Friday, January 30, 2009

My Favorite Time of Day

I just found a note I wrote once upon a time in which a sketch of a smiling stick-person is holding up a glass. Next to the picture I wrote “Gin! Rhymes with Grin!” The note is a testament to the fact that I am able to make up silly phrases while under the influence, but more importantly it leads me to one of my favorite topics: the cocktail hour, and specifically to my love of gin.

The cocktail hour is a magical time of day. I don’t know when it was originally established or about the customary time of day in which it begins, but I do know that I generally like to start the cocktail hour within an hour of arriving home from my daily obligations, whether that time is 3 in the afternoon, 6:30 in the evening or 1 AM. Also, because I am a modern, forward-thinking young woman I would like to argue in favor of cocktail hourS- for sipping on a fine cocktail (or two) can sometimes take more than sixty small minutes- and I’ve always been one to see something all the way through to its end, especially if it contains some kind of spirit.

I know there are people in the world who frown at the cocktail hours, who think they are excessive, inappropriate, disgusting. These people are completely missing the point of cocktail hours, which are to create an environment of relaxation, to enjoy the simple pleasure of the loosening of mind and muscles, to savor the great taste of a delicious drink in the company of good friends (though they are often present, friends are by no means contingent on the occurrence of a fantastic cocktail moment), to think new thoughts, and facilitate much-needed daily decompression. Cocktail hours are magical.

Please realize that I am in no way condoning alcoholism, for I have never in my life been drunk to the point of vomiting nor have I ever awoken with a sever hangover (though I have, on rare occasions, waken up to find that I am mildly confused about the exact happenings of the night before, but I like to think of those few moments as signs of my mortality or collegiate romanticism rather than as a mistake which I will then beat myself up over when I didn't actually do anything wrong, well, nothing terribly wrong). What I am endorsing, however, is a more communal end to the workday, one that jives to the steady beat of a martini shaker. I believe in responsible cocktail consumption.

I’ve received two really great compliments in the last couple weeks:
First, my dear friend Amanda told me via text message that I looked like I could be related to Stephen Colbert (awesome!). The other compliment was when my older brother told one of his friends that his sister (me) didn’t drink chocotinis! “She drinks real drinks- she drinks like a man,” he insisted. Now, being a modern woman I know that I should take issue with his claim and be outraged by the fact that his bar of measure is that of what a man can and cannot do, but I’m not your average woman and I don’t need to be outraged to feel some sort of self worth, for I know that I am a valuable human being regardless of my sex. In fact, I was flattered with my brother’s statement. Besides, it’s true. I don’t drink chocotinis or fruit punch with a shot of vodka stirred in or crappy dessert wines. I drink the kinds of beverages that Winston Churchill, C.S. Lewis, Ernest Hemingway and Jesus (that’s right, Jesus) drank. I drink gin martinis, I drink gin anything (unless it is colored something other than the color of gin- I also don’t drink crappy gin), I drink scotch and wine (Jesus drank wine. He would have drank gin too, if they had it at the time). If I’m feeling girly or in need of dessert I may indulge in a small glass of Baileys on the rocks, but that’s as feminine as it gets. I drink beer, vodka tonics, I drink brandy. I don’t drink anything with an umbrella or worm in it. If I could, I would live off Hendrick’s, served with tonic and a fresh wedge of cucumber.

Bruce Springsteen has a song about the glory days and some of the parents in the neighborhood in which I grew up insist that high school or college were the best days of their lives. The best moments of my life were not my years in high school or my time in college, but were more often than not the moments I had with people I love as we talked about politics, love, religion and life over a bottle of wine or tumbler of something fabulous. Those are the moments I remember- when my dad and I drank gin and tonics on the back porch with the speakers playing jazz, drowning out the sound of crickets, as he tried to teach me how to dance in the moonlight, laughing because we’re both so awful. When Sarah, Amanda and I spoke in earnest about the future and our desire for greatness and true love in a booth at an Irish bar on a quiet Sunday night. The few times this past summer when the air was so thick you could drink it and Drew and I would share bottles of cold, crisp white wine and talk over the noise of Pulp Fiction about the next great American novel, the state of our country and the state of our souls. After those nights with Drew I would wander back to my apartment in the heavy night air and on one occasion wrote the following (in very bad penmanship):
Just walked home from Drew’s.
And I’m drunk enough to know that I could punch a man with a key between my fingers if I had to.
And I’m drunk enough to read a short story by some woman whose name I don’t remember before realizing that Drew was asleep on the couch.
And I’m drunk enough to tiptoe up to the roof to check on the renovations that the landlord, with his legion of illegal immigrants, is currently finishing.
And I’m drunk enough to smoke three puffs on a menthol cigarette that tasted like toothpaste before remembering that smoking is disgusting.
But I’m not drunk enough to forget who I am.
I am not drunk enough to forget who my Lord is.

Profound, I know… but really, the cocktail hours are about camaraderie, about being able to say those things about religion and politics that are so often glossed over, about enjoying a beverage that will forever remind you of being 21, 30, 16 or 57. The cocktail hour is about making memories, about writing down and sharing silly ideas that usually wouldn’t be voiced, or even thought, because they aren’t dinner-table conversation. Who wants dinner-table conversation anyway, especially when there’s cocktail hour conversation?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ohmygosh, I think I'm having feelings!

Due to a lax schedule I have way too much time to sit and ruminate on my current life predicament- that of finding an internship, a future job, a new apartment and a great recipe for curry.

I’m unsettled and it’s not just because I have a nagging headache and absolutely no desire to complete the reading for my travel writing literature class. It may, however, have something to do with the fact that my life has become locked into the gravitational pull of a looming black-hole called The Future, and I have no idea as to where it will take me or how I will like it. Now that I’m a senior I’ve been getting a lot more questions about what I plan on doing after I graduate and all I can do is give a saucy smile and shrug in reply. I feel limited by my options, not because they are too few, but because they are too many and I’m torn between them to the point where I am frozen, disabled by my inability to make up my mind and pursue any of the viable paths I have before me.

But idleness is a sin and I will soon get a grip on things and commit to figuring out my life -do I stay in Boston, try for New York City or return to my network of friends and family back home? Do I want to work for a bookstore, a publishing house or an organization of some sort, such as an historical society or university? What color should I paint my nails? And at what point should I color my hair a normal color? What kind of muffins should I make this week? Can I actually just become a baker, please? A baker who only wears clothes from Anthropologie?