Thursday, December 30, 2010

Soul searching at a stuffy suit party

Tonight I went to a party celebrating a long-time politician's many years of public service. I wore my best suit and hob-nobbled with a room full of Senators, County Commissioners, Judges, business owners, and more well dressed, elderly people than I could count. When I say hob nob, what I meant was walk around for three minutes and then leave. Yep, I left. It wasn't my scene and I had to get out of there. I actually felt like I was suffocating.

Here's what I mean. Many times I've heard people say they don't see me as a banker. Here on eleven we've even had some discussions about who I am versus who I play on TV. During this current tumultuous season of my life I'm very aware of the soul-searching I'm going through. Some days I find it hard to go to work because I don't have the purpose/goal that existed when Ell was going to school. Every day I have to remind myself that being a banker is all I have right now to make money. But that's hard to do when the core of me isn't a banker.

And so tonight I found myself in a room of people who saw me as an equal. Banker... a respected profession with a long history of attributes like: skilled, schooled, prosperous, influential, trusted, and even though it sometimes causes questions of ethics..... rich. All things that also fit the rest of the people I was in the room with. And so they didn't even look at me weird even though the real Sam would much rather be smoking a pipe, hiking in the woods, living without electricity, growing my own food, and certainly not wearing the clothes I was in as they looked at me.

Of course I can fit into their world. Of course I'm a great banker. Of course I dress exactly as they do. Of course my car is expensive enough to fit between their Mercedes' and Caddy's. Of course I can talk to them about all the same high-class things they want to talk about. I can be one of them. Without any effort. I am a professional that could rub shoulders with other professionals and never raise red flags that I'm an outsider. I get that. All of that. I really do.

And I should be proud of this, no? I've made it into my mid-thirties with a solid reputation, an impressive resume, and a career that many people envy. I could go to any bank in any part of the country and get a job. In today's economy that's better than gold. And yet I'm lying if I say it fits.

I can already hear the words of others reading this diatribe. Get over yourself... Stop whining... Suck it up... Get a grip... Appreciate the good things you have... and the least helpful of all and potentially the most shocking -- trust in God and everything will be fine. All cause a genuine sigh because I know they all hold truth. But I'm just being honest here, even it turns some off to me.

So after three minutes, yes, three, I walked up the stairs and away from the room of peers. I'm simply tired of pretending. I'm still content to play banker by day, and honestly more devoted to that as it will provide a means to an end I'll talk about sometime in the future, but I'm just not going to pretend that's who I am outside of 8-5, M-F. I have better things to do than pretend. Take me as I am.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A great conversation

So, turns out bok-choy and mushrooms are no match for a Strep infection. But it tasted good, anyway.

After a few days of ignoring the fact that I had something stronger than just a sore throat, I headed to the doctor this morning and got a prescription for some antibiotics. While waiting for the script to be filled I did some grocery shopping; including a six pack of Great Lakes Brewery's Christmas Ale.

On the way out to the car, I stopped and put a few bucks into the Salvation Army canister. The following conversation occurred with the too-friendly, under-appreciated, conversation-lacking, middle-aged woman ringing the jingle bells.

Odd lady: Oh my goodness. Let me see that beer carton.
Me: Um......... okay.
Lady, all of a sudden very excited: That looks like a train, oh it is a train, that is so amazing. (The Christmas Ale carton has an HO scale train car with Christmas tree bulbs in it.)
Lady still talking without taking a breath: I have a friend who would love that, just the picture though, I don't think he drinks beer, but that picture would have really excited him, well before anyway, now all he cares about it NASCAR, NASCAR NASCAR NASCAR, oh but he used to really be into miniature trains, you know, he had a whole room with tracks and cars and a tunnel.
Me, truly shocked she said all that in one breath: Wow.
Lady: I know.
Me, walking away: Yeah, model trains are pretty neat. Well, have a great day.
Lady, calling after me even though I'm twenty feet away: But you know what I like?
Me, completely shocked this conversation is still going: What's that?
Lady, smiling largely: Zeppelins.
Me: Really?
Lady: Oh yeah. Zeppelins, Dirigibles, the Hindenburg. Now those are really great.
Me, completely at a loss: Um, yeah. Those things are really something.
Lady: You bet they are. So interesting.

There was some more mumbling but I was really trying to get out the door before she could go down another rabbit trail. I laughed all the way to my car.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

What's for dinner?

So I've had this nasty throat cold for a few days now. No phlegm or congestion or anything else, just a killer sore throat that feels like my throat skin is ripping every time I swallow. Super painful and irritating. I saw (or read maybe) that the combination of bok-choy and shitake mushrooms works wonders for cold relief; something about how they react with the body's natural fighters, I don't know. Anyway, I thought I'd try it.

I started by washing the bok-choy and then cutting it into inch-and-a-half long pieces and placed them in the steam rack of a steaming pot. While the water was coming to a boil, I started a small skillet warming on another burner. When it reached the right heat I added about a teaspoon of stir fry sauce and about two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Both the steamer and the skillet got to heat at the same time so I put the bok-choy to steam and the mushrooms (which I'd already cut into chunks and washed) into the hot skillet.

To add my own little flair I decided to add some broccoli. I only allowed the bok-choy to steam for three or four minutes to not let it get wilted, and moved it to a clean plate. I then put about a half cup of broccoli into the steam tray and let that steam for about five minutes. During the steaming of both vegetables, I was flipping the mushrooms in the skillet to get them sufficiently browned and soft.

After the broccoli was done I poured it directly into the skillet and added the bok-choy. A few flips and a toss sufficiently blended all of the ingredients. I added a couple sprinkles of raw sesame seed and transferred the whole skillet to a fresh plate. The picture is a bit fuzzy because I used my phone, but as you can see, it turned out quite nice. A few cups of tea with honey and dinner was served.

Now to wait and see if it helps my throat.