My Go to Date Meal

I don’t go on many dates. In fact, before I begrudgingly signed up for an online dating service, I never went on dates. I had girlfriends in High School and College but I don’t ever remember them and me making future plans that felt like dates. That might be why they are all ex-girlfriends…hmm.

Dates to me, are highly romanticized and happen way more often in movies that I watch than in my own life. When I think of a real date I see a nice restaurant (nice enough that I wear loafers but not so nice that I’m wearing a tie) a small table with a white tablecloth and two chairs across from each other, and one of those fake candles that do the flickers and everything to make them look super real. Follow that with some overpriced steak and wine and/or nachos and beer and there is a date. Also having another human being that agreed they are on a date present is crucial.

More often than not I have gone on stay at home, cook something, and watch a movie dates – which I actually don’t consider dates. I consider them chill hang out times that involve my favorite things listed above plus a lady friend.

When it’s my turn to make a meal on those types of occasions, my options are very limited. I grew up with a mother who was a fantastic cook and had hot meals at the table almost every weekday night, so I never actually had to learn to make anything for myself. When I got to college I had two years of dining halls in which I would sneak out boxes of cereal and fruit and never make my own meals. The closest I got to making my own meals the first two years of college was when my roommates and I would order wings and then I poured honey mustard on top of them and called myself a master chef.

When my junior year rolled around I moved into an on campus apartment which doubled the cost of living if you didn’t get rid of your meal plan. I thought this was absolutely no problem and went head first into the year thinking I would be fine.

I was insanely wrong.

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Mine looks nothing like this…I think what I’m feeling right now is shame but I can’t be sure.

After two months of eating nothing but ramen, bagged rice, and hot pockets while begging underclassmen to swipe me into dining halls, I figured that I should probably learn how to cook something rather than eat like a lucky homeless guy. A meal my mother made that I always enjoyed was kielbasa and rice. This meal was an easy starter for me because half of it was something I was already a skilled producer of: bagged rice. I went out to the local grocery store that was conveniently right next to the liquor store and bought the cheapest kielbasa I could find. I felt like I was already half way to the finish line.

The first lesson I had to learn the hard way was that before you put anything on a frying pan you have to cover it in a substance that limits food sticking to it. Needless to say, most of the first batch of kielbasa I tried to make got stuck on the pan and never got into my mouth. After that I decided to go big or go home and cover the entire pan with enough “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter” to make Fabio blush.

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Fabio is a smug SoB

The second lesson I learned is that when you put enough “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter” to make Fabio blush on a frying pan, the butter liquefies and then explodes, scolding your entire body.

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Mine looks way more like this. I know it looks tragic but it’s actually delicious.

I took about a week off after that, but as some old western guy says, when you fall off your horse you have to get back up on the saddle except when the horse gives you second degree burns in which case maybe just keep the horse in the stable for a while and watch Seinfeld reruns for a solid week. Then get back up on the horse.

The next time I tried to make the meal it went much better. I put a normal amount of ICBiNB on the pan, only turned the heat knob up to 7 instead of however high it could possibly go, and cut the kielbasa up just small enough to cook quickly but not so small that they burned to a crisp in seconds. I also wore protective gear just in case of what I was then calling “Butter-Lash” that included ski goggles, full arm silicone lined cooking mitts that cost more than making the meal multiple times, and a specific hoodie that I wouldn’t mind stomping into the ground if it lit on fire. Add some maple syrup to both the kielbasa and the white rice for flavoring and it makes for a great and simple meal that is easy to make the third time while looking like you are cooking meth in your dirty basement.

So, every time someone says to me “why don’t we stay in tonight? We can watch a movie and I’ll cook…” I always cut them off with, “How about I cook?” Then I get an endearing smile and I make them a fantastic meal. Thankfully no one has asked me to do this twice because I would be royally screwed in that situation. Also, if I ever have to learn to cook something new, I will definitely have to find a new pair of goggles.

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Blog about that Book I wrote

Odessa Red Available on Paperback and and Kindle 

Before I get into this long diatribe about my own work because I love talking about myself I’ll just say if you read the book/are going to read it THANK YOU. I love you. Straight up. Make sure to share a link to it and/or review it! If you have any questions about it I would love to answer them on this blog or on Twitter @RyanBrady13 or in real life.

I’m going to be doing a giveaway after people have had a chance to read it – I have the actual pair of shoes (new, bought specifically for this purpose) that Grant’s shoes are based on. I’m going to randomly choose someone who asks me a cool question about the book/has a favorite quote and give the shoes away – and if the winner wants me to ruin the shoes by signing them I’ll be more than happy to.

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My new book Odessa Red started as a free write I did in June 2011. The first chapter that exists now is about 80% of what it was the first day I wrote it. On that day I had one image in my head I wanted to convey on paper which was one guy in the middle of a street with a knife in his hand and police helicopters shining down on him. At the time I had no idea what this guy’s name was or why he just killed a bunch of people. All I knew is that he was a good guy.

This my first shot at Fiction and for very good reason. It’s so much easier to write my normal thoughts down and then mold them into an essay or a short anecdote. Writing fiction is creating an entire world which brings along intricacies such as time and physical placement and back story and emotional involvement etc. All things I never had to think about.

This book was more for me than it was for anyone else. You can tell by the end of the book I’m a better writer, which makes sense because it took me a year and a half to write 45,000 words and make them somewhat decent. (For reference a good day for a normal novelist is 4000 words, not saying they always do so, but that’s what a good day constitutes)

Writing Fiction is an extremely lonely process. My Editor Abigail is one of my best friends which made it easier so I had someone to talk about this world that was constantly being expanded inside my head. We tried to talk about it alone though because when you talk about a book that’s not a real thing at a bar in front of your other friends and you’re not a world renowned author it just gets annoying for everyone else. If you’re not living it every day it’s tough to get excited about it.

It’s for that very reason that the book is how it is and I am feeling the way I feel now. Odessa Red does not have a proper ending. It is a cliffhanger that will most likely frustrate a few readers, but that’s how it has to be. I’m very clear at the end of the book – if people like it enough I’ll keep writing it but for now I will just enjoy this moment.

This moment is a big one for me. It’s the first time other people will be able to be fully inside my head for a short period of time. I wrote an essay book in the middle of last year that was a little bit like that but not quite. The amount of time and effort I put into my last book as opposed to this one is astonishing. That’s why I HOPE everyone likes it but I don’t NEED them to like it. I got it to a place that I was very proud of and that’s what mattered to me the most. That’s also why it has a cliffhanger ending – I knew if I kept writing it the quality control would go downhill because basically…I got bored. Doing the same thing for a year and a half is tough for me and without Abigail pushing it would have never happened.

Which reminds me: Thank yous are in order. Alex Meeske had a big part in editing the first quarter of the book, and Adam Carner did a great job on the front cover with very little guidance from me. Much thanks to both of them.

I can’t say enough about Abigail so I won’t. It’s very simple: without her I would have never finished this book which has turned out to be the most proud of anything I’ve ever done. Somewhere near the middle of the process I told her, “As my editor I want these characters to be as much yours are they are mine” which absolutely happened. She rewrote a good portion of the scene that I think is the emotional center of the entire book (When Grant confronts Syd about the concept of hope on top of the police station)  – I can do a lot of things well, but deep emotional turns are not one of them and she helped quite a bit to make it real.

This moment is amazing but scary. When you release a book it’s not yours anymore. It becomes the intellectual property of anyone who reads it and grows with them. My current estimate for people who will read this book (seriously) is about 30 – which is fine by me. As long as it’s more than two I’ll be just fine.

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Odessa Red: Chapter 1 PREVIEW

10/23/12 UPDATE – Full Book Now Available on Kindle and Paperback

Hello friends! This month I will be publishing my first novel titled Odessa Red. Kinda psyched about it. The final edits are not yet finished but we (My Editor Abigail and I) are in the final stages of what has been almost a two year process of making this book a reality. Below as a special thingy are the Book Summary and the First Chapter. Hope you beautiful bear riding shark punching champions of the underworld enjoy it.

Book Summary: Loner high school student Grant Nichols finds himself in the middle of an Odessa, Texas street with a knife in his hand, a pile of unidentifiable bodies behind him, and enough policemen with cowboy hats pointing guns in his direction to cause at least a little bit of concern. As Grant chooses to run, he brings the reader up to date through flash backs as to why he might not be as bad as the people with guns think he is, how his dream girl might not be so dreamy, and why he is not nearly the biggest problem the town of Odessa will be facing in the near future.

Chapter 1 – September 3 – 9pm

Time Flies When You’re a Felon

A lot can happen when once upon a time is nothing but the present. You feel like the world has turned you upside down and shaken your pockets clean only to find out your pockets being full was a cruel joke in the first place. You were never meant to feel joy – at least that’s how it feels at this point – because I’ll tell you one thing for sure, as normal as you once hoped to be, you can’t be normal after something like this.

Normalcy or death. Your choice.

Oh and quick quiz: when you are standing in the middle of the quietest street in America holding a bloodied knife with police spot lights shining down on you, what would you do? Tell them the truth? That might work, minus the fact that the truth sounds like the misconstrued lies of a psychopath. Other than that, it’s a good plan.

Normal is no longer an option. You know how people say that right before they have a near death experience they see their lives flash before their eyes? Well, that’s not true. It can’t be. You don’t have that kind of time. It’s a millisecond, if that, and in that moment however many years your stupid fleshy being has been rotting on this earth will not supersede the fact that you are about to die. Your life’s events will not play out again for you like an endless movie.

It is one moment. One moment of your life flashes for that short period of time and stays with you forever. It might not even be a good moment, or one that seemed important to you when you didn’t have to worry about being deceased soon. It’s whatever your brain chooses, and who is to say that your brain has ever made a good decision?

Mine was her. Most cliché thought I’ve ever had, and it saddened me. Not because the last thing I could think of was a girl, but because my stupid brain picked a girl over roller coasters and whiskey.

My new white Chuck Taylor shoes were stained, and it was red no less. That will never come out. I couldn’t remember just then whether I could bleach shoes. My focus is terrible.

“Put it down! Now!” screamed the man with a cowboy hat and gun. If I didn’t know any better I would say Dirty Harry was yelling at me. Although if that were the case I’m almost certain I would have been dead already. Clint Eastwood wouldn’t have taken this kind of guff from nobody.

The lights were so bright. There were two of them. Overkill much, Odessa? I knew for sure there were pretty horrific problems in my general vicinity that were much more important than some stupid kid with a blood soaked knife and a plain white tee which by the way, was also ruined.

The things you think while looking down a gun barrel can consume you as they seemed to do in this very situation. For example: helicopters are too loud for their own good.

“So what now?” I asked myself audibly, thinking the dozen bloody pulps behind me would answer. They didn’t. So lame.

I thought about shouting back and telling the nice people with pistols what was really happening, but for some reason I was betting against them saying, “Oh yeah, that makes perfect sense! Also, those horribly maimed beings behind you? Yeah, we’re fine with those! On your way sir!”

I dropped the knife to the ground. It splashed; worsening the soak my shoes has already grown accustomed to. My hair was in my face, scratching my nose. I wanted to move it so badly but I thought against it. That would suck if the last thing I ever did was stop my nose from itching. “Here lies Grant, he sure was an itchy guy!” No thanks.

I felt like I had two options, which was untrue, but simplification is sometimes best in the face of unholy turmoil.

I could put my hands on my head, drop to my knees, get carted away by the cowboy police, and wait for the interrogation to end. At the end of said interrogation they would tell me I’m too crazy for trial, lock me in a blue padded room, and that girl would only be able to talk to me through a phone behind a pane of glass. That is, if she or any of us really are still alive by then.

Or I could run.

Hands down, easiest decision I’ve ever had to make.