Craig's ingenious lady gifted him with entry in the LA Marathon for Christmas. The event is in March, thus the window for training is very short. Drastic measures will have to come into play for him to be ready. Which was the point of the gift. It was a ploy to get Craig to stop smoking and eating all of those carne asada tacos every day at work. Craig recognized this, but he cannot let a challenge go unmet. Thus, after a few days of two fisted smoking (yes, I mean a cigarette in each fist), he began training with a wheezing 10 mile run. I think that was a pretty good start for someone claiming to be gorging on turkey every day during the past week. Still, I gave him no sympathy for nearly hacking up a lung. And though I'm not at work, I may still tempt him with a hot breakfast sandwich delivered by Jon. I like poking the bear when he's in training. Craig in training is a fascinating mix of crankiness and hilarity. I will make sure to provide updates.
That's my new favorite phrase. Julia Child coined it to describe her work on her first cook books. It doesn't cover just the writing of the book but all of the research and experiments with recipes. The phrase sounds magical to me somehow – like she was conjuring something more than writing or cooking. Her memoir, My Life in France, was certainly magical for me. It was not just because she was detailing life in France (though I devoured every word and savored every description). I was delighted by Julia's life and her passion for food. I won't go into great detail here. There is no way to do that delightful narrative justice. I heartily recommend reading it for yourself. Click on the title for a link to buy.
What struck me so profoundly in this book was how late in life Julia began her amazing career with food. She was in her 40s when Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published. That was only the beginning of a very long and successful career as a TV chef. For those of us facing ever bigger birthdays, misgivings about choices and timing come up more and more often. Should I have started down this road sooner? Why didn't I take that risk? I shudder at the opportunities I let pass me by in my undergrad days. Those thoughts can really plague one's mind, especially when one is in a situation where there is a lot of time to think. Julia's book was a potent antidote to such musings. She could not have achieved the level of success had she started earlier in life. She needed all of those years of life experience to have the drive, diligence and patience necessary to graduate from culinary school and take on the massive amount of research necessary to produce that cook book. Thus, I was inspired and uplifted. Naturally, all that talk of food made me want to cook some new things. She had some tips in Julia's Kitchen Wisdom that solved problems I'd been having with some recipes. And I was reminded that I wasn't mature enough in my 20s to try to make it in the entertainment industry here. Frankly, my writing wasn't as good as it is now. I needed life experience to have characters with any kind of depth. Also, the industry is very different now. Independent filmmakers are far more accepted now than they were in the 80s. A studio or heavy connections aren't as necessary now as they were then. I am here at the right time with the tools and perspective to make it. Thank you, Julia, for a timely reminder.
It will be a while before I can tackle some of those recipes. I am often admonished to no push myself to hard or too fast. However, that hasn't stopped me from my foodie activities. I advised three people on recipes last week and even wrote one for a talented cook I know that I'll be posting in the food blogs I frequent. It's a very spicy variant on collard greens that I think those chefs will enjoy. It was very tasty but on the outer edge of heat for me. He could tell me what he used to make the dish, but not the quantities. I did a little experimenting of my own and came up with a written recipe for him. That was fun.
All in all, the double ought decade was not so horrible. That's from a strictly personal viewpoint. Globally, well, it's good that it's over. And hopefully, the next one will be better. Personally though, the positives far outweigh the negatives. We've been to France twice (and to the Riviera as well). Those six glorious weeks gave me a lifetime of memories. I visited beautiful Vancouver, a city so breathtaking that it is gorgeous in cold, rainy February. I saw Springsteen perform on both coasts. During the East Coast concert, I drank lovely champagne served with a delicious strawberry. We helped save the Stone Pony from demise (this claim is from my friend and muse, Kim. I choose to believe her). Oh yeah, we made a feature film and a number of shorts. These projects had us working with some really talented people. And I finally became a novelist. I've re-connected with dear friends and made deeper connections with my family. Even this blog has brought me so many lovely friends and some interesting opportunities. The decade was not without personal disasters, frustrations and disappointments, but I gained so much more than I loss.
And I am ready for an even better decade.
Happy New Year!