break for lunch

Shoot days were the best. My dad traded his standard Hawaiian shirt for a mechanic’s work shirt with “smitty” stitched on the patch. He donned a belt heavy with light meters and mysterious tools. Other men walked around the set, their waists weighted with rolls of a thousand different kinds of tape. There was a lot of waiting. There was a lot of seemingly nothing happening, but no matter, my dad was part of all of it. Even though no one seemed to do anything, I felt a little special walking around as The Director’s Daughter. I’d pass the time in the on-set school, or watching the monitors in those few seconds a day where people actually seemed to be doing something. Pouring a soda or moving a doll from here to here or just sitting and saying the same things over and over. I could never understand the minutia of it. The differences from take to take.

Truth was, it wasn’t the filmmaking or the lights or the snap of the slate that enthralled me. No, for me, living a life of restricted food and hearing the phrase, “are you sure you want to eat that” rather than “clean your plate,” it was the craft service table that made the day special. An unimaginable array of any food you could ever want, magically refreshed through the day. Bagels and donuts in the morning, chips and candy in the afternoon and the ever-present bowls of m&ms, dry-roasted peanuts and a tub of my eternal weakness, red vines. In fact, when I was studying abroad in Russia, I didn’t ask my mom to bring my favorite shampoo or macaroni and cheese like the other students. All I wanted was red vines.

So there I’d be, on set, drawn to this table throughout the day. I’d find excuses to make my way there, ensure that every route to track down my father or whomever he had tapped to look after me ran me by the table to pick up a small handful of pretzels or to dig another root beer out of the icy depths of the well-stocked cooler.

So, it’s come around again, like everything tends to. I was on set today for a shoot of my own and found myself longing for the craft service. It gives you something to do between takes, while they’re reloading tapes, and for all those moments when I never understood what was happening. The set today that was half-ass at best. No craft service to speak of. Nothing at all. The talent asked for water and there was none. I overheard that the studio would keep a tally of what we went through in the fridge, like a low-brow mini-bar. It was sad.

It made me long for the old-school days, for the way it was done right. We’ve got another day of shooting tomorrow and even though it would strike everyone as odd, I have half a mind to hit Costco on the way in for some dry-roasted peanuts, some m&ms and, of course, a tub of red vines. I don’t think it’s a real shoot without them.


coco 500 gets more props

About once a week I go to coco 500 for a cheeseburger. Maybe it's once every two weeks. Either way, I've become a little bit of a regular. I didn't even realize it until the guy behind the bar asked, "Remind me how you like your burger cooked again?" As if it was his fault for not remembering the indiosyncrasies of an regular order. And then I noticed that the host usually smiles a little brighter when I walk in, or, like today, touches my arm when I'm leaving. It's sweet.

So even though I had quickly prepped a very nice lunch for myself (belgian endive with smoked salmon and lemon dressing), it was 12:30 and I wanted a burger. Off to coco. I sat down to the bar, and the guy there (I've got to learn his name), placed the menu in front of me with a raised eyebrow. "Yes, I'm getting the burger," I said, "but I always like to look at what else you guys have going on." Today there was a nice looking ricotta ravioli with rapini, lemon and garlic. Still I went for the burger.

But I did make a slight variation from the norm. Consistent with my new sparkling water affinity, I asked for a bottle. I couldn't really mask my excitement when I was presented with a bottle of Badoit!!! And I tryed to conceal my glee, I really did. Because how can you explain to any reasonable person why you'd get so damn giddy over a bottle of water. Well, I knew one person who would delight in the discovery, so I called noneifbysea to leave him a lunchtime message.

Just then, some coworkers walked in and invited me to join them. I brought over my treasured bubbles and again, couldn't conceal my excitement. "I know, " I explained, "It's ridiculous. It's just water, but I don't know, it-"

"-it makes you happy," one of them concluded."

"Yeah, " I conceded. "It does."


tiny bubbles

There are times, more often than I’d like to concede, where I am utterly mockworthy in the way that David Rakoff perfects in his collection, “Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems." This is one of those instances.

Ok. I’ll admit it. I have a problem. I’m addicted to bubbly water. That’s right. Me. I’ve always eschewed it for smoother, easier still water, but these days, I can’t quit carbonation. I used to find all those bubbles too filling, but now, well, my desk is punctuated with dead soldiers, still wearing their crystal geyser labels proudly. Every night the cleaning crew sweeps them away, but I’ve been keeping tabs on my consumption by compulsively stacking the bottle tops into little towers like poker chips.

I had to do something because since I read The Omnivoure’s Dilemna last summer, I rarely can enjoy soda. All of a sudden, I’m acutely aware of the imperial corn machine that contributes to each and every can. And diet sodas scare the crap out of me. If I come across a Mexican Coke, I’m all over it. In fact, over Passover, there were some Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda’s in the Kosher-for-Passover section of the Safeway. Kosher-for-Passover means corn syrup free, since corn is one of the no-can-eats during the festival. I picked up a six-pack, and it wasn’t until I got home to see that the shelves had seemingly been mis-stocked. There are still five left in my fridge. I’m not sure what to do with them.

And it gets worse. I remember late last summer when I was introduced to Badoit, a French sparkling water of the utmost superiority. Delicate bubbles dance across the palate and refresh with little more than a whisper. You can’t find the stuff anywhere. And when you do, it’s generally too prohibitively expensive to make a habit out of it. So, I’m here, throwing back one crystal geyser after another. I make do.

Still water disgusts me now. It just sits there, stagnant, flaccid, pervasively uninteresting. Except when it’s really cold and I’ve been working out. Then I can deal.

morning unbroken

Somehow, I’ve become a morning person. I’m not sure how it happened. I’ll get into work at 9:30 and realize I’ve already been awake over three hours, which seems impossible. See, there was a long, long time where I’d set my alarm not a minute too early to accommodate a shower, a quick email check, and little else. On the way to work, I’d pick up a walnut roll from Ken’s and a coffee from Peet’s and spend the first billable hours of the day tabbing through my daily web pages.

Then I began keeping up with someone else’s schedule, and started to enjoy a leisurely ritual of toasting two bagels while coffee was being made. We’d sit down at the table to sprinkle salt over homemade butter, trade urls like sections of the morning paper, and, providing the beans had co-operated, even poured a second cup.

When I left, I was intent on carrying on the morning ritual. In fact, gifted with a French Press, stainless steel thermos, measuring spoon and detailed directions to the best coffee in the Bay Area, I was obligated. And so I did. For months I’d get up early enough to allow for the boiling of the water, to pour it and let it steep for a minute before churning the grounds and letting them soak for exactly three minutes more before depressing the plunger. In these crucial four minutes there’s just time to cut, toast and butter a bagel, shake and pour the cream, set the table and, if the dance is timed just right, stuff Mr. Kitty’s morning pills into Pill Pockets and medicate the old man for the day.

But as I fell into a routine of a.m. spinning classes or late nights out, my breakfast got cut short. In the morning, every minute is slightly more urgent than the last. To sit down to breakfast at 7:56 seems luxurious, while if I settle in at 8:05, I'm going to be picking up the pace to run for the bus. I started brewing tea and only had time to finish half a cup. I’d grab a juice on the way back from the gym and scarf down a clif bar once I settled into my desk. Well, this week, I’ve decided to bring breakfast back.

Weekends are still quiet and I’ve gotten into the habit of sunny Mission Sundays where I procure provisions for the week. First I head down to Ritual to chat up the baristas, determine my coffee for the week, and get a half pound ground for French Press. I delight in the internal rhyme scheme of that phrase, every time. This week, it’s Peaberry Kenya Gethumbwini.

Next stop is Bi-Rite for a thick glass bottle of Strauss half-n-half, a pint of Bi-Rite’s ice cream (post to come), and whatever seasonal, organic produce calls to me. I’ll pick up a few bagels Monday morning on my way back from the gym at Cal-Mart. They get theirs from House of Bagels, a local bagelry, and when they’re fresh (like on Monday mornings) they do just fine.

The morning dance is back. My timing is impeccable, though even if my measuring sometimes isn’t. The coffee isn’t as good as when someone else was making it for me, and I usually pour a little too much cream into the pitcher. The cat seems to know. He’ll offer a few more headbutts while I’m cleaning up, waiting for that moment when I’ll pour the extra in a dish for him. He’s getting quite a sense of entitlement about it.