Sunday, July 9, 2017

VT: 1

Its kind of amazing how music, or a song can become such a deep part of you. When I lived in Chicago, I had put Sufjan Stevens, "Come on Feel the Illinoise" on my iPhone on a whim. Before this - I didn't know anything about Sufjan Stevens. I didn't even really listen to music much apart from what my girlfriend had on her iPod and listened to in the car. --This is actually why I put this album on my iPhone... I was desperately trying to find something new to listen to that appealed to the both of us - ahead of taking a 12 + hour drive to Chicago with her. I simply could not listen to her playlist for another 12 hours. As usual, I procrastinated and didn't try to figure this out until the morning we were supposed to leave. I previewed a few songs on amazon and downloaded it.

I don't think we actually listened to the album at all on the drive - but that is beside the point. Once I was living in Chicago I had a 30 - 45 minute commute on the train every morning and afternoon - and the only possibility I had to completely avoid human contact was by having head phones in. The first few weeks I was there I listened to every This American Life episode (this was before I discovered Radio Lab - which I strongly prefer to TAL). After I was through with those I desperately needed something else to listen to and remembered I had that album too. For the rest of my time in Chicago I listened to it every time I stepped foot on the L. At least a few times every single day. 

The way this music imprinted in me is really quite remarkable. I can feel the morning light flickering on me. I can hear the violent rattling of the trains running on the track. I see the faces I saw every morning. Its as if I am on the train every time I hear these songs.

While we were unpacking in Vermont J asked me to put some music on. After getting out network up and running I opened up amazon music on our TV and didn't really know what to put on. I selected my music and the first album that popped up was Illinoise. I'm not sure why - I cannot remember the last time I listened to it - but there it was. 

The feelings associated with these songs are so clear. So potent. I feel a pit in my chest. Like the first time you kiss someone you're falling in love with. Like when you take a step down and theres no ground to stop your foot. Its such a raw, unfiltered type of emotion. Its why I am writing at this very moment. 

My last day at Clark House was 6/29. It was really an amazing few years. I had only been back in town for a few weeks when I saw an article on Table Hopping (FUCK, I am glad to not feel the need to read that blog any more) about a new restaurant opening that was going to be food forward and very progressive with its approach to...well...everything. It piqued my interest, but it wasn't until a friend of mine asked me what I was up to now that I was back in town that I was put on a path to what would be probably the most important and fulfilling thing I have done professionally. 

I remember sitting in the still unfinished dining room with Nick and Matt, talking about food and restaurants we liked - places I went to while in Chicago, mutual friends, etc.. and having this sense of awe that these guys were just like me. Food was all they cared about. It was an obsession for them. And I soon came to realize that was true with everyone who was involved with Peck's Arcade. When I asked for fresh horseradish for a dessert - nobody batted a lash.

For what seemed to be well over a year - I oogled a dish set I saw every time I went to the Treasure Chest on Hamilton St. Every time I stepped foot in the place, I would immediately go to the dish room and see if the set was still there - and every time I was shocked that it was.

One day I wound up there when they were having a clearance sale on dishes. After agonizing over it - I decided to just go for it. Hell, I had been admiring it for over a year at that point. There is nothing remarkable about these plates - but that is what makes them so special. The way they curve. The bell of the bowls and the way reflecting light curves along them. Every detail is perfect.

J and I were in San Francisco staying with my Aunt. One morning while sipping coffee and trying to plan out our day ahead I noticed something. I had been in this kitchen a hundred times - but never saw this until this particular morning. It was the creamer for the same dish set I had bought at the Treasure Chest. I immediately picked it up and asked my Aunt about it. 

When she was a teenager, she was at a department store with her grandmother and saw this plate set. She said it was the most beautiful plate set she had ever seen. Her grandmother - my great grandmother, Grandma Kirk - was taken by this. She wound up returning to the department store later - where she bought the creamer that she then gave to my Aunt with a note saying, 'Here is the first piece, to start your collection'. Linda never bought the rest of the set - but still has the creamer. The exact same creamer that I have.

Few things make me more (irrationally) annoyed than when people write "chantilly cream" or "creme chantilly" on their menus.

Magic happens when you add champagne vinegar to mayonnaise.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Change is good.

Lets work backwards here:

This past weekend, we signed a lease for a new apartment in South Newfane, VT.

South Newfane is a tiny village in Eastern Vermont. We are right in the center between Dover (Mt. Snow), Wilmington, Brattleboro, and Putney.

We found this place because we were in the Dummerston area looking at a 'dream' apartment that was much less practical - and we thought we should also maybe look at something a little more "reasonable"

We found the 'dream' apartment in Dummerston on craigslist late one night. This place appealed greatly to us because it was designed and built by a very talented architect - who ultimately sold it to its current owners because rural life in VT proved to be a bit too difficult. The place is a design nerds dream and really, really resonated with us. It was also completely off the grid (solar and wind), on a 100 acre parcel (with a swim pond, apple orchard, gardens, etc..) and would require one of us to maintain it as a full time job. We liked the place so much we sketched out its design with the far fetched hope that maybe some day if we were able to have a home built - it would look not unlike this one.

I was on craigslist looking for apartments because Konigin was nervously pacing around our apartment while one of our upstairs neighbors vacuumed their apartment at 1:30 in the morning...keeping me up, annoyed, and bored enough to do things like look at apartments on craigslist a month after moving into a new apartment. At the exact moment -  there was nothing in the immediate area that met our criteria. Which lead to me gradually expand my search by slowly zooming out on the cragislist map.

Konigin came to us with a great fear of vacuums (among many other things). Often times, J will walk her while I vacuum the apartment. When we were living in downtown Troy, our apartment had a guy who would clean the common areas - and any time he was on our floor vacuuming, Konigin would go into a full blown panic attack. It didn't matter if he was on the opposite side of the building - as soon as she heard the faint noise, she would lose it. She even cowers if she sees a vacuum (when its turned off).

We got Konigin, in part, because we were in a less-than-ideal living situation and wanted/needed something to bring some joy into our lives. She has done just that, and we love her to pieces.

We were in that less-than-ideal living situation because we had spent every dime we had (and more that we didn't) travelling the US in a car for several months.

We were travelling the US in our car because we wanted to find a new city to live in. We somehow managed to find both too many and none at all.

We wanted to find a new city to live in because we both had somewhat recently relocated from somewhere we loved (Copenhagen/Chicago) back to the Capital District - and as much as we tried, we could not find anything apart from each other - that clicked for us.

We will be done moving as of 7/1.
All of this is terrifying, yes.
We have no plans.
No jobs lined up (know of anything?).
We are just going.
And we couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The overwhelming inconvenience of dealing with everything

I picked up the cheapest piece of shit laptop I could find sometime last year to use at work (you don't need much to do word processing, use google docs, e-mail, and calendar). Its wound up replacing my mac desktop and my iPad. The only real issue is the keyboard isn't back lit, so its a pain in the ass to type on in the dark.

Watervliet is way sketchier than Troy.

Watervliet is like Lansingburgh with fewer hypodermic needles scattered about.

There are a lot of dogs in Watervliet.

It took six months to hang half of our art in Troy. It took about six hours to hang almost all of it in Watervliet. Its amazing how much easier some walls/rooms are to balance than others.

I have purchased my first power tool.

We had breakfast at Bob's Diner this morning. It was surprisingly pleasant. I haven't been since I was a teenager. We used to go smoke packs of cigarettes there and drink coffee all night - and always ordered their shitty fryer apps like pizza straws (pizza logs now). I think we will probably wind up there fairly often, considering we are only a few blocks away. 

Cleaning up a dump that you are going to go live in and then going back to a pristine 'new' apartment that you are not going to live in much longer is a unique form of torture. 

Drawn out moving sounded good on paper, but I just want it to be over with

We (finally) bought a couch. J&I have been sitting in chairs since we moved to Troy. After a lot of kicking and screaming from me - we decided to go with comfort over design (I'll sit on a brick couch if it looks good). Itll be nice to sleep on it instead of a hardwood floor when I go to bed too late (most nights).

I wish I traveled more.

I wish I used my vacation time more. 

I have been looking almost daily at different bachelors offered completely online through SUNY.

I really hope to avoid the same mistakes I have made in the past. 

J&I are technically domestic partners, which means I can pursue a degree through her place of employment free of charge. Up to 6 credits a semester/18 a year. That translates to maybe...6 or 7 years to get a bachelors?...but its for long as J doesn't find a different job (or domestic partner)

April 22nd was Earth Day. This article made me incredibly depressed. 'America's best idea'. Its hard to spend time in these places and not feel deeply connected to them. In my early twenties I spent a summer with this book , a National Parks Pass, and a Woodalls North American Campground Directory. I drove over 20,000 miles exploring the western US, these parks, and the land.

The marches for science are inspiring, even hopeful, yet their necessity breaks my heart.

The good thing about science is that its true whether or not you believe in it'

I have struggled with mental illness in one form or another for most of my life. This is pretty obvious if you have had any interaction with me. Its something I have just lived with and ignored.

When I signed up for health insurance this past June (for the first time since my early twenties), my primary reason was to 'deal with it'.

In the past 10 months I have tried four different anti-depressants at countless dosages. Its a very difficult thing to track, to understand. It takes at least a month for these drugs to build up a concentration in your blood that has a 'measurable' effect - but how can you compare how you feel today to how you felt six weeks ago? I have trouble comparing how I feel now versus just a few hours ago.

On a normal day I take an anti-depressant when I wake up. By the time I am home from work I will have taken at least three doses of a benzodiazepine (this is a problem in and of itself). I take a different anti-depressant before bed, which acts as a sedative. On a normal day I take at least five pills to attempt to function. And most days it is a struggle.

I often zone out while debating my self worth.

What is my contribution.

What reasons are there to be here?

Why should I stick around?

What am I doing?

What should I be doing?

Shouldn't I be doing something else?

Why haven't I done anything?

Its nearly impossible to not obsess over these things.

L'appel du vide

Sunday, April 9, 2017

85 Reasons to Visit Troy NY

J&I have been discussing the things we will miss about living in Troy - and one thing that comes up over and over is the wonderful community of businesses and their owners who we interact with on a daily basis. As we discussed it more and more in detail, we noticed one reoccurring thing: female owners & operators.

We looked out our window and panned down the street. Market Block Books: Female owned. Anchor no 5: Female owned.  Aurora's Boutique: Female owned. Broken Mold Studio: Female owned. Broccoli's: Female owned.  Artcentric: Female owned. Copper Fox: Female owned. Psychedelicatessen: Female owned. T&J Soap: Female owned. Annick Designs: Female owned.

So...I looked a little more into it. 
(Note: While we do know several of the business owners listed below, google definitely helped me out a lot compiling this information and I can only assume that it is fairly accurate)

Female Owned Businesses in Troy, NY:
Twilight Vintage (I think)

Troy, NY businesses with at least one female co-owner:

I dont know about you, but I think that is pretty fucking cool. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Oh, hey

Time flies.
I suppose its to be expected.
These hiatuses are not exactly unheard of.

J & I took a little trip the first week of January.
We drove to Charleston &; back. 
It felt good to be back on the road
Charleston was nice.
I haven't been since I was 21. It was J's first time in the city. 
'Its like New Orleans with a stick up its ass'.

Some highlights:
  • Sitting belly to the bar at the Boiler Room in Kinston, NC - drinking beer and eating fried oysters and saltines
  • Relaxing at Leon's in Charleston after a exhausting drive full of delays, and having maybe the best roasted oysters we've ever had. 
  • An unexpectedly wonderful meat at FIG
  • The entire menu at Beasley's Chicken + Honey 
  • Every second we spent in Philadelphia - including a meal that surpassed virtually any we had in 2016 - at the astoundingly good Wm. Mulherin's Sons .

Zoe & I took a quick trip to New York in late February 
We adored Cosme.
Olmsted, on the other hand...
Using a ride sharing service completely changes the experience of a day trip to New York
(fuck uber)

J & I have been talking about visiting Alberta (Calgary, Banff, Jasper, Edmonton) for years. Maybe its about time to plan that one.

While we have not signed our lease yet - we are moving to Watervliet. 
Its hard to say how I feel about it. Living in Downtown Troy is absurdly expensive. 
Saving money will be nice

We picked up a CSA with The Alleged Farm this year. We really enjoyed our CSA with Roxbury in the past, but thought we would try something new. They seem to be into weird produce, which is perfect for us. I love the challenge to not waste anything. I'm dreaming of tomato sandwiches.

I also purchased a CSA from Colie - who I have had the pleasure of getting to know a bit over the past year. I really couldn't be happier to help support her growing business. We are very lucky to be surrounded by so many talented artisans in this area. Its such a privileged to watch them grow and thrive... and so easy to see them wither away.

J is happy about this CSA

We aren't quite as good as we used to be, but we definitely still try to buy every time we step into a independent business - even if our intentions are just to say, 'Hi'.

That is one thing I will really miss about living in Troy. There is more community here than anywhere else I have lived. We know so many of our neighbors, business owners. Hell, konigin knows every shop she can go into to say hi to another pup or grab a treat.

When Nick convinced me to pick up a new TV this past holiday season, the deal I landed came with a $100 Dell gift card. This proved to be the most worthless $100 Ive ever received. After agonizing about how to use it for a few months, I decided to pick up a (not) fit bit. I enjoy obsessing over data (I fully understand how inaccurate these things are) and its nice to have something to look at other than instagram and twitter.

One thing I noticed is that it tracks my sleep. How? Who knows (who cares). But it brought to light something that I was only sort of aware of. While I never really got a lot of sleep - according to the data I was averaging less than 1 hour of deep sleep a night. Lots of waking up sporadically. Because I am now an adult, and have insurance coverage -  I now have a rx for trazadone, to help sing me to sleep. And big surprise - I feel significantly better with a more regular sleep pattern.

This regular sleep pattern is also made possible by LPs adjusting its kitchen hours.

Its kind of amazing how different cooking savory food feels vs doing pastry.
Pastry is definitely still my thing though.

People are always so delighted when I tell them I am a Pastry Chef.
For some reason there is a big sense of whimsy that comes with the title.
The reality is that I deeply regret pursuing a career this industry,
and the harsh reality is that it is a very difficult industry to get out of. 

This became very clear to me when I started looking for other things to do when we were planning to move to Asheville. I have a worthless associates. No bachelors. No experience outside of kitchens that is worth anything. Its something I still struggle with often and thinking about it leads me down a rabbit hole of anxiety. Its terrifying feeling stuck. What else could I do? What would I go to school for? What has a true return on investment?

There is no type of person that gets under my skin more than a chef who thinks they are bad ass simply because they are a chef. This type of person is exactly how I would describe (my experiences in) the Saratoga restaurant community - and a big part of why I do not miss it at all.

It also doesn't seem like Troy has much in the way of industry bars. The Ruck is definitely the spot - but its also just a popular bar so... I avoid it like the plague after a certain hour.

Troy needs another bar like the Ruck that isn't the Ruck. Dont get me wrong, I enjoy going to The can get a little BRO for me. Maybe the Local will fill that void. Maybe the Bradley will. Who knows. I have a feeling Ill spend a decent amount of time at Deacon Blues now.