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Pancakes Are the Stuff of Heaven.

imageI saw a vision of paradise at a Guatemalan restaurant in Oklahoma City called Cafe Kacao. It was in the form of the most delicious pancakes I think I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve tasted a lot of pancakes. In fact, I had 98 from 2013-2014 alone.

Let me describe these pancakes for you, so you too can see the vision of paradise as I saw it. Like the Apostle John, I will relate to you my experience of the otherworldly and the choice is yours to believe, or not.

“On an indistinct stretch of North May Avenue in Oklahoma City I saw a vision of paradise. It was late August and the LORD led me to Cafe Kacao with my family after going to Body Pump at Gold’s Gym.

It was there that God revealed Godself to me when lo and behold, the crowds of people parted and thereupon appeared two cakes of a most miraculous sort, smothered in a light creamy sauce and drizzled with a blackberry reduction, the two sauces mixing together in a way so sublime I knew it was a sign from above. The fresh berries piled on top of the cakes was also a sign from heaven – strawberries and blackberries so plump and so awash in flavor in the land of blackberry reduction that I almost prayed for the LORD to levitate me to heaven right then and there.

But my work on earth was not yet done. Seeing the cakes before me, I knew I was meant to eat them and thus taste the bread of heaven yet while I lived. Eat them I did. My first bite revealed more wonders and knowledge to me than my 25 years here on earth. Has there ever been a pancake so crispy but so tender, so giving in flavor, so receptive to the tongue?

In that very instant I saw everything clearly. I was to be like this pancake, firm but yielding, flavorful but able to work with the flavors of other people, tender, warm and loving. In short, I was to be perfect as this pancake of heaven was also perfect. I at once felt a sense of peace descend upon me as I heard a voice say, ‘This is my pancake, with which I am well pleased. Now go forth in the full knowledge of the pancake and spread the word among the lost.’

I awoke with a stain on my shirt and a faint memory of something all hazy and golden. This blog post had been written in its entirety, and I’ve remained faithful to the original text. Please blame any typos on my vision-seeing dream self.

Also, eat these pancakes.

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13 Signs I’m Totally Becoming a New Yorker

the donut we chased for

the donut we chased for

New York is changing me. I’m paying more for regular things, getting jaded by the everything that exists here, and being ruder to strangers and kinder to friends.

Just today, I did things I would have thought unfathomable five days ago. Perhaps you want to know what they are? Well you’re in luck, because I outlined them below. You can tell  I’m turning into a New Yorker because:

1. Paid three dollars for a regular cup of coffee (it wasn’t even a pour over), and then an hour later paid another three dollars for another regular cup of coffee at the same place. No free refills.

2. Traveled thirty minutes via subway to see a graveyard, only to find the gate closed and the only entrance very far away. So I turned around to walk in a park for twenty minutes before heading back thirty minutes to where I came from. Essentially I trekked for an hour just to see a clump of trees.

3. Ate dinner, then went on a crazed car ride fifteen minutes through traffic across Brooklyn to eat a donut from a place called Dough before it closed at 9. The donut was actually fairly incredible but I’d never traveled so far or so urgently for dessert. But in New York, no desire is too ridiculous to be satisfied.

4. Paid twice as much to have my laundry washed and folded for me. When the woman tried to charge me two bucks extra, I called her out on it and got my two bucks back like a real New Yorker. Then I bought an ice cream sandwich.

5. Wore a tank top.

6. Took a nap sitting up.  No time to lay down in New York.

7. Successfully gave directions to two different people. Apparently everyone else also just got into town a couple days ago.

8. Searched on Yelp for coffee shops near me and was like, “Really, only 8 places within four blocks? So I’m pretty much in a coffee desert.”

9. Searched on Yelp for ice cream places near me and was like, “Really, only 7 places within a mile? Only 7 different artisan ice cream places? How the heck am I supposed to choose something if there are no options? I need options, people!”

10. Ran through a warehouse district and remarked on how pleasant it was because there were less people there.

11. Thought about going to Manhattan, then realized it was practically a lifetime away and opted to stay in Brooklyn.

12. Thought about trying out half-shirts and buying a hat.

13. Rolled my eyes at vintage stores in Williamsburg. Those are so overplayed.

14. Think I’m so New York.

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Wanted: Eligible Greek Bachelor with Large Extended Family in Astoria

imageTonight, I ate Greek food at a restaurant in Astoria and realized I have it all wrong. My dreams of being an actor, comedian and talk show host all crumbled into dust as I wolfed down lamb and potatoes and watched burly Greek men taking orders. I don’t want a life in the entertainment industry at all.

What I really want is to marry into an extended Greek family and help manage a neighborhood restaurant while raising a family of six boys and a goldfish.

Stavros and I would meet at the restaurant one day. I’d be biting into a flaky pastry dessert and he’d come over to ask how the food was and then our eyes would meet and we’d be married within the month.

We’d move into a building the family owned down the block from his parents house. After leaving the restaurant, Stavros and I would go by their house to say hi and end up spending an hour chatting with them on their front porch stoop, the neighbors joining in the conversation as they got back from work.

We’d have children and watch them grow up and play sports on the street and get involved in the local chapter of the Greek American Organization. They’d get boyfriends and girlfriends (except for Melina) and go to high school and get into college (except for Spiros and Lars – they would be taking over the restaurant) and as the years pass we would watch the neighborhood change and remark on it with his parents on the stoop of their front porch.

Business at the restaurant would wax and wane and the menu rarely change. We’d keep up with the regulars as great tragedies and joys happened in their lives and we’d go to countless weddings and funerals and get togethers and Greek Orthodox celebrations.

Stavros would have a hairy barrel chest and a strong nose. I’d look very not Greek but do my best to keep up with everyone, and on Sunday evenings when we didn’t have to work we’d walk down the main street in Astoria and say hi to our friends, enemies, nuisances, grandchildren, children and everyone in between.

It would be a different, less glamrous life, but it would be rich.

And that’s why I need to be careful about making big life decisions on a whim and too soon before or after a meal. Things can get carried away.

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I’m Addicted to Coffee but I Wouldn’t Dream of Changing

coffee

coffee coffee coffee

What is dependency? What is addiction? If I can’t force myself to leave the house without the promise of coffee, is that a problem? If I buy more than one, sometimes more than two, and rarely but not too rarely more than three coffees a day, is that really so terrible? Is it childlike and irresponsible, or is it supremely adultlike and admirable?

If I, after arriving in Boston (the city of my alma mater and priceless collegiate memories), think only of bed and of ending everything because there is no coffee in the house and the nearest coffee shop is across a bridge and through the rain, what does that mean?

My brain is made up of chemicals. My body is an assemblage of elements and amino acids. My hair is a collection of grease, sweat, and whatever kind of weird shampoo I used this morning. Also, it is made of keratin. But my heart is made of coffee. It is coffee that runs through my veins and brings light into the world.

Entire worldviews have shifted because of caffeine-deprivation. Wars have started and / or ended because of the magic bean. And it is the magic bean.

Oh coffee, you make my heart beat faster. You make my veins constrict and make it difficult to focus and my hands shake. You open up entire worlds of possibilities and the ability to love. You make it possible to run across freeways in the sun and find shelter in the rain.

I think I’m addicted, but I don’t want to be any other way.

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If Acting Doesn’t Work Out, At Least There’s Always Panning for Gold in Dahlonega, GA

Dahlonega, GA

Dahlonega, GA

All the time in the world + a car + nothing else to do = a trip to a town that has fallen off the face of history. You know the kinds of towns I’m talking about, the ones that have preserved their old town squares and turned them into tourist traps full of ice cream parlors and fudge shoppes and handmade candle stores. Once the living, beating heart of a real city, the downtown is now the equivalent of a decorative chamber pot at grandma’s house.

Dahlonega, GA is one of those towns. You can find it by driving northeast from Atlanta until you strike gold, literally. According to Wikipedia, this was the site of the nation’s first gold rush in 1828. Even the famous saying “There’s gold in them thar hills” came from here, though apparently it was misquoted from some dude who actually said “There’s millions in it…” which makes him sound less like a two-toothed idiot and more like the civil servant he actually was.

At any rate, there’s still gold in them thar hills and considering I’m fresh out of a job, I thought I’d try to win it all back by doing a little panning myself at the Crisson Gold Mine. Crisson is an Appalachian (read: unsexy) version of Las Vegas for grade schoolers and retirees, which were the only other people there. For only $10, you get the chance to strike it rich. What a deal!

After about 10 minutes of gold panning, my back hurt and I wanted to stop but I didn’t. I’d caught mild gold fever and the chance of winning big kept me dunking my pan into the water and sifting away. 10 minutes after that, I was done with that crap and had painstakingly gathered enough gold flakes to do absolutely nothing. The flakes were probably worth no more than ten cents but at least the experience had made me sweat. I hadn’t struck it rich this time, but that’s the risk you take when you roll the dice in Appalachian Las Vegas.

We stopped in downtown to get some bad fried seafood from a charming beach-themed restaurant. Two retiree couples (the only other people there) gave me the stink eye for wearing skinny jeans that showed part of my ankle, but I stunk it right back to them with my able body and sharp eyesight. 20/20, gramps!

On the way back to Marietta, GA, we saw a hawk and a gigantic inflatable eagle advertising a car dealership with the slogan “Red, white and you!” Georgia FTW.

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