Tuesday, September 15, 2020

If the Ides of March are the year’s most shadowy cursed day, then what is foretold for its diametric opposite? Do the Ides of September hold the promise of a renewed life? A new opportunity? The launch-point for a brighter future? Or is it simply another day in a calendar packed with tasks and concepts meant to distract me from the trials of an otherwise mostly mundane life? I don’t want to give away the ending, but it’s probably that second one. After all, our calendar yesterday was packed with all of this crap:

National Sober Day / Sober September

While we are not indulging in the entirety of Sober September (as I pointed out on Bonza Bottler Day last week, Jodie has already insisted that vodka will be a part of her coping mechanism for school this year), we do support those who are. Everyone has their own reasons for being sober this month. Some are on the brink of addiction, while others are knee or waist-deep into it. It’s not easy, especially in a year that seems intent on offering as many stresses as it can muster.

We celebrated this by remaining sober yesterday, and keeping our ever-growing collection of alcohol safely in its bottles. While I absolutely possess an addictive personality, I am grateful that my love of booze never advanced beyond the we’re-really-just-good-friends stage. For me it’s the way the ensuing dawn greets a night of drinking – I have no patience for hangovers.

We have pledged to support anyone who needs help getting past that temptation, even though we lack the experience of having gone through it ourselves. But I rode the opiate train for a number of years, so I get that cutting off one’s vice cold-turkey can be excruciating.

Sober Day is only in its second year, and it’s no doubt a much more challenging year for many. Bottoms-up with a tall glass of water to any and all who take the plunge and do a little something good for their liver and brain cells this month, or any month for that matter. It ain’t easy.

National Coloring Day

Astute readers – and really, if you’re reading this quality work you must already be astute – will recall that we celebrated National Coloring Book Day back on August 2nd. So what makes this anything but a re-run? Absolutely nothing. It’s just another day to celebrate colouring, probably because there was someone else who arbitrarily decided the day to celebrate colouring should land on their grandmother’s birthday or something. Whatever – for those who love colouring, I’m sure they’re as thrilled to have two days to celebrate as I was when our second (or possibly third) video game day popped in last week.

Once again we turn to our team baker (hi, Mom!), as she is also our official team colourer. It’s not that Jodie doesn’t also love to colour, but her colouring books were brought to school last year to keep her kids busy when they’d finished their work, and she didn’t want to bring them back home given that any and all of her kids might be grotesque little disease factories. Also, given the current state of public education and the fact that she’s working on her Masters degree, she simply doesn’t have a lot of time.

But as we all know, it takes a village to raise an idiotic project like this, and my mom is happy to contribute her colouring. Also, it lets her show off that she’s actually quite good at it. I’m not much of a stay-between-the-lines guy, so I’ll happily defer to her talent for this one.

National Live Creative Day

The limits of my creativity have indeed been tested. Indeed, I already live my life trying to adapt to everything the calendar throws at us and compared to 2019 that’s pretty creative. But here I am on Day #257 of a 366-day endeavour and I’m not sure how to get creative in respect to this year’s journey. Do I simply soldier on, but wear a goofy hat? Is that creative enough?

Well, no. I mean, it could be enough – I’ve pointed out before that I get to make up the rules for this wonky ride, but I’d rather go a bit deeper. So I spent some time yesterday putting some thought into what comes next. On January 1, 2021 I will be free from having to cram in tributes and regimented mirth into my daily schedule. And while I’ll be ecstatic to have seen this project to completion, I’ll be in need of something else to push my creative self forward next year.

Unless an epiphany happens to thunderbolt its way into my brain to the contrary, I shan’t be exploring another do-this-every-day type project. I’d rather point myself toward something new, maybe something that will allow me to hone the quality of the content before dropping it into the world. So I glanced through my started-but-never-finished stories and story ideas. I perused the various ways in which I could continue to be creative in 2021. And while I didn’t land on a conclusive decision, I was comforted by the fact that the fuel that propels me through this world – specifically, the creativity bubbling in my own brain – is not yet fully depleted. Next year, I will continue to live creative.

Sorry – live creatively. Damn, why do these celebrations get so loose with their grammar?

National South Carolina Day

This is another attempt at playing catch-up on our culinary journey around the United States. We’d missed celebrating this one at the end of August, mainly due to our local grocery store not having any pecans in stock. I had planned to recreate the delightful South Carolina snack of roasted pecans. With the store shelves still mocking our ambitions last weekend, I have decided to pivot and push forward – after all, we’re already bumping National Virginia Day. So what other options are offered to us by the Palmetto State? Boiled peanuts. Yes, I mentioned this in yesterday’s tribute to National Peanut Day – this is something they actually do in the American South. This is actually the official snack food of South Carolina. It took all afternoon to make.

South Carolina may not have been the first state to join the Union, but it was the first to leave it. On December 20, 1860, this was the first state to vote to pop over to the Confederacy so that its residents (the ones who apparently mattered) could continue to own people. But let’s not paint modern South Carolina with that snarly brush. Or at the very least, let’s look at the origins of that snarl. South Carolina is prone to hurricanes, tropical cyclones and earthquakes. Nature unleashes a lot on the people of this state. It’s also where about one third of all battles took place during the Revolutionary War.

The state saw less violence in the Civil Rights movement than in other southern states, and it made a rather seamless (if slow) transition from the Jim Crow era to… what do we call post-Jim-Crow? The modern-style racism era? Whatever, the state also gave us Senator Strom Thurmond, who pushed for segregation and state-sponsored racism long after it was no longer hip to do so.

But some great names have emerged from South Carolina. We’ll start with the late, great Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman from Anderson. There’s also James Brown from Barnwell, Smokin’ Joe Frazier from Beaufort, Dizzy Gillespe from Cheraw, the greatest of the greats on bass, James Jamerson from Edisto Island, Aziz Ansari from Columbia, Chubby Checker from Spring Gully, Andy Dick from Charleston, Andie MacDowell from Gaffney, Mary-Louise Parker from Fort Jackson, and the magnificent Vanna White from North Myrtle Beach. What’s weird is that every one of these names I picked come from a different part of South Carolina. It must be one hell of a state.

No thank to its official snack. The boiled peanuts, which took four hours to boil to completion, according to the recipe I followed, were unpleasant. Maybe they needed more salt. Maybe they needed less water, because their texture was mealy and unpleasant. Jodie had one single peanut and burped the taste up all evening. This one was not a success. I should have held out for pecans.

National Quiet Day

So not only is this National Sober Day, it’s also the day we’re supposed to shut the hell up and appreciate the quiet. In order to properly celebrate this one, I worked through my entire day with no music to accompany my toiling, which really added kind of a bum-out vibe to the hours I was remote-connected to my office drone job. No music? One of the pure joys of working from home is the ability to play “One Night In Bangkok” on repeat as loud as I want if the mood strikes.

So this is a day of deprivation. I can live with that. And there’s something special about allowing the silence to wash over you. Though if I may confess something, I did have dogs in the room with me for pretty much all of the day, and their snoring is not exactly what I’d consider “quiet”. But I suppose it’s a part of the background noise of almost every minute of my life, so I could make do.

The world is perpetually abuzz with noise and distraction. If we don’t take some time to focus on the silence when we can we’ll lose that grounding level of peace. I hope everyone found their little slice of quiet yesterday.

National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day

We enjoy doughnuts. We have celebrated two National Doughnut Days this year, and we never even questioned why there were two. We simply indulged. And, to be perfectly upfront, we go for doughnuts every single Saturday to Destination Doughnuts on 124th street. We have done so since the week they opened, back in December of 2017. They just make the best we’ve tried in the city, so why not give ourselves a weekly treat?

Pictured above is the Mango Explosion, which features a magnificent mango cream inside it. There’s not much to say – it’s as delightful as it sounds. This was a great third doughnut celebration for the year. I hope there’s a fourth.

Today might be a fascinating journey through new and interesting celebrations, or it may just be more of the same. I suppose it depends on how we choose to approach all of this:

  • National Cheese Toast Day. I like cheese and I like toast. How could this possibly be anything other than grand?
  • National Linguine Day. I don’t think we have any linguine on hand, but we’ll see what we can do.
  • National Felt Hat Day. This might get me some weird looks during today’s Zoom meetings.
  • National Double Cheeseburger Day. A linguine double cheeseburger served on cheese toast? Maybe?
  • National Crème De Menthe Day. This would fall under the category of alcoholic beverages Jodie would never want to drink.
  • National Online Learning Day. There are a few folks right now who are contending with this.
  • Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie Day. Damn. I wish.
  • Get Ready Day. Are you ready? I might not be ready.
  • International Dot Day. A day devoted to half the vocabulary of Morse code, I guess.
  • Make A Hat Day. Wow, two celebrations related to hats on the same day. It’s like Christmas.
  • World Afro Day. Should I try to grow an afro?
  • National Thank You Day. You’re welcome.
  • Someday. Ah, so this is the day that ‘someday’ refers to.
  • National IT Professionals Day. That’s a lot of competition for the IT professionals out there today.