Personal Essays

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France Peru

The Things We Try Not to See

There is always someone crying. In Cusco, sometimes it was the neighborhood cat late at night. When the townspeople went to bed and the stray dogs roamed la calle taunting the outnumbered feline. Even with earplugs, and my head pressed firmly into my pillow, I could hear it screeching from somewhere behind the wall of my courtyard. But every time I pushed open the heavy metal doors and ran into the street, I could not trace the source of the…

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California Food San Francisco

Tartine Bakery, San Francisco

The first time I went to Tartine Bakery I was with the man I thought I might marry someday. I should’ve known the relationship was doomed when we shared Tartine’s famous big-as-your-face croissant, and he went right for the hard crust, devouring its dry and charred bits, while I opted for the only part I found edible: the soft center. “See, this is why we make a great team,” he told me. “I like the crust, and you like the…

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Peru San Francisco

For Every Time You Almost Didn’t

“Cálmate. Relájate,” Miguel cooed as he led me across a busy highway in the dark of night near Real Plaza, Cusco’s first and only shopping mall. I can’t remember why I was panicking, but it could have been a couple of things: the fact that he was ignoring the crosswalk signals as honking taxis flew past us, or the fact that I was out way past my bedtime in the middle of a foreign city. We were on a mission…

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Books Paris

3 Memoirs to Read Before You Go to Paris

Few cities have inspired so many books as Paris, France. Renowned writers such as Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, and Ernest Hemingway all penned prose in the City of Light. Before you visit Paris, I highly recommend reading books about the city that are not travel guides (which are fine, too), but memoirs and essays to help give you a sense of what it's like to be there. (I'm partial to nonfiction in general, but might publish a post about…

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Europe Fascinating People

I Called the Swedish Number to Talk to a Random Swede. Here’s Video of What Happened

I didn’t really think anyone would answer. On Friday morning, when I found out there was something called The Swedish Number, whose sole purpose was to allow anyone in the world to call a random person in Sweden to “talk about anything,” it sounded like a hoax. Yet there I was, sitting on my couch in San Francisco, iPhone in hand, listening to an automated voice with a Swedish accent telling me calmly, “Calling Sweden. You will soon be connected to a random…

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