Thursday, October 31, 2019

Here But Now They're Gone

I worked on Halloween night and forgot to bring my own dinner.  The staff cafeteria has been closed for a couple of weeks for renovations.  I bought some yogurt out of the vending machine and then later treated myself to an item in the glass case that I've always considered the premium choices in our cafeteria.  This sandwich on a big white plate had baby shrimp, capers, and arugula on a split croissant.  I slathered it in some white sauce and found it fascinating.  I don't usually go out or dress up but it was Halloween and the 29th Anniversary of our first date ever, so it was a little sad to work it.  P reminded me that we never celebrate anniversaries or silly holidays and assured me we were perfectly happy.  I took a bunch of pictures and that was the end of that. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Oh the Pain of Loving You

We once lived in a bi-level apartment in Boerum Hill here in Brooklyn, a neighborhood I'm sure we'd never be able to afford again even though it's still exactly the same. Nothing has changed except the value of rental apartments in the area.  It was too big for us but it was quirky and one of those places I'll always remember fondly because so many things happened there.  The landlords lived in the large house downstairs, an older, hippie couple.  They were cool when I lost my job and couldn't pay the rent and we had to get a boarder for a year.  Brit or Bret I think was his name. A perfectly nice man, not young, a bit of a loner. He had long toenails and played extreme Frisbee, whatever that is.  We basically gave him the entire downstairs, which meant I barely cooked for a whole year.  He had to come upstairs to take showers but had a 1/2 bathroom downstairs to himself.  My landlord being a nervous sort, probably stressed quite a bit about this, came one day complaining about the length of showers being taken.  I told him P and I sometimes took one together or overlapped each other, so maybe it seemed like we took a longer one but instead it was two in one.  He said, no that he had timed it and it was definitely our tenant.  He said sometimes it would be almost 15 minutes and how we didn't realize it because we would be gone.  How our landlord knew all that was a little creepy but clearly he had studied this.  He and his wife were cool but they did some odd things like held some type of spiritual meetings in their bedroom on the bed, and with the most annoying people.  I say that because they would wait outside like scared children looking as though they were beamed in from another planet.  That bed which was custom built and giant sized housed he and his Vietnamese wife along with their 11 year old daughter.  This was none of my business but unfortunately the skylights in my room looked directly onto that bed so it became a curiosity.  So even though they were very nice, I always had that doubt that something weird was up in that house.  Plus they were wound a little tight for hippies. He seemed too angry at Brit, and that made me unclear on what this was all about.  When I assured him we'd talk to Brit about it, he backed down.  He stated maybe Brit was so unhappy and the only allowance for luxury he would give himself each day was a 15 minute shower.  I thought that was equally bizarre and incredibly compassionate logic.  It's always stuck with me.  I never fully understood where my landlord was coming from and we never talked to Brit.  But the premise of considering some far off notion on why someone is acting a certain way is something I've adopted. 
Sometimes people upset the hell out of me and I don't even understand the reasoning why or if it's warranted.  I give them the benefit of the doubt and just try to concentrate on other things like this cheap steak that was great fried up fast and high along with this tangy beet and tomato salad over dressed baby spinach. 

Those Memories of You Still Haunt Me

A million years ago I worked at Leopold Records in Berkeley, California in what my mate calls my college education years because of all the amazing teachers I met in that store.  So many to write about but on this day, some 30 plus odd years later I find myself remembering Albert Ramirez, the Jazz buyer.  Listening to a lecture by Sadhguru last night he said nothing is negative, experiences are only pleasant or an adventure. Negativity is something created by us in our own minds.  If you're a woman you've most likely listened to hundreds of lectures on how to look at things more positively. His outlook brings me back to Albert, at the store years ago when I was in my early 20's and he a Sufi in his mid-40's taking on the mutual challenges of life in the ever changing world of music retail from two different vantage points.   He used to correct my ways of saying almost everything as I constantly spit out words without forethought.  He would say 'you get to go to work', not you have to work as in the negative way I would say it.  Hate was coincidentally a word that came out of my mouth quite often.  He would again correct me, you don't hate that, it's a challenge or an opportunity for you.  You're looking at it all wrong he'd say with a big, beautiful smile.  Each time, I felt he was right and then again, I knew I was not in a position to really grasp these concepts yet.  Similar to when someone mentioned that the sun does not rise in the morning, the earth turns to give the illusion.  I know this is true but in my mind's eye I've seen it opposite all my life.  Changing would take time and effort.  Life comes at you fast in your twenties and you don't like to second guess your reality.

Again, you hear and read these things throughout your life and they stick about as well as an old band-aid but maybe a little longer each time.  This year I really do feel it like a great fitting pair of shoes.  And even though the words were always important, it was really that light in Albert's eyes that sold me.  He had such a joy of living that shone through.  That calm lightness of a child but with the wisdom of all the old souls.
Veggie patty with a potato cake and green beans from the staff cafeteria

A young girl came to the store yesterday with her elderly father.  She was very curt and unpleasant, even told her father to shut up in no uncertain terms to which he put his hands up and backed away.  She was around the same age as I was back then, in a totally different life.  But the similar piece is that she felt she knew what was up but was miles away from it, just like me.  At one point she tried to scold me and take something out of my hands, like physically grab it.  My first reaction was to slap that bitch up but I stopped myself.  Now, I'll admit I am no Albert Ramirez but I tried to smile on her and let her know first of all that her negativity was not shared, nor did I need to hold any of it for her.  It was all hers to carry, like a big bag of smelly dog poop.  Instead, I looked at her father and sincerely laughed, 'Oh my, it's going to be one of those Sundays'.  And I wished him a great day and smiled at the girl.   
They were celebrating health this week for our insurance sign up and even put out a spread of healthy snacks including smoothies and nuts, broccoli and carrots.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Every Time I Think About it I Want to Cry

Pan Seared Pork Chop with Pickled Cabbage Salad.
We could have all lived a thousand different lives and some believe we have or will do so.  Certain conditions and environments must foster creative futures.  We are all just tiny petri dish experiments though. My sister and I could have been a Mexican-American version of Ann and Nancy Wilson in another universe.  We would have nurtured our musical talents to become special.  Maybe.  Well, on second thought, most likely not.  We did have that same type of connection that the Wilson sisters had and we would have blended the rock and soul of the 70's with darker chords of our Midwestern winters. I think there was a sound there to capture for us if we had.  The time was right and the material was all there in our bleak yet spirited town.
Image result for heart ann and nancy wilson"
Don't you hate it when old people go back and fret about what they didn't do and then proceed to drag you into it?  Me too, so close your eyes because here I go.  Honestly, I don't have to dig too deep to understand why we didn't have the chutzpah to break out as teens.  We were never outgoing or particularly driven kids. We did want to escape but looked for the shortest route to do so.  Plus, in order to take that big jump, I would've needed to face my deepest insecurities very early on and I already felt pretty defeated by age eleven, so at 16 I was not laying down gifted acts to say the least.  I was phoning in my youth from my bedroom. 
But hearing the songs Crazy on You and Magic Man on the radio turned my little world upside down.  These were girls! Two sisters no less and even though there was a band, the main rhythm was coming out of these two.  Ann's voice was out of my wildest teenage dreams and Nancy's ability to introduce a song with feminine gentle chords and then build up into an orgasmic frenzy rivaled any of my current male heroes.  Together they broadened the scope of possibilities to unfathomable dimensions.  You have to remember just how uninspiring and homogenized towns were in the mid 70's right before the new break in the ice.  Led Zeppelin was already a force but it was unclear if anyone else could ever tow that line of excellence.

I'm not sure if this was her ideal dream but my sis did once have aspirations to be a drummer and I'm sure she had great rhythm.  I know that I wanted nothing more than to be a guitarist in a band someday.  That felt very real.  I practiced all the time for hours in my room and took lessons, opting to play instead of going out on many nights, for years.  Then one day I just stopped for unclear reasons.  I can never put my foot on exactly what caused such a shift in my fantasies?

This is the point in the story where you feel a little pity but also in the back of your mind you're saying, Good Lord woman, get over yourself it's like a million years down the road and besides no one likes sad stories.  I hear you, believe me, no one knows I suck more than me.  And I AM trying to get over it.  I want to understand that's all, before I lower it in the ground and shovel that final dirt on the coffin of my dead dreams. Okay, it's more than that, I don't just want, I really neeeeeed to understand or I may never find a peace in my heart.
Until then, there is plenty of hope, food, love and life to concentrate on!  I made this zesty cool cabbage salad today with red wine vinegar, tomatoes, jalapenos, onion, cilantro and capers.  It almost made me forget all my self made problems.

Friday, October 18, 2019

For Some of Us It's Not a Good Time

Could I mention just one more time how incredible home made hot sauce is for soups and stews.  I don't reckon there is anything quite so fortifying as a cup and a half of my mom's hot sauce added to your pot.  But you could adjust the type of hot sauce to the meats and vegetables in your soups. A nice chile verde would be great with pork for example.  Some ingredients are magic in unexpected places.
I work with a girl that has Asperger Syndrome.  According to her that and a couple of other conditions.  The contractors call her awkward.  She's excellent at her job, very detailed.  I begrudgingly learn a lot from her.  She's very interesting to say the least but it's never how you might imagine.  You think you know conditions but it's always so much more complicated and deeper then anticipated.  Just like with dementia, Asperger's is multi faceted.  She curses a lot and sometimes speaks very loudly in front of customers going on about how she can't take it anymore.  She is socially awkward as the contractors observed but in a customer service situation she can sometimes surprise me.  First of all, I don't think she's ever messed up an order, and we have a pretty crazy intricate system.  Who can succeed in customer service without issue?  I think the answer might be only lucky schleps and people with Asperger's.  Recently she had a Russian family that came to the wrong location for a planning appointment.  Generally speaking Russian's are great people.  They may appear gruff and loud at first impression but they have no pretenses and get straight to the point.  When they come wanting to buy a kitchen that's exactly what they aim to do and although they may not understand all the procedures, they are serious buyers. She was adamant to proof that they were wrong when they insisted they made the appointment for our store and went to extreme measures to prove she was right.  While all this was going on I was dealing with a problem customer and our other coworker was also in a sale but we were paying close attention because it felt like any moment, one of us should chime in, take over.  This has happened about a hundred times by the way, angry people and a situation elevating quickly.  We all have our unique problem solving skills and flaws. Our coworker's voice was matching the high levels of the upset customers.  When all of the sudden out of the blue she says slowly and with intent,  'I want to start over.  Yes, you are at the wrong location but I will take you as a walk-in.  Can we start over?' And just like that everyone calmed their shit down.  It probably took them a bit of time to trust her but soon they realized she was great at what she did.  Problem solved.  Because she lacks some emotion, she is able to stabilize at the drop of a hat.  The rest of us morons have to go through hell to get right after being so upset.  Our hearts racing and egos shattered. Even the best of us might move forward, operating based on resentments and stubbornness.  But she is able to clean the slate and it's genius.  Coincidentally and again, generally speaking this is a trait that I have noticed that also exists in the good folks of Russia. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Oh Let the Sun Beat Down Upon My Face

I am not exaggerating at all when I say that when I met my big sister, I thanked the heavens because I did then and still believe that she was promised to me before I was even born.  I'm the younger one but somehow I made some kind of deal that I would get her in my life and damned if it didn't come true.  That's one of the ways I know about souls and joy and promises because these are things that existed and were understood prior to my birth.  I am so grateful for her and I hope that I can become the sister that I wish to be.
When we were young we played together really well, invented games, made secret faces and communication that only we understood.  I have written this before but I thought sister saw what I saw and became pretty bummed when I realized we didn't share a mind.  But we were connected strongly and have some twin qualities to this day even living so far from each other.  We've always had a mutual love of all things funny and discovered deeper humor, great music, dancing skills, and imagination together.  We grew up fast and were separated by life but I hoped and prayed we'd find our way back someday and somehow we did.  These pics are from my recent visit to spend her 60th birthday together at her home in Colorado.  It was an amazing time to share food, more laughs, watch scary movies,  and go on long walks talking about all the unique hardships of growing older but not feeling old and living with the opposite sex for an inordinate amount of time.  Discussions went from heavy to lighter subjects like what it would be like to have clean floors and a nice smelling bathroom. 
The moon seemed to stay full the length of my stay which was almost an entire week, so not possible but I really don't remember a night when it wasn't.
Our first take out meal.  This was the smoked turkey platter from Obie's, the local barbecue joint.  We went to pick it up and it has a connecting dispensary, which is genius and super convenient.  It was great to get a taste of the local flavor.  The restaurant was crowded and people tended to stare a little like they were surprised to see folks they didn't know.  We were surprised that we liked the smoke turkey because we really wanted BBQ chicken.  They were out.
They like to smother stuff in Green chile sauce in parts of Colorado, like this tamale.  I wasn't sure if I would, but I loved it!
Sister made me this sausage and fried egg breakfast sandwich slathered with hot sauce instead of butter on the toast.  Mmmmm!
And I was treated to one of her famous smoothies with ingredients from her garden.  So refreshing!
We stayed at a hotel in Pueblo for our final night and vowed to not get too sad but stay upbeat and enjoy every last moment. 

We split this delivery of a Stromboli and a Calzone with side salad and lots of dipping sauce.  They know how to do portions in this town.  We were able to eat twice from every meal.
I was treated to another home cooked breakfast of eggs and bacon with toasted pumpkin bagel and whipped honey.
The day before I flew out she had a drastic drop in temps and almost everything froze, except these greens that she had covered.

Her sweatshirt says Someone in New York Loves Me, and they do! 
Lake Isabel - a gorgeous reservoir in the Wet Mountains just right up the road from her house. 

The neighboring small town of Rye.  We both agreed we could write a good horror story with this location.
Sis made these super moist grilled steaks one night after a day out on the lake.

I made Greek relish and hot sauce and she served with her steak, roasted potatoes and candy-striped beets from her garden.  We drove to get DVDs in the pitch black night.  That night there was an orange moon very low.

Not pictured was a pan of Monkey Bars that we finished off in about two days.  The best Woman's Day recipe to this day. monkey bar recipe.  Sister said it was like the moistest banana bread.
Another cool small nearby town called Walsenburg.  We explored and shopped and ate at the local Mexican restaurant. 
When you're happy that you got a big plate of tacos but also bummed that you misunderstood the waitress when she asked if you wanted white or corn tortillas.
And me, very ecstatic for my tamale and the rice was on point.  The taco, was good, basic, non-exceptional but honestly, I almost licked the plate clean.  We both had to notice how you don't get chips and sauce automatically at many places anymore.  What was once completely expected now sets you back another $5 or more.

Every setting around her town had a golden, soft glow to it and felt so peaceful and right.

Bishop's Castle, a local attraction.  Great gift shop.
Anticipating the trip, I wished I could have taken her to Greece or somewhere exotic. But as soon as I got there I knew it was the best place to celebrate and have the most fun.   It meant everything.  She is my sister but also my greatest friend, I respect and admire all that she's lived through and want only the best for her.  She is someone I can talk to about anything.  I told her what weighs on my heart and she did the same.

She's always thrived in nature and I loved seeing her world up there, where she is the most happy.  How cute is she in this hat too!? 

One day while walking our 5 miles around her neighborhood lake, we saw a huge deer just standing looking at us.  We kept getting closer but it just stayed staring.  Later we saw it had it's baby across the road.  And then later still, we saw the whole dang clan in a yard down the street.  The deer were out very early and it was unusual for them not to run from us or a car so close.

We had a fun time at Victorio's one night.  There were drunk men at the bar playing pool and singing Tom Petty songs.  They seemed to be showing off a bit but you would have thought we were invisible, not one of them looked over at us the whole time.  But it was coincidentally the waitress' birthday so we had free big slices of soft birthday cake so I forgot all about being ignored.  Plus the chicken wings were calling us.
I had the lasagna, which was delicious and to this day I regret I did not even put a dent in which is very unlike me.
Sis had the Fried Spaghetti that turned out to be incredible with lots of good Parmesan, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes and olives. 

She grew chocolate mint which smelled exactly as it sounds.  How magical!
Probably my favorite meal was her version of mom's home enchilada's rolled on the spot with cold cheese and onions inside and lots of her incredible sauce made from scratch.  Lettuce, tomatoes and onions on top and more cold cheese.  This is how she made them at home, never baked.  You stood and got yours at the stove.  This might just be the Indiana Enchilada version of Cincinnati Chili.
Sister has the Goldilocks effect with all her cooking.  Its as if the seasoning is always dialed in to the precise perfect tone.  It's called natural talent.  I don't have that.
And probably my favorite food that she did not cook was this Grass Fed mushroom medley dream from Bingo Burger in Pueblo.  We split a Strawberry Shake and sweet potato and regular fries.
I helped her cover the garden at night.

I called her Marilyn Monroe because you had to wait, sometimes what felt like hours until she was ready to come out but I had fun sitting and looking out from her back porch onto the mountain and neighbors, getting much needed sun on my face. And this is what I had dreamed of doing while there.
On the cab ride back to my apartment in Brooklyn, I texted her my view from the BQE, the graveyard on one side and Manhattan on the other.