Thursday, January 29, 2009

One Man, Three Gallons of Milk, Expiration date: Feb. 5

Things rarely go as planned. I envisioned my White Russian themed party as a hip affair featuring a beverage that appeases two of my vices – alcohol and dairy.

In the end I got my fill. By midnight I had indulged in approximately five of the featured drink and pushed as many as I could upon my guests.

If your White Russian count has reached two hands, you’re playing with fire. Milk and vodka both have the potential to wreak havoc on the stomach, add in the intensely sweet flavor of flavor of off-brand Kahlua and you can easily find yourself sober and heaving into the toilet.

With the shrewdness of a man who had recently reached the quarter century mark, I refrained from pushing the limits of creamy goodness and settled on rum for the rest of the night.

I woke up in an unexpectedly sprightly mood the next morning. The party had been a success and my twice proven method of intense dancing without drinking to end the night had once again rendered me hangoverless.

Still, my planning must have been flawed. It seems I overestimated my power of influence, and underestimated exactly how far a gallon of whole milk goes when making White Russians (my current estimate is 40).

When I opened my fridge the following morning I was greeted by nearly three full gallons of milk. Two gallons of whole milk, which I can barely drink, and the majority of a gallon of 1% were instantly a liability.

My mom said I should return one of the gallons, but who does that? So the last few days I’ve been on a mission. I’ve been overeating cereal and taking my milk and cookies obsession to the next level. I was mixing the 1% with the whole milk, but I've now finished the good stuff and barely put a dent in the heavy variety.

I’m a pretty big milk fan. I live by myself, but still buy full gallons. But two more gallons on the heels of a three day milk binge might be too much to handle.

I’m not afraid to push the limits of expiration a few days, so I’d say I’ve got about a week left. And I need your help.

Whole milk is great after a long run, or to add some body to a nice cup of cocoa on a chilly night. Stop by with all your milk garnishes. I'll provide the main course.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My fruit tree

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First try in the Second City

CHICAGO – Good Midwestern ladies. That's what we were looking for. After all, my mom is from the Midwest, and it's probably the most socially acceptable construct of the whole Oedipus concept, right?

I didn't have a good reason to be in the Chicago. It wasn't the right time to be visiting; the night I arrived it went down to -40, supposedly the coldest day in a decade. Our room had a view of Lake Michigan, and people tried to describe an elusive beach that locals consistently claimed would appear a couple months later. Instead, we looked out over a white expanse with strangely symmetrical wind blown patterns scattered as far as I could see.

My friend had a med school interview, and his dad got him a room at the W hotel. Chicago seems like a place everyone should see, and I’d never been. So on Tuesday night I bought a ticket that left late on Thursday.

On Friday I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art, something I would treat with marginal irrelevance in Atlanta, but as a visitor it seemed imperative. After taking in some of the most cutting edge art our country has to offer, I felt like I could return to the W with my head held high.

While trekking around on foot afterward, trying to absorb the city, I was forced to purchase my first scarf. An item that is appropriately bemoaned in the South by men, but necessary for all in the hellish climates to our north. I was unable to replicate the standard scarf wearing techniques, and settled for an arrangement I call the double noose.

Despite the temperature, I was really impressed with the place. And as we headed to dinner at a Chicago style pizza establishment, I had a good feeling about my decision to come.

All day we had been inquiring every friendly faced individual under the age of 30 for the ideal location to enjoy a night full of overindulgence. Our list was unrealistic:
• Attractive girls
• Authentic
• Lots of energy
• A grandpa like bartender, who loves to tell stories about the good ole’ days.
• Reasonably priced drinks
• Other acceptable establishments nearby, in case things go awry

Surprisingly, nothing fit our requirements, and we settled for a place named Rockit.

When John proposed I come with him for the weekend, he claimed that together we would "take the city over." True, Chicago is the third largest city in the country, but he rarely lies and we set out to do just that.

We bought an overpriced beer, and continued our now five hour long dialogue. Basically we were vibing. So much so that the only women who paid any interest to us were less than three feet away. Our vibe must have been misconstrued due to our new geographic location because they said, "you guys don't look like you're having fun."

Grateful for the new company, we immediately switched into hilarious mode. John took a liking to one of the girls, and after about thirty minutes I caught myself wondering.

Enter Jolene, the singular animate love of my trip. I’m not sure if that's a Midwestern name or not, but she certainly fit the wholesome prototype I was searching for – a simple seeming girl, who's an honest to God straight shooter.

Girls from the South are often referred to as 'sweet.' I think girls in Chicago would take offense to that adjective. I don't want to exaggerate, but I got the sense they were more interested in visualizing their independence than creating heart shaped cardboard cutouts for their significant other.

I love the feeling of freshly cut cardboard in my hand, so I’m not sure which I prefer.

Anyway, I'd like to think Jolene and I hit it off, but she left less than an hour after we met. Disheartened, I resigned to tagging along with John and the girls he was sitting casually with now.

About an hour later, after a 1/16th of a mile taxi ride, the girl John was with got a text asking her to give me Jolene's number. I instantly texted her, but she was in bed. However, she asked if we wanted to come to a party the next day.

We danced, drank, conversated, and checked our coats in and out of numerous coat checks.

After 3 a.m., regardless of consumption, I begin to sober up. Tired and approaching grumpy I snuck out to get a taxi, thinking I was doing John a favor by leaving him with his special lady friend. A couple minutes later, in the middle of a conversation with my driver about typical seating arrangements in taxis (I always try to sit in the front seat, and he claimed I shouldn't as a safety concern), I get a text from John asking if I'd already left.

He arrived home a few minutes after me, and we fell asleep with all of the lights on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My President


Eight years ago, before I was eligible to vote, I was at the first inauguration of George W. Bush. It was an unforgettable day. I could feel the attention of the entire world focused on the stage that was laid out in front of me.

The inauguration of Barack Obama will unquestionably be more closely watched, but this time, instead of just attention, the expectations of the billions will weigh much more heavily.

Today, sitting in my office 638 miles from Washington DC, I’m more excited than I was in 2001. And it's not excitement concerning the lavish celebrations and parties that TMZ will doubtlessly be diligently covering.

I’m glad Obama will be the face of our country, but I’m ecstatic about the energy that he’s brought to so many lethargic citizens. At 24 I don't have the most perspective, but I know this day will take up significant space in U.S. history books.

Driving in to work this morning, I noticed dozens of lingering McCain bumper stickers.

Several of the stickers remain thoughtlessly, yet most of them are respectful and not so respectful protests to the decision that our country made. A decision that is made every four years, which divides our country into groups. One group a couple of percentage points larger than the other.

There is no way to know what the future holds, but I feel like there is more at stake with an Obama presidency. With great hope, comes the opportunity for great disappointment. However, to me, the fact that everyone agrees there is so much at risk embodies why we’ve made the correct choice.

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I just watched as much of the inaugeration ceremony as I think I could get away with.

Nearly 60 people crammed into our cafeteria to watch a 21 inch television that only plays CNN. Tears welled in my eyes and a lump in my throat as Obama bumbled over his few statements as he was being sworn in. Aside from the humm of freezers and clanking of pans, the only noise came from the TV.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Me and Jenna Jameson's unpaid intern

It can cost a lot to decorate a home. And after six months I’ve finally made it to the third of three rooms in my place. The bedroom.

I’m not talking about anything too serious, but my cliché urban loft motif just doesn’t match a hand-me-down floral bed spread.

We’ll just call it a bed makeover, and my bed, obviously of the female variety, was equivalent to a grandmother from the Great Plains. I’m going for something more Scarlet Johansson.

A trip to Ikea, the mecca of affordable and urban furnishings, yielded an adequate duvet cover and I headed home without even stopping for 50 cent ice cream cones or a plate of meatballs.

It’s a small room, and with a donated mirror-centric decoration hanging above my bed it seemed adequate. It wasn’t Scarlet, but it would do, and I ambled around in the evenings satisfied with the lady I would soon lie down with.

In my mind I was done, until my mom stopped by and said that a black bed skirt and sheet set would really make it my bed ‘POP.’

My sheets, although comfortable, were starting to look ragged, so I complied.

Black sheets have a stigma, but I figured if my mom, a deacon in our church, was suggesting them, then it couldn’t be too bad. I’d just be sure to stay away from satin, and I wouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Desperate for the ‘pop’ that I now felt I had been missing all along, I started a fervent internet search. I scoffed at the Playboy black satin sheets, clearly Jenna Jameson, and settled on a mysteriously low priced Egyptian cotton 600 thread count set.

They arrived a couple days later, and I eagerly opened them. From the packaging they looked about like what I wanted, when I put them on my bed I was horrified.

Scarlett had certainly eluded me, what’s worse, I’m now sleeping with Jenna’s unpaid intern.

I always included the bedroom in the tour of my place. Before I would prepare my guests by saying I haven’t gotten to my bedroom yet – now I just blush.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Challenging the bite-sized paradigm

I’m a pretty big fan of snacks in general. They are the sole occupants of the top right drawer in my desk at home, a primo location usually reserved for the likes of pens, post-it-notes , and scissors.

The most obvious reason my desk operates as a miniature pantry is to free up one hand during the trip from the refrigerator to my computer. Instead of struggling with tattered packages of half eaten bags of cookies, I can practice sign language or snap along with the relentless pop melodies in my head with one hand as I carry a glass of milk in the other.

(side note - I’m a big fan of the new Oreo packages. You wouldn’t think the sticky stuff would last long enough to make it through the whole package, but they do. It’s easy to open and an overall delight to work with.)

Other reasons have been suggested to me. Silly notions like I want to keep them all to myself and nobody would look in the desk for food, or the even more amusing idea that I’m lazy.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a snack drawer at work, but there always seems to be something laying around that appears like it would be enjoyable to eat - from old Halloween candy, leftover cheesecakes from the executives board meeting, or chicken fingers from the pot luck that the girls in marketing unsuccesfully tried to organize.

However, more often than not, the snacks don’t fall into these nice categories. Usually, you’re faced with a wild card. And as an open minded individual, more often than not, I partake in these wildcards.

A couple weeks ago I spotted a box of chocolate covered cherries. I’m not sure why these are always disappointing. It’s a solid concept, but why is the middle composed of a cherry mash, instead of an actual cherry?

Not easily deterred, I picked one up and took a bite, or more like a nibble. Still in stride, without thinking, I tossed the rest into the trash can.

It took me a second to realize what had just happened. Sure, it didn’t taste good, but I’d just thrown away the majority of a overpriced, sugary snack. This had never happened before.

Until this point I’d never considered this strategy. It's a 'bite-size' snack, and I couldn't bring myself deviate from the instructions that are there very being. But for the last week I’ve been walking around sampling the foods my office has to offer, and if I don’t like it … throwing it away.

I wont' say I'm an innovator, but this is the type of forward thinking that gets people places in life.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Another date recap - because now I can't influence what she's already said

When I suggested to Reneé de la Curée that we get together, my intentions were two-fold.

I wanted to manufacture something to write about, but selfishly I wanted to read a straightforward assessment of my first impression.

She said that she was expecting me to be geeky, but later wrote I was a “cute young professional who was confident, polished, and completely unfazed.”

My expectations for her weren’t any better. I was expecting a self conscious overly eager slut, but she ended up being the innocent and sweet type, the kind of girl that takes the time to remember your family members' birthdays. The girl I would normally assume is more interested in holding hands than performing some type of sexual maneuver she only describe in her blog only as “the piledriver.”

It really made me wonder about how well I really know some of the girls I’ve met over the years. Is it really this easy to put on an act? Or is my distinction between sexual promiscuity and outward appearance seriously flawed?

I guess I'll never know.

With first impressions over and written in our respective blogs, the most interesting development is the difference between our perceptions of what happened that night.

I remember smiling on my way to dinner as I considered sneaking in my recorder. I really wish I would have now, but there were a couple moments that still stood out.

As noted in her blog, the first thing she said was, “what’s your out?”

To me, this was completely impractical. It’s clear that you’ve put in the time to think of what you’re going to say if things are going bad. For her it had something to do with an opportunity to use a special telescope, but bringing it up just means you won’t be able to use it as intended. It means you are trying to manufacture conversation, and it struck me as a comment that someone a little unsure of herself would make. Not a person who confidently talks about her mastery of the opposite sex.

My guess is she was attempting to catch me off guard, and although it did, I don’t think it could have had the desired effect.

We talked a lot about past relationships. I never mentioned sex, but she felt compelled to reassure me that her sexual promiscuity was limited to a small and exclusive group.

She wrote that I came off as arrogant, which I think I’m rarely regarded, while my impression of my comments were more self deprecating.

For example, when we were waiting at the valet, she said, “Now I get to judge you by the car that you drive.”

“Judge away,” I responded. “It’s only the hottest brown Pontiac Grand Prix you’ve ever seen.”

And oh yeah, after my friend read her entry yesterday, he asked, “so you split the bill?”

“No,” I answered. “It was actually 60/40.”

Friday, January 9, 2009

Post-date reflections

When you read a book and then see a movie, the cast rarely matches the mental image you had created.

Since each of our mind's are superior to Hollywood casting agents, the characters’ images never seem to exceed expectations, they’re usually let downs. And when this happens it usually ruins the movie, but the integrity of the book remains.

In social situations, this is a dangerous dynamic. I guess this is why they don’t have online dating services that operate without pictures. No matter how much looks don't matter to you, they still matter a lot. It takes less than a second for your brain to make the decision, and then when you get to know someone, your mind can do its best to alter that image.

I hadn’t thought about this until I got to dinner last night, and sat in front of someone that I knew only from periodic blog entries.

I’ll admit she was prettier than I had envisioned. She lacked the attention grabbing bar attributes that I assumed were a prerequisite for her risqué tales. Her gentle features didn’t match the often obscene things I’d read about her doing.

She was reading a book when I got there, just as I had intended to do if I had arrived when planned, but I would have been reading something that I would have hoped impressed the opposite party. She was reading a history book of sorts, so instead, I just felt old (I later found out she’s 2.92 years younger than me).

She had a glass of Chardonnay when I arrived, which I noted was quite classy, an adjective she said she strives for, but is rarely considered. I'm sure if she continues to date guys that she meets online, it will only occur more often.

We spoke comfortably, and she noted, to my delight, that I was much more confident in person than in my blog. She wasn't phased when I told her that I had met dozens of women online, and then a little surprised when I told her I was joking. She had a pension for pulling on both sides of her longish brown hair during conversation, as I arranged and rearranged my silverware in geometric patterns.

The conversation kept coming back to our blogs. Not so much content, but why we do it. She explained that she wanted to eventually write a book, and her current work would be a good foundation. And I confided that it makes my corporate existence slightly more palatable.

As things wrapped up, she said she was going to go to a bar down the street that night. I didn’t press for an invitation, I had a football game to watch, and I didn’t want to push my luck.

I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t say that it was a good date, but I’m anxiously awaiting her next entry. I think there is some type of holdout until i wrote my post-date entry. I think I'll have more to say after she blogs about it. My guess is the highlights will come from the night after we split up.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Preparing mentally for my first internet romance

First date jitters – not so much. I probably should be nervous, though. I’m going on a date with a girl that I've never seen.


Here’s the thing, I met this person on the internet (read that aloud to make me sound even more pathetic), and she wants to meet me at a place called ‘the big house.’ Well it’s actually called Casa Grande, but my attempt at a joke isn’t as obvious for my English speaking audience, so I thought I should highlight it.

I’ve envisioned a couple scenarios that could lead me to jail (or the big house … just to drive it home):

• She’s insane, and when I don’t compliment her matching neon green earrings, necklace, and stilettos, she goes mad. My efforts at self defense get misconstrued and I’m hauled to jail for domestic abuse.

• She seduces me with her blogging prowess and takes me home. Seconds after it’s too late, she informs me that she is underage, this is a set up, and a police officer will be in to escort me to jail as soon as she gives the signal.

• In an effort to spice up my mundane blog, I decide that I’m going to abuse hard drugs for the evening (a la Hunter S. Thompson). Conveniently she tells me a place I can get some. Since we’re in separate cars, she says I should pick them up while she picks up her place a little bit. After the purchase I’m heading over, and can’t resist a small sample. Being a drug novice I think I have cocaine and ecstasy, but it turns out I have ether and mescaline. The results aren’t as anticipated. I crash my car into her lobby. A foot chase ensues, but I’m caught lying in the pond at Piedmont Park, body submerged, attempting to breathe through a straw.

So if nothing like that happens, it should be a good night.

This mystery date has a blog of her own, and commented on one of my posts a couple of weeks ago. After reading the majority of her blog, I decided it would be interesting to meet this person, more interesting to write a about the date, and even more interesting to hear what she has to say about me.

I have my first date rules, but this won’t be a typical first date. I've never heard her voice, but I know about her and her friends' sexual encounters with random flings and ex boyfriends that she has refers to as A-I.

The good thing is that I have zero expectations, so nothing can go wrong. If it goes great, wonderful. If it goes awful, then that’s probably better material for the reader.

I’m guessing she will be slightly confused on exactly how to play this because, while I write about problems in the bathroom, she seemingly bares her soul.

We meet at 6:45. I better go.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Casing my own house - An open door policy


This morning, after my consistently rushed 20-minute routine, I noticed that I had left the door to my loft cracked overnight.

I did a quick inventory of my valuable items: television, laptop, iPod. At this point I realized I don’t own much of value. For a second I empathized with a potential robber – this place would be a total bust.

My beloved fridge and other appliances would require disassembly in order to begin the painstaking trip down the narrow stairwell. My alcohol inventory is highlighted, not by Dom Pérignon, but wines purchased at Trader Joe’s and liquor priced under $30. And my artwork, not yet precious, is either my own creation or a collaborative effort with a good friend of mine.

This may be why I sleep so well.

In my youth, I would lay in the top bunk, eyes wide open, running through scenarios for a potential house invasion. I wasn’t as inventive as McCauley Culkin in Home Alone. In fact, each time I came to the same solution. I would have time to get two shots off with my paintball gun. I would have to hit each of his eyes, and while he’s dazed, round up the family.

Nowadays, locking my front door probably happens just over half the time. And it’s not like I feel like I’m living in a safe neighborhood. I’m confident the hotel around the corner is running some type of prostitution ring, I’ve awoken more than once to cracked out homeless men conversing below my window, and to me the sound of sirens have the same effect as the sound of a summer night or running stream that some plug in a device to listen to.

I guess I just figure that if they go as far as checking the door to make sure that it’s locked, they’ve probably already gone far enough to figure out a way to get in. So maybe if it's left unlocked, they'll figure there is nothing worthwhile.

That said, the whole leaving the door open thing must stop.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My name is Steven, and I’m addicted to the internet

I was sitting at brunch with a good friend yesterday, enjoying my cilantro corn pancakes, discussing what to me has become an absurd search for the ideal significant other, when I realized I don't have a New Year's resolution.

We talked through a couple of ideas – drink less when binge drinking, exercise at least five times a week, eat fewer cookies, spend more time painting, writing and reading. With food completed and conversation topics exhausted, we split the bill and I headed home.

I was driving back to my place  satisfied physically, but mentally something remained unsettled.

I had a couple hours to kill before I had planned on meeting up with some friends to watch football. When I walked through the door, like usual, I headed directly to my computer.

I went through my typical internet routine:
• Check email.
• Look at Facebook.
• Open my blog to check for any comments (there rarely are … thanks readers).
• Check headlines on espn.com, nytimes.com, and ajc.com.

No emails, no ex’s or girls of interest changed relationship status, nothing happening on my blog, the news is heavy and I’m not up to tackling the latest in Israel.

Completely free time is rare, so I decided to attempt to sit in my cliché ultra-modern, highly uncomfortable chair from Target and read my book. I made it approximately three pages, at the blazing speed of a page every four minutes, and had an undeniable urge.

Something was happening on the internet … and I needed to know about it.

So I satisfied my impulse. No email, no new pictures of people I barely know, my blog is still featuring the same disappointing post, and the news is still overwhelming.

I chose a new song, and head back to my book. Ten minutes and two pages later, I’m back at the computer.

This is when I realized the absurdity of my internet addiction. I’m checking and rechecking things as if they are of the utmost importance. As if I’m getting a Facebook invite to party of the century that happens to be starting six minutes from now, or an email from the editor of Esquire requesting permission to feature their blog in an upcoming magazine, but I have to respond by 12:17 p.m.

I spend eight hours a day sitting at a computer during work. I probably spend two or three more when I get home, and sadly another two or three anxious about what I’m missing.

My New Year’s resolution this year is to check email and Facebook less than 10 times a day. I can read as much news as I like, but I can’t just click around from site to site looking at headlines.

It might not seem like much, but it’s a start and I need your support.
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My pathetic attempt at reader participation:

Please post your resolutions for 2009. If you don’t have any, say so, and I’ll come up with one for you.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Hello MMIX, goodbye MMVIII

Until I decided to show up at work today, 2009 has been all a guy could ask for.

On New Years Day an impromptu party swelled to 25. Attempts to prepare the requisite New Year provisions may have caused irreparable damage to my kitchen. With my hosting skills in overdrive, I barely had a chance to watch Georgia defeat Michigan State, but I was able to remain undefeated in 2009 in Twister.

When I woke up this morning on my couch, a friend comfortably tucked into my bed, depleted alcohol receptacles, uneaten food, and more dirty dishes than I knew I owned covered all elevated surfaces.

It seems like 2009 is going to be alright, but before we get too far along, I would like to take a minute to properly thank our good friend 2008.

Thanks for:
1. Not sucking.
2. Kindly leaving after your 365 day term.
3. Being an even number.
4. Having a name that is easy to rhyme with.

And with that, let’s continue to develop our relationship with 2009.