Comfort Food (and other ramblings)

As I write this post tonight, it is a stormy mess outside in Western Kansas.  Thinking about it, this sort of represents my day.  I work in what I consider a fairly high-stress environment, and sometimes the stress almost gets to be too much, and the littlest things can put a person in a (to put it delicately) “sour” mood.  This morning, that person was me.  However, always trying to be the professional and never show my irritations and frustrations (at least to those who are causing those feelings!), I worked on a customer’s laptop through the morning…  And then, an epiphany!  It was time for lunch.

Lunch…  An epiphany??  You betcha!  (Those who know me well will know this is not outside the realm of everyday reality.)  My coworker/best friend and I often go to lunch together, but since she was leaving early from work today, we decided to pick up some Mexican food from Tacos El Torito, a taco wagon/food truck not far from our office.

Once we picked up our lunches, we headed back to our desks for a quick lunch.  One of my other, more colorful and bardish (is that a word?  It is now.) coworkers starting going on and on about what I had ordered, how much he liked that particular item, and his eagerness to hear how it was.  I ordered a gringa, which is basically a quesadilla of sorts – a grilled tortilla with pork, cheese and onions.  I put some delicious, mild salsa verde (green salsa) over the top and my, oh my, I was in foodie heaven.  The ooey-gooey cheese, the partially-hardened tortilla and the tender pork made for a truly delicious feast, which totally turned my morning around.  Honestly!  It was so moving to the bard coworker that he decided to get a gringa for himself, and I begged him to bring me back a horchata (rice water spiced with cinnamon and other yummies).  As if that wasn’t enough, my “neighbor” Russ’s wife baked a Coca-Cola Cake with homemade chocolate icing, showing that sometimes there’s nothing better than a classic, moist sheet cake.  I wish I had taken pictures of my meal today, but it was so tantalizing I didn’t hesitate before digging in!

It could be a sign of a problem that I get so excited and that my mood changes so drastically with the right foods.  Regardless, after thinking about it this evening after work, I realized that, as a citizen of an actually fairly urban and diverse city, “comfort food” has assumed a new dynamic in our city of ~30,000.  With the various industries and jobs we have here, we (well, some of us, anyway) have welcomed a variety of people from different cultures and backgrounds.  Thanks to them, we have some of the best Asian and Mexican food I’ve ever tasted.  Dodge City doesn’t have a decent steakhouse or BBQ joint (sorry to those of you who think we do), but we have amazing taco wagons and hole-in-the-wall, wow-that-was-unexpected restaurants.

Now, I should interject here – I often complain about the dining options in this town.  It seems that even when we do get a promising new restaurant in town, they are rarely consistent and end up leaving shortly thereafter.  We don’t have much in the way of large chain restaurants; seemingly, we can only attract fat food restaurants (no typo there).  However, when I realize how truly blessed we are to enjoy the new “American foods” – Thai, Mexican, Vietnamese and other ethnic offerings – I see some hope, a light at the end of a sometimes very desolate tunnel.

Back on track…  Comfort food…  It means many things to different people.  I used to think my comfort food was mac and cheese, the staple childhood favorite for millions of children in this country (although my “epiphany” came in my teenage years).  And, when done right (read: with bacon), it can put you at that place.  But with so many ethnic foods done right in this little town, it’s hard to ignore that those cravings are indeed answers, answers to emotions and feelings, and answers that satisfy memories and moments of reminiscence.  We often associate food and drink with highlights and downturns, celebrations and friendships, and with coming back from the edge of illness of both the physical and mental varieties.  It’s no surprise that with these strong connections comes sometimes-scary risks, but that’s another post for another time that I’ll likely never write.

But, today, I have a question for you as my rambling starts to get boring even to me…  What is your true comfort food?  Please share in the comment section below!

A Life Without Facebook

Yes, I’m one of those people.  One of those people totally addicted and enamored with the social revolution that is Facebook.  Every morning, before I even got out of bed, I would check (in this order) my corporate email, Facebook, and my personal Gmail.  Whoa – talk about a (good?) way to start the day!

I had a heart-to-heart with/from some members of the creative writing group I belong to at the college, and it was through this discussion that I determined now – the week before finals and before the new set of NY’s resolutions – that I would take a temporary leave from Facebook.
OMG, I know.
If you know me, I constantly “check in,” post photos, share links, and post statuses.  I can’t tell you the number of times I reached for my phone or the app before realizing that I didn’t need to.  It’s actually been somewhat refreshing, although it has been difficult.  I didn’t realize just how often I would conjure up captions and statuses immediately after doing something with the intention of posting them on the social media site.  At what point did Facebook essentially “take over” my life?
So, the natural question is, why did I make this choice?  Regarding that previously-mentioned heart-to-heart and realization, I decided that I needed to take some time off to evaluate what I was sharing (do people really need to know every aspect of my daily life?), why I was sharing what I was sharing (was it selfish self-promotion or insecurity?  affirmation or proselytization?), and just how much freaking time I was spending doing this mostly-mindless activity instead of doing other, more productive things with my limited time on this earth.  With the impending new year coming and finals week starting Monday, I thought now was the best time to do some reflecting and catch up on processing photos (one lady has been waiting almost two years for photos from our first trip to Europe!), posting reviews to TripAdvisor, and making my living space more organized and less cluttered.
I still haven’t decided how long I will go without Facebook, but this is the longest of my “temporary deactivations” (as FB calls them) has lasted, and I think it will be a test of my will to see how long I can go.
So, let me ask these question…  Do you feel sucked in by Facebook?  Do you think social media has changed your relationships for the positive or the negative?  What amount of sharing do you think is “normal” or “healthy”?

Food for Thought: Stupidity… or Ignorance?

I truly don’t know where my inspiration for this post came from (hello again, by the way!  Talk about a long absence!), but I found myself questioning – at 11:30 – the difference between “ignorance” and “stupidity.”

I recall asking an old supervisor (who did farming outside his normal work hours) something about farming while saying, “Sorry, I’m pretty stupid with this stuff.”  He responded, “No, you’re not stupid, just ignorant.”  I recall thinking to myself, “Oh, really?!  Did he just say that??!”  LOL

However, upon further inspection, I think this characterization makes sense.  If I don’t know anything about it, I’m ignorant, as – according to – ignorance is “lack of knowledge, learning,information, etc.,” while stupidity is well, the act of being stupid (or that’s how I’m choosing to interpret it).

So, this begs the question…  (According to one of my favorite English profs from college, most people use this phrase incorrectly, also.)  Is a person, as a whole or in regard to specific subjects, ignorant or stupid?  The easy answer is stupid, but perhaps with deeper inspection (I’m thinking politics here), they are shutting themselves out or isolating themselves from information which they could glean knowledge from, which complicates the question…  Is someone stupid…  or ignorant?

Weigh in with your comments!

New Life

New Life by Luke A. Bunker
New Life, a photo by Luke A. Bunker on Flickr.

I took this photo while visiting the concentration camp at Dachau (near Munich) in Germany this summer. This symbol of new life struck me, and I knew I wanted to capture it in a place where life seemed so distant and fleeting for so many.

I had been putting off processing and going through what I called “my Dachau pictures” because I knew I would need emotional energy to go through them. I ended up going through them this evening and found myself thinking one thing… How could we, as a world, have put up with this and let it go on for so long before doing something about it? Rather than sadness, I jumped straight to anger, which I suppose is natural. But, are we not doing the same thing today with respect to Darfur and other regions where governments are essentially exterminating their peoples?

Food for thought…