Monday, March 13, 2017

San Antonio!

Originally I planned a visit to San Antonio around a professional meeting there but the more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to visit SA and not attend the meeting (I'm going to another meeting in November). The great part about this was many friends and colleagues would be in town too... while I had fun!

My trip kicked off with a two hour stop at work to sign out cases that were transcribed the night before - then on to the airport, where several of my colleagues past and present were on the same flight. Flight reads: Lucky Peach and recent issue of Bon Appetit.  I was in SA in the early afternoon, arriving to a blustery rainstorm.

First stop: Grove Hill.  Here I am with my girls Gretchen and Kay. So good to see them and I bought exactly what I came for: work pants (Elliott Lauren - they work for me) and a genius reversible no wrinkle hi-lo Elliott Lauren top and a olive drab half-peplum blouse. I love olive drab. And I love these ladies!

 I found my Airbnb next -- a casita in central SA, a quiet boho neighborhood tucked between the zoo grounds and a golf course. The Airbnb reservation didn't provide check-in instructions. I called the owner and knocked on the door ... she answered in a towel! We laughed and she showed me to the casita, a very comfortable space. Outside was a small manicured yard with a koi pond and Tom, the architect who "did all this" [my host gestured to the yard and casita] and lives in this cabana:

 This neighborhood was very fun, very artsy.

 Next stop: Pearl Brewery complex. I stopped into my fave stores there (Niche, clothing designed and manufactured in SA - I bought a cropped top in a watercolor print), The Tiny Finch (brought home a candle), Melissa Guerra kitchen goods, and the Hotel Emma gift shop where I finally bought some M Quan ceramic pieces that I've been thinking since we stayed there (NYE 2016). They make me happy, even installed next to that 3M adhesive hook.

 Dinner at La Gloria with the Browns and the Fudges! No photo except for this prickly pear margarita - for shame! They took such good care of us in SA - we reminisced about the time they took Luke to the emergency room.

Home early to sleeeeeeep (I was at work at 6:45 that morning!) and Taco Cabana flour tortillas - served so hot - for breakfast.

As soon as I decided to go to SA I wanted to get a massage at Woodhouse, a large spa chain that we don't have in STL. I kicked myself because I forgot to make an appointment until the Thursday before but luckily they had availability at 10:30 on Sunday. Perfect. The massage was fabulous and because I can't resist their gift shop of gadgets and gizmos and scented cachets aplenty I bought a foam roller (now it lives in my office).

My friend Michelle was in town for the meeting and she obliged me by having brunch at Central Market.

Hi Michelle! Thanks for humoring me and meeting up a grocery store!

After I dropped off Michelle at the airport, I drove by our old house. To everyone else this is just an overpriced rental but to me it's the first place I lived with my husband, where I leaned to cook, where we watched a lot of prestige television, where Luke launched his music career, where we brought two baby girls home. And an overpriced rental.

I sat here for a little bit, thinking, feeling.

Got a manicure, marred it within minutes, changed into dinner clothes, drove out to La Cantera. Dinner was at 7 so I had time to visit David at the Armani counter -- he is always so funny.

Texas -- where even the PICC line services are more fabulous. 

A FB pathology friend of mine was in SA for the meeting and her brother is the executive chef at a fancy restaurant - lucky us! He did a 12 course tasting menu for the five of us - old friends and new friends - which was absolutely exquisite and delicious.

Ascending the stairs to the restaurant, Sustenio.

The meal began with the waitstaff filling bowls of citrus and bay leaves with dry ice -- the scented vapor wafted over the table. I think I spontaneously started clapping at that moment and I hadn't eaten anything yet.

First course: cilantro cotton candy with shards of beef jerky.

From top left: strawberry explosion; sweetbreads with sweet potato puree; beef and charred romanesco; avocado-wrapped king crab with a curried burrata puff; honeycomb with frozen and pulverized skim milk; duck with celery root puree; sous-vide pork belly.

Not pictured: steak tartare with horseradish ice cream (loooooved it); cobia aquachile in a coriander broth that I drank from the bowl.


And one more dessert: a Samoa-inspired macaron, the chef's nod to his sister's favorite cookie. It was so special to be part of a family celebration 💗

I thought I would never eat again but lo and behold I wanted a hot breakfast the next day and went to Hotel Emma. Cornmeal waffle with a hash of lardons of bacon, brussels sprouts, and sweet potato.

For some protein: a chorizo-wrapped Scotch egg. Coffee with cream! The New York Times! I had the best vacation ever.

Somehow I found myself at the Pearl's shoe store LeeLee where I bought these Rachel Comey flats and a pair of made-in-USA mules. The weird perfection of these shoes has set off a frantic Internet search for "Rachel Comey shoes size 11" with fortunate/unfortunate results of scarce and never on sale.

Next stop: Alamo 180 to catch up with my coach Jeff and workout buddy who works next door, John. I spent many hours with those guys and they are so dear to me and it's wonderful to see everyone thriving and the studio expanding.

On to: Former workplace.

Until recently a driver's license shown to the gate guards would grant you access to the hospital complex. Now there is a visitor's center and one must register there. I went inside and produced my driver's license for the officer(?) - person in civilian clothes. I was making small talk, as the visitor's center didn't exist upon my departure seven months ago, and mentioned, "oh, so now you have register your ID here to get on campus." This man, not knowing that I was former active duty - visiting a gravely ill loved one -- here to fix a light bulb -- going back for a biopsy after an abnormal mammogram -- he doesn't know anything about me, barks:


There really isn't anything that makes me quite go as ballistic as mansplaining or a truly unnecessary bullshit attitude, which I encountered several (but not too many, and always with civilians not military) times during my time in the military.

"Oh," I said. "Right. I was active duty in this building for five years."

More ID processing. Then he tells me that my Missouri ID isn't in compliance, do I have a second form of ID? "Well, I have this expired military ID." - which I produce and they take from me, and do not return. They ask for my sponsor's phone number and fortunately I can recall Dale's office number from memory because I had submitted it on a peer recommendation form two days before. Finally, I have my pass.

The truly great part of this story is two days later when I receive a phone call at 7:04 am from this visitor's center. "Major!" they say. "We found your ID. It was left here."

"Oh, no, it wasn't left there," I say when I return the message. "It was confiscated when I visited on Monday. It was expired. And the officer was rude to me. Unnecessarily brusque."

"Ah," the officer says. "They didn't do the right paperwork. Who was it? [I describe]. I see, ma'am... you're not the first person I've heard that from. Would you like the number of the supervisor?"

YES I WOULD. And the lieutenant and I had a good talk.

This was a too-good, too-perfect bookend to the beginning of my active duty tour. Luke and I get married and drive to Texas two days later. We go to Lackland for new ID cards: dependent for him and active duty for me. Producing our marriage license and other forms, Luke is issued a dependent ID. The clerk turns to my ID processing.

Clerk: "The system is telling me you're still a reservist. I can't issue an active duty card."

Me: "But here are my orders."

Clerk: "I know, but I can't issue the ID because the computer system isn't updated and won't let me."

Me: "Ok... I guess we'll come back later? When it's updated?"

Clerk: "Yes."

Me: "May I have my ID back? I need it to get back on base."

Clerk: "No, because it's counterfeit now. You're active duty."

Me: [feeling vertiginous] "But you said the system isn't updated, so the ID is valid. And I need it to get on base."

Clerk: "I can't give it back to you. It's invalid."

Me: [feeling mystified and powerless and somewhat frantic and Catch-22'ed for what will not be the last time]: "How will I get on base to check if my status has been updated?"

Clerk: "Your husband's ID."

And that was how it came to pass that my dependent husband of less than a week - with his valid ID - had to drive me thirty miles roundtrip to grant me base access until my status was, one day, updated to active duty.

But back to this visit. I loved seeing my coworkers and BAMC is a great-looking building, always surrounded by an unbeatable Texas cloudscape. It was this rooftop view that I was taking in when I was ten weeks pregnant and hurrying across the parking lot to vomit in the first available receptacle, a open-lidded trash can by the elevators. I straightened my cap and strode into work, feeling much better.

Beautiful bougainvillea at Central Market, where I wrote on the blog for a bit and e-mailed a friend about places to go with kids in SA.

Dinner at Chisme, where at last I had some queso.

Dinner with the Crawfords and Sylvias. They have been such great friends and supporters of Luke's music. I take so much inspiration from their friendships, sense of community and family, and pursuit of fun. They really know how to party!

I was on the 5:30 am flight back to STL and at work by 8:30, telling everyone what an amazing time I'd had. Friends! Food! Shopping! Doing whatever I wanted! It was grand.


1 comment:

  1. It was great seeing you and having queso. You are part of our extended family and are always welcome in our community.