LJ: I woke up at 8 in the morning and it was chilly in my bedroom and, even indoors, you could feel the autumn in the air. I thought it was romantic.
I made myself a Bodum-ful of terrible coffee. I honestly make the worst coffee. It’s a real chore to force it down.
I am avoiding gluten right now because my stomach is fucked all the time and it seems like the thing to do. I also already don’t eat dairy, because I’m lactose-intolerant, so that’s fun.
For breakfast I ate two different gluten-free cereals mixed together: one was Nature’s Path vanilla poppyseed grain-free whatever, which is crunchy and seedy and wonderful, and the other one is kinda bullshit, I don’t know its name and never will. It’s nothing. I enjoyed this melange of breakfast cereals with my favourite brand of coconut milk yogurt, “Maison Riviera,” which is a ridiculous name for a dairy-free yogurt brand. It sounds like the name of a drag queen whose schtick is being a parody of a French person.
I always eat breakfast while doing the New York Times crossword. The Monday crossword is so easy a damn cat could do it.
I quit smoking and juuling and everything but I’m too lazy to go through nicotine withdrawal so I’m constantly popping nicotine lozenges. I guess I “eat” them. I think it’s very charming of me. I like thinking about the story of my life and flashing back to a picture of my nineteen-year-old self chain-smoking cigarettes, you would see it and think, “Oof, this girl is going to have to quit smoking one day; she’s not doing much to make that very easy on herself,” and then you’d cut to a scene of today me covertly shaking my blue plastic vial of Nicorette things over my palm in the middle of hanging out with someone, or at work, and you’d think, “Oh, wow, she did it. But she’s still that same person.”
I ate a stupid protein bar before going for a run. I impulse-bought a box of these “plant-based energy bars” in the flavour “nutbutter superfood with baobab” without having tasted one, and it turned out I didn’t like them, so it’s been a real hassle, getting through the box. But today I ate my last bar, which was a real victory. On the bar wrapper it says “Crashproof your day!”— ridiculous. I do not consider my day “crashproofed” because I absently fed myself that nothing piece of garbage.
In the afternoon I had therapy and engaged in my classic post-therapy ritual of going to Whole Foods and spending an absurd amount of money on a salad I’ve thrown together out of an assortment of non-complimentary ingredients from the salad bar. For no reason, today’s salad was moderately more composed than usual. I used arugula as the base and my major takeaway from eating that salad was that arugula is beautiful— so elegant, and very self-confident for a leaf. My cacophonous salad was disrespectful to arugula.
I was tired but had missed my coffee-drinking window for that day (I don't drink coffee after 3 PM) so I drank a lemon iced tea and then went to Pilot for a Cascara Tea, which is my new fav non-alc. Cascara Tea is also called Coffee Cherry Tea, which is a lovely word-order, and is made out of coffee bean skins. They have it on tap at Pilot and it’s kind of fizzy. Also tannic & floral & caramelly.
I got to work and ate a peach. I drank San Pellegrino all night. Near the end of service I ate another stupid all-natural protein bar: it wasn’t very good. What I liked about this protein bar was that its flavour name was Sticky Squirrel, and I am simply not the kind of non-idiot who could ever say no to a thing named Sticky Squirrel. The thing tasted mostly of molasses, a flavour I don’t love.
Before I left work I ate two mini saucisson secs, which are complimentary to my aesthetic. They are a food I would very much like to be seen eating.
I came home and drank a glass of chilled Beaujolais-Villages. I thought Beaujolais was going to be my thing for September but, mid-glass, I’m realizing I’m kind of over it now.
LIZ: I woke up in the Valley! My boyfriend Scott lives in Lake Balboa and had already left for the day, to meet a friend for breakfast at Lovi's Deli in Calabasas. In a cute kickoff to Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet week, I rolled out of bed to a text from Scott sharing his breakfast order with me: coffee, Greek omelette, sesame bagel, fruit, and "some of my friend's giant blueberry muffin." I drank a glass of water & transcribed an interview with a riot grrrl-ish songwriter woman who told me the touchstones for her new album are "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle, "More Than a Feeling" by Boston, and "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton, all of which I deeply support.
I got myself together and went to get breakfast at a place in Van Nuys called Heart's Coffee Shop, which I found by Googling "old diners in the san fernando valley." Heart's was a ghost town and I sat at the counter. For my breakfast I ordered scrambled eggs & sausage links and asked for a biscuit instead of toast, but you're not allowed to get a plain old biscuit at Heart's- it's biscuits-and-gravy, or no biscuit at all. All I really wanted was to jab my butter knife into the crinkly little packet of Smucker's strawberry preserves and then slather it onto some halfway-decent hunk of biscuit. But I went along with the biscuits-and-gravy plan anyway, because what are you going to do? The biscuits came up first and they were incredibly overwhelming, two fat biscuit-islands in a big sea of gravy. I ate one and then my scrambled eggs & sausage, which were good and greasy and plump and slick. The coffee was weak and blah in that perfect diner-coffee way, I drank 5,000 cups of it.
As I ate I read that special Charles Manson issue of Life, an impulse purchase at CVS, as part of a half-baked plan to make my Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet vaguely Once Upon a Time in Hollywood-themed (spoiler: I FAILED). I'd hoped for Heart's to be a weird cozy time-travel-y experience, but there was some creepy undercurrent to the whole situation- which partly had to do with being the lone customer at a creaky old diner in the middle of nowhere, but is mostly my fault for reading murder magazines at breakfast. My bill came to $12.45 for a massive amount of food, and I paid up and went to a Starbucks in Sherman Oaks to do more work. At Starbucks I drank a grande iced coffee, with a splash of half & half.
Then I went home and finished a work thing and then I went to the gym, where I drank my bottle of lemon water and listened to Starcrawler and JPEGMAFIA and Plague Vendor and Vanilla Fudge- their "You Keep Me Hangin' On" cover, from the soundtrack to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. After the gym I went to California Market, a humungo Korean grocery store near my apartment. In the seafood section they sell whole octopus and I almost bought one, mostly for the novelty of buying an octopus. But then I came to my senses, and got a bunch of veggies and lots of the little freshly packaged treats, like lotus root and radish kimchi and those yummers bean sprouts they give you as banchan. I went home and made a stir-fry thing with Chinese broccoli and baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms and tofu and red onions and some of the kimchi + bean sprouts tossed in. It was fine, a B+ at best. Did you read that thing Adam Platt wrote about Sweetgreen and how everyone in New York is a salad zombie? Sometimes I worry I'm a stir-fry zombie. One day my life will be lovelier and I'll learn to cook grand things like paella and arroz con pollo and coq au vin and carbonara, but for now I'm just slightly a cut above all those Sweetgreen weirdos.
Tuesday, September 10th
LJ: I woke up too early, very hungry, and ate my same breakfast as yesterday, only the vanilla poppyseed flavour granola has been swapped out for a caramel pecan from the same brand. Breakfast is pretty much the only meal I ever eat at home. What can I say? I'm just a fast-paced CrossFitting sommelier on the go.
In the early afternoon I went to a white Burgundy tasting at Paris Paris. Krysta gave me a cup of filter coffee in a seventies floral mug: it was a perfect cup of coffee. But from a wine person perspective, drinking a cup of coffee right before a wine tasting is not the most sensible move. I swished like sixteen glasses of water around my mouth to fix my numbed-out coffee-tongue and it seemed to do the trick. I tasted a lot of wonderful wine and I spat it all out because I’m a champion and didn’t want to ruin myself for CrossFit later. We had a bunch of Meursault back vintages: one of them reminded me of soggy canned green beans, another was a vanilla cupcake. One of them tasted like the smell of walking into a chain Italian restaurant in the shopping mall closest to my house when I was a kid: “salty Parmesan rind,” I said aloud, so as not to be disrespectful.
The two wines that stuck with me most were a couple of cheapies: a 2016 Haute-Cotes de Beaune that tasted like hot smashed apple, made me think of the word ‘tawny’ and rust-coloured corduroy, going to this apple farm I used to go to on school trips as a child, in early October, a cup of Styrofoam cup of warm apple cider and the air smells like Hallowe’en. And a sweet, humble Bourgogne Aligote: “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” is my joke about Aligote. It tasted like Yellow Raspberry Jelly.
I ate a piece of prosciutto at the wine tasting.
I took myself out for lunch at Fresh and wrote the words Yellow Raspberry Jelly down in my notebook and tweeted the words Yellow Raspberry Jelly. I read from a book by Julia Child and it felt a touch sacrilegious eating my yuppie health food while she wrote about “the winey brown promise of rosy dark meat,” and so on. But, you know, whatever. I am a wine writer who is also the sommelier at a French restaurant. There are a lot of people in the world who are doing a way shittier job of honoring Julia Child’s legacy than this guy.
I had a Goddess bowl, which was: steamed baby bok choy, swiss chard, kale & broccoli, house-made taberu rayu (I don’t know what this is. I copy and pasted this description from the Fresh website), ginger chili tempeh, pickled ginger (the pickled ginger I could have lived without, even though I love ginger, it was a bit much here), sunflower nori gomashio (idk), and tahini sauce, on brown rice. I dribbled hot sauce all over everything. It was perfect. I haven’t eaten proper dairy in so long, and the tahini sauce was like this illicit hit of creaminess. It was such a soft, sunny, warm, nourishing meal: it gave my poor, troubled stomach a hug.
I also had a Green Detox smoothie, which was blueberry, apple, lemon, ginger, coconut water, kale, spinach and banana. A+ use of ginger on this one.
In the afternoon I had a shot of apple cider vinegar to calm my nightmare stomach. I listened to the last two minutes of the Donovan song “Bert’s Blues” over and over again, and went to CrossFit, where I did Russian step-ups and kneeling overhead presses and ran 1 KM and did a Tabata thing of 6 rounds of overhead thrusts, weighted step-ups, and box jumps. Box jumps are my favourite. You squat down deep and your arms help lift you into a nice jump onto a wooden box. You stick your landing like a gymnast, squeeze your glutes, and swagger down off the box like you are a hot shit gangster chewing chewing tobacco. A thing I love about CrossFit is how often it forces you to jump. When you are a kid you jump all the time, but when you’re an adult you never really jump.
After CrossFit I had a peanut butter banana protein shake with almond milk: you buy them from the CrossFit gym, and they are amazing. Then I went over to my friend’s house and we drank some kooky cider and split a decadent bottle of Franciacorta, which tasted like cream soda and vanilla Juul pods. So much vanilla wine today.
He made us a peach and kale salad. I did not drink enough water.
LIZ: At home in the morning I drank two cups of coffee I made pour-over style, with the gooseneck kettle I bought after I moved into my new apartment. I worked and worked and then went to get food at Sqirl, using the Sqirl gift card Jen May got for me when she came to visit in July. Sqirl is a 100% Strawberry Fields Whatever-beloved institution; when LJ was here in January we got lunch at Sqirl like 2 hours after she landed, and guess who was sitting next to us? Sally Draper! The star of so many Strawberry Fields Whatever Mad Men recaps. On Tuesday I got the Crispy Disco, which was LJ's order on Sally Draper Sqirl Day: a beautiful dish of crispy brown rice and an over-easy egg and mint and cilantro and scallion and "lacto-fermented hot sauce"- and also supposedly avocado and sausage, except there was no avocado and sausage in mine, which didn't really hit me until the moment of typing this sentence? Whatever: it was perfect, punchy and tangy and textually wow. I held off on letting the egg yolk ooze all over the rice and when I finally did it was a real showstopper moment. To drink I got a Ginger Lemon Fizz and it was all fizzy and frothy and the ginger created a cool dust over the big chunky ice cubes. I also bought a piece of vegan coconut loaf to go.
Then I went to stupid Starbucks, the Atwater Village one, and did some work and drank a hot mint tea and a grapefruit Spindrift. At home I made myself the same stir-fry thing as Monday night, and had a cup of whatever bottle of Sauvignon Blanc happened to be in my fridge at the time. Later in the night I ate my slice of vegan coconut loaf, which had a cute little lineup of caramelized figs along the crust. I wanted to be madly in love with my vegan coconut loaf; I even ate it while reading The King's Daughter Who Could Never Get Enough Figs from Italo Calvino's Italian folk tales collection, in hopes of having some kind of life-changing fig-based revelation. Instead it was just a nice snack. The most exciting part of the whole scene was that my next-door neighbor- who always listens to everything psychotically loud, in a way that I relate to and heavily condone- was blasting the hell out of Norman Fucking Rockwell! all night long. I haven't properly listened to that album yet but it was a good way to absorb it for the first time: shamelessly blaring from the bedroom of someone I've never met, muffled and distorted by the ambient sounds of the L.A. night. I give it a 10.0.
Wednesday, September 11th
LJ: A rich and wonderful day.
I slept in wildly late and booked it to a wine tasting. I drank an iced Yerba Mate on the way. I tasted a bunch of stuff— the standout for me was Martha Stoumen’s Post-Flirtation, a wine I’d wrongfully dismissed for being all hype and no hustle, but I was proved wrong. It was vibrant and adorable. I ate some cornichons.
My boss and I went out for a cute lunch at Aloette. I let up on myself a little and ate a tomato salad and steak frites: the steak was gnarly. Gristly & overcooked, but what the fuck did I care? I'm in it for the frites.
I had a glass of sparkling Pinot Gris and one of Loire Valley Cabernet Franc, then went to CrossFit with wine-stained teeth. It was no problem. I was looser than usual, made jokes during class, and made a friend. I was very eager to help my friend, who was newer to CrossFit than I am. I went very far out of my way to make her feel supported and comfortable. It is so scary and embarrassing to be new at CrossFit and even though getting yourself through that bleak dark part of it makes you feel like even more of a badass in the end, it is a relief when a benevolent pal chips in to help.
As I was walking out of the CrossFit gym I ran into my friend who had a bottle of sake in his pocket. He told me to drink all the water out of my water bottle and then he filled it up with sake for me. I really liked my life at that moment.
I had dinner at Montgomery’s. It is so chic and weird there. The dining room is dark and white-walled with a neon purple altar in one corner, I think there is a plastic ET statue in the altar, and there are bunches of dried herbs and flowers hanging off the ceiling. And the bathroom there is my favourite restaurant bathroom in Toronto: it feels like the bathroom at a haunted summer camp swimming pool, and you push a pedal with your foot to make the sink work.
Erin and I drank a bottle of Durrmann Riesling de Schistes which was murky & lemonadey while still maintaining palpable varietal character. Also their labels are really just the best-looking labels around.
We ate little pickles and perfect bread with dandelion butter, dairy cow salami, tomato salad (double tomato salad day!), duck breast with daikon, and a beautiful piece of trout, which was so creamy and tasted like sea air. The food was simple and cerebral, peaceful and bizarre.
I bought a sparkling water at 7-11 on my way home and everyone in line at the 7-11 was being goofy: we were all pestering each other to sign up for 7-11 points; the guy behind me was the leader of the joke and said, “Come on! Just get the points!” as I was paying. I said, “Next time!” and the cashier said, “You won’t do it next time” and we were all like “Oooh, shots fired.” Then it turned out the guy who spearheaded the whole joke didn’t have points either, which was a real twist ending.
LIZ: In the morning I drank some coffee and worked on some work, at my kitchen table, where I always work when I'm at home. And then in the late morning I went over to Sophie's house and we walked down to The Guest House on Hillhurst for a work date, and I got a tall glass of cold brew. I was hungry but I didn't want to waste my life on some whatever-y avocado toast, even though I like avocado toast, and I'm sure the Guest House avocado toast is totally aces. [A quick avocado-toast digression: when Jen was here in July we went to Moby's restaurant after standing behind Alia Shawkat in line at the Hollywood Farmers Market, and I ordered avocado toast and ate some of Jen's vegan croissant dabbed in vegan maple butter, and I still think about it so much. As Jen pointed out, all the proceeds from Moby's restaurant go toward animal-rights charities, so we don't have to feel gross about eating there, it's fine. Also- remind me to tell you about the time I swiped a jar of weed butter from Moby at a white-elephant party 5,000 years ago.]
By the time I finished my cold brew I felt like it had corroded my insides and my soul. The amount of coffee I drink is loathsome, I resent it. We left The Guest House and on the way home I stopped at La Pergoletta and bought a sandwich called "The Tonnarello" (Italian tuna, mayo, capers, olives + lettuce on baguette-type bread), plus a can of Diet Coke and a bag of salt + vinegar chips. I took it home and was charmed by the checkered paper and liked the sandwich just fine: again, nothing revelatory.
In the afternoon I talked on the phone to a glorious woman who's a pop star and a movie star and a lovely firecracker to boot; later on I went for a run then drove up to the Valley to hang out with Scott, and we got takeout from a Mediterranean place near his house. I picked some combo platter based on the fact that the description included the words chicken tenders shaped like leaves and of course I'm going to fall for that- such poetry! Really it was just normal-ass grilled chicken and rice and a wimpy little wilted salad plus some pita bread & hummus, and I loved it. Any chicken + rice scene is a dream in my book. Probably my fave Carole King lyrics of all time are:
In February it will be
My snowman's anniversary
With cake for him & soup for me
Happy once, happy twice
Happy chicken soup with rice
Speaking of! Did you know that John Mulaney's next special was partly modeled after Really Rosie?? Also also also: in John Mulaney's cover story in the new issue of Esquire there's a picture of him eating sausage + eggs at the Dominican diner I wrote about in my Wolf Parade Vacation edition of the Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet from three springtimes ago, Reben Luncheonette, the place in Brooklyn with the milkshake-y drink whose name means "to die dreaming." Look how dashing he is:
So yeah Scott and I also got baklava from the Mediterranean place. It wasn't nearly as good as the baklava we'd gotten as takeout from the Indian place a few nights before, but all baklava is pure delight, like Christmas trees and dogs. I also drank some of the Sauvignon Blanc I'd bought on Sunday night when we went out for pizza at the beautiful basic Italian restaurant in Topanga Canyon, which apparently just closed forever? So tragic & fucked. All beautiful basic Italian restaurants should be protected historic sites from here on out.
Thursday, September 12th
LJ: Back to work! And back on my bullshit, with a gluten-free vegan protein bar cookie for breakfast. And coffee.
I had an iced matcha tea on my way to work. I buy them constantly, at a place I will not name, from the rudest, most unpleasant barista on the planet. The drink cost $3.95 and I gave her $4. As she was putting my money in the till I threw some other change into the tip dish. It made an audible clanking sound. She handed me my nickel back, and I pointed at the tip dish to say "Throw it in the tip dish." She said, "I don't want a nickel," and put the nickel back in the till. I think she is a horrible person.
At my restaurant the kitchen is very generous about feeding us whatever whenever. I usually just ask them for “some sort of meat & veg vibes” and try to eat early in the day so I won’t be hungry and cranky when it gets busy. I become very curt and rude to my fellow humans when I want to eat but can’t. The kitchen gave me a seared slice of beef & jalapeno terrine on a piece of toast (the toast I mostly ignored, since my stomach was still a bit jumbled up), and a side of sautéed carrots, green beans and chard. As soon as I lifted the fork to my mouth, the restaurant got fucking LIT. It was one of those days where every time I ever tried to do one thing, another five things would happen, and I never got the first done, ever. It took me two hours to finish my plate of food, and because it was just a bite here and there, I never felt full up. I was hungry all day. I ate two sugar snap peas, and tasted some wine with a wine agent. My friend came in to eat a burger and I had two bites of his burger. At 5 PM I ate six mini saucisson secs because if I didn’t I was going to kill somebody.
I went to CrossFit. Our main workout was twenty minutes to complete four rounds of 10 dumbbell burpees, 10 dumbbell clean and presses, 20 weighted squats, and 10 of these stupid things called Rocking Chairs that I sucked at, where you squat and then roll back into a hollow hold and then roll back up forward and into a squat. I somehow completed the four rounds. (Side note: the other day I was wondering why burpees are called burpees, the ugliest name in the world, and I found out it’s because the guy who invented them had the last name Burpee. True story! His name was Royal H. Burpee. What a horrific, game-changing contribution he made to this world.)
After CrossFit I went to Bunner’s, the gluten-free vegan bakery that just opened up on the corner of Dundas & Oss. I had a double chocolate muffin and a blueberry seltzer/juice thing. I was so excited about the muffin that I immediately started crafting a plan around how I could incorporate eating the highest possible amount of Bunner’s muffins into my life over the course of the next few days. The blueberry drink was a better idea in theory then in practice: it was a bit simpering for an adult’s palate. It was more meant for a child.
I came home and had two glasses of a Verdejo that I feel very strongly about. And a few spoonfuls of chocolate soy yogurt before bed.
LIZ: I woke up to find the dog had gotten into the bubblegum. Ideally I would've come downstairs to see him lounging on the couch, boredly flipping through a copy of Vanity Fair, blowing bubbles and acting smart. Instead there were just gum wrappers and torn-up gum pieces all over the floor, and I cleaned it all up and went on my merry way. I stopped at Peet's in Tarzana or something and got a coffee and did some work; across from me there was a pack of like 12 or 13 old men all in a big unruly gang, taking up about five tables and loudly talking shit. I loved them. I can't wait till I'm an old man and I just hang out talking shit with my buddies all day, drinking coffee and reading the paper. I was jealous of them but I put my head down and wrote a press release for the glorious woman from yesterday, then I left and drove down Ventura and pulled off into some strip mall cuz I liked this cursive:
At Bea's I bought a cherry danish, in tribute to the time Peggy Olson was sexually frustrated by Pete Campbell's fantasy of shooting a deer & eating it for supper, then I put the danish in my bag and drove off back down Ventura. I really wanted a classic L.A. health-food adventure, in an "alfalfa sprouts & plate of mashed yeast" sort of vein, and ultimately made the questionable decision to get lunch at Native Foods on the UCLA campus, aka the most annoying place in the world. I got the Sesame Kale Macro Bowl, which is seared tempeh and tahini and sauerkraut and brown rice and giant heaps of kale, plus a glass of lavender lemonade. When I was taking writing classes with my favorite teacher seven years ago, I used to always get lunch at Native Foods before driving back to Echo Park. I'd order the Sesame Kale Macro Bowl or the Bangkok Curry Bowl and reread the comments Francesca had left on my pages, and it was equal parts thrilling and chill. On Thursday I was hoping for a nostalgia trip but it fell flat: I don't miss 2012. I don't miss any year anymore.
After lunch I needed to finish some work but the thought of going to Starbucks hurt my heart so instead I went to Noah's Bagels. I much prefer a bagel restaurant to a coffee place- there's just way more levity; I was the only jerk on a laptop. I got a mango black iced tea and asked for it unsweetened but they sweetened it anyway, who cares. On the way home I stopped at CineFile and the dudes were watching Grease and I'd just missed the part when Kenickie says the words "And a eskimo pie with a knife": possibly my favorite line delivery of all time. I grabbed Out of Sight and Don't Look Back and the movie version of The Group by Mary McCarthy and considered getting Burn After Reading, but couldn't handle the thought of two George Clooney movies at once. I just don't find George Clooney charming. He's way too George Clooney-y. I rented Fletch instead and got the hell out of there, right after the part when Kenickie asks Danny to be his lieutenant at Thunder Road- so tender <3 <3 <3
Back on the east side I stopped at Silverlake Wine and bought a bottle of some kind of white. It was either a Picpoul or Verdejo or Gruner or something else, I threw the bottle before in recycling before I wrote it down. The Tumaca Truck was parked outside the store and I got the Serrano ham croquettes, then went to Cookbook and bought a little tub of potato salad as a croquette accompaniment. The croquettes were so cute and reminded me of these weird sandwiches they'd give us for school lunch in like first grade: hot ham and melty cheese on hot bread, I think they were called "torpedoes"? And the Cookbook potato salad had fennel and olives that kind of overpowered everything, but I was into it. I drank my forgettable wine and later in the night ate my Peggy Olson cherry danish. The cherry was goopy and gloppy and the danish was totally stale and I loved it all, I loved it so much.
Friday, September 13th
LJ: I woke up in a hideous, furious mood. There was a supermoon and it was the day of the month where there are pictures of thunderclouds on the calendar square in my period tracker app. Also I had lowered my nicotine lozenge dosage the night before. And it was raining. And it was Friday the 13th.
I had coffee and some mango, then a Pumpkin Chip muffin from the yesterday place, and an iced Americano. A few hours into work, somebody gave me a slice of peameal bacon.
I ate lunch in the late afternoon: steak tartare with one piece of toast and a salad. The steak tartare at my work is my favourite thing to eat in the entire city of Toronto. I couldn’t have it with no toast— it’s duck fat toast, and I’m obsessed with it— but mostly I used the salad to make myself little steak tartare lettuce wraps. When the night people came into transition the restaurant from day until night I started snacking on some fries from their staff meal, and then felt grossed out, really viscerally grossed out by the act of eating, my stomach was bloated out to here, and I was feeling stressed out by maintaining this journal. I didn’t eat any food for the rest of the day. It was too much. I threw in my towel.
I made the executive decision to spend a lot of money getting drunk on nice wine all night. There was simply no other option. I went to Archive and had an exceptional glass of Southern Rhone sparkling called ‘La Roteuse de Landra’: there was Clairette in the blend, a kicky nerd grape I always adore. It was chalky, pink lemonadey, and a little bit pudgy. Then, I treated myself to a 3oz glass of Grand Cru Riesling, which was nothing to write home about.
I met Madeleine at Paradise Grapevine and we had a bottle of sparkling, off-dry Beaujolais. Whenever Madeleine and I drink wine together we always want something “yummy” and “delicious”: this delivered. Scratchy strawberry jam soda. We were outside on the covered patio and it thunderstormed all around us and that was brilliant. I was an appropriate level of drunk and after we left I did box jumps up the steps outside a church. I went home and cried my eyes out and it felt wonderful, to be my own little thunderstorm.
LIZ: Morning coffee at my kitchen table!!! And work, and lemon water and tea: Chai Rooibos and Harvest Peach. After a couple hours I took a break and walked down to my 7-Eleven and got a Big Gulp of Diet Coke, plus a stick of jack cheese. Then I went home and made a scramble thing with the cheese and an egg and some broccoli and mushroom and red onion, a little bit of Tapatio when it was all done. I watched my maybe-#1 all-time most formative YouTube video, Britney Spears, Stoned, then finished my work & hopped in the shower cuz, guess what, we're going to Joshua Tree. Scott came by and we headed east for like 130 miles, and stopped on the way at Hadley's Fruit Orchards for milkshakes. Scott got a date shake and I got date-banana, and also bought a bottle of Sauv Blanc and a bunch of bananas and a package of cornflake Ritter Sport.
Then we drove to the Airbnb and settled in and then I got ready to go see my girl Mary Timony and her band Ex Hex, at Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace. There was a wait for dinner and I drank a Wolf Pup, sitting at the bar and feeling the groovy vibes of being at a honky-tonk/BBQ restaurant in the middle of the desert, with absolutely zero cell-phone reception. When it was time for dinner I got the grilled chicken + fries + broccoli and Scott got ribs, which I envied on an intellectual level. I always envy anyone who's way into ribs: it seems like such a satisfying eating experience, to gnaw all the way down to the bone and end up with sauce all your fingers and then lick your fingers clean. Have you seen that picture of Diana Ross eating ribs on the street? No one else ever looks that good.
For my drink I had a margarita, which came in a little mason jar with a profane amount of salt around the rim. The whole of the ocean right there on my glass.
After dinner we hung around outside a while and then it was showtime! Here I'm going to reveal an uncomfortable truth about myself, which is that: I'm not in love with Ex Hex. I'll always go see them anytime they're playing, but it's mostly just to be in the presence of Mary Timony. Richard Hell has a theory about how the point of rock & roll is "trying to convince girls to pay money to be near you," and I guess my version of that is paying money to absorb the happy-radiant vibes emitted by Mary Timony when she's onstage with Ex Hex. It's not a bad way to spend the night, but part of me always misses the 8 million other Mary Timony shows I've seen, like when we lived in Boston at the same time and I'd go see her practically every week. One of my favorite depressing memories of my whole life is of being 21-years-old, newly dumped and mostly friendless in the Boston wintertime, walking approximately 1.8 miles from my dumb apartment to the subway stop because I didn't want to take the bus, because buses really don't jibe with my cosmology. I listened to "I Fire Myself" on my walkman and it was hideously sunny, the kind of blazing-white winter sun that burns your eyes out without bothering to warm you up. It was one of those moments when you become severely aware that you're on a planet, a great big rock just spinning around the sun forever and ever. Mary Timony will always remind you where you stand in the planetary scheme of things.
Anyway the show was good, I drank a white wine. My favorite part was when it was over and I went to the back door just as Mary was running offstage and into the dusty Pappy & Harriet's backyard, holding her guitar high above her head with one hand, disappearing in the desert night. Afterward we went back to the house and ate some of the Ritter Sport cornflake bar, in the kitchen with the lights off.
Saturday, September 14th
LJ: On my six-week Crossfitiversary I ate a bunch of chocolate soy yogurt for breakfast and went to MetCon class at 1. The class was coached by the dude who owns the gym, who I call “CrossFit Andy Samberg”: he’s very Andy Samberg-y. He makes me feel like Andy Samberg should have some sort of "bit" where he plays a CrossFit instructor; I think that would delight many.
The workout was fantastic: lots of rowing on the rower, and then a bunch of kettlebell stuff, which I haven’t done a ton of. CrossFit Andy Samberg gave me some pointers about how to kill it at kettlebell swings and front racks, and in turn, I killed it. I felt so strong and proud.
Your body is a picture of your brain, I wrote, the first or second week I started CrossFitting, high on the excitement of feeling, for the first time, like my brain and body were a team.
I’m a recovered anorexic. I had a low-key relapse last winter and then moved past it and started feeding myself, and feeling like myself, again. But at the end of a boozy, indulgent July, the dick part of my brain that exists to destroy me started telling me I wasn’t skinny enough, which is such a fucking dumb reason to join CrossFit, but it’s why I did it, and the beautiful ending to this story is that, once I joined CrossFit, “being skinny enough” stopped being a part of my life at all. I have never felt at peace with my body like I do right now: it is a revelation to love my body for being strong; it is an honor to connect with my body in an environment where there is no mention of diet or weight loss, where growth and success are measured in terms of what you can do rather than how your body looks.
I left class and felt so perfectly at home inside myself. I’d been feeling weird about writing down what I ate all week: “What will people think? Am I normal?”
That afternoon I thought: “I don’t give a fuck. I’m me, and I will feed myself as I see fit. I’m a recovered anorexic, and joining CrossFit was the most beautiful, important step in crossing that finish line. I’ll eat gluten or not eat gluten or be grossed out by the visceral act of snacking on my co-worker’s French fries and drink wine more days than I don’t and I’ll write it all the fuck down and people can think whatever this is me it’s fucking great I’m in charge and I DON’T CARE!!!!”
I wanted to cry tears of joy and dance under a rainbow. I felt like the inside of my body was a sunshower.
I took myself to this weird café on Queen Street that no one in the world goes to and ordered one of my fav post-Crossfit meals: this big bowl of kale, shredded beets, hummus, quinoa, squash, crispy chickpeas, pickled cabbage and chicken. I had that with a coconut water and it was perfect. I felt clean and clear, like the inside of my body was a non-toxic lake.
At work I sipped on wine and cider but mostly wasn’t into it. I had a bite of beef carpaccio and two protein bars, one at the beginning of my shift and one at the end. They were both the same protein bar, my favourite brand: they’re called “Hornby.” They have a sunflower cranberry flavour but I’m mostly in it for the peanut butter chocolate chip [Editor's Note: 5 days after writing this, I realized there was an entire shelf of other Hornby bars at the organic food store where I buy my Hornby bars. I feel like an entire Universe has opened up for me.] They’re dense and you can tell the chocolate chips are of a higher quality than your average protein bar chocolate. I used to always eat those Clif Builder’s bars but then when I started treating my body with some fucking respect for once in my goddamned life, I stopped being able to eat them. You can tell they’re just a bunch of preservatives pressed into a bar shape. If you’re eating it today, a machine probably made it in a factory like thirteen years ago.
LIZ: Saturday breakfast was at JT Country Kitchen, a restaurant endorsed by Anthony Bourdain and Queens of the Stone Age. I went wild and got the corned beef hash with cinnamon toast plus a side of banana pancake, which of course was the star of the show: you slather the butter on and it pools in the little crevices where the banana slices live, and then you excavate the hot buttery banana with your spoon and it's everything and heaven.
After breakfast we bopped around the desert and I bought a Van Halen shirt and a necklace at Kime Buzzelli's beautiful store- this necklace right here:
For dinner that night we scored surprise reservations at La Copine, because Scott is people who know people. It's this glamorous restaurant in Flamingo Heights and I'd been hearing about it for years, so Saturday night was my day in the sun. I got a tall boy of rosé kombucha, and our first food thing was the ceviche nuevo: rockfish + ají amarillo + coconut + avocado + "green bee tomatoes" + red onion + jalapeño + cilantro + tamarind + fried plantains. And we got the pork belly pastrami on rye, and the crispy blackened chicken with cheesy grits and honey drizzle, which was a beauty and a dream:
But the dish that really knocked my socks off, rang all my bells, put me on cloud nine like a dog with two tails was the La Copine peach salad: lots of fat peach hunks and roasted grapes and lavender chèvre and hazelnuts and tarragon and black currants and baby lettuce and lemon vinaigrette, all smothered together but elegantly so. And I know that Timothée Chalamet owns the rights to all peach-based emotional experiences, but the peaches in the peach salad did something to me, man. The thing that got me was they weren't anything close to perfect. Of all the textures in the world, one of the top 5 most objectionable to me is mealy, especially when it comes to peaches. I can't take a mealy peach, I'm a big princess about it. But these peaches were totally mealy, they were subpar, they were some carelessly selected & way-past-its-prime bruised thing from the farmstand, left in a paper bag all day at the beach and then begrudgingly eaten when there's no better snacks to be had. It was every mediocre peach I ever ate as a kid, all jumbled up with that flashy lavender chèvre & show-offy black currants & ROASTED GRAPES ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? I'm going to miss them all forever, and I look forward to that. I hope I never get to have that salad again.
After dinner we went to the brewery in Landers & on the way Waze almost made me drive off a mountain. When we got to the brewery there was a horse outside, parked next to a motorcycle. I ordered a blood orange cider & it was juicy and sour and just my type. The last two times I went to the brewery there were these two mature and cutely fat dogs there, but neither was to be seen this time around. I guess those guys get Saturday night off, and lord do they deserve it.
Sunday, September 15th
LJ: I woke up in the morning and did a lame-ass job of frying two eggs in Earth Balance. I broke one yolk and then fucked up flipping them over. I had them with Maldon sea salt and pepper, on a toasted gluten-free millet bun. I’m a fan of gluten-free bread, how dense it is. "Close-baked," as my old friend Paul Hollywood would say.
I had a banana before CrossFit and then went to Fresh again afterward. I’d been planning on going to Union and having theirsteak tartare for lunch, but then I CrossFitted and didn’t want to anymore. It always sounds like a sensible idea to “treat oneself” after a killer workout, but then you do the workout, and your body stops wanting to eat a weird cylinder of raw meat and salt. It wants to keep the loving itself party going.
At Fresh I ate some bowl that I liked considerably less than the bowl I ate on Tuesday, and the same smoothie, which is a lifelong winner. After I was done my food I ordered a cocktail called a Gin & Flowers, which had little edible flowers floating in it. It was fine.
At work I went with the same “two Hornby bars” vibe as last night: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I gave a baby a bite of my pre-shift Hornby bar. A couple hours later, I was craving sugar, so I stole a little hunk of walnut brittle from the kitchen, and sipped some Normandy cider. And— unrelated— I had a bite of someone’s steak.
I came home from work and ate a spoonful of chia seeds because the other day someone told me that chia seed poops are smooth and the best, and that sounded like something worth striving for. Some of the seeds got stuck in my teeth, and got all gelatinous like how they are in a chia seed pudding, while still stuck between my teeth.
[Editor's Note: the happy ending to this story is that eating a tablespoon of Chia seeds every morning and every night fixed my stomach entirely! I am pleased to report that I now eat gluten again, though I still eat those gluten-free buns, because they're DOPE.]
LIZ: On Sunday morning we had breakfast at Larry & Milt's Western Cafe, home of the peanut butter pancake. I ordered that, plus a veggie omelette, which is such a bullshit move: like, come on Barker, just make the pancake your main meal- who are you trying to kid? (Although my veggie omelette was kind of exciting, it had goddamn carrots in it, and who saw that coming?) I guess how they make the peanut butter pancake is they pour half the batter on the griddle, then spoon some spoonfuls of peanut butter onto that, then cover it all up with the rest of the batter. And it's really basic peanut butter, crunchy, maybe Skippy or Jif, and by the time it gets to you it's all melty and dreamy and heaven. I realize that's the second time I've used the word heaven to proselytize about pancakes in this post, but I can't be bothered with word variety right now. I'm too committed to the truth.
After Larry & Milt's we headed back home to L.A. I had a few work things to do and Scott went out to do some errands, then came back with two cases of Arrowhead seltzer (one black cherry, the other lemon-lime), a fabulous surprise. From watching Michael Cera on "Hot Ones" we'd learned about Jitlada and decided to go to Jitlada for dinner, which was a fantastic move. The Jitlada menu is a lot, there's even a section titled "Adventurous Bizarre Foods," which includes chicken feet salad, deep-fried silk worm, Black Sea squid soup, and frog legs in curry. We were at sixes and sevens on what to order and ended up getting the crispy pork with curry and pumpkin, crab fried rice, and chicken wings with papaya salad and sticky rice. Turns out the whole time there was a list of the chef's recommendations right underneath the glass on our table, but neither of us goofs noticed till too late. But it's okay, our food was all amazing and magnificent and overwhelming in the best way. We also got Thai iced tea, served in soda-fountain glasses. Next time we go I want to get dessert, ideally the Thai Banana Split.
When we got home I was massively tired and crashed the hell out, and fell asleep to Scott watching a video of Jonathan Gold talking about the jazz burger at Jitlada. Sometime last year, on a more secluded part of the internet, I wrote a thing about being a little kid and falling asleep in the backseat on the way home from some big night, stretched out and dozing off to whatever's playing on the radio. In the fictional story I was writing, the falling-asleep song was "This Must Be the Place"; I made some point about how being half-asleep while hearing lyrics like "Sing into my mouth" and "You got a face with a view" would do something cool to your head. I feel the exact same way about hearing the words jazz burger and lunch box and palm sugar and Thai spaghetti while half-asleep; my head is totally changed now. And I just watched the video for "This Must Be the Place" for the first time and it's so sweet I cried, I'm still crying. There's tea and cake and potato chips, and David Byrne cutely sneaks a chip before running down to the basement to sing the second half of the song. Everyone's so effusive but in a totally low-key way, which is maybe my favorite mood. I think that's a nice way to go out here: