Stories are often prefaced with a conventional beginning when in fact, like people and life, they should begin with a place.

Existentialism began in Paris, in the alleyway between the Café de Flore and the Café des Deux Magots. Dadaism, in Zurich, around the narrow wooden tables of Le Voltaire. The croissant, in Vienna, inside an insomniac baker’s oven. Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, on the terrace of La Closerie des Lilas.

Every story, man, and pastry starts in a place drawn from a celestial hat.

My story began in southern California. I (my personality) did not choose my origin — but it determined the God I would speak to, the passport I would hold, the languages I would speak, the lullabies I would hear, the traditions I would learn and the foods I would be fed.

But origins are not roots, and we are not trees. They are forever condemned to a place; we are meant to find ours.

Long before the world was scribbled on by frontiers, most indigenous people were nomads. They followed wind, stars, and water wells, in search of pasture, prey, or opportunities for trade. Never setting up camp too long, constantly searching for another place.

Centuries, empires, and nations later, we are still searching for our place.

Marco Polo went all the way to Beijing. Christopher Columbus, to Santo Domingo. Phileas Fogg journeyed around the world in a record eighty days to wind up where he started. J.M. Barrie flew to Neverland.

And I, I went to Berlin, where in three rich years I lived a lifetime. To Montalcino to sip a rich, red Brunello, and to Florence to nibble on an aged pecorino. To every boulangerie in Paris to find the best baguette, and every confiserie in Geneva to find the darkest chocolate. To the top of the Rocher de Naye, just for the view. To Barcelona to butcher the Catalan language in a hotel lobby, and to London to read poetry on a bus.

To New York to start writing, and later, to Las Vegas to teach it. To many a conference, and an opera, and to parties, receptions, cafes and pubs, to end the night, like Holly Golightly, eating a croissant in front of a Tiffany’s storefront.

I understand the nomads. The gypsies, the travelers, the wanderers. They are not searching for their place. They, like I, already know it.

I once wrote, where is home? I stated it’s wherever I claimed it to be.

My place is a multitude of experiences that began once upon a time looking out of a window sill.

Nobody can tell you where your place is — it’s up to each of us to find it. It’s where sensations are new, where art pours out of daily life, where everything exists in a rhythmic flow — where you are happy.

Art Lovers Delight

Every city has great buildings, but Chicago is its’ great buildings.  Everything is framed by remarkable architecture and the windy city blew me away.
Although it’s a sports town, which I have no interest in, I was gawking at the stratospheric, glass-floored Willis Tower to Frank Gehry’s swooping silver Pritzer Pavilion to Frank Lloyd Wright’s stained glass Robie House. Whimsical public art studs the streets. I walked along and found an abstract Picasso statue that’s not only cool to look at, but you’re allowed to go right up and climb on it.
For art museums, take your pick: impressionist masterpieces at the massive Art Institute, psychedelic paintings at the mid-sized Museum of Mexican Art or outsider drawings at the small Intuit gallery.
It’s a city where boredom doesn’t exist. And unlike New York, it doesn’t smell and it’s clean. There isn’t a speck of trash downtown and you won’t find those unsightly black trash bags sitting on the sidewalks. What you find on the sidewalks are police. When I asked a policewoman why there were so many officers, adding that the city must be extremely safe or very dangerous, she smiled and told me their presence makes the unwanted elements keep away.
I ventured out on a bike tour to the Pilsen or Mexican neighborhood, and found the street art fascinating; colorful, depicting everything from culture to religion.
I also took a bus ride to Hyde Park home of Barack Obama and where the University of Chicago sits and found a vibrant and rich academic and cultural life.
And of course there were the jazz clubs, where Chicago still sings the blues.
The shopping would make any fashionista dizzy.
And last but not least it’s a foodie panacea. I went to Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill and the cuisine surpassed my expectations but the place that had me coming and going was the impressive Eataly. Chicago is really my kind of town.
Enjoy some of the photos. Your comments are welcome.

Pilsen-Steps to Subway
Pilsen-Steps to Subway
Robie House- Hyde Park
Robie House- Hyde Park

Eataly Eataly

Basement Bookstore Hyde Park
Basement Bookstore
Hyde Park
Ikram Boutique
Ikram Boutique
I was Rapunzel inside The Water Tower
I was Rapunzel inside
The Water Tower
Outdoor Cafe Art Institute
Outdoor Cafe
Art Institute
John Singer Sargent Painting
John Singer Sargent Painting
Edward Hooper
Edward Hooper
Gothic MichiganAve
Chicago River
Eclectic Chicago Tribune Trump Tower
Eclectic Chicago Tribune
Trump Tower
City Skyscrapers
City Skyscrapers
Gothic Church My Best Friends' Wedding Film location
Gothic Church
My Best Friends’ Wedding Film location
Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan
City View from Sears now Willis Tower
City View from Sears now Willis Tower
Starbucks Bottom level
Starbucks Bottom level
Interior Mosaic Ceiling Marshall Fields Dept. Store now Macy's
Interior Mosaic Ceiling
Marshall Fields Dept. Store
now Macy’s
Carbon & Carbide Bldg
Carbon & Carbide Bldg
Interior Chicago Theatre
Interior Chicago Theatre

There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met

William Butler Yeats

Philia, the root of Philadelphia, roughly translates to “brotherly love,” in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, an enduring source for understanding the ethics of friendship. Aristotle identifies three essential bases for friendship: utility, pleasure, and virtue. Friendships of virtue, Aristotle believes, are ideal because only they are based on recognition.

When I lived in New York, I spent a labor day week-end in Philadelphia, with a friend. I had been on the east coast eleven months, and it was an end of summer farewell.

I loved the historical points of interest that I witnessed from my window seat as she drove along the Delaware River. She was half- Irish and half- Philippine and classy in every sense of the word. She had a decade on me, and had lived in Italy, serving as an attaché to some dignitary. I was content to have her be my tour-guide. The view was idyllic and I was mesmerized by the lush beauty and couldn’t get over that the fact that the foliage on the east is a different shade of green than it is on the west.

Friendship had never seemed both more important and less relevant than it did then. Perhaps it was because of the way we met. The concept surfaces primarily when we question whether our networked lives impair the quality of our connections. On a non-theoretical level, adult friendship is its own puzzle. The friendships we have as adults are the intentional kind, if only because time is short.

During that period, I began to consider what is essential in friendship? Why do we tolerate difference and distance? What is the appropriate amount to give?

It was a happy trip; we spent the days in shared recreation, walking or on the water. We explored history and art colonies. Both she and I joked, and advised each other on professional opportunities, personal matters. It made me think; do all friendships have heart, wherein the potential of friendship is a place, real or imagined, that we continue to inhabit even when reality challenges sentiment?

Recently, I thought about that trip, and friendship; when I realized virtue in friendship, lives in action; the ways that we make recognition known in matters that are important.

Aristotle suggests, that friendship is the most immediate form of public personhood; it motivates a person for moral excellence, ennobles us to become a stronger unit for a social whole. And yet, the very material of friendship is the exchange of it. In friendship, sentiment is the relationship. It may have a public aspect, but it is essentially a private exchange. If there has been anything that time has shown me, it’s that friendship remains the special provenance of those who live it.

Friendships grow and change, and get adjusted by degrees that I don’t totally understand. The reassuring thing is that no single law rules over them. Friendship is a return, as variable as we are.

I’ll be taking a break from the blog; see you in September, my friend.

Hot Fun in the Summertime


Summers make me think of my trip to Greece. I couldn’t believe where lies the cradle of civilization it was not possible to have an intelligent conversation, much less a philosophical one. That’s when I figured out that cold climates breed indoor activities and intellectual pursuits such as playing an instrument, classical music, painting, playing board games, doing puzzles, knitting and reading.
Summer is time for conversing and being with family and friends in outdoor activities such as swimming, playing volleyball, picnicking, bike riding, and croquet.
I rather like both but hope to never see snow again in this lifetime but can’t live without the beautiful ocean and lovely lakes.
I favor my winter wardrobe by far, but when I look in the mirror I favor my summer look when hair gets lighter, skin glows and nails grow and grow.
I also like that days get longer. And everyone buzzes around outdoors dining al fresco while life generally gets better because it’s travel time and what can be finer than the experience of giving your mind fresh new ideas? Ya-sas.

Simple Pleasures

FrenchVillageCafeHaving a lemon tree I can’t help but think about France, and there are a few American things (I have to use my imagination) that can put me at a sidewalk café, mid-afternoon, for a pause and some people-watching. One of them is citron pressé.

Some say citron pressé is just a fancy French name for lemonade, but, I disagree. Citron pressé is made to order, by the glass rather than the pitcher. Order this drink at any café in France, and the waiter will bring you a tall glass filled with ice and the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon. Alongside your glass you’ll receive a carafe of cold water, and one, maybe two, sugars. You adjust the water and sugar to taste.

The first time I had citron pressé I was visiting my friend Karen.  It was August 1992 and she was living in Geneva. We had crossed the French border to Annecy. We had spent the afternoon walking around the old city and it was time for a pause. It was humid and I ordered a citron pressé and I was immediately intrigued because I happen to like a tart taste.

Because it is so tart, you have to sip it, which makes the taste, and the pause, last that much longer. Try the recipe below and see if you don’t agree.

4 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Pitcher of chilled water
Granulated sugar

Put a small amount of ice into 2 glasses
Pour 2 oz lemon juice into each glass
Add water and stir in sugar to taste

Makes 2 servings.

Enjoy the airy keyboards, can you hear the sun shining?

London is calling…

Library Feed 004 Library Feed 002

Walking Coco every morning I choose a different path. I can’t tell you how amazed and delighted I was to see this in my neighborhood.

In 2010 I saw a version of the traditional bright red phone booths in England, transformed. Inside shelves had been installed stocked with books, with an opportunity for the reader to choose a book and swap one out. A free public book exchange is not only aesthetic but smart! An obsolete phone box becoming a mini library and at the same time not ruining a history but rather finding a modern feature and alternative use. There isn’t anything about the old merry country that doesn’t resonate with me (well except maybe the food). My life there must have been lean, but pleasant. london