Alumni chapter of LA does a happy hour downtown.  I’ve only made it to a few of them,  but it’s fun networking and talking about how much Berkeley has changed since we left.  In August,  my BFF Jenn and I hit up the Pez Cantina happy hour, which just so happened to be on National IPA Day.  #boom

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Ryan’s Engagement: One of my good friends from my high school, Ryan aka Ryry, proposed to his girlfriend Shana and we all went out to celebrate.  Good times with awesome people.  Can’t believe how long these hoodrats have been in my life.

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Dinner Lab:  My buddy Eric and I hit up Dinner Lab recently for a 5-course “Cali Creole” meal.  The best part of the night was when his ex’s MOM randomly sat next to us.  LA is a small place.  Also,  I tried frog legs and determined they’re just okay.  I love this event because I love meeting new people,  trying new food,  and exploring LA.

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Work Stuff: The last month has brought some interesting work including a couple of interesting cases, a few random hearings at cool places, and work at a Small Claims Clinic at Southwestern Law School.

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12th Man in San Diego:  My parents and I went on an adventure to San Diego a couple of weekends ago to watch the Seahawks beat the Chargers.  While Qualcomm left something to be desired (how is it cash only? This is 2015) was all had a great time, and the Seahawks managed a W.

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South Bay Soul Cycle with Fit & Awesome:  I met Lindsey through social media a few years ago,  and her blog hosted an amazingly fun Soul Cycle class in Manhattan Beach,  taught by the amazingly energetic and rap-loving Jillian.

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Wedding Crasher:  My friend Robert asked me to be his plus one for a wedding of two of his law school friends — and I had a great time even though I didn’t know anyone else there.  The bride and groom’s vows were so personable (and funny!) that I felt like I knew them by the end of the ceremony.  I’m just glad I managed not to cry at the wedding of two strangers,  although I may have told the bride on the dance floor that I loved her.  GET IT TOGETHER, G.

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Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari: I joke a lot on Twitter about online dating and how it’s the worst,  but now I’m sort of glad I’ve gone through it/am doing it so I can relate to Aziz’s hilarious book.  Aziz wrote/narrates,  but it was co-written by a sociologist Eric Klinenberg straight outta NYU.  This book explains things like why having too many options/choices has hurt millennial dating,  why texting is the worst,  and how social media facilitates cheating.  I expected to laugh out loud dozens of times while reading this, but I didn’t expect to relate to it as much as I did, so that was cool.  Shoutout to my friend Dom’s boyfriend, Josh, for hard-selling me on this.  Also shout-out to a dude I went on two Bumble dates with for also urging me to read this — we will never speak again but hey, I got this awesome book experience out of it…and some beer I didn’t have to pay for. #winning!

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tripping [chicago].

3 Aug

After the wedding on Sunday, my parents and I had until Thursday to sight-see and take in the city.  First on the agenda was a guided boat cruise of Chicago architecture with everyone who was still in town for the wedding – including the bride and groom!

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It was a great tour – Chicago’s architecture is truly the most captivating of any city I’ve been to, at least in the U.S.  We snapped photos and learned about modernism’s “austerity” vs. post-modernism’s “contextualism.”  Cue a new obsession forming for me…I looooove me some post-modernism.

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one day married!

After the cruise, a bunch of us went to lunch along the river.  I had a Revolution Anti-Hero IPA.  No, waiter, I will not shy away when you warn me that it’s “pretty hoppy.”  It was excellent.

That evening, my family, Ryan’s family, and Justin’s family headed out to Wrigleyville to watch the lackluster Cubs take on the equally uninspiring Brewers. It was awesome catching  a game in Wrigley – although I do prefer Dodger stadium’s feel.  I had an Old Style and a hot dog, which apparently you’re not supposed to eat with ketchup.  I guess I learned that one the hard way.

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Instead of staying at the Hyatt again, my parents rented a brownstone in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood using VRBO.  It was cool to check out a different (adorable) neighborhood and to see the city from a different angle.

On Tuesday, I slept in and may have used the morning to catch up on The Bachelorette, after I had heard the internet exploded.  I have HATEEEED this season.  Des is the least interesting Bachelorette, ever, but reading Reality Steve’s spoilers have kept in mildly interesting.  Once my pop-culture prowess was restored, we set off for more Chicago tourist jaunts.  First up on the list was another deep-dish place, Uno.  Delicioussss. IMG_4289I took my parents by “the bean” and Jay Pritzker Pavilion, my new favorite Frank Gehry piece.  If you haven’t gathered by now, I am FG obsesssssed.  He designed my law school, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Bilbao’s Guggenheim, and a building in Prague I loved (the Fred and Ginger House).  He’s super funky and whimsical, and now when I go to a new city I Google “Frank Gehry” there to make sure I stop by and see whatever it is he’s designed. [Note: I get quite a bit of flack for this, a lot of people think Gehry is “weird.” Nope, I love him].  I am bummed I didn’t make it to an outdoor concert here.  I guess there’s always next time!

IMG_4240Also on Tuesday, we headed to Chicago’s Art Institute.  They had a lot of great pieces, but I was especially drawn to the Van Goghs and Monets.

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Monet – Wheat stacks

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Monet – Water lilies

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Van Gogh – The Drinkers

It was also really great seeing American Gothic and A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte in person as well.

That evening, my parents and I had a couple of drinks on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building.  Although it’s not quite as high as the observation deck on the Willis (formerly known as Sears) Tower, I’d heard the views were far superior.  The views of the city from the Signature Lounge at the John Hancock could truly not be beat. Tip: If you go, make SURE you check out the restrooms.  Some of the best views are in there!

IMG_4309We also hopped around Navy Pier and walked around the city a lot.

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On Wednesday, I went on a run to Lincoln Park and then did a little exploring back over by the bean.  One of my law school friends, Greg, gave me a whole list of recommendations (more on that later) so I was determined to check a few of his suggestions off my list.  Later, I met back up with my parents for some more eating + drinks by the river.  My parents ordered a bottle of wine and ended up giving the rest of it to the people at the table next to us, who had *just* finished taking the Illinois bar.  I explained that that will be me in a year and one responded “Oh god, California is THREE DAYS.”  Yupppp.

On Thursday, we left the Brownstone, headed out to one last foodie pit-stop in the West Loop, and made our way to Midway.

It was a fantastic trip, and we tasted some delicious food.  Here’s a quick break-down of my fav eats:

IMG_43421. Revolution Anti-Hero IPA (Chicago, Illinois).  Nice and hoppy. Read: Loooooove.

2. Uno’s Pizza. I later learned this is my friend AK’s favorite pizza place in Chicago.  I asked a few locals what their favorite pizza joint was, and this was always at the top of the list.  It did not disappoint.

3. Raspberry Guacamole at Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill.  This was one of my very favorite things.  It was essentially guac with added raspberries.  It sounded weird at first (my dad was a little shifty-eyed when I suggested it) but the flavors blended together perfectly.  I need to recreate this.  We also tried an out-of-this-world mole tamale and the ceviche was perfect.

4. Intelligentsia Coffee.  This was high up on Greg’s list of recommendations.  Intelligentsia is all over LA, but I had no idea it  originated in Chicago.  In my mind, it’s LA’s answer to SF’s Blue Bottle or Portland’s Stumptown Coffee roasters.  I got a “Summer Solstice” blend to take with me to Millennium Park.  Along with my coffee, I took another of Greg’s suggestions and hit up Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine Bar for a sandwich.  I asked the guy behind the counter what their signature sandwich is and promptly ordered the “Blue Pig ‘n’ Fig” which consisted of serrano ham, figs, arugula, and blue cheese. So good.

5. Churros con chocolate at Rick Bayless’ Xoco.  Next door to Frontera Grill is a smaller Rick Bayless place called Xoco – so obviously we had to go back for dessert.  My churros con chocolate were pretty delicious – but so were my mom’s dulce de leche enchilada and my dad’s ice cream. Nom.

6.  Lou Malnati’s Pizza.  We went back here a second time after the rehearsal dinner and ordered the “chicago classic” which had sausage, was super cheesy, and had a delicious sauce.  I’m not really sure which I liked better – Lou Malnati’s or Uno’s, but I think this dish might have won.

7. Little Goat Bread.  The last place I checked off Greg’s list was Little Goat Bread.  He’d reminded me Stephanie Izard, a past winner of Top Chef, has a James Bead-winning restaurant, The Girl and the Goat, in Chicago.  She also has a small diner (Little Goat Diner) and an even smaller sandwich place called Little Goat Bread.   I had an insanely delectable turkey sandwich, and then went back and grabbed a lemon and chocolate scone and a triple chocolate cookie for my parents.  All were amazing.  We ranked that meal the highlight of the trip.

I was sad to end such a great vacation – but enjoyed my travel classic of ginger ale on the airplane, and powered my way through a new book, aptly about Chicago. (I’m reading The Devil in the White City.)

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Alright…let me hear your favorite Chicago places!

a book and a bbq.

12 Aug

For a lazy summer day, yesterday was surprisingly productive.

I started off the morning with a trip to my new gym. My half-marathon training plan deemed yesterday “3 mi. run + strength” so I decided to make the “strength” element the focus and tried a Body Pump class. Two of my favorite blogs, Carrots ‘n’ Cake and Peanut Butter Fingers, always rave about the Body Pump routine and now I know what all the fuss is about! It was an hour long, total body workout with dumbbells and hand weights and I enjoyed the upbeat music. My goal is to try and make this a weekly routine. After the class, I popped over to the elliptical for 3 miles of easy cross training. Success!

I also finished a book yesterday called The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

I really enjoyed this book! I was a little bit skeptical at first because it’s narrated by a dog…and I’m no animal lover. As it turns out, the dog (named Enzo) is incredibly perceptive, and he narrates his entire life spent with his master, semi-professional race car driver, Denny, and his wife Eve and daughter Zoë. This book isn’t a tear-jerker (or at least not intentionally). It is more of a reflection on humanity and human interaction.

Enzo develops an affinity for race car driving through Denny, and explains that “the car goes where the eyes go.” The race car elements are a nice metaphor for how Enzo views life. The book took a surprising turn with two unexpected and dramatic law suits – and the reader is never sure how it is all going to play out. I also really enjoyed the ending – it’s somewhat other-worldly and got me thinking about things like the after-life and reincarnation and if either of those exist at all.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend this book to most – Enzo as a narrator is thoughtful and funny, and it didn’t seem like I was reading a book about a dog. There were, however, some comedic moments when Enzo behaves in animalistic ways (tearing up one of Zoë’s stuffed animals, urinating on an important legal document because Enzo disagreed with it, etc.)

My day ended with a BBQ at my friend Lily’s house in Brentwood! After crossing the city and sitting in some unbelievably gnarly traffic, I met up with Krisse, Tara, and Lily for some delicious home-cooked grub.

i didn't get the maxi-dress memo.

everyone's favorite dessert: fro-yo!

Once I got home, I caught up on Jersey Shore (naturally) – so I’ll end this blog post with my favorite quote from last night.

“If her keds still light up…SHE’S TOO YOUNG FOR YOU BRO!”

Has anyone read The Art of Racing in the Rain? Thoughts? 

summer reading.

28 Jul

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a “what I’m reading” post…and it’s not like I gave up books altogether or anything (although now that I’m without a metro system, my captive time with my Kindle has sadly decreased substantially). Here’s what I’ve been reading recently:

This book was incredible. It was a quick read – even though the subject might initially seem boring (a health and fitness writer learns of a tribe of indigenous people in Mexico who run insane distances insanely fast…and often barefoot so he searches for the tribe, befriends a few key members, and learns to run with them), but it is fascinating and inspring. It made me want to run for sure – even though my measly 4 or 5 miler paled in comparison to the 100+ mile distances the protagonists were running. McDougall also chronicles the lives and races of some of the great ultra-runners of our time – and they are just as interesting and entertaining as they are fast. I’d recommend this book for just about anyone who runs, is athletic, or enjoys compelling non-fiction.

One of my roommates in Madrid, Kerren, had this book’s Spanish edition laying around and I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. This memoir follows the life of retired supermodel Waris Dirie. She was born into a nomadic tribe in Somalia where female genital mutilation is still practiced. Dirie describes her life in Somalia and her desire to break free of everything she had known. She describes her struggle, her luck and entering into the world of high-end runway modeling, and her efforts to end female gender mutilation (FGM) in countries throughout the world. This book was inspirational and fascinating, although a little bit hard to read in parts. You can learn more about Waris Dirie’s Desert Flower Foundation here.

I’d heard about this book for years and finally made the plunge and hit “purchase” on the Kindle. It was pretty repetitive, but overall funny and offered some solid advice. There were definitely moments when I thought “they’re right…girls DO do that ALL THE TIME.” Not a must-read, but not a waste of ten bucks, either.

Want some more book suggestions? Here’s what else I’ve reviewed:

Bossypants

Three Cups of Deceit

Secret Daughter

Critical Race Theory: An Introduction

Something Borrowed

The Undercover Economist

The Alchemist 

Question: What’s the best thing you’ve read lately??

along colorado blvd.

20 Jul

dork.

Not wanting to be outdone by my mom and my recent trip to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, my Dad and I spent his first day of (much needed) vacation in Pasadena. While we’ve gone many times in the past (and usually make a stop at the frozen yogurt mecca 21 Choices), this time we ventured to the Norton Simon Museum to check out the various art exhibits. We scoped out the exhibits online before committing – and it looked like they had a wide range of art: from Peter Paul Rubens and Francisco de Goya to Degas, Picasso, Van Gogh, Klee,…the list goes on and on.

The museum is located at 411 West Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena – and for a $10 entrance fee total (I got in free with a student ID!) we spent over an hour looking at everything. While I honed in on the Van Goghs and Picassos (my favs), I also added a few new favorite pieces to my list of favorites. Here are some things that stuck out to me…

Head of a Peasant Woman in a White Bonnet, Van Gogh 1885

From the Norton Simon website: “he used working-class laborers for his subject matter because he thought their lives—simple and honest—would “teach something” to the urban bourgeoisie. The color, which is limited to black-infused red, blue, yellow and white, emphasizes the dirtiness of the figure, while the thick impasto reinforces the coarseness of her features. Together with the palette, these elements directly connect her to the earth off which she lived.”

Portrait of a Peasant (Patience Escalier), Van Gogh August 1888

From the Norton Simon website: “Van Gogh believed that this portrait was one of a small group that marked his break from the principles of Impressionism. Instead of using color to achieve a greater naturalism, van Gogh used color subjectively to express emotion.”  

I think it’s pretty interesting how Van Gogh’s portrayal of working class people in the form of portraits varies so drastically in 3 years. I liked the fact I could walk across the room and see the artist’s evolution technique-wise. Additionally, the 2nd painting was completed just months before Van Gogh committed suicide – a part of his life history I have always found tragically interesting.

Mulberry Tree, Van Gogh 1889

The swirling brushstrokes of this Van Gogh was pretty stunning – and quintessentially Van Gogh. This Diego Rivera piece screamed Diego Rivera to me as soon as I walked into the room – and I appreciate Rivera’s use of bold colors.

The Flower Vendor (Girl with Lilies), Diego Rivera 1941

…and here’s a Picasso I love so much it’s currently the background on my iPhone (another thing I love):

Woman with a Book, Picasso 1932

I love how Picasso explored so. many. genres. throughout his career – and this is representative of what is probably my favorite style of his.

St. Jerome in Penetence (1798) by Francisco de Goya

I was surprised to find several examples of Spanish master Francisco de Goya at the Norton Simon – and I’m happy I’ve finally trudged through enough art museums to be able to peg this as Goya before I went up to the little sign and saw that it was!

We checked out the museum gift shop, a special exhibit on 60s pop art, and examined some more classic pieces from as early as the 14th century! We sort of ignored the collection of Asian artifacts – not really our scene – but overall we were really impressed with the enormity (and the quality!) of the museum as well as the gardens outside.

The last piece that really stuck with me was a Vermeer on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art called “Woman with a Lute.” I’ve seen a couple of Vermeers before and have always been struck by his use of light  – and this painting was no exception. There was a security guard standing right next to the work as well as an explicit “no photos” sign so I knew this one was a big deal. It was:

How incredible is that map?? Seeing this makes me want to nerd-out a little harder on Vermeer – so my mom has loaned me the Susan Vreeland novel “Girl in Hyacinth Blue” to read – and I might try to read “Girl With a Pearl Earring” as well. Anyone out there read either of those? Thoughts?

After we left the museum, I used my trusty iPhone’s Yelp app to find a place for my Dad and I to eat lunch. He requested Vegetarian or Vegan food (no, he’s not either of those, but is trying to lean that way apparently) and lo and behold, 0.4 miles away we came across Father Nature’s Lavash Wraps at 17 N De Lacey Avenue. This place was delicious – and inexpensive! Mediterranean food is easily my favorite sort of “ethnic” cuisine – I could literally consume hummus intravenously if that were possible. I ordered something off the beaten path and was overwhelmed by how much I loved it. Now I’m looking for an excuse to go back to Pasadena and find more hidden gems on Colorado Blvd.

Number 13 - Colorful Taboule!

What’s your favorite sort of ethnic cuisine??

three cups of bossypants.

8 Jun

My two 2+ hour flights last weekend as well as tons of time on the metro each day afforded me a lot of time to power through some books I’d been lining up. Both were quick reads and delightful.

First up was Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

While I’m only now really getting into 30 Rock, I’ve been a Tina Fey fan since the Mean Girls days. She’s witty and smart and seriously funny. Her book was hilarious – I found myself holding back laughter in public places several times and particularly enjoyed her account of the weeks on SNL where she played Sarah Palin. I was also interested to learn about the scar on the left side of her face that I had never noticed until I read about it. Here are a few  of my favorite quotes from Bossypants…I’ll be reading these over and over with my fingers crossed that she can eek out a sequel.

  • I hate to stir up trouble among the princesses, but take away the hair and Sleeping Beauty is actually a little beat.
  • (By the way, when Oprah Winfrey is suggesting you may have overextended yourself, you need to examine your fucking life). 

  • And I have no affinity for animals. I don’t hate animals and I would never hurt an animal; I just don’t actively care about them. When a coworker shows me cute pictures of her dog, I struggle to respond correctly, like an autistic person who has been taught to recognize human emotions from flash cards. In short, I am the worst. (Yes, I realize this 100% true for my life).
Next up was the Kindle single Three Cups of Deceit by one of my favorite authors, Jon Krakauer:
Three Cups of Deceit highlights the fraud and blatant lies committed by Greg Mortenson, the humanitarian behind the “Three Cups of Tea” phenomenon. Krakauer paints a compelling story exposing the wrongs committed by this guy in an intriguing and readable way – and it makes me glad I’ve never read or fallen for any of Mortenson’s lies. I’m all for building schools in rural Afghanistan, but Mortenson’s inability to even fact-check himself and to basically steal money from his organization is deplorable. (My favorite error committed by Mortenson? He got the year Mother Teresa died wrong by three years in one of his books!)
Now I’m reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and already hooked. What’s everyone out there reading??

secret daughter.

1 Jun

one thing the Kindle doesn´t have: cover art.

My most recent read on the Kindle was Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. This book was recommended to me from many different sources: bloggers and blogs I frequent, websites, Amazon.com, etc. I was in luck when my Mom mentioned that she got a Kindle and that she´d be down to read it as well, meaning she purchased the book and I stole it from her. I love technology.

So what did I think about the book? Overall, I really liked it. The story was woven together interestingly, over the course of 25 years with the narrator and point of view changing every chapter between two families. One, a poor, slum-dwelling couple who put their infant daughter up for adoption in what was then Bombay, India, and the other, a wealthy doctor couple in tony Palo Alto, California. Unable to have children, the couple decides to adopt from India, partially because the husband is Indian and his mother had an ¨in¨ with the orphanage where they ended up getting their daughter. Family drama plays out over the years in different ways within the two families, and two drastically different Indias come to life as well. The story was compelling, and the portrayal of India makes me eager to travel there in a way Eat, Pray, Love failed to do. I also felt like the author´s knowledge of the Bay Area and the culture there was accurate.

While I would recommend this book, it wasn´t perfect. I felt like in some cases, the author was too brief in her descriptions and I felt like a lot of things were brushed off. The book played like a movie in my head, but in a sort of bare-bones manner. It´s rare when I think an author isn´t flowery enough, but I could have used some more detail! Also, it took me a very long time to buy into adoptive mother Somer as a character. She is very naive and narrow-minded. It´s hard for me to believe that a Stanford-educated doctor in California in an inter-racial marriage would be adverse to trying Indian food and feel insecure with her twenty-something year-old-daughter trying to embrace her heritage. Seems like a trip or two to a therapist could have cleared up a lot of Somer´s issues.

Too long, didn´t read version: Overall, a great book and a page-turner (I guess that´s a little bit mis-leading since I click a button to turn my pages, but whatever). The author gets points for the plot not being super predictable as well.

What´s your current favorite book? What should be next on my list? (Well, after I finish Tina Fey´s Bossypants…)