Such Great Heights

Oops. Sorry guys, I know it’s been awhile. But fits of writers block and lack of motivation to are challenging obstacles to overcome. Despite having several stories, recipes and pictures stockpiled, I didn’t want to “come back” without the perfect “introduction” back. But I think I found it, and it happened – surprisingly enough – at a concert.

The flashing lights shower me in streaks of blue and green. And then Ben Gibbard opens his mouth, singing with that distinctly magnetic and melodic voice. And a twinge of a smile rises in the corner of my mouth, and my foot starts tapping, and a toe-curling sense of nostalgia sweeps over me.

It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since The Postal Service released their lone album that plucked effortlessly at the heartstrings of every teenager and young adult. Ben Gibbard’s poetic story telling was the tune to my early adult years. For a moment I was lost in the music and began thinking about how far I’ve come in 10 years.

In 2003 I was in my first year of junior college with no plan. A hopeless romantic who was completely optimistic, and eager to find a bride and slowly grow old together.

I didn’t know I was supposed to be a writer. After changing my major for the third time, I was sure I was destined for a life in the business world, wearing dress slacks and ties, doing somebody else’s work. When I settled on English and writing, I gravitated towards nonfiction. I always loved reading books that have the ability transcended the personal and tell a compelling story. I dog-eared pages and scribbled notes from snippets of my favorites, emulating their style in my own narratives.

Not long into my new life as an English major and writer, my girlfriend of 3 1/2 years decided to break up with me. Someone please call a surgeon. The Postal Service, along with Death Cab and other bands were there to play on repeat in my car, fists pounding on the steering wheel, eyes swollen with tears.

The subsequent year of writing involved a lot of self-loathing, whiny bullshit about how much I loved her and how scorned I was from my loss of her. It was cathartic, but most of it was destined for the dump pile. Years later, reading what I wrote, what I thought was poetic and talent, turned out to be paltry ramblings.

My ex was a vegetarian, so I was, by association, a mostly vegetarian. After we broke up, it took some time before I even had the desire to step back into the kitchen. I figured the best way to push out the memories of tofu, poorly cooked vegetables, and cardboard-meat-substitutes, was to get back in the kitchen and rediscover food. I sought to cook away her memory. Completely erasing her would take time, but I had to start with what was most dear to my heart, my stomach.

After my heart healed, I went through three (official) jobs before arriving at my current place of employment. And my jobs and experiences a long the way imparted some new wisdom. Every step taken up until now may not have been calculated, but each was a necessary building block. I’ve met a diverse and delightful group of friends en route to sitting here, in a new town, in a new house, with a new love. And I’ve been published. Several times over, and that is an accomplishment in and of itself. And while it all happened it a completely unpredictable way with plenty of twists and hurdles. I can’t say that I would have changed a thing.

The greatest thing about writing is the opportunity it lends me to explore. I get to explore my life and the lives of others. I get to remember back to my childhood full of Thundercats and Ninja Turtles and riding bikes. I get to explore my current life, butt firmly planted on the stone seats of Berkeley’s Greek Theater, Amber’s hand in mine, and there could be nothing better. I’ve achieved such great heights.


*** My rediscovery of food involved a lot of experimentation. Cooking scallops always intimidated me. My first attempt rendered them to completely inedible, rubber discs. I’ve since perfected cooking them. The corn and peach salad was something that came to me one day and just made sense. ***

Scallops with grilled corn and peach salad with arugula and bacon


2 ears of corn, grilled & kernels removed

1 peach, halved, grilled and diced

1 Serrano or jalapeño, seeded and finely diced

2 green onions, finely chopped

2-3 strips of cooked bacon, chopped (grease reserved)

½ lime, juiced

2 handfuls of arugula

1 TBSP really good olive oil

salt and pepper

Put first six ingredients in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add arugula, drizzle with olive oil, add another pinch of salt and stir to incorporate with corn and peach mixture.


Pat scallops dry with paper towel to remove moisture.

Add a teaspoon or so of bacon grease, with a teaspoon of olive oil to a hot pan. When the fat starts to smoke a bit, you’re ready. Add scallops around the outside of the pan, starting at 12 o’clock and working around. Cooking on the outside allows for even cooking of all scallops. You should hear them sizzle when you drop them, if they don’t; your pan isn’t hot enough. Cook for 1 ½ -2 minutes (without touching!). Scallops should have a nice golden crust when you flip. Cook another 45 seconds to a minute and remove from heat immediately and serve.


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