may, 2010

Mon, 3 May 2010 19:25:36 -0700

I sat alone at the bar at Jardinière Saturday evening, waiting for Trisha. Late-afternoon sunlight filtered languidly through the curtains of the huge windows of the former jazz club, making the bubbles sparkle in our full, bulbous flutes of prosecco: hers marking her yet-empty place; mine quickly draining. I wore the dress Emily and I have the same one of, the little black Weston Wear with ruching up the back that we both bought mere hours before Andrea & Karina's wedding a few years ago; with newly-pink nails and lines of mascara, I watched the pre-ballet clientele mill in through the double doors. She arrived; salads arrived: fava beans and cress; warm bread and frisée and crescenza; grilled cheese for grown-ups: little triangles of hot gruyère on brioche. The daylight seeping into restaurant slightly darkened, but the small Tiffany lamps ringing the bar made up for it. More prosecco arrived. It was still twilight when we left.

All these vegetables! New Yorkers didn't understand when I told them a few weeks ago that this is how I measure my seasons out here. But it's true, this is spring, early summer: asparagus still in full flush; the shelled beans and peas the light green of spring; even strawberries are here. I've had trouble believing the summer berries -- it seems so early for them! -- but they're incontrovertible, coming straight out of last week's CSA box. I could eat interesting combinations of arugula and judicious amounts of fat (olive-, avocado-, or sometimes even cow-product-based) for every meal, and probably have since those salads on Saturday. And will again tonight.

Thu, 13 May 2010 22:29:02 -0700

I hadn't intended to be at the symphony Monday night. But Armando was on my shuttle that morning, and had an extra ticket for the same evening to see the LA Phil conducted by younger-than-I Dudamel; and so I went home early, put on a dress, reconfigured my hair, and dabbed shimmery pink shadow on my eyelids. From our perch in the choir seats ("terrace"), we watched the exuberant Wunderkind (I'm allowed to call him that, even if he is only one year younger) positively dance his way through Mahler 1 without a score. The horns raised their bells up à la Primavera's perennial instructions to the PYO brass; the violas blazed up motifs on the C string: Every musician on that stage displayed technical excellence, bad-ass chops. I wondered, like clockwork, what I'd been doing with my life --

-- and then remembered: Not what the kids at the Conservatory, those 23-year-old composition students with a few of whom I and some of our choir had drinks at Absinthe after we performed their new works last Saturday, have been doing. Their vim and bright-eyedness ("I'm going to write an entire song cycle!") was both cute and exhausting. They're doing what I've always said I wanted to do -- and yet somehow, the prospect doesn't sound as ravishing as it used to. (Maybe it's because I'm not (thank god) 23 anymore.)

I forget sometimes that I keep the Internet running. I forget that my choices, however seemingly haphazard, have been a series of adjustments made to optimize what I'm doing against my temperament. Random as I can paint the narrative, it's not entirely coincidental that I ended up in California, am about to officially hit my 5-year anniversary at Google, and bounced internally at the company until I found these crazy Traffic SREs, and they me. A very long series of adjustments -- some minor, some major -- has led here, not to a performance degree from the San Francisco Conservatory. My lovely choir, while not the musical pinnacle of my life (as Zane said this coming Saturday's concert, Duruflé and all, was going to be for him), is no LA Phil, but more than scratches the itch -- it's almost, dare I say, fulfilling.

So if I'm so happy with my lot, why are some not? It was Craig two months ago, Laz on Tuesday (Monday night, actually; Trisha texted me while I was still floating on a cloud of Viennese post-romanticism over a flute or several of brut rosé afterwards, and thus was my week ruined). I thought we were already down to a skeleton crew. I thought we were all going down with this ship.

I spent Tuesday afternoon and evening cornering Jinnah over various beers, making sure he wasn't going anywhere, too. Told him that, for a moment there, I'd started reëvaluating the possibility of life as a violist. But shit, if I can't be like (or play under) Dudamel, what's the point? I can do anything I want, or at least so many things -- but only (as I told him in the chilly Zeitgeist evening, Laurence's smoke wafting up, a pint of Racer 5 in my gloved hand) at two 9's. And two 9's has never been compelling enough to justify the sacrifice.

Such are the problems of a dilettante polymath.

What I want right now is held together by Jinnah (traffic) and Zane (choir), hard-won by each. What I want is mastery. (I'm not going anywhere.) What I want is at least three 9's.

Mon, 31 May 2010 12:38:12 -0700

It's a bit overcast in San Francisco, the fog rolling in from the west, as always, and a bit gusty -- at least, as far as I can tell from my kitchen table; or from opening the door in my grey bathrobe, hair long and askew, to fetch the paper; or from stepping out onto the back stairs to watch a hummingbird, to peer at the orange poppies open to the daylight in the garden below. Still a nice day, but comfortingly more mellow than the riotous sunshine of both Jacob & Flesché's, and then Amelia & Jarrod's, weddings Saturday and Sunday in the East Bay. Red patches on my shoulders that will soon be tan lines, earned during the first wedding -- lines from the edges of my pink blouse -- were on display at the second, visible over the straps of the halter-neck dress I'd last worn to a wedding two years ago. Our little wedding chorus sang Laudate Dominum and The Muppet Wedding Song in sunglasses under the brilliant light reflecting off the white of the sheet music, the white of the happy couple's wicker loveseat, the white of Amelia's dress.

It's officially summer. I was told this by the strawberries' arrival a month ago, but have only begun to believe it with the new cherries turning up in my CSA box, with the apricots and blueberries in the vegan pie I brought to Amelia & Jarrod's wedding (which I picked up from Mission Pie yesterday morning still in last night's dancing shoes and smeared makeup: ignoring the Carnaval dancers, tamale-vendors, and parade crowds a block away, I sat down gratefully inside the quiet shop for a pastry and coffee while they boxed up the pie, caffeinating and rallying for the second wedding in as many days, the third in as many weeks).

I've realized that I'm deeply happy about summer's arrival, and not just for the stone fruit, or that I can drink dry rosé on the patio at Arlequin before choir or at barbeques with vegan sausages. Winter felt long this year; spring, a promise; summer, though, the apex of the year.

And I intend to stretch this one out: After taking what remains of today to do laundry, catch my breath, and pack a huge suitcase, I'm off tomorrow morning to France to drink wine and bicycle through fields of lavender, to Dublin to drink Guinness and watch the twilight linger late on the solstice, and to Milan to drink prosecco and attend yet another wedding. I won't be back in the Mountain View office for a month; I'm again dipping into the red on my vacation balance. Here's to a long, hot summer.

all this Šnori heikkinen, May 2010

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