Tony

Today I am struggling to find the voice of these emotions that I am filled with one day after the demise of my kitchen idol.

Ever since I was a tiny chunky baby, I have been all-the-way into eating.  There is actual footage of me as a dumpling sized human, sitting on my Mom’s kitchen counter begging her for “one more taste” of the chocolate frosting she had made for my first birthday cake.  There is no such thing as picky in the world where I dwell.  All food has always been welcome, I do not have any food enemies, and I am forever searching for something delicious.

As an eater, it took a long time for me to appreciate what I was enjoying.  That we live in a world where culture is entirely centered around sharing meals with one another; a world of endless variations of that existence.  I did not realize this in my childhood, surrounded by generations of excellent cooks.  I did not get this from college, in a melting pot of humans from all corners of the earth.  It all went down on a terribly long daily commute to work.

I was working a job that I fucking despised.  Living in Philadelphia, commuting an hour each way to the suburbs, getting progressively worn out from the ad nauseum radio tunes.  My fiance is an avid podcast and audio book fan, and he suggested that I try to listen to something more interesting to make the commute easier.

“What do I want to learn about?”

“Well, I am too busy to read books now, so let’s listen to one!  Something mindless, something easy, food.”

**searches ‘food autobiography’ on audible, Kitchen Confidential appears, I purchase, I forget about it for a few months.

Then one particular day, I left work angrier than usual.  I was trapped in a depressive cycle where I would literally get into my car and cry at the end of every shift because I was completely miserable; not this day though.  This day I was going to listen to that audio book.  An hour passed and I was home, sitting in my car completely hooked.  The world was asleep, as it usually was when I got home from work, but Bourdain’s story was there.  I woke up B and said, “seriously, listen to this shit IT IS INCREDIBLE.”  He listened to the book until the point where we caught up together.  From there on out, we would make excuses to get in the car, drive to the store, whatever to finish that book.

When I say that this changed my outlook on the world, I am setting myself up to sound super cheesy.  BUT REALLY, it changed my outlook on the world.  I was suddenly captivated by this underground of food culture; obsessed with hearing stories of this dishwasher-turned-celeb-chef and his pirate ass motley crew of friends, enemies and passionate people all the same.  In that moment I knew I was forever hooked into this fascination; everyone that I know needed to listen to this story.  Was it the food?  Was it the illegal shady shit? How about the prestige?  No no no.  It was that Anthony Bourdain was totally human, totally flawed, and 100% doing the damn thing.

As I continued to draw parallels with my life and his.  I realized that over everything else, I am most interested in shared experiences.  With food as a common language for people to connect and share, I have made my fondest memories in life.  It is easy for me to forget things; in fact I am so forgetful that I worry about losing my memory someday.  Eating, however, transports me to exact, picture-perfect images of moments that I have lived.  Every time I eat a cherry tomato, I am instantly in my mom’s garden (where she grows thousands per summer), eating them off of the vine and trying to think of all the ways to use them before they rot.  A bowl of pho, no matter where it is obtained, takes me to a lazy hungover morning ritual with my fiance.  Anything with too much almond extract brings me back into my grandmother’s kitchen where we used to work for several days to prep christmas cookies for the winter months.

These memories tied to food are not always great ones.  If I smell Parrot Bay of any variety, I still get the mouth sweats thinking of the hangover after my 18th birthday.  **highlights of that night: include sleeping on a bathroom floor and showering with three other girls** I wish I was able to block these shitty ones, but the food memory thing is way too strong…

Bourdain even inspired me to take a shot at being a restaurant chef.  I use the term chef loosely because I worked on a catering team, and no one was ever asking for my input on creating the specials or perfecting the sauces.  I was the bottom bitch veggie chopper.  You want to cater a party for 300 people and you need a vegetable and cheese board for that?  I am your girl; soaking wet from all of the produce I washed, stinking of funky local cheeses.  Sometimes I would help with the mise en place, and do “fun” things like finely dicing 300 onions for the dinner service.  **insert tears streaming down face for hours here**.  I made 9 bucks per hour, I ate a ton of good shit, I learned and listened to all of the amazing chefs that I worked with, and I came home every day exhausted with sore feet.  When I got into grad school, I had to quit this fun little gig in order to get a job to pay for my program.  Back to nannying I went, but I have missed that brilliant group of weirdos ever since.

In this all, I realized that I am actually a pretty decent cook.  I have okay knife skills, I definitely have a nack for flavor, I know how to make things that taste magnificent.  But I also realized that this was not my career.  I want to enjoy food as a hobby, and always/forever/constantly use it as a way to connect to and love everything in this life.

SO back to the honorary dude: what is the take away, why are you so upset?  Well, my early 20’s were a strange time for me.  I learned the concept of the dollar, how to take care of myself, how to love, how to be a better human.  How to stop and smell the roses (or the halal street cart food(or the homeless people urine)), and how to really take a minute to take it all in.

When you go to a new city, fuck a tourist guide.  Get right in the place that feels like it has some heart, go where the locals go,  ask the people what is good and what is shit.  Talk to strangers, bare all of yourself with anyone you meet.  Talk about sex, talk about politics, talk about the flaws in culture.  Tell anyone about your short comings, or about how you overcame something, or how you are working to do so.  Sometimes take the path of most resistance to do what feels right; it will be worth it when you love what you are doing.  Take life by the balls, eat all of the food, and always get the seafood tower when the opportunity presents.

\ I want to be tony.

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Gradu-what?

I have officially applied for graduate school.

I have really, truly done it this time.

Changing careers is a stressful snails race to the finish line, and I have officially purchased a snail and entered him in a qualifier.  Does that even make sense? I am exhausted and a little buzzed.

Applying for this program is bittersweet.  All I have ever wanted in life was to be a doctor, and surprise, I did not apply to medical school this time around.  Once upon a time a *much more* sure-of-herself-me began that journey and was quickly derailed when reality slapped me in the face.  HEY GIRL, IT IS ME! MEDICAL SCHOOL!!!! I AM INSANELY HARD TO GET INTO, DESPITE YOUR EFFORTS! GO FUCK YOURSELF!  I like money, but more importantly I love people.  I love medicine, and medicine is all I ever wanted to do.  So what did I major in as an undergrad you ask?  Speech Pathology.

This is the part where you say “huh, what?”, yeah I know. As a moldable and dumb 17 year old declaring my major, I listened to my advisor explain to me what a “safe” and “woman centric” career would look like for an intelligent future housewife of America (barf).  I can see her now, 60ish years old with a photograph of her cat and two golden retrievers computerside, smiling at me with assurance that this 200k degree would surely grant me the life I desired.  With my proud parents in the waiting room, I scheduled my first semester of courses and signed a document stating that I was advised appropriately.  This was the first time that I lied to myself.

First day of class and I am ready to kick some ass!  Eyes bright with my promised future, I stepped into my first lecture.  “An Introduction to Speech and Language Disorders”, read the syllabus, as I combed through to find the attendance policy.  There I was with my jeans and t-shirt sporting a fresh pair of Tom’s and new shades in a sea of Vineyard Vines and Lilly Pulitzer.  So much baby prostitute perfume rockin’ in this room that my vision was significantly affected.  Help! I am at a near-to ivy-league school, and I am surrounded by hundreds of prissy fembots!

“Like, I want to date Todd, but I just can’t fuck with a Sigma Chi” -some of the first documented language from my classmates

The courses were CAKE.  I heard distress more often in my first semester about which ‘house’ they would be selected to join, which ‘function’ they planned to attend, and how much Pedialyte was required to cure the hangover from a 3-day bender (this is a real thing, you should try it).  This truly laid the framework for my entire undergraduate coursework.  I never struggled in these courses, I rarely attended these courses, and I got straight A’s.  Sophomore year rolled around and I decided to challenge myself: time to take pre-med courses.  I went to my advisor and told her of my plan to change majors and become a doctor.  She promised that “medical schools love it when you show your efforts” and “duel majoring is what lots of pre-med students do”.  OKAY!  Sign me up for my first semester of 24 credit hours!  Chem and Bio on top of my regular course load? sure!  So I did it.  I did that for two pain-staking years.  Took the extra courses, took my major courses, made lots of friends, had a boyfriend, took weekend trips and NEVER missed a good party.

It all caught up to me eventually.  Gained lots of weight, drank often, slept way too much, found any excuse not to attend my classes, skipped homework assignments, scraped by on the skin of my ass.  And you know what?  I graduated with decent grades STILL.  I was a total piece of shit, living and thriving like a piece of shit does until the day it was time to finally put my money where my mouth was.  Time to apply for medical school!

Guess what?  My mediocre grades were not good enough.  I fucked it right up, but not enough.  Not enough to look at my past and say “you can’t do this, thank god you realized now” not enough to say “well, you gave it your best shot”.  I did not give it my best shot or even half of a shot.  I pissed away an opportunity that was literally given to me on a silver platter and have nothing to show for it other than mediocre grades and a diploma declaring my bachelors degree in Speech Pathology.

I was sitting on the floor of my brand new empty apartment 1,000 miles from my home when I read my letter of rejection from graduate school. The graduate school that my father attended, the school that I uprooted my life to attend halfway across the country.  The graduate school that my boyfriend found a job near so I could attend.  The graduate school that I promised myself and everyone that I would go to.  It would never be my graduate school, and for the first time in that moment, that became real to me.

I sunk into the darkest hole of self-pity, grasping to find purpose in my daily life.  What do I do now?  I couldn’t erase the past, I had no one to blame but myself and immaturity.  Nothing has ever cut me deeper than setting myself up to destroy my own dreams.

So, I ignored it as best as I could and got a job.  The advice that anyone responsible gives to someone who fucked up their path to career dreamland is “well, I guess it is time for you to work and make money”, so that is what I did.

I became a nanny, something I fell in love with instantly.  Worrying and taking care of someone is almost a kin to the medical field.  Someone trusts you with a loved one, you spend your time making sure that they are cared for, happy and healthy daily.  It is far more important than most people accredit it to be, and I think that everyone should experience a career like this at least one time.  I learned to clean and organize, how to care for children, how to shop and cook (my absolute favorite hobby), I have made excellent money and have met so many positive and extraordinary families that believe in me and my capabilities. I needed this SO MUCH.

Nearly three years later, I am finally composed.  I am hungry and ready to try school again.  I saved my money, did my research and picked a different career with more obtainable goals.  I am going to try to be a Nurse Practitioner, and will take the slow and calculated road this time to actually achieve this goal.

Do I regret any of this?  Yes and no.  I hate it when people fuck everything up and then say “I would not trade my past for anything!!” lies. lies. lies. you are a liar.  OF COURSE I wish that I could sit 18 year old me down and tell her that she is smart and capable and that she needs to become a bio major and just follow the dream.  That Speech Pathology was and never will be what she wants to do, and that she is correct in wanting to be a doctor (and she will be a good one).  That your advisor is dumb and not qualified for her job, and that in order to be successful, you need to take on only what YOU can handle.  That someday, she will wake up and realize that the parties and friends she made were priceless memories that she will never ever get back, and that she should most definitely do all of this guilt-free, but also attend her god damn classes that her poor parents are paying for her to attend.  That when you don’t attend your classes, it is really really hard to pull a Hail Mary and learn all of the information from an entire 6 chapters the night before an exam.  That she is actually capable of this, but should reserve this talent for rare occasions.  That McDonalds and Rice Cafe are not quality meals, and that your body and brain cannot function off of that dog food.  That the sorostitutes in your courses will always be obnoxious, but they will someday be in graduate programs and getting jobs (but still wearing lame sorority shirts and too much perfume).  That band is actually really cool, and the fact that you play an instrument will someday be cool.  That even when you fuck all of this up with your immature mentality towards your future, your amazing family, friends and boyfriend will all be there to pick up your pieces and help you find a new path.  That you need to say thank you to all of those people more often. That life is resilient and crazy, and that everyone messes up at one point or another, so stop beating yourself up over it.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself, you still have all that you need.

Three years later, I nearly have enough money to pay for my graduate program in cash, I am 40 pounds lighter, I live closer to my family with a boyfriend that is still here supporting me, and I have applied for graduate school once again.

 

 

*

Why is it so hard to gain control of my emotions? I know how to appropriately act, I know how to think things through logically. 

When I get angry or insecure, a switch flips and someone/something else takes control of me until I exhaust myself. 

Sex and How it Ruins Me 

a bold first entry by a sexually unsatisfied nympho:

Things we do well

  • Chill
  • Snug
  • Laugh together
  • Move across the country to chase our dreams
  • Own cats
  • Discuss world issues
  • Communicate
  • Make decisions
  • Love really hard
  • Cook like we are dueling in an Iron Chef battle
  • Have farting contests

Things that we don’t do well

  • Maintain a frequent sex life.

When we bang, it’s great. We both get off, we both do all that passionate bullshit. Every time it ends, it’s like “alright, I like you! I’m keeping you around”

An aside; we have dated for nearly five years. I’m 23 and he is 27. This is the “sexual peak of my life” and I am masturbating with my shower head crying myself to sleep. Why?

The addiction to sex is real. It feeds my being. I grew up fast, had my first sexual experience when I was way too young, I have been hurt/shattered/shit on (not literally, thank Christ) and it has just become part of existing to me. For a long time it lacked intimacy. I wanted to meet guys, fuck like rabbits, say goodbye and feel nothing in my dark soul that exists at the temperature of a meat freezer full of damaged goods.

He came with a different dependence on sexuality.  A religious upbringing, combined with the fallout of a long-term relationship, stunted the growth of his sex wings.  He moved out on his own, lost his alignment with religion, fucked around for a period of time and then pulled his life back together.  JUST when he determined that he was ready to bang and explore, we met.  Both a beautiful and terrible thing.

The independent sexuality days were over, and we grew into a great couple.  He learned what it was like to coexist sexually, and I came in like a wild sex-hungry monster to show him my ways.  At that point, sex was life to me.  As I stated before, I had a giant chip on my shoulder, and sex had become this meaningless-yet-meaningful act that I craved.  I ruined a lot of the “beginning of relationship” stuff with this attitude.  I can never take back how meaningless it was, and I will never forgive myself for the meaning I stole from him.

That all went away, though.  We fell wildly in love, and lots of things that were “important” before fell by the wayside.  I value a nice bottle of wine, good food and conversation together much more than I have ever valued waking up in a strangers bed.  I love our lazy Sundays, the way he is instantly comforted by my touch, the way he makes me laugh every time I try to tell him how angry I am.  Those are certainly not things that I would have said to value five years ago.

So why is it so hard for my man and I of 5 years to do the damn thing a few times per week? We are obviously in love, so why is it hard?

I go through all the hoops to spice it up, always. From buying lingerie, to letting him shove it in and anywhere he wants (any way he wants), to surprising him, to planning it, to toys and porn, to entertaining threesomes and kinks, to getting into everything 100%, to actually liking it, to being wild, to bending my naked self over a sink in a public bathroom, I take it all of the ways. So I can rest easy knowing that I’m spicy🐩

But his desires to bang are much less frequent.  When we get it, it’s good.  Always.  Sometimes he wants a piece, and I always give it to him, no questions.  But sometimes I just want it.  Hot-fast-wild-now sex.  All the excuses and the walls come up when it is suited as inconvenient.  I love that he is independent, but I wish that sometimes (and just sometimes) he would prove to be sexually dependent on me.  I live for those infrequent moments that make my blood pump faster, that make me feel alive.

Low T, exhaustion, change in the weather, the need to grocery shop. I have considered all of the things. None of it lines up with the fact that it is such a simple act that means so much. I accept that we are different, I just wish we were /slightly/ closer on the sexuality scale.

It doesn’t have to be glamorous, it doesn’t have to be wild, it just has to be.

On that note, commence the tears and running water.