Tue, 16 Nov 2010 18:07:53 -0800
The night before I flew off to London, Erica & I sat down at my kitchen table with a bottle of wine, a telephone-book-sized "pamphlet" for both state and local of proposition summaries and arguments, a laptop for looking up voter guides and news articles fleshing out the issues, and our mail-in ballots. Before uncorking the bottle, we could fill in congressional representatives. At one glass in, we had the easy state propositions answered. At half a bottle each, we'd mostly answered the city propositions. It took another three voter guides and a shot of the limoncello I brought back from Milan this summer to finalize all my choices before I sealed and signed the weighty envelope and handed it to Erica to hand-deliver as my proxy on Tuesday.
Not a bad way to fill out ballots, but a crazy way to run a state or city. Compel the mayor by popular vote to attend at least one meeting of the board of supervisors each year? I have better things to waste my wine on.
Worse, that same night I heard through the grapevine that a dude I'd been totally crushing on had brought another girl to a wedding the day before as his date. Lame! Boys, unnecessarily complicated ballots, the democrats poised to lose the House dramatically: Screw all of the above; time to leave the country. I finished off Erica's mostly-untouched limoncello and disgustedly began packing a suitcase.
So Cody & I flew from SFO to LHR the next morning, playing Angry Birds on his new iPad, talking, and drinking wine and whiskey the whole way. The others, flying in independently, joined us over the course of a sunny and clear Tuesday for hand-pumped IPA and parsnip-leek soup in a cozy gastropub up the road from our hotel in Clerkenwell, for a nap, for dinner just down the road. The weather held most of the week. A tube strike Wednesday just meant an excuse for an extra vacation day for me. The restaurant research I'd done paid off -- vegan food at Manna; a pumpkin soup with toasted walnuts (just like in Vienna) and a heavenly quiche of Beenleigh blue cheese at Magdalen; an exquisite apricot-chocolate torte and acorn liquor at Moro -- and we followed most nights with whiskey in jtr & Eisenbud's shared room, windows open Sunday night to counteract the pungency of the unwashed rind of DQ's Ardhrahan cheese, which he was serving up with apple slices and a bottle of champagne ordered up from room service.
And besides London in general -- our delicious dinners, a sugar-laden champagne high tea at the Covent Garden Hotel, the myriad resources and recesses of a huge, storied city (with a wide-ranging and efficient public transit system!) -- there's nothing to lift one's spirits quite like finding out that one just got promoted. A purely whimsical trip turned into a celebratory vacation as all five of us who had applied learned we'd succeeded (shouts and toasts went up in turn around the hotel room; we may have called room service for more champagne). You may now address me as Ms. Senior Software Engineer, thank you!
Back stateside now after a week abroad, I recall (not that I ever really forget) my love affair with my chosen city -- despite MUNI, despite the state's crazy ballot proposition system, despite the fact that it really is, in many ways, a small town, I did not envy Londoners on Saturday afternoon as I ate a salad in short sleeves outside Café du Soleil, or Sunday morning throughout a two-hour sunlit urban yoga class, the studio overlooking rooftops and neighboring apartments through its steamed-up windows.
I am quite pleased with myself (boys be damned): A relatively-spontaneous fabulous trip to London; a promotion (that one especially feels good); and, as always, living where I do.