october, 2006

Tue, 3 Oct 2006 20:50:40 -0700

I'm not getting everything I want these days -- I have ideas about how a few things could improve at work; the wrong people are in India at the wrong times; I don't know what will happen to my lovely apartment (whose granite counters made a cameo in the Alumni Notes this time 'round!) if Andrea and Ojan both jump ship and the end of the lease come January. But my baseline is a composite of many things, and since food is high on that list, I don't know that much could actually bring me down (for that long, at least). Not only do I have Jaime (still crashing) at home to make me yummy Israeli salads, but the better I get to know the Café 150 chefs, the more likely it is that I will gain the fabled Google 15. Yes, I'm vegan; yes, when I stumbled into her café on Monday morning as soon as it opened (Leesa, I need tofu! --Your weekend was that good, eh?), Leesa squirted extra dill-silkentofu-jalapeno-lime sauce onto the herbed and fried triangle of vegan protein into my little pre-lunch bowl, the better to quell last night's wine indulgence with. Making dinner Sunday night I called Davey, who had promised to teach me how to supreme an orange; my salad was the better for his quick, over-the-phone tutorial. And, wrapped in my red, company-issue fleece against the early October chill on the shuttle on the way home now, my mouth is still remembering tonight's dinner of frisée-arugula salad with a silken pomegranate vinaigrette, the earthy pumpkin soup, the warmly spiced eggplant-couscous tagine, and the slightly saucy last of the summer fruit. And to think I considered staying longer to review more code instead of that!

I realize that I am, in the local parlance, hell of spoiled. Vegan lunch with Roxane Monday turned into a disparate crew sitting on the patio over an extended meal; Erick and I geeked out about social networking and tag clouds the other day as Jay reaffirmed his impression of our nerdiness; I basically am paid to be in grad school -- but one at which I am fed -- nay, fattened up by attentive and genuine chefs. Nowhere else in the world could I eat this well this regularly. Not only do I enjoy the work of web application authorship, of being part of this tech bubble, but the food makes me want even more to prove myself worthy of it, to stay.

Wed, 11 Oct 2006 19:46:08 -0700

"So, you're a hopeless romantic?" Mike asked last night over our second (or was it third?) flute of operatic champagne. And I wondered aloud what tipped him off -- had I in my cups said something over dinner at Jardinière on Saturday night? Or just the way I had been smiling broadly through the Beethoven, attentively recognizing motifs (well, okay, a motif) of the Wagner? The latter, he said. And that he wouldn't have guessed it. But this is a sure-fire way to bring the romantic in me come charging out: Take me to the symphony, where you have seasons box tickets, and at which Joshua Bell is playing the Beethoven violin concerto on his Strad; pre-order martinis to your box for intermission; end up leaving your car (and, oops, your keys and cell phone) in the garage in order to properly accompany the following dinner with a bottle of Sancerre (at which we happen to bump into the violinist himself, and manage to not sound too asinine while congratulating him on his performance). Yum on all counts.

Even though I had to tell Craig on Monday evening that I wanted to stop playing duets at work with him (neither one of us practices; it's not enjoyable if I'm not getting better), I've been awash in wonderful music of late. Karina keeps passing me opera tickets; I have, in the last month, gotten amazing seats for all of Die Fledermaus, Un Ballo in Maschera, Rigoletto (twice, as if in Vienna! Once simulcast onto the plaza), and now, last night, Tristan und Isolde, that five-hour Wagnerian behemoth with sopranos also deserving of that epithet, the intermissions of which are more needed than for any Verdi. My dodgeball friends received the message [Champagne + Wagner = sleeeepy] right before the curtain went up on the third act last night, but I wasn't about to fall asleep for the Liebestod, and the gorgeous, diatonic, major chord that ended the whole thing, making one realize just why one hadn't simply stayed out in the lobby past intermission, sipping the bubbly, why that much harmony without anything traditionally ariatic worth it: Contrast. Contrast, and an excuse to wear that velvet dress that's been in my closet ever since Bjorn stapled me shut after it burst open as I was about to go on stage with the Midnight Quintett all those years ago.

Fri, 20 Oct 2006 18:12:53 -0700

I'm stuck, as usual on a Friday afternoon, on the shuttle home. The entire day at work I've been antsy: Did I print out my boarding pass? Did I pack up my desk for the office-shuffling that will take place in my absence next week? Am I playing too much Dr. Mario with Derek, who's apparently eight times better than I am, on the game console in the break room? (Answer to all three: Yes.) And now, I'm making a list, and checking it against Lonely Planet Thailand, held open by my iPod on the seat next to me. What am I forgetting? I intended to pack last night, but between phonebanking for MoveOn and then introducing Jaime to the best burrito shop near her new place in the Upper Mission, a quick ten-minute walk from my apartment, it was all I could do to locate my passport, and to drag my new, empty travel backpack to the center of my room as a reminder of what I had left undone.

I'm not packed. I don't know where I'm staying for the first two nights in the country. But in seven hours, I'll be on the longest flight I've ever taken (I think that's true -- the tour with WYSO to Japan in high school might have been longer, coming as we were from the Midwest): 20+ hours, to Thailand! Men in orange robes; spicy vegan cuisine; miles of beaches!

I'm both excited (I've never been anywhere remotely similar, in many ways) and terrified (I've never traveled by myself without so much as a friend to meet -- at least, for the first couple of days). The latter, as Derek points out, is not consonant with the rest of my personality -- I should be a self-starter! An adventurer! A seat-of-the-pantser! -- and so I'm plunging into this with nothing but the bare minimum: an e-ticket for the plane; a backpack [that will soon be] full of hiking sandals and tank tops; a guidebook; the phone number of the friends from work I'm meeting in Bangkok on Tuesday.

I'll read the tourbook on the plane over and figure out where to stay, how to get to Chiang Mai (or if there's someplace better I should be investigating). I'm sure my mother is shuddering to read this -- she who wouldn't, the prohibitive price aside, up and go to the western-as-it-gets Madrid this summer without an itinerary (Hawaii turned out to be a good alternative, though); as the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I'm a bit nervous about it, myself.

But nerves be damned. I'm going to Thailand, for god's sake! Damn. I should pack.

all this Šnori heikkinen, October 2006

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