no simmering life but a boiling one

I woke up this morning sick as shit. I don’t know where it came from, but it felt a little like several essential parts of my body got together and decided to put me in time out. You’ve been doing too much, they said, and it’s time to stop. I ignored the message for a while, but when I looked in the mirror at work and didn’t really recognize myself, it was time to go home. I took photos with my phone to prove the point; when I checked just now, they’re not there.

Last night Erin and I saw David Byrne and St Vincent at the Chicago Theater. We both had to temper our slight disappointment with the knowledge that this was David Byrne AND St Vincent, not Talking Heads. But the sound was fantastic and Chicago got on its feet and danced, and when they closed with Road to Nowhere, it was like something out of an old revival, hands in the air, voices united.

I’ve fallen into that city-dwelling habit of eating out too often while observing evolution in action in my crisper. Every couple of weeks, I buy a bag of produce from Edible Alchemy and dream big dreams about what I’m going to make – and then I devour the fruit while letting the zucchinis go soft, the potatoes grow eyes, the onions shed their dusty skins.

A week submerged in The Diaries of Anais Nin. I’m not sure that I can neatly summarize it. It’s been a complicated, emotional year, and so many of the things she described resonated with my experience while also being completely foreign to me. Perhaps this, from November 1933:

Allendy took pains to delineate my character, my true nature, my human attitudes, but it was by a process of oversimplification. The mold into which he tried to fit me came to a climax the day he suggested I should take love more lightly, give it less importance, to evade tragedy. That I should take a playful attitude towards it. It should be sweet and casual, easygoing and interchangeable…This was the natural conclusion to the formation of my human self, to normalcy; and if he was right about overcoming tragedy, par contre, he overlooked the deeper cravings of an artist, for whom deep full love is the only possible form, no simmering life but a boiling one, no small compromise with reality.

Fall has arrived right on schedule. Last night the thermostat dipped low. It is 6:45pm in my living room, and my space is illuminated more by my laptop than by the waning sunlight. Laurie said that we’re losing 2 minutes of daylight each day. But still the ice cream truck sits on the corner, and I dream of swimming in the lake and of all of the summer things that didn’t happen amidst all that did.

Six months in Chicago, and Jeremy said that it sounds like I’m home. Two and a half years in Ann Arbor. Two years in DC. A year each at MPub and Kresge, two years at Gelman. Five years in this goddamned profession. Six years in a relationship, seven months out. I love Chicago. Chicago exhausts me. I’m envious of friends who have recently moved to quieter places. I worry that my life here will burn me out. I don’t know.


0120 Restaurant Week dinner at Logan

This week is Ann Arbor Restaurant Week and, as in DC, we took advantage of that fact to go out for my birthday dinner, albeit a few days late.  We opted for dinner at Logan, especially since the bourbon pork tenderloin – the most drool-worthy item on the menu for us – is normally $28, much making the $25 3 course prix fixe menu a great deal.

After careful negotiation, Shane ordered the Logan salad, the roasted asparagus penne, and the pork tenderloin, and I had the asparagus tempura, the fennel salad, and the pork as well.  For me, the second course was the stand-out – the fennel was fresh with just a hint of creamy Parmiagiano-Reggiano, and Shane’s penne featured savory pistachios, buttery asparagus, and a very light cream sauce.  We both ordered the wine flights, and then shared a pear roulade for dessert.

While we both enjoyed the meal, Shane commented that we’ve been making equally good food at home, and for a lot less money.  For me, though, part of the fun of going out for a nice meal is getting inspired to try new things at home – so this is my mental note to try to duplicate that pasta come spring.

0105 Hopslam Release Burger

Tonight saw the release of the first Bell’s Hopslam of the year. As anyone who had had beers with me knows, I am definitively NOT a hop fan – but Shane is, and so we met at Ashley’s for dinner tonight.  As usual, we sat at our table for more than ten minutes before getting a server’s attention – which would be fine at a bar with bar service, but at Ashley’s, the only people served at the bar are those seated at the bar.  Oh how we miss the Galaxy Hut, where you could count on staff maintaining the right balance of friendly and surly, where you waited in line for your beer, and where the only service interactions at your table were the delivery of food and the clearing of empties.

Why do we go to Ashley’s anyway?  I struggled to find something passably healthy on the menu, ending up with a burger, no bun, and a salad.  Shane cashed in his Beer Tour appetizer for a tureen of cheddar ale dip accompanied by crispy tortilla chips.  The beer – that’s the only reason we come back.  And oh, is it good.  Even (or especially) the Hopslam with all of its hops.