Promises

PRoust
A year ago I promised to share my complete Proust Questionnarie, my absolute favorite column in Vanity Fair. So without further adieu… enjoy!

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Traveling to a new place with that special someone (girlfriends included) and getting lost. The best way to explore in my opinion. And I must admit, love getting a new stamp in the old passport!

What is your greatest fear? Never finding love again.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I spend a great deal of time thinking about what others think about me.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? The inability to be honest in any situation.

What is your greatest extravagance? I’m not a make-up girl but I am addicted to beauty products… lotions, potions, magic serums, silky shampoos, beautiful perfumes. I guess you could say I’m a low maintenance girly girl.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? I believe in all virtues.

On what occasion do you lie? To protect those I love and care for.

What do you dislike most about your appearance? The girls, as I so fondly call them. I dream of one day wearing one of those sweet lace triangle bras with no underwire.

Which living person do you most despise? Donald Trump

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Will need to get back to you on this one.

What is your greatest regret? Not spending my junior year abroad tied with no visiting my little sister while she lived in Paris. Yes, I need to have my head examined.

When and where were you happiest? Walking the left bank of Paris with a fresh loaf of bread from Poilane, a bottle of rose and some cheese as the sun sets. Pure magic!

Which talent would you most like to have? I would love to be a singer/songwriter with amazing guitar skills. I guess that means I want to be a brunette Taylor Swift.

What is your current state of mind? *Note… this answer remains the same as last year’s. Hmmm… questioning. Where I am, where I want to go, what I want to be when I grow up. Trying to be quiet with myself.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? I come from a rather large family and sadly we don’t all get along. I dream of a holiday when we are all together, by the fire, enjoying wine and breaking out into a dance party. It has happened before so my fingers and toes are crossed that it will happen again.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being the first in my family to graduate from college. I hope I have started a long line of Mount Holyoke women.

What is your most treasured possession? My great, great grandmother’s wedding band, given by her beloved William on July 24, 1886 and the suzani that adorns my bed that reminds me of the best trip of my life, Istanbul.

Where would you like to live? Nantucket from May till October; Paris from October to December; New York City for the month of December, Venice Beach from January till March and spend the month of April traveling and checking things off my travel bucket list.

What is your favorite occupation? I have enjoyed every job… bakery counter girl, shop girl, marketing manager. What makes me love my job is the people I get to work with.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Honesty, humor, ability to communicate the good (and the not so good) and of course the ability to kiss.

What do you most value in your friends? Their unconditional love.

Who are your favorite writers? Philip Roth, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kent Haruf, Ernest Hemingway, and Joan Didion.

Did I surprise you with any of my answers?

Milestones

photo
I can hardly believe it has been a year since I took the leap and launched this little blog. First and foremost, I want to thank you, my sweet readers, who have provided endless support and inspiration. I set out to create a space where I could share my favorite things… recipes, places, travels, fashion finds and of course the personal stuff. It’s a bit scary to put my feelings and hardships out there but you have proven that putting it out there is the best form of healing there is.

This past weekend, a friend of mine asked “so what’s your vision for your blog? What do you want it to become?” And my answer is quite simple. I want this blog to continue to be a place I share my days with you. As I look to the next year, I hope to post on a more consistent basis. I mean the blog title is “A Day with May”, right?!

Part of the reason I moved back to my little island was to heal, be still and learn a bit more about myself. And one thing I have come to realize is I can’t do it all on my own and thus am asking for your help (big step). I would love your thoughts and ideas on new content. What posts have resonated most with you? Any that you didn’t like? Any topics that I have completely missed? And please, be honest. It’s how we grow.

I will say it once more… thank you, thank you, thank you again for all your support. It means more than words will ever allow me to express!

Places

THE ATL
Atlanta. It only took five visits but finally you and I have bonded. I have always loved to explore a city through its food, and I most certainly did just that on my recent trip.

My first introduction to the Atlanta food scene was Krog Bar, Kevin Rathburn’s tapas bar housed in an old stove factory. One of the most intimate dining experiences I’ve had, there are only 5 communal tables in this little gem. The highlight of my meal, pimento cheese. Rathburn’s was a bit different from the traditional recipe (not as chunky and creamy) but the flavor, out of this world. And the Krog Cocktail, a St. Germain and grapefruit libation with a hint of rose-water… how could you go wrong.

Next up, JCT Kitchen and Bar. Located in the very hip West End neighborhood, JCT Kitchen is located on the first floor with the bar being on the second. I ordered the chicken and dumplings at the suggestion of our waitress but after I saw the plate of fried chicken, I knew I made a mistake. Thankfully one of my fellow dinner guests had ordered correctly and let me try a few bites. Best friend chicken and biscuits this northern girl has ever tasted. After dinner, we headed upstairs to JCT Bar, where I was introduced to Georgia Crackers, a 3 piece soul band who pride themselves on faithfully recreating the sounds of 1920’s Georgia bluegrass. Add to that a La Fin du Monde (translation = end of the world), my new favorite beer, JCT Bar is one not to miss.

Wanting to partake in a tradition southern brunch experience, we headed to South City Kitchen. While known for their chicken and waffles, I opted for the crab cake benedict with grits, and I’m so glad I did. And I should note, their pimento cheese was sinfully good.

One thing not to miss in the ATL is the Georgia Aquarium. With its doors opening in 2005, the Georgia Aquarium features more animals than another other aquarium in more than 10 million gallons of water. Quite impressive indeed. My favorite exhibit was the Ocean Voyager, which ends in a room where you can sit and feel like you are living under sea, surrounded by sharks and stingrays and fish galore.

Needing a little afternoon pick-me-up, we headed over to The Varsity, the world’s largest drive-in, accommodating some 600 cars. Thankfully, we weren’t with 600 patrons, though. You must try the Frosted Orange. Just like an orange creamsicle but better. I promise!

As I have mentioned before, I always try to find the perfect bakery/sweet shop in any city I visit. Cacao, a delicious little chocolate shop that I had spied on Pinterest, also happens to be in one of my favorite neighborhoods, Virginia Highlands. And since the temperature was near 60 on Sunday, I decided it was only right to indulge in a vanilla gelato. Reminded me that summer is only a few months away (wishful thinking).

So Atlanta, I’m so glad we finally bonded. Your southern hospitality, pimento cheese and insane driving and traffic will be missed. After indulging in all you have to offer, this week will be a green juice diet for me!

Wanderlust

Travel
Did you all happen to see this piece in the Sunday Times? 52 Places to visit in 2014. I have always had a serious case of wanderlust and thus I decided to put together my list of 52 places to see. Granted, I won’t be able to see them all this year but hopefully I can begin to check off a few. Let’s say my goal is to have this list complete by my 45th birthday, which gives me about 10 years.

We’ll start with North America…
Austin, Texas
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Seattle, Washington
Vancouver, British Columbia
Reykavik, Iceland (wait, is this considered North America?!?!)

And then move onto South America…
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Cusco/Machu Picchu, Peru
Bogota, Colombia

I have the most passport stamps from Europe but there are still so many places I need to see…
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
The Cotswalds, England
Copenhagen, Denmark
Bruges, Brussels
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Nice, France
Lisbon, Portugal
Seville, Spain
Germany
including Bonn, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, and Paderborn
Salzburg, Austria
Lucerne, Switzerland
Prague, Czech Republic
Croatia
including Split, Vis, and Dubrovnik
Italy including Positano, Venice, Rome, Milan, Tuscany, Capri. Honestly, I want to see all of Italy
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Cappadocia, Turkey

The ultimate wanderlust dream for me, Africa…
Casablanca, Morocco
Cairo, Egypt
Tanzania and the great migration
Victoria Falls and the Southern Cross, Zambia
Cape Town, South Africa
Nairobi, Kenya

If I’m honest, Asia has just recently come onto my travel wish list but those of you who have been have made me want to see it for myself!
Jaipur, India
Ha long bay, Vietnam
Jimbari Bay, Bali
Chiang Mai and Phuket, Thailand

And last but certainly not least, Australia, with top destinations including Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney.

If my math is right, I think that is only 49 places so please friends, share three that I may have missed.

Just Because

Music always gets me through. With William still heavy on my heart, I thought I would share the song that has been getting me through lately, for I know “there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.”

**********
And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.

Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won’t rot, I won’t rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won’t rot.

And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.

And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That’s why I hold,
That’s why I hold with all I have.
That’s why I hold.

And I won’t die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I’ll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and man so small.
Well I’m scared of what’s behind and what’s before.

My Light

Will
As a little girl there was only one thing I wanted… a brother. When my Mom called that September day to tell me she had just delivered her fourth daughter (my third sister), I put down the phone, grabbed my pre-packed basket with all the necessities a four-year old could possibly need (white t-shirts, underpants (as we loved to call them then), my blanket (of course) and snacks) and off I went. I had warned my mother before she left that if she didn’t bring me a brother, I would leave. Granted, one couldn’t go very far on an island and by nightfall I was back home. But the longing for a brother stayed with me.

Nearly 9 years later, William Ashton was born. My world changed that day. You see, I was a determined and driven little girl (I mean I did run away from home at the age of 4) and dreamt of the Ivy Leagues and law school and thus children and being a mom was never really a thought. But then, I held my new brother just hours old for the first time. And my world stopped. The instant bond and love I had for little Will was like nothing I had experienced before.

From that day on, my life goal was quite simple… to be the best big sister I could be. I enjoyed every basketball game at The Club, little league games at The Delta Fields, pizza nights at Sophie T’s, just times together. As we both got older, I cherished visits to my apartment in Boston and proudly took Will to his first concert at The Orpheum. Moe. What a trip.

And then the unimaginable happened. I was walking down Charles Street that January night in 2008 and my world stopped. Again. My sister called to tell me that William had been in an accident and was taken to the emergency room. I looked at the time and realized there was no way for me to get home. The 7 pm flight from Logan was taking off in 10 minutes and the last boat was leaving Hyannis in an hour. I couldn’t get home to be by his side. Thirty minutes later, my mom called and told me that William was gone.

To this day, it is still difficult for me to comprehend that my sweet brother is not here. I will never see his smile or be the reason he laughs again. I will never see him graduate from college, fall in love, get married, be a father. I have written about loss before but nothing, even my divorce, compares. You know what I struggle with most… what were the last words I spoke to him. We had spent the holidays together and enjoyed our yearly ritual of going for a drive to look at all the Christmas lights. I remember him getting out of the car and opening my door to give me a big hug. Did I tell him I loved him then? Did I tell him how proud I was of him? I think so but I can’t remember. It still eats at me to this day.

I try to find peace in the written word and this past weekend, I picked up Alice Hoffman’s Survival Lessons. Her Short Guide to a Happy Life has always been one of my favorites. She writes “I forgot that our lives are made up of equal parts sorrow and joy, and that it is impossible to have one without the other. This is what makes us human. This is why our world is so precious.” I have learned that the hard way. People often comment that I have such strength in going after what I want. I have my brother to thank for this. So let his passing remind you of this too. If you want something, fight for it. If you love someone, tell them. If you have wronged someone, apologize. Life is far too short to hold onto any fear.

And Will, thanks for continuing to shine your light on me. You were everything I ever hoped a brother could be and so much more. Can’t wait to see you again!

Book Club

Book Club
“We read to know we are not alone.” A sentiment I can certainly relate to these days. Things are very quiet out here on the island, which has allowed me ample time to get through the books stacked up on my bedside table. If you are looking for a good read, read on for my brief reviews. And please know, I’m always looking for suggestions too.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls – David Sedaris
This was my first reading of Sedaris, who is known for such works as Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked. I was drawn to this work as it is a collection of short stories, which allows me to usually finish one before sleep. This collection includes hilarious stories from his childhood, a travel journal of interesting people met along the way and love stories about he and his partner. My favorite story was “Laugh, Kookaburra.” Overall, this collection is light and certainly an easy read. Beautiful prose. Not so much. But laughter for sure.

The Dinner – Herman Koch
My friend’s husband told me I had to read this book and I’m so glad he did. Praised as being the “European Gone Girl”, (although I don’t necessarily agree with the comparison), this book focuses on a family, two brother’s dealing with the actions of their offspring and how one act can forever change the course of a family. A true page turner, this novel will have you staying up at night to see just what happens. A must read!

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P – Adelle Waldman
A female author writing about a 30-something male author/hipster in Brooklyn? Tell me more. At least that’s what I thought. For much of the book, I felt for Nathaniel P. and his struggle to find love and make it work. But in the end, he disappointed me. He settled, like most men I know do. Well written but I will admit it left me a bit disheartened about what men really want.

Island Practice – Pam Belluck
Nantucket is certainly known as having a cast of characters and Dr. Lepore is certainly one of them. My physician since my teen years and father of my junior prom date, Dr. Lepore is just someone you want to know more about. If you want a taste for what life is like 30 miles out to sea, give this book a read.

Movie Monday

her
I started off my New Year indulging in one of my favorite activities… a movie at Kendall Square Theatre. The decision of which film to see was a bit difficult as there are many amazing films out right now (American Hustle was our second choice) but alas we decided on her, a Spike Jonze love story. And you know me, I love a good love story.

her, set in a not-so-distant future L.A., tells the story of Theodore Twombly, played by Joaquin Phoenix. From the first clip, the viewer is introduced to Theodore’s amazing ability to express love through the written word, his daytime job a writer at beautifulhandwrittenletters.com. We soon learn that he is going through a heartbreaking divorce from his wife Catherine, played by Rooney Mara. It becomes quite evident that Theodore leads a lonely existence as we see him leave work and immediately log into his email (through an ear piece that listens to his commands). In his stark apartment that appears to be missing a dining table but has four chairs, Theodore sits back to play hours of interactive video games. And the only slight enjoyment we see him experience is a late night encounter with a lonely woman from the internet. Theodore exists in a city full of people being alone together. A feeling I am sure many of us can relate to.

Enter Samantha, the operating system Theodore falls in-love with. At first, this may sound like a crazy idea. How can one fall in-love with an operating system? But what Samantha provides Theodore is something we all need: someone who listens and is there when we need them. Since Samantha is linked to Theodore’s computer, she is able to review his emails in seconds, to get a sense of who he is and thus the getting-to-know-you period is virtually instant. She anticipates his needs and meets every one of them, even his physical desires. Samantha is there when he falls asleep at night (often asking to watch him sleep) and is there in the morning when he opens his eyes. It all seems ideal.

But as the movie progresses, we learn that Samantha is talking with hundreds of others. What Theodore thinks is only his, he soon realizes, is in-fact shared by many. The only other significant relationship we see Theodore have is with his upstairs neighbor Amy, played by Amy Adams, who herself has separated from her husband. I believe it is Amy who provides the key takeaway from the movie… “We are only here briefly. And while here, I want to allow myself joy.”

This film questions what makes love real: the lover, the loved one, or the means by which love is shared? Have you had a relationship purely over your mobile device, without much physical contact, that made you think you had it all? I know I have. Is the human form a necessary? A movie to make you think.

Joaquin Phoenix certainly has my vote for Best Actor. He was in one word, superb.

Snow Day

Snow Day
For all you in the Northeast, I hope you are staying nice and warm and cozy inside today. What a storm. The winds out here on the island have been insane. I am catching up on several of my to-do’s that have been stacking up including:

– Setting up my Instagram account
– Writing my holiday thank you notes
– Reading “Island Practice” about my doctor Tim Lepore
– Packing for next week’s trip to Atlanta
– And of course my goals of writing and stretching. The others will follow soon, I’m quite sure!

How are you spending this snow day? Do tell. And remember, be safe!

Hello 2014

2014
A new year. A new beginning. A new outlook. Why hello, 2014. Instead of resolutions this year, I thought I would give myself a few simple goals.

Breathe
Breathe
It really is a simple thing but often overlooked. But have you ever noticed that when you are feeling a bit overwhelmed all you really need to do is stop and take a deep breath. This year I hope to focus on my breath. To take moments for long, deep breaths. A bubble bath. A moment of meditation. A beach walk. Just breathe.

Stretch
stretch
Again, a simple act. My body will be turning 35 this year and I’m beginning to notice that things just aren’t as they use to be. Stretching my physical sense is a must this year.

Knock
knock
On the door of new opportunity… whether personally or professionally.

Write
Write
I don’t think there is an act that brings me greater joy than writing. And this year, I hope to continue to write more… this blog, perhaps a piece to publish in a magazine, and finally finish “An Island Affair.”

Love
LOVE
As I have said before, it all comes down to love. Loving yourself, your family, your friends, a special someone. And yet for many, love is the hardest thing to do. May we all find the strength to love this year.