snow

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The older I get the more I seem to fall back on simple truths. The kinds of truths that we choose to believe and hold close. And for me one of the most important is this: be a lover, not a hater. In fact, let those damn haters hate.

It’s lovey dovey Valentine’s Day, and the world–especially the internet–is showering us (itself?) with a hearty salt and pepper mix of affection and cynicism. The lovers gushing, the cynics growling. Me? I’ve got a hot date with an ice rink tonight, so you won’t catch me doing much of either. While at this time last year I was getting smashed on Leviathan with my then girlfriend, the lack of either this year has not dampened my spirits in the slightest. In fact, I may have actually been asked out once or twice this week and politely ignored or misinterpreted such invitations. There hasn’t been anyone on the radar lately who has caught my attention. Well, not who’s single anyway.

But enough of that.

I’m pumped for tonight. This winter my love affair has definitely been with winter sports. I’m playing in a full ice broomball league this year, and the competition level is higher by a manifold set of notches. You might not think there’d be much difference between half ice and full ice, but it almost feels like a different game. Like the difference between put put and real golf. It’s a long, fast horizontal game. Lots of sprinting. A lot more contact. And real, actual strategy.

Fear not, I’m accustomed to dating the cold ones.

The first couple games I wasn’t sure what to make of the competitiveness. At first of course I liked it. No dumbed down casual league rules. Folks on the ice are actually trying to pass and make real plays. But as we lost two games, the flip side quickly began to show. My teammates freaking out over missed plays, goals, and losses. A mad, wide-eyed, “C’mon guys! We gotta get back in this!” I play sports in my free time to have fun first and win second, so we seem to have different ways of looking at it.

But I think they’re starting to get through to me. In a good way. And fuckin A good, this is what I wanted. All week, I’ve been obsessing over my Thursday night game. Thinking about how much sleep I get. How many minutes of practice I can sneak in before the game. What my sticking is going to be like. Hell, even what I’m going to eat today so that I don’t cramp up. I want that win.

The drive feels good. Something that I’ve been missing lately for sure. Feels like once I got my promotion last year, I settled in and started to get comfortable. Once I get comfortable, I get lazy. This seems to be a theme for me. But self improvement is also a theme, and I’ve got a very determined opinion about which of these I want to win out.

So let’s see a win tonight in broomball. And if not a win, then at least some good aggressive play and perhaps even a goal.

I was going to write about skiing here, but perhaps I’ll save that for another post. Here’s a picture from Seven Springs, where I just went this weekend with a bunch of folks. Loads of fun, and I’m definitely getting better. Can’t wait to hit the slopes again this week.

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Future Notes for the Ultimate Vegetarian Chili

– the Boca brand ground round was perfect. use again.
– must incorporate Melinda’s hot sauce next time, even if as a garnish.
– the mirepoix (heavy on onions, light on celery) was solid. addition of leeks good. did not make it taste too much like “chili’d up veggie soup” as feared.
– consider mushrooms. unsure of which or in what form. to be used lightly. not sure if standard umami kickers such as soy sauce will work quite the same here as in regular chili.
– for chili powder, exploration of such dried peppers as anaheim and ancho necessary. much experimentation there. must achieve a well rounded and bright spicy, tangy flavor (this chili cannot and will not go as “deep” in flavor as regular chili). consider the technique for reconstitution of dried peppers read about.
– the sour cream as a topping brought it together. consider whether this will be necessary or if other methods of increasing the richness can be achieved.
– make the beans yourself next time, instead of canned.

Scheme for Revenge

Do not vandalize this person’s car. Though the rage may burn white and hot. Though you might have been forced to not only dig, but hack through ice to uncover another spot. Though you may have hurt your arm hacking said ice. Though your space was marked in the Baltimore tradition. Though, not only was the space marked, but there were other free unmarked spaces, making the theft of this space complete asshole bullshit. Though the superb job you did of shoveling this space was rewarded only in theft. Do not vandalize this property.

Instead dig. Rise early. Well before the light of dawn. Ready your shovel. And dig. Every bit of snow you spent hours and hours excavating from the road will be returned to it. You shoveled it out, and you can shovel it back. It may be everyone’s street, but it’s your fucking snow. Pile it high around the car. At least two feet, all around, with extra in the front. Do not touch the car whatsoever. Pack the wall along the side of the snow bank smooth. Extend your gloved finger, and carve boldly: “ASSHOLE!”

The Train

It reminds me of New York and DC. Manhattan mostly, but only because Manhattan is the most pleasant of these public transit memories. Nights spent cruising from the East Village to Greenwich Village. Old friends and family and the good parts of my 20s. But this train looks more like a DC train than a New York train. There is little about it that says Baltimore, aside from the names of the stops and the faces of its passengers. 

Riding with them I feel myself a part of my city in a way that is uncommon for me.  It’s strange that I avoid public transportation because I so prefer my own four-wheeled independance, and yet sitting in this crowd makes me feel isolated in a way that being alone never will.  It’s not a bad feeling.  I enjoy the bustle of a thousand microcosms shuffling together into and out of downtown.  I wear my earbuids the same as everyone else, but I don’t get my book out.  Instead I people watch.

Taking the train forces me to rise an hour early and trek the entire length of Hampden. This is not colossal, but it is certainly not what anyone should want at 6:00 a.m. on a cold morning. Somehow it doesn’t bother me though. I enjoy walking through my part of town as it is awakening. People bundled tight walking excited, wagging dogs and muttering sleepy hellos. Cars whizzing by. The line practically out the door at both the Dunkin Donuts and the Royal Farms. The birds. Even in the dead of winter, this nestled town within town wakes to song.

Finally stretching the last length of Union on my first morning I heard the clarion “BRAM BRAM” of the train’s horn and the urgent dinging of bells as the gates lowered. I was all the way down the street. Furiously I started running. Thanking Fate that I’d worn casual clothes. Holding my messenger bag to prevent a disastrous spill. Thud, thud, thud, thud. The train skidded into view. The northbound train. Whew! I slowed down and caught my breath.

Then, “BRAM BRAM!” the southbound train whizzed into the station. Shit! I took off, sprinting as fast as I could.

Rounding the tracks, the doors were already open. People were filing into the train. One, two, three, another, another. In moments they were all gone, and I was still at the other end of the platform. My breath starting to give way, the doors closed, and I came to an exasperated halt. Feet from the train. This is it, I thought, this is how my week is going to go!

But it waited. I stepped up to the train, pushed the “open door” button, and–panting–stepped onto the train. The last passenger.

Freelance Whales

My new love in life and my most listened to artist of the week. Hearing this album, I already know that it will remind of this snowy month in 2010. Blizzards, and cozy nights, and triumph over the elements. It’s the perfect music for these days.

Friday

I’m dead tired. Dead on my feet tired. I still have a hike to make to and from the train, and already I’m almost gone. Struggling to lead my students through the end of this lesson. Fighting to stay awake each time I sit down. But I must do something. Sit down. Write.  We finished early, and if anything, I must keep awake until the end of our workday. If only I could sort a single cohesive thing out of this fog that is my brain.

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I’m trying to upload some of these snowpocalypse photos to Facebook, and the damn thing’s not working.  Everything is coming apart around us, mother nature has turned against us, and now… et tu, Facebook!

In either case, the real danger today is icicles.  It’s above freezing, and the melt is sharpening giant ice lances that are breaking off and hurtling towards the ground.  It’s a risky affair stepping outside.

I read this morning that Baltimore is currently the snowiest city in the U.S.  I wish I could say it feels good to be the king.  I’ve gotten out and made much merry in the snow, but I’m getting a little tired of being penned in.  I want to go to the gym.  I want to visit other parts of town.  I hope it stays warm and this crap melts off quick.

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Jesus Christ, man.  It’s whiteout conditions outside right now.  White, white, freezing white.  We don’t usually see blizzards here in Baltimore, and two in one week is rather exceptional.

I was hoping to do some posting on here and put in a few anti-spam upgrades, but I got moody last night after coming home from the bar and drank a little whiskey.  The head hurts a bit.  Right now I intend only to veg out on the couch, eat popcorn, and watch movies.  Maybe I’ll goof off on the internet later.

In the meantime, here is my gift to you.  Corinne Bailey Rae.  I listened to The Sea for the first time yesterday, and it blew me away.  I listened to it twice back to back.  Couldn’t get enough.  I trust that you will enjoy it as well.

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Man, check this out.  There’s this thin swath of “warm” air from Long Island up to Cape Cod.  The rest of us are covered in ice.  (Click through the link and click again for the full version. It’s neat.)

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It’s been a crazy weekend.  Instead of letting the snow get us down, a number of intrepid souls braved the elements and conquered them with spirited laughter.  Here is me giggling like a kid on a playground.

Sledding is awesome.  Sledding on the way to and from the bar is even more awesome.  This was, of course, following a giant feast that I and some friends prepared.  Everyone cooked a dish (or two!) and trekked through the elements to enjoy fine food, fine drink, and fine company.  It was a fine night.  The weekend has been full of fine nights.

And it looks like it’s not over yet.  Another foot of snow coming tomorrow.  I’m actually hoping to wake up at a regular hour tomorrow and be productive.  I guess we’ll see.  I’m definitely not going to work.  In fact I hope they close the office (again).

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