There is a chapter in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little Town on the Prairie entitled ‘The Whirl of Gaiety’, in which a boring time of year suddenly becomes lively with a flurry of parties and socials. I guess September isn’t usually a boring time since school has just begun, but I have definitely been living in such a ‘whirl’ since last Thursday. Just as a warning this is a very long entry, and the details may bore you, but they’re for me to remember. 🙂
Last year Jennifer and I used to have dinner together every so often, and since she disappeared off the face of the earth during the end of summer and start of this semester I was really afraid we wouldn’t be doing that anymore. But then she reappeared with a vengeance, so we had dinner together with Erik and Daniel on Thursday night! I got to see her apartment, too, which is very nice and comfortable and pretty, and her apartmentmate Irene, who is also very nice and very pretty (stunning, actually). We had a wonderful dinner at La Note, which involved lots of cheese (I love blue cheese!) in the form of a cheese-and-grapes platter (is it so weird that I like cheese with fruit?) and a nut-encrusted goat cheese and roasted garlic toast appetizer, and a super delicious plum galette. Doubtless you know by now that I like galettes, but I’ve never had a plum one (in fact I don’t like plums), but it was warm and tasty and was served with yummy vanilla bean ice cream. Mmmm… dessert…
So after going to bed on that scrumptious note I woke up Friday morning and had to go to Chinese class and work and clean my apartment before Caroline showed up around three. Although she was initially very paranoid about parking tickets, and although I was doing laundry when she got here, we were very happy to see each other again and after I finished my laundry we went shopping. I discovered a very cute brown heathered wool coat at Express, but delayed buying it because there was a promotion that began two days later. So we decided that we were close enough to Jennifer’s apartment to drop by, and we did. Caroline got the grand tour, and before long we had decided to have dinner at Plearn, so we called people and off we went. Plearn was very fun. Caroline was going crazy trying to decide between a chicken salad and a soup, until Erik said he would split the soup with her, and thus determined that she would try both. I was distraught that pad see ew was no longer on the menu, and so was James, until he tried ordering it and found that they have it anyway. Daniel also ordered rad na from this mysterious secret menu. I wonder what else they’ve got on there. As always everything was very yummy. I ate a ridiculous amount. I don’t know how it all fit. And after we were all full we started reminiscing about the kinds of food they served for lunch at Bret Harte (middle school). I love that I have friends who talk about food even after we’re full. This is to me only natural, but I understand that to some people it is not. 🙂
After Plearn, James and Albert brought us all to a heavenly new place on Shattuck, Mondo Gelato. Amaaaaazing. If I didn’t think the phrase ‘I thought I’d died and gone to heaven’ was really clichéd, I would use it. It’s a chain store, but there are only locations in Rome, Vancouver and Beijing (and now Berkeley), and they make all their flavors fresh every day. There are a gazillion flavors, or at least that’s what it looks and feels like when you’re trying to decide. The lines are humongous but everyone can’t help but smile, and even the people who work there are really nice. They certainly had reason to be cranky; the whole time we were sitting in there eating and talking they never had a moment’s rest. You get unlimited free samples and Jennifer took great advantage of that. 🙂 I tried their lemon cream (which, actually, turned out to be mango) and their gianduia’ (hazelnut and chocolate, apparently not to be confused with their chocolate flavor, their hazelnut flavor, or other related flavors: ferrero rocher, baci, and nutella, all of which involve chocolate and hazelnut), and both were lovely. A single is $2.75 which is about twice as much as Yogurt Park’s mini yogurt, but I’ve been to other gelato places that were really bad that charged a lot more than that, so I don’t mind at all. I think a lot of my money is going to be trickling into Mondo Gelato’s register from now on. It is so incredible to me that such a place would even exist, and out of all the locations in the world, they picked Berkeley to put it in!
We sat around in Mondo Gelato until they closed at midnight, then we went to Kevin’s nifty apartment and sat around until we decided around three that we should get some sleep. At Kevin’s, we discussed our childhoods, books, and Sex and the City, and Jennifer had the most ecstatic moment of her life thus far when she discovered that the interesting-looking grapes sitting on the coffee table (they looked like giant round blueberries without that leafy thing on top) were the variety she has been looking for every since she was a kid! Kevin’s aptmate had bought them at the Korean market on Telegraph, where I expect we will soon find Jennifer (if not already). I’ve never eaten grapes like this. You bite on them to puncture the skin, and then suck out the inside, which comes out in a squishy gelatinous ball. There are seeds that you have to spit out, and you don’t eat the skin (Albert tried and had to run for a glass of water, but Jennifer ate all hers). They were fun and I ate a lot until I became self-conscious about how quickly the pile in the bowl was disappearing, and how equally quickly the pile of skins on my napkin was growing. I hope Kevin’s aptmate didn’t mind.
Next morning, Erik had a sore throat and had lost his voice, which Caroline and I attribute to the fact that he spent a long time gossiping with us and maybe males aren’t supposed to gossip and he was being punished. 🙂 So I went with Caroline to the farmer’s market, where we met Albert and James. We bought lots of yummy things, considered buying butterflies (I wanted to get Shra a caterpillar in a cup for a going-to-college present but when I realized it needed to be fed every day I decided against it), and observed sadly that even the market’s most tantalizing grapes seemed boring after the remarkable grapes we’d had the night before. Sigh. We went back to my apartment and had crêpes instead, filled with cremini mushrooms, semi-caramelized onions and goat cheddar.
After lunch the two of us went to Radhika’s apartment, which is very nice and has an enormous balcony about half the size of my entire apartment, and gossiped some more and freely discussed the finer points of Harry Potter (books and movie), to the amazement of her aptmate Marin who couldn’t believe that an hour after she’d first entered the living room we were still on this topic. Then we moved on to politics and how to succeed in life. I’m going to have to get to know Radhika better; she’s very interesting.
Around eight we went to Naan ‘n Curry where we initially had quite a fiasco with finding a table to fit seven. Fortunately the thought is now more funny than embarrassing, but at the time it quite dampened our spirits. (Involved a pissed-looking guy and a ‘red peasant girl’ as Jennifer puts it.) We had our food and it was cheap and spicy and yummy, so afterward we went to Yogurt Park. There, some people got huge yogurts, some people ended up eating a lot of those other people’s huge yogurts, and some of us watched all this with amusement. 🙂 Then Kevin unfortunately had to go home, but the rest of us rented the first season of Sex and the City. Caroline hadn’t seen it, and I was actually more interested in seeing what the guys thought of it than watching it. After we’d seen the first episode, though, I think we were all kind of disappointed. It totally doesn’t compare with the later seasons, and Sarah Jessica Parker had brown hair… very strange… so we stopped after episode one. Christine showed up with Karl and Gary (this was at my apartment). The people who live above me are insanely sensitive to noise so I had to keep reminding everyone to be quiet, but it was really gratifying that everyone tried their best to remember and not be too loud. Even more gratifying that others helped me remind people when they forgot. Thank you. 🙂 As it was they didn’t complain, and I ran into my upstairs neighbor the next morning and he didn’t say anything (though I quickly fled after saying hi). So we were all at my place until about two. Things to remember: set puns, wedding conversation, my lending library, interesting websites (and what the guys liked about one of them–surprise!).
Sunday morning Caroline had to leave early, which was poo. I’m still very tired from my lack of sleep over the weekend, but this weekend goes in my book as one of the best ever. I used to always be really annoyed that every time we got together in a group, we’d do something like watch TV, where we didn’t really have to talk, so that when we did talk it would be awkward and nobody really had too much serious stuff to say to each other. This time we talked about serious things (not quite what-is-the-meaning-of-life serious, but intelligent enough) as well as very, very stupid things, and it was a nice mix. It’s always interesting to talk to everyone seriously because we’ve all grown and changed since coming to college, and that doesn’t always come out in the silly talk. It was a very bonding weekend, I think, as well as a hilariously fun one (and full of good food, of course!). Almost like a retreat, it was so bonding. Probably more so for me than for anyone else because I was playing host so my whole weekend was entertaining Caroline. 🙂 Which I loved, by the way, Caroline, before you start feeling bad for taking up my time. 🙂 I think I like being a host. I get to make yummy food and I don’t have to eat it all by myself, and I get to watch other people eat it! It doesn’t get any better than that.
After Caroline went home I tried to get some work done, and did succeed somewhat. I also went to Express to pick up that coat, and guess what? The promotion I’d put off buying it for, actually wasn’t going on at that time. I thought I was going to get a $25 gift certificate back for every $50 I spent, but as it turned out, the promotion had already ended–yesterday was the day that the people who’d gotten those certificates could begin to spend them. Rrrr! If I’d bought my coat on Friday, when I first saw it, I could still have gotten the $25. But oh well. I still had a $30 off gift certificate through another promotion, and perhaps it’s all for the best that I don’t have another $25 to get me to spend more. Coat included, I probably spent more in this weekend than I ever have in any other three days unless you count stuff like buying books or paying rent (or, I suppose, the splurge I treated myself to when I graduated from high school). At least, it’s the most I’ve ever spent on spontaneous things. I might add that the six of us who had dinner at Plearn (Kevin came but had no food) got charged less than half the amount that the four of us had spent the night before at La Note! But if we consider that it was as refreshing as a retreat, and that I would pay quite a lot for such a retreat, it’s well justified. 🙂
Before he left to go home the other day I said we should do this more often and Kevin remarked jokingly, ‘Okay, you’re in charge.’ I’m going to take that seriously. You should all be expecting to hear from me via email sometime within the next month! We’d better be doing this more often. Why not?!
The ‘whirl’ is not over yet. Ying’s back from Germany for a visit, and this weekend I’m going up to the Sacramento area to help Jackie move in to her new house, and to help Shra move in to school. Craaaazy. I’d better get some work done in between!
[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]