Archive for July, 2007

And that has made all the difference

The one more travelled by

This is where I live.

I don’t have my mail delivered here. There is a mailbox out in front of a place that bears an address, to which my bills go to.

Yet what you see before you speaks of Los Angeles to me. Day in, day out, on the freeways crisscrossing the landscape, the traffic piles up and crawls along. It colors everything about my experience here.

I am tied with these ribbons of roadwork and road rage. They leave me off balance. Will 15 miles take 15 minutes or an hour? I often arrive at my destination very early. I often arrive at my destination late. Occasionally when I get where I am going, I can find a place to park.

It has made a difference. It has altered my personality and my activities, and even my friendships. There are people I would no doubt be more involved with, if only they lived 30 miles North, rather than 30 miles South.

The 405. The 101. The 5. The 10. My brother in law visited recently and he asked us why do you call it “The”, isn’t it just 405? He was teasing, but I was serious in trying to explain why these expensiveways deserve a definitive article. They are more than a means to an end. They color moods and determine timing. It is not a road, it is a relationship. My husband spends more waking minutes with the 405 on most weekdays then he does with me. She can be a harsh mistress, but she treats us equally unfairly.

And this, this is what passes as my love letter to Los Angeles.

That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.

Los Angeles has been good enough to me. I am better off in every way than I was when I arrived. I have plans for things to get better still. I do not believe that anyplace else would have been a better move for us, when we made the move here, even though the traffic often barely moves at all.

It is not my true home. I expect to go elsewhere when career matters matter less.

People mover, parking lot, bearer of friends and enemies, source of frustration, porter of goods, enabler and inhibitor of interaction – this is where I live.

The one more travelled by
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Perhaps you were somehow unaware

When you bump into a chair that has a person sitting in it, they feel it. It does not matter which part of your body you do this with. They feel it. When you rest your feet, or knees, or anything else, on a seat that has a person sitting in it, they feel every single little shift that you make. At that point you are taking up more than your allotted space and you are affecting the enjoyment of another human being.

If everyone could spread the word about this, that would be lovely. I’d like to be sure everybody knows.

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Volcano Lunch

My birthday is next week and a friend of mine took me out for a mani/pedi and lunch yesterday as my gift. The mani/pedi went without incident. We sat next to each other in the massager chairs and tried to converse while people tickled our feet and manhandled us.

For lunch we went to a sushi place that neither of us had been to before. Some people, especially when treating a friend to a birthday meal, might prefer to go with something “tried and true” but both of us enjoy checking out new restaurants in hopes of finding a new gem.

This sushi place was chosen based on the fact it was very close to the nail salon and a couple of HER friends eat there regularly and like it.

We arrived and were given a choice of sushi bar or table. I almost always prefer the bar, however it had been more than a month since the last time my friend and I had seen each other or really spoken. A lot had gone on in that month and we had things to talk about. Some of what I wanted to tell her about, I did not want people to overhear. We chose the table.

They brought us menus and the sushi ordering form. We carefully opened the menus with our newly manicured and not really dry nails. The menu was the type that is filled to the brim with specialty rolls, a great many of them in combinations that have little thought put into them. Each roll was listed by number, name, ingredients, photo and price. It was a full color menu. It makes for a very crowded design, but gives you a decent idea of what you are ordering. We discussed our order and as we settled on what we wanted the waitress came by to check on us. We told her we had decided, but had not marked the sheet yet. She said she would do it for us.

We ordered. We ordered by number, name, and pointing at the item on the menu. Triple specificity.

#8 Crazy Boy
#10 BSCR
#11 Volcano Scallop
#24 House Special
#26 Sexy Roll
#39 Sashimi Salad

The waitress went to give our order to the sushi chef and we started to go over some of the topics we needed to cover.

Before long the waitress reappeared announcing “Sexy Roll,” and placed it on the table. The overall presentation was not the same as in the photo, but I am fine with that. Each chef has a slightly different style for things and I do not expect plastic food that looks exactly the same. We dug in. It tasted good. We continued to talk.

We were not finished with that roll when the waitress reappeared carrying two more items. “Crazy Boy,” she tells us. She pauses stressed because she is not sure where to put both plates down. Mind you, we are two people sitting at a 4 top and only have one item on the table so far, but it is apparently exactly where she wanted to put the other plates. I move what is left of the Sexy Roll and she puts down the Crazy Boy and the Sashimi Salad. She does not tell us the name of the Sashimi Salad since she had gotten distracted by the placement problem. I could easily tell what it was, because there was lettuce involved and there was nothing roll like involved in it, and everything else we ordered was a roll.

Crazy Boy looked similar to the photo. Sashimi Salad did not. Again, I am not overly concerned with the look matching the photo, but when that difference in looks is caused by a change in ingredients, I am less excited. The Sashimi Salad in the photo has hunks of fresh fish, atop mixed greens with a non-creamy salad dressing. The mixed greens on our plate did have an oil and vinegar dressing on them, but the fish itself was tossed and slathered in creamy sauce. Had that information been on the menu in some form, I would have told them to leave it off. I made a mental note to be sure to alter the order if I ever came again. I was in no mood to complain, and just wanted to get back to our chat. I didn’t eat any of the Crazy Boy, but my friend liked it.

A different waitress brought two more plates, announcing, “Scallop Roll and Lobster Roll,” as we made room for them on the table. My friend and I exchange looks and stare at the plates. (Huh?)

I stopped her, “I’m sorry, I don’t think we ordered a Lobster Roll, and this Scallop Roll, is it the BSCR, or the Volcano?”

“It’s the Volcano,” she informs us. “You ordered the Lobster Roll, right?”

“No, I don’t think so.” (No, I definitely did not order the Lobster Roll. Nothing we said SOUNDS like Lobster Roll.)

She goes to get the waitress who took our order and they consult the piece of paper and come over to the table.

The waitress we ordered from says, “You don’t want it?”

“Well, we didn’t order it.”

“Sorry,” she tells us as the other waitress takes it and gives it back to the chef.

I point to the roll on the table and inquire, “Is this the Volcano Roll?” I am asking again because it does not look like what I was expecting.

“No,” she tells me, “it is the BSCR.”

“Okay, the other lady said it was the Volcano. So the Volcano is still coming?” I ask.

She looks at me confused, “You want the Volcano?” My friend and I exchange looks. (What’s happening?)

“Yes, we ordered it, right?” The waitress looks at the piece of paper and nods and walks back to talk to the chef. My friend and I start up our conversation again expecting the rest of our order soon, but we only get a few words in before the other waitress interrupts again.

“Do you want the Volcano?” she asks. My friend and I look at each other again. (Obviously somebody is confused. Is it us?)

“Yes, that’s the spicy one, right?. We like spicy things.” I tell her.

“Oh, you like the spicy sauce?”

“Yes.” I smile at her encouragingly. She goes away and talks to the chef again and we get back to our conversation.

In a flash, she returns. “You want the Volcano Roll too?” My friend and I exchange looks again. o.O

“Right, we still have two more rolls coming, right? How many rolls did we order?”

She looks at the paper, “Six. So you’re okay? You want 2 more?”

“We’ve had four so far, right?” I say, trying to get us all on the same page. She nods. “So you are bringing two more? We still need the Volcano Roll and the House Roll?” At this point everything seems questionable.

“Okay.” She goes back to talk to the chef again, and once again we try to get back to our conversation.

She brings us a roll that looks ABSOLUTELY NOTHING like any of the photos of what we ordered, not even close. “House Roll,” she announces and sets it on the table. The House Roll on the menu was a roll completely covered with three kinds of chopped up raw fish GOODness. This thing was a small, very plain roll with two types of fish, all wrapped inside. My friend and I look at each other. (WTF?)

“Can I see what we ordered?” I gesture toward the paper. She hands me the paper.

I look over the checked boxes.

#8 Crazy Boy
#10 House Roll
#11 BSCR…

What? These numbers do not match up with the menu numbers. Also the prices on this piece of paper are all considerably higher. For instance this #10 House Roll is $9.75 instead of $7.75.

I look down the rest of the sheet and see a mark by #26 Sexy Roll. #24 is not called the House Roll and is not marked. Written at the bottom in a box is Volcano Roll and Sashimi Salad.

“Oh, House Roll on the menu is number 24, and this looks different,” I mention.

The waitress nods happily, “We changed it, but I checked the right name.” I smile at her. She smiles back. “The BSCR and the Volcano Roll are the same,” she tells me. My smile fades.

“What? They are not the same on the menu.” I point out.

“Just two different names. They are the same. See, BSCR is short for it. B. S. C. R. It is the initials,” she explains cheerfully to me. “See? That’s why the chef is confused.”

My friend and I look at each other again. (B S C R is short for for Volcano Roll, yes, it all makes perfect sense now.)

“But they are different on the menu, the Volcano Roll is spicy. Also, the House Roll is different on the menu.”

“Yes,” she agrees. “They have changed it. They have the wrong picture. We keep trying to tell them to change the menu.”

The chef speaks now, “See? The Volcano Roll and Scallop Roll are the same.”

“But, on the menu they are different.” I reply. I am not trying to be argumentative. I am speaking in a polite tone of voice and am genuinely feeling confused, sort of as if I have wandered into The Twilight Zone.

“No,” he tells me.

“No?” I ask.

He motions at the waitress to bring him the menu. He looks at the menu. “See? It is the same. The BSCR has scallops, and the Volcano has scallops and lobster and spicy sauce. They are the same,” he states firmly.

(Perhaps we do not have matching definitions of the word same. ) “Oh. Okay.” I tell him. (I don’t want to talk to you anymore.)

“I can make it for you.”

I glance at my friend and raise and eyebrow. Her answer is written on her face, as clearly as if she had used a Sharpie (OMFG Let’s just Get. Out. Of. Here.)

“No thank you. I think we’ll be fine.” I tell the chef.

“No, I can make it for you.”

“No, it’s okay,” my friend tells him.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. We’re fine. We’ll be fine with what we have. Thank you.” I respond.

“What about the other one? You don’t like the other one?”

“It’s fine.”

He says something I can’t hear to the waitress and she shows him on the menu. He gestures toward our table. “Bring it here, I can make it like that.”

“It’s okay. We’re fine, really.” (We just want to finish and go far away now.)

They drop it and we try to go back to our conversation.

A loud voice interrupts, “What’s wrong?”

We look and another man has come out from the kitchen and is staring angrily at us.

“Nothing, we’re fine. Just some confusion with the menu.”

“What’s wrong?”

“We’re fine now, everything is…”

He cuts me off, “What’s wrong?!”

The waitress steps in and starts talking to him. I cannot hear what she is saying, but he is sufficiently distracted.

We go back to lunching and talking, but soon my friend interrupts me and says, “I think they are talking about us.” I glance back at the sushi bar. Both men have angry faces and are waving their hands around. The women are standing there looking uncomfortable. The men get louder and louder. Soon the men are yelling at each other. They are yelling loudly. They are yelling about us. The man from the kitchen yells at the man who made our food. This pisses our chef off and he begins to yell back about some other customer who was there earlier. They get louder and louder, and more and more angry. The women start arguing also, but not as loudly. I cannot make out what the women are saying. All four of them are just standing up at the bar arguing while we try to eat our lunch.

Eventually the man who had been in the kitchen storms back into the kitchen in disgust. The other man begins to clean up his workspace with a vengeance, slamming and banging things. The waitress comes over to ask if we want anything else.

My friend smiled, “Just our check, and a to go box, thank you.”

My friend scooped into boxes, paid, and we left as quickly as possible. As we walked out the door the waitress called out, “Thank you! Come again!”


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