Friday, July 31, 2009

Sundae Bloody Sundae

I just ate a sundae from Baskin Robbins. It was made of chocolate oreo ice cream covered in hot fudge, caramel and topped off with whipped cream and crushed oreos. It was glorious.

There are very few fast food options around my day job, and fewer still that can be considered "healthy." There is a Whole Foods store about half a mile away, but I really value my lunch hour and want as much time as possible to sit and read and not think about work. There's also a Pockets which makes all kinds of salads but the problem there is I don't like salad. I could do Jimmy Johns, which is stretching it as far as the "healthy" idea goes. And of course the ubiquitous McDonalds. My trough of choice usually ends up being the Boston Market about two blocks away. I like the food, and as long as I steer clear of the mac-n-cheese I can convince myself that what I'm eating won't increase my chances of a coronary too drastically. The downside here is that the Boston Market is located right next to a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins combo. I have to pass it to get back to work. It calls to me. And today I succumbed to its siren song.

I walked back to work with the sundae in my hand, eating with the pink plastic long-handled spoon as I walked. Between bites I scolded myself, but the voice in my head wasn't really committed to it. It was eclipsed by the blooms of happiness and sunshine that accompanied each bite of ice cream. I told myself I'd earned it. When it was finished I felt ridiculous. I'd earned it? What exactly had I done to earn a sundae? A good report card in second grade might earn me a sundae. I'm thirty-five years old. What does a grown man do to earn a sundae?

Here's the weird thing: Eating bad food makes me feel great. During the time I am actually eating I feel good physically and I feel good about myself mentally, spiritually, whatever. I feel prepared to take on any task, overcome any challenge. Bring it on! I'll get it done -- just as soon as I'm done eating. Once I am done eating, however, the real physical effects of all that sugar, or grease, or whatever, actually kicks in and I feel like shit. And I tell myself that next time I will have more self-control. I tell myself next time I'll get a salad, or just some chicken and mixed veggies. While I'm at it, I'll start doing push-ups and crunches in the morning, ride my bike more, start running. I should look into a yoga class. Don't I know a trainer? When does that gym open? And so on...

... until the next morning when I realize that I'd have to get up a whole hour earlier to go for a run or a bike ride, and push-ups when you're carrying an extra eighty or ninety pounds of flab are almost a non-starter. Weights are heavy and make me sore. Cardio makes me sweaty and tired. And none of it works fast enough to make me feel like any of it is worth the effort. But you know what will make me feel better right now? Donuts. And one or two of those croissant sandwiches with ham, eggs and cheese. Lots of cheese. And that ineffectual voice in the back of my head will keep his fingers crossed that this candy bar isn't the one that pushes me into the realm of borderline diabetes, and this hot dog isn't the one that sends my cholesterol over the edge of a heart attack.

But you see, I only drink diet soda, so that makes it all okay.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Home Again

Vacation is over. We flew back to Chicago yesterday. I find myself viewing my hometown with new eyes.

I loved Seattle. It's just a beautiful town. The atmosphere was night and day compared to Chicago. This was most apparent as we were on our way to the airport yesterday morning. We were in a cab, and an SUV pulled up alongside of us. The window came down and a voice asked our driver, very politely, if they could merge in front of us. Our driver waved them over, and all was well. We took a second cab home after landing at O'Hare. As we approached our exit our driver flicked on his turn signal and began to switch lanes. Another car sped forward and cut us off. That car's driver then stuck his head out of his window and yelled, "A turn signal doesn't mean you can just merge, motherfucker!" As we got closer to home I looked at people out on the streets and they all just looked pissed off. Everybody hates each other here. How did I not notice that before?

Seattle doesn't have the same kind of theater scene as Chicago. If it did, I would be making plans to get back there right now. As it is, such a move is just plain unrealistic. But, I plan on getting back there as soon as possible, even if it's just for a weekend.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Seattle, Washington

We have arrived. It was a long last day of driving through some scenery I wish I could have paused to enjoy, but we're here now and we have a room with a great view in a hotel with a hot tub. Mandy and I had dinner with my parents and youngest siblings tonight at a seafood restaurant right on the water. Tomorrow is the rehearsal for my sister's wedding, and so there will be plenty more family and eating and all that great stuff. O Happy Day!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Butte, Montana

Gettin' tired. It was a long day in the car today, and we've got another one tomorrow. We did, however, get to see the battlefield at Little Bighorn, where Custer made his famous last stand. I must confess I really knew nothing about it before. We took a short bus tour and then rode through on our own. There is not a whole lot out there, but the story is fascinating.

The rest of the day we rode into the mountains, crossed the Continental Divide and arrived in Butte around seven o'clock local time. The four of us (Mandy, my parents and myself) are getting pretty tired, but the whole trip has been worth it. Tomorrow we embark on the final leg of this cross-country jaunte, and then spend the rest of the week exploring Seattle.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Gillette, Wyoming

Today was a full day. We started off with Mt. Rushmore, which was far more impressive than I imagined it could be. The monument itself is extraordinary; the view from the monument is stunning. This is the kind of thing that future civilizations will uncover and they will wonder who these deities were and what could they have meant to the primitive creatures that worshiped them. It is worthy of Lord of the Rings or something just as epic. There is also a gift shop.

We moved from there to the Crazy Horse monument, still under construction. This was something of a let-down. The story behind the monument is amazing but the thing itself is just not there enough yet to really hit you where it counts. If it turns out anything like the drawings it will rival Mt. Rushmore's mythic qualities, but right now there is just this apologetic vibe to the whole thing. And you can't get within a mile of it without shelling out a lot of cash.

And then there was Deadwood. I'm glad I saw it. The frustrating thing is that besides the cemetery everything that made Deadwood famous is gone, covered up with casinos. There was something about seeing the graves of Wild Bill, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock that gave me a thrill, though. Bullock's grave requires some serious effort to get to, but it was worth it. And again, the views are unbelievable.

Tomorrow we hope to get a look at Little Big Horn in Montana, but we have a lot of distance to cover by Wednesday so we shall see.

Addendum: If you ever find yourself in Gillette, Wyoming, I highly recommend Humphrey's Sports Bar and Grill. We had some fantastic steaks, and the bread comes with this cinnamon-butter thing that was a religious experience. And they have something like forty different kinds of beer, if you like that sort of thing.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Big Rapids, South Dakota

We spent most of the day checking out the Badlands of South Dakota. Absolutely gorgeous. Hotter than hell, but worth it. It is so quiet out there.

We're a little behind schedule. Tomorrow: Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fairmont, Minnesota

Mandy and I are accompanying my folks on a cross-country trek to Seattle for my sister's wedding. We spent most of today on I-90, and have stopped off in Fairmont, Minnesota, for the first hotel stop. This is my first time in Minnesota. While the parts of the state within two miles of the Mississippi River are quite scenic, the rest of the place is dead flat and smells like manure. That said, we just got back from a restaurant with the friendliest waitstaff I've ever experienced. That Minnesota dialect is no joke, people. You will succumb to the niceness.

Tomorrow we'll head into South Dakota, and hopefully have time for Mt. Rushmore and Deadwood. I'm itching to see Deadwood. Cocksuckers.