Sandy Beaches

Anyone else notice how Maryland suddenly looks like a man bent over on his hands and knees getting ready to take a giant storm straight up his ass?

Less than four hours left before Hurricane Sandy is set to make landfall and the effects are already being felt.

Windows are howling and rattling and the lights are flickering.  Because we live in such an old city, everyone is pretty confident that the power is going out tonight.  Predictions have said that up to 60 million will lose power and it might be out for weeks.  Schools and businesses are closed today.  Grocery store shelves are empty.  Our restaurant even ran out of food because food shipments have been delayed.  Emergency services are suggesting we fill our bathtubs full of water in case the water supply becomes contaminated by the predicted flooding.  They are giving out sandbags and waterbags for free.  12 inches of rain and snowstorms of 2 feet or more are expected.  Many areas have mandatory evacuations.

In other words, all hell is breaking loose.

So what could possibly get us to go outside to brave the strong winds, falling trees and sideways-falling rain – potentially putting our lives at risk in the process?  Could it be for food? Water?  Cigarettes?

Nope.  Feminine hygiene products.  We went out in the middle of a fucking windstorm for a box of tampons.  I am convinced the female body has a tendency to base its cycle around the most inopportune moments.  Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, cross-country road trips, family get-togethers, vacations – and, apparently now, potential national disasters.  Mind you, I’m a man and this is just a theory –  but I say theory because I’ve seen enough proof to get the idea past the hypothesis phase.

  Only after we drove by a grocery store did we consider that maybe, just maybe we should pick up some canned food and jugs of water.

  Needless to say, we made it back safely and are now properly stocked.

Catching Up

  So much stuff has happened since I last had an internet connection that I decided I would list all of the shorter things together here and elaborate on the more involved things in individual future posts (if I remember).  So here goes…

●  Vess sold her car to a scrapyard before we left Arizona.  It had a lot of things that needed replacing and she was toying with the idea of doing it herself.  Expense and lack of time or tools available pretty much made the decision for her.  I feel bad for her because she loved that car and it got us through some tough times.  As a side effect, we had to give away many of our already streamlined belongings before moving out because we had one less “container” to tow things back in.

By the time you are reading this, this car is in a million pieces.

●  After a grueling three days of driving, we made it back to North Carolina.  Luckily, we got back soon enough that we had a little more than three days to catch up with our friends and family that we missed so much.  Unluckily, our internal clocks were still fucked enough that our schedules were completely out of sync with everyone else.  Still, it was comforting to be around people who actually knew me and people I didn’t have to clean up my accent for.  And grass!  And trees!!  And squirrels!!!  AND RAIN!!!!

You step in a ring with this guy, you're coming out in a bodybag.

●  My external hard drive on my computer went kaput.  For some reason it just stopped showing up on my computer unless I go to disk management.  Suddenly it shows up as not initialized and unallocated despite me doing nothing to it that I know of.  I ran recovery software and can’t seem to fix the problem.  Basically, this means that all of my designs I created and most of the photos that I took after we moved to Arizona is, at the moment, as good as lost.  Hopefully I can figure something out but It’s not looking good.  I should have gotten a backup for my backup.

●  Somewhere between Charlotte and Baltimore and on a VERY tight schedule, our GPS decided to completely fuck us by giving wrong directions before completely dying.  After a mini-meltdown by Vess and buying several maps that didn’t help with the extensive heavy construction we were encountering along the way, we bought the cheapest GPS we could find at 4:30 in the morning.

●  We made it to Maryland and were approved for the apartment we were gunning for.  Actually, it was our second choice but our first choice rejected us before we even left Phoenix.  It required staying in a hotel for two nights while the application was being processed, but I think it was worth it.  Plus: WE CAN HAVE OUR CAT!

Unfortunately, the bag of grits had to be smuggled across state lines.

 ●  As of this week, Vess is now officially a member of the automotive workforce.  I could start a rant here about how it turns out that a man with her exact same qualifications makes four dollars an hour more than she does according to her coworkers, but does anyone really need to be reminded that this shit still goes on?  Still, she is making more than I ever did even in my best days and she is doing what she loves and worked so hard for.  Hopefully her employers will see the potential in her that I do and that payscale will get evened out after her 90 day apprenticeship is over.  One can always hope, right?

●  Speaking of employment, I went to the closest restaurant within walking distance and put in an application.  They aren’t hiring at the moment but neither was the last job I had and that didn’t stop me from harassing the shit out of them.  Amazingly, it’s headed by a CIA trained chef that would be a dream for me to work for.  I wrote a heartfelt resume letter in hopes that I will be given a chance to show what I can do.  I turned my application in yesterday evening so I haven’t heard anything back yet.  But, like I said, one can always hope.

  Well, that’s about all of the little things going on right now.  Hopefully I’ll soon have a chance to tell you about all of the big things that happened.  Thanks go to everyone for their continued support.

Crunch

  No pictures with smartass captions this time.

  Today is my birthday.  What do I have planned today?  Maybe I’ll sleep until noon, lazily roll out of bed and play video games all day.  Or maybe I’ll lounge by the pool and enjoy the sun in some of this 88 degree weather we’ve been having lately.  I know!  I’ll take that Anthony Bourdain book I’ve been reading out there with me.  Perhaps, if I get a little thirsty, I’ll pick some of those citrus fruits that have ripened very nicely off of that tree outside our door and make some fresh orangeade.  Hell, maybe I’ll splurge a little and pour a healthy dose of Stoli vodka in there… kind of ease into a mellow buzz by afternoon while I bake in the sun.

  That ain’t gonna happen.

  Instead, I’m up at 6 am vacuuming, washing dishes, calling to find an apartment in Maryland and having my third cigarette by 6:30.  The Phoenix apartment managers are coming today to evaluate whether or not I get my cleaning deposit back… and that’s money in the gas tank.

  Things are hectic now.  Tomorrow is Vess’ last day of school, which is a week earlier than it was supposed to be.  Being the nerd that she is, she passed 8 of her ASE tests.  This resulted in a peach of a job just outside of Baltimore.  The only problem is, they want her there yesterday.  This has led to hasty packing and frantic calling to Maryland apartment complexes in a mad scramble.  Best case scenario: We’ll be out of here by the end of the week.  If somehow the stars all align, I’ll be amazed.

  My job prospects at the moment aren’t as promising, but things are looking up.

  There is a French culinary school near (well, relatively near) where we’ll be living.  It wasn’t my first choice, but it is considered to be in the top ten of the country.  Assuming I can even get in, it’s a 12-18 month course with an extensive extern program that will give me the experience I very much need.  It’s not CIA, but it is a step in the right direction.

  Speaking of getting a year older, culinary school and Anthony Bourdain, I read this yesterday in one of his books (I’m currently reading my fourth one authored by him).

  “How old are you?

  Nobody will tell you this, but I will:

  If you’re thirty-two years old and considering a career in professional kitchens?  If you’re wondering if, perhaps, you are too old?

  Let me answer that question for you:

  Yes.  You are too old.”

  This really hit home when I read this.  It was like a square-on kick to the balls.  Et tu, Anthony?  After having so many people question my decision for a career change at my age, and YOU have to pile on too?  I needed that like another hole in the head.  Then again, I would expect nothing less from someone with his experience and brutal honesty.  But then I read the next sentence:

  “If you’re planning on spending big bucks to go to culinary school at your age, you’d better be doing it for love – a love, by the way, that will be, almost without a doubt, unreciprocated.”

  This was bittersweet, but it gave me hope.  I AM doing this because I love food – not just eating it, but everything about it.  I love the way it smells up a house.  I love the way it gets quiet in a room when dinner is served because no one can be bothered to talk when they are truly enjoying a meal.  I love how a perfectly cooked slab of pork will make you forget, if only for a second, that the power bill is overdue and you have negative dollars in the bank.  Most of my fondest memories of family and friends have somehow revolved around food – either eating it or talking about it.  I want to know as many techniques as possible.  I want to know how food works; why it behaves the way it does.  It’s like a drug, and it leaves me always wanting more.  Art is great, but there’s only a limited amount of people who you can talk about it with.  Food is universal.

  I guess, in my case, the encouraging story will have to come from Alton Brown.  He was in his thirties when he went from being a cinematographer for an REM video to culinary freshman, later to turn his education into a successful career.  This is the exception, rather than the rule – but us old fogies take inspiration where we can get it.

  Gotta go febreze the curtains now.