Don’t you think I’m looking older?
But something good has happened to me
Change is a stranger
You have yet to know”
-George Michael “Older”
We all know that words have power but jeez I am turning into one crotchety OLD man. Not that I mind, but it is kind of hard at 36 (gulp) when one is single (hoorah), childless (sob), wifeless (indifferent) and homeless (well renting not owning sigh) and you suddenly have no desire to socialize except for the occasional movie release. Then you see gray hairs in your beard all the time. Prospects in certain fields of endeavor seem to be distant memories and I have developed an attitude of not really caring about much (or more likely the outer illusion of such). I have reconciled my present attitude to life to the fact that I partied like a beast when I was younger and now my body is tired and just doesn’t want to be sociable anymore. Hmm maybe the weight gain has something to do with it? (Yeah right!!)
Between 1989 and 2003, I slept very little. I partied like there was no tomorrow. There wasn’t a class/lecture, lime, party, social gathering that I did not attend and still had energy to get up early and do what needed to be done. Sleep was a hindrance back then. Now, if I can be in bed by midnight I am in pure BLISS!! My body naturally yawns around 11:30pm and cries to go home. Sometimes I cannot answer the call. Most times I make up and excuse and just rush home to be one with my pillows. Strangely enough, I am up by 8/9am for the latest. What is wrong with my body?
For Example, last Saturday, I arrived at a wedding reception at 5pm (I was told this was the start time) which really didn’t begin til 7:45pm when the bridal party arrived (no comment). Dinner wasn’t served until 10pm (no hors d’oeuvres at all). You don’t even have to ask if I left before midnight. My hunger had me cranky for many hours and by 10pm it was too late to salvage the night. I got KFC on the way home and devoured it before I had time to park the car inside.
Anyway I say all this because 2009 seems to be my hermit period. I can’t stand noise, loud music, children playing, dogs barking, neighbors barking – the list goes on and on. I, however, have been cooking and reading more often and just spending a lot of time with me and I must say this: I Love spending time with ME!!! I ROCK!!!!.
For me, cooking was always a good indicator of your socio-economic level. LOL!! No. I joke. Well kinda. When I lived in London, I cooked a lot (boy was I poor then!!) and I am still shocked that when I returned to Trinidad how easy it was to “order out” instead of slaving over a stove. So when I actually started using the food in my cupboards, I was stunned at the discovery that most of it had expired and others were just in abundance. I mean, who has 20 tins of “Mixed Vegetables”, 4 bags of frozen vegetables, 10 tins of Corned Beef and enough pasta to open an Italian Restaurant?
The Milk, Cereal, Coffee, Rice, Flour, Pasta, Maggie Bouillon, pimentos, carrots, mayo, mustard etc had been in there for a long time. Most of them had passed their expiration dates by more than six months (bows head in shame).
So after re-stocking, I began to cook. I started with simple dishes that I knew how to do (even though it wasn’t always done well):
- Stewed Chicken with mixed vegetables,
- Pasta in cheese Sauce,
- Macaroni Pie,
- Macaroni Salad,
- Stewed Beef/Minced meat
Most dishes ended up being macaroni salad and some stewed meat. It was always tasty to me.
Then I got adventurous and started pulling recipes out of the Naparima Girls Cook Book (a must-have for any Trini living abroad or any Trini unable to cook). I tried a cake or two, curried meats, “geera chicken” and even Chicken Alfredo from scratch. The latter was not a strongly successful venture and as a result I spent two full days nursing a troubled stomach that neither ginger tea nor Peptobismol could not calm.
I am no where near to chef status as yet but it is slightly exhilarating to actually prepare a meal and go outside your comfort zone. I love chopping up the ingredients and my love for the Food Network spurs this on even if I find most of the food on that network a bit too rich or oily for my palate. Cooking is great. If it is successful, you can brag to hundreds, if it isn’t, well no one has to know.
This diatribe is by no means an invitation to anyone who thinks they want to “taste my hand”. I have some measure of a cast –iron stomach and as such I’m immune to what I cook, you may not be. So anyone who thinks that they will get a nice candlelight dinner cooked by me will discover that Apsara, Angelos, Tiki Village, Kam Wah, Trotters and many other fine restaurants have a number for delivery/pick up.
You have been warned.
I gave myself the task at the beginning of the year of reading one book a month. I have this habit of traveling and buying books that fill my suitcase and coming back and never reading them or mostly reading the first three chapters and just forgetting about it. The biggest offence was committed in October 2007 when I bought Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children from a W.H. Smith in the airport and started reading it on the plane ride home.
I finished the book on January12, 2009.
It wasn’t that the book was boring as such but in certain parts my attention span wavered when he would go into long diatribes that just added nothing to the story. I must also blame my work schedule as it had a habit of just wearing me down to the point where all I wanted to do was lie on my couch and stare at the TV. Reading required my eyes to move across a page and this just wasn’t possible in that state. I needed to break the cycle.
I got over my hump with Midnight’s Children after I realized that I bought Vikras Swarup’s “Q&A” in Janaury and finished it within two days. Mind you it is a simpler read than Rushdie but I felt as if I was giving up on something special. After all, Midnight’s Children won the Booker of Bookers and most people that have read it, rave about it. It wasn’t a bad read at all.
So half the year has gone and I’m still ahead on my reading list. Why? Well I have become sort of a “time maximiser” over the past few months. I have books placed strategically around me so that not a moment is wasted. I have books placed in the bathroom, at my desk at work, my nightstand and in the car. Books are placed in each area to adequately deal with my attention span in each of these areas.
Toilet: Hey why not get some reading done in here while other stuff is trying to happen (Chicken Alfredo escaping). Books I place here are usually light and fun mainly trivia related. I just completed The Best Book of Useless Information Ever by Noel Botham and I just placed a book by Stephen Fry called QI: The Book of General Ignorance (well he wrote the Foreword). You really don’t want to be bogged down in the toilet with a serious novel nor do you want the molecules that surround that area to reach other rooms when you take the book with you. So you keep it there and when you are done, a little Lysol never hurts before you place the book on your shelf. The last thing you want to do is get caught up in a story while on the toilet and then your foot falls asleep (not a pleasant feeling).
Desk at Work: Books that are here are really for the odd moment when I can breathe or when I have just finished lunch and my inbox isn’t filled with emails that I need to urgently respond to( sigh they always seem to be urgent). So the book I chose for this area must be funny but nothing that will distract you from completing a task. For this reason Augusten Burrough’s Dry has been on my desk for three months and I have barely read more than 5 chapters. It is an amusing book but I am glad it is one of those books that if you haven’t read it in awhile, you can start a new chapter and not feel as if you need to reread the ones before.
Car: This was a hard book choice as it depends on how long I expect to be stuck in traffic at any point in time. I opted for books that teach me stuff. Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare was a good read in traffic. It really taught me a lot on Shakespeare and showed me all the conspiracy theories surrounding him. I’m trying to find a replacement for traffic. Wally Lamb’s She Come Undone and another Bill Bryson book called The Life and Time of the Thunderbolt Kid are vying for space. I’ve read a chapter from each and I like them both but the Wally Lamb one is engrossing and I fear I might hear honking horns if I start reading this book in the car.
Bedside: This is always the main book. This will be the book that I would take along with me if I am going to the barber or to the beach with friends. This is always the book I want to finish before the end of the month and so I will read this in between television shows, on weekends when not sleeping or early mornings when I suddenly wake up and sleep won’t come to me easily. Hey, it’s either read or watch on Cinemax. Hmmm , ok so I read.
I have just finished a trilogy of books by Cornelia Funke: Inkheart, Inspell and Inkdeath. Yes it is one of those fantasy books that are more geared towards children/teens but with the amount of death it contained, I can’t remember reading such books as a child. I have picked up Tananarive Due’s The Living Blood once more in the hope that like Midnight’s Children I will finish it before Summer 2011 is over.
I have Eldest by Christopher Paolini to complete as well but somehow I don’t think I will even entertain that book.
I have read 11 books to date. Some were less than 200 pages so that made it really easy. The best book for the year so far was The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and I highly recommend to anyone who loves to read.
I just love going into bookstores and searching for that next great novel that will move me and transport me to another world where somebody else has bigger problems than I do.
If I’m not reading, I usually find stuff around the house to do. Ok don’t assume that I’m cleaning the house, oh hell no, I have a housekeeper for that and I don’t mind paying for that service at all. Once I attempted to clean my apartment. I cleaned the living room and one bathroom and that took 4 hours. I was knackered after that. I never did get around to cleaning the rest as I hired the housekeeper. Money well spent.
I do however, do the dishes, and iron my shirts and fold the clothes. The former is a task in my eyes and so it is a serious effort not to leave dishes in the sink for more than 3 days. Well it is not exactly folding clothes but actually sorting them in piles to then put them in the closet. Ironing is actually not so bad. I usually either have the TV on or I am listening to a CD which provides sufficient distraction from the task at hand. I remember ironing 12 shirts in one sitting. Of course that equated to 4 DVDs or 5 sit-coms and 2 CDs. Sunday evenings watching Animation Domination on Fox (Family Guy, Simpsons, King of The Hill and American Dad) makes it so easy to iron that I don’t break even a sweat.
I know all this may sound boring to you, but I really like it. I am actually saving money (haha Yeah right!!! Damn you Benetton!!) and reducing my dependence on foreign oil while ensuring that health care and the economy at home are taken care of. I play tennis with my coach twice a week and hopefully this counts as human interaction outside of work, so that my hermit level status is not reaching the “weirdo” level as yet. Stay Tuned.