january, 2007

Tue, 2 Jan 2007 09:12:06 -0800

I feel like 2007 will hit me in full force in about 40 minutes, when 101 South dissolves from a receding cityscape of San Francisco (characteristic skyline: Transamerica Pyramid and Coit Tower; the Bay Bridge's pylons looping over to Treasure Island; and me watching it all from this rear-facing seat on the shuttle) to the distributed thrum of the Internet mothership in Mountain View, at which the much that I left undone in 2006 is waiting for me, hungry and impatient. Until I reach the south bay, however, this length of peninsula can serve for me to mentally close out the old year.

2007 began as all years, perhaps, should: Geeks, pleasantly surprised to learn, as they opened my laptop, that I typed Dvorak, had brought up the system clock synchronized to Apple's time server, and were counting down seconds until the new year hit Pacific Standard; Cody, having just loudly uncorked one of three bottles of Dom Perignon that had miraculously appeared at my apartment (well, actus Codii et Laurencii, not dei, but you know), was frantically pouring -- first carefully into his glass, my own; then less so as the seconds loudly ticked down, until, by "two, one!" the bottle wasn't so much aimed at any one particular flute but at the general surface of the coffee table, the luckier any glass that happened under its flow. Ahem. Dom. I'd thought that Shane (L.), texting me from Zeitgeist the previous night, had been kidding; I forget that I work with pre-IPO Googlers who are both generous and ridiculous. I've had the stuff before, but never in a gradual progression from the $5 champagne that began the evening on up; man, that shit is good. I hope my coffee table liked it.

Jaime and I had again combined forces for an extravaganza, and while there was perhaps less volume contained by the dresses than of those worn at the rest of December's parties, there was no less style (well, if my raver pants could count as "stylish" -- bought for the PvD show John Mark and I went to in DC, they don't get many opportunities to strut their stuff these days; paired with silver toenails, heels, hoop earrings, and something ridiculously low-cut and sparkly, they served well). Mike of course showed up with the accouterments and utensils of a full bar and re-proved his prowess with a pitcher each of Manhattans and cosmos; Cooper showed up brown-bagging rosé and with the makings of champagne cocktails (God love bitters!); Andrew showed up with a beautiful camera with which to photograph the proceedings. The dinner party that almost didn't happen came off beautifully, thanks to Ann and Jaime's pre-cookery. I even had time to slap a coat of silver on my nails (now already peeling off), completing the outfit. And, thanks to my dishwasher and Jaime's help, my kitchen wasn't even worse for the wear, net.

Three-day weekends, apparently, are where it's at. I overheard a guy on the N this morning commenting that he could get used to them; I think I would eventually go stir-crazy, but to have a day both before and after the day of a big party was (and is) just lovely. Saturday had enough luxury of time for yoga in the morning, motorcycle/hippie brunch at Café Gratitude with Mike afterwards, and a trip across the bay to IKEA later, ostensibly for more champagne flutes, but really to get lost and ogle beautiful rugs (for my living room) and stuffed hippos (for his putative children). And Monday, hangoverless, he, Jaime and I ended up, after Madison bagels (I brought two dozen back with me this time, in the suitcase with the best present ever: my new Cuisinart!) and two dishwashersful, in Golden Gate Park, watching ducks and geese squawk for crumbs of bread in the growing chill and waning, lambent California light, which struck cypresses and the circling gulls with equal beauty. ("I'm afraid to look," said Mike; "the birds might poop on me.") Cooper's first vegan menu and a dry white made a nice close to the day that, functionally, rounded out 2006 while it rang in 2007, both a culmination and a beginning.

I have ideas about 2007: Faster turn-around time on personal emails; better money management; do even more yoga. But I think I've done pretty well (pretty ridiculously well, actually) on 2006. Happy new year, all.

Mon, 8 Jan 2007 19:03:03 PST -0800

I had an offer this weekend to go snowboarding. Just as the weather had begun to rain a bit, and bins of logo-emblazoned umbrellas began to appear at work, so did the powder begin to pile up around Tahoe, and traffic both on the internal snow list and on 80 East pick up. Andrew and his friend offered me a spot in the minivan they'd rented, and crash space on their free hotel room. And so tempting! I want again -- soon -- to fly down the slopes, falling only into fluffy whiteness! But not this weekend. This weekend, I had plans.

With Matt sick and Jaime up to her eyeballs in grad school applications (the woman is nothing if not driven!), the two of them were out for a planned Saturday night. But no matter; the City held independent promise. One of my new year's resolutions -- and I do have a list, having made mostly good on those I defined last year -- was to do more yoga. And apparently it was on everyone else's, too, or so I gathered as the line for the first class of the year stretched out the door of Yoga Tree Castro. Crowded or not, the session was as therapeutic as it always is, and the wine I'd uncorked and at which I'd sipped (rather lengthily, it must be admitted) during a six-hour phone conversation the previous night (the mark of something good, if you ask me!) did not hobble my downward-facing dog, my crow, my eagle. I left elated, as I always do, as Shane could attest, since I would call him every Saturday afternoon for a while there, blissed out on endorphins and the fruity meditative aspect of yoga, in the powers of which I have yet to grudgingly consciously admit.

The Redwood Room glowed with polish as usual that evening, though their Elderflower Collinses (one sacrificed as libation to the floor, as I giggled, blending into the crowd, wearing bits of silver and impractical-yet-cute shoes) did not stack up, now that Mike & I have had our collective palate spoiled. We've been spoiled by Jonny's cocktails at Absinthe. Spoiled by those of the Alembic, at which we stayed for a Bone, a Sazerac, and a Vesper this Tuesday past, as Wiesen went through single malts and something even smokier than Lagavulin. Spoiled, maybe, even by Paréa, the red-walled Grecian wine bar at 19th & Valencia to over whose low tables we exchanged Thoughts on Wednesday night. But Millennium did not disappoint -- it never does! -- and by the end of the evening, I was, predictably, unable to finish my amazing dessert wine paired with a mint-, pomegranate-seed-, and other-things--mind-blowingly-delicious rice pudding. Twitching. (I'm never leaving San Francisco.)

It may have been snowing in Tahoe, but the brisk air and blue-skies sun persisted into Sunday here, lighting Duboce Park Café (rife with the stroller set and dog owners, and homemade soy chai), and lighting at least two-thirds of a stairway walk that led us up to and around Kite Hill, a tucked-away park with a vista that followed the topography of Market, the bay, the cityscape. A bench for contemplating same, and other topics as well.

(And here, again, is where I break with prudence and decide that discretion as the better part of valor is an outdated concept in a Web 2.0 world. Why oh why, given opportunities, must I not take them? Why is it somehow more mature to deny potential? Maybe I'll understand when I'm 30. Maybe that dooms me to four more years, minimum, of frustration, misaligned goals, and increasing jadedness. Or maybe it actually is for the better, whatever we've just, with a week solid of Talks and delicious drinks, decided to avoid. Funny: Though I have many reasons to not write this publicly, one of my 2007 resolutions was to blog more!)

And, almost like (but nothing like) me eating raw haricots verts in Paris after the Pont Mirabeau (la joie venait toujours après la peine?), we ended up having olive oil with garlic at my favorite Italian restaurant, and then more olive oil. A culmination, I suppose.

But, my baseline stays: Are you always this happy? asks Mike, as I prance through the Castro sunlight, looking at orange cufflinks, orange chairs, rainbow flags. And it was hard to wipe the grin off my face long enough to tell him, with a straight face, that, had he known me in DC, he wouldn't have noticed me to be the same person. I love this city. Opportunities may come and go, and be passed regretfully up, but the City she loves me.

Tue, 16 Jan 2007 00:21:00 -0500

One of the great pleasures of going east for a weekend from California is the excuse it provides one with to sleep in. Not just until 9 or 9:30, and not until 10 AM like I might before yoga (though that, even, cutting it close), but a full, seemingly-luxuriant, full-on noon or later. Yum. Only thing is, it's not really luxuriant -- it's kind of early, given that your internal clock is three hours earlier, and that it's the weekend, and that you were out salsa dancing / seeing Colin's band play a dive bar on H Northeast / shaking your ass like there were no tomorrow at the eighth annual Delafield-hosted MLK dance party until 2, 3, 4 AM, respectively. Fuck the pancake breakfast the next morning -- were you seriously going to get up for that, having gotten home late, tipsy and tired and hungry ("toast!" I must have almost screamed when Gabe proposed it in the cab home last night with his friends Carver and Emily, knowing that it was whole wheat, not caring that the assuredly-concomitant peanut butter certainly had all kinds of preservatives in it that I usually shun, thinking only of hot bread and warm, oily topping)? I slept in until past noon, emerging only for the DC version, with Colin, of a Thai brunch: not the eclectic communal gathering under an awning that made me move to Berkeley, but a brunch diverted from the über-packed Teaism to the around-the-corner Thai Chef, at which I satisfied my craving for penang curry with tofu.

However, this advantage is turned on its head, transmogrified into a disadvantage, should one be so stupid as to take a goddamned redeye over. I thought I swore those off years ago, ever since I got my first salary! (Privileges of adulthood: (1) Buying one's own nice [read: Calphalon; All-Clad] pots and pans; (2) beers after work; (3) not taking redeyes! Ever!) But Jaime had scheduled a haircut for 5 PM at the salon of the only woman in the world who can tame her unruly, curly mane; and she and Joanne and Emily and I were traveling together; and it had been a while since I made that resolution -- and so I forgot, or acceded. or both.

Note to self: I'm never doing that again. We flew into Dulles around 7 on Friday morning, and, with Emily and Jaime giggling on the shuttle from the airport to the Metro, I sullenly procured a paper (Times, of course: at least they're a little easier to find on the east coast!) and stuck my earbuds in my ears, glaring at the grey scenery of highways and suburban morass leading into Washington, almost regretting having come. The funk lasted throughout most of the day, as I dragged my ass out to Tryst after a morning catnap, and went through single soy cortados for the rest of the afternoon, responding to work email and IMming. Bitterness melted with coffee, but exhaustion did not; it was only a force of will that let me drag myself out again after Ethiopian up to Habana Village, where the last of the bile dispelled with hours of good salsa in gold stilettos with the ladies plus James, Colin, Bethany, Gabe and friends, and crazy MLK-goer Mattitiyahu. A vegan empanada (well, whey in the crust, but don't tell) provided a lovely midnight snack.

And of course I'm glad I came. I feel no love towards the city, the District (to use its capitalized eponym), itself; like Madison, now, I appreciated it because I know where to go for vegan brunch (Teaism on Saturday with Jaime, post-cello-buying; Asylum with Colin, and, serendipitously, all of Rosemont for full-on, soy-cheese-and-soysage-and-tofu creations on Sunday), for good coffee (only one place: Tryst), for good people (Delafield and Rosemont, baby). Walking and driving around, I appreciated the progress of the new construction; my museum-happy ex and I uncaffeinatedly (me) but happily (both) perused the the National Portrait Gallery cum Smithsonian American Art Museum, newly reopened after year of closure, at Gallery Place. But I feel no love for, say, Dupont Circle, or any affection for the Metro beyond its unassailable efficiency (the yellow line now runs up to Fort Totten!) and sleek RFID fare cards, which I've retained in my wallet for exactly these purposes. I do not love DC. This, we knew -- in fact, most people knew this before me. "I love California and I'm never leaving," I told a surprised-to-see-me Sibley at dinner at Rosemont on Saturday, between teaching new friends how to do headstands. About to move to Santa Cruz himself, he smiled knowingly.

I commented on the plane in that this twice-annual pilgrimage east -- once to Philly in June, for alumni weekend; once to DC in January for MLK -- is getting to be a bit much. I don't love the east coast. I spent half the weekend in violent denial that I ever had any fun out there at all, and the other half remembering that there are huge pockets of good people I love to see, even in cities from whose embrace, however tepid, I've moved on. ("You realize San Francisco's a slut," someone told me as I declared my love for her this weekend; I averred that I didn't care, as long as she loves me back). And the people make it worth it.

Tue, 30 Jan 2007 19:43:35 -0800

Just leaving work on the 7:50 shuttle up, I walk across cold, dewy grass, passing the illuminated T-Rex outside Building 43, No Name Café glowing full of a pipeline of hungry, then satiated-with-vegetables, Googlers. Ojan, Julie and I have walked here through a series of breezeways from our set of cubes on the third floor of 41 -- Justin and Ojan's desks overlooking the park behind the complex, hills that, green in the winter, recede north into the bottom of the Bay; my new 4-cube predominantly female, on this, my new gender-balanced team -- all the way to the café. I knew these were all connected, but I have yet to figure out the secret passageways and most-optimal routes between my dual 24-inch monitors and vegan turtle cheesecake; to locate all my friends' desks on this floor. Though officially, this transfer is only for Q1, if all goes well, it will be permanent.

Exciting! A new team: new code to break; new languages to wrap my head around. Even if my tech lead is my roommate. This all -- the cafés; the new team -- just reäffirms how collegiate this place is. It feels like a new semester, a sentiment reïforced by my new quadrille notebook I took from the supply cabinet last week (school supplies! That cabinet is one of the great nerdy pleasures of working here); my standard-issue, barely-cracked "Effective Java" like a new textbook for a new class. A class on an external product that people use, with an ad-hoc curriculum, professors only there to guide when we need it -- and us kids barely out of college. (No one on my team is over 5'8", and only one is over 26 years old.)

And oh, those kids have cabins in Tahoe. As emails go back and forth organizing the coming weekend up at the lake, I reflect on my knees -- both thoroughly black and blue from just one fall, but a hard one, on ice at Heavenly this past Saturday -- and on this fucking global warming, which is ruining not only our planet but also my snowboarding season. Get it together, Mr. President; ratify Kyoto so I can return to my winter paradise! I fear for my joints as I contemplate a weekend in Squaw with no powder. Oh well -- there'll always be the hot tub, as there was this past weekend, up around South Lake [of Tahoe, that is] with the Goats. Estrogen and puppy love were not quite as rampant as I'd feared, and after a few hard falls on Saturday, we all stayed in, soaking, reading identical copies of the New Yorker and one of the Sunday Times. I text-messaged New Zealand.

I can't get over the clean-slate feeling of this new team at work, despite the fact that I didn't really finish one hundred percent of what I left behind. There are no other demands on my time but figuring out how to fix and build their code! We have no more than 60 minutes' worth of meetings per week! New beginnings: A fresh Linux install; recalibrated FVWM settings; a blank Firefox profile; clean code repository clients. Ojan, on the way back from dinner, mentioned that his insight of the day was that scripting can be useful; I pooh-poohed the novelty of the idea, declaring that I was bash- and Perl-girl in college. I'm a hacker; I'm a geek; I'm a nerd. Clearly, I'm in the right place.

all this ©nori heikkinen, January 2007

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