just in time logistics
Tuesday, January 18 2005
Gretchen's 34th birthday would be tomorrow, an event I'd originally intended to celebrate in a low-key manner in keeping with the brutality of the season. Gretchen's birthday happens to coincide with the peak of winter in the northern hemisphere, not the kind of weather particularly conducive to driving, let alone having a bunch of people over for a party. But once word of Gretchen's birthday had slipped out, there was no repressing the party spirit of her new cadre of vegan friends. They managed to cajole and badger me into preparing a genuine party. For some reason I decided to have it here at house in Hurley, and this meant I'd have to tidy the place up and worry about logistical details. I'm terrible at logistics, and if anything I've gotten worse at logistics over time. Gretchen is so good at logistics that I've permitted my logistical skills to atrophy over time. It's not even that I'm actually that bad at logistics when I put my mind to it, but the whole exercise flies in the face of the kind of person I am, which is still essentially someone who is happiest acting impulsively on his own, that is, in the absence of logistics. In the planning of a party, though, it's all about logistics: calling people on the phone, deciding who to invite and what will be eaten and drunk. Against the blank canvas of what might be, I'm terrified (and even somewhat paralyzed) by the prospect of ruining possibilities with my decisions. What if I invite the wrong person? What if I leave someone off the invite list who really ought to be there? What if there's not enough food or there's plenty and it tastes like shit?
Today I went into town to buy provisions for tomorrow's party as well as some birthday presents, all of them car-related and seasonal. Gretchen wanted something for the steering wheel so it wouldn't be so cold to grip. She also wanted a set of jumper cables because between us we only had one set.
In "planning" what to make for Gretchen's birthday dinner, I found myself grabbing a variety of items that looked like they could be usable in something I might want to make, though I still didn't know what that would be. You could term my seat-of-the-pants planning technique "just in time logistics," and often it's as good as meticulous planning. In this case the only downside might have been the purchasing of perishables that won't actually find their way into tomorrow's dinner and then not get eaten before Gretchen and I fly to Ecuador.
Tonight Gretchen and I were taken out to dinner by our friend Julia in appreciation for our dogsitting her Carlos for ten days during Christmas. The original plan had been to go to El Coqui in the Rondout, but that restaurant was closed for January so we ended up at the far pricier Downtown Café. The food tonight was all weird with saffron and came in long trough-like dishes. Somehow it just wasn't what we'd been expecting based on the descriptions in the menu. I mean, my soup had chunks of ham in it and the waitress had insisted it was vegetarian to Gretchen. (It didn't bother me, so I ate it anyway.)
Over dinner Julia regaled us with tales from her crazy childhood spent in various places throughout South America and the Carribean. She went on to tell us about where her dog Carlos had come from. Evidently he'd been the result of a mating between a Dalmatian and a weird Corgy-German Shepherd mix. Carlos had originally belonged to a Puerto Rican family (who had given him his name). When Julia adopted him and had him fixed they were apalled, saying she had taken his manhood away.
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