Los Angeles:


Each time I go to LA, I fall more and more in love with that wonderful, sprawling city. You might recall my disillusionment the first time I went, when I was shocked that there weren’t studio actors on parade, when all the buildings that had stood in the heyday of Hollywood were gone, when there was nothing at all like I imagined. Eventually I realized that it wasn’t 1939 and that Hollywood had moved on. When I understood this, I learned to love Tinseltown. Now, there is nothing better than the occasions I get to spend in the City of Angels. My cousin and I spent a couple days there last week, and I felt at home immediately. I understand the city’s vanity, the façade of reality, the intoxicating nearness of fame. It speaks to me in ways that are terribly selfish, but that’s why I love it so much. There are few things nicer than hiking up Runyon Canyon and admiring all the pretty people and the beautiful city.


From the top of Runyon Canyon — well almost — looking out towards the Pacific.




I did almost everything I love to do in my favorite American city. I can’t go to LA without popping by Schwatz’s Bakery to get my favorite black and white cookie and talk in terrible Yiddish with the elderly woman behind the counter. A night in Hollywood is not a night worth remembering without stopping by Musso & Frank’s for a gin martini or two. And there are few places I like to aimlessly wander more than the streets of West Hollywood between Beverly and Melrose. I spend hours walking, daydreaming, and it’s just fabulous. There is nowhere on this continent that I feel more at ease or myself than Los Angeles. I already miss it terribly. Maybe I’ll go back for the summer. I think that would be a fabulous idea.



One of my favorite places to go when I’m out West is Ross. We have Marshall’s here in Iowa, which is literally the same thing, but there is something magical about a Hollywood Ross. They seem to have a better selection of nice clothes, and I’m a total ho for a bargain. Unless it’s already affordable, like most things available at Forever 21, I will not buy clothes unless they’re discounted. So, Ross is a kind of heaven for me. Everything is cheap. And if it’s not cheap, it’s still cheap when compared to the original retail price. Last week when I was in Los Angeles, I found the most beautiful blue shirt with little circles on it. From a distance, it appeared like one of my favorite shirts that Harry Styles wore once that is light blue and covered in little stars. Tell me that this isn’t true.





So, of course I had to make it mine. It’s Perry Ellis, and it only cost $14, so I was turnt up for a steal. There were several other shirts that were stunning, but they were either way too small or way too big for even tailoring to ever hope to fit. So, I was stuck with a limited selection, but I was endlessly happy with my shirt. Wandering through the rest of the shop, I dreamed of decorating my future Hollywood apartment with gorgeous little things available at a huge discount. There were gilded mirrors and frames and glasses that were lined in copper and fabulous sheets and bags and so much. I wanted everything. But, I only had a carry on to take with me back home and it was already nearly stuffed to bursting, so I had to let so many wonderful things live only in my memory. Someday I’ll go buy them all and drive them to my lovely apartment – hopefully located in West Hollywood between Beverly Boulevard and Melrose and between Fairfax and La Brea. That’s a wide swath of land to choose from, so there will have to be something in there reasonably priced for me when I should ever have the opportunity. Oh, reader, picture it! Me in Hollywood every day sipping a kale smoothie and studying ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs at UCLA while wearing short shorts. Won’t that be fabulous? And I’ll be decked out in Ross bargains and surrounded by Ross knickknack. It’ll be heavenly.

Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner:


Many moons ago, I assumed that I had been slipped some kind of hallucinogenic drug because I was reading the most peculiar articles on the internet. It was written that my beloved Martha Stewart and my dear Snoop Dogg were partnering up to cohost a late night show where they would cook and giggle and talk to their celebrity friends. I, like most sane people, no longer believe much of anything I read on the internet, so I was wary of this idea. But then Martha and Snoop both started to Tweet and Instagram about the show and it was all so very real. I was over the moon with joy, which was and remains necessary, since we were in the throes of that horrible election where my hero, Hillary was betrayed by the electoral college and by white people. I’m still bitter and I will always be bitter about it. But I’m not bitter about this show, reader, because I haven’t laughed so much in many a month. I don’t know what I really expected it to be, but the day that I saw a promo clip where Martha took a martini shaker the size of a two-year-old into a souped -p car that shakes the martini for her, I knew this is everything I ever wanted out of life. It was the most chic thing I have ever seen.

And then, it was finally time for the show. And reader, it is madcap and glorious. Snoop and Martha play perfectly off each other, as those of us who have long loved the strange duo knew, and they enhance the absurdities of the other. The conversations are wild, the guests look just as delightfully confused by the absurdity of the show, and the whole thing just works in ways that don’t make any sense. As you watch, you think that this is what drugs must feel like. You feel detached from reality. You get a sense of marvelous delirium. This show is now my savior. Tune in every week, dear reader. I hope they have a million seasons.

Semester’s End:


I know that I write about this every time the semester comes to a close, but I have a good feeling that I will do the same until the day I take my last class and have a doctorate in Egyptology. Oh god. I want to sleep for a million years at the thought of all the work that’s going to take. But that’s a great distance from now. There are two more weeks in this semester and then I will be free for winter break. I am so excited that I can barely put my enthusiasm into words. And I can’t really put that into words because I am so tired. Reader. I am so tired. Like so tired. Like I can’t even tell you how tired I am. My body feels like it has shut down, and that’s not because of multiple sclerosis. I’m accustomed to that now. I am just so exhausted after my daily routine. I’ve lectured you all about it before, but I’m going to do it again. I wake up at six o’clock after hopefully five hours of sleep. I scurry about the house to get ready for work. I work until 3:30. I hurry home so that I can go for a walk and try to keep my body from totally falling apart. Then I cook and eat dinner and dream about going to bed. But instead I have to clean my house before it collapses. Or I’ll ignore those chores and feel bad about myself and spend hours on my coursework for this semester. Inevitably, each week I will think, “This won’t take too long!” And then suddenly it’s one o’clock in the morning and I’m only halfway done and then I want to cry and sleep for a week to recharge myself. In all likelihood that is never going to happen. Does everybody feel this way? I assume so. At least I’ll have nearly three weeks of only work and exercise and cleaning. That’ll have to be my vacation. Ugh.

Pammel Grocery & Deli:


Have you ever found a place that shouldn’t exist? I don’t mean that it doesn’t have a right to exist, but that its very existence is just too peculiar to be true? This has happened to me a few times on my strange journey through life. Most shockingly was Egyptian Treasures in Des Moines. Why on earth was there a shop filled to the brim with ancient Egyptian trinkets, papyrii, and a convivial man from Cairo sitting in the middle of Iowa? By all stretches of the imagination it doesn’t make sense. But it was real, and it made a profound impact on my burgeoning passion for broken pottery in the Sahara. And then, why on earth was there a Theosophical Society still going on two minutes from my cousin’s house in California. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen. Pammel Grocery in Ames, Iowa, strikes a similar chord of confusion and joy for me. I can understand why it exists though, unlike Egyptian Treasures. Pammel Grocery is a restaurant and shop catering to the many ethnicities that attend Iowa State University. It’s focused primarily on Middle Eastern, African, and Asian cuisine, which suits me right down to the ground, dear reader. For whatever reason, they serve Ful Medames at the restaurant, and the presence of this basic Egyptian dish leaves me gobsmacked. I haven’t found Ful, that wonderful combination of fava beans and herbs, anywhere but Luxor and Cairo. And here it was thirty minutes from my front door. The Universe is strange, reader. It works in unsettling ways. I had a lovely time dipping my baladi into the Ful, and then Jessica had a strange experience all of her own. Sitting in the refrigerator was something she has been hunting down since we last were in Europe. She has looked in all the grocery stores in Des Moines and elsewhere, but here, tucked on a nondescript shelf in the middle of a tiny shop in a strip mall was her beloved Halloumi cheese. This startled us both, reader. We were both incredibly happy by the evening. Go find a shop to make your dreams come true!

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