My Mt. Everest | October 2006 Newsletter

My Mount Everest: October, 2006
Merle M. Singer, Founder

You know every e -letter doesn’t have to be an expedition into my deepest recesses. I decided to take this time to celebrate the smaller moments of my life. It’s the inconsequential moments or events that seem to be the glue that cements the big pieces of a life. And it’s the sharing of those times, where intimacy is seeded and flourishes.

This is a Friday. You see, every other Friday (not every Friday; every other Friday, the 1st and 3rd Fridays) I am home in the evening waiting for Nathan (my husband) to come home from work. He is usually home by 7:30pm. Tonight it was 7:40pm; the traffic was a bear ñeither there was an accident somewhere or there was a special event at the Hollywood Bowl.

Dinner Out

After a short time of ablutions, we are ready to ride—not just metaphorically speaking. We usually go out to eat on Friday nights. Always (the ritual of routine and intimacy), Nathan asks me, ìWhat do you feel like eating? Where do you want to go?î Ninety per cent of the time, ìI don’t care.î Tonight, however, I know what I want (which means, of course, it will rarely happen that way. Just watch.) I want to eat at the Kitchen. I already know that Nathan will get his usual turkey burger, and I feel like a chicken sandwich; their version is delicious on fine crusty bread.

We pack a BYOB bottle of wine and are out the door. You know it’s interesting when you’ve been married for a long time. Car rides can mix conversation and silences with variable lengths and equal ease.

The Kitchen is toward downtown, away from all that traffic that Nathan drove home through. Since it is one of our favorite restaurants, Nathan has developed a route. I’m usually the master of routes and shortest distances, but this one belongs to Nathan. Every time that we arrive, I’m always surprised/perplexed at how we got there. So this time I am paying attention. We turn down Normandie from Franklin. Then we get to talking, and there some extra traffic, and we pass a few business areas. He turns down Virgil. Already, I’ve lost track; another turn or 2 (I’m not even sure) and we are there.

Uh oh, no parking spots on the small lot. And the neighborhood looks full up parking spot wise. Time for Plan B.

A Natural Flow

There is a natural flow as we review our options: maybe we’ll try that Indian place across from where we used to eatóI can’t think of the name. We could eat there too. We make no decisions; we drive; the parking opportunities will direct our choices. It takes just a few more blocks to decide that we have traveled so far east by now that we might as well go down to Chinatown — or we could have Japanese food. Yes. Okay, let’s go to Chinatown. The ease of the decision-making is it’s own reward.

By the time we are in China town, we have already decided which restaurant to eat at and what we will orderóincluding wanton soup (chicken soup) to take home for my lingering bronchitis—we never did get it, of course. We park down ½ a block from our old standby Sam Woo’s. It’s a classic B restaurant, — very basic, beyond (or beneath?) unpretentiousness, plenty of delicious inexpensive food that has always been clean, healthy, and absolutely delicious, to me. But this restaurant definitely belongs to gritty LA. It represents the urban possibility, not the suburban.

A Chinese Restaurant

In Sam Woo’s you will always find Chinese people eatingósometimes the majority will be Asian. And so it is this evening. Our next table neighbor is a Chinese father and daughter speaking Chinese. All the waiters speaker Chinese; and they are stereotypically inscrutable.
Tonight, however, we are greeted by a young Asian maitre de (hilarious chose of words for this restaurant) who smiles at us with such a broad smile that it startles me. He is definitely new; I haven’t seen him or his smile here before. I am thinking, this waiter must be American born and he must be part of the owning family. He has the confidence of an owner and the smile of an American. Later we talk; he is the son of one of the owners, and, of course, he was ëmade in the USA.’ (as Bruce Springsteen sings). He is confident, friendly, America at our best.

As we settled in at our table, one of the usual inscrutable waiters took our order— thank goodness, we need the comfort of some familiarity. The next table turns over, and a young Chinese American couple sit down. They are at Sam Woo’s for the first time, We talk to them about the size of our orders which have just arrived (small/large:small is large) so they can decide what to order. They speak in English as a natives. Now, I really am conscious that I seem to be able to tell whether an Asian looking person is American born or foreign born. Asian American have more relaxed, open expressions, a greater ease. Or so it seems to me.

Los Angeles Diversity

LA has so much diversity that it is never boring. And Americans, when they are well-fed and comfortable, regardless of race or ethnicity, have a that open, warm, willing-to-take-a-chance, trusting look. But it may only be in the parts of the country and in the cities that are smorgasbord enough to elicit this response. Just the shades and languages spoken in this one restaurant is its own United Nations.

Mental meanderings aside, we pack up our leftover food ourselves; it’s a ritual: the rice, the remainder of the roast duck, the Chinese broccoli, the Chinese eggplant with oyster sauce and the hot and sour soup I have to warm my throat (instead of the Wanton Soup). We pack up, pay, and head home.

At home, I put away the food and we each check our email on our own computers and do whatever else we do until we meet again at bedtime.

An Inconsequential, Unexciting Evening Has It’s Place

It’s an inconsequential, unexciting evening. It just doesn’t get more inconsequential and unexciting than that. And , by the way, we didn’t eat at the Kitchen; see what I mean. Yet, the evening had a flow, a gentle rhythm of ease, comfort, mutual love, familitiarity that rests the soul. Nothing special; everything enjoyable.

You know, I am all about doing things to challenge myself. I am willing to make myself uncomfortable to learn and grow. I feel a moral obligation to find my best and be it, do it, give it, grow it, expand it – so the comfort, the ease of the pleasant familitarity serves to renew my striving soul. A little bit of a smile isn’t such a bad thing to have on my way to my next effort.