Sunday, November 30, 2008

hangin' out in the ATL

i seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time in the ATL or the land of coca-cola. at this moment, i am blogging from a gate....hoping that my flights to ORD and SFO will be on time.

we shall see.

i spent more time than i liked yesterday evening at this airport. once we returned from mexico, we ended up waiting for over an hour and half for my bag at baggage claim. the friend and loved one was very patient...as the ATL is "his airport"...he knew all about he secondary security checkpoint once you get off the plane and the airport's various quirks....so he didn't check a bag.

alas, if i had only done the same.

yet, there is something about a group of weary travelers that provides a means to establish unlikely connections and quirky conversations. while i was watching the same unclaimed bags go around and around on the carousel, a woman from honduras struck up a conversation with me. she recognized me from our flight from mexico city. we were lamenting on the wait. i mean, what else can you do at this point? the friend and loved one was a few feet away....checking email on his blackberry so he wasn't privy to the conversation.

at one point, she turned the conversation to my ethnic background (note: for those who don't know me very well this happens a lot. QUITE A LOT.)...and after a few incorrect guesses on her part, she said "you know, you're really pretty." this took me aback.... "uh, thank you?" i guess. i quickly turned the conversation to her and where she was from. this is when she told me that she was from honduras and had been living in atlanta for 25 years. she asked me if i was based in atlanta and i told her that i was visiting a friend....as i jerked my head toward him. she looked over and then she said in a conspiring kind of whisper "he's cute" with an approving nod.

i had to give a cheeky grin.

he and i have been friends for such a long time that folks [both male and female] have made these sort of comments to me quite often over the years. they also make a lot of assumptions about us as well. instead of going into it....by saying something like "uhhh, we don't have that kind of relationship". i just said "thanks!" snickering to myself while she walked off with her bag.

sometimes, things really aren't what they appear to be.

Friday, November 28, 2008

thanksgiving in merida...


merida is lovely. absolutely lovely.


it is a different life. time feels different. a friend and loved one mentioned that he thinks time moves slower here and i agreed...yet i also mentioned "we've been in environments where there is never enough time....so now, there seems to be so much more available." it was this discussion that made me realize how crazy my life has been over the past few months. a life where i am counting hours and sometimes minutes in a day filled with deadlines in various time zones. yet, admittedly, it is self-inflicted. no one is forcing me to continue with this job. i feel challenged in the job, am learning quite a bit, and am treated very well. yet, i think when i return to the states, i'm going to try to insert a few more breaks into the "go-go-go" routine that i have created for myself. i wonder if the friend and loved one will do the same. it is nice to see him so relaxed....i haven't seen him this relaxed in years.

yesterday, for our "thanksgiving" luncheon, we stopped off at place near our lovely hotel.


i had the pollo pibil which is a chicken cooked with spices in banana leaves.....


and i must say that it was yummerific and left me quite full for most of the day. during our thanksgiving luncheon, we had a friendly little visitor to the table....

so cute! cats are cats...no matter where in the world they are. i find comfort in this non-negotiable fact for some reason. after the luncheon we walked around some of the bustle of downtown and ducked into random side markets....




then returned to the hotel for some rest before heading out again.

sigh. quite the lovely and relaxing day.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

waiting on the board to change


hmmmm. finally made it to merida. unfortunately, it took a bit longer than expected to reach merida.

well, stopping over in the ATL on tuesday for a day/evening was expected. the plan was for me to meet up with a friend and loved one in atlanta and then we would take a flight out of the ATL to merida via mexico city. the flights themselves [thankfully] were very uneventful. just how i prefer them to be.

the flight from ATL to mexico city on aeromexico was only about 3 hours yet they fed us.....


interesting how different the food and such is on non-us carriers isn't it?

alas, then we landed in mexico city and we found that our flight was delayed for a couple of hours so we descended on one of the airport bars.

it seems that the mexico city airport has undergone a bit of a face lift recently. it looks very modern and the bar reflected a combination of uber-modern and not.

as i was uncertain how long we were going to be hanging out for....i ordered the tacos dorados...

i don't like being hungry when i travel...although, the best friend has pointed out that i don't like being hungry at any time. true, so true.

anyway, as it became later and later....we ended up parking ourselves and our bags in front of one of the electronic monitors.....

the last word we heard was that our flight was set to leave at 11:15pm...but alas....right up until 11:00pm...there was no gate information posted. i was having this feeling of deja vu. this happens to me each time i am traveling through the frankfurt airport. this is not fun. one has to hang around in a somewhat central location and then run like a banshee to the gate. admittedly, i was getting quite nervous since neither of us speak spanish and the announcements re: merida were being made in spanish only. i think the aeromexico people assumed that if you were hanging out at the mexico city airport after 11pm...you were probably spanish language speakers.

so there we were...just staring at this board...willing it to change and update....so we could quickly get to the appropriate gate. the last thing i wanted to do was spend the night in the airport. i didn't want to experience some cheesy movie cliche.

yet, thankfully, it did change and all was well.

we arrived in merida well after 1am and our driver was there waiting....i was so glad to see my name on the placard...i could have wept for i was so tired. our steady driver desposited us at the hotel and even banged on the very locked hotel door for us. i doubt i would have had enough effort to do so....plus, i had already pre-warned the hotel about the possibility of very late check-in. despite being very crabby and tired...when we walked through the hotel, i could see how stunning it is. hopefully, i'll be able to post some pictures of the hotel later on. i'm especially looking foward to taking a wash in the massive bathroom....it even has a huge window (see above pic) that gives you a sense of showing outside (in seclusion of course).

well, dear hearts....i hope all is well with you.....and i'm definitely thinking of you as i start the thanksgiving day in merida. 'til later.

with much love.

me


Sunday, November 23, 2008

"you are a handful"

this morning i decided it was a mariebelle hot chocolate kind of morning. as i have posted about before, i usually turn to mariebelle when i am seeking some sort of major comfort. i woke up fairly early this morning, trying to get organized for the upcoming trip as well as ensure that certain work things are in place for when the trip is over. yet it wasn't the work or the upcoming trip that had me reaching for mariebelle...it was thinking about a conversation i had with a loved one...and former mentor very recently. unfortunately, we weren't able to meet up for dinner this past week as planned, but we were able to have a catch up chat via phone. i love this particular mentor because she says EXACTLY what is on her mind, she has this youthful vitality for life, and she truly cares about people....as "people" and not just humans to provide an output for an organization. she has also known me for a very long time.

i was definitely replaying my conversation with her as i poured the milk into my mug....


as well as adding a shot of cayenne pepper....


while we were talking about my most recent trip to hong kong and such, she indicated (and i'm paraphrasing here) "it is rough for people to be around you if they don't have their shit together or if they have problems with self esteem. i've seen it happen. you are a handful.....you see through the bullshit. you see people.....you have no problems calling a spade a spade."

hmmmm. "this isn't exactly a surprise. it isn't like i haven't heard variations of this over the past year or so." i thought to myself as i spooned in the extra rich mariebelle chocolate into the mug.....


and then nuked it for a while (too lazy this morning to do the sauce pan method).

my thoughts began to wander to a time when i watched someone's self esteem and self worth wither before me. i saw them change from a passionate person....to becoming lost, unfocused...uncertain....turning to things to drown out realities and responsibilities....and the more i tried to support them, the more i tried to figure out what they needed, the more i said "what do you need from me? i know that we can get through this." the more they deteriorated.....the more they thought they could not be possibly be good enough and wondered if they ever were. for me.

"jez. kinda deep thoughts for first thing in the morning" i said to myself as i took my hot chocolate from the microwave, inserted the foamer, and watched the hot liquid whirl and whirl.


i remember being quite flabbergasted when it happened....and now, i wonder...despite all of this infamous confidence....do i really want to put someone else that i care about in that position? by just being me....did i assist at chipping away at this person's self worth....having them think that they could never keep up....that they would never be good enough....that they couldn't "handle" it...or me.

once the hot chocolate was done, and i was sipping away at its spicy comforting creamy warmth.....

i also remembered a question that another friend and loved one asked me over the 4th of july holiday "would you do this again if there was more equality?" at the time, my brutally honest response was "i don't know. i'm questioning my judgement."

yet, now....what seems like a lifetime later....i think my answer is quite a bit different.

naturally, given my analytical mindset, my answer is a set of questions to myself: "does this person truly see me? does this person truly care for me? is this person strong enough to be with me? does this person know who they are? do i truly see this person? do i respect this person? do i...would i...or could i....love this person enough to risk everything?"

i think when i have the answers to those questions, then i'll have my answer to the loved one's question.

i suppose at the end of the day....i'll have to agree with my mentor. i'm quite the handful.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

back in the saddle

the trip to hong kong took quite a bit from me emotionally. now, that i have enough distance....i am able to recognize just how much. while i understand and accept that "this is just how it goes"....there are things that i like about my job and things that i do not. i realize it is still important to do all things well. yet, it doesn't prevent these things sort of things from taking their emotional tithe. i realized just how much it has all affected me when i didn't really want to cook anything since i've been back.

i re-entered the kitchen today...scrubbing and cleaning....and thinking. trying to work out quite a bit of the emotional chaos that is swirling around inside of me. when i look over the past year or so, i realize again how different my life is....how much i love this life.....it is as if i have been given this second chance.... a "do-over" if you will.

the big question in my head at the moment is "will i fuck this up?"...or even better..."is there even anything to fuck up?"

it is interesting how cooking can be a cathartic experience. for tonight's cuban-themed potluck dinner at the best friend's house, i had volunteered to make albondigas (i.e., cuban meatballs) with rice. so i brought out these humble ingredients that included green onions, yellow onions, and green pepper.

as i got to chopping the onions and pepper....the movement soothed me. again, the question "will i fuck this up?" arose again and again. practically my entire life i have followed the reasoning in my head. i've sat down and analyzed the shit out of things...from hundreds and hundreds of angles....and made relatively rational decisions about very big choices. most of the time it worked out pretty well and there is a particular case...well, as i have mentioned before....it was a rational choice that went very very badly.

once the aromatics were chopped, i gathered the onions, organic grass fed beef, crushed crackers, cumin, dry mustard, eggs, and milk into a bowl.....


and began to mix and knead with my hands. as i was mixing....


i thought "well, rational thoughts aside....what is it that you want?"......"what is it that you really want?"...."you know....but not with your head....you know....with that other body part that you sometimes cynically sneer at".

it was enough to make me want to stop making the meatballs altogether.

to acknowledge what i really want would mean to admit to a few things that i never planned on. some i will mention here and others i will not.

when i was a child i had decided to never be involved with anything that i couldn't walk away from. this stubborn and surly attitude was somewhat modified as i began to meet my now loved ones and family. it was through them that i realized that it is possible, acceptable, and wonderful to be committed to sharing lives....through ups and downs and everything in-between. many of these incredibly important relationships are approaching or have already entered a decade. when i reminded myself of this, i felt myself calm down a bit and i went back to kneading the meatball mixture...

once the kneading was done....the next step included scooping out the meat, cupping them into balls, and rolling them in flour.


i realized like how i was carefully shaping the spheres of meat and rolling them through the flour....that these wonderful relationships with chosen loved ones and family are also carefully tended. they are also tended mutually and not one-sidedly.

once the spheres were completed and browned in the hot olive oil, i nestled them in a casserole dish.....and covered them with a homemade tomato sauce filled with onion, green pepper, garlic, brown sugar, vinegar, and ketchup. then i placed the dish in the oven to finish.

as the smells permeated through my place...i thought more about what is going on inside. like the food finishing in the oven....i've been trying to absorb everything that has been going on. yet, by the time the dish was done....

i wasn't any closer to a resolution but for some reason.... that is ok.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"damn, i wish i was your lover...."

do you remember this song? it was quite a while ago.

it completely slipped my memory until i was out and about with a friend and loved one for lunch. while we were chatting and trying to decide what to order....our waiter walks over....to ask if we are ready to order. i didn't even look up from my menu as the waiter sidled up next to me....i had no idea what he looked like...yet, i could smell his cologne. a very familiar cologne that i have spent hours smelling on a lover....a particular lover that i remember lying next to....and watching them sleep until the dawn.

JEZUS.

memories hit me so hard that i felt myself become very unsettled in my chair. i remember lying there... watching silently...wanting to savor and remember the moment. hmmmm, the old saying "be careful what you wish for" definitely came to mind...."what the hell? this is bloody awkward." i thought to myself. "i'm in a freakin' restaurant for lunch for gad's sake. i do not need this to happen NOW." maybe i should have wished for remembering the moment in a bit more appropriate circumstances. perhaps it is a good idea to insert specific clauses and loop holes when it comes to wishes.

yes, i have decided. loop holes and escape clauses are a good thing. let this be a warning to everyone!

nothing like the gods having fun by whacking you with the equivalent of a spiritual 2 x 4.

in a public restaurant.

because it was at the beginning of the lunch, i definitely had to gird the loins every time the waiter stopped by. yet, to be clear, i had no desire or intention to jump the bones of the waiter. not at all. he was not really significant in this whole thing....as it was all about the memory. sigh. as a result, i really wasn't able to eat very much and think i will be avoiding that particular restaurant in the future. double sigh.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

midnight ramblings: making things happen...

sunday seems like it was a year ago.

a lot has happened the last few days as i rush to try to finish some projects before i go on vacation next week. also, a loved one was also in town all too briefly. yet, i am glad that i had a chance to see them and catch up on what is going on in their lives.

alas, no pictures on this posting....but after the last pic heavy posting i think i can be forgiven.don't you?

despite the rushing to finish things before leaving on vacation, i wanted to write about people that make things happen.

it has been on my mind quite a bit recently.

last sunday night was a prime example of this. as i posted earlier, CK figured out a way to make cooking work for her. CK's full time job isn't in the food industry. not at all. yet, with the launch of the first winemaker dinner on sunday, CK figured out how to obtain a creative outlet that definitely showcased her skills. on sunday, the food was superb. dishes such as pecan crusted pork belly with faro....persimmons with bresaola ...mushroom pasta (always a winner with me)....and caramelized apple napoleon...were absolutely wonderful. i sent a message to the loved one from out of town (who had just arrived in the city)...and the message read "dinner is amazing. pork belly."

i think that really says it all.

the next evening when i caught up with the visiting loved one over dinner at out the door....i had a difficult time eating a lot...because...well, i was still full from the night before. i have a feeling i am not the only one who didn't eat very much on monday. it was over dinner at out the door, that i was again thinking about someone else that made things happen for them. for him, it was two years of risk, sacrifice, and hard work. he pursued a dream and made it happen. he had no idea if it was going to work out....and to step off a career track is no little thing. particularly for one as driven as he. yet he did...and is already moving towards accomplishing some amazing things. it makes me so happy for him.

i suppose this is a reminder as well, that sometimes....things really do work out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

chili crab on temple street

on the kowloon side of hong kong there is a night time market at temple street. BF had recommended heading over to kowloon to visit one of the night time markets...so i hopped on the subway (which is really easy to figure out btw) at the causeway bay station....transferred at central...and then exited the subway at jordan station. first thing i noticed right away is that this side is grittier than the areas i've been to on the island. it also appears quite a bit less crowded. before walking through some of the street stalls, i decided to grab something to eat at one of the food places that provided tons of outdoor seating. i wanted to eat before it got too crowded.

after walking around the food places within a 2-3 block radius...i had pretty much decided on temple spice crabs as it was the most hopping and had a mix of foreigners and non-foreigners.



alas, after trying to get an older female server to help me (she wasn't very helpful...and would end up helping groups of 2+ to sit....i figured this out after the second time)....i decided to change tactics. so after a moment of watching some of the other servers...i honed in on a young man and asked him very softly if he could help me. i smiled a lot.....and well, what do you know?

i got a table, menu, and my order done real quick.

wow. who says the foodiehunter can't learn? especially when the foodiehunter is very hungry and thinks another server is being really stupid. i guess like po in kung fu panda (which i saw on the plane)....i suppose i had to find the right motivation to figure something out.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

graham street market in hong kong


while i was in hong kong, i knew that there was definitely one place that i wanted to visit before i left....and that was graham street market.

i absolutely adore going to neighborhood markets and was very much looking forward to spending some time here.......



i was not disappointed.....this turned out to be one of my favorite parts of hong kong. look at all of this fresh fish and seafood......you know that everything is fresh when the store fronts just smell like water....







there were definitely experiences you don't see in the state-side markets...

check out the umbrellas btw....

there was also a mix of the familiar and the not.......






this is a pic of exiting the market....

walking around the graham street market was like being in another world. this is something that i felt quite often while wandering around hong kong...i kept wondering what secrets lie within the city. i mean...who would think that there would be this amazing market down a side street of this super modern avenue?