Just brought her to the airport; she’s on a red-eye back to Vermont for Christmas with her family. (I’m here another few days until I fly to New York.)
Parting was hard, even though I’ll see her again on New Year’s Eve when we both fly back. I had tears in my eyes as she walked away from me to go check in.
I texted her from the train back to the city.
Me: ”Miss you already and love you so much”
Her: “I miss you too i love you too. It was so hard to walk away from you. I was sad”
Me: “But you’re walking TOWARDS your family :) it was hard to see you walk away too though…”
Her: “Yeah yr right but they’re not my girl”
I love her so goddamn much.
Tomorrow brings some house-cleaning and preliminary packing of my own, a trip to Chinatown to get tea for my brother’s Christmas present, and maybe even some baking (no more sweets though, but maybe some Parker rolls?).
Happy weekend y’all.
So, for those of you who don’t follow me on twitter, you may not know that mi’lady and I hosted a party at my flat on Friday night. In the spirit of not caring about my job, I took the afternoon off of work to prepare (just finger foods and cookies, not dinner thank god). It’s the first time I ever took the hosting controls for something of this scale—we had about 40 people come, and people, my flat is microscopic—and it was stressful but SO much fun. I wish I had pictures, but sadly my camera ran out of batteries after approximately one dismally out-of-focus photo.
On the menu:
- ricotta, parmesan, scallion & black pepper stuffed cherry tomatoes
- spinach, pine nuts & feta stuffed baked mushrooms
- mozzarella, basil & tomato skewers, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt & pepper
- baked pepperjack cheese bites (gluten-free)
- vegan cream cheese, garlic & herb dip
- various assorted crackers
- Acme baguette
- various assorted hummus
- cheese platter
- snowball cookies
- triple chocolate cookies
- gluten-free mint red & green M&M cookies
- friends brought cookies too! candy cane sugar cookies, and peanut butter chocolate chip cookie bars
- mulled wine (we ended up using 8 bottles of red wine!)
- hot toddies, choice of whiskey or brandy (used a full handle of each)
- pumpkin pie martinis (which were… meh)
- eggnog martinis (which were yum!)
- folks also contributed spiced beer (forget the brand) and prosecco
So, we had an abundance of delectables. I did the dry pantry grocery shopping earlier in the week, and the produce shopping the day of. The cookies were all done several days ahead of time and packed in airtight containers to keep them fresh. And then midday on the day of, I sat down with all my plans and made a comprehensive list of what-to-do-in-what-order-and-when. So it looked something like this:
Take spinach out of freezer to thaw.
Prepare ricotta filling and put in refrigerator to chill.
Trim and hollow cherry tomatoes.
. . .
Make cream cheese dip.
. . .
Prepare ingredients for hot drinks and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375F.
. . .
Pop stuffed mushrooms in oven and set timer for 30 mins.
Take stuffed tomatoes and mozzarella skewers out of refrigerator and set out on platter.
There were a lot more directions under each time slot, but that’s just an idea. It was SUCH a good way to plan, because it meant I was left with no ugly surprises or last-minute chaos. I kept pretty much exactly to the schedule. There was a moment of panic around 5:30 when I found out mi’lady wasn’t going to be able to get here until around 7, and she was on playlist duty and still had to put it together so I wouldn’t really be getting any help from her, but that panic subsided when I realized I did, in fact, have it all under control. And she had a legitimate excuse for being held up – it was pissing rain, and she had errands to run (get creme de cacao for the martinis, buy small plates and cups, etc.), so she got a ride from a coworker and was basically at her generous mercy. (Mi’lady also drew a fabulous reindeer for Pin the Red Nose on Rudolf.)
And then the party itself was great fun. We expected to have it go until around midnight and then hit the Mission bars afterward, but some people lingered and we ended up staying in, cleaning up, and dancing to Erykah Badu and then the Nutcracker Suite.
And for about 24 hours I was like “I never want to see the kitchen again” and now it’s Monday evening and I’m at home and I’m all like “hmm, shall I bake some parker rolls? challah? date bread?”
Thank you all for your comments, both on this post wishing me and mi’lady happiness together after one year, and on this one, offering suggestions and advice and sympathy on my work and life situation. All of those comments were really helpful, and helped me see my situation a bit more clearly. Having folks listen and getting their input, especially folks who are in or who have been in similar situations (isn’t that everyone, though?), is so, so meaningful.
I think you’re all right. You’re right that I need to figure out what’s right for me, and do it. You’re right that I need to carefully weigh my options and have a plan. You’re right that I should decide what’s most important to me right now. You’re right that I should know that whatever decision I make isn’t wrong or right, it’s just a decision, and it’s not ultimately determinative.
So here’s the thinking I’ve been doing since reading all your comments.
- I’m not very good with money. This is for many reasons: (1) San Francisco is friggin expensive. (2) Mi’lady and I don’t live together, but we do spend many evenings together, and we haven’t yet mastered the skills involved in planning ahead meal-wise in the most cost-efficient way (i.e., we’ve found it’s oftentimes more cost-efficient to get cheap take-out than it is to buy ingredients necessary for cooking, but with a lot more planning and kitchen resourcefulness, this shouldn’t be the case). I spend WAY too much money on food. (3) Cabs, Zipcar, and Caltrain. While, yes, San Francisco has public transportation, it (a) isn’t terribly reliable if I need to be somewhere by a specific time and can’t afford to miss 3 hours of work to be there (e.g. for a doctor’s appointment); and (b) doesn’t extend in a cohesive fashion beyond SF, so that whenever I visit my grandparents in Palo Alto I spend $12 round-trip on Caltrain PLUS cab fare to/from the Caltrain station (because, hullo this is really dumb planning, the Caltrain station in SF is off in bumfuck and it takes me a good hour by public transit to get there when it’s only a 6 minute cab ride), OR I just take Zipcar, which isn’t cheap either. So I end up spending $70/month on my Muni pass and at least $150/month on cabs, Zipcar, and Caltrain, but probably more like $200. You tell me: is this reasonable?
Okay, I’ve gone on waaaaay too long about money. Next item.
- In addition to being bad with money, I’ve got excellent benefits at my job, and since I’m on prescription meds, and am currently undergoing an expensive but insured orthodontic treatment (straightening my bottom teeth, which were not-very-noticeably crooked but which were exposing my gums to decay) I’m loathe to give this up.
- I’ve got three applications pending for graduate school. This means that within a few months, hopefully, I’ll know whether and where I’m going to graduate school. This is a pretty major consideration, since it will give me a much clearer idea of what the next few years of my life will look like, and will give me a natural out of my current job.
- There’s this nagging question, though: if I don’t do it now, then when? I would love–LOVE–to have time to work on my projects I’ve been wanting to work on. One of them is getting back to playing piano much more consistently, and finding some other (queer?) folks to play chamber music with. Maybe do something fun/eclectic with it, who knows. Another is writing about this thing I’ve had in the back of my mind for years, and it’s sort of gasping for air now while I’m holding its head underwater. But what time do I have now to work on this? I don’t. What time will I have while in grad school? I won’t.
So, all these considerations in mind, here’s what I’m thinking.
Before I do anything, I need to know whether I’m capable of living on a shoestring budget. This means I need to design one, and implement it. Preemptively. While I’m still employed, all the extra money can go straight into savings. And this will take some tinkering, I’m sure. I’ll start cutting back bit by bit. Can’t cut back on rent, but I can certainly do my darndest to cut back on food and cab rides. I’ll figure out what the least I can live on is, and then I’ll plan around that.
And then I’ll make sure I know what the health and wellness resources are in San Francisco, should I be uninsured. Would I still be able to get my prescription at an affordable price? Are there therapy clinics for the uninsured/unemployed? Could I learn how to find alternative methods of therapy, like reading or doing meditation or something like that? Or at least make sure I have enough cost-free self-care and wellness initiatives to counterbalance that need?
And then I’ll think about alternative (part-time?) sources of income. Can’t rely on writing or activism, at least not yet, but there’s the substitute teaching option, and I could nanny (LOVE small children) but would need references (start off small by babysitting?), or I could bartend (anyone know of good/cheap bartending classes around SF?), or I could temp, or I could … ?
And then I’ll wait and see what happens with graduate school. I wouldn’t leave my job before early in the spring anyway, mostly because I’d need to give my employers a great deal of advance notice (out of courtesy, not legal necessity), and hopefully by then I’ll have heard back from the graduate programs. And if I know, okay, this is 5 months of living unemployed, then that seems very manageable. If I don’t get into graduate school, then I’ll have to start figuring out how I can leave my job and have a backup financial plan in place, so that I don’t find myself just indefinitely unemployed and getting increasingly depressed because of it.
But, however it turns out with regard to graduate school, I’m going to start planning now for at least a 4-month “sabbatical” either this summer (in the case of grad school) or next fall/winter (in the case of no grad school). Which means first and foremost: budgeting. Maybe I’ll start after Christmas? Turns out Christmas with divorced/-ing parents is mightily expensive. My sister and I realized that if we want them to get any gifts at all, we’ve got to be responsible for them. Sigh.
Oh! And I have the MOST amazing Christmas present to mi’lady, hence the title of this post (she now has the link to this website and reads it occasionally): a vocal effects pedal! She’s been talking about wanting one for months, in that way you talk about things you lust after but know you can’t have. They’re, gulp, pricey, but I can afford it while still living within my income and she’ll be SO happy. I’m a bit apprehensive, just because I’m not sure if it’s a model she’ll be excited about (I know nothing about such things, and only picked the model based on doing some internet research), but we’ll see… I’m giddy with excitement about giving it to her!!
I love the holidays, starting around Thanksgiving and ending after Christmas. I’m one of those people who re-reads A Christmas Carol every year, who listens to Handel’s Messiah on repeat, who plays all the traditional Christmas carols on my piano and sings along, and who bakes more batches of holidays cookies and cakes than everyone I know together can eat. I realized this year, in light of all the introspection surrounding my parents’ divorce, that much of what I’m doing when I throw myself into the so-called “spirit of Christmas” is trying to re-capture some sort of intangible magic. I’m always seeking, somehow, to find that thing that makes me catch my breath in wonder, that thing that makes everything seem warm and cozy and perfect and exciting. I want to believe in Santa Claus again. I don’t know that I’ll ever actually succeed in re-capturing that, because the normal daily non-magic always interferes — it’s exhausting, it requires constant vigilance not to slip back into mundanity. I haven’t been successful yet. (Maybe when I have my own children some day?)
But, this year, especially in the knowledge that Christmas will be hard with my family, I do have some goals. I want to try my absolute darndest to make it special. Maybe it’s grasping at straws, but if I actually encourage that childlike excitement by allowing myself to indulge in many of the childishly exciting things, then I’m hoping that this holiday season will be special, and wonderful, and delightful.
Here are my plans:
- Thursday morning, mi’lady and I leave for what our friends have been calling our “Lesbithanksgiving”! We’re renting a tiny little studio cabin on the Russian River a few hours north of here. It has a hot tub. And that’s all we care about. We’re staying two nights, leaving on Saturday, and our plans for the 48 hours we’ll be there include nothing but bathing in the hot tub, sleeping, giving each other massages (we even bought massage oil for the occasion), reading, watching Mad Men, talking, and oh yeah FUCKING. We got a new toy that will get its debut! And we’ve been talking about all the sexy things we want to do to each other for days. After that rejuvenating mini-vacation, away from the stressful obligations of family that are so often present at Thanksgiving (at least in my family), I’ll be golden for embarking on the month of December.
- In the first week of December, mi’lady and I are (hopefully, assuming a certain stressful situation which I won’t bother going into here because it’s boring doesn’t interfere) going to go see Ovo, a Cirque du Soleil show, here in San Francisco. Granted, this isn’t Christmas-themed, but any spectacular show like that is bound to feel festive.
- The following week, we’re going to see the Nutcracker ballet performed by the SF Ballet! I haven’t seen this performed live, ever. As a little girl my sister and I had a video tape of the American Ballet Theatre’s version starring Gelsey Kirkland as Clara (she was one of my favorite dancers, back in the day), and we watched it every year (multiple times!), but I’ve never actually seen it live. I’m really excited about this, and these tickets were quite reasonably priced!
- And THEN, that same week on Friday, mi’lady and I are going to host a holiday party! Last year, when we’d just started dating, she had one at her house, and that was when her best friend walked in on us hooking up. Fun times. This year, we’ll co-host! Maybe even at my house, since it’s cleaner and much homier than her place (my roommate and I are much better decoraters, what can I say), and I’m going to bake lots of cookies and make mulled wine and hot toddies and roasted vegetables and any other ideas for vegetarian holiday party fare? And she’s in charge of the playlist :)
- Sometime in December we’re going to amble up to Union Street for their annual Fantasy of Lights. Lots and lots of pretty lights, candy canes, and general merriment.
- We’re going to watch Christmas movies! We probably won’t have time to watch that many — I mean, how many movies can two busy people actually watch together in one month? — but even if we just get one or two! I really don’t like It’s a Wonderful Life, she really doesn’t like Love, Actually, so any other ideas on Christmas classics? Last year we watched Home Alone, haha. And my favorite, The Snowman:
- Just in case this needs to be said again, although I’m sure it doesn’t, I’m going to bake lots of COOKIES!
- AND, I want to decorate. Last year, my roommate and I got a tree! We took it home with us on Muni, since we didn’t have cars. We definitely got some funny looks and smiles. This year, I’m with a new roommate, and our place is way too tiny for a tree. But I’m thinking maybe a wreath, or at the very least some candles and some holly and ivy.
- I’m going to make sure that I have an infinite supply of cookies (have I mentioned that already?), Christmas teas, mulled wine and cider, and Christmas music. Just so that whenever I, or anyone else who’s around, need a good dose of Christmas, I can get it.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.