Sunday, February 15, 2009

Overcoming Writer's Block

I apologize if this seems self serving, but I found it helpful as a writing exercise, I decided to try another 25.

1. I’m afraid I may have a reaction to caffeine that affects my sleep in a weird way, so I have been off caffeine for a month.

2. I‘ve taught myself a number of skills over the years, and I easily forget that this is a uniqueness to my personality. I assume that since certain things come easily to me, they should be just as easy to someone else.

3. I eat better and less now that I am immersed in the creation of food. Instead of being tempted to eat, I have a greater respect for what I eat.

4. I would rather spend money on memory making rather than acquiring possessions. If I were given $500 to spend, I’d take a weekend trip over buying a flat panel plasma TV.

5. I don’t understand the appeal of traveling on a cruise ship. My idea of a cruise is taking a canoe into the Boundary Waters for a week.

6. The food I am embarrassed to admit that I like: Crunchy Cheetos.

7. I am not afraid of heights, but snakes still creep me out.

8. If I win the lottery, and no longer have to worry about income, I would build a workshop to mill lumber and craft furniture in the winter, and grow a massive market garden in the spring, summer and fall.

9. I like teaching others about things I enjoy.

10. The guitar solo in Blue Collar Man by Tommy Shaw made me want to learn how to play guitar.

11. The concert I am embarrassed to admit I wish I could have seen: Kiss.

12. I’ve recently learned how to not wear a watch.

13. I own and have read the hardback versions of all the Tom Clancy novels.

14. I grew cherry tomatoes in a 3x3 plywood box that I made when I was 10. And I wonder why I eventually became a chef.

15. I actually like cleaning stuff. I think it makes me feel in control of my environment.

16. I brought home a beagle last year for my wife’s Valentine’s Day gift. It’s the single smartest decision I have ever made.

17. I decided not to play football my sophomore and junior year of high school. Years later, I look back on the resolve to make that kind of decision at a young age and wonder where that inner strength came from.

18. I collect old signs and hang them on my outdoor patio. I’m not sure why.

19. One criterion that I use in choosing a book to read is, will it make me think?

20. In my late 30’s, I went through a season of depression, and one beacon of light during that time was seeing Blue Man Group in Las Vegas. After the show, I wasn’t sure what I had just witnessed, but I was convinced it was something important. I later realized they were telling me to pursue my dream.

21. In my college years, I memorized a countless number of bible verses and could quote them word perfect. To this day I don’t know if the motivation to do that was virtuous or not.

22. I went to a high school that utilized corporal punishment, in other words, I got my ass beat with a wooden paddle when I got out of line. This will shape your worldview.

23. I am drawn toward people who know where their pain comes from.

24. I wish men still wore hats. I’d wear one now, but I’d hate to draw that kind of attention to myself.

25. I’ve worn Levi’s 560 jeans for fifteen years, simply because I don’t like to think about what I will wear. I know my size, so when I need a new pair, I don’t even have to try it on in the store. I like this kind of stability.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

25 little known and seldom sought facts about me

I'm usually not into these meme things or being tagged, but since I've had some writer's block, I thought this might be a good exercise to get me moving on this blog again. Here are 25 things about me.

1. I am a morning person and do my best work in the AM. I get drowsy in the afternoon and can fall asleep very quickly. I’ve recently fallen asleep at a stoplight, only to be wakened by a honking horn. That’s a scary feeling.

2. I take out and put in my right contact lens first, then the left, always, every time.

3. My default lunch is an apple, a chunk of blue cheese, pepperoni and crackers.

4. Disorder makes me uptight. When I sense chaos in the kitchen at work, one of my first reactions is to stop and get the workspace organized. Clutter is unsettling to me.

5. I love to travel. My first big trip was to Bermuda at age 10. Since then I’ve had the chance to spend enough time to taste the food and culture in Mexico City, Nairobi, Kampala, London, Glasgow, Leeds, Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest, Beijing, Xi’an, and Bangkok.

6. I am obsessively creative, which makes it very hard to lie around and watch movies or TV or participate in activities with no outcome. I prefer going to the cinema over watching DVD’s at home because there are less distractions there.

7. I will throw out or give away perfectly good items because I don’t like having to create a place for them. I do this with clothing regularly. As you can guess, I have a small closet space.

8. I can make food that people enjoy and are willing to pay for. I dream of making music that is playable in front of a paying audience.

9. I’ve learned how to listen before I speak. I am secure enough in what I believe to let you have your say. I listen to Rush Limbaugh and NPR because I find them interesting.

10. If I could have three channels on cable, I would subscribe to The Food Network, The Travel Channel and that one that has the show on how things are made.

11. I feed wild birds. I hang bird feeders outside my front window and watch the colorful birds stop by. My favorites are the yellow finches, which turn bright yellow in the winter. I have a reason for doing this that I won’t put here.

12. I am a persistent person and don’t give up very easily. This enabled me to endure the long, long process of opening an original restaurant, and watch it become successful.

13. I collect friends. To do so, I stay in touch with people. Before facebook and email, I did this by letter writing. I kept stationary and note cards in my desk, along with stamps, so I could jot a quick note. I wrote several per week in college.

14. I miss my dad, who passed away about 3 ½ yrs ago. My first thought of grief when I learned that he died, was that he will never see bread&cup, that he would never get to sit at my bar so I could serve him a pint, and hear him say how proud he was of me.

15. I don’t like politics, not because I don’t find it interesting, but because I hate the polarizing effect that it has on people involved in it. I can’t watch cable news shows because they wear me out. Occasionally I tune into the BBC news. At least that guy doesn’t seem angry about everything.

16. I am fascinated by process, of how things are made or created. I recently went out to a farm to watch a steer slaughtered, from the kill, to drawing and quartering, all because I want to know more about where your food originates.

17. I brew my own beer. Again, this has as much to do with process as it does with a mighty fine finished product that I can be proud of.

18. I’ve run three marathons so far, and will probably do one again eventually. I haven’t committed to one lately because I don’t like to start what I can’t finish. This is the whole reason I started running as a sophomore in college. I would never need a gym, or weights or a team of people to pull together. A decent pair of shoes and motivation would be the essentials, and I figured I could probably come up with both of those, even if I was poor.

19. I love playing craps and blackjack, and have a system I rarely deviate from when at the table. I never reach back in the pocket for more money if I lost what I started, which was literally in the first 15 minutes of a session with some friends in Vegas. I spent the next three hours in the coffee shop reading the paper while they kept winning. That day sucked.

20. The reason I finally gave in to the hair loss and shaved my head, was as a result of seeing Andre Agassi playing tennis years ago, who went from long hair to no hair. I thought if he could do it, so could I.

21. My closest brush with fame was sitting two rows behind Bono, The Edge and Larry at church in San Francisco one Sunday morning in 1988.

22. Too many choices wear me out, which is why I don’t like restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory, where the menu resembles a Rand McNally road atlas. Give me two or three options about anything, and I’m OK with it.

23. I think I figured out why I listen to jazz so much. It’s because when I hear it, I imagine what it might feel like to be a player in the band. See #8.

24. I don’t pretend to understand the grief process, but I have learned that when I come across a friend sitting alone in the ashes, the best thing to do is just sit down with him and keep my mouth shut.

25. I consider myself a learner and hope to spend the rest of my life educating myself.