Posted on March 1, 2017
My five week hiatus from law firm life has ended and I have finally settled into my new job. I’ve made it through the first few weeks, and so far life is wonderful. I am working approximately 30-40 hours a week less than at my old firm, and I have filled that extra time with seeing my friends and actually taking care of myself. Oddly enough, all the free time for long hikes, trivia nights, dinners, and hot yoga sessions have put doing new things (or at least writing about them) on the back burner.
On one of my nights out, my friend Katie, who I hadn’t seen since law school, and I headed out to catch up over a drink. At the bar we started to chat with a gentleman named Adam seated next to us. We went through the general getting to know you topics: where are you from, what are you doing in town, how do you feel about the first few weeks of the Trump administration, etc.
We learned that he was in town for a poetry reading as part of Nashville’s First Saturday art crawl. I told him that going to a poetry reading was on my list of New Things to do, and we promptly invited ourselves along.
The reading was held at Sauvage Galerie, a bizarre little gallery in a residential neighborhood in South Nashville. The room was tiny, and the art consisted of mixed medium design, which I am pretty certain was just trash glued to wood and I think one piece was just part of a mop. Ron Swanson would not approve. I respect what the artist was going for, but I was not hip enough to get it.
The three poets for the evening were J. Joseph Kane, Robyn Leigh Lear, and Adam Day. Poetry has never really been my thing. I love novels, biographies, and Buzzfeed articles about which dog best matches my personality (Great Dane, ironically). That said, I enjoyed the varied expression of the three different poets and I got a lot more out of it than I would just reading words on a page. I would totally go to another reading in the future . . . but I still don’t see myself ever reading poetry for fun.
I promise more interesting and exciting posts are heading your way. First I just have to get used to actually having a life again first. More adventures are to come!
Posted on January 30, 2017
Absinthe rose to popularity in the late 19th/early 20th centuries and was fashionable among the literati of Paris. Some famous fans of the drink include Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, and my hometown favorite, Edgar Allan Poe. Absinthe was outlawed in the United States in 1915, but since the ban was lifted in 2007, it has experienced a resurgence. While Absinthe has a reputation for being a hallucinogenic, that label is is merely a result of legend and exaggeration. Sorry.
Despite my past travels to Europe, I had never had an authentic glass of absinthe. So, I thought that it would the perfect thing to help me unwind during a little après–ski. My friends Lilas and Chris joined me in a visit to The Absinthe Bar in Breckenridge, which boasts the largest selection of absinthe in the United States.
The menu had 19 types of absinthe from France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Austria, and the USA. I selected Pernod absinthe, a French absinthe often written about by Hemingway, which is from the original producer of commercial absinthe and has a high alcohol content and a heavy anise flavor profile. It is made using the same ingredients as in the early 1800s.
There are a few processes through which absinthe can be made. One method, which my bartender used, is classic French absinthe ritual. The ritual involves placing a sugar cube on top of a perforated spoon, which rests on the rim of the specially designed absinthe glass. Ice water is then dripped on the sugar cube, which dissolves into the absinthe. This causes the green transparent liquor to “louche” into an opaque mint green cocktail.
The result was a fun, cold liquorish-flavored cocktail. The Pernod was slightly bitter, but that was partially offset by the dissolved sugar. While liquorish isn’t my favorite thing in the world, I’d like to sample more because I find the history and process to make absinthe fascinating.
Posted on November 7, 2016
If you haven’t heard of escape games then you are missing out on one of the country’s hottest new trends. Escape rooms are live action games in which players are locked in a room filled with puzzles and clues with the goal of escaping before time runs out. Over the last few years escape game locations have popped up all over the country and I have been itching to try one out. This weekend I finally got my chance to try to break out with The Escape Game.
There were several different games from which to choose, including Mission: Mars, Prison Break, Classified, Gold Rush, Underground Playground, Nashville Escape, and The Heist.
We chose The Heist. I don’t want to say too much about the game and give any secrets away, but the gist of The Heist is that a famous piece of artwork has gone missing and has likely been stolen by the curator. It is up to us to recover the masterpiece. If we succeed we will be national heroes, but if we fail, we will be treated as common criminals by the authorities.
In order to succeed, the team had to work together to finish in under 60 minutes. We were in a group with four strangers, but as soon as the clock started we worked as a unit to solve each puzzle. There are multiple clues to solve so the key was to split up the manpower but to also simultaneously communicate well with the rest of the group. There were way too many things to solve to try to attempt them one at a time.
I’ve always loved logic games, riddles, and mysteries, so the Escape Game was right up my alley. However, there were a few points during the game where we started to stall and needed some guidance. Fortunately, we were able to get a few “hints” from the Escape Game crew. I’m not sure if there were some red herrings in the room, but there were definitely some possible clues that seemed to go unused.
The Heist is their second most difficult game with a success rate of only 26%. But, with just 1:56 to spare, we broke out! I didn’t think we were going to make it, but everything seemed to come together in the final moments. Everyone in the group had a great time and I know that I can’t wait to go back and try it again. I am already recruiting friends for another trip.
Posted on September 19, 2016
It sounds like something only Willy Wonka could dream up: a berry that makes everything sweeter. Well, it is real and it is magical. Or, I should say, it is miraculous. The miracle berry causes sour, tangy, or tart foods to taste as if they have been dipped in sugar.
It is called “flavor tripping,” and no, miracle berries are not a drug. This little red marvelous fruit originates in West Africa and its use was first documented in the 1700s. Local tribes used it before consuming sour cornbread, bland oatmeal gruel, and palm wine.
Miracle berries contain the chemical “miraculin,” which turns your tastebuds topsy turvy. Miraculin binds to your sweet taste receptors and sends them into overdrive if the pH of your mouth drops into the acidic range from something sour. In other words, it turns lemons into lemonade. The sweet effect lasts for 1-2 hours.
If you don’t have access to miracle berries you can buy them in pill form (the only ingredients are miracle fruit powder and corn starch).
You place a tablet on your tongue and let it dissolve. As Morpheus explained, “You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
We tried an assortment of lemons, limes, blackberries, strawberries, kiwis, apples, grapes, prunes, cranberry juice, and balsamic vinegar. I reached for the lemon first. It tasted like it was covered in sugar and the normal tartness of the fruit was nowhere to be found. The same was true for the lime. It reminded me fruit slice candy. All of the fruit tasted sweeter than normal, but the strawberries tasted like they were sprinkled with fine powdered sugar. The most interesting flavor transition was that of the balsamic vinegar. The miracle berry transformed it into a sweet, thick, grape juice.
A few days after my first experiment, I did a second tasting of grapefruit, pomegranate, more lemons (yum), jalapeños, onion, pickles, and coffee. Once again, the fruit tasted extra sweet and the pickles did as well. The onion still tasted like an onion (yuk) but the jalapeño was rendered virtually tasteless, it lost all of its kick. The best part of experiment number two was the coffee. The straight black coffee became creamy and sweet.
If you want to try flavor tripping, just make your own tasting menu with a variety of foods to explore. The miracle berry can have some lingering effects so it is best to try it at the end of the evening when you are done eating for the day. In other words, don’t try to have a glass of wine post-tasting. It will not go over well.
Posted on June 28, 2016
I am currently on a 2500-mile cross-country road trip with my best friend (more on this in a post next week). In addition to visiting new cities and states, I wanted to incorporate a few New Things into the journey (more posts on this later too). One of our first stops was in beautiful Kansas City, Missouri. While planning our visit we discovered a Segway tour of the town and we thought it would be a fun way to see the city and cross something new off of the To Do List.
I presented the idea to my friend Jill, and upon looking at photos of the tour she said, “Awe. We have to wear helmets like a bunch of dorks.” When the trip was threatened with rain, she voiced another concern. “If we have ponchos and helmets we are going to get beat up by somebody.” Fortunately, the storms passed us by and nobody got beaten up for being a dork.
The tour began with a brief video and riding lesson. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of it and to not spin in circles when I was trying to stay in one place. But, I eventually got the hang of it. It is pretty easy to maneuver and it moves with the weight of your body: lean left to go left, right to go right, forward to go forward, and back to go backwards or stop.
The tour took us through Westport, Country Club Plaza, and past several art museums.
At one point in our journey we headed down a quasi-steep hill in a park. We took it a bit fast and I could hear Jill struggling behind me. I am not sure what happened next, but I heard the distinct sound of Jill falling and a Segway crashing. This is how I picture it:
Somehow Jill flew off of the path and her Segway went into a tree.
Jill: Don’t take my picture you f***ing b****!
Me: ::Laughing and taking pictures::
Jill: I can hear you laughing!
Me: ::Laughing harder::
Jill: Stop laughing at me! You are so mean!
Me: ::Laughing even harder::
Jill: You better not put this on your f***ing blog!
Me: ::Laughing and crying::
I was laughing so hard that this was the best picture I got. Don’t worry, she’s fine.
Other than Jill’s tumble, the tour was a lot of fun. Whoosing around on the Segway created a nice breeze on an otherwise hot and humid day. Not to mention the joy of zooming down the sidewalks past all the bipeds who haven’t yet experienced the Segway life.
I also learned Segways have an added value. If a creepy guy starts hitting on you, you can just quickly scoot away. No more awkward uncomfortable conversation with strangers, ladies!
Overall analysis: Walking is for the birds. Segways are the way of the future.
Posted on May 24, 2016
When I was little, my mom asked me the old cliché, “If all of your friends jumped off of a bridge would you do it too?” Now that I am older, apparently I am the bad influence encouraging other kids to jump. A few days ago I texted my friend Cody out of the blue and asked him if he’d make the 3-hour drive with me to jump off of a 125-year-old bridge in Kentucky. Luckily he is as crazy as I am and agreed.
The day before we left, Cody realized our destination was in Eastern Time. I’ve lived in Nashville on and off for over 13 years and I am still not used to being in Central Time. We left Nashville around 5:30 a.m. I am not a morning person. Yet, my excitement for the day was a good replacement for my morning coffee (although I had some of that too).
The idea of bungee jumping did not scare me. I’ve gone skydiving, hang gliding, and flown a plane, so jumping off of a bridge felt like the next logical step. Fearing nothing, and being a bit full of myself, I signed up for a triple jump package that included a “head dip” into the water. Once I saw the murkiness of the river, I asked if I could just touch the water with my hands (called a “hand slap”) on my third jump instead. (The water is usually quite clear, but recent heavy rains flooded the river).
The number of bungee cords used depends on the weight of the jumper. Because I am rather small, they had to switch the cords out for me and I was the last person to go for the day. But, the weather was lovely and watching others jump made the time go by quickly.
When it was time for my first jump, I did not hesitate. I was excited and ready to go.
As I stepped off of the platform I wondered if this was what Wile E. Coyote felt like when he realized the ground was no longer beneath him.
Suddenly I was flying through the air.
I had no way to tell which way was up.
It was hard to know when I was falling and when I was flying back up to the sky. The one thing I did know was that I absolutely loved it.
Once I finally stopped bounding through the air, I hung by my feet spinning like a top above the river. It was like a little bonus ride.
You are probably wondering how we get back up to the bridge. No, they do not drag you up by your feet. They send down a rope which you attach to your harness and you are hoisted up head first. It is actually a rather nice ride to the top. I could have hung out there all day.
Here is a video of the big jump:
Here is the same jump from my perspective:
Once I returned to the top, it was immediately time for jump number two. Despite loving it the first time, when I stepped toward the edge I was suddenly filled with terror. I just could not make myself do it again. I could not figure out why I could jump so easily the first time but be so certain that I could not do it a second time.
I had to sit down and collect myself. I used that as an opportunity to review the tape, so to speak, and convince myself that it was safe to go again. I refused to let the fear win. About 20 minutes later I was ready to step back out on the ledge. Alan from Vertigo Bungee, who I am convinced needs to be my personal life coach, soothed my nerves and got me back out on the ledge. I took a few deep breaths and jumped again.
This jump felt a bit more erratic than the first. I flew back up hitting the cords above me. The second jump did not fill me with the positive emotions that came with the first jump.
Once I made it back up to the bridge, I felt completely disoriented. I had to sit down for a while as my head and stomach spun. I was utterly unable to move for what seemed like an eternity. I have never been prone to motion sickness so this was a new experience for me. However, I suppose if you spin around upside down long enough you are bound to feel sick.
I finally collected myself and Cody helped escort me back to the car. As we neared the end of the bridge I turned around to give it one last look. This was a horrible mistake. The simple act of turning my head was more than my tiny body could take. I made it to the edge of the bridge just in time to puke my guts out. Just writing about it now, I have to reach for the dramamine we picked up on the way home.
I still have one jump left in my package that I can use this season. I have not yet decided if I want to use it. At first, I thought that two jumps were more than enough for me, but in just 36 hours my opinion on that has softened.
While my jumps were not my first steps down my path to adventure and personal growth, they were important steps. I was able to cross one more thing off of my list that intimidated me. I strongly believe that all fears in our lives must be overcome. Whether it is heights, death, or getting your heart broken, we end up much happier when we learn to embrace both the journey and the fall.
Posted on March 10, 2016
I was a vegetarian for approximately 15 years. About a year ago I expanded my dietary world to include fish, and now, apparently, I have thrown snails into the mix. When I starting eating fish is was a necessity during a busy trial; lots of long hours and few breaks for food meant I needed an easy way to up my protein intake. I never expected that it would lead to an ever-expanding world of new foods. My friend Tina, who is an endless source of good ideas, suggested I try the dish. We were both in need of a night off so we went to Nashville’s legendary Sperry’s Restaurant for a girls’ night out.
Escargot has been served for centuries. We all know it is famous French cuisine, but it was also a delicacy in ancient Rome and may have been a part of the prehistoric diet. Who knew cavemen were so civilized. Believe it or not, it is also pretty healthy. Escargot is extremely high in protein and low in fat. Well, if you don’t count all the butter.
The escargot were served in a traditional dish with mushrooms and garlic-herb, seasoned butter. The taste and texture reminded me of a combination of mussels and cooked mushrooms. A squirt of lemon really brought out the flavor. They were chewy, but not tough. And no, they were not slimy or anything else you might expect from a snail.
I never expected that escargot would taste so, well, normal. I am glad I decided to branch out and add something new to my diet. I am all ready for my next trip to Paris.