Rather than let it become a burden, I guess I just took the entire summer off writing here. I missed it, but I got busy, ‘cause I got a job! And much better than Ben & Jerry’s – a cafe with bubble tea, Vietnamese chè, crepes, and perfect hours to offer me. I stayed on my feet, made some money, had the time of my life tinkering with equipment and learning weird recipes, got to walk to work, completely avoided a suntan…it really worked out. Obviously someone prayed for their Hawaii souvenirs. Anyway, I’m back at TPS, back to walking for no reason to keep my blood flowing, and ready to write to the void again. For now, I’ll just tell everyone about my summer. I’ve been trying to put together sort of an essay about some topics nagging me recently as well. Just need to gather all the jumbly, long-winded thoughts.
Bambu kept me busy almost forty hours a week starting in May. I quit shortly after Oriana and Billy’s wedding (which I’ll get to), but first I put a lot of time into cooking tapioca and manhandling smoothies with a Vitamix tamper. I was unfamiliar with chè before this job. It can vary quite a bit, but all our chè started as a cup of coconut milk or coconut juice. We made the coconut juice by blending shredded coconut and water boiled with pandan leaves, then squeezing it through linen bags; we actually cracked coconuts for their juice and saved the meat as a drink add-in. With your coconut base, you could throw in whatever else you liked from our strange list of options. We obviously made boba, but also grass jelly, red tapioca, three different kinds of sweet beans, a delicious purple pudding/paste cooked from taro root, and perfumey agar agar jellos. Whatever combo you ordered, we topped it with a fancy shaved ice dome and gave you a spoon and a wide straw so you could navigate all the textures. I ended up in the kitchen lugging pots of water and dicing water chestnuts and fruit more than I expected, but I liked that part best in the end – and mercifully, my dragon hands survived all the washing. Making crepes stressed me out to start with, but I improved a lot. It’s all in the batter – and I think I can claim the title of top batter maker from mid-July, an inevitable achievement when the prep involved cracking twenty or forty eggs into a tub of oil and milk. Took me right back to the days of mixing poisons in water gun reservoirs.
I enjoyed serving Oriana a taro milk tea and a Mediterranean crepe (garbanzo batter, hummus, cucumber, feta, tomato, cilantro, tahini sauce). Derek commissioned some drinks once I hit upon his likes: first, the Vietnamese iced coffee (customized, with sea salt foam), then peach fresh fruit tea, and then his holy grail, the bewitching kiwi-strawberry smoothie. I have memorized my own gibberish versions of the K-pop songs I heard all day long. I cobbled together many a protein smoothie lunch replacement, and ate the perfect number of brie crepes (brie + rosemary + toasted almonds + sugared pears = get out of TOWN). Most of the time I worked with Cindy, Ana, or Kristena – who has joined Daniela from Hot Dog on a Stick as one of my all-time favorite coworkers. You’ve probably heard enough to understand why I so enjoyed my summer, but don’t worry about my sanity. I did other fun things.
The Bucheli Wedding was a main event, although before that, Oriana’s shower felt like my main event. I hosted it with help from Jeri Harvey at church. She has a beautiful house, and I did my best to fill it with tasty snacks and pretty flowers for the day. In preparation I spent a lot of evenings making badly marbled ring dishes out of Sculpey clay. I think Oriana and the guests had fun, but I just counted myself lucky to avoid a total flop. For the wedding itself I got a beautiful dress with the hideous intention to cover the very open back with a homemade beige lace panel secured by snaps. I finished it basically in time, and it basically stayed on, so all’s well that ends well. Especially when the wedding carried off so wonderfully. We had a smashing time, the DJ was a pal, I didn’t choke giving my toast, and most of my family attended, so I couldn’t have been happier. Miss E.R. Buhler knocked our socks off again with her cake and videography. Other wedding week adventures: cigar and antique shops, innocuous shaving cream, Waffle House, floral arrangements by Micah, and a real, live weenie roast.
Also this summer, Anna turned twenty-one! The Lillys, after gifting me a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label that I saved for wedding week, took us all out for dinner on my birthday, to my new favorite restaurant Pappadeaux. I didn’t dare question how the fishies get up the mountain, because they tasted delicious. When I saw “Crescent City Sangria” on the drink menu, I knew my fated first drink order. Then I got a Manhattan. Then, to be festive, I asked Derek to stop at our neighborhood liquor store on the way home so I could go in for the first time (Colorado has weird liquor laws so they would have carded me if I accompanied him on previous drink runs). Once the guy at the register believed I was old enough to buy a bottle of gin, he gave me one of those mini vodka shooters as a birthday present. Oriana had the brilliant idea to gamble in Central City, so that was her gift to me. What a guy. I gambled her money away, and Derek and Billy lost too, but she made a little profit, so I figure we succeeded.
Other things happened, like more basketball, The Big Lebowski at Red Rocks (yeah, people still clapped) and weird half-camping trips with a hammock and s’mores. I think I recorded enough highlights, though. Oh, Derek totally got pneumonia again. It’s fine, he lives on. Now, the fall time.
I’ve hit Week 3 of the school year, with twenty-one students to tutor in EFL. This time almost all of them are associated with the same school in China, so I get a greater sense of community and can figure out administrative issues a lot more easily. It’s another amazing group of students, and this time I’m better prepared. A potential mentor in teaching hired me to grade papers for one of her courses I tutor alongside, so it looks like I will broaden my skill set a little this year. Hopefully she has time to impart some wisdom as well. Scheduling my meetings took a lot less time too, even with twice the students as last year. Every weekday’s work starts at either 4:30 or 5:00am…the night owl Nene wakes with the birds.
Outside work, I still try to keep up with all my “projects”– the cross stitch and knitting and photo albums, reading, taking yet more advantage of having a kitchen mostly to myself, studying my German ten minutes at a time with DuoLingo, and working out as consistently as I can. (Elisabeth called me toned, so.) Susan has whisked me up into her fountain pen whirlwind, sending me inks and paper and inspiration and letters. She’s loved fountain pens since I met her, and brought them to my attention a few years back, but let’s just say I recently went from a collection of two to a collection of around eleven pens. I can’t stop trying to recruit people and might even go to the Denver Pen Show in October. Speaking of Denver and October, I’d also like to go to the Oktoberfest downtown at the end of the month. I hear great things. Maybe I’ll tell my faithful readers about when return to San Francisco the day after on my next solo weekend visit.
Derek just left from work today for a conference in Vegas called GlassBuild. Neither of us is totally sure how it’ll go, but hopefully his sprained ankle makes it through all his slated software demos. Counting today, he’ll be gone around three days. I don’t relish the situation but I’m trying to take advantage of it, as this post bears witness – usually I do not write on my laptop while we watch movies together, but watching Moana by yourself is already antisocial, so I win this round. A multitask multipass. Also, I will try to reorganize all my craft and correspondence supplies, catch up on the woefully slow cross stitch project, finish a book or two, and reorganize the insane pantry. I’ll probably get a drink from Bambu during happy hour, since apparently working for a food service establishment only makes me love their food forever. Tomorrow I get to go to Oriana and Billy’s for the first time since their wedding, which should be great until I start falling asleep at 8:30pm. For now I sign off. Hit me up if you want to be my pen pal.