Sometimes, you have a personal blog that goes dormant for over a year. And then it’s January 1, and the air feels thick with new beginnings, and you’re in a much different stage of life than you were the last time you wrote on the blog - technically, you even have a new name. So why not start fresh?
I’ve been contemplating the switch to a new site for awhile, for two reasons: One, the old blog went untouched for an entire calendar year, and then some. I’d been writing there since my sophomore year of college, and even though I’d never dream of permanently deleting the blog, it started to feel a bit...dated. I’m on year six of living in New York City and just don’t think I need my current writing to live on the same site as blog posts from class projects in 2010. (Eventually I’d like to transfer that blog over here, or develop an archive situation - but if I waited to start writing here until I figured that out, this site would go untouched for a year, too.)
The second reason is purely practical: I got married in August and changed my last name. Or rather, I’m in the process of changing my last name. I’m still officially “Landsem” on almost everything, but I won’t be by the end of 2019, so starting the new year as Paige Landsem Huynh, on this blog at least, felt like a manageable first step.
So, welcome to paigelandsemhuynh.com.
I don’t have a manifesto for what this blog is going to be, or what I’m going to write about. I think my last blog collapsed under the weight of my own expectations for it - I thought every post needed to be super interesting, or an in-depth recap of whatever trip I just took, or a deep musing on life in New York. I never let myself post a short paragraph about an interesting article, or a random thought on city living. Here, I’m giving myself freedom to post whatever, whenever, whyever.
So I’m starting with what’s on my mind around the new year.
In the past I’ve done detailed, year-end blog posts about my favorite stories, movies, and other media consumption. I consulted logs I kept of movies watched and interesting articles read. (My dream is always to keep a list as meticulous and full as Steven Soderbergh’s.) But this year, my records were terrible. And while I am a little mad I didn’t keep a better log of my movie viewings, on the whole, I don’t feel bad about it.
A huge reason I slipped is because I spent a good chunk of the year planning a wedding instead of watching movies. It’s more than that, though. I think I’m learning I am more than the sum of my lists. I realized I liked referencing them in large part because I liked congratulating myself on being so cultured. I mean, I’d rather be cultured than un-cultured. But the lack of a list ticking off 60 new movies I’ve seen or 50 super-fascinating articles I read is forcing me to think of what I learned this year that didn’t come through media consumption.
I’ve learned a lot about people this year. I’ve learned a lot about relationships - my own relationship with my husband, yes, but also about how they work in general. I’ve learned a lot about wedding planning and events. I’ve learned a lot about expectations - especially the unhealthy, unrealistic ones I set for myself. But on the flip side of that, I’ve learned a ton about grace and the freedom to let go of those expectations.
Still with me? Too much soul-bearing? I’ll dive more into the grace stuff another time, though, because I’m also realizing that I don’t think I can write without integrating thoughts on my Christian faith. This isn’t going to become a religion blog, but that’s the filter through which I’m processing life, so it’s the filter I’m writing through, too.
Another item on my mind lately is food (well, maybe food is always on my mind, but bear with me). I’ve been cooking a lot more since getting married, for a few reasons - the first being that I’m now equipped with tons of kitchen tools thanks to our wedding registry. Getting married also meant that I moved into a new apartment, where the cooking gas actually works! My last apartment was without it for over 18 months due to a mistake by ConEd, so our stove and oven didn’t work and we were relegated to cooking on hot plates provided by the landlord. I have already spent all my anger about this situation and will never write about it in detail, but it does feel amazing to have a fully functioning stove and oven. I also think I’m more inspired to cook and try new recipes because I know there’s a built-in person to share the food with, and that leftovers are more likely to be eaten.
One of my go-to recipe sources has been Smitten Kitchen. That blog’s author, Deb Perelmen, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in August, just as I was getting in the kitchen more. I think of it often, because I totally identify with these reasons she gives for loving to cook at home:
I like the way that closely following a recipe can alleviate pressure after a long day of having to make all the decisions.
I love how a dish that worked, or a meal that everyone liked, has the power to change my day.
I like that pulling off a good meal when you least expect it is the fastest way to feel victorious, even when real life does not.
We had the good fortune of going to Paris for Christmas last week, and my main goal for the trip was to eat. Cooking more at home has helped me take a greater interest in the general food world, and while we didn’t even scratch the surface in Paris, it was fun to try a lot of new dishes and enjoy incredible service and dining atmospheres. I’ll probably write more about our trip in the next few weeks, but for now I’ll say our favorite meals came at Frenchie and Balagan.
Paris gave me a new appreciation for New York City, too. We had outstanding restaurant experiences there, and while we’ll probably never splurge on nice dinners four nights in a row at home, I came back to NYC wondering - why not splurge once a month, or a few times a year? Those same experiences exist right outside my door here, but I’m not as aware of them when caught up in day-to-day life. Paris is incredible, and I want to make several return trips. But it was a welcome reminder that I live in an equally incredible city.
On the subject of food, it’s no 6 p.m. and I’m back to work tomorrow, and this soup I’m prepping for my lunches isn’t going to cook itself. So that’s all for now, but more to come. And it’s good to be back.