Bachelor cooking!

Have you ever heard the term ‘I like my coffee thick enough to stand a spoon in it’?   Well, I literally like my coffee that thick. Although I cheat a little bit to get there. This is bachelor cooking at its besst.   Of course, to begin with, you need a kitchen. or a bathroom…

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Hot plate. Pan. Coffee.

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You need an implement of destruction to prevent any sticking to the bottom. You’ll see why in a second.

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While you’re heating up your coffee, add some hot cocoa mix to it.

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About this much…

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A good breakfast isn’t complete without cereal. Oatmeal in this case.

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Pour it in. Keep pouring. Don’t follow the directions. Pour until there’s no more liquid for it to soak up. If you need, you can add a bit more coffee to it after you finish adding the oatmeal.

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The finished product. I threw in a little bit of brown sugar off camera, but it’s not necessary. So help me, if you add milk to this, I will come to your house and personally revoke your man card. Please note the spoon (spork) standing up in this concoction.20140425_104624

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A black mark (?)

As most should know, I spend my time cooking at a nursing home. Approximately five weeks ago, a complaint was filed to whoever-takes-nursing-home-complaints regarding activities in the kitchen while I was working. MY kitchen. I am no chef, I can really only be called a professional by definition. But I still have a sense of pride about what I do and how I run the kitchen. If a complaint comes in, I absolutely want to know so that I can do everything in my power to fix it.

Apparently a complaint was not enough. Now the hammer is coming down. The state of Nebraska and my employer are both conducting investigations. At least one job is on the line. Not mine, thankfully.

So far as I understand the nature of the complaint, which I admit is not very, it is not justified. Based solely on the events which transpired that night, nothing went wrong in the kitchen. Even had the event taken place as reported, common sense would say that it was not a problem. But the laws governing a facility like this are very strict and leave no room for common sense. All I can hope for is that the investigation reveals the truth and minimal to nil punishment occur for the accused party.

All the same, this feels like a black mark. Even though my name is barely likely to come up, even though this will not have any direct affect on myself or how I do my job, it hurts. This happened in my kitchen. Or at least a kitchen I was put in charge of. I take pride in what I do and feel shame when a scandal like this happens.

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Well…am I?

Recently, someone asked me a question. I can’t say I didn’t expect it. I asked her the same question first. But when she asked, I was not prepared to answer. I went off on a rant about things I hate and probably made myself seem pretty pathetic. That question was “are you happy?”

Now that I have had time to think about it, the answer is yes. The short answer, anyway. The long answer is ‘yes but…’

The thing about human nature is that we are programmed to want more than we have. Its not always just physical things, either. Physically speaking, I have everything I need and nearly everything I want. Even someday when I do have everything I want, I will always have that nagging desire for more. Even if I cannot name a single item shich could improve my life, give me more, more, more.

Emotionally, I have already crossed that line. There is nothing in the world that could help my life be better. I have the best friends, the best family you could ever get. A girlfriend who I love and who loves me. And forever I want more. I already don’t have time enough to spend with the people I care about, what good is more? If anything, more people taking up my time would just make life harder…less happy…

If ‘are you happy?’ Is asking whether more things, tangible or not, monetary value or not, would improve my life, the answer is no – I have all the things and I am happy.

If the question implies ‘are you satisfied with the things you have?’ I don’t know. This is the question I was asking, and the question I was not prepared to answer. But even if I had more things, better things, different things, I dont think I would be satisfied. No matter what, more, more, more.

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Winter has come

There is something about winter that makes your mood just drop. I have not been able to place a finger on it, but this is the third winter in a row where I have been barely functional because of mental troubles. It isn’t just the cold or the snow, though waking up to -20 temperatures and snow covering every surface probably does not help. It isn’t just being trapped inside for your entire existence. It is something more. A metaphorical chill which aches no matter how well you hide from the snow and the wind.

Or maybe what I feel this winter is only nostalgia over a recently ended chapter of my life. The ‘coming of age’ chapter that I assume we all feel was too short. I am living in an adult world, doing adult things, but always just out of reach is the childhood I will never have again. Or, at least, never for long enough before I have to grow back up and go to work for another week.

Winter feels like an ending. It feels like nothing could ever be good any more. And then when spring comes, it is so gradual that you don’t notice things getting better. Suddenly everything is okay, but the next winter is just around the corner. It’s only a matter of time before that chill comes back and the hottest fire, the warmest blankets, the best shelter man can build, can’t keep it from deadening you to the core.

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Day 12/13/14 – DECISION

My past couple days have been filled with procrastination, catching up on sleep, reading ever more, and general laziness. I can say without any doubt that these days have accomplished what I came to Oregon to do. Not to find a job and start a new life, but to discover myself so that I can accept my old life and understand the ways to change it for better.

I started this trip (the emotional journey, not the physical one,) several months ago. I was aware that I wasn’t happy. Depressed. For a time I wondered whether I shouldn’t find myself in an institution to stay in. As some of my friends have heard me say, I came home every day surprised to find that my bed had not turned into a potato. Life was so crazy, so confusing, that craziness and senselessness was normal.

The easiest question came first. So did the easiest answer. Why am I unhappy? Because I do not have what I want. The answer is agonizingly vague. It spawns another question. And the answer to that one spawns another. Each answer brought a new, harder, question. What do I want? I can only know if I know who I am. Who am I? I could only know if I understood who and what has shaped me over the years.

I think for the moment I’ve satisfied myself on all these questions. What did I want? To grow up. Am I happy? Yes. I think so. Life is always full of ups and downs, so I’m sure I will find myself at low points in the future. I pray to whoever or whatever has control that the lows will not be so low as the one I’ve been climbing out of. That the highs will go higher than they did before.

Time will tell.

For the moment, I have my old life to go back to. I am more prepared to face what it brings me. The good and the bad things that happen in the course of every day. The good and the bad people who cause the daily happenings. Many of those who are close to me seem to think that this is me running home the moment ‘shit got real’ so to speak. That is entirely not the case – I needed 1300 miles to understand what I had still waiting for me at home. I needed to push on my comfort zone, but not to burst through.

I’m not ready to say goodbye. Not just yet.

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Day 11 – VOODOO

I simultaneously love and hate this town. On the one hand, it’s a college town. Everyone here is young. Probably younger than me. Its good to feel like I’m in the same general age group as the community. Apparently I even look like I belong here – people asked me for directions more than once. I also like that people here have no shame. They make what they want obvious. “Yo man, you got Voodoo? Can I bum one of those?” I never thought doughnuts would be so popular that people would stop you on the street and ask for one. Voodoo Doughnuts are.

Last week I went with my Grandmother to Costco in Medford. I noted there that all the employees seemed extremely attractive. Maybe “beautiful” would have been a better term to use. To contrast, everyone here in Springfield/Eugene seems ugly. In the same way that I couldn’t put a finger on the Costco workers attractiveness, the people who live here are overall extremely unattractive.

So far the town (aside from Voodoo) isn’t anything different from any other city I’ve been to. The only thing I see that it has going for it is that I have friends living here. That has pushed me over the edge, though. I have decided that I want to go back home to Chadron. This has been a great visit, but I’ll be plenty done with it when the time comes. I’m gonna be ready to go Home.

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Day 10 – SPRINGFIELD

I headed off to Springfield this morning to visit my friends and former neighbors, Brenda and Levi, their daughter, and Levi’s parents. I found out upon arrival that Springfield (maybe it was Eugene? The two cities may as well be the same…) has a Voodoo Doughnuts. I thought that the only ones were in Portland. I’m happily mistaken.

But let me tell you about interstate driving here in Oregon. See, in these mountains it’s every man for himself. Even the truckers aren’t courteous like they are on the rest of the interstates. Trucks do some horrible things. Going up a steep hill, they will pass each other. Which means that the entire road slows to a crawl. 40-50 MPH. In one of these cases I was in the fast lane hanging back a safe distance until left-truck got by and I could blow past them both. Someone apparently didn’t think my safe distance was worth yielding to, came up past me on the right, cut me off, and GO FIGURE, still had to wait for the trucks. I don’t normally shout and wave certain fingers at other drivers on the road, but that was a situation that sort of needed it.

In another case, I crested a hill as I was passing a truck. Of course, as soon as I got to the top, I began coasting down. Speed limit was 65, so of course I was keeping it steady at 70. Then the hill. 75. 80. Car behind me, car in front of me, truck to my right, cement barrier to my left. Driving faster than comfort down a hill. And of course the hills are all curvy. There isn’t a straight downhill grade. If it weren’t for SLC, I would say it was the most scary drive of my life.

So that was the drive. The visit is much more fun. I got to catch up Brenda and Levi with the last couple years of my life and with what has changed in Chadron. They caught me up on their life. I got to meet their daughter – she was only a couple months old the last time I saw her. She seems to love her new uncle Nadder.

That’s about it I suppose. Again posting half a day late. Hopefully I can get day 11 out on time.

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