Tuesday, August 23, 2011

thinking about saturday....did it really happen?

today was a simple and recovery day.

my meals for myself today reflected this. just simple green tea soba noodles......

dressed with broad bean soy sauce, dried ground red chilies, sesame oil, nuoc mam, and furikake. then topped with blanched french green beans and chopped early girl tomatoes from dirty girl produce.

it is the type of dish that i eat hot or cold. there are many possible variations that depend on my mood or the type of produce that looked good from a recent trip to the market.

as i made my way through this simple dish throughout the day, i thought a lot about the last few days. it has been quite a busy time for me. today has been the first day in a while that i've been able to just pause for a moment.

i submitted a large complex project yesterday that had me working pretty late into the night or rather into the early morning....for the last week or so. i'm finding that 2am is usually my impenetrable wall. no matter how much i'd like to continue, my brain seems to initiate automatic shut down mode. this is probably a good thing as it enables me to get a few hours of sleep in before attending the first meetings of the day at 6am.

these are not complaints. this is just how it is. it is the life that i have chosen.

my work life is intellectually stimulating. it pays for me to live in this nice place in pacific heights and enables me to eat from a privileged position...choosing to eat what i want to eat. i feel very fortunate as a former child of the tenderloin. i don't take my financial independence for granted. i've worked hard to be where i am today.

despite the crazy ass work schedule i've been having over the past few weeks, i do make time to hang out with loved ones. i also do rather nutty things like agree to help out a friend at the san francisco street food festival even though i am such an incredible cranky pants that hates talking to people.

while the people i work with would be surprised to see the words about my hating talking to people....since there is no way around not talking to people when managing a team at an international company. yet, i realize that while there may be aspects of my job i'm not thrilled about.....it is my job and responsibility. my company pays me for access to my brain, to run the team, and do my job well. there is definitely a quid pro quo element involved. it is a business deal.

in my personal life however, i have a very different perspective. very.

i view my time as being extremely precious and priceless. my personal time is for me to spend with people i respect and care for. it can have many different sort of manifestations. from making mini-pizzas at my goddaughter's bday party because she just wants to know i'm there, to talking on the phone with the heart sister, to cooking food at a friends house to ensure that we can spend the most time together, to having a catch up over a meal, coffee, drink, or the like.

also, on occasion, i will help out a friend.....not because i'm being "paid"....but because i believe in what they are doing. i want to support what they are working to achieve. this is why despite the crazy ass schedule i have for my job right now, i helped out in the hapa ramen stand at the san francisco street food festival this past saturday.

i'm pretty certain that richie is well aware that i believe in what he is doing with food. i'm also pretty certain that he was well aware that i wasn't exactly thrilled about working the festival given how crowded it is....as earlier in the week, when we were talking on the phone, he said "so, you know that event happening this weekend that you are so thrilled about working....can you work the afternoon shift?". i may not have been thrilled about the thought of talking to hordes and hordes of people, but at the end of the day, of course i would be there. my respect for what richie is doing and my care for both him and mrs. hapa ramen trumps my dislike of having to be nice to people.

it really is that simple.

how could i not support them? the hours that they put in are rather mind boggling at times. a couple of days before the festival, i stopped by the kitchen to pick at herbs for about an hour and a half....and could see how they were in the midst of their prep. the pork being broken down, the tremendous amount of veg that needed to be prepped, etc. etc. the time at the festival itself is a very small part of the entire process. i may be tired.....but it is nothing to what they physically experience.

the day of the festival, i was already pretty tired when i showed up. my team at work is unexpectedly down a member which naturally, impacts the entire work load. yet, i was determined to make it through the festival. i showed up early to drop off some stuff at the stand, say hey to folks, and had the intention of taking pictures like i had done in previous years, but it didn't really work out. i spent a lot of time drinking copious amount of caffeine....noshing on some beef heart skewers from one of the vendors.....

then hiding out haus (one of my go to cafes) until my "shift" started.....sending texts to both sus + richie to let me know if they needed me to come earlier....then proceeding to drink more caffeine. all the while...completely aware that the festival crowds were growing and growing .....and i could feel my nerves begin to spike a bit. i really didn't want to fuck up and impact the flow of service. from my perspective, the stakes were considerably more personal. fucking up at the festival would directly impact people that i care about. potentially fucking up at my day job is more a matter of work ethic, principle, and responsibility....but it isn't personal.

i arrived at the stand about 15 minutes before my "shift" was designated to begin. i changed, got ready, and then reported for "duty". naturally, things were buzzing and i was trying to absorb the flow structure as quickly as possible. unsurprisingly, the tiredness and nerves went away...because in that moment, there wasn't time for either. it was about being present in the moment and getting done what needed to get done.

service was a blur. yet, there were a few moments that stood out.
  • mrs. hapa ramen unwavering in her cheer speaking to thousands of people. i really don't know how she does it. really.
  • observing richie expediting.....and thinking to myself that it reminded me of a conductor and an orchestra. there is a grace to it.
  • jesse randomly cracking jokes and one liners as he was pouring his naturally fermented sodas
  • the seemingly never ending line of people....but still being able to recognize regulars. acknowledging them as regulars. letting them know that they are appreciated....because they really are.
  • my rather unprofessional moment of waiting until an EMT was 15 feet away from the stand before i announced my observational admiration for said EMT to everyone in the stand and to the amusement of a couple of female clients.
  • the moment when those on the line were ready for the next batch of noodles...oddly enough....including myself for a bit....the fingers of both hands holding various components....ready to pounce on each bowl as it became ready.
  • not asking if it was ok to do something, but just doing it, because it needed to be done.
  • my trying not to smile (well not really) and not succeeding at not smiling when seeing the random moments of playful connection between richie and mrs. hapa ramen in my peripheral vision.
  • the people that told me how excited they were about tasting the ramen at the festival because they weren't able to make it to the ferry building.
  • answering questions from various clients with phrases that began with "we are at the ferry building farmers market...."...."we don't have a brick and mortar restaurant right now but we are hoping to have our place in about a year"....."we have a popup coming up on the 29th at bar tartine"....each time i said "we" i felt a little complicated tug. because it is complicated.
  • the diversity of the people that came to eat. all backgrounds. all sizes. all accents.
  • the short very young man with a curly haired fro that looked like an explosion....it was three times the size of his head.... wearing thin wired framed glasses that indicated he was far-sighted....and held himself with such confident acceptance that i couldn't help but smile when he was ordering. he was adorable. just adorable.
  • victor asking me "how's it going?" at the end of service. my laughing and sus piping in how appropriate that question was because now we can just talk to each other.
a few hours later, i was back at home working on a project for my "day" job. while i was still running off of the adrenaline from service, when i saw pictures that richie was tweeting from the after party, service seemed like it was ages ago....surreal even....almost like it was some kind of dream.

i remember asking myself, "did it really happen?"

i suppose it really did.

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