Noon

It is 10 minutes until 1200, when my alarm is supposed to go off. I got my schedule wrong last night- I thought I was supposed to work until 0130, but I was finished by 2230. It’s tonight and tomorrow that I “clopen,” slang for closing down the restaurant and being back in by Sunday at 1000.

I’m slated for the dish pit on tomorrow’s shift, which means that I will have to set up the restaurant for lunch. Of everything I have to do, that’s probably my least favorite, but there is only a small jump from last to first. Tonight is pantry station, which means cold foods and fried brussels sprouts, chips and salsa, etc. I get paid too much to think that anything is too bad. And what I mean is that being a dishwasher and line cook will never make me rich, but in comparison to other jobs I’ve had in the same industry, my hourly wage is insane. Plus, I also get vacation days (which I receive after six months), another thing I’ve never had from a small, independently owned restaurant. I also have the option to sign up for health insurance, but I like the state-run plan I’m on now, so I’m going to wait and see how my income averages out to see if I need to change it. If I switch to private insurance, my co-pays and drug costs will go up.

Although I am not a candidate for advancement, not wanting to go into management, I do get raises based on how long I’ve worked there and/or COLA (cost of living adjustment- my obsession with soda makes this my favorite acronym).

There is only one problem, and it has nothing to do with business. It’s that the woman who has slowly become one of my best work friends (despite the language barrier, closing more every day) is moving to Atlanta. I think either tonight or tomorrow is her last shift, after only finding out she was moving yesterday. I am heartbroken. Who else is going to hug me every day? Who else is going to make fun of me in a language I don’t always understand, just nodding and laughing because I am great at self-deprecation? But, in true kitchen wisdom, “go cry in the walk-in.” There’s really no time for emotion on the job, so that is a long-standing kitchen joke that works across all restaurants everywhere.

However, she is so loved that I’m not the only one with ALL THE FEELS. She gets along with everyone, from waitstaff to dishwasher. It also leaves us in a bit of a bind because she’s additionally a prep cook, so we’ll have to do a lot more at night rather than it all getting done before we arrive.

I wouldn’t mind a few prep shifts, leaving the restaurant earlier or getting doubles to increase my income… but to tell the truth, I’m really bad at it. This is because I will follow a recipe up and to a point, then decide I can make it taste better (ego, but not unjustified)…. but I do it with a pinch of this, a cup of that, so that I have no idea how to modify said recipe when I’m done because I don’t keep track of small improvements along the way. I can’t help myself- it’s a sickness.

For instance, Lanagan’s Pub Chili at Biddy McGraw’s was my own recipe, I always made it, and when I needed to write down the recipe, it took me two or three weeks, because every batch was a tiny bit different, as was my recipe for pancakes and oatmeal. I had several customers who came to the pub for brunch specifically to eat my food, something of which I am intensely proud. My pancakes in particular were a big hit, thin and crispy around the edges like a crepe with hazelnut fluff, the result of extra butter on the griddle.

It is always my goal to make foodies cry. One of the best chefs in Portland sent me a text and said, “even though it’s not a true Texas red, your chili is feckin’ delicious.” But he understood why I did it, adding light and dark red beans to make the ground beef stretch. That was 10 years ago, and I still remember that text dinging as if it were yesterday.

Sufficed to say if you have the ability to invite me over to cook dinner, you won’t regret it. The best indicator I have of this is that I made a French onion soup that sold out in less than one shift, and was supposed to last three days. Again, butter.

I have a keen sense that I am in the hospitality industry. My job is to delight people’s palates when I have free range, and I am comfortable with almost all nationalities. I’d love to work on my African food, though, learning to make Ethiopian injera, the flatbread you use instead of utensils for spicy beef stews that make my own palate dance.

There are two Ethiopian restaurants I highly recommend in Silver Spring. The first is Lucy, and the second is Arbol. Neither have web sites, you’ll just have to show up; you can also order from GrubHub or Seamless. I don’t recommend ordering from home, though. Get it fresh and hot, caliente y picante (temperature hot and spicy hot).

Also, if I cook for you, know ahead of time that portion control is important, because I have a blatant disregard for fat and calories. This is because I’ve read French Women Don’t Get Fat. Mireille Guiliano asserts that the reason Americans are fat is not because of the content of the food, but because we eat so damn much of it. Believe me, it’s true. Restaurant portions in the United States are generally out of control.

It’s also the entire reason I gained so much weight when I first met Dana, because as a Cordon Bleu trained chef, she fed me rich, rich food in stunning amounts. I took the weight off, and am now obsessed with keeping it that way. I don’t weigh myself, ever, but I back off the intake when I feel my pants are getting tight. I don’t want to go back to being overweight, and I don’t want to spend money on new pants, although it’s probably time, anyway.

Some of my Dockers are stretched at the seams, not from being overweight, but from the acrobatics involved with working in a kitchen. I have designated the black ones for work, because if I get bleach on them, I can fix them with a Sharpie. 😛

The thing I have spent money on this month is drugs. It is amazing how cheap Zyrtec, Tylenol, Aleve, etc. are on Amazon, because they sell Costco sized bottles that render each pill about .004 cents. I got a year’s worth of ibuprofen for $11.00, and 200 Zyrtec for the same price. If you’re not watching your cash flow, a year’s worth of Zyrtec is only $21.00. I just didn’t want to wipe out all my money until my next paycheck. I’m not the type person that particularly enjoys splurging one week and peanut butter sandwiches every meal the next.

I also have Uber to think of, because the buses aren’t running by the time I’m finished closing down the restaurant. I don’t particularly want to buy a car, because even though I could save up the money to buy one, I don’t want to pay for upkeep and insurance…. and it’s fun when someone else is in charge and I can just check out in the backseat and play with my iPhone…. and especially with Uber Pool, I only pay about five dollars a trip. They just add up, as does adding money to my WMATA SmartCard.

Public transportation is one of the reasons I love DC so much, because it’s cheap and readily available. Houston and Portland just do not have the infrastructure for it. Being one stop away from DC doesn’t hurt, either, because I can get nearly everywhere in the area in 40 minutes, even Silver Spring to Alexandria. Especially in heavy traffic, I couldn’t drive it that fast. So, at least for the moment, getting a car is not even worth it.

The only time I wish I had a car is for heavy shopping days, and those are so few and far between that it doesn’t really matter. Uber takes care of that, too, but I always feel bad when the driver has to wait for me to unload all my crap. But sometimes, it’s a blessing, because they’ll help me unload it. Some do, some just stare. It’s always a toss-up.

And now it’s time for me to slam iced coffee and get dressed, because I have officially written way past noon. I might even take a shower. Lord knows I need it. There’s probably aioli in my hair.

Starting the Faucet

I officially have writer’s block, which means that I need to write more and not less. Whenever I truly feel it coming on, I just write about nothing until I find something. I’ll be going along talking about soda, junk food, etc., and then my brain triggers into a memory that I hadn’t thought of in years, so I take that tangent and go with it until writer’s block becomes null and void. I think it was Louis L’amour who came up with the idea of starting the faucet as combat. Writing is nothing more than man vs. man conflict.

I am sure that I have a lot to say about the news, but I don’t want to go there. It’s depressing to an enormous degree. At this point, I just hope the rumors of a ghost op shadow government are real, because the president and Congress are just stressing me out and I want to think they have no real power. It’s equally depressing that all of this is happening roughly 10 miles from my house…. so close, so powerless.

The one thing on which I will comment is the mounting attack on journalists, because even though I’m not one, how far behind are bloggers? Because I write about my own life and experiences, I doubt anyone would come after me personally… but that doesn’t mean that some of the bloggers I’ve followed for years and real life friends are out of the danger zone.

It makes me happy to be “out of the loop.” The kitchen takes over everything in my life. I was called in on one of my days off this week, and ended up having more fun at work than I would have had at home, anyway… even though I really needed that day for laundry, taking my chef pants to get tailored (still haven’t done it), and giving Rachel a tune-up (for those just joining us, “she’s” my Chef’s knife- sharper than a Maddow takedown). I’ve just been so exhausted that my time at home is mostly spent in bed with my laptop, either writing or watching The Affair. I’m up to Season 3, and it’s terrifying.

It’s also a departure from the things I normally watch, which are action-packed… car chases, hacking, shadow governments I wish existed (Scandal). It’s a good thing to branch out, I suppose, but The Affair also irks me because it punches below the belt, reminding me of ways I’ve treated others and they’ve treated me.

Sometimes I have to completely switch gears and watch something with DIY or cooking… anything that makes me think of happy times, even though if I were to DIY it would end up looking like some version of “Regretsy.” Cooking shows energize me, but The Great British Baking Show makes me think that if I were a contestant, it would look more like Cake Wrecks…. but at least I can spell.

I spent my actual day off with Pri Diddy, where we met at Teaism for brunch and lots and lots of chatter on both ends. Exactly what I needed that day. My friends are good for the soul, as was the bowl of ochazuke I inhaled.

The restaurant is closed on July 4th, so I may be headed out to Del Rey for more Leslie Avenue Capers…. minus, I always have to add, stealing a street sign. I feel like I have to say that up front in case one goes missing by someone who has more guts than I do. I will sit there and stare at the sign, wondering how I could get away with it and knowing that my luck just isn’t that good…. and I don’t look that great in orange. Maybe if I was 18 and still dumb. Now, not so much.

I’m reading a book right now called Letters Never Meant to Be Read, which was free the day I got it for my Kindle. Some of them are well-written, some poorly… but all precious in their own way. So, of course, I wrote one of my own. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written, and yet, will not publish it because it lays too many cards on the table… not thinking of consequences for me, but them. It’s a new thing I’m trying out. I am saving it, though, because the person to whom it’s written would probably love to read it, and I would send it if we were in the same emotional place. But, we’re not, and haven’t been for months now. Also, to whomever you think this letter might be, you’re wrong. Just putting that out there for keeps.

I also have so much other writing/editing/reviewing to do that I’m starting to feel a bit overwhelmed, or at the very least, whelmed. The phrase “so far behind I think I’m first” comes to mind. Again, the kitchen is taking over my whole life, the way it’s been every time I’ve ever had a service industry job. Those who are in the know will really, really identify with this statement. Most days, I’m so busy I feel like I can’t catch a breath, but I like it that way. It makes time pass so much faster, with absolute distance from anything having to do with emotion, or the complete hurricane-level flooding my brain experiences while overthinking about just damn everything.

I save most of it for my dreams, where my issues resolve themselves in my subconscious mind, wandering around for hours. Sometimes it’s directed dreaming. Sometimes it’s “SUPRISE! Here’s everything you haven’t discussed to death” (yes, I have) or “SURPRISE! Let’s think about everything you’ve done wrong your whole life.” I suppose the good thing is that it doesn’t keep me up at night. Sleeping is a wonderful way to present solutions you wouldn’t have thought of while awake, because your thought processes are completely different, and often don’t make sense right up until they do… usually at about the four hour mark.

I feel like now is a good time to close this entry, because I’m working until approximately 0130 tonight. I’ve had lots of coffee, so I won’t sleep that long, but a nap sounds like it’s in order. Have to keep up my strength in my elder years, especially when most of my coworkers don’t even remember the ’90s……………

Forces in the Universe

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Newton’s Third Law of Physics

My interview with the University of Maryland CATT Lab went very well, or maybe it didn’t. It’s hard to tell what’s happening on their end, because interviewers rarely reveal their cards on the first pass. What I mean to say is that it felt good on my end. I think I at least had three of a kind… it remains to be seen whether I’ll come in Kings full over Aces, though. The interviewer and I talked for 33 minutes, and at the end he told me I would hear either way within two weeks.

The best part is not having to sit and think about it. Either I’ll get it or I won’t, and I am going to be happy either way…. because I choose to focus on both cooking and IT as opportunities. Yes, I would make a lot more money in IT… at least twice what I’m making now. But I can’t be assured that I would be any happier than I am right now, something that is also important. I am sure that my new team would come together and everything would work out, but I am already part of a great team… something about which there are no unknowns. I am proud of myself for putting my resumé out there, even with so many variables unassigned.

I hung up the phone high on life, and then I got the notification that Anthony Kennedy is retiring. My mood just deflated like a balloon, and I began to cry. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve taken a Constitutional Law class taught in Socratic Method, where I had to memorize over a hundred opinions and dissents. My favorites, regardless of the former or the latter, have always come from him. Whether or not he is in the majority or the minority, he always has something significant to say. He doesn’t mince words, and gets to the heart of the matter quickly. He has also never been a puppet of strict construction or liberal interpretation. He is one of a kind, and we would be very lucky indeed to see a jurist  like him within the next hundred years.

I do have hope, though. David Souter and Anthony Kennedy were both appointed by Republicans, but it seems that once you rise to the Supreme Court, your political affiliations seem to fall by the wayside (in most cases). Even if the Democrats do not take the House and Senate, there’s still a chance that a Republican government will confirm an appointee that they think will parrot their views, and, as it turns out, not so much. Even Neil Gorsuch has had his moments (moment?), concurring with liberals in part.

It is now 1519, and my inbox just dinged with the invitation for a three hour sit-down with everyone in the department.

The forces in the universe are strong and swift today. It seems an especially good time to say that I am praying on the spaces, and for those just joining us, it means that words aren’t everything- the silence in between is just as powerful…. literally, giving me pause.

#prayingonthespaces

Sabado Gigante

I forgot that in addition to the brewpub, we also cater large parties. So, last night was indeed insane. The pub itself was steadily busy all night, and we were hosting a wedding. Last night, I was triple threat material. I made food for catering, I worked the line, and I washed dishes all at different points during the evening. By the time the pub was closing, there were only two of us left, so it took us longer than usual to shut it down. I didn’t walk into my house until after 0230. As I have said before, catering is an entirely different set of dishes and pans… but since I did the dishes for the last catering event, my coworker stepped in and said, “you just close down the line. I’ll do the dishes this time.” That was hug from Jesus material right there. My coworker’s grandmother owned a restaurant for like, 40 years, so he’s been in the restaurant business since he was tall enough to see the line. If there were only two people left to clean everything up, I couldn’t have asked for better. Even though it took an extra hour than normal, it was still an amazing feat to shut down the kitchen and catering in two hours (we close on the weekends at midnight).

I was supposed to go in at 1300 today, but since we still haven’t found a replacement dishwasher, the kitchen manager called and asked if I would come in later and close the restaurant in the dish pit. I didn’t mind in the slightest. I have time to take a nap, or if I’ve already had just too much coffee, time to actually eat a meal while sitting down. Believe me when I say that is a luxury.

I never mind closing the restaurant when I don’t have to be there until 1500-1700. It’s kind of cool having a job where all my days are free. It’s nice not to have to take off work for things like doctor’s appointments, getting to the bank/post office before it closes, etc. Plus, I also have time to read, write, and edit.

Speaking of which, my signed copy of Argo came in the mail, and it’s so funny; IMG_0106I am glad that his name is printed under it, because from the signature, you could never make out “Antonio J. Mendez.” But the signature is the most important part. I’ve owned the Kindle version for ages. I just wanted a real piece of history, and I’ve been in love with the story since the movie came out. I had to know what was real vs. reel. I am not going to tell you what’s what, though, because that would defeat the purpose of getting you to buy your own copy. Although I will tell you that the shop in which my dad ordered this one is now out, because I got the last signed one they had. Because of this, my dad joked, “enjoy it while you have it- it may become your retirement plan.” There’s only one person I wish I could show it to that isn’t with us anymore, my stepsister, Susan.

She used to be the head of the Mexican Studies department at University of Texas- San Antonio…. as big a fan of Mendez as me, if not more so. I used to laugh at her rants about casting Ben Affleck, not because her point wasn’t valid, but because she was so funny about it. I told her that she was right through my shaking laughter- that when I see my version of Tony in film, it’s more akin to Cheech Marin (who, even though he’s a comic, I think would have done very well). But even Susan admitted that while Affleck wasn’t even her last choice, he was good in the role.

Here’s a real picture of Tony with President Carter after the op was a success, a perfect thing to add to my perfect “Sabado Gigante:”

Carter

The Goose I Wish I Could Bottle

One of our dishwashers has left, so instead of being on the line last night, I spent my shift in the dish pit. Not a bad deal, considering that the restaurant was very busy and I was off in my own little world. Of course, I was just as busy as they were, just busting out baskets of dishes as fast as I possibly could, but it’s a different kind of busy than being on the brigade.

I had a lot to think about, and now that washing dishes has become rote, rumination ate my lunch… but this time, in a good way. I thought about all the good changes that have happened in my life with my mood & behavior. I thought about all the changes that might be coming in the future. I thought about my past and how everything has brought me to this moment. How maybe, just maybe, I had to lose everything to find myself… with the exception of losing my mother.

I don’t connect her death with “breaking eggs to make an omelet,” but I do think that learning to deal with that grief every day has changed me in ways that both hinder and push me to be a better person at the same time…. mostly that death can happen in an instant, and 65 not that much older than 40, which reinforced mortality for me and what I might want to do with the time I have left.

Most of it is continuing this quest for self-knowledge, something that my INFJ personality requires. My inner landscape is deep, and only one or two people are invited at any given time to walk in it…. although I am not immune to the fact that in some ways, I invite all of you at once, because my personal flaws, failures, and achievements might make you reach into yourself, another hallmark of an INFJ…. leading others by example. It is a journey of compromise. There are always going to be things I’m willing to let go of in a public space, because it allows me to say, “I’ve already thought about that. I can move on to something else.” There is also a part of me that is intensely private, and though I am very funny in person, just not willing to dive deep. The extroverted side of me limits me to topics in which I can make everyone laugh. Most people think that introverts aren’t good in social situations, but that just isn’t true. It’s just that true extroverts feed off of others’ energy, and after being with other people, I need time and space for my batteries to recharge before I venture out again. I am also more comfortable with small groups rather than large, or being in front of an audience/congregation where I am speaking, but not personally connected to everyone in the room. That part is too much for me, because as an empath and Highly Sensitive Person, large groups make my mirror neurons go off and I can feel emotions from everyone around me, both positive and negative. When they are negative, I feel the impulse to FIX ALL THE THINGS, and it is overwhelming to an enormous degree.

In fact, this is sometimes why being at any type of job is difficult, because I know all my coworkers, and therefore care about their energy just as much as mine. It’s not enough to make me stay home, of course, but my inner landscape keeps running no matter where I am.

I was in that space last night, trying to block out the world around me so that I could concentrate on both getting all the dishes done in record time as not to leave a mess for anyone else, and to give myself time to really think.

Because I was so closed off, I didn’t even hear one of my coworkers approaching, where she grabbed my sides and goosed me so hard that it both tickled me and scared the life out of me. I was laughing my ass off from the dopamine injection of happiness, and knowing that she really, really got me. I’d been had. I jumped sky high, which made her laugh equally hard.

I also smiled to myself that it felt like a cute little flirt from a straight woman, something that makes me happy because it’s not going anywhere, it’s just fun. Just because it seemed like a flirt doesn’t mean it was. It was just an ego booster that made my heart do a cute little flip, and a moment of wondering how I could get her back in kind. I’m not very good at that sort of thing, so I just let it go. The feel-good sensation has lasted ever since. It’s such a good feeling to know that I am liked and valued at work.

So much so that I wish I could bottle that feeling and spray a little on when I feel down. The “goosee” doesn’t speak enough Spanish to explain to the “gooser” how good I felt, but it reminded me of a comment I got on Facebook, that having a Spanish-speaking girlfriend would be motivation to learn much faster. Really must look into that in the future.

Right now, though, I am not even awake enough to speak English. I took two Benadryl last night in order to sleep deeply, which gives me vivid dreams and a monster hangover. I’ve had a lot of iced coffee, but also a Klonopin,â„¢ so I am geared up and calmed down simultaneously. I find that it helps to take a Klonopin before work, because when things get crazy at the pub, I need the storm to be external and not inside me…. to be of it, but not in it, if that makes any sense at all. On a Saturday night, things will be relentless no matter what station I’m working…. although I have it much easier when it is raining because our beer garden is where the most people congregate. I can basically tell the flow of business before I even walk in due to the weather. Tonight is a toss-up, because right now there is a lot of cloud cover, and it looks like it’s going to rain, but no indication that it’s really going to happen. So I need to be prepared for all possibilities, from moderately busy to insane.

Tonight is a night in which I also need to come straight home and go to bed, because my night won’t end until approximately 0100, and my shift on Sunday starts at 1300. It is both a curse and a blessing, because it’s hard to be out that late and in that early, but the plus side is that I will end early and come in much later on Monday, and everyone else’s Monday is my Friday.

I have plans with friends on both Tuesday and Wednesday, something that does not happen often, but for which I am completely grateful.

I don’t have to bottle good feelings, they’re already out there, just waiting for me to grab them. It’s an excitement I hope is tangible to everyone else, because it certainly is for me. My Bob Esponja y los Pantalones Largos beating heart is in full force…. and in case you’re wondering, I do watch it.912ILZXp1fL._SY679_ Lots of my friends have said they picked up English from television, so why should Spanish be any different? I understand enough already to get the basic plot, I already know the characters, but TV in Spanish can and will up my game.

Watching Yo Soy Betty, la Fea when I’d go to Mexican restaurants in Houston was just as awesome. You probably know it as the adapted American series, Ugly Betty. As good as it is, though, SpongeBob Squarepants’ lessons of love, inclusion, and how to be cheerful even in the face of madness have stuck with me for ages.

One of the funniest gags that comes to mind is that Sandy Cheeks is originally from Texas, and she gets very homesick. So SpongeBob and his friends decide to throw her a party based on what they think Texas is. Ten gallon hats are represented by those giant water dispensers, and I laughed until I cried.

Because sometimes, just sometimes, being homesick for Texas is when I could use some of those bottled good feelings.

Work It

My interview with University of Maryland is now scheduled, which is the first step toward becoming a Terrapin. I hope it works out, but it is clearly a good place in which to feel confident in an interview by having nothing to lose. s-l300I am happy where I am. If I get the position, it is a silver lining on an enormous fluffy cloud. If I don’t, I get to continue having fun cooking every day for a little while longer.

I keep on getting stronger every day, beating my depression and anxiety into submission. What’s been different this time is being able to distinguish true feelings from the lies my brain is capable of telling. Just because something seems true doesn’t mean it is. When I feel isolated and lonely, that’s a lie. When I feel loved and surrounded by friends, that is the truth. I need look no further than my own house to see it, where I have fit in as family for three years. I have friends and biological family members all over this city. Lindsay, my sister, flies in often. Every time I think I am alone, I list with gratitude all the ways I am really, really not.

There’s no way around acknowledging that my world fell to pieces in three years flat, and especially the last year has been rebuilding from the rubble left behind. Apparently, I am better at DIY than I thought…. continuing to fill the spaces between the rocks with gold, as goes an old Chinese proverb, so that the cracks become the part that is most beautiful.

I don’t feel as if my personality is split in half anymore, that there’s anything so terrible I have to keep it stuffed down into my socks. Everything has become authentic, albeit with a bit of cognitive dissonance. But, as I have said before, if my past is any indication, I can live like that forever. Everyone does. For instance, I can be devastated that Dana and I are separated and thankful at the same time in perpetuity. One does not overtake the other. I hurt a lot, and I learned a lot. Those lessons will (and have to) stick with me.

For instance, I have learned that I can never talk my way through an apology ever again. Words are one thing. Actions are another. I have lost too much not to make that a 101 “Mickey Mouse” course. It helps remind me that I wear a Mickey Mouse watch when I’m not in the kitchen, made of silver and gold, words that have been used to describe friendships for thousands of years.

It also helps that my industry is entertaining others, being of service to everyone I meet while on the clock. I am sure that customer service in Information Technology is the same way, because I’ve done it before. The only difference is not getting to take Rachel (my Chef’s knife) for a workout as often as I’d like.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with her if I ever stop cooking professionally, probably just hide her in my closet somewhere. I don’t trust anyone outside of my coworkers to treat her right. I think it may be almost time to get her honed, though, because we don’t have those tools in our kitchen. It will make her sharper, but it’s not quite the same. Honing is keeping the blade straight ahead, taking out the impurities in the edge that make it lean left or right after a while. She’s still sharp as a Maddow takedown, but with several of us using her with different techniques, it’s time. Most of it has to do with the way we hold our knives, because we all use French technique (back of the knife) rather than Japanese (front of the knife). But, like a fountain pen, the way you hold a knife is a little bit different than everyone else, even though the ink still flows.

It’s all in how we work it.

U Street

I never want to forget this day.

My dad read my last blog post, about how I’d wanted a signed copy of Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History from the International Spy Museum, and how disappointed I was that they were sold out, and how I’d searched the Internet for a copy and couldn’t find one, etc. Maybe everything IS bigger in Texas, because when he searched for a copy, he found one. It is on its way to my house right now. Because of the cover, I think it’s an early edition, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. For the record, though, it was not $20, and does not come with a coffee mug. I do not need the Argo coffee mug. I know this because I saw it at the Spy Museum and it only holds eight ounces of coffee. So, while cool, utterly useless to me. The screenshot of the signed copy of the book and the words “deliver date” made me cry so hard that my dad couldn’t even understand me on the phone. Just unintelligible sobs of “it’s not even my birthday.” I was going to meet Lindsay for dinner, so I was crying as I got into my Uber and retold the story to the whole carpool, and then they were crying, too. The driver, a big teddy bear of a guy, wiped off a tear and said, “that’s just what daddies do.”

Then, we switched subjects. He said, “so, you’re going to the Metro station?” I nodded and he said, “then you’re going to my day job. I sell them the rail cars.” I got really excited telling him how much I loved the new ones with the better signage and the electronic voices that are loud and clear, rather than muffled and/or give no fucks. Then he puts his Metro access pass on the dash and drives me RIGHT UP to the entrance. I think he was showing off, and it worked. I was very impressed.

Lindsay and I grabbed some ceviche for dinner and frozen yogurt for desert. Then, we went back to her hotel and watched Shark Tank. I left around 9:30 and started walking toward the Dupont Circle Metro, realized I was going  the wrong way pretty quickly, and proceeded not to care. I just walked. It was a tiny bit rainy- Portland spitting- and perfectly comfortable outside. The street lights shone and music spilled into the streets. I stopped for a drink at a bar with an AMAZING jazz band that I wanted to hear- the trumpet player being the main draw, of course, but the entire house was packed. I couldn’t find a seat anywhere, so I just left without buying anything…. although would have taken the trumpet and run if I could’ve- it was a Monette, unlacquered, with a sound as viscous as motor oil. Even on fast licks, one note oozed into the other, a brass Southern drawl. I don’t know the name of the band, or even where the club is. I was just out walking, and happened to pass it. It’s a true testament to a local band when there are no tickets being sold, it’s just a regular Wednesday, and the house is packed. I would have waited for a table if I thought there was a chance in hell that anyone was leaving.

Eventually, I made it to the U Street/African American War Memorial/Cardozo Metro on the Yellow Line, and made my way to Ft. Totten, where I transferred to Red. The train was delayed for quite a while pulling into the station, so I sat somewhere between Takoma Park and Silver Spring playing Solitaire on my phone. By the time we actually arrived, my bus had stopped for the evening, so I Ubered back home.

I walked upstairs to the sound of a movie in Arabic, obviously coming from Abdel’s room because he’s the only one on my side of the house that speaks it (the layout is that the homeowners have one side of the house and the renters have the other, with separate kitchens, bathrooms, etc.). Though Hayat speaks Arabic as well, I don’t know if Lebanon and Morocco have the same dialect. My friend Anthony says that if I’m going to learn Arabic, learn the Lebanese dialect first, not because it’s the easiest, but the most beautiful.

I believe him. Listening to Hayat on the phone is one of my favorite pastimes. She knows I’m not eavesdropping, I’m listening to the lilt of her voice. I felt the same way about Nasim, whose Persian phone calls reminded me of Tehran. Literally every time she started speaking, Cleared Iranian Airspace would start playing in my head. It was apt, as her own escape from Tehran is much worse than being rescued by Tony Mendez.

We’ve lost touch, but that is the book I was going to write before Nasim moved to New York, and unfortunately hasn’t been back since.

Tony’s book will have to do.