Monday, January 28, 2008


Did you think I would miss today's post? Not today, my friend.

To the right is a picturesque shot of what modern Anatlya, situated on the Meditereanean in Southern Turkey, must have looked like during the apogee of the Byzantine empire (or any other time for that matter, but stick with me, ok?)

One may well imagine the early Byzantine soldier staring at these mountains wistfully, gazing at a similar awe-inspiring sunset and wishing, perhaps, for more peaceful times.

My inspiration? I have been reading Sir John Julius Norwich's epochal History of Byzantium. Actually, I am reading the truncated version. It's thorough, though a whirlwind and easy to forget the particulars of all the minor emperors. One thing, however, is for sure: the succession of emperor to emperor, reign to reign was often a very bloody, despicable affair. At least in the first 500 years of the Empire, assinations and usurpation was often the norm, even as barbarian or middle eastern hordes stood eager to engulf the Empire's all-too-often vulberable borders.

Americans take for granted their liberty to elect officials to office and form of government. We do not have psychotic rulers standing in the Elipse (a present-day cultural equivalent to Byzantium's Hippodrome) planting a purple boot on the trembling neck of a previous Emperor or failed usurper, before ordering him blinded and thrown into prison at best, or tortured and then sent to a furnace at worst.

No, we tolerate a barbarism far more hidden in its ugliness though fundamentally the same: crimes against life, i.e., abortion, euthanasia, human embryonic stem cell research and the like.

Though what of events of greatness? For me, one event stands out so nobly above all the rest that it encapsulates all that is great about Byznatium and its sense of destiny.

On September 24, 628 A.D. Basileus (Emperor) Heraclius returned most triumphantly to Constantinople after saving the whole empire from the Persians, an event for which posterity must thank him (lest we'd be speaking Farsee today). Before him went the True Cross, rescued from the Persians who stole it, while cheering crowds thronged behind the city's legendary walls, awaiting to see it placed in Hagia Sophia, one of the greatest churches in all of Christendom.

This is greatness. If only the rest of the Empire's history was so magnificent. Every age faces towering obstacles. We just need to surmount our own.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Excellence...In a Cup

Yesterday was superb. Clare and I made the trip to D.C. and a visit to my favorite tea shop in the world: Teaism.

As a tea-enthusiast, I'm very critical of high-end loose tea establishments, but as far as I'm concerned, Teaism--only to be compared with Dragonwell in San Francisco--sets the standard for excellence.

Teaism's R Street location is a trendy American tea-house that serves Asian-inspired cuisine paired with a refined selection of essential teas. The tea and other menu options work together harmoniously to create an unequalled, urban zen experience.

For me, what makes Teaism so completely stand out is their food menu and atmosphere. Their tea is quite good--very good--but anything I've ever sampled from their menu is wonderfully different and utterly divine. The air at teaism is chic and mellow. On weekends this location is packed, but during the work-week you can catch a table upstairs with a window view. In Spring and Fall, those windows open to let in a delectable breeze.

All that said, in my experience the folks who work the register are not great representatives of tea and often share no enthusiasm or appreciation for the place, which is a very big negative. Even still, I find I can overlook this flaw because the place is so good otherwise.

One last thing: be watchful of your tea. They use a ton of tea in the infusion and you don't want to overbrew. I think they may also overheat their greens, using water that is too hot. Maybe that's just me. The brews virtually always end up being supreme.

Try an apricot tea cake and Jasmine Pearls for extreme bliss.

Thank you, Teaism, for ending the corruption of least in one corner of the world.

Over and Out,


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mowth Displacement!

Well, here it is. The eve before Monday. And what shall I discuss? The options are many, but ultimately, "there can be only one." Yah right.

My mouth is still enduring some serious gak-age from early last week when I had my wisdom teeth ripped out with a forklift. Since then I have been treated to, I mean with, 1000 mg. of Hydrocodone, aka Vicodin, every four hours, which is what serious yuppie-junkies use to find their inner-buddha.

Life has been somewhat tough. No real food except yogurt and milk shakes. I call it the Nick-Diet, since I think I've been losing weight. Move over Jenny Craig. Your end has come!

My lower teeth were pretty impacted, so the healing process is slow, relatively speaking. My whole chin is numb with disbelief and pain. Feeling in my lower lip seems to be returning, but I can't really tell. I was warned beforehand that it could be numb for life, since the lower-teeth were so close to the main nerve. Yikes. It could also effect my flute-playing, but I pray it doesn't, not that I've been playing all that much of late.

Actually, life feels a lot better with no wisdom teeth. I kinda wonder sometimes if when they pulled the teeth out they took some of my hard-earned wisdom as well, because I just don't feel as wise. I really don't. I feel silly. Actually, it's probably just the drugs.


On a more serious note, Clare and I are still here in po-dunk, confederate-flag-in-my-old-Ford-pick-up Stafford. We have decided to move to Chicago indefinitely. We will move sometime in the next few months, though we're not sure when. And then it's Sanfratello's, here we come!

Juice-out Juice bags.


Monday, January 07, 2008

The Moment of Truth -- Take 2!

Well, today was--is, actually--a Monday of Mondays. Really, it's been quite a day. Not only did I recieve a truly substantial raise from my job in Dale City, VA, but also I learned that the offer we put on a sweet fixer-upper in Hammond, IN looks like it's going to be accepted--like tomorrow.

Yes, for those of you who don't know, it looks like we'll be moving to Indiana sometime next month, unless, unless, well, I don't really know.

You see, I am still holding out.

I just got the raise I need to stick around, if I want. But it's not just me. It's Clare, Anastasia, Leia, and me. I prefer it that way, obviously, but now I have tons more to consider, even as I write: should I stay or should I go?

Ultimately, you go with what's in your heart, but when you are deciding for everybody it's tough, especially when you are the one putting the food on the table.

A move out to the midwest would be good for us. There's great pizza, great people (in general--you feel like you can say hello without someone scowling at you), Chicago, and family. There's a culture that you can definitely get to, other than the "who can I cut off next?!" mentality so prominent in this area.

Staying here would be cool too, but only, really, if we lived where I would truly like to live--up in the mountains somewhere. I would have a long-ass drive to work (over an hour), but I would have a sweet, sweet setup.

I usually don't talk about something like this on this blog in this way, but I need to make my decision by no later than 9AM tomorrow. After 9AM, I won't be able to talk, because I will be being alleviated (great English, eh?) of my wisdom teeth.

So any wisdom I have goes right out the door.

Anyway, I would love to live in the mountains, ultimately, but it is probably not the best decision collectively, at least not right now. Now that I have a wonderful job at a wonderful place alongside a sweet raise, skipping town is not high on my list. I prayed to St. Joseph to get this job, and I've been praying all along to him about leaving, and I wonder if he was in similar shoes when God directed him to leave Bethlehem for foriegn lands. Had St. Joseph just landed a sweet gig making furniture or building a house for the local authorities, making good money, when the Holy Spirit swept into his life and told him to flee?

I honestly don't know, but that is the Gospel that is speaking to me most right now. It is difficult. I think we will go, but I am very emotionally attached to my job, Virginia and all that it represents for me (that includes my friends, amigos). Don't get me wrong, I am attached to the midwest, too, but in a different sort of a way.

It's just tough. Decision time usually is. We'll see what happens.

Over and out.