Friday, April 07, 2006

Seriously Busy

I’m Back.
Here’s the update of new, crazy events that have occupied my time recently:
  • Paul and I broke up.
  • I told my boss I’m looking for a new job.
  • We are working frantically on the Hbar patio.
  • Chris and I decided to create a vegan cookbook.

Paul requested that I don’t blab about our break-up here, so no details will be forthcoming. We are still friends and have seen each other in social groups a few times. I suspect/hope that in a few weeks the slight awkwardness we feel goes away. He is still a great guy.

Weirdly, I have a strong urge to hook him up with a girl I know. I’m going to try to resist playing match-maker for my ex-boyfriend.
The following week I told my boss that I was seeking new employment, to try to break into real estate development/finance law. My boss was awesome and has used his network to line up some interviews for me. As much as I complain that he is crazy (he is), he is also a really great guy and one of the few employers who are loyal to their employees. I have a lot of respect for him and besides getting help on the job search front, being upfront with him seems to fortify our relationship for the future.

The interviews are with the firm of my dreams that does tons of high-level real estate deals in Chicago. Super-scary. My hours would undeniably increase. However, since this is an area of law that I am highly interested in, the increased hours hopefully won’t be that bad – I have lots of energy to do things that I find interesting! More important, I’d get about a 50% pay increase and a kick-ass firm on my resume. Cross your fingers.

A few months ago I bought a few more suits in preparation to make this jump. However, one of the biggest chores to do if I get this job would be to go on a horrible, whirlwind shopping spree for work clothes. The only thing more horrifying than this prospect will be the obligatory cell phone/blackberry shackling.

The Hbar patio project has been a major time-suck for the last several weeks. I just want the project done and my weekends/evenings freed up.

We tore out the old disintegrating bricks, dug out lots of dirt, to be replaced with better draining gravel/sand, and then re-fitted with patio pavers. This last task is actually getting contracted out – and it is moving far too slow for my liking. Grrr. There are a thousand other tasks that never seem to end and take Too Damn Long. Building the raised plant beds, for instance is taking far too much time. Karen and I hope to plant them tomorrow morning, though.

We still have to:

  • build a new gazebo (we dug and poured the footings already)
  • move the bike racks (remove, grind old bolts and reinstall in new place)
  • fence off the air conditioning units,
  • build a huge table,
  • move the waiter station,
  • remove a huge pile of concete mix,
  • re-weld the gate,
  • purchase/install new tables,
  • Clean. Clean. Clean.

Ugh. Thinking about how much work is left to do depresses me. I vow that when this project is finally done and dead – I will lounge and drink away a full glorious summer weekend.

The Cookbook.

This is another huge, HUGE time commitment. Months ago (probably over wine) my friend Chris and I decided to create a cookbook together. Chris is insanely vegan. And manic. The more I thought about it, the more exciting and feasible this idea seemed. Plus, the vegans need me. I am not vegan and have not trained my tastebuds to accept inferior food. I was a pastry chef and do not consider acceptable the sawdust hockey pucks that pass for vegan scones, cookies, brownies or cupcakes (they are usually interchangeable dry, bland and horrible).

Vegan baking is challenging enough to begin with, but the strong overlap between vegans and other crazy food movements (raw, whole-grain, gluten-free, just plain hippie....) leads to these hockeypucks. The loss of eggs is a huge problem – but then too many vegan bakers also refuse to use white flour, sugar or chocolate to their concoctions. Sorry but mashing up a banana with molasses, whole grain spelt flour and carob will NOT bake into a brownie. What the hell is carob anyway? Certainly it isn’t chocolate. Why is chocolate considered bad by some people?

I am not one of the converted. I think butter is great, eggs are a miracle ingredient, milk is yummy, cream is delightful and cheese cannot be beat. I eat meat sometimes, too. In other words, I expect that food has good flavor and texture. Too many vegans have forgotten this.
So the sweets/baking section is what my focus in the book is about. Chris will handle most of the savory food.

We plan to make this cookbook more in the style of a traveloge than a simple cookbook. The book begins this Spring, when we planted herb seedlings. It will follow our lives for a year, closely tied to the seasons and featuring my garden and biking in the city. Chicago will be the background and social cooking/eating events will introduce recipes. This is going to be a whirlwind project that will take up part of almost every weekend for the next year.

Next weekend we are hosting a vegan Easter Brunch and will also bike around to different Chicago churches to take pictures of families in their Easter Best.

The following weekend is helping with an Earth Day park clean-up on Saturday, followed by a move-by-bike trailer collaboration on Sunday. We plan to cook & take pictures on the weekends, and do menu development during the week. Whew.

This project is almost a full-time job in and of itself. We both have our day jobs, too. Plus Chris is consulting with a catering company to develop a line of vegan offerings, and I have the Hbar. We both volunteer for CBF and are involved in the bikey community. Goodness. This will be a whirlwind.

In pure biking news, my achilles is nearly healed. I haven’t gone out on a long, fast ride yet. One night I biked north along the lakeshore path to visit a friend and see her new condo. The headwind was pretty stiff. There were two men all decked in spandex with impressive calves who probably thought they were fast. I left them behind with the Julep’s brisk pace.

Riding hard was fun, although I was dressed for a leisurely ride along the path and arrived all sweaty because I got too warm. I can’t seem to turn off this ridiculous competitveness, but throughout the six mile ride, I passed every biker I saw and no biker passed me. My achilles felt completely fine. I need to try to get in a long, fast ride sometime this weekend to work some of my dormant muscles and burn off some energy.

Oh yeah, since I’m not dating Paul – I’m single again. I obviously don’t have the time to date anyone right now, but I do have enough time to lament each morning that I won’t have sex that day. Damnit.

There is no boy who holds my interest at this time. Double Damnit.
So, the above reasons are why I haven’t had time to blog much recently.

I bought a digital camera and will learn how to synch it with my ancient laptop (hopefully). When that happens expect more blogging, and lots of pictures of the Julep, Blackie, my garden & vegan food.

Despite my pathetic recent blogging, I still am better than both my brothers. How sad.


At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I was in suspense, and wondering about the blog. Good luck on the new job, and all.

Randy in Ablama (19 miles today)

At 9:41 AM, Anonymous michael said...

The real question for vegans is why they keep trying to reproduce non-vegan foods without the proper ingredients. There are lots of delicious ways to make vegan desserts without going for the hockey-puck stuff. Vegans should focus on the strengths of the foods they eat, rather than trying to force them into the mold of the boring American diet. No non-vegan is ever going to be convinced to become vegan eating imitation foods and vegans deserve food that is truly delicious.

The only exception, in my mind, is mock duck. Which is way tastier than any real poultry or fowl meats I've ever choked down.

Good luck with your cookbook!

At 5:58 PM, Blogger George said...

Post a couple recipes when you have time:-)

It sounds like your kinda busy, but good luck with your job search, it sounds like you have some good leads and a pretty cool boss.

At 12:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bummer about Paul. I can no longer imagine being alternately in a relationship and then not in a relationship. Perhaps that's ideal. Longing and satisfaction.

Good luck.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger jojo said...

I'll try to be better about blogging. It's such a catch-22: When you are crazy-busy with interesting things, there is no friggin' time to write it down. So all of the funny, sad, insightful details soon drift from memory. When life is dull and slow, then we have time to reflect and write in detail about every mundane part of our day.

I'll try to get some recipes up as the project continues -- don't hold your breath, though.

Michael -- you and I are totally on the same page with the vegan food. However, I so think some substitution is necessary. If you grow up loving brownies, then sometimes only a brownie will do the trick, even if it isn't the greatest.

At 2:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

your a cunt, how does someone talk about their ex and good friends in such a shitty way? your boring un-original blog conists of non stop bragging about how you can ride a freakin bike, and bitching about people you supposedly care about. big fucking deal. instead of being so worried about bullshit, try concerning yourself with being a decent human being. good luck.

we all suffer, thats not a bad thing. embrace it.


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