Monday, August 31, 2009

Farewell Japanee, Bon Chance Bloomington!

After 4 years, I am officially no longer living or working in Bloomington. Four long, eventful years that have seen me grow so much, making the transition from high schooler to college grad, from teenager to young adult. While at Bloomington I obtained a degree, an education, employment (sometimes working 40+ hours/wk), a greater sense of myself and who I really am, and many wonderful, beautiful friends. I was able to transform myself from a somewhat timid, anxious, insecure young man, not necessarily shy, but afraid to always embrace and love who I really I am, who I have grown into. And while I certainly don't have all the answers, I do feel confident in myself, that I have gained an ounce or two of wisdom in my time. And while a large part of that has come through both my theatre education and the many wonderful people and friendships I have had, a huge chunk of my Bloomington experience has been at the Japanee, sushi restaurant infamous for sake bombs and spicy mayo. When I started there, not only did I not know very much about Asian culture and cuisine, but also lacked the confidence and pizazzz I now have. Somehow making all those trips to and from the kitchen, deciphering broken English and meeting the demands of many, many customers, I was able to settle into myself and feel comfortable in my own skin. That this restaurant, along with many other things, served as a catalyst in creating the person know today as Bradley (always capitalized), or Bra-de-ly, someone with presence, grace, power (or so I'd like to think), and just enough sass. At the time when I started working there, it was the end of my sophomore year and I had gotten myself into quite a financial pickle, very little cash to spend, most of my funds exhausted. Now, I have been able to save enough to help me get to New York and have a much better grasp on my finances, things which I am so thankful for everyday. I feel so blessed to have graduated college without student loans or credit card debt, and while I'm not rolling in the money, I'm sinking under a mountain of debt either. And just as importantly as the financial aspect of my job, I have made some wonderful friends and met some very interesting people that I will never forget - Shinny, Shinae, Joe 'Woong,' Hannah, Colby, Jessica, Amy, Alex, Chi, Patrick, Israel, Edgar, and Omar, and even Mihee, Michelle, and Mago. I think I can say that I was always good to the Japanee, but it was very good to me, but more so it was good for me. I won't miss the obnoxious customers or the lack of a computer or the vats of salad dressing or the long hours, but I will miss the people very, very much. The place, I have been ready to let go of for a long while, but the people no way. Thank you to all of my friends, and thank you to all wonderful customers I have had who have taken the time to know my name and treat me like a person and without which I would not be moving to the city in two days. As one chapter closes and another ends, perhaps New York has another sushi bar waiting for me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dear Sauvignon Blanc, Dear Office Lounge, Dear Bloomington

Dear Sauvignon Blanc,

Thank you so much for this summer. I think we had a wonderful time together. I've enjoyed you morning, noon, and night. You are always there to listen, but you know when to tell me to be quiet. I enjoy you with fish, I enjoy you with chicken, with scallops (my favorite), I enjoy you at work, I enjoy you by the glass and even more by the bottle, I enjoy you with a Benadryl before bedtime, I enjoy you with friends. I enjoy your whole family: White Haven, Geyser Peak, Nobilo, Dancing Bull, and that nice Santa something (Ema?) that the nice people at Big Red picked out for me. I love your pale yellow-green color, I love the way you frost my wine glass, I love how you have virtually no calories, it's called drinking to your health, right? I love you so, so much more than your relation Chardonnay, and want everyone to know of your superiority. I love you when I cry and when I laugh, and the more I have of you, the more I want you still. I love you.

Dear Office Lounge, 

Thank you for karaoke last night. I had the most splendid time. Thank you for having "Chili All Year!" and "The Best wings in Town!" Thank you for goblet sized Long Islands and friendly wait staff and cold beer. Thank you for the closet-sized bathroom and the reusable towel dispenser. Thank you for never being too-too crowded. And always keeping my favorite table open. Thank you for your extensive karaoke collection, including some of my all-time hits "Hello, Dolly" "Talk to Me" "Landslide" "If You See Him, If You See Her" and "Good Bye, Earl!" Thank you for fat, middle-aged men who hit on my friends, but never on me. Thank you for no one hitting on me. Thank you Lisa. the clown-school graduate, and her denim mumu, and her spot on Gladys Knight. Thank you for being just down the road from Taco Bell and Steak 'N' Shake, two of my late-night favorites. Thank you that no one ever really watches me sing. You've really been just great. Thank you.

Dear Bloomington,

Thank you for the past 4 years. Thank you for sunny days, and gray days, and mountains of snow and rain every Tuesday. Thank you for traffic and out-of-state license plates. Thank you for how hard the word license is to spell. Thank you for Mother's Bear Pizza and China Buffet and Kilroy's Breadsticks and Thai food. Thank you for drag queens and frat boys and townies. Thank you for ten Starbucks locations in a three-mile radius. Thank you for parking tickets, and drinking tickets, and tickets to opera, dance, and theatre. Thank you for dorm drinking, and afternoon drinking, and Sunday drinking, and weekend drinking, and house parties, and bar crawls. Thank you for afternoon breakfast at Village Deli. Thank you for good friends, and good times, and goodtimesiu, and good grades. Thank you for being my home, and being my friend, and making me feel safe. Thank You Bloomington.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Golden Arches

You know there are worse ways to start the day than with a little McDonald's. Now, it may be gourmet, and I don't think my Mireille (French Women . . .) would necessarily approve, but my grilled Ranch BLT was divine. And I even had a little apple pie. A very comforting start to my morning . . . or noon. Last night at work was just plain shit-crazy. 4 more days, 4 more days, 4 more days. Why did the entire state of New Jersey decide to bring their kids to IU and then eat at my sushi restaurant? Why? Sir, why are you yelling at me? Who really needs to eat dinner as a group of sixteen? Terrifying. 16 hungry, sushi-crazed faces, starring you down as if I set out to ruin their evening. Terrifying. Oh, and the East Coasters love to pull the I have money card, the I eat in Manhattan card. Ooooo, so do six million other people. Sir, you are from New Jersey. Oh my God, am I going to turn into one of those demented diners invading the Midwest. Terrifying. So, after an extremely trying shift that I thought would never end, I somehow made it to the bar in one piece. And it was time to throw down. Apparently, everyone else got the memo, because they were all tore up by the time I got there. It was great to see so many of my old friends and sad to say a few goodbyes, or at least see you when I see you. Luckily, we all made it home in one piece, the ambiguities of the evening's end still in the air this morning. Needless to say, we all felt a little hagard when we awoke. At least, there's always McDonald's in the morning.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Always a House Guest, Never a House!

Well, I am back in Bloomington for one last week, staying with my lovely friends Benjamin and Lawrence. This has been my month of traveling, or really, my month of homelessness. Between packing, vacation with family, vacation in Louisiana, the wedding, and this week, I'm not really sure where I live anymore. Am I a New Yorker yet? One thing is true, I am very thankful for all of my beautiful hosts (even the farting ones). So, this is my week of goodbyes, and next week is my week of hello's. So a very exciting, but strange time. Surprisingly, I feel very comfortable right now, very at peace, and kind of at home (well that may also be because Lawrence and Ben live in my old apartment). My move to New York approaches closer day by day. I wonder: Who will be my friends? Will I fall in love? Where will I work? Will I get a job? Will I become a paid actor? How much should I invest in my acting endeavors? Most of these are fairly non-threatening, but sometimes not so much. And you know how all of those disaster movies take place in New York. Terrifying. And on a more serious note, what if another September 11th kind of attack occurs? I've lived anywhere where terrorist attacks are a very real threat. I don't think landlocked, recession-hit, rural Indiana has much of a bull's eye painted on it. Certainly, the reality of 9/11, even 8 years later, will be more present in my life this year. I'll have only been there for a little over a week when the anniversary hits. Within the same month, I will have visited the sites of America's gravest moments, Katrina and 9/11. All of this makes me sound really old. Guess I'm growing up, eh?

In other news, I have been cooking up a storm lately. Before I left home, I made a big pan of macaroni and cheese and a pan Souther greens for the boys I am staying with this week. On Friday, I made jalapeño corn bread, black beans (dried, not canned), and pollo en salsa verde con crema. I guess I will at least be eating well in New York! If the whole acting thing doesn't work out, maybe I can have a career in food! Or make the soup at the homeless sheleter I live in. Bon appétit!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Home in the Country for a Wedding!

Ok, I just spent about 10 minutes trying to access my account, but now I am ready to BLOG! I am home from New Orleans (a long long drive) and back in the country for a few more days before the big move (countdown: 11 days). Today, we played host to my cousin's wedding. That's the right a wedding, and I mean the whole thing - the prep, the ceremony, the reception, I think the bride and groom even showered here. I played caterer. As soon as I got out of bed this morning, I got to work on the sausage balls, spinach-artichoke dip, veggie tray, iced tea, crab dip, and mini-quiches. Today's recipes will be featured at the end of today's blog (per Aunt Donna's request). It was a long day, but I'm so glad we were able to have the wedding at our house. We live out in the country in what used to be my dad's house when he was growing up. We have a big yard, barn, and a pond with fields on either side (get it - the broad meadow). The ceremony was held down at the pond with a small reception up at the house and in the backyard. It was very nice to see all of my family (on my dad's side), especially before leaving for NYC. I never got to know my father's father (he died before I was born) and most of his brothers and sisters are gone now, as is my dad's sister (the mother of the groom). For the past few years, I have felt as if there's been a tiny hole in our family, a disconnect or loneliness, many times feeling the absent of others instead of the present company. However, following another cousin's wedding this May and the festivities today, it seems our family has new life, renewal, that with wedding bands comes the circular qualities of unity and openness. That what once was, will never be again, but instead we can enjoy a new chapter in our family's history with its own set of characters: the brothers and their wives, the anxious, at times confused Grandma (a few days ago she asked my cousin if it was his birthday this weekend), the cousins (including yours truly), and the new in-laws (the huge one, the silent preacher, and the bride). It was very special to have the wedding down at pond today, in the sort of sanctuary of pine trees and sweet grass that my grandfather built a long time ago, in the house that Dad and his siblings grew up in.

And let me tell you, I am thankful for the family I have. My new cousin's family is, well, less than desirable, a troupe (because it's the only word I can think of) trashy and selfish brutes that contributed near nothing to the wedding. I felt like Blanche meeting Stanley for the first time (more and more I feel like her; I have to take hot baths to cool my nerves - but that's another story). I do believe in the importance of class, not having lots of money or being pretentious, but true class that comes from contributing to society, taking care and loving your family, being friendly and able to talk to anyone you meet, and knowing how to truly celebrate the gift of life. However, I am so thankful that my new cousin somehow made it to us, rising from the muck, and I could not be more confident in their marriage. And I just hope I don't have to see those crazy people again - good thing I'm moving to New York.

Coconut Mojitos
2 slices lime
One packet Sweet 'N' Lo
1 1/2 shots Malibu or other coconut rum
Club Soda or Sprite

Muddle the lime, rum, mint, and sweetener in the bottom of a Collins glass (a pint glass would work also) until the limes and mint are crushed and the liquid becomes a fragrant syrup. Fill the glass with ice then top off with soda (club soda for tart, Sprite for sweet). So refreshing!

Sausage Balls (courtesy of Paula Deen)

3 cups Bisquick
1 lb. ground sausage (raw)
4 cups cheddar cheese
Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl with hands. Once ingredients have achieved a congealed mixture, form into small balls, as if you are making cookies (mixture can also be refrigerated until ready to bake). Place balls on greased cookie trays and bake for 18-20 minutes, flipping balls once during cooking, until they are golden brown and a little crunchy on the outside. A sauce can be made from one cup mayonnaise and one tablespoon of your favorite mustard. Serve warm.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip (courtesy Paula Deen)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
2 jars quartered, marinated artichoke hearts
1 - 16oz. package frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup Pepper Jack cheese
Hot Sauce
Salt, Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Cajun Seasoning

Sauté onion and garlic in butter and/or olive oil over medium low heat. Add a dash or two of crushed red pepper flakes. In large bowl, combine onions, artichokes, spinach, mayo, sour cream, cream cheese, and parmesan cheese. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Stir everything together until all the ingredients are incorporated. If necessary, add more mayo and sour cream until mixture is smooth, creamy, and spreadable. Place in cast-iron skillet or small dutch oven. Top with extra parmesan and the pepper jack cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and serve immediately with tortilla chips, bagel chips, pita, or crudité.

Good Night!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I <3 NOLA / Au revoir Louisiana!

I had the distinct pleasure today to travel to New Orleans for the first time. It is a city I have long been interested in and have wanted to visit - and today I did! I was in awe of the unique topography of the area (it's an interesting drive down from Baton Rouge) and the special culture that lives and breaths in one of America's oldest cities. We visited Congo Square, a historic landmark meant to represent the area first used by Native Americans, then enslaved Africans, as a place of worship, music, and most importantly, dance. Despite efforts to eliminate both of these cultures, this area helped native people retain their cultural identity. I find the preservation of cultural history and folk practices such an interesting and important task. It was really special to observe the place where so many cultures have blended together (and somewhere I have studied in many classes).

And let me tell you . . . a Tom Collins at 11 am is not a bad way to start the day. In fact, I think we did things a little backwards, hitting cocktails and sightseeing first, then Cafe du Monde for beignets (spelling?) and iced cafe au lait. And then there was the Hurricane . . . let's just say I slept very well on the way back to Baton Rouge. I had a wonderful time in Louisiana and am very thankful for my wonderful hosts! Now, I am finally back home in Indiana after long, long drive (and lots of bathroom breaks).

Ya'll Com Back Now, Ya Here?

My First Blog Ever

It all started on a sleepless night in Baton Rouge, Louisiana . . . So here I am, finally surrendering to the bug to blog. To broadcast really whatever I want. Terrifying. Actually, I find most everything mildly terrifying.

Oh, introductions first. Hi, my name is Bradley. I am a recent college graduate, a native Hoosier, planning my big move to New York City. Terrifying. My name Bradley means "from the broad meadow" (or that's what my parents tell me) - hence the name of this blog. I grew up in a small town in Indiana, a corn field on one side, a cow field on the other. So, there you have it!

Now, I want to let you know that I am not merely a country bumpkin living in fear of everything. But, it has been said that I can be a bit jumpy. For example, I'm in my house cleaning or cooking, either listening to music or watching and my roommate walks in the door. Gasp for life. "Oh, hi." Terrifying? Somehow, yes. Crossing the street in a busy city. Terrifying. Tony's Seafood Shop in Baton Rouge. Terrifying. Crossing the street when nothing else is in sight. Terrifying. Moving to New York. Terrifying. Get the gest (or is it jist, or g'est, or jeest?)?

Ok, so that is me. 5 a.m. and more to come another time. Welcome, or hello, salutations! See you soon!

I am blogger, hear me roar!