Greetings, readers! Lent is over! Lent is over!!!
I just want to say thanks for everyone who continued to follow me despite my only showing up on Twitter and Facebook on Sundays, a day in which I’m still pretty busy and don’t usually tweet or post until The Walking Dead came on. I even gained new followers from of this venture. For that I say WELCOME.
Even though I didn’t abstain from social networking completely (I totally took the Sunday is a break route, in case you hadn’t noticed), cutting it from my daily life by 90% really gave me some greater perspective on just how dependent we are on Facebook and Twitter. We get our news, cultural updates, up to the minute reports on the latest trends, and we get to see our friends and cohorts everyday. I obviously did not have that luxury. Shaun and Laura, as well as the rest of my D&D group, would mention something that happened online, or some breaking news occurred a earlier in the week at DC Comics or wherever. I would be like, “Wait…what happened?” They often forgot that I wasn’t trolling the internet scene as much as I did before Lent. Shaun’s reaction would always be a surprised stare followed by a juicy gossip girl’s “Ohhhhhh!”
Later down the 40-day road of abstinence, I began to realize that I would forget internet existed at all or that I even had a computer. Crazy, right?
I want to say that it’s totally easy to get an enlightened, snobbish chip on your shoulder after taking the internet out from your life almost completely save for blogging, gaming, and watching your favorite shows via Roku — because it is.
Last week, I was talking with a friend and had this thought: No longer is religion the “opiate for the masses,” but the internet is. As a child of Sociology, I’ll let you interpret that however you want.
Enough serious thoughtfulness, let’s move on to how I spent my last days of Lent!
Last Wednesday, I left Charleston for Baton Rouge, LA to visit my old college roommate, Helana. Since graduation five years ago, she has become an award-winning food blogger, a food columnist for Baton Rouge’s The Advocate, and now an author of her first cook book. She has done all of this while studying Literature in LSU’s Masters-PhD program. I don’t need to illustrate further how busy this lady has been, do I?
After picking me up from the airport, Helana and I headed for the Lunchtime Lagniappe Series at the State Museum where Helana was scheduled to hold a demo. Afterward we went shopping for her book release party and found what she now calls her “Pretty in Pink” dress. We went through so many outfits between two stores. There was this other one Brigman bought before going into the second store. It was super nice, well cut, and hemorrhage-inducingly expensive; however, it didn’t totally feel like “the one,” y’know? The ladies who read this blog know. I could go on a tangent about us choosing our dresses like we choose our partners, but that’s a whole different blog post for a whole ‘nother day. After shopping, we capped the night off by eating pot stickers and brick oven pizza at California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. Soooo good. I wish there was one here in Chuck Town.
On our way home, Brigman and I went to a CVS to buy a few essentials. Y’know toothpaste, shampoo/conditioner, antiperspirant, condoms, KY lube, coffee, three assortments of ice cream… Now before you jump to any conclusions, no, we didn’t eat all the ice cream like fat kids. We did come darn close though. I’m usually a prude when it comes to sex, unless someone gets me started on the education side of things. I don’t have a lot of it, I barely notice it’s been over a year since my last encounter (until just now while I’m thinking about it), but I do think sex important — just not a huge deal. This practiced apathy I have over the subject of sex has gotten me through those “dry spells.” I’ve witnessed women and men alike jumping out of their skin because they haven’t done it in over two weeks. Come to think of it, the latter is why I am more or less apathetic. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from being a robot. I’m just one with occasional bouts of dramatic shifts in emotion and hormone levels.
Also, never had to buy condoms (or KY for that matter) myself. Quite the new experience. Of course, I had to fight the urge to attempt making balloon animals and water balloons. They’re expensive! Yeah…
Thursday was a big day. We had to get ready for the major book release party happening that night. I’ve never actually went to a book release party, nor have I ever lent a hand in setting one up. Luckily, Brigman had her minions, er, I mean interns to help out. Yes, she also has interns. I want my own minions! Give me minions, Life! They worked like a well-oiled machine. I even bonded with one of the interns’ girlfriend who used to work part-time with EA as a game tester. She played Mass Effect 3 on the Wii U.
That night I also ran into a few familiar faces, Andrew and Kris, whom I met over my last trip to Baton Rouge two years ago. I never got to speak with Andrew but Kris was someone I immediately had to chase down and grab his attention. He’s such a fun and enthusiastic guy to talk to, and he has the most beautiful little girls. Imagine my surprise when I saw him take a viola and join the first band playing that night. He was great. I had no idea Kris was not only an intellectual, but a musician as well. Not that those two descriptions don’t go to together, it’s just always a joy to see a friend take up an instrument and sing.
To further my small chaotic experience, I met some guy who overheard me saying that I was from Charleston. He immediately came up to me and introduced himself (Sorry, dude, I can’t remember your name anymore). He told me that he and his family visited Charleston earlier last year and told me of a pub tour around the downtown area. What the what? There’s a pub tour where you not only get to learn about a bar’s history but you get to DRINK there too? Sign me up for the next one! His favorite stop, which is mine as well, was The Blind Tiger off of Broad and Church Streets. It’s a nice place to eat and drink, especially if you’re just getting out from jury duty since it’s close by the court house.
Next I met with Brigman’s boyfriend, Billy. Only…I didn’t know the Billy I met was the Billy she was dating. Again, I don’t much pay attention to names, especially when I’m in a large party setting. The likelihood of you meeting that person again is rather low, especially in my case. I wondered why he was so enthusiastic to meet me…
Then I met with Brigman’s personal trainer, E. We call him E because I guess Emmanuel is just too long to say. He gave me very useful tips in staying in shape and making those goals for my next agility test. The one I’m most dreading is the all out 100m dashes. To condition myself better for all of the running I’ll have to do at the test, he told me to run as hard as I can for as long as I can. The exercise produces a chemical in your muscles during more anaerobic exercises that builds you up a lot faster in both speed and distance.
When the party was finally over, Brigman, her friend Laura, and I went to visit another friend, Lydia. I met during my last visit to Baton Rouge two years ago. She is a trip I tell you. However, this was the weekend where she had stressed herself to impossible levels over her thesis paper and she fell very ill. By the time we got to Lydia’s place, she had already fallen asleep. Thank goodness. She needed some shut eye bad. The three of us just decided to leave Lydia the party’s leftovers and slip out to hang back at Brigman’s house. There we psycho-analized over our different relationship patterns (or lack of one in my case). At the end of the night, we just made the conclusion that boys were stupid, like all conversations about boys end up being. Don’t lie, ladies. We’ve all done it. We all DO it.
Oh, and did I mention that Chobani gave Brigman 12 POUNDS of free yogurt? Twelve. The ice packed into the box made it infinitely heavier. We also ended up with a full keg of Abita beer donated by the company for the book release. Abita gave us two actually. The other one ultimately ended up with an intern who had a crawfish boil the next day.
Friday was considered our well-deserved “break day.” Brigman took me for brunch at a local diner called Louie’s. That place is fantastic and chaotic and always full. The place was teeming with undergrads enjoying the beginning of their Easter/Spring Break. Only two cooks were behind the counter making dishes for about 50 people all at once. I could be exaggerating a little bit, or underestimating the number of people and orders coming into the diner, but holy damn were those cooks magic. It was very entertaining shuffling side to side around each other other a hot grill, plates of food stacked high in each hand. The older of the two had a Creole accent.
Brigman ordered a veggie omelette with crawfish added in, and she added a plate of hash browns covered in Monterey Jack cheese and sausage for us to share. I had two pancakes with eggs and bacon. Let me explain the hash browns for a minute. They aren’t really prepared like you standard hash browns we’re all used to seeing at Waffle House or IHOP. These are huge, halved potato wedges. Cover them in the topping of your choice and it almost becomes a religious experience. You can see what had to deal with at the top of the page. That’s a regular full plate. I think it was also meant to be a side too. Thank the gods we shared that.
During vacation time, I purposefully have no concept of time. I guess I should have had a little at that time. After filling my gut to an extraordinary size, Brigman reminded me that we had to meet her trainer later. “Later” was actually in one hour. There were several face palm moments going on in my brain while simultaneously ordering my body to digest faster. To no avail. Luckily, my body had done just enough by the time 2 o’clock rolled around to give my stomach the strength it needed to not throw up.
We met with E. at a park overlooking one of the little lakes just outside the Garden District. It was a beautiful day for an outdoor workout. We did several dynamic warmups such as lunges, high kicks, that awkward side-step where you cross your legs over and under (a true test of coordination). Y’know that feeling you get where your nerves start going absolutely crazy, shooting all sorts of weird electricity around your lower back and abdomen? I imagine this is a common thing with women who start doing an exercise they’re aren’t used to and you suddenly feel like you have to pee. It’s like you feel all of those eager, cramping, “Oh my glob I need to pee NOW” sensations right before you start feeling sick. Like all of the adrenaline is gathered to the lower part of your torso and nowhere else. Yeah, that ‘s a better description. I felt that. I thought it might have been a different lady problem, an excuse I proceeded to use later when I finally emerged from the bathroom, but it was a false alarm. Stupid body playing tricks.
After warmups, we did some circuit-paced arm exercises and then played with a 4-lb medicine ball for the rest of the time. The latter was the most fun. Brigman and I threw that sucker as hard as we could. There was one exercise where we had to slam the ball down on the ground and then toss it in the air behind us as high and as far as we could. We did two sets of six, alternating out after the first set. It was the most satisfying workout I’ve ever done since my black belt training six years ago where I used to clock in two hours every morning. So satisfying, in fact, that I knew I was in for one hell of a sore day on Saturday.
At the end of the day, we made Cadbury Cream Egg Brownies. Word of advice: Don’t eat it right away. Way a few hours or overnight. The flavor settles down over time. If you decide to eat it right away (after cooling), prepare yourself for a strong, decadent burst of chocolatey flavor only fancy restaurants can achieve. Also, vanilla ice cream settles it down a little. At the same time, we made a pan-friend chicken dish that tasted sooooo delicious.
Saturday was cooking demo/book signing at LSU’s ginormous Barnes & Noble and crawfish boil day. Because it was Easter weekend, there wasn’t a whole lot of traffic in the store. NOLA and BR are very Catholic cities. And when I say “very Catholic,” I mean any business not run by a national corporate business starts shutting down for the weekend. I hadn’t experienced something like that since I was in the Philippines during Easter weekend. The manager, Lance, was super nice and accommodating. He got his employees to stand in front of the demo table to act as an audience to draw in customers. They were all undergrad students, super sweet. Brigman did the pea pesto again. To quote one of the employees on how the freshly made pesto tasted, “It’s a heavenly experience.” After the demo, Helana and I shopped around the Barnes & Noble. She got me a pair of yoga pants. I hadn’t owned yoga pants since college. Back then I didn’t understand the appeal. I wasn’t even aware how obsessed guys are about them. Now I do ❤
Afterward we headed straight for a crawfish boil hosted by award-winning food blog writer, Gumbo Goddess, and her family. This was my first time to a crawfish boil as well as the first I ate crawfish ever. Good thing I liked it. Leading up to this event, I was told by everyone the two cardinal rules of attending a crawfish boil: never wear light clothing, don’t touch your eyes. Another thing I was told was that the crawfish spread get start out slightly mild in spices, yet get spicier as with each new batch. Batch #1 kicked me in the ass with the amount of spiciness there was. Gumbo Goddess’ husband apparently loves ’em really spicy.
Sunday was my return to to Charleston. I’m glad to be back, but sad to leave Brigman. I mean, who else am I going to talk to in baby speak and not make things totally weird? No one, that’s who. The silver lining is that she’s coming to Columbia, SC to speak at our alma mater for Alumni Weekend. Naturally, I’m going to that as well 🙂
Watch out, Columbia!