All posts filed under: Essentials

Christmas in July

Christmas in July seems to have experienced a bit of an uptick as a commercial gimmick in the past few years and has become a stalwart of the Hallmark Channel for at least that many. But it’s not a new idea. There’s a 1940 film with the title Christmas in July. It may only be referring to unexpected prize money, but the concept is there. We’re talking about a windfall outside of the holiday season. That being said, I’m just now starting to take Christmas in July seriously. According to my wife, the reason is our daughter. She was born in April, and I couldn’t wait to celebrate Christmas with her, so I started a few months early. It must’ve been subconscious because I don’t recall making that decision, but it makes sense. I never thought twice about Christmas in July before she was born. Therefore, I hope it’s obvious that my celebration is not centered on conning folks into giving me presents. The first thing I did was try to find out where I …

Beer

I sometimes wonder if there will be a point in my life where wine becomes more important to me than beer, but I’m not there yet. And I think there will always be a place for a beer after a long week of work. Unfortunately for me, most beers are out of my reach due to a gluten allergy. So, gluten-free beers and ciders are my mainstays. However, I can also drink rice beers. And of those, Sapporo is my favorite. I’m just lucky that this Japanese beer with the gold star on the bottle was one of my favorites before I learned of my gluten allergy. It could be seen as depressing to have such a limited beer palate. And there are certainly times when I wish I could try the latest beer on tap at my local brewery. But I think–and I may just be making the best of a bad situation–it’s not so bad to have one goto brew. I don’t drink frequently, and when I do drink, it’s rarely more than …

Christmas

My family and I tend to have a pretty minimal Christmas. At least, in regards to decorations. This may misrepresent how important the holiday is for me. But this importance only sprang up a few years ago. I’m not sure if age brings about a desire for tradition or if it was one singular event that spurred a change in me. But I do recall a particular Christmas that seemed to come and go a little too quickly. Before I realized it, I was back at work after New Year’s. This seemed to spin me around from a bit of a Scrooge to more of a Clark Griswald. Because the very next Christmas, I decided to create some traditions of my own so I could mark the holiday. Some of them included: listening to holiday music and putting out decorations the Sunday after Thanksgiving, watching select Christmas movies throughout the month of December (just to amp up that good ol’ Christmas feeling), and listening to David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries” on Christmas morning. Now that I’m …

Books

I sometimes prefer to read a physical book over the digital version on an e-reader. But sometimes I don’t and I’m just fine with an ebook. So, the question I’ve had recently is whether or not a collection of physical books is necessary. At present, I have a collection of works by Michael Crichton, Anthony Bourdain, Haruki Murakami, and a few by Aldous Huxley. I also have a smattering of books by other authors. But I tend to return those others to my local bookstore for store credit. Earlier this year, I had my heart set on an Everyman’s Library set for display on my bookcase. For the most part, this collection would have included books I’ve read and want to read again. But there were also several others I was planning to read. At this point, it’s hard for me to foresee what I’m going to want. It might be made more apparent when I land in a home… with a library. Either way, I know I’ll continue to want some books in my …

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a great warm-up for Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in giving thanks. It’s just that Thanksgiving sort of feels like preparation for the main event. Fall is in swing, winter is coming, and there’s pumpkin pie. In an effort to maximize this holiday the way I have tried to do with Christmas, I’ve made the following itinerary: Wednesday: I’ll spend this day taking long walks through the neighborhood, drinking warm coffee (Irish coffee?), and relaxing with a good book. Then, in the evening, I’ll watch a Thanksgiving movie. There are surprisingly few, but Planes, Trains & Automobiles is a good one. Thursday (AM): I’ll wake up late, eat a light breakfast, and listen to The Big Chill soundtrack. That’s technically a Thanksgiving movie. However, the Thanksgiving dinner scene was cut. The edit took Kevin Costner out of the picture. But Jeff Goldblum is in the whole thing. Thursday (PM): Thursday afternoon is reserved for feasting. But I’ll be watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving with my infant daughter later that evening. And …

Manual Transmission

I’ve been driving a vehicle with a manual transmission for more than a decade. Having said that, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t know what that is. These days they’re increasingly rare. Put simply: Most cars are considered “automatic” because they change gears… well, automatically. And a manual transmission requires that the gears are shifted manually by the driver. If you didn’t already know this, then it may sound complicated, but it really isn’t. To be honest, I don’t know a great deal more about cars than how to check the oil or change a tire. And I can still drive a stick. Speaking of the gear stick, that’s what makes driving a manual so fun. It puts you in tune with the car (no pun intended). You learn to hear or, better yet, feel when it’s time to shift gears. This can be especially exhilarating amidst rapid acceleration and/ or on curvy mountain roads. However, there is a problem with loving manuals. I purchased my last sedan in 2016, and the vehicle was …

Vinyl

I’m not sure why but a good deal of the music I enjoy was written and performed in the late ’60s and early ’70s. I’ve heard it said that people are most nostalgic for the period right before they were born, so that explains it, right? I’m not sure, but I enjoy Bowie, Young, the Stones, and various other acts that were active around the same time. The music during this period just strikes me as a little more authentic, for some reason. Don’t get me wrong. There are musicians that I enjoy that were making music outside of that time. Luna comes to mind. And Radiohead. That might sound cliché, but they are responsible for my favorite album, Amnesiac. I’ve read that Dante’s Inferno inspired it. I can see the connection and further believe that that album is the sole reason I want to own a record player. I don’t yet, but I have a dream in which I’m sitting in my office chair working while the turntable is playing. Or I’m just sitting …

Coffee

I drink coffee to stimulate, inspire, or to soothe. On occasion, I use it like many others–while socializing in coffee shops. What might be different about my use of coffee is that I see it as a tool. It’s not just a routine Starbucks order. I try to consume it thoughtfully. When I drink cold coffee right before a workout, it’s a stimulant. It acts to decreases muscle pain and increases my performance. This is especially beneficial for early morning workouts. Coffee is my constant companion when I write. I find that it helps focus when I’m creating. I frequently write early in the morning, so I’ll prepare my coffee maker the night before. In the morning, I just flip the switch and brew. I use coffee to soothe when I need to warm up or relax. I drink a hot cup of decaf on then evenings when I want to do some reading or to set the mood for a little downtime. Black coffee is fine by me. I prefer it that way when …