Dinner last night at Murray Circle was a performance. (It was also painfully and unexpectedly expensive, but that’s only vaguely relevant and not, in my mind, the fault of the restaurant.) We gathered in a private room off of the main dining room and were split into two tables of twelve. The menu was set except for the entree, so we prepared for four courses. Our head server was just the right kind of attentive and no wine glass was left empty, but the real show began with the soup. Six waiters marched soundlessly to the table, waited for a cue, then in perfect unison placed bowls before the women. There was a brief pause, then a swift motion put bowls before all of the men. The first time this display of Edwardian manners occurred, it created a hush amongst the diners. (And to create any kind of quiet in a group celebrating a 30th birthday with alcohol is quite a feat.) By the time our cake slices landed with military precision, it felt like the final act of a charming period play. They removed dirty plates from the second course before presenting the third. They served from the left and cleared from the right. They were somehow always present, but never intrusive. It was deftly, elegantly, impressively done. And if the server got a $1200 tip (from which he would need to tip out the others who helped, plus bussers, bartenders, hostesses etc.), then he deserved it. Yes, deserved it.
I’m not new to fine dining (though my Michelin star experience tops out at two), but this was utterly divine. And it came the same day I read this Inc. article that led me to the original GQ review. Both recount Alan Richman’s experience with terrible service (which seems to have garnered him an accusation of sexual harassment) at a restaurant in Queens (yes, Queens) that thinks it’s too cool for school. I don’t want to sound all “Good help is impossible to find,” but I certainly agree that when I go out for a meal, I am paying for service (with my tip and the menu prices themselves) as much as for fine food. Over the last ten years much of that service has been sacrificed on the alter of cool so that inked hipsters in whatever they feel like wearing can tell me that the chicken I’m about to eat was named Colin instead of delivering it in the perfect moment between conversations.
C and I enjoyed an amazing brunch on Sunday at Baker and Banker (one of my favorite neighborhood spots), but our server didn’t even attempt to hide her disdain when I asked her to bring a clean fork with the cinnamon roll I was taking to go. And my request that the potato pancake be placed to the side of my smoked trout and horseradish cream so that gluten-intolerant C could taste the fish was met with a barely disguised eye roll. I’m not lamenting the overarching casual turn most dining has taken, I just believe, in my own old-fashioned way, that if I’m paying to be waited on, I’d like courteous, experienced service. Or even some tiny fraction of what we saw last night. And until I do, I will tip the 15% that once indicated a barely acceptable minimum and nothing more.
At 5:30 am this morning, the garbage truck (or “trash people” as I called them in my half-asleep state, which M said made him think of people with no class, while I envisioned piles of anthropomorphized rubbish) came screeching up right below our bedroom window. Not even an early wake-up could ruin my first morning in the new apartment, so I flapped a hand in M’s direction and grunted, which he accurately interpreted to mean, “Darling, would you be so kind as to close the window and then crawl back into bed and warm me up?” He, being the most charming and obliging kind of man, took one long 6’2″ stride to the offending opening and slid it shut. *Shlunk*
Not slightly dulled version of garbage truck noises. Not “Nice try, bucko, but this is the City and your windows were installed when booze was illegal.” Silence.
It was like being in a luxury car commercial where you hear the engine from the outside, then the satisfying *thunk* of the door falling closed, then…nothing. Blissful, glorious, peaceful quiet. I think I could get used to the suburbs.
I’m reading Netherland by Joseph O’Neill and it’s possibly the most mournful portrait of being lonely, but not alone.
In a turn that is both entirely incongruous with our cautious personalities and totally aligned with the certainty and unflinching belief we’ve found in each other, M and I are moving in together later this month.
It may seem sudden and I keep worrying that some in my life have whiplash from the quick turnaround between The Man and M*, but I am certain. When I joked that my “We’ve moved!” email is going to prompt a series of “Who’s M?” replies, he suggested a postscript:
P.S. This is M —-> [photo]
For me, this means leaving the city for a quiet hill across from a massive park with old growth trees and a view of the Bay. For him, it means (finally) getting out of the apartment he has hated since he took occupancy of it years ago. It means a dishwasher, disposal, in-unit washer/dryer, and a second bedroom to use as an office. It means going to sleep with him, waking up with him, and having a partner in the choices I make, the challenges I take on, and the incredible joy of the everyday. It means that his collection of literature, history, and philosophy texts will mingle with my contemporary fiction and glossy art history publications. It means arguments over the placement of the sofa (the explanation behind choosing aesthetics over the surround sound sweet spot falls on deaf ears) and finally being able to host the friends who introduced us. It means discussions of budgets as ours and checking-in before inviting anyone to stay. It means an emotional as well as a physical shift. (If I sound like I’m anticipating a life of wine, roses, puppies, and rainbows, rest assured I’m not, but I’m moving in with a man I love who happens to love me back, so please forgive a touch of giddy optimism and I’ll get back to you after The Great Sofa Debate, Round 2.)
It also means you should prepare yourself for a whole lot of posts about decorating.
*For the record, there was absolutely zero romantic overlap, but I had known M for months before The Man and I broke up.
I’m reading Wingshooters, by Nina Revoyr.
I’m craving linguine with the pesto I made (by hand, because Heidi told me to) last night, but it’s kill-a-vampire garlicky and we’re going to the fair tonight with friends…who aren’t vampires.
I’m all for taking your style in a decidedly nautical direction. Looking preppy enough to have just stepped off daddy’s yacht works for me too, but this is a new level of overdoing it.
A sailor friend (who owns a small boat and, you know, actually sails) estimates that the raw materials on this cost about $2, which means that you’re ponying up for the Proenza Schouler name (fine, if you’re into that, I have my moments too). But in that case, I’d rather have a PS1 wallet in a fun spring pastel.
Here’s a photo of what my sailor friend wears on her wrist when we sail the stunning San Francisco Bay (and by “we” I mean she sometimes lets me steer).
On exact opposite side of the love/hate spectrum are these beauties. I would spend my day ostentatiously crossing and uncrossing my legs and being the first one up the stairs in order to show off those killer heels.
I’m listening to A B & The Sea, “Take It Easy.” They sound like a modern version of the Beach Boys. Plus they’re local.
reading watching Dexter, Arrested Development, and My Drunk Kitchen.
I’m craving the Birthday Cake flavor from Rick’s Rather Rich Ice Cream. I’m always a chocolate girl, but this was truly birthday cake in a cup.
I’m coveting this Marc by Marc Jacobs dress, which is strange because it would look terrible on me. And I don’t love Marc Jacobs anything (despite a couple of successes). I hunted this thing DOWN. It appeared in an email ad for shoes and I went off searching. I think it’s the color-blocking that’s drawing me in.
Because that dress is such an unusual love for me, I’m adding an extra coveted item. Like this ASOS satchel. More color-blocking! Plus I think ASOS has some of the best designed bags out there at this price point. I’m dying to find out how the in-person quality compares.
I want to have time with my partner, travel with him, be wild and irresponsible, spend our money on ourselves. Then, once there is no chance that we would ever feel bitter about the sacrifices we’ve made for them, we’d have a kid or two. (No more than two. NEVER any more than two; I am not a Duggard.) But in terms of having healthy children and healthy pregnancies, that’s not exactly the best idea. I’m 31; I would have to start now. Like right now…but I’d rather not. I’d like to have a normal, leisurely romance before my DINKage. Time to enjoy living in sin. Time to enjoy being engaged. Time to relish the word “husband” and all of the team-y, partner-ness, “I will prioritize us” permanence it implies. In what may go down as the most useless rage possible, I am pissed at biology. I feel like I’ve just become who I wanted to be. How I could have successfully raised kids before age 30* is impossible to fathom. And yet they tell us that we’re supposed to pop a few out before 35 or face scary statistics. It seems like the sand in my babymaking hourglass is piling up and yet I would still rather see the new Woody Allen film, split a bottle of wine, and spend Sunday in bed with my man. Unfair doesn’t begin to cover it.
*Personal statement, meaning about me, personally. I’m not saying having kids before 30 won’t/doesn’t/hasn’t worked for others.
Because 100 was too many.
I began this post in February, which explains why I’ve already managed to cross some things off. I’ve also been inspired by Brandy’s post, which was in turn inspired by this. With school and a new relationship looming (except that word brings to mind dark clouds instead of happiness and bouncing and puppies), I’ll be squeezing a lot into a summer. Incidentally, summer? Please come visit the Bay Area. We miss you. May averages that were twelve degrees below normal = so not cool (while simultaneously being unseasonably cool).
It’s no secret that I’m crazy about lists. I like making them, looking at them, referring back to them, and of course, crossing things off of them. This year–this calendar year, which means I’m already behind–I have a list of things I want to make happen. I’m sticking with the rather ambitious number of 100, but each item is appropriately attainable within this year. You won’t see “Fly around the world” or “Get married” on this list because, well, I’m not certifiably insane. I know my scheduling/emotional/financial limits. That being said, I only got to #41 on my own, so erm…Help me complete my list!
1. See a psychic.
2. Have dinner at Cotogna. Reservations have been made for a Thursday in June.
3. Go out dancing until the “Go home now” lights come on.
4. Make confiture au lait.
5. Attend Dolores Park Movie Night.
6. See the parrots on Telegraph Hill.
Visit the East Coast (NY, MA, and DC are all acceptable options). A long weekend in New York in May and an upcoming work trip to DC (where I’ll get to see the Southern Belle!) certainly qualify.
See that Facebook movie. I managed to do this one with the perfect crowd. I commented on anything Harvard/Cambridge/Boston, M (the new man in my life) commented on all of the legal proceedings, and a friend interpreted/critiqued all of the chatter about coding. Overall? Meh.
9. Post to the blog once a day for a week. I like the look of late June for this list item.
10. Save up a month’s wages (net). I’m reallyreallyreally hoping a tax refund will help here. (The tax refund helped, but the tuition deposit definitely hurt this cause.)
Buy two more of these in Lord It Up because they’re 1) amazing and 2) the perfect color for my eyes. I bought similar pencils in a gray/black and a plummy purple instead. Variety is fun!
Have dinner at Seven Hills. (Yes, eating will be a theme.) Delicious. Plus a personal response to my Yelp! review. Smart business owner.
13. Take yoga classes (without getting bored). Hm. I’m tempted to cross this one off without doing it because yoga is SO FUCKING BORING for a dancer. Is that cheating? Oh fiii-iiine, be that way. It stays.
Initiate a hug (truly, I don’t think I’ve ever done this with someone who didn’t know me, um, intimately). Done! I hugged my boss! I had not been drinking! (and it was a purely social occasion). I know, who am I?
15. Buy one high-end piece of clothing (to be accomplished by buying fewer cheap items). Does the $250 BOSS Black pencil skirt count? Does it still count if I found one at Nordstrom Rack for $70 and returned the pricier version?
15. Pay for someone else’s toll. Truthfully, the hardest part of this is going to be using the cash lane instead of the speedier FasTrak only lane.
16. Go for a hike. Except actually GO. I’ve planned this at least five times, but something always gets in the way. Like rain. Or sleeping in.
17. See a CalShakes production.
18. Send another table a bottle of wine.
19. Play tourist in my own city at Christmastime. Dancing Roommate would surely come along.
20. Do some serious kitchen dancing with the shades open.
21. Find an organization that matters to me and give of my time.
22. Check out my roof deck. (Apparently I have a roof deck.)
23. Go to my cousin’s Fleet Week party (Telegraph Hill + the Blue Angels? Why have I not done this already?)
24. Get back to swimming twice a week.
25. Host a themed movie night with costumes and food. American Graffiti anyone?
26. Make my return to SantaCon.
27. Visit Bridget in Reno (possibly to be combined with #26).
28. Write a bit of fiction. Probably just for me.
29. Plan my next international trip. (Mexico doesn’t count.)
30. Find swings. Swing on the swings.
31. Spend a day in bed (permissible reasons to leave bed: potty breaks, fridge raids, fire, changing the West Wing DVD).
32. Overdress for an event. Planned for June 10th when C and I will attend an East Bay underground dinner in cocktail attire.
33. Learn the “Beat It” choreography and dance it next time I hear the song. Simple moves, really.
34. Visit the Future CEO in LA.
35. Spend an afternoon drinking by a pool (possibly to be combined with #34).
36. Watch the rest of Arrested Development. Seriously, how could I not know about this show?
37. Take a hip hop/tap/Bollywood/Latin dance class. Something I don’t already know.
38. Sing a duet with my mom at her church. Try not to puke from stagefright.
39. Make potstickers at home. Compare them to take-out.
40. Go to the driving range with my dad.
41. Host a bourbon or scotch tasting. M and I are up to 5-6 bottles between us.
What’s on your list for 2011? What should be on mine?
I’m craving summer cocktails. And a deck.