december, 2010

Mon, 6 Dec 2010 22:26:36 -0800

I left frigid New York this morning, glancing repeatedly at the weather widget on my iPhone to shake my incredulity that yes, it was in fact yet colder in the Midwest (single digits in Madison!), hailing and negotiating with a gypsy cab at 6am, and, un-upgraded, sleeping most of the flight back to San Francisco. Landing was something out of the movies: I put on my new Ray-Bans against the brilliant California sunshine glinting off the wing of the plane making its familiar descent almost into (but just shy of) the drink of the Bay; I shrugged off my unzipped light leather jacket as soon as I could, too warm in the mid-sixties glow. An expensive cab ride later back on campus, I grabbed a plate of salad, sautéed kale, and vegan pizza, and somehow worked most of a full day. And now I'm drinking white wine (leftover birthday Rueda) on my couch at home as if it were summer (though the fire's on), the only real indicator of the season the early twilight. You'd otherwise never know.

Alyssa and I walked back from New Leaf Restaurant in the black Fort Tryon Park last night, my toes in their thin black stockings and thin gold flats absolutely frozen against the wind off the Hudson, the George Washington Bridge stretching westward toward New Jersey. Scarf, gloves, wool hat to which I am allergic (like Edith, the cat), and half a bottle of champagne rosé were all together barely enough to keep me from turning into an icicle on the spot. (How did I grow up in Wisconsin? Maybe that's why my toes go white so fast.) The heat in the buildings there substantial, well-placed: A small heatlamp over the two-top next to the [closed] window at Blossom in Chelsea; a pipe next to Alyssa's towel rack providing warm linens and heat for the bathroom; every indoor space better insulated than anything in San Francisco -- certainly than my bedroom, in which no fewer than three duvets have recently sufficed against the unheated, uninsulated chill. I've gone through every pair of wool socks I own in the last two weeks.

Now, though, I have the means to wear wool socks every day and never run out. Coming home from work, I was greeted by two gigantic red robots in the back room of the apartment -- that space that spent years filled with boxes, suitcases, and half a couch; the one the caterers for my birthday party finally convinced me to clear out so they could use it -- laundry robots, that is, newly delivered and partially installed. Tomorrow I'm staying home to supervise the gas hookup (and attempt to avoid Armageddon) of the dryer, and then I will do laundry all day. All the wool socks, all the towels, the jeans, the cloth napkins, the sheets ...

December's usually insane -- traffic ramps up, we hit new highs of QPS and of stress, a virus works its way between the vaccinated cracks (bacterial, I mean), the enforced holiday cheer starts to grate. But so far, I have painted my eyes purple and green with Trisha before donning fabulous dresses, drinking champagne, and then flying to Manhattan the next morning in my still-intact beehive 'do; gotten one of the higher-prestige awards in the company; spent a weekend with a dear old friend whom I do not otherwise see enough; stepped one notch closer to attaining Premier status on United for 2011; achieved a 5-year goal of gorgeous laundry in my own home; and am drinking white wine like it's fucking summer. I shouldn't jinx it, but this could be June. Thank you, December.

Thu, 30 Dec 2010 21:54:00 -0800

I went straight to Beretta last night, having flown back ORD-to-SFO (the last leg officially earning me Premier status for next year!) the evening before. Eddie & I squeezed into the few spaces left at the bar, and I with my back to the wall surveyed the 20- and 30-somethings packing the place: A rye-and-lemon cocktail with a sage leaf garnish in her hand, a slice of pizza in his; clusters of friends splitting a bottle of wine; the central communal table noisy and convivial; waiters edging their way through it all carrying brimming trays. Everyone, in other words, was doing exactly what we were: Celebrating being home.

I'm not sure when the terminology shifted west for me -- perhaps it was three years ago when my sister outlawed Christmas's being held at the house in which I grew up; certainly not having a bedroom of my own either at Dad's house (futon in the living room) or Mom's (guest bedroom with unattached headboard) further depletes remaining sentimental connection to the Midwest. Bleak skies and sub-freezing temperatures (I've softened, here in California) don't help. And it's always a shock to return to a state (literally and figuratively) not of my own choosing -- here, I create my own world, from this table with its green tablecloth to the apartment in which it and I sit to the city which offers me cocktails the way I like them, friends I want to be with, things I want to do; there, well, it's the old revertigo.

Not, of course, that there's nothing nice the annual enforced vacation with an enforced destination and inflated airline ticket prices. Highlights include Mom's & my annual Boxing Day lunch at The Gage, cooking Christmas dinner, sharing around the bottles of Veuve sent by Jinnah while watching old movies, and of course seeing people to whom I am closely related yet see infrequently.

There were lowlights, too. I described them to Eddie over the second cocktail, or maybe into the bottle of Ravello as bruschetta came, then onion bread, then polenta. Back in my element! The city is cold but pleasingly so: all I need is a jacket that zips and a scarf. My bed has no headboard, and therefore does not clank, and even the MUNI rattling past my windows down Duboce outside does not matter as I burrow under my down duvets. I've spent the last two days cooking food for my New Year's party using all my kitchen toys, in my kitchen, doing laundry in my new washer and dryer. Every time I come back to this city, the more I swear to never move away from it. San Francisco, thank you for being home.

all this Šnori heikkinen, December 2010

<-- November || today

back to front