This week better be boring & the LA Times Festival of Books

Oh friends, so much has happened since the last time we spoke. Last week was one of the most chaotic weeks I’ve had in a long time. I had a pretty crummy week outside of the bombings on Monday is Boston. In addition, the whole Watertown standoff actually took place 2 blocks from one of my closest friend’s homes. I was totally on edge all day Friday and was so happy when the police were able to arrest the suspect alive. As happy as I was, the whole situation left me feeling bizarrely homesick and emotional on Saturday. I know it’s weird to say you want to be in a place where tragedy is unfolding. I have so many friends left in Boston. I love the city so much. I moved there by choice when I was 18 and I didn’t leave for lack of love.

Compared to what everyone in Boston went though, how I feel is almost nothing. I tried to spend time just snuggling this baby and tried to keep myself busy.

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In an effort to distract myself, I decided to hit up the LA Times Festival of Books on Sunday. I’ve always wanted to go but for the past three years I’ve had finals around this time and just never got it together to go. I definitely needed the distraction on Sunday to pull me out of my funk so I decided to trek to enemy territory (aka USC) to check out the festival.

So here’s the deal: the festival is free (after you pay $10 parking). There are booths with authors, book stores etc. all over the campus. Then there are various stages hosting free events with various authors (more on that later) and finally there are “conversations” on various topics throughout the festival. The conversations only cost $1 to attend! I was perusing the list of speakers and I saw a panel on Guns in America. The panel featured a UCLA Law professor whose class I never took but whose writing I’ve followed, Adam Winker, and Constitutional Law all star Erwin Chemerinsky. The panel was rounded out by Paul Barrett.

The conversation was very interesting. It only went for 1 hour but I wished it went for two. Professor Winkler started by talking about the history of gun regulation and gun culture. Then the discussion turned to the history and interpretation of the second amendment and the gun regulations that just failed to make it out on Congress. The whole discussion was very fascinating and enlightening. All of their books are going on my must read list.

After the panel I made my way to the food trucks. I quickly decided to grab a pork belly burrito from the White Rabbit Truck which serves Vietnamese food. I sat in the glorious sunshine and ate this delicious burrito.

After lunch I walked around in the sun, checked out the booths and bought some discount books.

I managed to snag some awesome books including the Tartine cookbook! I was actually at Tartine 1 week ago (separate post) and I am pumped to dig into the book.

After about an hour of aimless wandering I made my way to the cooking stage. Ludo Ludebvre was doing a cooking demonstration out of his new book Ludo Bites. Ludo is known for his tiny restaurants and pop up dining. I’ve blogged about it before, but I am a huge fan of the Ludo Truck. Ludo made smoked veal tartar.

Don’t know that I’ll be smoking veal tartar in my kitchen anytime soon but it was great to see Ludo work. He made his own mayonnaise which seemed really easy with the help of a food processor. He also said that he could change the recipe from veal to tuna, which I would consider doing. I’m just not too keen on cooking veal. He also did a Q and A after the demonstration. Ludo really likes to cook with butter. Can you blame him? I love French food and his new restaurant Trois Mec is now on my must try list.

Overall, I had a really nice time at the book festival. I wish I had planned more in advance and attended more of the conversations! I highly recommend checking out this event next year if you didn’t this year.

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For Boston.

It’s been a hard day.

Almost 9 years ago in the summer of 2004 I made my first trip to Boston. I remember vividly stepping off the T at Hynes Convention Center and into the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. It was love at first sight. A year later I moved to Boston to attend Simmons College.

As a student I would walk though the city and want to pinch myself. The city of Boston is a truly beautiful place: the cobblestone streets, green grass in the Public Garden, and even the dirty water in the Charles River. I learned all the streets, restaurants, and bars. I studied in the Boston Public Library and shopped in Copley Plaza. I attended Trinity Church and practiced yoga at Bikram Yoga Copley Square. I ate my graduation lunch at Stephanie’s just off Copley Square. Without a doubt, my favorite weekend in Boston was Patriots Day. Usually the weather is beautiful, the Red Sox are playing, people are out and about. Patriot’s day is a holiday and we would always be out and about watching the race. Hell, when I lived in Back Bay I lined Boylston Ave. a block from the explosions and watched the race. Patriot’s Day is the best day of the year in Boston.

A few years later I began running and fell in love with the marathon distance. For those who run, you know the Boston Marathon the way that I do. It’s a runner’s Holy Grail. You have to qualify in order to run. It’s the oldest marathon. It’s a marathon that Katherine Switzer integrated for women in the 1960’s. As a runner the Boston Marathon is a big deal but as a former Bostonian and runner, it holds a special place for me.

That’s why today has been a traumatic day. I wasn’t in Boston but this attack feels intensely personal.

We run marathons to test the human body and spirit. After months of training we take on the challenge of a 26.2 mile course. By the end, with the finish line in sight, we push ourselves with the knowledge that the people who love us and support us are at the finish line. Finishing a marathon is an emotional experience. So much goes into the race and the high at the end is unparalleled.

Seeing the terror at the finish line, blocks from my former home is horrifying and saddening. I cannot see or hear about the trauma occurring to the victims without getting emotional. I cannot hear stories from witnesses referencing parts of Boston I love without getting emotional. I know that if I were still living in Boston I would have been out watching.

However, I am not surprised at reports of runners continuing running from the finish line to Mass General to give blood. I am not surprised at many of my friends posting that they have beds open for those who have nowhere to go. Luckily, everyone I know is safe. Seeing the outpouring of love today has helped make a difficult day a little bit less difficult.

Marathons are about communities coming together to support runners and the idea that amazing feats are possible. Marathons are about celebrating achievement and hard work. They are overwhelmingly happy occasions. I don’t know what else to say. I love Boston. I love marathons. I hold the great hope that the city and the running community will rally around those injured and the families of those killed and the Boston Marathon will be great again.

“Triumph over adversity that’s what the marathon is all about. Nothing in life can’t triumph after that” -Kathrine Switzer