Latkes

“Hashbrowns With Guilt”

Happy Hannukah everyone!

We’re not a religious household, but we do like to celebrate the holidays, and what better way to celebrate Hannukah with latkes – the traditional Jewish pancakes.

So, on Tuesday night, Kate and I spent an hour peeling potatoes and chopping onions, and then I managed to not burn myself with oil frying these delicious potato cakes on my cast iron.

I do have certain basic questions though. Of all the foods that Jews could have claimed, why the potato pancake? It’s not bad, but realistically it’s just a fancy way of doing hashbrowns.

Matzoh I understand – with the Egyptians and Moses and all that. But latkes? If we’re going to take a basic breakfast staple and adopt it as dinner, why not something like a breakfast burrito? Or French Toast? Or a quiche?

Are latkes supposed to be the side dish? Or the main course? Has anyone ever made a sandwich out of brisket with two latkes being the bread? Because if not, I might just open up that food truck.

Long story short, we made a lot of latkes, and now my lunch today is leftover latkes. I might have hit my latke limit.

Latkes – 2 out of 5 Stars

Shower Curtains

“A Thin Line Between Nude and Not”

I have a complicated relationship with shower curtains.

I never encountered one on a daily basis until I lived in Bangkok. Up until then, all my showers had enclosed doors of some sort. Then I moved into a three bedroom apartment in the heart of the Thai city of angels, and my bathing options turned into standing in a bathtub with a shower nozzle attachment.

To the surprise of no one, this system resulted in water getting splashed everywhere on the floor. My roommate who I shared the bathroom with had made the investment into a shower curtain, but then he and his girlfriend moved into the master bedroom, which came with its own bathroom.

Goodbye shower curtain, hello wet floors.

My time in Thailand was amazing, partly because I made it a life mantra to acquire as few material objects that would tie me down as possible. Everything I owned could be put in two suitcases, and that’s how I happily lived my life for almost two years.

This also made me annoyingly stubborn at times. A new shower curtain was curiously expensive to me. Something like fifty dollars US. I refused to invest in shower infrastructure into a home that was only temporary. My roommate’s sister moved in with us, and her and I waged a silent war of wet floors against one another, neither of us caving in, even as our wet feet left tracks all across the apartment.

A few years later, I was living alone in Los Feliz, and my life had flipped upside down. Now it was measured by the things that I owned – one of them being a shower curtain.

A good shower curtain is your defense against the outside world while you’re in your own version of VH1’s Naked and Afraid. No, I’m not constantly terrified in the shower, but it as a time where I’m vulnerable. But with the curtain, I’m protected, and so is my floor.

We recently bought a shower curtain that is covered in a fun pattern of oranges and other flora. We don’t need a shower curtain at all, our bathtub has a sliding door that keeps water in (and provides protection).

This new curtain is almost purely aesthetic. It adds a pop of color to our bathroom, and also hides our various shampoos and shower things that one acquires.

Our floor remains dry, and our shower curtain smugly stares at me whenever I glance over. I may have won the battle, but the curtain won the war.

Shower Curtains – 2 out of 5 Stars 

Daylight Savings

“Time Thievery”

Did you enjoy it? Because I did. That sweet extra hour of sleep last Sunday was glorious.

We got up at 8, went for a run, ate breakfast tacos. The one day when you get that hour back, I bet all of America is just so goddamn smug.

But wait, why do we do this again? Because of…farmers or something? Listen, I know when it’s dark, and I know it’s light. Living in California, I like the full feeling of a well lit day. This is why I live where I live, and not Alaska.

Daylight Savings is an odd tradition, is what I’m trying to say. But like how the rest of the world has the metric system, I say we hang on the Daylight Savings until the sun burns out.

Just kidding, we’ll be dead and gone long before that.

But still. Daylight Savings is a great example of American stubbornness, and I’m fully on board.

Like Fifth Dimension said. Let the Sunshine in.

Or, change your clock back an hour halfway through the year to keep it out.

Daylight Savings – 2 Out of 5 Stars

Breaking Up With Your Couples Therapist

“It’s Not Us, It’s You”

In my first edition of The J.R.S, I wrote about how I was grappling with depression, and how weird the experience is of calling a therapist. I’m happy to say that while I’m not cured (can anyone be cured permanently from sad thoughts?), I’m 100% in a better mental state then I was this time last year.

Part of that experience of getting better eventually led to Kate and I seeing a couples therapist.

First off, if you have never gone to therapy, you should. It’s like having your own personal mental cheerleader. If I ruled the world, I would have three mandates:

  1.  Space Exploration at all costs
  2.  Environmental Care and Protections
  3.  Everyone has to go to Therapy once a month.
It would be a wise move to be a therapist in the land of Joey.

The therapist Kate and I ended up at was a delightful old woman who…we just didn’t click with. Now to be fair, it was couples therapy, and in couples therapy, things can become tense. Our therapist helped us work through some issues in our relationship, and our relationship has never been stronger.

It’s fair to say that our therapist (We’ll call her Dr. Hill), helped us come to terms with dating one another.

Dr. Hill did a good job.

Except when Dr. Hill didn’t. And this isn’t a dig on her professional knowledge or skills, because those seemed to be spot on. It’s just that her methods were a bit…dated for us.

Maybe this is the hyper millennial in us, but both Kate and I struggled with how difficult some basic things surrounding couples therapy became. We couldn’t book appointments online, which resulted in phone tag with me having to take calls at work. I would see the number, awkwardly glance around at my coworkers, and take the call as quickly and as quietly as possible.

Unfortunately, the only time slot that worked with us was at 7:30 AM on a Tuesday morning. Do you know what puts stress on a relationship? Waking up at 6 AM on a Tuesday then battling LA traffic, then spending 50 minutes talking about what can be improved in your couples communication, then frantically battling traffic back to each get to work on time.

Neither of us looked forward to Tuesday mornings.

And then there was the matter of Dr. Hill’s vernacular. At one point she suggested that we go to the library and rent some tapes to listen to. I love the library, but who still rents…tapes? When we mentioned meditation apps like Headspace, we were presented with a blank stare.

During our European adventure, Kate and I had a discussion, and we both decided that we didn’t need to see Dr. Hill anymore. So when we got back, I did what a millennial does.

I ghosted Dr. Hill.

I know, I know. Dick move. But it’s hard to break up with your therapist!

I mentioned this to my other therapist, and what ensued was a 20-minute discussion on how I owe Dr. Hill a call, and that as a professional therapist she would be fine with the outcome.

Instead, I wrote this. Looks like I can always still be improving.

Breaking Up With Your Couples Therapist – 2 out of 5 Stars

Pumpkin Carving

“Gourd Gore”

It’s been heavily documented that I hate Halloween. I’m a fan of seasonal activities, but Halloween just doesn’t do it for me.

Luckily, I’m in a loving relationship with someone who is obsessed with all seasonal holidays. Hooray.

That’s why Kate and I were at a Vons at 10 PM last week loading six large pumpkins into the back seat of my Hyundai Elantra. Because obviously, we were hosting a pumpkin carving party the next night.

I work in a creative field, but my artistic design talents are not a strong skill set. Especially when it comes to imagining a unique vision to carve on such a unique canvas like the face of a pumpkin. So carving pumpkins isn’t really my idea of “fun” on a Friday night.

I do like pumpkin seeds though, so there’s a minor victory in the major defeat.

We made martinis, we talked about Benihana, and two of the six pumpkins were brutally lobotomized, innards scraped, and then marvelously mutilated. One was a standard Jack-O-Lantern, and the other became a spooky skull.

Emerging from the experience relatively unscathed, I felt at peace with our Pumpkin Carving. We had done it, Kate had gotten her fix, and now we could live another 365 days without thinking about what type of smiles to stab into innocent gourds.

I set them outside in our back patio, safe from errant pumpkin smashers, and then left them alone.

You can see the writing on the wall, can’t you? I came home from work yesterday to see both pumpkins deflated, rotting already, and when I got closer, a huge cloud of flies buzzed around me.

After dry heaving a few times, I grabbed a trash bag, shielded my eyes, and shoved the rotting ruin into the bags, tied it shut, and threw it away.

So, does anyone want a pumpkin or four to carve?

Pumpkin Carving – 2 out of 5 Stars

Rapid Fire Reviews

“Because Snackable Content Sticks”

To stop living in a festering pool of guilt and internal tension, I’m going to reset the clock. Here are 18 rapid fire reviews.

Travel Edition Part 3: Amsterdam

Trains to Work – The only time the world can hit “snooze” on your perfectly timed morning is with a late train. Still, it beats driving.  – 3 out of 5 Stars

Zoos – Whenever I have a moment while traveling, I’ll visit a zoo in a weird place. Animal rights tabled for the moment, the zoo in Amsterdam is my favorite cuddly jail, it had wide awake animals all over the place. Talk about instant gratification! – 4 out of 5 Stars

Envy – A fancy restaurant Kate and I went to in Amsterdam. We sat at the Chef’s Table and had an 11-course meal, four of which were mostly foam based. Do I want to eat most food in foam form? No. Was it cool though? I dunno, is eating bubbles cool? Absolutely. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Misc

Our Current Political Climate – 0 out of 5 Stars

Jicama Sticks – They lack the crunch of carrots, and yet have the weird texture of watermelon. – 2 out of 5 Stars

Bohnanaza – A card game where you’re a bean farmer and have to trade with other farmers to reap the best bean harvests. You know it’s a good game when you’re standing up and shouting across the table “HOW MANY STINK BEANS DO YOU WANT FOR ONE CHILI BEAN GODDAMMIT” – 4 out of 5 stars

Twitter – I’ve gotten back into the word whirlwind that is Twitter. Avoid all Kanye tweets. – 2 out of 5 Stars

Chia Pods – We were mistakenly given a bagful of these in our last Instacart order. They’re like if you mixed bad pudding with the gelatin portion of pomegranate seeds. – 1 out of 5 Stars 

The Good Place – What a brilliant show, and what trust in the writing staff. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Cheers – Speaking of Ted Danson, this show is uncomfortably misogynist. However, that seems like a great bar to hang at. – 2 out of 5 Stars

A Career in the Postal Service – I’ve often dreamed about is being a mailman in a nice walkable neighborhood. You get to exercise every day, you could listen to podcasts at work (learn French!) and most of the time you’re delivering something important to people’s lives. – 3 out of 5 Stars

Jazz Flute – When Kate and I were in Spain, the only music we had at the house were a stack of CD’s her family had left. Most of them were classical, except one was an album that had crazy good jazz flute renditions of Brazillian music. An Absolute Banger. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Silent Discos on the Beach – If time permits, I try to run after work before the sun goes down on the beach. Recently I’ve been coming across a group of Burner types who all wear headphones and gyrate wildly in silence on the beach as the sun goes down. Whatever works I guess. – 3 out of 5 Stars

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes – A recipe taken from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings, put this in your weekly rotation now. It’s the deliciousness of mashed potatoes, sans the Irish guilt. – 5 out of 5 Stars 

Bad Blood – I just finished this book about Theranos, the Silicon Valley startup that tricked investors out of a billion dollars, and then immediately made Kate read it. I’m usually not one for nonfiction, but this is a fascinating and fast read. – 4 out of 5 Stars

Wearing My Suit to a Wedding – Got to finally break that bad boy out for a trip to DC a few weeks back. While people weren’t throwing money or their bras at me, I did feel like a million bucks (at a 40% discount, thanks Atta!) – 4 out of 5 Stars

Pumpkins for Decoration – It’s October again, which means I start stressing about my Halloween costume, and Kate goes overboard on decorating. Our house now contains a pumpkin that we will never eat. It will just slowly rot until I throw it in the garbage. – 1 out of 5 Stars

Crossing Things off a List – Every Monday morning I sit down and make a list of thing I need to get done for the week. Some of them are ongoing projects, but some of them are gimmes. I literally write “make a list” and then when I’m done, cross it off. I encourage endorphin manipulation at all opportunities. – 3 out of 5 Stars 

Travel Size

This is the beginning of three-part series that documents the two-week journey that Kate and I are embarking on. We’re going to a beach town in Spain for a week, then heading to Amsterdam for work.

PART ONE: TRAVEL PREPAREDNESS

“Convenient and Cute!”

When you plan for a two week trip in a couple of countries, size matters. We’ve made the decision to not check a bag because we’re not heathens, but that means that each and every item and object needs to earn their spot in our coveted carry-ons.

Kate is a sucker for miniature versions of things. Whenever she has a bad day, I bring her one of those small bottles of wine they sell in four packs, and they instantly put a smile on her face (and a blush to her cheeks).

Our journey to Spain and the Netherlands gave her the excuse she needed to go a bit ham in the travel size section of CVS and Target. So don’t worry, when it comes to mini conditioner, sunscreen, shaving cream, and even bath salts, we’re good to go.

This got me thinking about travel size… everything. So here is a list of things in life that I wish came in travel size versions.

Baseball Glove + Ball – I don’t play catch as much as I would like to (no, it’s not “have a catch,” it’s “play”), but I would like to have the option to always be able to be ready to throw.

Vinyl Record Player – Because what if the place I’m staying at doesn’t feel hipster enough. How will they know that I’ve been a fan of Jim James for years?

Lasagna – I just really really like lasagna.

Puppies – Travel is stressful. I wish that I could just rent a cute puppy to sit next to me on a flight, but one that didn’t actually have any needs. Just someone for me to play with, then have it fall asleep on my lap, which would, in turn, put me to sleep.

Newspapers – I love newspapers, in theory. But holy crap I hate trying to read one! The folding, the going to page 16 to finish a story on the front page. It’s a hassle. And don’t say just read a magazine. Magazines are garbage.

Now I realize there are solutions to almost each and every one of these travel size options, but it’s my fantasy, you are all just silent observers.

Travel Size – 2 out of 5 Stars