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'green' and 'alive'

Two words to describe how fiddlehead ferns taste.

I've also heard "similar to asparagus or okra."

I can't vouch for these accounts. I've never eaten a fiddlehead fern (also known as an ostrich fern, a "New England delicacy" and a young fern frond that has yet to unfurl).

(I love that word: Unfurl. Did you know they must be picked within a two-week window, before they unfurl?)

I stumbled upon fiddlehead ferns for the first time last weekend, when we played tourist at the Ferry Building.

(Kate hates them. She calls them worms. I wanted to plunge my hands into the bin.)

You can eat fiddlehead ferns raw or cooked. And they have a "very unique texture." And the recipes I've found ask for lots and lots of butter.

(And fiddlehead ferns are also called "poholes.")

mind your manners.

The man at the table next to us talked about his recent trip to India for at least 20 minutes straight. He was sitting with three other people, but we didn't hear their voices at all.

Instead, we heard:

"I am a citizen of the world."

Over and over again. Very loudly. And accompanying a long lecture about what an ashram is.

When the man finally allowed his dinner companions to speak, the conversation shifted to sex.

"Is it bad that I choose good sex over good relationships?" one of the women said.

No, honey, it’s not bad. We just don’t want to hear about it. Especially during our dinner.

three things I love

Yummy sushi pajamas, pedicures and tattoos.

(By the way, did I mention it's good to be back in San Francisco? I hate hotel rooms -- the way the carpet is worn thin in places, the way you don't know who touched the remote control last and if they were naked when they touched it, the way you wake up in the morning and can't figure out where you are. Is it Houston? Is it Dallas? Is it L.A.? I will be thankful when the travel happens on my own terms.)


Someone said: "This is the most underrated food city in the nation."

I believe it.

Just go to Brennan's and try the turtle soup finished off with a few drops of Sherry.

I should've taken a photo of that instead. But the soup was so good I wasn't thinking about my camera.


I went to Texas for three days and four nights, and on the third night, I dropped your souvenir in the elevator and broke it.

We can blame many things.

The weather: Windier than I'm used to. And cold for Houston.

The dinner at Ibiza: Sinful soft shell crab, fried oysters, white Bordeaux blend, fresh anchovies drizzled with olive oil, the pork chop, 2003 Reserve Pinot Noir, flourless chocolate cake.

The glass-sided elevator rushing madly to the 21st floor: 'Don't look down.'

But I did anyway.

Don't worry -- I have another bottle waiting for you at home.

Ah, home.

act of contrition

I am sorry I showed up almost two hours late.

I am sorry I fell asleep on the couch immediately after your multi-course dinner -- which you prepared, may I add, after a long day at work.

I am sorry you were forced to wake me up because if you hadn't done so, I would've never left your house, and you would've found me on the couch this morning, curled up around the big white pillow and wearing my tan peacoat like a blanket.

I am sorry I am the worst dinner guest ever.

Thank you for the stuffed mushrooms, which are your family's holiday recipe. Thank you for the amazing artichoke and spinach salad with homemade dressing, served in turquoise bowls and eaten with chopsticks. Thank you for the asparagus, which was perfect -- neither soggy nor too crisp. Thank you for the whole wheat pasta topped with sauteed vegetables, toasted pine nuts and chopped olives. Thank you for the chocolate-dipped strawberries and bananas, which when eaten with a glass of late harvest Zinfandel, sent me spiralling into the most blissful of food comas.

Raid my fridge any time. Drink my wine, eat my chips, take the last piece of dark chocolate. (I only wish I had Girl Scout cookies to offer, but it's not that time of year.) Crash on the futon. Sleep all night.

And I'll take you out for brunch in the morning.

over it

Age is stealthy. It tiptoes in. Like the fatigue you get after too much red wine. (You are talking, chatting, laughing, tossing your hair back and "pour me another, please, thank you." And then you stand up. Suddenly, your head throbs, and you can barely keep your eyes open.)

I watch the clock now. Because if too many hours pass, it will be hard to get out of bed. I worry about being stuck in traffic. And having enough time to clean the house, do the laundry, pay the bills and change the litterbox. (I should start eating breakfast every day. At least a piece of toast and some peanut butter.)

Limits are strange. Stranger even: recognizing them. I tell myself it's okay to stand near the crackers and cheese at a party, holding a glass of water instead of a beer. It's okay to choose the small dinner at a friend's house instead of pub-hopping on St. Patrick's Day.

It's all okay.

And saying no doesn't mean being boring.


lunch break: sadly, this is it.

There are 205 wine shipments to be sent.

I stayed at the office late last night, studying a map of the U.S. that details shipping laws for each state. I spent all morning on Excel. I have to stuff 205 folders with 205 press kits and a fact sheet for each of the four wines that will be sent out. I have no idea what the Customer Product ID Number for any of these wines is. And I need to know. Now.

This reminds me of a story I heard in a past life, when people told me things about wine and I wrote it all down.

One woman said: "The amount of paperwork is ridiculous. I have to keep a grid that tells me what to do and when to do it for each state. It's frustrating."

Nothing can be more true at this very moment.

Free the grapes.

Because then I could go home at a normal time every night. And actually leave my desk to eat lunch.

you know you need a vacation when ...

... you go home and order the pizza called "Mexican Weekend."

Suddenly, it is the One Thing you absolutely cannot live without.

The Mexican Weekend sounds better than tiramisu and chocolate-dipped gelato. It sounds better than the $146 J Brand ink-colored cigarette-leg jeans you ordered online earlier. It even sounds better than scouring antique fairs for Art Deco diamond rings -- and miraculously being able to afford said rings.

If you do not order the Mexican Weekend, you will surely waste away.

So you do it. You order. You open the box. You fill your plate with multiple slices. You maybe even drool a little.

Even though the truth is the Mexican Weekend is just a pizza covered in jalapeƱos.

Even though when you bring the leftovers to work the next day, you have to keep making trips to the water cooler because your mouth is on fire.

Even though.


I am so, so happy to be back -- to the boy, to the cat, to the tiny apartment with the big view.

what a cup of coffee can tell you

My friend calls her mother a witch because she can read the dregs of your coffee cup and tell you your future.

She has predicted pregnancies and vacations and illness. She has seen weddings and lucky numbers and the star sign of the next person to walk through the door.

She knew my last three moves before I did. And told me what my own mother was giving me for Christmas.

So today we made the coffee. It was early, and we needed coffee anyway, so we thought, 'Why not?' We used a silver pot placed over a blue flame on the stove. We poured the dark, thick liquid into tiny cups -- doll-size, almost, and painted with roses. The saucers did not match.

We could taste the grounds as we drank. We had forgotten to add sugar.

"What do you see?" we asked.

She told me I would move again. Far. And this time, alone. And this time, with conflict and anxiety. "You are concerned about something," she said. "You are worried."

She told me that even though I was the one moving, he would be the one to leave. "Because he doesn't know what he wants," she said. "And you know, but he doesn't."

She pointed to smudges on the porcelain. "Look," she said. "You are already getting smaller. There is already a distance."

I tell myself it is just a cup. It can fit in my palm. I can fold my fingers over it. I can crush it, I can drop it, I can break it.

I can change it.

But there is still dread. And tonight I call him, perhaps too many times, hoping to hear something in his voice that will assure me this is all just superstition.

the things I ingest

Recent lessons:

1. Even if you don't remember cutting yourself on anything, it is entirely possible to infect your finger to the point where it is swollen and hot and the doctor is telling scary stories about lancing and pus and emergency rooms.

2. Antibiotics smell like cat pee. And your stomach won't like it if you take too many at one time to try to make up for the pills you forgot to take earlier.

3. Hotel room water tastes like metal.

4. L.A. may be buried in sidewalks, cement and freeways, but you can still have really bad allergies while you're in town.

5. Don't leave your work cell phone in the back of a cab. Especially if you are an obsessive-compulsive perfectionist who doesn't let go of mistakes.

6. Sometimes, the drug cocktail can only do so much.