Apologies for the delay. Student essays and journals have shifted in various piles from the left of my desk to the right. Research papers on Greek gods and goddesses have nestled into a hutch on the left side along with create-your-own-magic-shop posters. Qing Ming Jie (Tomb-sweeping day) is nearly upon us. Suffice it to say that this April, I look forward to celebrating one more revolution around the sun, polishing my next diamond and doing some tomb sweeping of my own.
As the cherry blossoms of April bloom, it’s a perfect time to reflect on my March. My Blackest week in Shanghai kicked off with a dear friend’s birthday party at the swanky new Atelier, a stellar John Legend concert in the middle of things and the Shanghai Black Panther premiere party (replete with a tailor-made Ankara dress). Countless moments of Black excellence. Countless numbers of beautiful Black expats from the Diaspora. My heart runneth over!
In the spirit of Springtime renewal, may you shed the dregs and spring forth! May the bright sun increase your own light. May your grass stay green and growing. May your blossoms ever bloom!
Shayla Lawson’s newest book is I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean, published by Saturnalia Books this month. As she says below, the book is “a companion to Frank Ocean’s musical catalog,” though I love it with very little knowledge of Frank Ocean’s music. The most I know is from her Salon review of Frank Ocean’s Endless. But all I need are the poems. A recent MacDowell and Yaddo fellow, Lawson is one of the most exciting poets working today, launching bold, multi-medium approaches to her books (she paired PANTONE with a perfume she created with Age of Earth Collective, and is releasing an EP with the Oceanographers for I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean). Her poetry has appeared in Tin House, Guernica, The Offing, and many other journals. She’s currently working with Ross Gay on The Tenderness Project.
I am giving away copies to book bloggers in exchange for a book review! Simply email me at AdaoraAllure@gmail.com with the subject “Seeking Reviewers” and a link to your book review blog. I will send you a free Kindle eBook copy of Confessions of a Walk Away Wife. This offer is limited to the first 10 responding bloggers. For more details on the book, visit the link above.
A wise old friend used to tell me “If you keep doing what you’ve been done, you’re gonna keep gettin’ what you been gettin’.” At some point in 2017, my expansion ceased. At once, I could no longer easily access my desired feeling. It is a truth that you cannot be abundant and expanding if you feel tense and closed.
I had a post-Epiphany epiphany yesterday. While deep in meditation and perched cross-legged atop the puffy white comforter on my bed, the sunlight intensified. The following exhalations were effortless, freeing. A light chuckle escaped my parted lips and a tear rolled down my cheek. That’s the lightness, that’s bliss. That’s the feeling that I hope and pray all of you can feel this year.
Daniel and Kerryn from LoReLi, a Beijing zine showcasing new artists and creatives from China, visited DO ART Space on December 15. They set out to put together a new zine within 24 hours of their event. Needless to say, the event went swimmingly.
Artists, writers, and musicians from all over Shanghai went to work on pieces in the space. For hours on end, the art space exploded with sundry pens, coloured A4 paper, malty IPAs and subwoofer-rattling beats. It was an all-in-all spontaneous, punk-rock style art happening that I was glad to take part in. Keep tabs on my blog for more details on my forthcoming second book which includes “Onsra (Cut Us Open).”
Stopping in on a whim to satisfy a salmon and avocado craving, I recently sat down for lunch at Little Catch. I’d seen it from my Didi windows countless times and read several expat blog articles on it. It’s sandwiched on a row of other expat eateries like Brothers Kabab and Eli Falafel. It’s also just across the street from The Avocado Lady.
Billed as an “urban fishmonger and poke shop,” Little Catch offers a variety of fresh filets and cuts. The menu was filled with mouthwatering poke combos like Hawaiian Tuna, Wasabii Shrimp and Umeboshi Octopus with that sour plum zip. My choice for lunch: Sambal Salmon. For the price, the bowl was filled with sizable portions of buttery-smooth salmon, avocado, roasted cashews, tobiko roe and classic, piquant Sambal. The verdict: one of the best poke bowls I’ve had in Shanghai. Consider this a step above Wagas’ poke bowls for a comparable price. Pairing the mellow tartness and light pop of a Heike Mate made for a great lunch combo.
Little Catch makes it easy for you to get your Poke fix with locations in Former French Concession/Xuhui, Jing’an and Xintiandi. Note the Sherpa’s bike in the shot; the driver left out with a full pack from the shop so you know Little Catch is a hit!
Little Catch 247－6 Wulumuqi Middle Road
near Wuyuan Road 近五原路
Shanghai, China 上海
I heard some excellent advice recently. As a fan of Dr. John Gottman’s works, I was thrilled in hearing a speaker reference one of his great pieces of wisdom. For 1 thing that’s bringing you down, you should have 5 reasons to be thankful. An attitude of gratitude is excellent for your overall health, especially emotionally.
While away in Vietnam and Indonesia, there was a lot of downtime in my hotel room. I made the most of it by meditating, praying and listening to sessions by Eckhart Tolle and Mooji. Their offerings were sage and timeless reflections on mindfulness. Mindfulness is the best starting point for gratitude.
I don’t subscribe to any one religion. That’s a conversation with many layers for me which I don’t care to bore you with. However, I made a point to start my days out on my hotel balcony, looking up at the clear blue skies or out on the ocean and praying:
Thank you for waking me and allowing me to see another day.
Thank you for providence.
Thank you for putting me here and keeping me safe.
Thank you for these people, this beautiful land and sea.
Being a relative newbie to Shanghai has its perks. Your new, built-in social circle of expats shows you the ropes and invites you out to a bevy of F&B gems. You wind up at some solid after-hours hangs, down 1 or 2 more gin & tonics than you would have liked…before you know it, you wind up waking with a banger of a headache and that gnawing need-some-greasy-goodness feeling in your tummy.
On the first new city hangover, a friend and I headed to Munchies in Jing’an on Wuding Lu. The name and decor clue you in to their easy-going, free-spirited nature. The menu is packed with classic American comfort food like pancakes, omelets, burritos, and hamburgers. My friend is a fan of their chocolate peanut butter milkshakes and hamburgers while I opted for the veggie omelet this go round. While not the best brunch/breakfast meal I’ve had here yet, it was certainly filling and budget-friendly.
In my opinion, Mr. Pancake House is a step above. They offer a very similar menu with similar pricing. The unfortunate bit is that whether you dine in or order online, there’s at least an item or two that they no longer offer or have run out of. Such was my luck with I received a call from the store and Sherpa’s that they were out of chocolate chips for my chocolate chip pancakes (!!!) and asked for my approval to substitute with chocolate syrup. The espresso martinis of previous hours begged for the chocolatey, buttery goodness of these pancakes so I forged ahead. Here’s hoping they can make positive changes to improve their stock since their food is consistently flavorful.
Finally, I cannot resist the berry-chocked, lemon zesty, rich, buttery goodness that is the dish you see below. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lazy morning where I don’t feel like making breakfast or if the previous night ended in a dive bar with dance-worn feet and a liter of Asahi, I will always crave this beauty of a stack. Enter Blueberry Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes from Al’s Diner. The menu features many American classics like omelets, skillets (Purgatory Eggs for hot-and-spicy fans), sandwiches and pasta dishes. The Key Lime Pie, priced right and well-balanced, offers a great finish for any Al’s meal. Gracie’s Ice Cream offers a one-two punch for Al’s fans as their unique flavor combinations like miso-caramel and balsamic strawberry shine. I’ve already shortlisted their banana split for my next post-post-party hangover meal.
*In advance of the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff gracing Shanghai’s Le Baron on November 18, here’s my quick review from a late May visit.*
A fishbowl glass of gin and tonic. The black-and-white luxury swank decor washed out in a flood of red light. Densely-packed dance floors on 2 levels where you’ll feel another’s heartbeat as you pass through. Beautiful expats gyrating to 15-second snippets of today’s hits with little to no time for crossfades. Suddenly, the poppy 4/4 thumps give way to some sexy, murky, subwoofer-breaking trap. That’s your typical Saturday summer night at Le Baron in Xuhui district.