July 2010

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I’ve been searching for energy lately. It’s been rough. Buying this house and working on it and the transitions at work–I’m finally appreciating just how burnt out I was getting. So the past few weeks I’ve just been pretty wiped out. If you’ve run into me, then probably that’s been pretty apparent.

But things are calming down. As I type this the asshole contractor who I’ve been fighting with is replacing the shit tile job he did in my bathrooms. This is a relief. My third bedroom is ready to go, and I may now begin the hunt for Roommate #2. This is also a relief.

I take a measure of pride in myself whenever I pull through a tough stretch, and this will count as one. It’s not epic or legendary, but it has yielded some very tangible results.

As I cool off and prepare to resume a more normal routine, there’s something I’ve been thinking about: vigor.

I miss the vigor of my younger days. I mean, one of my friends at work has been emailing me this morning talking about how crazy her week has been: staying up late, getting up early, always busy and basically running on fumes. I miss that. Well I miss some of that. I don’t really need to go back to my “4 happy hours a week plus 2-3 dance clubs on the weekend” days. But I do miss the energy that propelled me through it.

When I hit a rough patch like lately… man, it just makes me feel like an old man sometimes. I guess this is life past 30.

But I hate feeling worn out like that, so my big goal for the next couple weeks is to just be more energetic. Maybe a few tweaks to my routine. Maybe some more time in the gym or some healthier eating. Maybe just being a little more social.

And maybe that sounds a little cheesy. But sometimes this is the best thing that life can offer you: a big cheesy goal.

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I’m hiding out from the heat in my office today. It may be roasting outside this weekend, but in here it’s wonderfully cool.

I’m hoping to make it a productive weekend, actually. My tentative plans all sort of unraveled before they came together, so I resolved to have a weekend of staying in and getting things done (and not spending anything!). I’ve got things at the house close to at what I suppose you might call a good stopping point. It’ll be nice to relax and pursue some hobbies as opposed to housework every night.

The next thing will be getting a second roommate. I’m a tad apprehensive about this. Despite having had plenty of roommates, I’ve always lived with someone I’ve known. Sometimes it’s worked out better than others, but in each case there was a familiarity and, well, trust there already. I’m going to be bringing in someone who at this point is a complete mystery. I mean, it could go so many different ways.

What I’m hoping is that I’ll be able to be pretty picky and find someone who’s going to be a good personality and lifestyle fit. I can afford to wait (although I’d really rather not–this rent will be financing some forthcoming weekend adventures). Right now I have myself convinced that the perfect roommate would be a liberal arts type grad student–someone with good taste, quiet habits, and, most importantly, a busy school schedule. But who knows. Maybe I’ll find some young professional gamer geek who I’ll click with immediately.

Or maybe I’ll end up renting to some psycho. I guess we’ll see how this goes.  Wish me luck.

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Do you know what I don’t understand? Why don’t painters have bodies like athletes?

I got back to painting this weekend, and all I’ve got to say is holy shit, man, what a workout. Through the move and all the painting and everything, I’ve actually gotten toned up a bit. This is great, since I haven’t had time for the gym. Today I actually threw on a polo shirt that the last time I tried to wear it was a little tight in the middle. Not today. Pushing that roller up and down for hours at a time. It’s an upper body workout that’s hard to get on any fitness machine. My chest and arms feel great for days after painting a room.

But what about people who paint houses for a living? You’d think that such people would have the bodies of swimmers or something. Hours and hours spent breaking in that body. You’d think that desperate housewives would have painters on call instead of pool boys.

In either case, the progress on the house continues. I’m hoping that after this week I can ease off and take it easy, most of my immediate projects being completed. I think the next big thing will be painting and re-hardware-ing the bathrooms. That and upgrading some security items.

I think there still might be some summer left for me to enjoy once this is wrapped up. Which is good because I’ve been out of touch with like everybody lately. And let’s not even talk about the last time I did something as leisurely as read a novel.  Buying and working on a house mostly by yourself is some pretty time consuming shit–especially if you’re as dogged as I am about making it not just livable but enjoyable.  But then again, I have more than occasionally been accused of having a one track mind.

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It started with me climbing out onto my roof to nail a piece of siding back into place.  Not exactly how I prefer to start the day, but sort of exhilarating in a way.  Probably, I would have rather gone jogging.  Or slept more.

My home is inching closer and closer to equilibrium.  And thus I am starting to destress.  A little.

I successfully pressured a contractor into coming back and redoing my tile floors.  The kitchen is done.  The bathrooms get done this weekend.  As satisfying as it is to have a new, correctly installed kitchen floor, I hate arguing with people.  The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve strived towards a live and let live approach.  So having to fight with people puts a pall of negativity about me.  I hate it.

But all in all I think I’m liking this home ownership thing.  It’s too bad I couldn’t have made it happen sooner, but ah well.  There’s something deeply satisfying about being in a place that I make better by the day.  There are few things that can calm the mind as powerfully as a collection of small successes.

This morning I repaired my siding and saved myself from having to pay someone to do it.  Possibly a couple hundred bucks.  Win.

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Ah, Philly. I did miss you. It’s been awhile. But I found that not too much has changed. Your downtown is still pleasantly walkable. You still have more punk rockers per capita than homeless people. And you still exalt in your steaks and your cheeses.

I managed to swing by Pat’s at lunch hour. Most of the folks that I know love to rant about how much better Pat’s is than Geno’s, although I have to be honest the difference has never seemed that stark to me. What I do love about Pat’s is the non-assuming David it plays to Geno’s Goliath. Geno’s has all kinds of crazy bullshit going on around. It might as well be a night club. Pat’s, though, it’s just a sub shop. Which is all I want it to be.

It’s gotten me thinking, though.  The cheese steak I had was fine, but as I was eating it I couldn’t help but wonder, “what’s the fuss about?”  I’ve had this moment a number of times while ordering cheese steaks in Philly.  I mean, look at the sub.  Most of those ingredients are canned.  And I can’t honestly say much love went into it.  The meat is cooked in a giant pile and slapped onto each sandwich somewhat unceremoniously turn by turn.  It tastes good.  But does it taste amazing?

Not really.  And it had me wondering about famous hometown foods.  How many famous hometown foods are exceeded by leaps and bounds by their hype?  For Baltimore, this is sort of a hard one.  We have crab cakes, and crab cakes aren’t exactly fast food fare.  If you’re getting one, it’s almost definitely not cheap.  And the quality usually starts at okay.  You have to travel out of the region to get a bad crap cake.

But how do other cities stack up?  I’ve never had Buffalo wings in Buffalo.  Nor deep dish pizza in Chicago.  I’ve had good wings around here, though.  And good deep dish too.

So where is the best place to get a cheese steak in Philly?  Everyone you ask will tell you something different, but I wonder about those folks who swear by places like Pat’s and Geno’s.  Give me some fresh peppers and fresh mushrooms before you tell me something’s gonna blow my mind.  But to Pat’s credit, it is loved by the locals.  Maybe there’s just something there I can’t taste.

Yesterday I threw some steak on the griddle and veggies on the stove and made my own cheese steaks.  These were just kinda dashed together, and I didn’t get fancy with the ingredients.  I mean I didn’t even chop any garlic up, that’s how dressed down these were.  And they were still amazing.  Sizzlin steak and fresh veggies all the way.

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I guess it was a good weekend overall.  I caught up with old high school buddies.  I ran off to Philly for the night.  I saw the best fireworks show that I’ve ever seen in Baltimore.  I worked on the house a bit.

I also might be suing somebody soon.  And that was part of the bad part of the weekend.  I’ll be talking to some people about that this week.  I need advice.  Good advice.  I’m lucky enough to have some good people to talk to about this.

Also, I probably can’t say anything more about that.  Maybe I’ll have to delete that.  Anyway…

Louis CK started a new show this week, and you should all check it out.  Here’s a clip.  Louis is one of those comedians who will throw something at you that is poignant, effed up, and above all uncomfortable.  And he’ll make you laugh at it.  Here he takes on the “F” word.