“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
--- Douglas Adams

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Be Prepared

I don't remember if I wrote about this before so if I have, forgive me. You'll have to endure it again because it's on my mind right now.

When I was about 6 or so I was at Sunday School. It was my job this particular day to take the offerings from my Sunday School class and take it to the Sunday School office. Most kids threw a few quarters in the basket but this particular day one kid put $2 in the basket. On my way to the office, I stole the $2 and just turned in the change. When I was about 30 I had a crisis of conscience and  put $2 in an envelope and a little note apologizing for stealing so long ago. I didn't sign the note though. I never identified myself ........(until now, mwahahahaha! just kidding).

A few years later when I was about 10 I distinctly remember another life lesson. I don't remember if it was at church or school but seeing most of the time both took place at the same address, I guess it doesn't really matter. Anyhow, the story was about being prepared, handling a crisis and trusting God to bring you out of it. There was a woman who had the worst string of bad luck over the course of a few years, like Job x 10 bad. She lost her job. Her house burned down. Her dog was hit by a car. Her grandpa died. Her dad died. She was in a car crash. Then one day something truly awful happened and she was devastated. She had no idea how she was going to see her way out of such grief and how to figure out a way to rebuild her life. One morning it all became clear. God was preparing her. All the trials she had endured in her life, all the lessons she learned from getting through them prepared her to deal with the worst tragedy she'd ever faced. She at that moment felt a bit of peace. She knew that God was showing her how to deal with tragedy, how to work through adversity and how to be strong. God was telling her to trust Him. He would, once again, show her a way to endure her troubles.

This story has haunted me from the moment I heard it. Whenever anything tragic happens I'm constantly going through a list of all the unfortunate things that have happened in my life (not that there are a lot, but everyone has bad experiences, right?) and all the moments in my life I consider turning points and thinking two things; 1) Is this what God has been preparing me for? and 2) If this isn't what God was preparing me for, whatever's coming in the future will be worse than the tragedy or happening at hand.

Last week I hit a milestone. One day last week was exactly a year ago that my marriage ended. It was a shit day, I tell you. But there was a really great positive that came out of all of it; I made it. I made it through the year. I am not where I want to be yet, but compared to a year ago, life is so much better today. I finally got a job. I have truly amazing friends. I've gone on a few dates, including an extra few dates with the same person. Life is getting better.

So, is this what God was preparing me for? Or is there more in store for me? I was talking to a friend of mine the other night about this. Was God preparing me for this event or is God preparing me for a future event. My friend's answer was simple; BOTH.

Dang it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Online Fun Offline

A lifetime ago when I was 18, 19 I worked at a burger joint. Most of the time I worked the closing shift. There were a handful of regulars who would come in most nights and I got to be friends with some of them. They were short-lived friendships but we had fun. One of the people I would hang out with was named .....I don't even remember his name but I remember he told me a story about the time he did drugs in the bathroom of a party with Tony Geary of "Luke" fame on General Hospital. Anyhow, this guy was friends with a guy named Jeff Vilencia. I have no idea why I remember his name or why my encounter with him was so memorable, but he stuck with me. I haven't seen him since I was 18, 19. I haven't talked to him either. I have no idea what this guy is up to or if he even remembers me. Anyhow, below is a movie he made. He had this thing about women with large beautiful feet squishing bugs. I thought about him a few days ago when I was looking at an online dating site.



I almost went on a date, I went on a date and then I went on another date.
I knew I'd be rusty. I knew I'd be nervous. I knew the chances of any guy I meet on online dating being Blane McDonnagh, Ronny Cammareri or Lloyd Dobbler would be slim. I knew he probably wouldn't even be my Jeff Vilencia, or guy who did drugs with Luke Spencer. I knew it would probably be fun, though.

I almost went on a date.
I had been using the chat feature and talking to this one guy. We talked on the phone and I immediately realized that those were the wrong sort of bees. He was not for me. The deal was sealed when he sent me a message and asked me to send him a picture of my feet. I haven't communicated with him since.

I went on a date.
Dude looked about 10 years older than his profile said he was and the profile picture looked about as much like him as I look like the weight my drivers license says I am. The food was good. We had fried pork necks with cumin and spare ribs. Dude was nice but kind of dull. Not in a "my voice is my passport" kind of way, but still, not for me.

Luckily the experience didn't sour me too much because
I went on another date.
I met this guy in a bar. Unlike the other two guys, this guy I didn't speak to on the phone first. My sister would tell me that was a mistake. What if he had an Urkel voice? Luckily he didn't have an Urkel voice. He had a bit more gray than his online picture presented but I could tell who he was from his photo. We split a pizza. Nice enough guy. While he was not Blane McDonnagh, I did see some hints of  Ronny Cammareri with a little bit of Palmer Joss sprinkled in there. His eyes were all his, good eyes and he has a nice face-in-repose-half-smile thing. I'd happily meet him again.

So I'm not going to chronicle every encounter I have via online dating. I may have some interesting stories to tell but I'm not interested in trash-talking anyone. I'm not interested in identifying anyone. I'm also not interested in giving you all the details about myself I'm not willing to give.

In summary, I officially put myself back on the market. Blane McDonnagh, Ronny Cammareri and Lloyd Dobler are not real people, fried pork necks with cumin are delicious and that Sam Elliott side glance half smile resting face totally works.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tag Team Mussels - A Recipe

My oldest and I made a great dinner the other night. We were sort of tag-teaming with bathing and watching the other two. I would do some cooking while my daughter would stand in the doorway of the bathroom watching the little one in the tub and the other one one in the living room, then the one in the tub would need something so we would switch places and I would be on bath duty and she would do the cooking.

Our Tag Team Dinner came out really really amazing and it was super easy. Super great cheater meal if you don't have a lot of time and you want something really delicious.

Tag Team Mussels and Gnocchi

1 box of frozen mussels from Trader Joes - the kind that has herbs and such in the bag with the mussels
Tomatoes (we used tiny cherry tomatoes)
Butter
White Wine (We used Sauvignon Blanc)
Garlic
S/P
Trader Joe's Gnocchi, the kind that is self stable.

Cook the Mussels according to the directions on the box. It's pretty much bring a big pot of water to boil and put the unopened bag of mussels in the water. 7 minutes or so later they are done. Set aside.

Saute some minced garlic, maybe 2 cloves. If you don't want it to be super garlicky then just smash the garlic and put it in the pan. The garlic will be more subtle that way.
Add the tomatoes. I like to use cherry tomatoes because they create little bombs filled with scalding tomato juice and hot sticky seeds and then when they cool off they shrivel and the juices inside are all saucy and yummy. When it was my oldest's turn at cooking she popped all the tomatoes in the pan.

Add the gnocchi and add the liquid from the mussel bag. Let everything get all and yummy and bubbly.
Add the wine. I think I added about a glass of wine, a generous pour. A pour someone would make if they were pouring good wine they didn't buy.
Add about 1/2 a stick of butter
When that gets melty and bubbly add the mussels and coat them with the pan sauce.

Have some additional liquid handy. The starch in the gnocchi kept making the sauce thicker and thicker. Depending on your preferred viscosity you'll need to play around with how much liquid to use. Some kind of vegetable stock or chicken stock, white wine, even water will help you thin it out.

Squirt with some lemon or lime juice. I think Meyer lemons would be the best choice. If you were thinking ahead and not making this tag-team style, you could add some shallots to the step where you saute the garlic. You could add a ton of italian parsley.

This was a big hit. We'll have to put it in the semi-regular rotation.




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Some of the pictures in my blog were taken by a photographer called Julie Michele. Some of the pictures were either taken by me or someone I know. Some of the pictures were ripped right from the internet, mostly from google image searches from photographers to whom I may or may not give credit.

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