Dear lord, I keep trying to sneak in here to blog away, and something is always sneaking up to keep me occupied.

Camping was amazing up in Wellesley Island State Park. I stopped in Rochester to pick up Cori, and grab some lunch with Greg and Kelly at The Distillery. After some delicious eats, we were off to northern New York state!

It may not suffice as a legit vacation1, but a 3-4 day weekend kicking back with an awesome young lady is a very good substitute. We setup camp Friday afternoon and just took it easy for the rest of the day. Once I figured out how to put the tent back up again, that is. It’s been a few years!

Cori rocked it on the food front. I had brought bacon, eggs, pork chops, chicken breasts (to marinate with sesame & ginger dressing), and some sausages and a couple chicken burgers of varying styles (cheddar/broccoli/bacon, polish, feta/spinach, respectively). I had asked Cori to take charge of bringing some marinated veggie concoctions, and boy did she. Gallon bags of eggplant and onion, mushrooms and peppers, green and yellow sliced squashes, and balsamic-marinated portabellas. And that wasn’t including snacks! Dear lord…apples, peanut butter and caramel dip for said apples, gallon bag of mixed berries (*drool*), ingredients for caprese (*drooling even worse*), and I’m sure I’m missing something else there. Regardless, I was thoroughly shocked at the additional smorgasbord that was coming along.

Saturday, we checked out the Autumn Festival that goes on in the park every fall apparently. It isn’t anywhere near the size of the Ellicottville Fall Festival that I’ve already been to, but it was a quaint little festival nonetheless. Not much to see (besides some alpacas and calves), but the $5 boat tour of the nearby islands was worth the fare!

Sunday ended up as a ~5-mile hike in the park and an afternoon trip for delicious alma mater foodies from Cori’s college years. And some lawn chairs. The wooden bench was wearing at our asses in the evening. Anyhoo, late lunch/early dinner ended up being at The Bagelry, which is essentially as the name implies: a bagel deli of sorts. Delicious, open-faced bagel sandwiches at an expectable price range. We dined on those while enjoying the riverfront nearby, followed by a short tour around the hotspots of her college years in the area. Half-dozing, we got back to the campsite well after sunset.

Monday we spent gobbling up the rest of the eggs, berries, and another helping of our daily bacon before closing camp. We hit up Alexandria Bay to take a boat shuttle out to Boldt Castle, in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. Wandering around for a few hours on a self-guided tour of the castle undergoing restoration was pretty amazing. Still awesome to see what kind of structures have been and are still being built in the last century!

Heading back out, we splurged on a lunch with apples & Nutella (not sure how Cori missed me mentioning that the first afternoon), caprese, and some salad with the leftover marinated chicken. We ate like royalty that weekend, I swear! And to top it all off, her parents’ invited me to stay over for dinner upon returning to Rochester: chicken parmigiana with homemade sauce, homemade spaghetti, salad, garlic bread, and baked marinated squash (that we didn’t even touch all weekend). Omilord was I spoiled! After trying to relax and digest all that food, it was indeed difficult to muster the willpower and energy to drive all the way back to Buffalo after that weekend.

I didn’t even stay in Buffalo that long. Cori procured us tickets to go see Andrew Bird over at Harro East in Rochester, so off I went immediately after work on Wednesday for that show! Following up a modestly long performance by Dosh and Bird, some food was necessary. An unexpected drop in at Jay’s Diner hit the spot! Some awesome clam chowder2 set the meal off right. I can’t even remember what else I got; the chowder was the best part!

A necessary crash at the Bed & Breakfast was necessary before hitting the road and driving right back to Buffalo. So much back and forth in just a week! Thankfully, it’s only an hour drive; anything over two hours would quickly become a bit miserable to deal with, uffda.

So here I am, finally trying to finish out this week. I’ve got a Chinese dinner night in planned for Friday3, followed by documentation of Rachel’s lopping off of her hair for Roswell Park on Saturday morning, some linguine alla carbonara with fixings for dinner, and then off to the Buffalo Philharmonic to see the ‘Dead Russians concert’, as Cori likes to describe it. Sunday is supposed to involve a trip out to the Great Pumpkin Farm’s Fall Festival over in Clarence with Nicole, Kate, and likely some other social media-ites, before finally sending Cori back off to Rochester. It’ll be a modestly busy but enjoyable weekend!

I’m not even going to bother with dumping my photos to my blog from the camping excursion. I’m still trying to play catchup with the pictures I took from Nicole’s birthday wine tour as well, so just go check my flickr stream if you really want to see what turned out.

In the interim, I think it’s very much time for some sleep…the clock just passed midnight…

1I still haven’t taken my two weeks off this year yet. It’s starting to wear on me…uffda.
2Not just a modest cup of it either, a whole bowl was necessary after the deluge we ran through after the concert!
3Presuming that it doesn’t get sidetracked or derailed by anything else immediately upon arrival…*raises a brow*

Twelve years ago, a month or so after graduating high school, I told my parents I was going out to join a few friends in Oak Park to rollerblade. I took the old and trustworthy Toyota, picked up Kristen who wasn’t within blading distance of the park, and met the other friend Chris at the park. We killed an hour or so just toodling around the park, talking about whatever inane topic of the evening that it was, and just had fun. We were taking the last lap around and I decided to work up some speed, sending me into a knee-crashing wipeout on a downslope. The asphalt tore up my knee pretty badly; the blood was oozing down my shins at a decent rate.

We got back to my pickup, I scoured the glove compartment for some fast food napkins, and got to applying pressure to my knee (and cleaning up the rest of the mess on my shins). We sat in the pickup bed for another hour or two, continuing our obviously important conversation pieces well into the dusk. It wasn’t until the City of Minot PD car came rolling through that we suddenly realized, “oh, right, the parks close at 10pm!” In lieu of having the police officer join us in our discussion, we packed up and got into the pickup cab. We decided the night was still young, and set out for Ryan’s Family Diner1.

Entertaining our usual diner affair with fried mozzarella sticks and a glut of weak (albeit tasty) diner coffee, we proceeded to crush the night. Conversation after conversation, we meandered our way effortlessly from story to discussion to postulation. The theme of the night to this point was the inability to keep track of time, and we stuck with that plan of action, whether it be intentional or not. Six hours later, Kristen noted that the creepy-crawl of the dawn sun was making itself known over the horizon. The realization set in; nearly ten hours later, we were all still out, and morning was kicking in. Oooops…

I drove Chris and Kristen both home. I have no idea if their parents were awake when they snuck back into their respective houses. I wondered if they were fearing a reaming out like I was. I had never done anything like this before. My parents had always expected me either gone for an entire night at a friend’s or function’s establishment, or expected me back in around midnight or so. As I drove up to my own house I could see that my father was already awake and into his morning routine, as indicated by the lights on in the house2. The dread was setting in.

Turning the deadbolt and knob locks as quietly as possible, I snuck into the house and hoped that the dogs were still in a sleepy stupor. Thankfully yes, and my father was in the shower, so I snuck into my bedroom (which already had a closed door), and attempted to feign my sleeping presence. Until I heard my mother coming down the stairs, followed by a rapid rapping on my bedroom door. Oh. Shit. There she stood, no glasses, bathrobe-wrapped, and her general state of early-morning irritable.

Jamie! Where the hell were you all night?!?
*sheepish and embarassed* We got caught up after rollerblading. I skinned my knee, had to stop that bleeding, and we went to Ryan’s afterwards…sorry!” *insert gulp of concern*
The least you could have done was at least tell us where you were! *exasperated sigh, shakes head, and just goes back upstairs*
*dumb-founded look on my face*

My father finished his shower, went upstairs to finish putting his BDUs on, and then came back down to have a brief discussion with me. He’s always been the chillax parent (almost too relaxed at times), and just wanted to convey that they know I’ll be okay out on my own and whatnot, and they’ll trust that, but they just want me to check in and let them know. Help keep the anxiety and concern down, so they don’t have to worry about the unexpected if it’s not necessary.

This was when I finally learned that I was relegated into a whole different league of personal responsibility than I ever thought I was allowed into. My parents had resigned me into the ‘responsible adult’ category with some minor stipulations, and I had never realized I was now entrusted with such freedoms. I had inadvertently transitioned from the ‘high school kid’ to the ‘you’re on your own kid.’

Return to the present. I’m burdened down with a glut of mental anvils. I’m wrapping up a divorce. I’m still working my way through grad school. I’m still floundering around in relationships3, I have no fiscal reservoir for stability as a graduate student, and I have my own personal haunts associated with a bunch of these that have lingered since my college days. Every day I wake up, my head spins with everything that I’m worrying about myself, and what other people must think of me having to deal with this stuff.

Tuesday night, I got to watch Mr. Rizzo get on-stage for Kristen Becker’s Doin’ Time at Nietzsche’s. I’d be mortified to get up on stage and do stand-up comedy. Yet somehow he manages to. He puts all his insecurities aside, and gets up there to make people laugh, whether it works or not.

I’ve learned that so much of life is presentation to others. You don’t even have to hide what you’re insecurities are in life; if you embrace them and incorporate them, they come back together and make you whole. This came apparent in talking with Rizzo, Wolcott, and Callahan after stand-up, when we went to get some dinner at The Towne. Just the subtle jokes about insecurities, and how everyone is still dealing with trying to not come off as having a case of the crazy, made me realize (yet again) just how much I over-think my own issues.

I somehow got randomly wrapped into the threesome conversation of jokes, and was told “Jamie seems to know what he’s doing; he’s got it together.” This wasn’t really aimed at life in general (more specifically relationships), but it made me stop and think. Maybe I really do have it together. Not as together as I’d ideally like to think, but perhaps by normal standards it really is.

I’ve put myself on a whole different level of standards for so long. I don’t even really know what most people shoot for. Between those, I think it’s time to quit worrying about all those self-imposed standards I’ve instituted because I need to look fine to everyone else. I felt I was slipping on all those standards, but everyone thinks I’m doing fine. And really, I am doing fine. I’ve got student loans. I’m still not done with graduate school after five years. My income is low enough I have to have a roommate to get by comfortably. I’m 30, and I still don’t have a permanent career-type job.

Instead now, I’m coming to realize the following. That, I may have loans, but I know how to manage my debt. I may not be graduated, but I’m finally in that last year to allow me to graduate. I may not make much, but get by comfortably thanks to a quirky and accepting roommate. I may not have a permanent career, but I’m lining myself up (over a decade) to really do work I love: asking why things work the way they do. And I may be flummoxing around mentally in relationships, but I’ve (mostly) got my shit together for them, and improving with every little step along the way.

And so the transmogrification happens again…the realization that I’m just an unstable particle in my own life, flailing wildly about, am finally releasing my anxious energy, and stabilizing into a predictable, stable orbit that is me.

Wow. I really did end that with a quantum physics analogy. *smirk*

1Which, sadly, closed during my college years. I was terribly saddened to find this out.
2Working for the Air Force, my father got into a very regular routine of waking up at ludicrously early hours (e.g. 3:30-4am) and leaving for work by 5:30am.
3Floundering, as in thinking I have no idea what I’m doing. I never dated until college. And even once I got there, rapid-fire failures of a few quick relationships eventually scared me off from them. And now here I am, ten years later trying to find myself love once again…

Last week was a mess of playing catchup so I could enjoy my crazy-assembled weekend, and now this week is playing the intermediary before another big weekend.

I’m pretty sure I wasted too much of Monday evening cranking out that enormous, relatively incomplete and/or rushed blog post, only to have to rush off for some birthday drinks. In reality, I should have been finishing writing my paper, which I ended up having to crank like crazy on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Between the fact that I was going to be out of town over the weekend, and I had dinner plans both Thursday and Friday evening, I really had no choice but to finish just about all the writing by Wednesday evening so I could stay a tisch distraction free. It’s been tricky lately to stay terribly focused; I’ve been trying to juggle a lot lately mentally. It may be time to start working on a written list of tasks again.

Thursday’s dinner at The Viking Lobster Company was delicious! Splitting out a Viking Seafood Feast for two resulted in a pair of lobsters, broiled haddock, enormous scallops, some jumbo shrimp, and some large crab leg slices. Mind you, this all followed a Portuguese clam chowder1 and a house salad with a clam & peppercorn creamy dressing2. Friggin’ delicious! Combine that with an amazing (and mildly amusing, despite bruising conveyed in a recent update) night in afterwards, I was very ready to decompress after all that writing from earlier in the week. Friday night supplemented that very nicely with a dinner at O’Connell’s American Bistro for Restaurant Week with most of the social media crew. A delicious four-course sampling with about a half bottle of some (rather mild and smooth) Malbec left me about drained of energy for the week. ‘Twas difficult to let Cori go for the evening after the past 28 hours, but she had a deadline to make back at home, and I had to start prepping for my trip to Cincinnati over the weekend.

Last year, myself, Doc Hohle, and Doc G all took a trip down to Cincinnati for the Bills/Bengals game, being that Hohle is a Bengals fan, and Gerrish is a Bills fan. I was offered an invite on the trip, it sounded fun, so off I went with! We also made an informal pact to attend the next Bills/Bengals game if we were all still in the general area of the country at that point. Little did we realize that both teams’ dismal standings put them into a matchup again the following season, this year. So off we drove, early Saturday morning, to another Bills at the Bengals game, down in Cincinnati. Adding to this trip, we picked up a friend of Doc G’s in Pittsburgh along the way, making the drive marginally longer.

Nearly ten hours on the road after leaving Buffalo, we finally made it into Cincinnati. A quick check-in to the Hotel Motel Holiday Inn, and we were off to get some dinner at Buckhead Mountain Grill. They have a pretty amazing chicken pot pie, that is complemented by a pair of a veritable slew of sides. I was terribly disappointed by the enormous Shiner Bock that I had ordered, so it was a doubly dumb decision to order such a large bock without having tasted it first.

Not much to say about the Bills/Bengals game. If you watched it, you saw the lovely attempt at control the Bills had, before the Bengals took over. If you didn’t? Well, Cincinnati lost, finally putting the Bills out of their undefeated streak to open the season with. I always get weird looks wearing my Packers jersey at non-Packers games, but I do enjoy me a little football, and I’m clean about enjoying it, regardless of where I’m watching it! Surprisingly at the gate, the guard that patted me down mentioned how she has often seen people wearing non-game jerseys (like mine own) just to cover offensive clothing, so she asked to see my clothing underneath. I was kind of shocked by this, but apparently it has happened before. It rather saddens me that fans have resorted to such a thing at a sporting event. I mean seriously people: it’s just a game! If you’re so upset that you take any criticism of a game personally, then you need to really re-evaluate your stance on the sport!

Leaving the game is only a step towards the weekend I’m craving. Nine hours of driving only left me daydreaming of camping all weekend long. Surveying the week, I’ve actually got a bunch of stuff to finish.

  • Tonight was my (weak-ass) attempt to catch up on all the TV season premieres that I follow. Yes. Premieres. I’m already two weeks behind on my television. I have a very valid excuse, no worries!
  • Tuesday night is dedicated to checking the tent gear and making sure everything is there. Also, any last minute shopping for gear in case I’m missing something. Pretty positive that I have everything, however. Oh, right, and comedy night down at Nietzsche’s to see Mr. Rizzo at work!
  • Wednesday night is jelly night. Time to crank through the rest of my hot and sweet peppers and get some jelly done!
  • Thursday is grocery shopping and prep night. Getting all the roaster veggies chopped up and marinating for campfire cooking! Also, packing my gear would be good to do, as well.

Then, once Friday gets here, it’s time to pack up the car and hit the road3!

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I have an almond cake to dig into for the third time tonight…*Homer drool*

1Supposedly a brothy, sweet chowder, but I can’t seem to find any recipes online that are adequately describing it. Onions, potatoes, carrots, clam, and a little bit of lobster. It was quite tasty, despite the cooked carrot taste messing me up a little.
2The restaurant makes all of their own dressings for their salads, so this sounded terribly appetizing!
3I may have to make another check into the County Clerk’s office. The final processing on this divorce is taking foreeeeeeeeeever. Ugh!