Friday 12.28.12

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I’d love to sleep in.
Like really sleep late, a whole day in bed where I actually asleep. One of my bartenders told me last night that sometimes he gets 12 hours of sleep. In one day. I meant to sleep in today. I was exhausted when I finally drifted off at 4:00am, my bedroom was warm and quiet and dark, Bailey was settled in beside me snuggly in his bed… and then 9am happened. As soon as sanitation came down my street- loud trucks, banging garbage cans, garbagemen shouting… I was awake. And once awake I’m pretty much unable to get back to sleep. I guess I should count my lucky stars that I got 5 hours; but either way it’s going to make for a long day today.

Went to therapy yesterday. For the first time in a while it just seemed like spinning wheels. Maybe I was having an off day, who knows. Just didn’t feel like I accomplished anything other than spending money that I could have put on my electric bill. I hate days like that; when I feel like I could have stayed home. I’ve been going for almost eight months, and it’s been really great for me, but I wonder sometimes if there’s going to be a logical closure point; when either my therapist or I decide that every two weeks would work, or that I’ve reached a point where I don’t ‘need’ therapy. I have the next two weeks off, so maybe I’ll get some perspective while I’m in Boston and Florida and either come back refreshed on the 17th or decide that I need to take a breather from going every week/at all. I’m probably just being grumpy. I know that I’m certainly better off  than I was eight months ago- not just processing the whole ‘getting dumped/getting robbed by the woman I was going to marry’ thing, but how I deal with patience, boundaries, emotions etc- Just not sure where to go from here.

Money is going to be really tight for the Boston/Florida trips, but I really need to get away. At least in Florida I can budget better by cooking my own meals by stocking up on groceries from Publix, along with the exception of the occasional Jimbo’s trip. Tighten the belt. Luckily I’ve had a good string of AirBnB guests the last few days so there’s that extra money coming in to pay some bills before I go. The folks that were here the last few days, Amber and Erin, were the nicest guests I’ve had so far. Really friendly, fun people who felt like old friends not paying guests. I love it when that happens. The folks I’m hosting tonight (which I should really be preparing for instead of typing on the internets) were a last minute booking- they need to check in later today and just booked a few minutes ago. Luckily I didn’t go to the movies this afternoon like I had planned and I’ll have time to change the bedding, tidy up the washroom, do dishes, etc and have the house ready for them by the time they arrive.

Other than that one really weird guest who left immediately after checking in, I’ve had some really positive experiences on AirBnB. I think the next time I have a trip (past Boston and Florida) I’m going to stay at least one night at an AirBnB house and experience the whole process from the point of view of a guest. It’s got to be strange just making yourself at home in a stranger’s house. As a host it’s pretty surreal to come home and just have someone you don’t know sitting in your living room, drinking out of your glassware. Not bad, just takes some getting used to. Maybe seeing it from the other side will give me some perspective on how to be a better host. I try to take all of the feedback I get from my guests even when it seems unreasonable (one of my guests thought there were too many Black people in Philadelphia… I just told her I’m sorry she didn’t like my city)  and turn it into improvements to my hosting.

The next few days are going to go by pretty quickly- work, spend time with Natalie and then get on the road to Boston. Updates will come as time permits.

Photo: Robert and I. Oldschool. Springhead Pioneers!

 

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Tuesday 12.25.12 (Christmas)

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I’m not really a Christmas person.
Still, humbuggery aside, I’m really looking forward to spending Christmas with Natalie, Erin and Shaun. I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday preparing my contribution to the dinner; it was really nice to get in the kitchen and work out some new recipes.

Meat: Pork, Bacon and Reindeer Sausage with dried cranberries, fresh and dried cherries, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, white pepper and allspice. I’m curious to see how the flavors develop. I seasoned the meat on Sunday, ground and stuffed it on Monday… so they should be perfect when we cook them later on today.

Desert: Cinnamon Orange Zest Ice Cream with Orange Slices (candy). I modified my favorite ice cream recipe- the Chai Tea one- by steeping herbal tea bags in the milk. The tea has Black tea, rosehips, chamomile, cinnamon, lemongrass, peppermint, jasmine tea, papaya leaves, anise seed, ginger root, orange peel and orange oil. I used six egg yolks, so it’s a fluffy aerated ice cream.

Butter: Erin bough crusty bread for dinner, so I put together a chive and parsley salted butter. I always feel like a Kitchen Wizard when I make butter. It’s a simple process- whipping cream + kitchen aid mixer + time, but it’s always exciting to watch the solids separate from the liquids and become butter.

4 X 6I know that Natalie is making some kickass brussels sprouts as well as a baked brie. Not sure what Erin and Shaun have planned, but when it all comes together I’m sure it’s going to be a really fun dinner. Then we’re going to see Tarantino’s new film, Django Unchained. I loathe Jamie Foxx; absolutely detest even seeing his face, so I’m not really sure if I’ll like it or not, but… Movies on Christmas are a tradition, so what the hell.

(updated after Christmas)

Ok. So the ice cream was amazing. The spices and sweets worked really well together and the six egg yolks in the custard made it nice and airy. Total win there. Regrettably the sausages didn’t fare so well… turns out that I forgot on of only THREE steps in sausage making… to blend the ground meat into a paste. Instead I just stuffed the casings with ground meat. That led to a weird texture and dryness, since the fat wasn’t evenly distributed throughout. On the upside, the seasoning before grinding thing left them tasting amazing, just a matter of remembering the proper prep next time. In fairness with my caloric restrictions I haven’t really been eating/making sausages, so it had been a while. Not going to beat myself up over it. Plus Christmas dinner was really fun. I was really glad Natalie and Erin finally got to meet. The movies turned out to be overwhelming- I remember back when Xmas day wasn’t a really popular day at the cinema, and you could go see movies without any hub bub. Django was packed; almost every seat taken and the whole theater complex was packed. I guess the studios see the potential of Xmas releases now and are stacking the deck, cause man… I almost regretted going there were so many folks. The movie was good, lots of great cameos (Lee Horsely!) and well worth a second screening despite it’s 2hr 45 min run time.

I couldn’t have asked for a nicer Christmas.

Photo: Rabbit Graffiti, Montreal

Sunday 12.23.12

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Cookies will be the death of me.
There’ll be an extra half an hour at the gym today to compensate for these, but dear lord are they good. My friend Dennis dropped them off at the bar for me last night; they’re amazing. He uses crushed up lays potato chips in his cookie dough- which adds a nice saltiness to them and renders them extra bad for me. Which is a good thing. I’ve gotten so much more comfortable with little treats here and there these days without any of the food guilt that I had a few months ago. Staying fit, maintaining a healthy diet and making sure I’m taking care of myself should be a good thing, not something that causes me guilt or makes me obsess. It’s a balance, but I’m finding it easier as the months pass. My friend Brad told me that when Dennis brings him cookies he freezes them, so he can bring out one or two all year. Now that I’ve had a few and sated my craving for salty chocolatey goodness I think I’m going to do the same. That or I’m going to lay in bed with Bailey, watching a terrible movie (In the name of the King: A dungeon siege tale. Seriously horrific but oh so good)  and eat the whole dang box Who knows.

I’ve spent the morning preparing the meat for this years Christmas dinner; Natalie and I are going to be joining Erin and Shaun for dinner on Tuesday. First time that she’ll be meeting my best friend, and spending Christmas together. People will talk, I swear. My contribution to dinner is going to be a first time recipe for me, so I’m hoping that they turn out well: Spiced Christmas Sausages. Pork, Cranberries and Cherries with orange zest and a spice mixture of white pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne and allspice. I’m hoping that all of the flavors mix well together- particularly the orange zest. I used three oranges and it yielded so little zest that I’m not sure it’ll register flavor-wise in the final product. I might give in and go buy a bottle of dried zest to augment it. Not sure. I’ll fold in all of the spices and let it set for the night before I grind and stuff the forcemeat tomorrow and if I’m not feeling the ‘oranginess’ of it I’ll add the dried spice. It’s been so long since I’ve made sausage- the whole process is so fun and frustrating and even a little icky. Dealing with the casings- which are just hog intestines but it makes people more comfortable to call them casings- usually ends up a comedy goldmine. I’ll try to remember to take pictures.

There’s going to be five pounds, so hopefully they’ll get eaten. I put half of a pound of bacon in the meat to add a little extra fat content, so… I don’t really see how they won’t.

I’m really looking forward to it despite my normal ‘Anti-Christ(mas)’ sentiment. Working at Amazon.com for all of those years makes you really despise the Holiday season. Mandatory Overtime, fatigue, stress… It’s taken me a few years to get through that mindset of being beaten down over the course of November and December and just hating Christmas on it’s own merits. But I think we’re going to have a nice chill time, a great dinner (now that Erin is an omnivore!) and a fun trip to the cinema afterwards to see Django Unchained. I think this is the first time that I haven’t had to work on Christmas in about 13 years. I worked it voluntarily at TLA, mandatory at Amazon and at the bar my shifts have fallen on Eve/Day up until this year. It’s weird to just have it off. Same with New Years. Just… off.

I’m still trying to make sure that I can do the Boston trip. Money is much tighter than expected, but I’m still 70/30 on being able to make it- some last minute AIRBnB guest have given me some much needed ‘play money’ so… with that I may be able to pay all of my bills, do Boston AND be comfortable with $$ for the Tampa trip. I’m used to roadtrips or flying to cities that are pretty easily dealt with via public transport- Florida is the first time in a while that I’ve had to secure a rental car which added a significant amount to the trip’s total cost. After Hurricane Sandy the rental car situation is a little less friendly than had I booked before- cars were shipped up to areas affected by the storm and the price for the remaining ones rose a little. Nothing terrible, but more than I expected to spend, so… tighten that belt. The rental car for four days ended up being $60 more than the roundtrip price of the plane tickets. Surreal.

547550_4920485537460_44065609_nAll this talk of bad-for-me food reminds me that I need to go to the gym as soon as I’m done making the spice mixture for the sausages. I’ve been trying to add a lot more upper body routines to prep for the Warrior Dash thingie that Shaun, Erin, MB and I are going to be doing in May and I’m finally getting more used to taking ‘days off’ so I’m not overworking the same muscle groups. I’m really starting to see the results, and I’m planning on doing both the ‘couch to 5k’ and ‘100 pushup’ challenge thingies starting January 1st. I think I mentioned before that I’m keeping my cardio at an average 9.5minute mile, but that’s on a machine. I need to get more used to running outdoors on uneven terrain so I figure starting in January when the weather really sucks will be a good smack in the ass to keep me on my toes- it’s so much more satisfying to work out when I don’t want to than when I do. Goes back to that whole balance thing I guess.

Regardless of how you spend them, I hope all ten of you that read this self indulgent mess I call a blog have a happy and fun Holiday!

Photos: Cookie! and Tricep workout at the gym

Friday 12.21.12

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There’s no part of me that’s not rainsoaked right now.
I biked home in a raincoat that didn’t belong to me; my iPhone was wrapped up inside slit open bubble wrap and my backpack left at the bar for fear of it getting soaked through. The wind was fighting me the entire way and the few cabs that were out weren’t really playing by the agreed to rules of the road.

If there’s an apocalypse coming, it’s the perfect weather for it.

I was lucky enough, years ago, to have a very brief email correspondence with Dr. Terrence McKenna on ethnobotany, Time Wave Zero and Novelty and the ‘self-transforming machine elves’. He answered my questions, which were admittedly fairly open ended and abstract, and really helped me get my start on a path that I’m still exploring almost 14 years later.

Novelty Theory suggests that on December 21 of 2012 AD, at the coincidence of the moment of the solstice and the heliacal rising of the galactic center, levels of planetary novelty will exponentially increase. Theory does not make clear the nature of the ultranovel event, however.

I’ve never really thought that today was going to be a literal apocalypse, but I’d at least hoped for some kind of paradigm shift. As I’m laying here in bed, as always Bailey curled happily at my side and some bad movie on in the background, I realize that this year WAS a paradigm shift for me. A little personal armageddon that’s changed me to the core. I’ve spent the last few days tumblr_meh17kfrmc1rt1nbto1_500working on my traditional ‘year end’ post and my mind has been shifting through so many memories that have been making me feel alternately melancholy and content. Sometimes it’s the same memory that elicits both. So surreal how it’s all worked out. Working out, I guess, since every day brings with it some new revelation.  I know I go on and on about this more often than is entertaining, but when you’re someone who’s 100% locked into your own self identity it’s an amazing and humbling reality when it all comes crashing down. Things that seemed so important end up as nothing more than afterthoughts, people who you couldn’t imagine ever being without become memories; condensing the good and the bad into an anecdote, becoming less and less powerful in your pantheon of lost loves or friendships until you barely think of them at all, except for when you do. So regardless of how the world fairs tonight- I’m going to sleep knowing that my change is already here, and not over thinking what comes next.

Photo: Bucky Ball!