One year, after making valentines for my friends, I made myself a valentine. I decorated it and made it out to myself, and signed my name. In it I wrote all of the things I wanted to hear. Things that I believed about myself, things that made me feel good about myself, things that made me feel loved. At that time I needed to hear those things, and instead of hoping that someone else might find the right words, I wrote them myself. On Valentine’s Day I opened the card, read what I had wrote, and felt grateful for the words.
I usually write about taking Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the various types of love you have in your life - family, friends, romantic, or otherwise. It can be a day where you dwell on the love the that is in your life, rather than the love that isn’t in your life.
This year take some time to show yourself some love and appreciation. Make yourself a card, or leave yourself a note that says something great about yourself, something you appreciate about who you are. Buy yourself some flowers (or wait until tomorrow when they’re half off and buy yourself two bouquets!), make yourself some cookies (or something healthy, to treat your body right), and do something you truly enjoy. Don’t worry about what someone else has planned for you, look forward to something you have planned yourself. And be grateful.
Skiing over the town line (and back).
Some day I want to see if enough of these trails connect and I can get all the way to a friend’s house. I think it would be fun to pop over on skis.
I am mostly a vegetarian. I know that many people would not consider me a vegetarian and I don’t care. I consider myself a vegetarian “for all intents purposes.” I eat a little bit of seafood from time to time (like on hot summer days at a lobster shack by the sea), and once or twice a year I have a few bites of meat if it is local, free range, antibiotic free, etc, and I know where it came from. For example, my father shot a deer this year, so I have had some of that.
The reason I first became a vegetarian was for the experience. I was strict for a year. The reason I stayed a vegetarian (going on 8 years now) was because I felt better and because I did not support the meat industry in the U.S. Our practices are atrocious. News reports and documentaries make me sick. I don’t want any part of that, and I refuse to support it. I also refuse to put that in my body. The reason I began to lighten up and become less strict was because, at least here in Maine, it is becoming almost easy to access responsibly raised meat. The small community I am apart of in midcoast Maine even allows me to have access to wild meat. This is pretty special. When I come across this type of meat I can’t find a reason not to have a little of it (I’m not talking about a big plateful here).
Many people claim that humans don’t need to eat meat because they are so inactive. This might be true generally, but I’m pretty active. I’ve lived off of plant-based protein during peak marathon training, and in my opinion, for my individual body, it just helps me survive but doesn’t necessarily provide me with everything I need to perform at my best. Do you know what I think would help me perform at my best? A little bit of meat from time-to-time, especially when I’m running 55 miles a week. I think that level of activity probably puts me in the hunter-gatherer category.
Vegetarians are a righteous group. I can be righteous about how bad the food industry as a whole is in the United States. I don’t believe that we shouldn’t eat animals though. I believe that we are meant to eat a little bit of meat. Not that we have to, but that it is in our make-up. It’s ok if you disagree; I understand and I don’t begrudge you.
I am very seriously considering renouncing my vegetarian tiara and instead titling my diet conscientious meat eater. This means not eating very much meat. It means eating locally raised, free range, chemical free meat the limited times that I do eat it. It means eating wild meat from time to time. I will rarely, if ever, order meat at a restaurant, or have it at someone’s house unless it came from a source I consider to be reputable. In other words, not much will change. All natural, all the time. Once in a while, that might include meat now.
A few years ago the Gothic flat iron building in Belfast (the first bank that ever established itself in this newly hip, surprisingly authentic coastal town so many years ago) was on the market and I had the privilege of going inside and seeing all three floors. It is a stunning building, inside and out.
It recently became The Gothic restaurant, and I have been eager to step inside and see (taste?) what all the buzz was about. It’s easy to be a newspaper or magazine reviewer, take some staged shots, and say the food is great and it is just what this sometimes sleepy sometimes not little City needs. It’s another to be a local and not have anyone to answer to.
check out those ceilings
From what I have read and from what I could see, there is a philosophy at The Gothic of what you might call Sensible Eating. As someone whose vegetarian values are slowly evolving to a less strict diet, I can relate to this type of thinking. It’s about eating smart.
What’s your preference?
Belfast needs a little decadence, and The Gothic pulls it off with just a hint of casualness, which is key around here. I was part of a party of five people, so I was lucky enough to not only enjoy my own meal, but to sample a little of everyone else’s.
The dinner menu
I started with a glass of the house white wine which was great. They had an intriguing, seasonally appropriate cocktail list that I was eager to try to see how the bartender fared. A friend ordered the Gothic 75 which was a classic, solid combo that did not disappoint. I tried the Mission Gin and Tonic which was adventurous. I can’t say that I loved it, but I appreciated that they were trying to go outside the box a little. I liked what they were trying to do with it.
The drink menu
Let’s get to the food, because it was definitely the highlight. First we were all presented with an amuse bouche of kimchi wrapped in cabbage. Geez. Could they have made a better first impression on me?
I started with the lobster raviolis, of course. This did not disappoint. There was lobster in the raviolis, and they were plated with big chunks of lobster meat. While it was not a plate full (this was an appetizer, after all) there was enough for me to share a few bites and still get my fill. I also got to try the kale salad; a heaping plate of greens and goodies. I didn’t try the beet salad, but it looked delicious, and it’s on my list of things to try next time.
For an entree I had the sea scallops and they were perfection. They were some of the best, if not the best seared scallops I’ve ever had. They were buttery and moist and came apart just perfectly, with nice, crusty ends. I can’t stop thinking about those scallops and how perfect they were. I asked if I could sub the regular potatoes with horseradish potatoes and they accommodated like it was nothing (big points for that one fellas). My only suggestion is to kick up that horseradish. A few people commented that they couldn’t really taste it. Both the lobster ravioli and the scallops had mushrooms. They were nice, rich editions to both dishes.
Two people at the table had the duck. This dish required the torching of some pine garnish to add fragrance to the dish. Pretty snazzy.
We finished the meal with various ice creams. They made another concession and allowed someone in our party to order just the ice cream that came on the side of a dish. The waiter proved to be a pretty cool guy.
Overall, the food was great, the atmosphere was wonderful (although I was a little put off by some loud, bad, late-90s top 40 music at one point). It’s a little pricey but Belfast needs a place like this. Any city should have a balance and Belfast was missing an upscale restaurant. The Gothic accomplishes this and more. Quite frankly, the food is wonderful, and worth a special occasion and your regular patronage.
Now, how long should I wait before trying their brunch?
I’ve been really into peaches. I have decided that the best way to get them this time of year is canned, in pear juice (avoid the syrup folks). I can’t find frozen ones that don’t come with other fruit, and the canned ones are packed nice and full. I am putting them in smoothies with strawberries and next week I will add ginger to the mix. And maybe some lime.
My new indulgence has been blue cheese stuffed olives from the olive bar at the grocery store. My aunt turned me onto them, and I can’t get enough of their rich saltiness.
We are getting snow tomorrow and I am glad. I’m glad because I don’t have to drive to get to work, and I haven’t gotten nearly enough xc-skiing or snowshoeing in.
Not having an hour commute anymore has allowed me to get an extra hour of sleep each day. I’m much better for it, as you might imagine.
I have been successfully writing letters (‘success’ is measured by someone being willing to take the time to write back) with a friend and I’m truly enjoying the practice of writing, reading, sending, and receiving mail. Letters feel like tangible pieces of someone. There’s something more meaningful about reading someone’s written words versus quickly scanning over them in an e-mail. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but trust me, it’s there. When I sit down to write a letter I instantly feel creative.
I went running the last three out of four days, and the one day I didn’t I did yoga. In a matter of days I can feel more myself and hold off any incoming winter blues. I’m always happy to take a break from running myself into the ground, and I’m always happy to get back to it. This year it will be all about the trails and I’m itching with excitement.
This weekend I’ll be reporting from the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. Bring your long undies.
Right now I’m grateful:
That this cold weather should at least kill a lot of ticks. Maybe they won’t be so bad next year.
For the badass LLBean down comforter from 1920 or something that weighs as much as me and kept me warm even when my room got down to 51 at night.*
For the option to stand at work, for days that I’m not up and out and about.
For enjoyable, interesting employment.
For kombucha and fermentation and all its mind blowing benefits.
For organic lavender essential oil and chamomile tea to prepare my racing mind for sleep after night meetings.
For wool and flannel and more wool.
For Darjeeling tea with milk and honey
For a window at work that lets so much sun in that come 3pm I feel like a cat on a couch.
For my new commute: a 5 minute walk. For not getting in my car (a cold car, at that), for days.
For ripe bartlett pears
For Sussudio, by Phil Collins (and Phil, in general)
What are you grateful for today?
*Tell me I’m not rugged, I dare you.
A few months ago someone told me that this should be the time of my life. The statement immediately weighed me down. Thankfully, someone I respect told me that while some people might find a similar stage in life to be “the best”, many people find it stressful, and that it was just as normal to feel that way. I found truth in that statement and felt the weight of expectation and disappointment leave me.
Our culture has a way of telling us that we should always be happy, and that every major event in a life should be “the happiest time in your life.” People told me this in college. “You’re free to pursue and do anything! Do not let anything get in your way! Enjoy this! You should be having the time of your life!” People said the same thing after college. They said the same thing before grad school, during grad school, etc. People are told this when they fall in love, even when they are heartbroken, when they get engaged, married, have children, see those children leave the nest, and so on.
I propose a new message. The happiest times in your life will probably be random, unexpected, unremarkable moments. It’s ok if the big, seemingly exciting things scare the shit out of you, or stress you out to the point of doubt and confusion (I changed minors in college and majors in grad school), or make you worry, or question your good intentions and peace of mind. The really important things will probably feel like a weight, at least some of the time, simply because you’re in touch with how important they are.
The best times in my life have been moments of contentedness. I am letting go of the expectation that they be anything more.