Oktoberfest

Where has October gone?!? I feel like a broken record asking that question every time I sit down to add to this blog but seriously... who the heck sped the time up in 2013?!? The fact that I haven't unpacked my suitcase all the way in several months now is undoubtedly a contributing factor to this perceived sense that the world is turning more quicky than usual, and if I am indeed correct in this assertion then all is well with the world. Time may feel like it is marching on faster than I can guzzle down a glass of milk, but the time itself has been spent marvelously with good food, great friends, and the happy accrual of plenty o' airline miles. So to Father Time, I say "Ha! Thou hast not dulled my fun any."

So... October. This tenth month of our calendar year is one of my favorites for a variety of reasons, as I touched upon previously. For one, pumpkins. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin smoothies, pumpkin body scrubs, pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin soup- that stuff is eeeeeverywhere. As a general rule, I am a happier person when there is pumpkin in my life, and October marks its seasonal debut. Secondly- fall wardrobe. Not that this makes me a particularly unique specimen of the female gender, but I find fall clothing options delightful. I get to dust off the boots, the scarves, the leggings, the cute coats and I love every moment of it. And for those of you non-Californians scoffing at me right now and telling yourselves that I couldn't possibly have any need for said items, just shut it. I get it- I live in San Diego where 96.7% of the time, the weather is most accommodating and wam by most standards. But despite what Katy Perry and the Beach Boys have led you to believe about SoCal weather, it is not actually sunny and warm 365 days a year over here. We don't walk around in booty shorts and bikini tops all day; it rains, it gets below 40 degrees, the wind blows and the sun does indeed play hide and seek for days or weeks at a time. Our cold may not be as cold as your cold, so you'll wear your North Face down-filled jacket while there's a significant chance my jacket was purchased from Forever 21. All I know is that If it's 40 out and its raining, I'm going to don my warm accoutrements and don't want to hear any lip about it. 

But back to the reasons October is awesome: so many birthdays! I have a dear friend or family member born on the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 10th, 14th, 17th, 24th, 25th, 26th and 30th of this month, then there's the 23rd which is my own date of birth. I like to make a thing of celebrating not just for the day but for the week or entire month if at all possible. I'm sure that sounds a tad prima-donna of me, but I promise it isn't. I don't expect the world to shower me with presents all month long or fan me with palm fronds, I just make it a point to fill the month with activities that I enjoy with the people that keep a smile on my face. I'll do the planning, you just have to accept the invite or tell me what airport to fly into and indicate whether you have a couch I can sleep on. 

That being said, Operation Birthday 2013 has been one of my favorite missions if not THE favorite. I have officially entered the last year of my twenties and I am happy to report that the "holy-expletive-I'm-almost-thirty" mania has not set in, at least not in a bad way. There is a healthy amount of goal setting and introspection being had, but I haven't signed up for an arranged marriage or made an appointment to have my eggs frozen yet. I did however spend every single weekend in October and a few select weekdays celebrating in one fashion or another. I've slept remarkably little, tested the efficacy of my kidneys and liver, consumed entirely too many calories and totally slacked on my usual gym routine. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat though, and here are some reasons why: 

October Week 1: Library Lust, Live Music, Love of Dance
- Several hours spent at the new Central Library in Downtown San Diego finishing some classic Agatha Christie, delving into some David Sedaris (and stifling my laughter whilst doing it), and adding to what I hope to be my first attempt at a published work, all while snuggled in a big, blue, comfy couch in the solarium/reading room with a panoramic view of the east village. Spotify mixes employed: "Strings" (classical jams and contemporary remakes), "Pensive" (make-you-think music), and "Invincible!" (girl power, inspiration, I'm-a-badass type selections).


I'm home.


Reminiscent of the Hogwarts staircases...


Dewey love.

- Kelly Clarkson/Maroon 5 Concert with my cousin Alexis; scored tickets for great seats on Ebay last minute for an absolute steal, then spent the evening belting along to Kelly and crooning over Adam. Seriously though- "Since U Been Gone" never EVER fails to make me sing at the very top of my lungs, as if I have one iota of that woman's vocal capacity. I've actually embarrassed myself on at least 10 occasions on the freeway or at a stoplight singing along to this song; some people start singing along, others chuckle or just shake their heads. The first few times I think I blushed, but after that I stopped caring and even turned up the volume and car dancing. To hell with it= YOLO. Anyway, Kelly actually has several of these "ooooh girl, tell em!" anthems, many of which live in my "Invincible!," "Ache," "Rockin Out," and "Voices" playlists. "Since U Been Gone" is just the ultimate one (just ask the kids fom Pitch Perfect). As for Adam Levine... I need to devise a plan to see how Jagger-like this man's moves really are. Some might call me a creepy, stalker wanna-be homewrecker as I have a smiliar agenda for Liam Hemsworth; I prefer to think of myself as a diligent seeker of truth and curious fact-checker. Yeah yeah, he's engaged to some supermodel and whatnot, but let's not go killing my dreams just yet. I don't need forever with that tattoed white boy, I just really wanna love somebody, I really wanna dance the night away. 


Family by chance, (best) friends by choice.


Adam- call me. 

-Trolley Dances with Alexis; this was an amazing production put on by Jean Isaac's San Diego Dance Theater that I'm as equally elated that I attended as I am utterly annoyed that I didn't discover sooner! As the program I was handed puts it, "Trolley dances began in 1999 with a unique and distinctly urban concept: bring dance to the people using public transportation and introduce people to new neighborhoods and places." It is a part walking tour/part trolley ride to a handful of carefully selected landmarks in a given neighborhood/territoy where members of the dance company then perform an original contemporary piece. The version I experienced was in San Diego and started at Northgate Plaza before moving on to Chicano Park, the new Central Library in Downtown's east village, and ending at the Monarch School. The performances were en plain aire for the most part and smack in the middle of the hulabaloo of a regular Sunday afternoon. The Northgate Plaza performance drew interesting looks from passersby on their way to buy their carne asada and Fabuloso from Northgate Market who were clearly confused as to why a throng of people had gathered outside the Tocumbo Neveria to watch a handul of people dressed in white were positioning themselves oddly by the fountain; library goers were startled when they tried to use the south exit and encountered five or six casually dressed individuals rolling up and down the steps in seemingly slow motion. It was such an amazing experience; if you live or find yourself in San Diego, Riverside or San Francisco, I urge you to look into this. 


Northgate Plaza


Chicano Park


"Artsy" trolley shot.


Library steppin'


Touching piece danced to live choral music. gasp.

 
Hearts to the sun.

October Week 2: Diego to the Bay
- Friday evening was spent in Oakland avec mon ami Dustin. We dined on beer, wine, lamb burgers and harisa spiced steak at a venue named The Spice Monkey. We spoke of yoga, of Folsom, of high school days of yore... I sat in the most comfortable %#&@ing chair covered in cowhide and met his new plant which is apparently of Latin American descent. Best of all, I slept in a closet-turned-guest room that we called my little cupboard under the stairs. Livin the Harry Pottern dream, y'all. Oh, and I locked Dustin out of his apartment. Guest of the year award goes to....


Dustin's digs.


Lake life.

-Saturday morning I met up with one of my college BFFs Maya at Brown Sugar Kitchen for brunch. Sigh... proof that time does nothing to erode the strength of true friendship, folks! The beignets and chicken/waffle foodstuffs were delectable- light and sweet and savory and wonderful. I learned my girl is kicking ass and taking names, travelling the world and killing the game over at Oracle. Look out for this woman, world. She may look like a chipmunk and/or Keroppi the frog when she smiles at you sweetly and calls you "hon," but make noi mistake- she could buy you and sell you. 

 
Maya (my chipmunk) and the ghost of my face.

- Saturday afternoon I headed to Campbell to watch the Dodger game with my friend Clara who was briefly my roommate whilst living in Burbank a few years ago. We're both LA fans living in cities that aren't particularly accepting of our fandom, so we watched the game together and lamented the loss. Still, it was nice catching up. She showed me around Campbell and also showed me the world's teeniest sequined cheerleader outfit... for her dog Bella. :)


#BurbankPorvida

- Saturday evening was spent in San Francisco with my lovely friend Julie and habitual dance partner Carlos Marroquin, otherwise known as DTF (Yes, it means what you think, unless you live in Orange County in which case you might be thinking Downtown Fullerton. That's so not it). He got stuck with that nickname years ago after a hilarious inebriated conversation and I don't think I'll ever be able to call him anything else. Lucky him. Anyay, I learned a few things Iin San Francisco: 1) it's freaking cold there and parking sucks. 2) Julie's father works on the Kendal Jackson/La Crema vineyard?? The basket of mini-muffins is as good as in the mail. 3) Salvadorans looooove to say "bien a verga!" 4) There exists a thing called a Victorian punch bowl, and said bowl is most definitly too large for consumption by three people, particulary when two outta three of these individuals are females who don't drink much. 5) Victorian punch bowl comsumption by three overachievers leads to storefront photoshoots, Macarena dancing in the streets, and awkward shoving followed by name calling. It also leads to Spanish love letters and the coining of the motto, "Simple Bitches!"  although If you ask Julie, it's "Plain Bitches." Don't listen to her.


Simple Bitches!!


I was thirsty.


The DTF Double Fist.


LIGHTS!!!! Some place called Murio's where I annoyed people with my incessant photoraphy.


The following morning... Captain Amnesia. 

 -On Sunday, after a quick breakfast with DTF and Simple Bitch 1, I made my way to Santa Clara to see one of my bestest friends Carlos (a different one, not to be confused with DTF, haha) living that law school life. It was a gorgeous day, perfect for a tour around the campus of Santa Clara University. SCU is much small than I imagined but altogether very nice; the mission in particular was beautiful in its simplicty and interesting layout, and I loved the great panoramic views from the study spaces at the library (you're shocked, I know). Carlos showed me all the hot spots where the SCU kid go for the turn-up (Mondo's and The Hut, you may have heard of them) then took me around Downtown San Jose. We then made our way to Santana Row, which as he said it would, struck me as Silicon Valley's version of LA's Grove or Americana. We walked and talked (well, mostly I talked.... it's usually 70/30 with me, right sunshine?) before brunching on Singaporan-inspired cuisine. After that... I honestly don't know where the rest of the day went! I know we went to Campbell and had Swirls (i.e. sugar-headache molotov cocktails) at a place called Aqui while watching Sunday night football and engaging in more of the chit chat, then before I knew it, it was almost midnight. I guess time flies when you're telling all the funny cuentos and strolling down memory lane. 


Splendor in the grass. 


A view from the top. Of the library, of course.

October Week 3: Faves of America's Finest City
- Kicked off this weekend by attending what I was told would be a mariachi festival with my cousins Alexis and Amanda as well as my maternal grandparents. I flew down to San Ysidro on a Friday evening after work looking for the San Ysidro Multicultural Complex, which I imagined to be some large, magnificent edifice rife with Latin American art and culture. Alas, after spending several minutes driving up and down the street that both Google and Apple maps assured me was the right one, I called Alexis and learned that this "Multicultural Complex" was the run down little auditorium at San Ysidro Middle School (ballin'!) and the term "mariachi festival" was apparently code for "hey, there will be a mariachi band in the building for about an hour while followed by a 'serious band' comprised of a bunch of glorified Mexican wedding singers and you can buy tostadas in the back for a dollar."  It was really more of a gathering and board member recognition for an organization called "Hearts & Hands Working Together." They are a non-profit agency whose primary mission is “to provide food, shoes and clothing to the ‘underserved’ and ‘at risk’ individuals/families, and, refer them to other resources that will lessen the threat for them, in the San Ysidro Community." Wonderful cause, not to wonderful event organization. I did however get to hear a great performance of my favorite mariachi song (Cascabel) and danced to the cumbia jams with my Abuela for the first time since she beat cancer. Priceless.


"Mariachi Festival"


Abuela will cut you.

-Saturday was a pre-birthday day of fun with Alexis and Amanda wherein we spent the day doing a few of my favorite San Diego things. We had Greek for lunch in Hillcrest (mmmmm, gyros), then went to Baked Bear in PB for a delicious dessert (funfetti cookie sandwich with mint chocolate chip ice cream = mouthgasm). We took a walk out onto the pier, which was Alexis' idea, when quickly walked back when Alexis started hyperventilating over her fear of heights. I tried to be helpful by jumping up and down on the pier next to her, which some of you will think was cruel as it makes the pier shake and scare her further. I was only trying to help cure her fear! Gees. Anyway, next we cut back to Liberty Station where we enjoyed a fruit & cheese platter and some delightful wine at Wine Steals. We wrapped it up with a drive down Harbor, my favorite drive in San Diego. To enrich the experience, we blasted M83's "Midnight City." This is my "zen" place- this drive calms me, it invigorates me, it comforts me all at once. There's just something about the lights, the skyline in the distance, the water, the Coronado bridge... it is beauty. Alexis shares my affinity for this drive, so we find a way to fit it in even when it means taking the long way home. Sometimes, you just gotta. 


My birthday present from Alexis and Amanda: it has a cape!!!!


Hillcrest is funny.


Oh yeah... I live in a gorgeous city.


My rare, unpremeditated smile says it all... perfect day.



Terror on the pier. That Vanessa chick was such a jerk for jumping up and down on the pier like that.



October Week 4: Dinners, Parts I and II 
- Birthday Dinner Part I was spent with my three #1s- my mother, father and brother. My birthday is an especially happy occasion because it's only one of a handful of times a year when I can pick one of "my" restaurants, one where in addition to wine, there are things like "braised," "bechamel," and "white wine reduction" on the menu, where pancetta, goat cheese or pine nuts are staples and there is at least one thing on the menun that sounds appaling but tastes like divinity. My father is a simple man who likes simple food like sandwiches and Rubios, and my brother thinks anything culinarily interesting "equals chorro." But on the anniversary of my birth, I get to pick and more importantly- no one makes a face. So: I picked Bencotto Italian Kitchen in San Diego's Little Italy. Twas delightful! in addition to the charm of my either authentically Italian or talented thespian server Giada, the Nebbiolo was delicious and the house-made tagliatelle with the summer sauce was perfection. Plus I was served a cute little tiramisu with a birthday candle in it, and that sh*t was decadent as hell. Aaaaaand they have good lighting. SCORE. 


Mother.



Father.


Brother.


Winer.

- Birthday Dinner Part II was spent with a lovely group of females; you've heard of Daisy, Karina and Jasmine from other blog posts, and I was also joined by Jamy, Heather and Cristal. For this meal, I drove up to LA since my 7am flight the following day was out of LAX. I chose 041 Bacaro in Culver City, an Italian eatery with Venetian influence thatb we stumbled across on a food tour (p.s.- Secret City LA food tours is a great time, look them up!! BYOB party plus plus amazing, lesser-known LA eats. What's not to like?!?). So.... really, I would have been happy with just the lighting. In case you haven't picked up on the obsession, I go gaga for interesting lighting fixtures. I have a particular affinity for chandeliers, and this place serves 'em up big and bright. But in addition to tripping the light fantastic, the food was molto bene. There was meat in a butter sauce, there was a chopped panceta, date and gorgonozola salad, there was gnocchi and branzino and all sorts of mouth-watering deliciousness. The only thing better than the taste bud explosion (and tasty dessert treats from Porto's) was the laughter. It was that amazing, racuous, incontrollable laughter that nourishes the soul and flexes the abdominals, the kind that makes you look crazy unattractive in photos and cements itself in your brain and heart as a treasured memory. I learned that I've been doing myself a disservice in not "washing the top," a shortcut to fabulous second-day hair without washing your entire head of hair. I also learned the many uses of baby powder and its effectiveness in avoiding what I'll just call inter-rack moisture. And on that note, I will take another sip of my wine.


OMG.


My loves.


Ebony and Eggshell.


We heart the vino, and cheekbones.


Jamy demonstrating proper powder application.


D plus V.


Oh... my.

-After very, very little sleep, I woke my butt up at 4am to get ready to fly to Boston... that trip gets its own blog post.