I get it. I totally get it.

”…a lot of people have written about how he [Bourdain] lived doing all the things they wanted to do (“I wanted his life,” Drew Magary’s eulogy starts) but the more important and equally universal feeling is that of wanting to be more like him—more curious, more confident, more capable, more generous. Traveling the world eating and drinking well and making friends with seemingly everyone you come across does seem like just about the perfect life…”

from Anthony Bourdain Was Who I Wish I Was

As I’ve said on Facebook, I wasn’t a Bourdain fan. I hadn’t seen any of his shows or read any of his books before his death. I vaguely knew of him as a guy doing a food show. It is clear now that he was much more than that, and that I’ve been missing out.

Since his untimely passing I have read many quotes attributed to him and watched season 1, episode 1 of Parts Unknown. I will be watching more.

It was about more than eating. It was about introducing a new place, and new people, and showing that we’re more alike than we are different.

Quote of the Day

“Kids will learn anything they want to learn, anything they have a use for. But to make them learn things they don’t have any use for, you have to send them to school. We need schools to force kids to learn things they have no use for.”

“Which in fact they do not learn.”

“Which in fact, when it’s all over and the last bell rings, they have not learned.”

Daniel Quinn, My Ishmael

An afternoon in DTLA

Sarah and I took the Amtrak to Union Station, where Sarah got to see a site that we had just seen on an episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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and then the Metro to Pershing Square.

First stop, The Last Bookstorewhere we walked around and enjoyed the ambiance (but not the heat) and made a few small purchases. Sarah bought an LP that she’s had her eye on, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book, and a book which I forget the title of at the moment.

I found a copy of The History of the Romanian People for 6 bucks that I couldn’t pass up. There were other treasures to be had, and we will return.

A short walkabout with a couple photos and then to Grand Central Market for a restroom break, and then we snagged a seat at the counter for a late lunch-early dinner at Prawn Coastal. Unfortunately, they had neither the Spicy Scallops or Mac and Cheese which were both things we wanted to try. Sarah ended up with the Thai Lobster Roll and I had the Paella. Both were very good and too much food to eat. Sarah also tried a red wine that I forget the name of, which she didn’t like too much. I had an Expatriate IPA by Three Weavers Brewing Company, which was ok.

We tried to see the inside of the Bradbury Building, but it had closed at 5, so we went on to The Redwood Bar for a much-needed cocktail to wash the taste of bad wine out of Sarah’s mouth. We sat and talked and then decided that we should try to make it back to Union Station for the 6:45 train home. I figured that if we didn’t make it, we could always go to Traxx and have another drink.

Sarah got to see the outside of the building that I work in as we hurried to the Metro station…

We made the train, barely, with the conductor stepping off to close the door and telling us to “Hurry up, we’re leaving!”

We both wished that Aunt Carol had been there with us since she had just gone home last weekend after a wonderful visit, but all in all, a great day.

Quote of the Day

“We’re constantly changed by events going on in our lives. Sometimes they’re cumulative and chip away at our psyche, like yet another bad day at the office, or another smile from a pretty girl that raises our confidence. But occasionally something happens that alters us in the blink of an eye, and we instantly become a different person, for better or for worse.”

from I Just Had to go Back to Di Island by Anthony Bjorklund

Quote of the day

From I’m an Old Commie by Dan Lungu

“Coming home, I took a close look at the block of flats where we live…The block was no longer new like it was when we moved in, deliriously happy. More than 30 years have passed since then and it hadn’t seen so much as a lick of paint in all that time. The walls were peeling, and the corners have been eaten away by the rain. On the wall above a window on the first floor, there was a thick black streak left by smoke. In the winter they’d probably put a wood stove in and stuck the flue out the window. The steps in front of the entrance were chipped and the banisters were bent, rattling to the touch.”

This description took me immediately back to the giant communist era edifices that line Bulevardul Unirii in Bucharest.

It’s a small world, part two

We’re preparing to move from the place that we’ve lived at for over ten years. I received an email from the assistant manager of my current place regarding my lease renewal and made an appointment with her to discuss our move out.

Mihaela Zoltany is her name. I think to myself, “Mihaela is a Romanian name”, but I didn’t know about the surname Zoltany.  I also suspected that “Mihaela” is probably common in other countries as well.

I went to the appointment and met her. The accent was much more obvious this time. I said, “Mihaela. Is that eastern European?”

“I’m from Romania.”

The coincidences are compelling. I need to go back. And I need to get my DNA checked.

 

It’s a small world after all…

I ride the train to and from work. I don’t usually have much interaction with other passengers. Going to work in the morning I usually sleep. Coming home I usually read or put my earphones and watch something on Netflix.

For a couple weeks now, there has been a new regular passenger that boards the train where I do and rides to Union Station. I’ve seen him every morning, but only occasionally on the ride home. Always friendly, he seemed always to want to chat, which is not usually my “thing”. I have my routine, you know?

After a couple weeks of random good mornings on the platform, yesterday morning we chatted on the platform waiting for our train. I had noticed before that he had an accent of some sort that I couldn’t quite place, so I asked him where the accent came from.

He said….

wait for it….

Oh, you already guessed. “I’m from Romania”, he said ( I hadn’t picked that up at all in his accent)

My jaw dropped open. Figuratively. At least I think it was figuratively.

I told him I had been to Romania twice, and his jaw dropped open. Definitely a metaphor this time…he actually did not seem surprised at all. He asked if I had gone for business or pleasure and I answered that it was neither really ( I was thinking of my first visit which was serendipity more than anything) and told him that I would explain another time when I had more time since our train was pulling in.

Of course, as fate would have it, we found ourselves together on the ride home. We sat at the same table and I told him my story of how I had come to visit his country and he told me some of his story.  How he had grown up in Communist Romania and came to the USA some 35 years ago before the Revolution. How he had been prepared to go back and fight at that time. How he had been involved in church missions to go back and help the street kids in Bucharest for some time. We talked about some of the history of his country, the people, the places, and the food. He seemed genuinely surprised that I liked sarmale and mămăligă and promised that he would bring me some the next time he prepared it (or the holidays, whichever comes first).

Before I knew it, we arrived at our stop, shook hands and wished each other a good weekend. I’m sure we will talk again and I look forward to it.

My new Romanian friend.