The Melancholic Lobster Expedition

At some point in 2011, my love affair with food was getting hot and heavy.  I decided that many of my next travels should be determined by a food destination. I wanted fresh lobster from the waters of Maine.  I wanted blue crab from Baltimore.  I missed the food in New Orleans.  I wanted to sit in a real Irish bar in Boston, maybe the same one I visited when I just turned 21 and pissed off the owner.  I wanted hatch chiles in New Mexico, and whatever random stuff I found along the way. And that is just the domestic portion of the list.  There is an international portion as well.

The long list of cuisines and cities was pinned to the bulletin board above the desk in my home office.  It was a thrilling idea, immediately followed by melancholy.  It saddened me to know that, despite being in a relationship, I would be crossing these cities off, alone, as usual.  My boyfriend at the time, preferred to spend his money on building motorcycles and hot-rods, and trying to get him to discuss potential future travel ideas was like pulling teeth.  I liked what he was into, but my heart always yearns to travel.  It had started becoming apparent how much we wanted different things out of life.

Months later, as I was booking a burlesque tour, giving myself a month to not just perform, but have some time alone, assuming it would be good for me after dealing with a couple of blows to my spirit.  I realized that I could easily visit a couple of food destinations from my list as well, and from there on, I had built a food tour within my burlesque tour!

The Melancholic Lobster Expedition is just one of many snippets during my month-long solo journey, best summed up as:  A burlesque dancer travels around the country, taking her clothes off for enough money to eat and drink her way through a multitude of various regional cuisines.  Simultaneously seeking relief from the mourning of a breakup and the loss of her father, she wrestles with professional struggles in Austin, Texas after having relocated from a successful and happy life in New Orleans.

Its almost formulaic- travel pairs well with stories of redemption and healing, relationship troubles, finding oneself, and completing goals that may seem silly to other people.  The funny thing, is that the travels did not help matters, and where one would assume that all that eating, drinking, dancing, socializing, and alone time would have made for a happy ending- I just felt shittier when I got back.

It took a few years to pick my ass up off the ground.  But I look back on these bittersweet memories of travel, heartache, and personal growth, and I write it, because it feels like a tension that I have to get out of my chest.  I wrestle with it feeling like I am trivializing my life to sound book-worthy.  That is the hard part of writing memoir.  But I know it will inspire and entertain someone, someday down the line, like many writers have done for me.

Portland.Maine.2012_43 Continue reading

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Raise the Minimum Wage and Lift up America.

Opinion Essay

Because I know you really want to read my opinion on the potential minimum wage increase to $15 in Oregon….
And because I want you to know that I want ALL OF YOU to be able to have a better quality of life; and if you don’t want someone to be able to take their family on one vacation a year, just because they are a lesser-skilled worker, then you are pretty much, the definition of Evil. Evil ain’t cool.


Yesterday on the radio, a business owner stated that although it will be hard on him to pay the anticipated increased minimum wage (see: Oregon may raise minimum wage to $15 per hour), he supports any idea that will allow more customers to afford his products.  It was the first time that I heard this perspective in the discussion on raising the minimum wage in America.

Opponents of the wage increase, often cite that it will hurt small businesses the most.  This causes a little fear in me, because I prefer working for smaller businesses.  I always have.

I quit working for the corporate world when I stopped working for a corporate coffee chain back in the early 2000’s. I have worked for 12 small businesses in the last 13 years.  If more people can afford to shop at small or large businesses, then both workers and businesses come out on the winning end. Continue reading

Continuing Education…with Wine.

Once in awhile, I worry that I won’t find a serious wine industry job, because 1) Particularities about my looks- I am a heavily tattooed woman, who often dresses loudly, and 2) How I talk- I say “Ya’ll” and I cuss a lot.  Ok… and sometimes I make fun of wine. And I know someone with a grape-vine stuck up their ass is going to think I am being disrespectful.

Irreverent.

Irreverent.

I figure this stuff will be an issue, here and there, because it usually is in most professional industries.  However, I am inspired to persevere by the rebellious nature of Oregon’s wine pioneers, the first female wine maker in Oregon, and many other people who set out to do their thing, on their own terms.  If any of my character traits are going to hold me back with some people, then I am just going to have to be better at what I do, and study harder for what there is to know.  And thats not a bad thing.

The fun part, is that I get to drink wine in order to study wine.

The hard part, is that it costs money to learn, and its a damn shame that we Americans chain ourselves to the debts of our college education, long before many of us discover our true calling. For me, I am saddened that I can not afford the 2-4 months off from my regular job, in order to work for a lesser paying harvest job.  I feel like it is important for me to take part in that, to understand wine on a holistic level, but it will be at least another full year before I can save up some backup money and consider the risk of leaving my job for an extended absence to go stomp on grapes.

The other fun part, is when you seek, share, and, savor with someone- a cheap bottle, or something special from someones cellar.

My first wine loves came from other countries, but since moving back to Portland, after an 11 year hiatus in the warmth of the South, I have realized that there is so much more to learn about Oregon wine then the fact that the Pinot Noir grape can flourish in the Willamette Valley.

So I have made it a point to become proficient in the details and varieties growing in the Willamette Valley.  I see that knowledge lacking in many of my Portland industry peers who seem more impressed with cocktail history and mixology, these days. I feel a little alone in my little wino-world.

Most wine lovers and even novices, know Oregon is well-suited for exceptional Pinot Noir.  However, the current AVA’s are perfect hosts to many other varieties of wine grapes.  One of my favorite varieties that does not yet get the credit that it deserves, is Riesling. Last week I watched “American Wine Story” because it is focused around the Brooks Winery, which produces my favorite Oregon Riesling, “Ara”.  The movie was touching and it made me want to drive out to the Brooks Winery later that week.

Brooks Winery and vineyards

Brooks Winery and vineyards

The tasting room had a nice atmosphere- clean, comfy, diverse seating options, air conditioning, music, and food!  As usual, I wished that my boyfriend was with me instead of at work- because it was such a pleasurable experience.  The attendant was very welcoming and thoughtful, the view was grand, the music selection was fun, and I even got to meet a lady with roots in Louisiana- and if you know me, then you know I am always excited to meet Louisianan’s/New Orleanians over here in the Pacific NW.  And then the attendant pointed out that the tattooed female walking around, was their Sommelier, and I felt inspired and reinvigorated, that eventually- I will find my home in the wine biz.

Even my shadow loves Brooks Riesling!

Even my shadow loves Brooks Riesling!

Always appreciated and never expected- it was very sweet of them to comp my tasting because of my industry affiliation with serving and bartending.  I am thankful that once in awhile, I have this good fortune that makes my “continuing education” cheaper, because of industry courtesies.

I hope that someday soon, I can find a way to work with wine and use my Bachelors in Cultural Anthropology, so I can at least quit bitching about my crazy student loans and the interest rates that doubled in the middle of my college career.