Heidi Atwal – Friend of the Week
OOPS WRONG LANDING PAGE. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ NISH NADARAJA’S 11Qs.
Heidi’s What — “I’ve given Ryan Adams’ Taylor Swift cover album (1989) a fair amount of play since it was released last autumn. It’s ridiculously enjoyable whether you’re a true blue Taylor fan or not. (I am a fan, and thusly biased.) Listen, and tell me that his take of “Out of the Woods” isn’t heartbreakingly profound. #squadgoals”
Friend Of The Week: 11 Questions
- Nickname(s)A select handful of friends have taken to calling me “Heidi-Cakes,” or just “Cakes” for short. Living in London, close British friends often greet me with an uncharacteristically sunny “Hi-de-Hi!” — it’s the catchphrase from a popular ‘80s television show of the same name.I’m “Bega” to my boyfriend — a cutesy inside pun I wouldn’t dare explain lest I completely embarrass us both. Already I’ve said too much.
- Where do you live? I’m a Californian who has been living in London for the past five-and-a-half years. I left behind a sluggish editorial career in Los Angeles to earn my Master’s degree abroad, and I’ve miraculously stayed despite the distance from family and perpetual rain.I live in Whitechapel, an area of East London that, like most surrounding neighborhoods, is rapidly gentrifying. Historically it’s known as the location of the Jack the Ripper “Whitechapel Murders;” today it’s a vibrant community with a bustling outdoor market, a few independent cafés, and converted buildings attracting people who work in the City of London. I live in a former brew house which now boasts a Soho House-run restaurant on the ground floor. Suffice to say, it’s a bit bizarre, but I’m thankful for easy access to sloppy hamburgers and roasted chicken when the (hungover) mood strikes.Having London as a home base while exploring Europe has been an incredible gift. Predictably, I’ve traveled more in the past five years than I have in my entire life: Copenhagen, Tel Aviv, Rome, Marrakesh — the list is long, my experiences along the way at once formative and magical.
- What are you working on or how do you spend your days? I’m soon starting a new job at a big ad agency off of Brick Lane, and while waiting for some formalities to be finalized I’ve been occupying myself at home. A typical day usually means waking up around 7:30 or 8:00 AM, having coffee and a light breakfast while trawling my Feedly, then doing something active. This can range from 45-minutes of a self-led Vinyasa session in my living room to a long run around Victoria Park to the occasional Psycle class — a full-on, glute-burning, spin-meets-choreography workout.Then I’ll come home to make lunch, listen to public radio, and spend the afternoon running errands, reading, and / or tackling one of the many creative projects I’ve put on the backburner as of late. For instance, I finally stuffed and sewed the pillowcases I picked up in Morocco three years ago just last week. I love cooking, so I look forward to making something wholesome and filling for dinner in the evenings.Not being in an office for the past three weeks has been simultaneously restorative and maddening. I’m accustomed to sustained, frenetic activity: commuting an hour each way across London, working a full day, then scrambling at night to fit in a workout, cooking, cocktails with friends, something culturally stimulating that doesn’t include staring at a screen, and quality time with my boyfriend before heading to bed and doing it all over again.When the ennui (Read: 48-Hour Existential Crisis) really began to kick in last week, I combated it by launching a blog: Savour & Sate. It’s broadly dedicated to lifestyle and culture, and it’s a creative outlet for myself above all else.I’ve un-ironically embraced my love of homemaking as of late — in a slightly subversive, not-totally-Martha sort of way, I’d like to think. I wanted a place to reflect on exciting recipes I’ve tried, hosting triumphs and foibles, and the people and places I love. It’s been liberating to revel in domesticity, to experience it as something creative, motivating, and empowering rather than the Yellow Wallpaper-esque nightmare it’s sometimes portrayed as. I’m sure this earnest appreciation will influence content, though I’m not quite sure how the blog will grow and take shape. It’s very much a work in progress, and hopefully more than a few culturally keen, like-minded women will come along for the ride.
- What do you do for fun? I’m all about cooking and calligraphy these days. I gravitate toward activities which produce material results as they’re a nice foil to right thumb-scrolling my way through the day. Also, I’m something of a neo-Luddite.I considered myself a mediocre home cook at best when I moved to London, but it’s through endless practice and a few charred bread puddings that I can truly say I’m proud of my abilities. It’s also through cooking that I’ve come to appreciate food, my body, and the exorbitant price bakeries charge for French macaroons. Five hours and a dozen delicate vanilla-buttercream cookies later, I have Thomas Keller to thank for a near meltdown the day of a French-themed dinner party.Calligraphy is something I’ve long practiced informally, but I got a bit more serious last autumn by taking a university course. I’m inspired by the work of Seb Lester, an artist whose badass lettering designs are something I hope I can approximate one day.
- What do you wonder about? All of the Things! I’m far too cerebral and analytical for my own good most of the time. I legitimately wonder where I’ll end up living next year — London? California? Costa Rica while I pursue yoga teacher training (really)? I’m begrudgingly contenting myself with life’s many uncertainties and learning how to roll with them. I also wonder if my landlord will acquiesce and let us get a pet. It’s no secret that I would love a house bunny.
- If you could wake up with any superpower, what would it be? The ability to heal heartbreak and melancholy. While I understand that recovering from life many knocks is a valuable process, I’d love to speed it up for those in need, to show others that they’re much more resilient than they believe, remind them of their inherent value, and bring a bit more light to the world. It’s a far-fetched dream, to be sure, but it’s my magical answer to the under-discussed seriousness of some mental health conditions.
- What qualities do your favorite people have in common? My favorite people are screamingly funny, effusively kind, gentle, creative, empathic, and generous of spirit. They’re also slightly decidedly not normal and embrace their weirdness in all its glorious shades.
- What’s the most awkward accidental text or email you’ve ever sent or received? I’ve never accidentally sent or received an overtly awkward e-mail or text, thankfully. Deliberately silly and stupid, yes, but I send those messages with intent!
- What is too serious to be joked about? Nothing. It all boils down to context, delivery, and knowing your damn audience. The world we live in is ridiculous, and if we can’t laugh about its absurdities we’re all screwed.That said, if I am hungry or tired, jokes fall majorly flat with me. In those cases, nothing is funny until I get my hands on a granola bar.
- What is the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, watched, or read recently? Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 was the last great novel I read. Its spellbinding, pervertedly poetic prose and outlandish storyline managed to keep me actively invested for 900 pages. (Also, pasta and cats.)I just watched Iris, the Albert Maysles documentary about Iris Apfel. The film itself wasn’t spectacular, but it did provide some insight into the supremely accessorized lady herself and her wacky world. I aspire for a marriage as genuine and supportive as that of hers and Carl’s, and to be as unabashedly self-accepting as she is.Finally, I recently went to the Eames exhibition at London’s Barbican Centre. I’ve long been obsessed with the couple and the work that came out of their Venice studio; they’re about much more than That Famed Lounge Chair. Very few designers / artists have managed to penetrate mass culture in the overt ways that they did, and their success is an endless font of inspiration.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Interestingly, I was just asked to visualize my ideal future five years from now just a few nights ago!I’d love to be back in California — Northern or Southern, To be Determined, though I have a soft spot for Los Angeles — married, and a mother. I’d also like to have more professional autonomy, a flexible career that will allow me to work from home while I raise a family and pursue other passions, like yoga and writing.Whether all or none of this happens, I want to be content — to trust that I’m exactly where I belong. I see a lot of light and a helluva lot of love in the future. It’s all I know.