Category Archives: Real Life

They Still Make You?

I love working the bar at special events. It means I get to be part of something really special, minus the oppressive need to small talk. I also like getting to work with a different crew almost every time–that ADHD brain need for variety satisfied in every way.

But there’s always the risk of bad eggs when the cast of characters rotates that much. Continue reading

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Middle School Math

One of my jobs right now, aside from authoring which is–at present–unpaid, is tutoring K-12 students to take standardized tests. It’s true: there’s viable paying work teaching the one thing I was REALLY good at in school, test taking. Most of the tests I’m teaching, however, were not around when I was a student. I can still ace them, because frankly standardized testing does not require you to actually know very much about the topic at hand, only the psychology of people who write test questions. But in a spirit of solidarity with my students and good faith to whatever education we are trying to give them, I’ve gone back and learned some stuff. Here are some observations. Continue reading

Scientist and Alchemist

Sometimes you have to post about things you tried that you like, because your friends will find them boring.

This here tea, for instance. I love tea. Tea is what my friends and I would hunker over late at night in high school, dishing gossip and making fun of people and pointedly not mentioning how none of us had the wherewithal to procure a fake ID. Tea: the thing I do when I want to stand up and take a break from writing but don’t want to admit that that’s the plan. Tea: the source of many of my calories when living in England on precious saved dollars when the pound was soaring.

A recent crackdown on caffeine use led to this revelation:

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Sunshine m-f-ing dust

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Rookie Bar Gaffes to Avoid

Watching the latest Game of Thrones season (I’m not going to expound on GoT. It’s just a TV show), my boyfriend pointed out how much Bran-as-Three-Eyed-Raven sounds like all of us after our first year of college. That I’ve been out in the world, I’ve learnt things about philosophy and hidden histories and now I can enlighten all you old people aura of smugness. We have all been guilty at one point or another of “schooling” an elder on the reality of things.

This reminds me of what it was like to be a craft bartender the first few months after training. Six weeks of memorizing drink recipes and scribbling tasting notes about spirits and all of a sudden I KNEW EVERYTHING, and I wanted to drop this wisdom in every bar I graced with my presence.

Ugh, the memories of trying to order a Bijou from some hotel pool bar, then trying to walk the flippant woman behind the stick through an inevitably wretched concoction. That was the start of a realization, that just because I made fancy-pants cocktails didn’t mean I could expect everyone else to make them for me, or be grateful for my definitely-not-annoying schooling.*

As time went on and I spent more time behind my own bar, I learned more about what it meant to be a good customer.  I’m all on the side of capital-H Hospitality, here, and definitely don’t think a guest at a bar should be eye-rolled or belittled, but if you’re in the industry, you should hold yourself to a higher standard than civilians. Here are some of the most annoying things bartenders do to one another, trying to show off how in-the-know they are. I state these in full knowledge that I may have perpetrated any number of them over the past five years.  Continue reading

Pre-Tales Prep Agreements

Prep List for Tales

  • Milk Thistle extract for liver function
  • Turmeric extract for inflammation
  • Liquid B-complex for energy and clarity
  • Coconut water x4 for electrolytes, in theory, but really just because one likes it.
  • Bottled cold brew with Peruvian superfood maca
  • Melatonin, for use in the absence of cannabinoids, which even in liquid high-CBD medical form one is too sensible to try to fly into the South with
  • Energy bars to ward off hangry travel tantrums
  • Sandals for hot weather running around
  • Wad-able cardigan for conference rooms chilled to meat locker temps
  • Extra strength natural deodorant mini to carry around
  • Large “bite-and-suck” camelback bottle aka “the water boob” for constant hydration
  • Large granny purse for carrying cardigan and water boob
  • More than week’s worth of outfits for inevitable sweat-throughs
  • Courage

Agreement between partners, Tuan and Hope

Thankfully, I’m not in this alone. I’m here with my partner in life and in journalism, photographer Tuan Lee. He’s taking the photos and doing what he does best, spreading the word on his enthusiasms to everyone who will listen. It is dangerous, however, to travel with a loved one to a bacchanalia. No, not for nefarious reasons. Because nobody likes that drunk arguing at the bar. Here’s how we are going to keep the peace and our sanity. 

  • Utilize spit buckets in all tasting rooms. Really.
  • Share sample cocktails at industry pairing events.
  • One-and-done policy at evening events. Soda water for lengthy networking.
  • No drinking in the hotel room.
  • Use hotel gym every morning even if feeling awful
  • No turning stress and liver fatigue into quarrels
  • Maintain a united front. If partner appears neglectful, it is because they are drowning. Go rescue them.
  • Stay away from bad influences, those industry lifers who appear to be operating just fine with a low-level hangover going 24 hours a day. These people will pressure one to over-imbibe with them, then be right back up and at ‘em while one is buried in bedclothes praying for the merciful hand of death the following morning.
  • Eat. and eat and eat.
  • Have fun.

Two Random Things and a Drink Recipe

Most of the media output here on the webs makes me want to put my face in a pillow and wail. So here are some things that soothe me, here in the age of anger.

Podcasts of smart/funny women talking.
There are differing opinions on how to subdivide podcast genres, but I like to think of them in two major groups: the people talking kind–which includes interview, monologue, and co-hosted shows a la WTF, Bill Burr’s podcast, and For Colored Nerds, respectively, and the narrative kind, like NPR’s empire of podcast/radio shows. I separate these by their use of sound effects and different storytelling techniques. I usually gravitate toward the narrative kinds, but lately a couple of talkies have me hooked. Specifically: Call Your Girlfriend and Los Feliz, the Podcast. There’s something entirely edifying about listening to smart and funny women talking together. That is all.

 

David Chang coming to LA!
We’re ready, booboo.  I know this isn’t going to happen, but I have a fantasy of him opening up shop in Far East Plaza down the aisle from BaoHaus and Chego! and Howlin’ Ray’s so he and Eddie and Roy and Johnny Ray can just bro out at a picnic table sometimes. Or that this would be a sitcom. Also I wish there were some lady chefs there, now that I’m writing this.

For summertime, try this drink I made up:

Ruby Jane
3 ripe strawberries
1 pinch cilantro
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz sugar or agave syrup
2 oz aged cachaça
2 dashes rhubarb bitters

I named it after my niece. She’s bright, sweet, and funky, too. Muddle, shake and dump into a bucket glass and drink it.

Rhubarb bitters are more versatile than you might imagine. They have a nice halfway flavor between fruity and vegetal/herbal. Those and celery bitters are dark horses. Celery bitters can surprisingly liven up just about anything. It’s the msg of cocktail flavorings. Underrated and unjustly maligned.

Are you a person who hates cilantro, that most divisive of leaves? Try mint, I guess. Or make something else. We frown upon substitutions.

Rewatching Cheers as an adult who has since been to a bar

In honor of achieving my lifetime bartender win by serving a drink to Ted Danson, I thought I’d share some thoughts I’ve had about watching the epic, childhood-filling sitcom that launched him to stardom.

The show shuttered in 1993, and I clearly remember the frenzy leading up to the final few episodes, but the early years are hazy.

So I started again.

Continue reading