Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sound the Alarm

For someone who is such a light sleeper, I seem to be deaf to alarm bells. They've gone of all around me, my whole life, in almost every aspect. But I always seem to hit a proverbial snooze button, denying the inevitable until something reaches that moment of unavoidable confrontation.

I was thinking about this as I took brisk sunset walk to the Promenade last night. At that moment, even though my Frankenpod could only seem to function on the "shuffle all" setting, it somehow knew what sort of soundtrack fit the mood: David Bowie's "Wild is the Wind" played just as the orange sky darkened over the Brooklyn Bridge. Arcadia's "The Flame" played as I took the scene in (oh, shut it, you purists). Siouxsie and the Banshees "Spellbound" sped up my walk home. And Robyn Hitchcock's "Dark Green Energy" accompanied me to my door.

Lately I've been pondering my single lady status a lot. Even with all the distractions from my busy academic and booze writing, I've had moments where I've been feeling this empty space where a male companion should be, like a phantom limb. Oddly, this is most often when I am in public settings. When I'm around my couple-y friends. When I'm the one who went solo to the gathering. When people have stopped even bothering to put a "plus one" on my invitation.

These thoughts were egged on by an online discussion yesterday about this article from the NY Times. Last weekend, I started reading it, thinking it might contain the answers to why so many women like me live like this. But instead, it was just another piece written from romantic inspiration. Words that never would have been strung together if the writer hadn't found her fucking "soul mate." The exchange with friends today, made me ponder my own path to being 40 and single. Well, 40 and single and clambering for a self-sustaining direction.

The article's message, that being single isn't necessarily someone's fault or choice, doesn't ring true to me. After all I am a person who pursued a degree in Medieval History with no follow up plans and never thought about why there is no such thing as a famous Medievalist. I'm the one who married someone two years after he checked the construction of waterproof boots by drowning them in the bathtub. Then had the nerve to be surprised when this translated into 45 minute teeth brushing twice a day and 6 hour car washing on weekends.

But for all these mistakes, I have done some things right. And even as I wanted to walk through my own self pity party, I could consider the good coming of all this. Being single again introduced me to a new solar system of friendships, adventures and knowledge that never would have been a part of me. I've finally started taking "sensible" directions even though I'm scared shitless of what it will take to reach my new goals. I've been in a bit of a cocoon stage this year. But I am emerging with a better sense of direction, better priorities, and a smaller waistline.

Yet I still have a 36DD chest. Score.

But I don't believe that Times article, that finding a partner isn't about me. That it's just dumb like and people just need to find a partner that appreciates them for what they are. That article is written from the perspective of someone who thinks they won the lottery and wants to gloat without sharing the wealth.

I'm realizing it's about finding someone when there is a better me to share. And that it's likely not this cinematic happenstance. I know now that a snooze button still sounds an alarm. And when to run from it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Tale of Three Wines

Thought I'd take a moment to write on a rare, relaxed Sunday evening. Of course I have a grad school marketing paper due tomorrow. As these things go, I'm wearing the editing hat this week and naturally my west coast team member hasn't submitted his portion yet. So as I await the section on flavored cigarettes marketing strategies (while Bill Hicks rolls in his grave), I thought I'd share an wine-related occurrence.

Friday was my mother's 75th birthday. To celebrate, we went to one of her new favorite restaurants, Il Buco, a homey, haute Italian joint in the East Village, with assorted friends and my Uncle Richard. In attendance were a couple who have been close family friends for decades, and they've amassed quite the serious wine collection over the years. A dinner with them often means some pretty terrific juice to go with it (in the past we've enjoyed things like, oh, 20 year old Chateauneuf du Pape or some dessert wine from a little producer known as Chateau d'Yquem). This occasion being no exception, we happily split the corkage fee to drink the goods. In their cellar, they happened upon a forgotten bottle of Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserve Ducale Oro 1971, ("Who does that," you ask? Let's just say I was in the presence of the only 2 people on earth who hoard that kind of wine and the other shares DNA with me) which they generously brought to honor the 40th anniversary of my birth year. And for my mother, 2 bottles of Ceretto Bricco Rocche Prapo Barolo 1979.

Starting with the Chianti, we opened and decanted each bottle throughout dinner. When the Chianti was first poured, it had this strange beef broth smell and aroma, but I could tell it wasn't corked, just weird. A few rigorous swirls and some fruit flavors surfaced, but it wasn't anything great. But everyone sipped it anyway. I left a lot in my glass and asked for the other wine to be served.

The wine from the first bottle was surprisingly thin and light colored for a Barolo that was likely born the same year as Star Wars. While it had some tart cherry and leather notes, the finish was short and it reminded me more of a young Dolcetto, or even a Freisa, certainly not the "king of wine, the wine of kings." Not that it was bad, but it disappointed. Like it graduated high school as the valedictorian and then ended up blowing the scholarship to tour with the Dead.

The second bottle was markedly different right off the bat. The color was a royal purple (still not the deep red/rust brown one would expect) and it smelled more concentrated. The dark fruit flavors mixed with licorice, earth and spice were much more evident. While this still lacked that wonderful "Barolo-ness" we all craved and this time resembling more of a middle aged Barbera, it was delicious and matched beautifully with our main courses, which were mostly meat or mushroom-centric.

This is when Paul, who brought the wine, told us that the 2 bottles had each been stored differently. One was in a country cellar with no temperature control, the other was in a bonafide wine warehouse kept at 55 degrees. But he wasn't sure which one we opened first! While convention tells us to think the second bottle was the one that had been kept "properly," this might not be the case. Both were lacking the structured flavors and tannins he had laid those bottles down for so long to achieve in the first place. But the second bottle felt heavier and fruitier, maybe that was the one that had been exposed to more heat. Being "cooked" a little might have been beneficial to a weaker wine.

There was still most of my glass of Chianti left, so I decided to take a sip. Guess what? The now hour and a half later made all the difference. Ruffino had been revived with the air and all the pretty flavors came to life, though granted, didn't linger long. I found myself very thankful I'd left some to gather its strength when no one else did. Another big surprise that doesn't add up with what we've been taught. That wine seemed totally DOA and was instead just pretending.

In all, another great celebration in a year of milestones. Plus it's been wonderful to have my uncle around and giggle in a corner with him during these festivities. Sure gonna miss him in October when he goes back to Israel. But at least there are a couple of weeks left to hang out and seem him in far better health than when he arrived. Cheers to my mom and double cheers to everyone's health!