ESSAYS

 
 
Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times

Trust us, you don’t want a reservation at L.A’s hottest new restaurant

NOVEMBER 6, 2016, Los Angeles Times

I am as guilty of culinary speed-dating as anyone: When I come to L.A. these days, a friend scours the food sites, curates a shortlist of the best new restaurants, and off we go. Forget the antiquated notion of being a regular. Even a single return visit seems as passé as an iPhone with an earbud jack.

We’ve yet to venture farther east than the landward side of Lincoln Boulevard — which is to say, we’ve barely made a dent in the available inventory of L.A. hot spots. There’s a bustling food scene downtown, after years of rolling up the sidewalks before dusk. And you have to eat in Highland Park — have to — now that Eater has dubbed a stretch of Figueroa Boulevard there “L.A.’s hippest block.” We no longer crave a specific cuisine; what we want is the place that just opened.

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I vow to not jinx the Cubs by watching even one game

OCTOBER 27, 2016, Chicago Sun-Times

The goat's got nothing on me.

It's 1984 – we all remember 1984 – and I've just moved into a house with the man who in three months will become my husband. He's one of those Cubs fans who can rattle off batting averages and specific plays. Me, I just love the Cubbies. I grew up in Skokie; it was the only option.

We unpack the television set, which sits perched on a tower of boxes, and unwrap the oak wardrobe where all the tee-shirts and sweats are stored. We eat popcorn into the seventh inning, slightly unnerved by the sixth but pretending otherwise. And then, inexorably, inevitably, things start to head south. Denial does not survive the inning. The Cubs are going to do what they always do, and lose.

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Damien Lafargue for The New York Times.

Damien Lafargue for The New York Times.

The icing on the cake

OCTOBER 2, 2013, The New York Times

My mother lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., so packing for a summer 90th birthday visit was easy: Loose linen clothes, a sheet of baking parchment, and a three-ounce bar of Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate because my sister wasn’t sure she’d bought enough.

I was going to bake my mom a birthday cake — the chocolate cake her mother-in-law was known for, called “bachelor bait cake” on the little index card I inherited in a box of family memorabilia. I tormented myself, a little bit, over which cake in my repertoire was the right one; I liked this one because it had history.

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Tony Cenicola for The New York Times.

Tony Cenicola for The New York Times.

My mother’s mink

MARCH 11, 2013, The New York Times

One day my mom simply put the mink coat in a plastic bag, stuffed the bag into a box and shipped it to me. She lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., where she has no needof a calf-length fur in the eight weeks that pretend to be winter, and the mink had become something of a reprimand: Why did she no longer live the kind of life that required a fur coat?

Not an easy question to answer, so she sent it to me, to do with as I wished. Selling it was the obvious choice, but not the easy one. Mom’s coat is one of those things that mattered to my parents enough for them to assume it would matter to their kids; it seemed callous to dump the mink the moment it arrived.

I hung it away until a friend warned me that mink sheds in the summer heat. A day later it took up residence in Macy’s fur storage vault until the following winter, when I found a furrier who trafficked in used fur coats.

It was only four blocks from Macy’s to the furrier, but by the time I arrived I had relived most of the happy mink moments of my youth, snuggling against my mom in the midst of a Chicago winter, inhaling the crisp, cold, dry smell of a sea of minks on an outing to the symphony. How proud my dad was to go into debt to buy my mother that coat; how proud she was to wear it.

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A proper greeting (and it isn't 'Hey')

JANUARY 13, 2013, The Los Angeles Times

Hey, reader.

If you bristle ever so slightly at the presumed familiarity of that salutation, you're almost surely over 40, and you likely grew up well north of the Mason-Dixon line.

If you say "hey" back, the demographic possibilities are a lot broader. Everyone from anywhere who was born after 1980 seems to have adopted this onetime Southern regionalism, as have over-40s who work in a business that uses "trending" as a verb and requires them to stay forever young.

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Reno's retirement

Los Angeles Magazine

I have never been an absolutist about relationships, but four years ago, when we acquired a horse, I was adamant about how this had to end. I told our twelve-year-old daughter that the day she went to college, he would go back to the sale barn he came from, to be sold to the next little girl who was ready to fall in love. A horse was a big financial stretch for us, but we told ourselves we could handle it, in great part because we knew the effort was finite.

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