i think i’ll take brooklyn

When I waited tables in Manhattan, the following exchange was common:

Customer (waving): Hi, hi, yeah, we’re ready to order.

Me: Okay, great. What can I get for you?

Customer: Mmmm, I think I want….

Me: …

Customer: What do I want?

Me: …

Customer: Wait, Bob. Bob? What did you get that time with the tomato and the arugula?

Me: Why don’t I give you another minute?

Customer: No, no, no, don’t go. We’re ready. Noooowww, what do I want?

While working at restaurants in Manhattan, I frequently heard things like:

Can you describe the eggs benedict?

I don’t know what I want to drink. Something strong?

What’s the burger like?

Can you turn down the music?

I’m a regular here.

Now that I’ve been working in Brooklyn for six months, I don’t hear stuff like that so much. To be fair, I’m working in a bar and restaurant that cater to a younger, much more local crowd. I don’t deal much with tourists or gallery owners, I wait on people my age heading to band practice, I pour beer for guys who tip too much and laugh at my jokes and have been wearing the same t-shirt for six months (I’m not being hyperbolic– I think one of my favorite regulars will get married and be buried in the same crusty ass Iron Maiden shirt).

It’s a relief. Sometimes when I worked, I felt like I was dealing with customers who were trying to have every lifelong need met during a single dining experience. Hand me this, I need more of that, where’s my, oh wait this isn’t, can you please, we need the, but you said this cost, doesn’t this come with spinach? I was a short stroll from the ding farm dealing with customers and their needs and wants and demands.

Now I don’t huff and puff as much as I work. There are the occasional rogues– some princes and princesses who sneak in and try to tell me they can only have grass-fed this or that, and I smile, offer them a Miller High Life, and keep walking. I don’t mind doing a job, I don’t mind supplying info or being accommodating, but life has been a little tricky for a while and when I approach a table and someone launches into a litany of no this and do you have that, I just want to say shut the fuck up and eat your burger like everyone else and if you have some desires that need tending to, put your energy into finding a therapist or do what I do and go home, listen to the Counting Crows Pandora station and cry into your pillow. Now do you want mayo with that or not?

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thirty-seven things i miss about los angeles

IMG_0381_2I’ve been back in New York for thirty-seven days. It’s been really great being home (the only exception, the only black spot is my new job; my bosses talk to me like I’m bowl of ratatouille– slow to move and incapable of comprehending English), but there are things, so many things I miss about Los Angeles.

  1. My little Fiat. It was my last rental car and had my total heart. That little car could’ve kept me in LA,  I adored it so much.
  2. The crunchy french toast at the Standard Hotel.
  3. Ray. It goes without saying. Me miss you.
  4. Afternoons at the Beverly Hills library.
  5. Target in Glendale. Best. Target. Ever.
  6. Lucky moments: waiting in line for the Stanley Kubrick show at LACMA, not really wanting to spend $20 on a ticket. Someone from behind me shouts out “Anybody want a free ticket?!” Yay, me, I do!
  7. Listening to audiobooks in my car.
  8. Driving along 3rd Street.
  9. Lynn. I miss my buddy like whoa. I miss our food adventures and long, long, long talks.
  10. No rain. Tony! Toni! Tone! was right. It never rains in Southern California.
  11. The windy, slopey, scary, make you wonder if you’ll ever see your family alive again right angle roads in Topanga Canyon. But the view. Boy, those views.
  12. Hanging out with Bridget and Emily and little cutie pie Finley. They made me happy, they made me laugh, they made me feel like I had family close by.
  13. Driving along the Pacific Coast Highway.
  14. My route to work– west along 3rd Street, left onto La Cienega, right onto Wilshire Blvd.
  15. Donuts at SK Donuts. Thanks, Ray! I really needed to gain those extra ten pounds before leaving.
  16. Walking through Larchmont Village early evening– the kids would play in the streets, the smell of jasmine was everywhere, it made me want a house with a tire swing in the yard.
  17. Happy hour margaritas at Tortilla Republic. Thanks for the heads up, Ray!
  18. Book Soup and Skylight Books were my favorite book stores.
  19. Late night toasted plain bagels with cream cheese and tomato at Fred 62.
  20. Veggie Grill— missing the Caesar salad with buffalo “chicken.” Thanks for the suggestion, Lynn!
  21. My coworkers. The customers were ten tons to deal with, but I loved everyone I worked with. When I get sad at my new crappy job, I just hear “Mister, mister, sir” and “Thank you for your cooperation and support,” and I get happy again.
  22. The Landmark movie theater.
  23. Buying one bottle of Perrier at a time at the 7-11 on 3rd and S Vista.
  24. Going to the Grove right before closing time.
  25. Getting lost.
  26. Listening to KROQ 106.7.
  27. Hunting down the cheapest gas prices.
  28. Randomly catching the smell of the ocean. Once I was on Fairfax just east of 6th and smelled salt water for no reason, because it’s not near the beach, but I got goosebumps and nostalgia.
  29. Discovering new old places. Casey took me to the Dresden (a restaurant that’s been in Los Feliz for damn near sixty years) and we listened to Marty and Elayne (lounge singers who have been playing and singing there since the Civil Rights movement probably) and Casey requested “Cheek to Cheek” for me and I swayed on my bar stool and drank tequila and club soda.
  30. The Marie Callender’s salad bar.
  31. Anything and everything involving Damon’s Steakhouse. Ray, you changed my life. I’m having my wedding reception at Damon’s.
  32. Late night trips to Von’s. Any trips to Von’s, really. I liked that grocery store. The one on Melrose had a little table with books for a dollar. You took a book and put a buck in a huge, empty water jug.
  33. Beer and fish and chips at the Reel Inn.
  34. The weather– mid 70’s, constant sunshine, no humidity.
  35. Recognizing parts of the city from movies I’ve seen. You get that with New York, too, but it’s different and more novel to me in LA.
  36. Wonderful long lunches with Luanne.
  37. The feeling you get that California really is a majestic place, as beautiful and historic as you expect it to be. The past feels actualized somehow in the weather, the architecture, the landscape, you feel rooted in something that feels simultaneously very right now and very back then. Which of course is true for most places, but there’s something about the space, the odd circus people, and the range from ocean to mountain that makes it feel singular. It makes me feel like I can’t wait to go back.

five things i’ve learned, week two

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It’s been two weeks since I arrived in Los Angeles. Two weeks of driving everywhere and being on the lookout for fake boobies and texting home about celebrity sightings and frozen yogurt, lots of frozen yogurt. A few things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. The traffic is absolutely as bad as everyone tells you. You’ll be like me– kinda dubious, a non-believer, you’ll say everyone exaggerates, you’ll figure “How bad can it really get?” And I will tell you “bad.” The traffic can get really bad. Sitting on the same highway behind the same car for two hours bad.
  2. When stuck in said traffic, it is almost impossible not to check your email, send a text message or (as I’ve started doing, and I’m simply teasing the gods, toying with my fate, being really stupid) reading a book underneath the steering wheel.
  3. Los Angeles might not have the restaurants of New York (not yet anyway, though I hear it’s being worked on), but it might still be a city where food lovers come to die. Shrimp tacos, Korean BBQ, fried sushi, kale and strawberry salad, bread pudding muffins, pesto cheese, fried bananas and ice cream, even the movie theater popcorn is amazing. I came out here to get into movies and all that might happen is me turning into a prime number one fatty.
  4. I need to be more patient. That east coast way (and specifically New York) where everything moves really fast and you don’t have to wait in line longer than nineteen seconds and an impatient foot tap lets everyone around you know it’s time to hurry up? Doesn’t work out here. Time to breathe, relax, and ask myself why I’m in such a hurry anyway.
  5. Your first view of the ocean from the Pacific Coast Highway might lodge itself into your memory bank forever and ever and ever. I drove along the PCH on Friday early evening and I was rounding a bend just as the traffic (see?) broke and the water was on my left and my windows were down and the warm air filled my car and the ocean was bigger than America and the coastline was winding up into the sky and it gave me goosebumps.

missing new york

41P8GZTBMTL._SL500_AA300__2I have about 21 days until I head to Los Angeles for a few months (I went to buy a monthly Metrocard a few days ago and realized I didn’t need a 30-day card. I definitely got a little emotional at the Metrocard machine and the guy waiting behind me was definitely like “Keep it moving, sister, cry on the subway.” Oh, New York.)

I’m looking forward to the trip– my west coast to-do list grows each day– but there are those little every day things about New York I will miss.

New York, I miss you already…

  • going to work four nights a week– it’s been six years of slinging beer and serving fries and yelling at drunks, but my coworkers are my second family and sometimes we laugh so hard I start crying and I have to clutch onto something to keep my balance.
  • late night trips to the Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene.
  • getting to see a play once a week– I know Los Angeles has a theater scene, but I’ll miss the New York stage. Before I go, I’m going to try to see Belleville and The Flick  and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
  • reading on the subway
  • taking the Sunday Times to brunch at Sun in Bloom in Park Slope (gluten-free baked goods! wahoo!)
  • my family– they threw me a going away brunch and didn’t make me feel bad for drinking about fifteen glasses of champagne and slurring my words and tearing up when they told me how happy and excited they are for me. They made me give a practice acceptance speech and they are so supportive and my sisters text me daily with words of encouragement and I’ll miss them all being so far away.
  • my little studio apartment
  • getting an ice cream cone on warm days and walking through the West Village
  • my friends– laughing and game night and talking about movies and laughing and car bombs and shrieks about who went home with someone unsavory and laughing and sleeping on the couch and holding new babies and BBQs on rooftops and watching “The Voice” for ten hours straight and laughing and birthday gifts and going away parties and drunk text messages and laughing and laughing and laughing. If I think too much about how much I’ll miss my friends, I’ll be crying and crying and crying.

There’s more, there’s always more to miss, and I am looking forward to the change. But sometimes I also want things to stay exactly the way they are.