“You sound so much alike” was repeated throughout the night.  I hadn’t seen my first cousin Damien in years, and as soon as we’re together we wonder why that is.  He worked as a chef at many of New York’s Best Of restaurants (and used to bring me many goodies) before following the Philadelphia trend.  Now he’s back, the executive chef of Cassis on 14th Street.  Yeah, go ahead and twist my arm, getting me to a bistro with French wines, etched glass, and bowls of steamy mussels.  Damien and I are a year apart and grew up together, pausing the movie FAME where we thought we could spot a nipple.

When we were young, he tricked me into eating a handful of really hot Chinese chili peppers.  I began to cry on the spot.  At first he laughed, but when he saw how much pain I was in, he began to cry, too.  When I reminded him of the story the other night, he sucked in a whistle like Papoo.  When I told him so, he laughed like his sister, who laughs like her mother.  We all sound the same.

When we’re together, everything becomes more pronounced, accents and attitude.  We speak with our hands and laugh at our own jokes, touching you lightly on the arm.  I love being around family because of this; it reminds me that I have one, that I’m part of something, that there are people out there who tell a story the same way I do.  Who dance and drink and know how to fucking LIVE.  Life is a series of moments, and the ones I hold most dear are spent surrounded by those who know life is lived in these moments and meals.

Damien laughs at me with his mouth open, but it doesn’t really become a laugh until we both open our mouths, then it becomes safe, comfortable, and so real.  I feel alive and home.  I love how family does that, regresses us to a photograph in our minds, where we’re wearing white leather Nike sneakers with navy blue swooshes, singing together, measuring our heights along the neck of a giraffe measuring stick hanging on my childhood room walls.

Dsc_1153I love that someone has known me that long, and in turn, that I know he has a sweet tooth, holds his breath now when he sees a dog, and the first time he made pesto, he didn’t rinse the basil enough, so we basically ate sand over spaghetti.  He’s the guy I played tennis with, and when he served, he’d slice the ball.  When I couldn’t return it, he’d yell, “Stemmmm.”  Then we’d order grape juice and mix it with seltzer, charging it to our parents’ chits at the club.

His mother once told me she was glad we were friends because not a lot of people understand him.  I never understood how that was possible.  Being around Damien was never work or patience; it was home.



  1. I love that family does that to me too. Actually…my roommates from college do that as well. When we all get together at a wedding or some other function…it's automatically back together. Like we had never left. Your genuine smile in those pics shows that you really are home with him…

  2. This is how much of an addiction this is…I tried to 'save' my Greek Tragedy for when I got back to work. But here I am on my day off, reading it, because I just can't not.

    Another good one Stephanie Klein.

  3. steph…YOU are so full of life, in everything you do…so much fun to read your daily blog and look at all your pix too…philip is one lucky guy!

  4. Stephanie,
    Just in case you haven't seen my previous post (re: Linus's pee pads) I want to tell you now that I think you are great and your blog makes my boring life at work a lot more bearable. Best wishes on all your present and future endeavors.
    What kind of camera do you use?

  5. Hi again,
    Please ignore my question about your camera. I just read your answer to someone else's question and the answer to my question is right there..duh!

  6. Let me get this right – you hand your camera over to a stranger or friend and expect us all to believe that these are candid/natural shots? Please.

    What do you tell this strange person? "Stay right there, because any minute we will burst into spontaneous laughter. Oh, and DO NOT get my ass in the shot"

    Sad and not at ALL impressive

  7. He is such a cutie – i know where i will be going for something to eat and some serious stalking of the cute boy…

  8. Hi, by chance is your cousin looking for a sous chef? I want to move back to NY and have been looking for a job. Loved reading your blog over the past few weeks, especially since you quit your job. I did too and am now in the open trenches waiting to be devoured, but I'd rather be the consuming one. I like your style of writing, reminds me of a good friend of mine in NY who took the master class at the Writing Studio. She's not writing anymore. I should tell her about you. You've inspired me to feel better about quitting my job and follow my dream. Ok, so right…if Damien needs any help at all, I'd love to apply!

  9. My grandfather once told me: "Son, one law of nature is that asses never get smaller."

  10. I love the first picture of you and Damien. It conveys so much you almost don't need the accompanying blog.

  11. SLR? Not the size of camera you just throw in a purse… Cumbersome?? With the amount of pictures that you have posted throughout, you must have something more handy?

    Also, did you take pictures of the food in the dining room of the restaurant? Did people look at you like you were a little o-d-d?

    Family is great. Family that you can also hang with, even better.


  12. I have the same with my 2 best friends from home. When we're together go right back to being 14, always "in trouble" for something silly sitting the basement playing "chew & view".

    That pic of the ravioli is positively delicious…

  13. "Damien and I are a year apart and grew up together, pausing the movie FAME where we thought we could spot a nipple."

    Did you not see the same FAME I did? The guys standing on the toilet stalls to look into the girl's bathroom? If you had to pause the movie not to miss that, you must be blind!

    Another great post…

  14. Hey Stephanie, Just read that great story about you and Damien. There's nothing better than family and keeping them close.
    I also wanted to let you know that you've inspired me to go forward with my blogging. I hope to try Cassis now, as the blog I've started "Mona's Apple" is a NY restaurant blog. Check it out-I'd be honored :)

  15. This is SUCH a cute blog and a great story of family. A friend pointed me here and I dare say, I'll return. I shall return :)

  16. You're very lucky. I'm an only child and I never see my cousins. I only have that sorta thing with my best friends, one in particular. Well, doesn't matter, your friends are the family you choose for yourself in my opinion, so in that case Je n'ai rien à me plaindre-I have nothing to complain about.

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