Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Let me count the ways...

It is usually this way many a morning. I wake up with my alarm pulling at my ears, punching me in the face with each shrill beep and squeak. I pull myself from the comforting arms of the bed (and often Kelly) to stare my reflection down in the mirror and dare him to say something. My hair is a mess, smooshed down along some strange plane that I can't pretend is a chosen style. My entire face hurts from the pressure building behind it and being forced to squint in the angry sunlight. I remain in my inhuman state until my third cup of coffee, where I start to return to the self I abandoned the night before.

On the mornings after that Kelly gets up with me, he is chipper from the get-go. Shiny and excited in the poisonous way that only morning people can be, he chatters at me, goading me to answer something more than "ugh," "meh," or "I will kill you" in a bleary, raspy monotone. Unlike most of humanity (leading me to believe my boyfriend is a gay robot), Kelly doesn't suffer from hangovers.

Before dating him, I didn't really drink that much. In college, yes...but only on weekends and the stray Thursday that I didn't have a meeting at one of the magazines I interned at or with my thesis advisor. I also am a fairly small man, or as Samantha likes to say, "You're too damn skinny." My mother also gets giggly from just smelling wine, so the fates are against me for having any sort of tolerance. Where most would be happy to have such a "cheap date," Kelly is slightly embarrassed and surprised the times that I manage to keep up.

One morning at brunch, he watches me sit silently, sip my third or fourth cup of life, and scrape at the remains of my pancakes, before saying "You know, you should write about the downsides of dating me." I arch an eyebrow. "You always brag about the free food, drinks, and going to these great parties and things, but you never tell them about the other stuff."

And he's right. Therefore, let me include my list of top three things that I do not enjoy about dating a foodie...

1. "Why hello Mr. Scale..."
Since I have started dating Kelly, I have gained a lot of weight. When we first met, my doctor was concerned that I was a little too thin and wanted me to try and go from 140lbs to at least 160lbs. At this time, my pants were too large and I had to start wearing a 30-inch waist. Now, eight months later, I am heavier than I have ever been. With all the rich foods, alcohol, and constant eating out, I have shot past my doctor's desired weight by 10lbs. My old pants that were too big are a pinch too tight in the waist and I have already begun trying to remember my old work-out schedule.

2. "Stupid, vile Daystar"
As mentioned above, Kelly has an iron liver that refuses to let him be punished. I, on the other hand, can't have more than a glass of wine before I have to start chugging water to combat the effects. I also have a caffeine addiction, which means that I am not safe for human consumption in the mornings until I have emptied a coffee mug. Kelly doesn't share my habits and likes to test how far he can go each morning by putting his hands in the lion's den and grabbing the tail.

3. "Could you sign it 'to Sherry, love Kelly'?"
It doesn't really matter where we go out, it is inevitable that I will be subjected to another foodie who must talk about X while Kelly and I are waiting for our entrees. Boston is a small city and the industry is even smaller. Burger joints, bagel shops, even a hole-in-the-wall donut shop in Allston all had someone in them that recognized Kelly and wanted to talk about this person's list at such a place. At first it wasn't an issue, and I actually thought it was cute to watch him geek out with another wine buyer or chef. Now, I just want to eat my bagel in peace and not have to worry about contributing to a conversation that was only half in English. "Beaujo-who? No, never heard of him...pass the cream cheese?"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gobble gobble

I'm physically and emotionally exhausted. Work has been running me ragged even more so than usual. I walk around the office wearing what Virginia so eloquently refers to as "badger face" and chew out someone for throwing in the history of document outsourcing into their analysis for the sole purpose of padding their piece. The stress only adds to my frustration and makes it very difficult to function. I have no drive to blog, my attempt for NaNoWriMo is nowhere near the word count I should have (I might be able to get 25,000 of my 50,000 words written this year), and I couldn't want to do really anything beyond escape into someone else's life [read as books and TV].

"You have Thanksgiving plans?" Kelly asks as he tries to massage the cold steel knots out of my back. His thumbs dig one out of my left side and I have to turn my head to keep from speaking into the pillow. "We're not really a big Thanksgiving family," I tell him.

For as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving has always been a sort of meh holiday for me. It's the one holiday that my family doesn't really go all out for. We do the turkey, stuffing, and the rest of the expected menu, but beyond a special grace and a jigsaw puzzle the day could be any other out of the month. My mother's side, which dominates most of the East Coast, keeps to itself and we all do our own things. I may see my grandparents, but they usually have other plans. All in all, the day is observed by my father watching the Game while Mom, D, Ej, and I look for edges and curse the artist who decided that a reflection was needed for the puzzle to really shine.

This year, however, it was something that I was truly thankful for...an honest to God holiday. A day where I don't have to argue with imbeciles, decipher broken English, or explain for the umpteenth time that no, punctuation is not optional or subjective to your style of writing. I drive from Kelly's apartment to my own and begin whipping up my expected sides. This year, Mom had mostly everything under control...and by that I mean she remembered last minute and decided to go ultra-simple. Green bean casserole and her grandmother's potatoes were made the night before. The rolls were bought from the grocery store's bakery. The turkey was already thawing in the fridge. All she needed was a little help.

I originally planned to do a pumpkin pie (I bought an apple pie for my siblings, who don't care for the pumpkin version) and two sides, but in the end was told by mom to just do the sides as Grandma was swinging by on the way to some other function and was bringing a pumpkin pie of her own. To keep with mom's theme of simple sides, I stole two recipes to work with. Kelly's roasted brussell sprouts with bacon took minutes, but I ended up getting distracted by multitasking and burned one side of the bacon. Stella (of Bravetart fame) provided me with her savory apple tart, and I used it to make her tart's hillbilly, bastard cousin. Where she uses fresh, home-made dough, the perfect produce, and the right amount of cheese, I did everything I could to cut corners. Pre-made chilled pie dough? Check. Left over onion from the previous week's chili and stir fry recipies? Check. McIntosh apples that I settled on after I couldn't find golden delicious or galas? Check. Check. Check. The only fresh thing that resembles something close to her recipe is the block of Gruyere that I shave and melt in small blobs of delicious salt along the top.

I get everything assembled and cooked in an hour. I shower as the tart cools and prepare everything for the traffic-choked car ride to my parents' place. Although we don't really celebrate, the day is already providing me with more relaxation than I've had in weeks. I slowly creep along 93 with everyone else in the state, but I find the Smiths on the radio. I sing along and realize as I pass the exit for the Ponkapoag Trail/Houghton's Pond that the apple pie is still in my fridge. "And if a double-decker bus crashes into us/ to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die," Morrisey sings and I join back up with the next verse. I refuse to get upset further, not when the day will be spent doing nothing and I won't feel guilty about it. The pleasure, the privilege is mine.