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La Who?

Hiiii, I’m La, I’m twenty-two, and I live and thrive in New York City.

My real name is Ilana, which means “tree”

When my baby brother was born, he had trouble pronouncing my real name, so instead it came out as “La-La.”  A good friend loved the name and shortened it to “La.”  Very few people call me that in real life anymore, but you totally can.  I love it.  I always wanted a nickname.

My stomping ground is New York City, Center of the Universe.  This city is one of my true loves.  My particular hood is an amazing, energetic, diverse neighborhood in Queens.  Brooklyn is getting all the hype as the up-and-coming New York It Place, but as far as I’m concerned, Brooklyn ain’t got nothin’ on Queens.  Yes, I recognize that only a girl from Queens would actually say that, but I really don’t think I’m exaggerating.  Brooklyn might be hip; Manhattan might be luxe; but Queens is real, down-to-earth, gritty and glittery New York.  I’ve lived here for ten years now, and this is home.  Uhh… you probably don’t care or have any idea what I’m talking about.  Mooooving on.

Although my educational career has been devoted to literature, history, and music, a large part of my heart is firmly rooted in the kitchen.  As a young girl, I relished the opportunity to bake mandelbrot and chocolate chip cookies with my grandmother in her beautiful, spacious kitchen.  This sparked my  young love of baking, my fascination with the transformation of simple, beautiful ingredients into a whole, new item which somehow manages to transcend the sum of its parts.  This love has never been dimmed, and has evolved into a deep passion for all aspects of food and cooking.  In short, food absolutely fascinates me.  I’m happy to spend my time wandering around a supermarket simply appreciating the beautiful deep red color in a stalk of chard or examining a new shipment of fresh, seasonal fruit.  For fun and for pleasure, I pore over the cookbooks on my shelves and in bookstores.  The internet is amazing to me because it is a limitless arsenal of culinary possibilities and suggestions.  When I travel, the first thing I do is learn about the local cuisine – it is always a major part of my experience.

What I have discovered is that food is a basic link.  To understand how culinary tastes and styles develop is to understand the development of  a culture and a society.  I am always amazed at how much food is an integral aspect of human interaction.  It is our basest instinct, and yet it is so varied from place to place, person to person, that it really comes to define each one of us, as a member of a whole and also as a distinct individual.  I love understanding the history of food, because it connects me to the history of humanity as a whole.  My life is a journey of understanding and growth, and this is a major part of it.

More About Me:

  • I go to school in the city and am completing two Bachelor’s degrees, one in English and one in Jewish Studies with a concentration on modern Middle Eastern affairs and conflict resolution.  Yes, that’s a mouthful.  Yes, it’s my passion.  Both things.  Now I am faced with the end of my undergraduate education and it has come time to make the choice I have avoided making for quite some time: Which track will I pursue? I keep hoping the perfect opportunity will present itself that somehow miraculously enables me to merge my love of literature with my passion for the Middle East.
  • Speaking of the Middle East, that is where my roots (half, at least) are from.  My father’s family hails from Northern Iraq, historic Kurdistan.  My parents met and married in Israel, and moved to America, where they had my brother and myself.
  • Oh, yeah, my brother.  Well, I am part of what I tend to think of as your “typical postmodern family.”  I am the oldest of eight.  Oh, but not eight full siblings.  I have one full brother, one half brother, and five step-brothers and sisters (3 boys, 2 girls).  It’s a little crazy and confusing at times but I’m happy both of my parents have found new love.  It’s pretty fun being part of a huge family, too.
  • In school, I have been active in both my sorority and Greek life as a whole – I was president of my sorority and then president of Inter-Greek Council – but now I’m in my fifth year of college and I decided to take a break from such intense active participation in extracurriculars to focus on my last year of school and really figure out what’s next for me.  Also, cute story, my current boyfriend and I met while he was president of his fraternity and I was president of my sorority.  Yes, I actually was “that” girl – I can’t explain how creepy the similarities are between my life and Casey Cartwright’s on Greek (if you haven’t watched this show, don’t – it’s like crack).
  • I love to TRAVEL! Within the past three years I have been fortunate to visit Thailand, Nicaragua, Israel, and Jordan in addition to several states across the US.  I hope to extend that list further in the near future.  It is my dream to travel and volunteer or teach (or both), and I basically want to go everywhere there is to go and see everything there is to see.  Wanderlust, curiosity, an insatiable thirst for knowledge and understanding?  Who knows.
  • From the Disney Revue in 11th grade – hahahaha if my friend knew I was posting this picture, I would be in troubleeee!
  • I attended a performing arts high school called Frank Sinatra School of the Arts.  If it sounds crazy..well..yeah it was.  And loads of freakin’ fun!  I was the very first freshman class, the year the school opened (2001), and I had incredible experiences there – I sang a solo at New York City Opera, I performed with the Collegiate Chorale in Carnegie Hall on several occasions, and I opened for the Dave Matthews Band in Central Park with my choir, just to name a few.  I majored in vocal, studying both opera and musical theater as a soprano, and initially went on to study music in college but decided my interests and passions were better fulfilled with my current course of study.  But I will always love music, and I always hope that one day I will find time to return to studying singing.
note the look of terror on the face and the glass of wine clenched in fist
  • I have a potentially abnormal obsession with my hair.  It’s always been a “thing” with me but I think it became very prominent over my college years.  There were like two years where I refused to cut it, touch it with heat, or put any product in it other than shampoo and conditioner.  Oh man and it was gorgeous and long.  And then, one day, I just decided to chop it off and donate it to Locks of Love (photographed above…mind you, this was the day before my mom’s wedding).  Now a year and a half-ish later, it has mostly grown back … I really really miss my long hair from back then.
  • I have been a vegetarian for ten years now.  What this means is always fluctuating and evolving as I grow older and learn more about my body, about health and nutrients, about toxins, about the environment.  Currently this means I eat a whole-foods diet, high in fruits, veggies, and grains, with the occasional dairy (and way too much sugar&caffeine).  I regard my vegetarianism as an ever-winding path, there are times when I am much more drawn to veganism and raw diets, and other times where incorporating dairy, eggs, and the extremely occasional fish is fine for me.  It probably drives everyone else around me nuts, but I eat what feels right for me and I don’t feel like answering to anyone else.  My body!
  • Speaking of my body, I AM OBSESSED WITH PILATES.  I have been studying the Pilates method for five months, attending class nearly daily for the past three months, and I have experienced near-miraculous changes in my body.  Six months ago, I could barely do one push up.  Now I have developed incredible strength in my shoulders and upper body, and my posture (once perfect from singing, tarnished from years of hunching over desks writing papers in college) is correcting itself beautifully, and I feel much more in tune with my body than I ever have.  I am very seriously considering pursuing training as a Pilates instructor, possibly in the very near future.  Stay tuned.

Ummmmmm… that’s about it for now?  I’ll update this in the future I guess!

Thanks for stopping by!

About the header: Aerial view of Manhattan taken by me on September 2, 2008

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2010 7:27 pm

    I lived in Queens for a bit when I was younger! So wish we would have stayed there, but we moved to PA 😦

    and that pic is so pretty. where’s it at ( promise i’m not a stalker !!)?


    • February 6, 2010 7:32 pm

      Thanks! It was taken this past summer at a temple in Chaiyaphum Province, Thailand

  2. February 17, 2010 11:55 am

    oh i wish i lived in NYC! i was there for a mere 3 1/2 days 2 years ago and fell in love. what a great city. such a cool story about your parents! i was double majoring in psych and middle eastern studies but have decided just to minor in ME studies instead. i am so glad i took arabic though, i really loved learning the language (though i’d be hopeless trying to speak it haha) you’re gorgeous btw!

    • February 17, 2010 11:58 am

      You’re so sweet, thank you so much! My dream is to one day be fluent in Arabic and Hebrew (I know a little tiny bit of Hebrew and like three words in Arabic but one day..). My school didn’t have a Middle Eastern studies program until THIS year so it was a little late for me but I’m really thrilled about the path my studies have taken. I don’t know why it’s so interesting to me, just is! I just checked out your blog, thank you so much for stopping by to comment 🙂 I just added you to my Google Reader so I can keep up with you!

  3. February 22, 2010 11:25 pm

    with the exception of the whole “Brooklyn ain’t got nothin’ on Queens” declaration, i loved this. esp. your love of travel and, uh, Center of the Universe NYC dwelling

    • February 23, 2010 4:25 am

      my best friend, a brand new Brooklynite, also disagrees with my Queens>Bklyn judgement. I do love Brooklyn, believe the hype. I might just be jealous.
      Welcome to my blog! I hope I’ll see you around, and of course, so glad you commented, so I could find your blog!

  4. March 1, 2010 10:41 pm

    Fun blog you’ve got going here, La. That’s really inspiring about your Pilates. Yoga has done similar good things for me, and I’m a big Pilates fan as well. Hey, between your Middle Eastern studies and my Persian and other types of Middle Eastern cooking, maybe we can bring about peace in the Middle East. Or at least some really good mezze 😉

    I feel you about Queens. I’ve been living in Manhattan for the past few years (grew up in Texas), but Queens is special to me. Love the many different neighborhoods and its chill vibe. You should do some posts about some of your fave Queens spots. Like a “Local’s Guide” to your fave hoods.

    Ok, hon, you have a good week. So glad I stumbled upon your blog. Good times 🙂

    • March 1, 2010 11:41 pm

      Bria! Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! I’m absolutely obsessed with Middle Eastern food and living, so I’m sooooo glad you came by so I could find your blog! My boyfriend is Persian too, so I’m always looking to learn more about Persian culture and cuisine, haha.

      That is a really great idea about favorite local places! You should come on a blog adventure with me so we can do it together 🙂

  5. March 1, 2010 11:43 pm

    Ooooh, a blogging adventure. Sounds fun! We SHOULD do it! Ok, let’s chat more about it on email. I’m at BriaYoga4Soul at gmail dot com (typing it out to beat the spam bots 😉 )

  6. March 31, 2010 8:09 pm

    I just found your blog through Averie’s blog. I am always happy to find another Jewish blogger out there!
    My father in law is Iraqi too. He left Baghdad in 1955.
    I miss NYC! I left Boston a few months ago for northwest PA, but am hopefully moving back soon. It was so easy to get to Manhattan for the day! Plus, I grew up in NJ so my heart belongs to NY!
    Anyway, looking forward to reading more!

  7. April 15, 2010 10:33 am

    I’m so glad I’ve found your blog! I love travelling too and I also went to Thailand recently 🙂

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