The Bachelor Chronicles Pt. 1

Followers of my blog have gone through a lot with me over the last few years. We’ve written 365 haikus together, traded many recipes, shared intimate conversations I’ve had with strangers, detailed my process step by agonizing step as I learned how to run and completed my first 5k, 10k, mud run, half marathon and several races in between. Today we start a new journey.

Today we begin storytelling and essay writing on topics that come up during this, my first time living on my own. At the age of 33. And it’s weird as hell. I have a small townhouse in Lenoir City, TN, and am in the weird state of having absolutely nothing and beginning the process of digging myself back out.

It’s a weird existence. It’s a weird world. So I figured I’d write about it and call it the Bachelor Chronicles.

When I was deciding on a place of my own, there were several factors that came into play. I’d want a decent amount of room to entertain because I love having friends over – I’d want a space that could act as both studio and office – I’d need quite a bit of closet space and I’d need a spacious and dope kitchen. Anyone who knows me knows of my passion for cooking and sharing the food I make with my friends and family. To say my main focus would be the kitchen would be an understatement and a no-brainer for anyone that has ever talked to me.

My townhouse doesn’t have the nicest kitchen on the planet but it’s not bad. It has a nice refrigerator (with an ice maker that doesn’t work currently), a range and oven (that doesn’t have a light), a sizable sink and dishwasher. It’s missing a microwave but such an appliance isn’t high on my needs list currently. I should be cooking for real anyway, no?

My parents helped get a lot for my kitchen. Mats, plates, silverware, etc. If one looked in my cabinets, they’d think I entertained every other day. I’m already planning my first dinner party and plotting out my Valentine’s Day goodies for this year since I haven’t baked anything in months. I’ve even been asked by several people what I’m going to be cooking now that I have a kitchen — what is the first thing I’ll cook, even.

I woke up yesterday morning at 6:00 AM with a sore throat. It’s not uncommon this time of year. The weather in East Tennessee is nothing if not unpredictable and if I’m asleep on my back, I’m apparently quite the snorer (or so I’ve been told). I chalked up my dry, sore throat to a night of snoring and the ever-changing weather, gargled some warm salt water and hit the door for the gym by 7:00.

En route to the gym, I grabbed a Monster Energy Drink from a gas station and immediately filled up my blender bottle with pre-workout when I got there. Our Saturday morning winter weightlifting session went smoothly, I was feeling fine and lifted heavy. I was scheduled to teach the 9:30am kickboxing class so I filled my blender bottle back up with water and a dose of BCAAs hoping the concoction would prevent my throat from drying out. And it did.

For a while.

By the halfway point in class, my voice was cracking. It wasn’t long before it was completely shot. I had to turn the music down so my members could hear me over the microphone as we wrapped up the rounds and finished core. I tend to be pretty intense when I’m on the mic and as my voice faded, I attempted to compensate by straining my voice further. By the time class was over, my voice was not only gone, but my throat was physically in pain and I had started making myself sick from straining.

When I wrapped up at the gym, I stopped by the store to get a frozen pizza, some toiletries, some tea and some honey. Still feeling sickly, I came home, showered, put some pajamas on and set out to make myself some tea.

If I were still at home, I’d just fill a coffee mug up with water, pop it in the microwave and nuke it for 2 minutes or so until the water was boiling. Except, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t have a microwave yet. Serious tea drinkers may have a tea kettle to set on the stove, but alas, I don’t have one of those either because a serious tea drinker I am not.

So I busted out my stock pot and boiled a huge batch of water. So now if people ask what the first thing I made in my new kitchen was, I can’t tell them it was a fancy steak dinner or fajitas or even a goddamn frozen pizza. The first thing I made in my kitchen was stock pot of boiling water.

I dipped my cup in to fill it, added some honey, a tea bag and a couple cranks of coarse sea salt. A similar recipe to what some heavy metal singers use to protect their voices and if we’re being honest, what I do for a part-time living is basically the same thing as being a heavy metal vocalist. It was delicious, it was soothing, it was the first thing I made in my new kitchen.

And I made it again three times last night. I’ve made it three more times today. You could say I’m a culinary tour-de-force.

Aside from earning the title of Master Innovator in the kitchen, everything else is okay. Slow-going but pleasent nonetheless. I still put the seat down every time because old habits die hard. I have a bed and internet so the place is habitable. I also have a stock pot that I’m just leaving on the stove in case anyone else wants some tea when they visit.

So maybe come visit?


[photo post] Rev. Harrison Mayes in the Wild

This might sound crazy to some of y’all but this was one of the highlights of my road trip.

Most everyone knows that I’m a sucker for random roadside shtick, especially if it’s strange, in bad taste or is offensively religious (or offensive to the religious!). Given this last point, it may come as a surprise to a lot of people that I’m WAY into religious symbols, artwork and other creative ways people express their belief in whatever god they choose to believe in.

Let me get something off my chest, though — something I DON’T like? When old friends act like they want to get back in touch, maybe catch up, so they ask for your address. When you check your P.O. Box and see two envelopes with their name on them, you get excited about it. But when you open them up? They’re well wishes, but mostly a smug attempt at saying “you’re wrong” because you don’t have the same religious beliefs they have.

This really happened to me last week and no, I wasn’t a fan of it. Also: Their attempt to save my soul didn’t work. My soul isn’t lost. My patience with religion and the religious may be lost, but definitely not my soul. Find something better to do with your time.

Something I DO like — stories about religious freaks that did freaky shit in the name of their religion. Enter the Reverend Harrison Mayes.

Reverend Mayes was a Kentucky coal miner who made a deal with his god that he’d dedicate the rest of his life to him if the deity saved him from a collapsed mine. The Rev survived, and unlike everyone else that makes a deal with god, he followed through with his promise. Mayes spent the rest of his days constructing concrete crosses and hearts that professed his faith — usually with the phrases Get Right With God or Made Right With God. He’d take these monstrosities around the country in a friend’s truck and erect them in various, seemingly random places. Often these places were on private property so he’d include a note that told the landowner that if they were to remove the sign they were at risk of burning forever in a lake of fire.

Mayes built a house for himself in the shape of a cross and even constructed a few signs with instructions on where to erect them after his death (in 1986) — some of them on other planets, even. The vast majority of these signs have since been removed or have been eroded past recognition. There’s a museum in Clinton, TN, that boasts an enormous collection of his work. However, it’s not unheard of to still run across one of his pieces of art in the wild, and that’s exactly what I did while driving through Cleveland, TN, on my way back home. There, on the roadside next to Dalton Pike Baptist Church was one of Rev. Mayes’ crosses.

When I realized what I had just driven past, I immediately pulled a U-turn and went back with my DSLR in hand. I wasn’t about to let such a strange piece of religious gold pass me by and in a strange way I feel fortunate to have gotten to see it.

Anyway, when you’re driving along the lesser-traveled roads in the south, keep your eyes open. You may come across the life work of an infamously delusional coal miner that really loved his god.

[photo post] Providence Farm

One of my stops on my birthday roadtrip was Greenville, SC, to see my boy Jon and his wife Kaylee. Jon’s story is an inspirational one to say the least, and I’d be lying if I said his story hasn’t pushed me to write my own the way I have. When Jon and I became friends, he was a skinny wiener. Before long, that skinny winer turned into a fit freak. The fit freak turned into a muscle head. The muscle head turned into a personal trainer and fitness model. The personal trainer and fitness model then started his own meal prep business called ELEV8 Nutrition. ELEV8 Nutrition took off and eventually put Jon where he is now — owning his own farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of downtown Greenville — Farm Fresh Fast.

It’s sustainable. It’s literally fresh from the farm. Yet it’s fast food. With a drive-thru, even. I spent an entire day of my trip with Jon that included opening the restaurant, having amazing turkey bacon and fried duck eggs for breakfast, helping set up a catering event, attending a restaurant equipment auction, checking out one of the farms that provide his restaurant with pork and poultry, then helping put a few finishing touches on his most-recent venture, Seedlings – the first-ever farm-to-table kid’s restaurant located in downtown Greenville’s Children’s Museum.

I just happened to have my camera with me at the farm so we’ve dubbed it Media Day for Farm Fresh Fast.

If you want to see more pigs and chickens, check ’em out in high-res on my Flickr account. Otherwise, here are these:

Get social with FFF, Seedlings and Providence Farm