Drink Margarita’s At Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant

Margarita
A date took me for margaritas to Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco’s Little Russia neighborhood. Tommy’s was opened by the Bermejo family in 1965. Tommy’s son Julio is recognized as one of the world’s top experts on tequila.

My margarita consisted of 100% pure agave tequila, agave syrup and fresh squeezed lime juice. The date was good but the margarita was just OK. OK enough to drink two. It would have been better to sit at the bar, get a tequila lesson, and taste a few instead of just ordering “a margarita.” What I know about tequila is to order Cazadores on a budget and never order Patrón unless you want the bartender to mock you.

The restaurant had old timey character. I didn’t eat so I can’t say if the food is any good. We sang Happy Birthday to a kid making a wish over his flan at the next table. Is it true that tequila is the only alcohol that’s an upper? I choose to believe this.

 

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Drink Margarita’s At Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant

The Good Part

Another fucking fantastic guest post from my friend Melissa. #wisdomwednesday

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I am your classic high-strung overthinker. I have dutifully kept a planner circa sixth grade, routinely set dozens of Google Calendar reminders and often find myself lying awake at 2:00 a.m., leaping out of bed periodically to jot down the action items ricocheting through my head in said planner. As my fellow worriers will attest (shoutout to Sarah and DC!), anxiety thrives on unpredictability – nothing feels worse than sitting still and not knowing what will come next.

That dread guided the better part of my young adult life. I earned exceptional grades and attended a prestigious university. My first boyfriend had a cushy accounting job. After graduating, I worked at a research lab, with plans to apply to med school in a few years. Then my boyfriend and I would marry and baby makes three by the time I hit 30, that magical age when all the pieces would fall perfectly into place, and life would really begin.

And then, my painstakingly conceived 10-year-plan began to show cracks.

Biology fascinated me, but I had always known I was a writer, and so did my English teachers and professors, who found my chosen pre-med path frustrating and bewildering. On Saturday nights, my boyfriend cloistered himself with Fallout 3 as I cajoled him to at least grab dinner. He moped when, listless, I made plans with family and friends. We isolated ourselves, two planets orbiting each other.

Slowly but surely, things began to give. I could no longer ignore that quickening in my chest, urging me to write. I quit my lab job and headed to journalism school. That summer, I uprooted myself from the Bay Area to take an internship in L.A. – boyfriend in tow – that unapologetically glamorous yet gritty place where I knew no one, what I imagined would be the perfect antidote to my restlessness.

Meanwhile, one by one our mutual friends got engaged, stemming from what, to me, felt uncomfortably like a business transaction – as if it would be a waste not to sign on the dotted line after investing so much in each other. They predicted we would be next to walk down the aisle.

But after nearly seven years together, I couldn’t. He was my best friend, but I wanted more — someone who would gaze at all of me, gentle curves and harsh edges, and not recoil, who took a genuine interest in what I read and wrote, and understood my self-doubt. We were scared. We couldn’t imagine a life without each other. I broke his heart, and my own. As I watched him speed off through the 2nd Street Tunnel, I felt like I had just wrested the earth from beneath my feet.

I moved back in with my parents up north. Breakup brain hit hard. Hundreds of miles from L.A., where the last threads had unraveled, I felt fine, which I thought must have meant I was. In true Type A fashion, I wanted to breeze through the grieving process, cross “break up” off the list and move on. I wanted to date again, dammit.

So I hopped on Tinder, of course. One of my first matches was a chef who dug my pixie cut. My anxiety cresting after a series of back-and-forths about his favorite restaurant in Oakland, no date plans in sight, I finally messaged him: “So… when are we gonna check out this place?”

That first exchange pretty much encapsulated our relationship. I constantly initiated dates, grasping for something that always felt just out of reach. Six months in, I dropped the dreaded “What are we?” question. He didn’t want to label us. Maybe I was too anxious? Too controlling?

Toward the one-year mark, he began standing me up and evaded requests to Talk. I wasn’t insane after all. He was pulling the classic fadeaway, a prelude to ghosting. After a year of dating. What in the actual fuck? I resorted to a text breakup, tired and out of fucks to give.

In hindsight, chef reminded me of my ex (albeit douchier) — an avid sports fan, a foodie, funny. And like with my ex, I didn’t feel seen. A few weeks before chef’s disappearing act, I confessed that I still felt like I didn’t really know him. “Is there anything you want to know about me?” I ventured. He responded that he “wasn’t concerned” about my past. As long as nothing incriminating lurked beneath, he couldn’t care less about peeling back the surface.

But I had been guilty of the same. My ex called me his girlfriend weeks after we had met, and I obliged, relieved to tie any remaining loose ends. All I knew about him was that he worked in accounting, and sang and played guitar. Terrified of the emptiness he had left behind, I fled to what felt familiar. I wanted to call a blasé chef I barely knew my boyfriend.

Things started to give again. Ready to embark on the freelance career I had always dreamed about, I pulled the trigger and left my staff writing job. I moved out of my parents’ and rented a room in Oakland, forcing myself to make a living freelancing full-time.

Meanwhile, I had begun seeing a therapist, practicing yoga and meditation, reading Rumi and Thich Nhat Hanh – all those mindfulness practices I had once pooh-poohed as New Age-y bullshit. But I didn’t want live out of anxiety anymore. Mindfulness helps me quell my racing thoughts, to pause and sit with my negative emotions instead of fleeing from them. It reminds me that the past and future exist only in my imagination, and to savor the present, the only thing that exists in reality. (They call mindfulness a “practice” for a reason – that shit’s hard!)

Mindfulness also taught me self-care, the idea that I’m worth taking the time to care for. Hanh talks about cradling your wounded inner child, which I had written off, again, as clichéd. Until I remembered my own 10-year-old self, owl-eyed and ungainly, anxious for approval — and broke down sobbing. I remembered everyone who had ever made me feel like shit (strangers, friends, guys, chef) and told myself I could never, ever let anyone treat me like that again.

Around the same time, I discovered my neurotic woman crush in Heather Havrilesky, a.k.a. advice columnist Ask Polly. In one of my favorite responses, she advises a successful 33-year-old woman who thinks that if she only works hard enough, she can lock down a relationship. Havrilesky tells her not to let singlehood undermine the happiness she’s already built. “Don’t speed through these days to get to the good part,” she writes. “This IS the good part. Savor it.”

As someone who’s always viewed life as a series of milestones toward the good part, I need to constantly remind myself to make now the good part. What can I do now so that I don’t feel as if the earth has crumbled beneath me if some other guy drives away? So far, I’ve formed friendships with women I admire, with one even blooming into a kickass creative partnership. (Hayy, DC!) And thankfully, I’m a bit of a workaholic — I relish in the exhaustion of a hard day’s work, which these days consists of building my freelance business

At a freelance retreat a week before I moved, we talked about embracing the process, because in the end, the process is all there is. The good part is illusory; even Pulitzer Prize winners need to return to the dreaded blank Word doc day after day. It’s helped me stop comparing myself to others who are further in their careers, and to savor the start. Even my dingy room in the too-cold house, with the mattress on the floor and my cluttered writing desk, which is actually just a plastic foldout buffet table from Wal-Mart. Even as I brew coffee at 6:30 a.m. to the sound of my neighbors screaming at each other, on a trash-strewn street that reeks of kush and dog shit. Even as I eat canned tuna and rice every night, agonizing over whether a check will arrive in time for rent and wondering if I’ve just made a terrible mistake. But as my therapist pointed out, “It’s actually kind of romantic, isn’t it?” Whatever happens, I’ll look back and feel proud that I found happiness in the face of my anxiety. Besides, I can’t imagine doing anything else. This is the truth now, and it’s all I have.

Also, I’ve recently started dating someone. But this time, I’m trying to savor the process of getting to know him, of letting him unfurl – slowly, patiently — rather than treating it as a way station to the good part. And I really like what I see so far.

In fact, life in general is more romantic than it’s ever been. Last month, DC and I organized a five-mile run and chug for my 29th birthday. We ran through Berkeley’s near pitch-dark residential streets, giddy from liquor and the heady scent of flowers, and arrived at Jupiter’s, breathless yet exhilarated. We stuffed our faces with Oban-laced cupcakes, and the entire courtyard broke into “Happy Birthday.” This is the good part, and it’s terrible and beautiful, and I intend to savor it, every last minute.

The Good Part

Running Pub Crawl Birthday

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This is what happens when you have healthy ish friends who plan a running pub crawl birthday party. You’ll use a gift card from Christmas to buy cuter athletic wear (you actually own no real athletic wear) from Nordstrom Rack, tie a big bow in your ponytail, and wear eye makeup. You will feel nervous about running the whole BART ride from downtown Berkeley to downtown Oakland and accidentally go to Telegraph instead of Lost & Found.

Only six people will actually run including yourself even though you usually only do yoga and use the elliptical as an excuse to watch Friday Night Lights, because you’re a good sport. You’ll feel slightly annoyed at those who don’t run but show up to drink along the way. You will find yourself running past The Avenue in Temescal being cheered on by bearded tattooed revelers. You will feel sorry about whining after the first 2 mile leg necessitating  you’re friend D tell you to, “suck it up!”

At Kingfish, you will miss the end of the Warriors’ game and run into the guy you went on one date with who confessed to having cheating on his wife two weeks prior your meeting. You’ll be all sweaty and for some reason he’ll give you dagger eyes, so you will loudly repeat to all your friends the text messages he read (why did he keep these messages?) to you on the date through which his wife found out about his cheating.

Mistress: I think I need Plan B.
Cheater Guy: Why, I didn’t cum inside you!?

You’ll be so slow that your friend N will have to walk next to you the whole time you’re running. You will eat delicious Sriracha popcorn at the Graduate in Rockridge. People will be waiting for the birthday girl at the last stop so you’ll skip one leg of the route (sorry Starry Plough) and end up running 3 miles at once. You will only drink 2.5 light beers but scarf down an entire Andromeda (fontina, aged asiago, sharp cheddar and mozzarella) pizza at Jupiter.

You will sing Happy Birthday and the entire courtyard will join in. You’ll eat chai flavored vegan cake and like it. You will be complimented profusely on the chocolate Whiskey Mac cupcakes with Oban buttercream that you baked for the occasion and really like it. Your thighs will scream, “fuck you!” You will have a good time and be happy you came to celebrate. You’ll feel pretty darn good about your athletic capability and consider running again. You will believe it when you see it.

Happy Birthday Melissa!

Chocolate Whiskey Mac cupcakes with Oban buttercream

Running Pub Crawl Birthday