It’s time for me to head back out on the road again. As such, it’s also time for me start posting regularly again. In a couple days, I’ll once again be documenting my travels here, mainly through photographs and lists of everything I’ve been eating. How fun!
Before that begins, here’s how I’ve been passing the time since the end of August (i.e. the last time I posted anything of relevance here):
I fell for hot chicken. Hard.
Upon returning from these long periods on the road, my usual goal is to focus on cooking meals at home. Part of that focus involves ditching meat and cooking almost-exclusively vegetarian dishes, with fish being the lone exception. The real reason for this is . . . well, I love cooking and miss it dearly while traveling. But more importantly, it’s to give my body a break from months and months of eating crap on the road. Like this. Or this. Or this.
Oh man, now I can’t wait to start eating crap again.
Anyway, my apartment was kinda-sorta destroyed over the summer (the story can be found here), so my return to Nashville found me scrambling to find a place to live instead of heading up to Trader Joe’s to buy tofu nuggets. Things ended up working out really well, as one of my favorite friends let me live at her place. However, the cooking-myself-healthy aspect didn’t work out too well, for three main reasons. First, there’s a damn fine deli within walking distance, and their banh mi (among many other options) is awesome. Second, there’s a hipster-foodie butcher shop not much further away and their pork chops (locally sourced and antibiotic-free, of course) are incredibly-thick cut and just blissful.
But the main culprit has been Pepperfire and their hot chicken. That dish pictured above – hot chicken tenders on top of slices of white bread, with fries and potato salad (and
a bucket of some ranch on the side) – has been ordered by me at least every other week (probably closer to every 10 days, which is as long as I can hold out). Every time I finish eating it, a lovely, comforting warmth comes over me – I go and lay down, take in the warmth, and tune out happily for a little bit.
Many, many decades from now, I want this to be my last meal. I want a member of my family (an unyet-conceived son or daughter, or – since it’ll be the future – a newly-purchased robo-son or mecha-daughter) to rush in to the hospital room with a to-go box from Pepperfire (if the restaurant’s closed by then, hopefully this will be achieved through time travel). “Am I too late?” he or she will ask, breathing heavily (or with a slightly-overheated CPU for my mecha-daughter). The rest of my family – gathered around me – will shake their heads as I frailly extend the hand I didn’t lose during Water War IV out towards the hot chicken. He or she will then place the box on my lap and open it up. With all my remaining energy, I will sit up and slowly start into my meal – only requiring assistance to open up the packet of ranch dressing, which is really tough to do with only one hand. Upon finishing, I will smile broadly. Bits of cayenne pepper will be all around my mouth, but I won’t care, ’cause who the hell would I be trying to impress at this point.
And then the warmth would come over – that lovely, enveloping hot chicken warmth. My family would gather closer.
“Fuck yeah,” I’d whisper. And that would be end of me.
God, I’m gonna miss that place.
I went to Florida twice.
And it actually wasn’t too horrible. For the uninitiated, I spent my formative years in Tampa and . . . well, I still consider moving away to be best decision I’ve ever made. My folks are still there, though, and – after six months of being unavailable due to work – momma wants to see her boy, so I end up visiting once I’m done with work in September and again when it’s time to resume my travels. This year’s visits turned out really well, mainly because I managed to also spend a good amount of time with old friends, some of which I hadn’t seen in many years. And I got to catch a baseball game while there. And I got to ride a bunch of roller coasters while at Busch Gardens.
The only real downsides: Holy crap, Busch Gardens is expensive if you’re not a Florida resident anymore! Also, I ended up catching a pretty stubborn cold during my first visit. However, both of these negatives were easily mitigated by the fact that I got to eat a bunch of home-cooked Cuban meals while there. Mmm, ropa vieja!
(After reading these last two sections, it should not surprise you in the least to learn that I’ve recently been prescribed medication for high cholesterol)
I also went to Michigan twice.
I was seriously considering moving there back in September, after finding myself weirdly-attached to the place during the six weeks I spent working in Michigan back in the spring. Visiting twice during the winter, though, proved too much for my Puerto-Rico-born and Florida-raised bones – both visits justified my decision to stay in cozy Nashville, where winter isn’t much of anything most of the time (even though it’s snowing outside as I right this).
Anyway, both visits were lovely and I still very-much like Michigan – I just don’t want to live there anymore.
I made an extensive outline and did a lot of research for book #2.
Book number 2 is set in Michigan – doing research for it was the reason for my first trip up there. My intention was to spend the winter months writing the first draft, but plans got derailed as other creative pursuits (see below) took over vast chunks of my free time. The goal now is to write the book while I’m on the road – hopefully, work will take me back to Michigan (once its warmer) so I can get a bit more research done.
And here’s where I remind you that my first book is readily available and it’s good and you should buy it ’cause I love you.
I started making wood transfers based on the photographs I took on the road last year.
This was the first of the creative pursuits that took me away from book-writing. These were fun to make, but incredibly time-consuming and incredibly easy to fuck-up (I fucked up a lot). I ended up making enough good ones that I was confident to participate in one of those DIY-craft shows that seem to take place now every week throughout Nashville. And I sold half of them, which made me quite happy. Had an Etsy shop going for a little bit, too, but that’s gone now ’cause I can’t keep up with shipping stuff while traveling. I want to do more of these, but it’ll have to wait until this year’s travels come to an end. Also, I’m determined to find a less-easily-fuckupable method for doing these things. A friend of mine has suggested encaustic, which I just might try as soon as I figure out what it is.
I went back to Vegas.
And I only lost 40 bucks! That’s $200 less than what I lost last year! Can’t wait to beat the bank next year.
It has become something of an annual tradition for me to head west in the winter for a week. And I always start things off with a couple days in Vegas. I just really like that town. More importantly, my great friend Tyge lives there and I really, really enjoy exploring the city with him and hanging out at his regular haunts while losing money (but only a small amount!) on video poker.
As always, I took a bunch of pictures while there, which can all be found at my Flickr page. My trip also featured heavily-Flickrized stops at Joshua Tree, the Salton Sea, and Los Angeles. Speaking of . . .
I went to Los Angeles for the first time since I was 9 and really, really dug it.
Man, L.A. was a lot better than I was expecting. It probably helps that I was there during a weekend, and traffic wasn’t too bad. Also of help was the fact that I was staying in Little Tokyo (visiting my closest of friends, which clearly helped too), and there were a bunch of great places to visit within walking distance. Of the greatest help, though, was the fact that the weather was lovely even though it was the middle of January and the rest of the country was freezing while the sun shone bright over Los Angeles and Hollywood and Venice Beach and Santa Monica and how the hell do people choose NOT to live in this part of the country? Beyond Vegas, I try to vary my westward vacations by venturing off in a different direction each time, but my next western trip might be the same as this year’s, because everything about this year’s trip was awesome.
Except for the fact that I caught another cold while there. And, sorry Tyge, but that raw food place we went to in Vegas was . . . oh, I’ll just call it poor, even though my burps were surprisingly tasty afterward.
I hunkered down and recorded a very long new album.
This was the second of my creative pursuits that pushed aside the book writing. The album is called Curtains, and it’s the culmination of 10+ years of recording music, either by myself (mostly by myself) or with a few good friends, in various houses, apartments, and motels around the country. It’s also six hours long and features 100 songs. But they’re all awesome, so it’s totally worth your time. Seriously – I’m really proud of this release. You can read more about it at my band’s site, you can download the whole thing for free by clicking this direct link (i.e. the whole, 785mb-shebang will start downloading as soon as you click it), you can sample ten songs over at Soundcloud, or you can give it a listen below:
And that’s pretty much it for my winter. That also concludes my long absence from this site – I look forward to getting back into the blogging spirit once I start my travels again on Monday.
Thanks for reading. Now I’m off to get some hot chicken.