Diary of an Optimist


9:25 am

Dearest diary,

Today I boarded the train 9 mines earlier than yesterday.

I pushed the snooze button once time less than yesterday morning, only 3 times.

I considered stretching before I left for work and once again solidified the resolve to do it every morning.  The actual act did not come into fruition, but the yoga mat remains unfolded, ready for action.

After work I will do laundry and then proceed to straighten my closet.  I will not go to the store for a bottle of after work wine, I will not buy a burrito for dinner.  Water and leftovers will provide all the happiness and satisfaction that my body desires.

Although I did leave the house without preparing myself a healthy and hearty breakfast, for myself, I did fill make coffee to go cup with water for the train ride.  It’s not only because I am too lazy to make coffee, or the fact that it is free at work, but I need to make sure that I am getting enough hydration, and the train is so dry.  Endless espresso awaits me at my other home.


Be Who You Want To Be

Halloween is the one chance you get during the long year to embrace a character in your personality that doesn’t fit into the daily routine.  It is the opportunity to search the corners of your character and augment an aspect that normally goes unnoticed.  You are not exactly this thing that you are representing today, but also you are not the embodiment of said character.  Appreciate your own irony, be happy about the complexity of your morale.  Halloween is the chance to explore a part of your soul that has largely not been introduced to society.  It is a whimsical experiment to help you continue to define your fluid identity.

Halloween is a time to face the morality of yourself.  Life is about living, but society is about fitting in.  It is good to be a part of the community and beat the same drum line as everyone else.  But we get carried away with this cultural assimilation, we get so swept up in the tide of routine, fashion, and convenience, that it is hard to be separate and twinkle like an individual star.  Thus, this American holiday is the time to embrace the parts that maybe you want to change, maybe be the person who you can’t be in the normal life. It is the chance to be the something that you are not before you shuffle off the mortal coil.

This year, I choose to be the villain in the story, yet lover to the superhero, defender of mother nature through questionable and dangerous tactics.  Suitingly ironic for yours truly.  This year, I will dress as perhaps a feminist role model, Poison Ivy.

She is amazingly captivating, her role dualistic, her motives compassionate.  Poison Ivy is the nemesis of batman, and yet if it wasn’t for her Achilles heel attraction to the Dark Night, she would have prevailed in poisoning the powerful man with a simple kiss.  That power is so romantic, feminine, and seductive.

Her super power exists in something greater than the muscle of Batman.  Her power is in the botanical knowledge of the genetical makeup of plants to create super poisons and venomous potions.  She manipulates natural toxins for evil.  She uses mind controlling pheromones to hypnotize her enemies.  I don’t believe in physical violence either, Miss Ivy.

She is ultimately trying to destroy your superhero for the benefit of the world at large.  Her motivation is to protect the natural environment.  We have demonstrated time and time again that we as humans and as a first world nation cannot be counted on to be aware of the one world we are given.  We don’t even recycle, let alone protect out precious resources, we let water run beyond marathon status, we create trash like we consume television.  Non stop.  We are so focused on our daily bread that we are not considering the future of this amazing plant.  I do wish we had a villain that would do it for us before nature has her way.  Nature is not compassionate like Miss Ivy. Nature will not save our modern-day hero, she is going to choke us all out.

I am poison ivy because everything I touch gets an icy chill.  My touch is poisonous, my motives dark, my seduction daring.  My fame is occult.  My weapon of choice is natural.

I am an eco-terrorist today to console my hippie soul.

Modern Fashion

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

I must say, dress so well from head to tippy toe, you look very dashing in your designer style, with your brand new clothes, perfectly fitting attire.  From those sleek leather brown shoes to that subtly patterned grey tie that matches perfectly with a maroon button up shirt that is delicately textured and the dark gray and black suit with its tightly woven fabric, adorned with a perfectly fitting belt, manicured hands, trendy socks from the department store, always freshly trimmed haircut, dapper facial hair, musky cologne.

You are so put together, so apparently success, so outwardly powerful, clearly manager of both work and home, a statuesque icon of modern adulthood and sex appeal.

You take care of your life, health, money, I am sure even your yard so well.  I bet your shower curtain doesn’t even have mold growing on the inside hem.

I don’t understand with all this foresight, planning, and education that you eat that junk that passes as food for lunch.  How can you put that into your body as an adequate food supply for your brain power and muscle stamina?

You act like you treat yourself with so much respect, but you are eating food type substances that contains no nutritional value, has never even once been alive considering how much processing it has undergone, food where green is saved for food coloring, where everything is pre cooked, prepackaged, prearranged to fit everyone’s love for salt and stopping there.  How, Sir/Ma’am, how long can you put up with charade of eating?  Eat something that resembles something living.  Eat a lot of plants and vegetables.  Yes, that means you need to use a knife.  Sharp objects are fun to play with, that is a promise.

The Poor Man’s Slow Hustle #4

True confessions of a chef #1

After 10 years of cooking professionally and trying with all the might my small yet determined physical self can offer, with all the passion in my glowing heart, and with all the smarts in the multiple folds of my brain, I only make a few dollars (literally a few, this is not a dramatized statement) more an hour than when I graduated from college.  10 year of toil, turmoil, and complete dedication.  I make less than I did before pastry school.  I make so little that I was upset when minimum wage got increased.  I make so little that I got a pimple of stress when my great job offered its shiny spot to me.

Eating is the number one necessity to living, but the work involved is not valued.  Like teaching your children, these building block of society our overlooked and negated to the needy.

I have preached it before and I will continue my soapbox speech.  Tipping is ridiculous and at this point it proves nothing.  You tip because you have to, not because you want to.  Since the industry has exploited the goodness of your dining generosity, it needs to be restricted.  Servers, food runners, hosts, cooks, dishwashers, and bar backs, we all deserve to make a living wage, and just like a capitalistic system, the wages should not be so binary.  Front of the house makes it rain, while back of the house is in the drought.

The system is not working, and this in turns makes it very difficult to want to go to the kitchen day in and day out, taking that precious passion and putting it towards you.

We are the overlooked crowd.  You read about running a restaurant, and the service  involved in making the guest have such a grand experience, and the struggle or impute of the chef is never mentioned.  It’s all about that happiness in the dining room, the articles never mentions the that person under the bandana.  It is starting to get to us.  I see a lack luster in cooks because we are not getting enough out of this bargain.  Someone has to speak up, and it will be Marigold and her golden wit.

Exploiting Passion and Accepting Settlement

I am so sick of justifying the pay cut to work in the kitchen because of passion.  I am irritated with hearing that cooks have this great passion, that we work these crazy long hours in non temperature controlled environments, that we are so tough because we do not take breaks, and contrary to many people’s opinion, we often don’t have time to eat ourselves. I am sick of hearing that we have more than it takes to put up with the demands of a fast paced and never ending physical workload, that we are mechanical in our need to not need sleep, to sustain solely on PBR and hidden whiskey, to live with your coworkers because its not like you ever have time for the house anyway.

Do not call me passionate, now that has become an insult.  Many people are in positions that makes them happy that have nothing to do with making zero money.  Why is it ok that cooks makes less than half of that of front of the house?  The hours are longer, the job is physically tougher, it is dangerous, and you need a high degree of skill and education to fill the role.  Food born illness and not properly handle food can cause serious problems.  Not to mention, that you need to eat to live.  Why do you trust the most underpaid people in America to sustain you with live giving nutrition?  Good thing that you are tipping so well to keep that water glass full.

This portrayal of the passionate chef is not only demeaning, it supports the macho driven ideals that are already so deeply engrained in kitchen culture.  If you cannot physically keep up with this near impossible work schedule, you do not have the beef to make it into the stew.  This is an aggressive environment, where emotions and stress run very high, competition is fierce like a lion continually proving his Alfa status, but you are not allowed to show an sign of weakness, hesitation, or second guessing.  It is this framework of egotism that exploits youth in the industry and keeps the kitchen testosterone heavy.

I am fed up with being exploited for my passion, I am fed up with portrait of the iron chef.  Like this heroic portrayal of the daily struggle makes us better people.  It makes us suckers is what it is.  This is poetic rhetoric is keeping us all down.  Keep your literature for fiction, this shit is real.

Violet’s Vision


The watchful guardian of the sea and the lover to the land keeps us serenely protected.  Peacefully Violet protects the premise with a careful gaze.  Her sidekick is the glowing moon, casting a spotlight over the city and the shuffling water of the lake.  Her calm demeanor is a trained patience, her beauty is a tool of disguise.

Violet is our ever present empress that keep the fictionalized world in harmony.  She is the gateway between the real and the imaginary, she keeps this domain well calibrated.  She keeps the evil spirits and invisible ghosts at bay, she keeps the changing scene of the neighborhood in balance, not letting the old hold back the new, not letting the new technological wave run over the humble traditions of the block.  Under her stare, nothing can slip past, not through the troubled sea or in the excitement of the city’s lights.  Her vigilance is unwaving, her guard remains unchallenged.  She is our protection against gentrification.

Her pantone of cool is elusive, the backdrop dark, her personality mysterious.  Her charm is hidden underneath a mask of nonchalance, her strength is in the subtle reproach of her eyes.

Violet is the manifestation of the line between the unseen motivators, and the realistic hurdles to our dreams.  Violet is a muse, a mermaid of fastidious strength and stamina, a symbol of limitless imagination, the proof that nothing is impossible.  She guards the entrance way, allowing us a tangible symbol of what we try to achieve behind closed doors, tucked away from the daylight in a kitchen, pouring out the contents of our imagination and skill through simple ingredients.

Her dualistic existence motivates our imagination and challenges the seemingly shortcomings dominated by physical space.  Violet is our very own personal superhero, a symbol of motivation, and inspiration for imagination.

Dinner, easy and semi quick.

Butter Chicken Comfort Dinner!

This is the way-about for making a delicious Indian comfort food in an electric pressure cooker.  This machine is amazing.  You plug it in, set a time, push a button, and walk away.  That is it. In an hour you have a delicious dinner that was so easy it leaves you guessing at why so many people eat out all the time.

A Marigold style recipe, which is basically a list of ingredients and steps.  How much of everything to add?  Use your intuition, your brain, and most importantly your tongue.  Don’t follow a list of items blinding, taste everything as you go along, and fit the recipe to your desire.

1.5 pounds of chicken thighs, marinated in 1 cup/ two large spoonful of tangy yogurt, a couple squirts of lemon juice, a dash of garam Masala, cumin, turmeric salt, and pepper. Like 2 teaspoons of each. Two cloves of grated garlic and a knob of ginger.

Mix together and marinate at room temperature or overnight.  How long you ask, up to a couple of days, or as quickly as two drinks can allow.  Cooking is about looking forward to the end product, so marinate yourself and get distracted by something inspirational while the chicken does its resting.

We are going to cook the chicken in an electric pressure cooker, which diminishes cooking time so dramatically, that you can take the time for your chicken thighs to tenderize.  You can always opt to braise on the stove, but you are going to added two hours to the process.  If you marinate ahead, or have the whole evening at your leisure, this is definitely an equally viable option.  But if you are like me, and it is already 8 by the time you get back from the store, modern pressure cooking is the way to go for the day.

Two drinks later, or an hour:  Put the chicken and the marinate into the magical machine.  Add a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of coconut milk or cream, 1-2 sweet potatoes, an onion, a large spoonful of nut butter (I prefer cashew, use what you will), and a stick of butter.  Set that timer button for 10 minutes and let the machine do its thing.

Finish with cilantro, and a slash of lime, enjoy thoroughly.