Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Today: On Sezane, human rights lawyering, and wearing lipstick.



I can tell the crazy weeks of planning and meetings are over because just as soon as I stepped out of the office of a certain Middle Eastern/North Africa delegation, out went thoughts of human rights and international law. What came rushing in were thoughts of Spring: cotton/linen dresses from Ace & Jig; bright sandals that have been hiding in my closet; and this collection from Sezane, a French label that I have yet to try out.

Growing up in southern California, I, like many others, was taught to appreciate certain material possessions. At the same time, I remember gleaning the message that serious, substantial women do not patently relish makeup and beautiful clothes.

This messaging--that smart women do not spend time gushing over beautiful clothing--has somehow continued in my current line of work.  What I find refreshing is that I meet more and more amazing women who dispel this notion all together. That struck me this week, as I was surrounded by international human rights lawyers, many wearing gorgeous frocks and bright lips.  It made my heart sing.

In my previous life in Portland in corporate law, I remember meeting a woman who harkened back to her early years as a lawyer.  Then, she recalled, she had to play down her femininity, opting for masculine wear that demonstrated that she was "one of the boys."  She commented quizzically on how the times had changed, how young female lawyers were now so "free" to look "so feminine."

I could go on and on, as this messaging really peeves me, though I ought to be getting ready for work. These days, I am thinking more about femininity and what values I will pass on to my daughter.  I'll save that for another post.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My best meals in Istanbul








Turkey, last July, seems so long ago!  Ethan and I were previously talking about taking a one-year anniversary trip to Kyrgyzstan.  But that's not going to happen this year.  So I'll have to rely on my memories of Turkey until that next big vacation.

Today I am thinking about my two favorite meals in one of my favorite cities, Istanbul.  The first was at Meze by Lemon Tree, which is an intimate restaurant, tucked away on a small cobblestone street in the trendy Beyoglu neighborhood.  Because it was Ramadan, and I was too hungry to wait until 8pm to eat, we had the entire restaurant to ourselves for most of our meal.  

But my best meal was Ciya Sofrasi, on the Asian side of Istanbul, via a ferry ride and a walk through a bustling market, where olives, antiques, olive soap, and fish are peddled.  The New Yorker wrote an article about the cafeteria-style restaurant, here. It's kind of a legend.  Dishes rotate every day and I've heard mixed reviews depending on what is on offer. But we must have been lucky, because I loved everything I ordered--and I ordered a lot: stews of lamb and okra, eggplant things, and mezes that made my mouth water.  I finished off the meal with rosemary tea and a plate of kunefe, a sweet cheese pastry.

And finally, the Uighur restaurant we visited (cannot remember the name) also deserves an honorable mention.  We searched for this restaurant and it took us two separate trips before we finally found it.  In honor of Ramadan, the fare was a prix fixe of lamb kabobs heavily spiced with cumin and lagman pulled noodles, among other things.  I felt like I was back in Kashgar, China. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Coveting

 both images via

The sun is out this weekend. It has been a balmy 78 degrees.  Too bad this week was one of those crazy previously-caffeinated, oft-frenetic weeks, where I'm holed up in a certain international institution's buildings for 10-13 hours a day.  I'm simply exhausted.

I mean, there's often a lot of good in these weeks.  One night, I caught up with R, who I initially met in Bangkok and who works all over the world on reproductive rights.  Joining us was another R, who I met on this "human rights bus," years ago, as I was monitoring a trial in Cambodia.  The night wore on, with stories of travels/election monitoring in Armenia, and recent work trips to Nepal, and exchange of gossip from post-Cambodia days.

So a wonderful thing about these hellish weeks is that I get to see friends and colleagues from all over the world.  I'm reminded that there is a small, but strong, global community working on these issues.  In between cursing as I run around this and that meeting, I am struck by the realization that I'm lucky to be doing this type of international work, strange a niche as it may be.

But right now, I'm just at the point of physical exhaustion.  I keep telling myself that I just need to get through a few more days of meetings, and then maybe, just maybe, I'll take several days off and find a reason to buy an Ace & Jig dress.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Documenting a walk: Spring has sprung.




Images from today's walk around the National Mall. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

WANTED: Flat Boots


While I still enjoy my Rachel Comey Mars boots, I've been perusing the internet for flat boots. I do so much walking in this city - more than I ever did in any other city I've lived in. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Documenting a walk: Saturday

Walking from Mount Pleasant towards Dupont Circle, I came across a half-marathon: runners, walkers, cheerleaders on the side, music playing.  

I continued south.  My friend, Jess, was visiting from Portland. We met for brunch at Founding Farmers. As usual, I ate too much.  This city is serious about brunch. 

Later that day, I took the Metro to meet Ethan in the Noma/Gallaudet neighborhood - to visit Union Market. 


Ethan wasn't as enthusiastic about the place as I was, but this may be my favorite DC market yet.  It's a little bourgie-hipster, which runs in stark contrast with the immediate industrial environment. The pros and cons of gentrification aside, I confess I enjoy a fancy market. Now and then, I need to delight in (arguably) overpriced artisan pickles, good bread, and freshly-squeezed juice concoctions. This would be a great place to bring visiting family/friends.


It was 65+ degrees that day!  We sat outside, soaked in the sun, and watched many young families do the same. Once, twice, a bike "gang" rode by, dressed in costumes and obviously drunk from sunshine, reminding me of Portland days.  (Cue: Ethan eye-roll.)


But, the primary reason I wanted to visit Union Market was for the pop-up extension of H Street's ramen shop, Toki Underground. (Food occupies so much of my weekend planning.)  I once tried to have dinner at Toki Underground, but was told there was a 4+ hour wait.  I never returned.

Technically, the pop-up isn't a ramen shop, more like a noodle shop.  There are two tables that seat perhaps 6-8 people, and there is only one soup offering each day (week?).  On Saturday, it was a Taiwanese spicy beef noodle soup.  Freshly made pandan and pork ham bao were also available.  Other noodle dishes the chef has done: khao soi (one of my favorite Thai/Burmese soups), laksa, southern Thai curries, pho, even Khmer noodle dishes. Definitely worth a re-visit.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Looking back


This is one of my favorite pictures of Ethan.  I took it two summers ago, when we were in Darjeeling, India. It was during that summer of travel between Indonesia, Singapore and India, the summer before we moved to Thailand.  

Drawn out by promises of proper coffee, we walked to this small restaurant. I can't remember what it was called, but it had maybe three tables.  Indeed, it served up a proper cup of coffee and a hot, hearty breakfast.  We sat at this table, staring at the foot traffic outside, the fog and cold enveloping the streets.  I don't remember what we did that day.  I probably dragged him out to afternoon tea at the Elgin Hotel. Or, maybe we took a jeep ride to another hillside town. 

I get so caught up in the pace of life in this city. Sometimes I forget all the little adventures we shared.  I don't want to forget; those experiences ground me.  Sometimes I fail to realize life in this city is itself is a little adventure for us. One day, I'll look back and miss the tree-lined streets; the bands/musicians playing in Dupont Circle, causing music to stream into my office in the late afternoon; the rowhouses jutting up towards the sky; all the bits and pieces that make this life colorful.
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