Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Fifty Years Of Memories- Part 1

Something that I try very hard to convey to my friends who are in their early to mid twenties is that as you grow older, you make more memories. And I have so many to share, so here are a few of them.

When my wife was still alive, every Sunday she would watch a Mass on television while I sat in the kitchen reading the newspaper. Afterwards, I would make doughnuts for breakfast along with freshly brewed coffee. Now, I don't drink coffee a lot, but years of working in restaurants allowed me to get really good at it. Those Sunday breakfasts are something I miss a lot.

For reasons I didn't understand then but do now, my father refused to let us have a telephone in the house when I was growing up. So, for me, the only time I got to talk to my friends on the phone was if I had a dime and we were somewhere close to a pay phone. Thus, something almost everyone else took for granted was, for me, something special.

The three best pizzas I've ever had in my life came from three very different places in three very different locations. The first was at Mystic Pizza in Mystic, Connecticut and the pizza was so very good; the sauce really is what makes it special. The second was a traditional Pizza Margherita from Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco. From the time I paid and walked out with it to the time I bit into a slice at home was seven minutes, which was just right. And, the third was from right up the street from where I then lived and now live again. Again, this was a traditional pizza much like one might get in Italy, and from the smell alone, I could tell it was going to be delicious, which it was. The name of the place is Original Italian, and they also make the very best submarine sandwiches I've ever had.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Living A "Retro" Lifestyle

Just a little less than a year ago, I moved into a motel that opened in the late 1950s. I've actually lived here before for short term stays. So, I knew I was moving into a building that's clean, safe and well maintained.

What I didn't know was that the room I wound up taking has a very nice bar that someone put in at some time in the past. The whole room had a very 1970s vibe to it that I picked up on right away.  I've always tried to live a retro lifestyle and this proved the perfect opportunity to go deeper into doing so.

I've redecorated the room to look much as it might have forty years ago. Vintage magazines, vintage style posters, a vintage styled stereo unit and much more really add to the whole feel of the place. I also have a 1970s era  Peanuts lunch box, which always draws compliments and pleasant comments from people when they see me carrying it with me.

However, living a retro lifestyle involves a lot more than that. I get my hair cut by a barber in a barber shop that looks almost the same as it did decades ago with the original chairs and mirrors. I listen to vinyl. I use Prell shampoo and Coast bath soap. Much of my clothing is either vintage or vintage styled.

Do I make concessions to modern life? Of course I do. I own a cell phone and a laptop and a flat screen television. I own a PlayStation, but all I play on it are emulations of pinball and video games from the 1950s through 1980s.

So, rating it as honestly as I can, I'd say that about 90% of what I do and how I live is a throwback to the way things were done thirty or forty years ago. My friends and family love it, because hanging out with me is fun. I wouldn't want to live any other way.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

What Is Real And What Is Not?

Hello, again.

Some time ago, I read a blog post that used the phrase "fake food, fake people, fake reality". I wish I could remember who wrote it, because the post was well written.  The phrase now runs through my head on a regular basis whenever I see, hear, or read about something that strikes me either as truly genuine or completely not.

Let's cover food, first, shall we? I have had the pleasure of training under a master chef. This person has decades of experience and can, in his kitchen at home, turn out food that's better than what you get at many restaurants. I learned a lot from him, about many things. Food is such a key part of life, but in our modern society (and here, I'm referring to the United States), we now have more fake food than real. Tomatoes that look perfect and have almost no flavor. Products ranging from ice cream to baby food that are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Frozen foods that have been processed to the point of losing most of their nutritional value.

I reject all of it. I buy heirloom variety tomatoes that are often downright ugly that just pop with flavor. I do not ever, and I mean ever, buy anything that's sweetened with anything other than sugar. And I cook my meals from scratch. It really doesn't take that much more time than reheating something from a can does. A few weeks ago, I made hamburgers and coleslaw for three people. The dressing for the coleslaw took ten minutes to make and then I mixed it with carrots and cabbage, popped it into the refrigerator and let it sit for twelve hours. Seasoning, steaming and putting the burgers on buns took all of ten minutes.

Fake people. Imagine someone who talks a good game but never actually does what is needed to back things up. Or imagine someone who always chases the latest trend in fashion, or music, or something else while slowly abandoning the things that made them a good and interesting person in the first place. Is this making any sense?

Fake reality. Online reality. Whatever you call it, it's not real and it never will be. I was one of the first people I know who moved a good portion of their life online, and I'm one of the few that's moved most of it back offline. Put down the damn cell phone, people! Turn to the person next to you and talk to him or her.

We all crave human contact, it's hard wired into us as a result of thousands of years worth of evolution. Don't fight it. Embrace it, revel in it, treasure it.

Yes, I use a cell phone. Yes, I use it to text friends. But I use it as a tool, and only as a tool. It's an obsolete model. It can't download apps, or send live video, or play games. I send a text, and respond to ones sent to me. I call my mother, my cousin, and a few other people who prefer actual talking to texting. That's all I do with it.

Tomorrow, I will post about how over the last year, I've embraced and gone ever deeper into a retro 1970s/early 1980s life style.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

First Post:  What is America?

I'm so, what's the word I want, disheartened? Upset? Worried? I'm not sure, but I do know that last night, watching the events in Charlotte made me feel something. I have a former professional associate who moved there a few months ago, and I hope she and her family are safe. I've had the pleasure of spending some time in Charlotte, and I always found the people of that city to be kind and welcoming.

As I write this, we're closing in on a presidential election that may well be the most critical one of my lifetime. I'm still upset that Senator Bernie Sanders couldn't secure the Democratic nomination, but I'm also hopeful that Hilary Clinton can be a fine president if elected. The idea of a President Trump scares me.

I'm a white, college educated male who is fifty years old. I have had advantages that many people never will have. I know that. But I'm also unemployed and have been told by a lot of people that my age is the reason they won't hire me. I appreciate the honesty.

But it hurts. I spent the last three years putting in insanely long days getting a degree that should get me a good job. My  former classmates are all doing well, and I have the same training. I took the same classes they did. I always worked just as hard as they did, and often harder. Between classes, travel time, working on assignments, working events, and everything else, my days often ran as long as eighteen or nineteen hours.

Am I making any sense?

My America is not the one depicted on network television. It is not all glitz and glamour.

My America is the bodega up the street where the poorest of the poor shop for basic groceries. I'm not one of them, but I shop there because it's a block away, it's open every day, and it's open till 2 in the morning.

I'm not sitting here just to bitch and moan. I have it better than a lot of people I know. I'm able to pay the bills every month. I have nice things that I bought when I was in better financial shape. I keep a well stocked bar, and that is my one extravagance.

If I get to the last week of the month and need a few basics, my Mom is always there to give me $10 or $15 to get what I need. Today, she bought me pain reliever for a nasty migraine headache. I'm grateful for that.

It's a weird feeling, to be honest. I'm the most content and relaxed I've ever been but I'm also terrified. Everything I have is based on what we've long accepted as being established and normal. But so much of what we've long considered as being settled is now being questioned.

I don't have all the answers. I may not even have a single answer, right now. I will have some, soon, and I may share them with you. Or not.

Thanks for reading this all the way through. Future posts will cover a lot of topics, most of which will be more pleasant. But today, I had to write this.