2022 is but a young green bud on the branch, and the Chinese New Year lurks just under the bark, a twinkle in the eye of the tree that plays the main role in this metaphor, if trees were to have eyes. It’s the time for resolutions, or for the slow withering on the vine of them (if these particular trees were to also have vines), and I have been in Seattle for over a month now, surrounded by many sleeping trees.
If resolutions were buds on tree branches, and the month of January a greenhouse of most people’s hopes and dreams, then what I’m experiencing is the opposite of that, a wallowing in the rubble of my hopes and dreams — a reverse-resolution, if you will. My fairly healthy routine in Thailand, when met with the Seattle cold and snow, has come completely undone. What this means is that, whereas some people lose weight, I gain it. Where some people sweat out their worries in gyms and studios and on rooftops, I stew in front of the TV. Where some start counting the calories on their plate, I ingest indiscriminately and voraciously. And where some commit to a dry January, well … (hides bottles of wine in garage).
So it’s just me and the couch, my new(old) friend. But because of spotty wifi, I don’t even have working Netflix here, so cannot tell you anything about the exploits of Emily in Paris, or those people in Archive 81, or even Jerry Seinfeld. What I can tell you is that I might need psoriasis shots, am possibly battling insulin resistance, should look into that cool new inhaler that promises me a new day, and could even stand to ask my doctor about Botox for migraines, even though I’m not sure I have migraines. I am struck by how many well-known character actors (and maybe an Oscar winner or two) are taking jobs away from regular jobbing actors in commercials, hawking insurance and detergent as well as starring in well-regarded television shows and movies. As I write this, I see … is that Jewel? … in a murder mystery series on the Hallmark channel. Is inflation really this bad, where everyone must take whatever job they can get, thereby forcing all the other actors to fight over mattress factory and adult diaper ads? It feels greedy, doesn’t it? Won’t someone please think of the regular actors?
I write of this because I also find myself at something of a loose end: what to do in 2022? I am all out of projects, and though I have been lucky enough to have had some great things fall into my lap, I can’t rely on “the universe” granting my wishes forever, however much I’d like it to be true. Should I pivot like an Oscar winner shilling insurance for his Maui vacation home? Or should I stick it out, like the person who has not booked enough jobs to buy a Maui vacation home? Decisions, decisions.
Until then, at least I will have the crackling bonfire of all my previous healthy habits to keep me warm. Here, presenting the first fatal wound to my dreams of sticking to a pescatarian intermittent fasting regime in the States: nuea khem. My father made this to go with sticky rice and nam prik tha dang (garlicky red eye chili dip) for a traditional Northern Thai-style breakfast during my parents’ time Stateside. It’s delicious and unfairly, unwholesomely easy. Perfect for enjoying while mulling over what to do with the ashes of your former princples.
Nuea Khem (Salted beef)
- 1 lb sirloin or ribeye
- 4 Tbsps fish sauce
- 2 Tbsps oyster sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- A few generous grinds of black pepper
- Mix all ingredients together. Marinate in fridge for 1/2 hour to an hour, depending on how salty you’d like the meat to be.
- After marinating, drain and fry in 4 Tbsps vegetable oil in batches over high heat. Do not crowd pan.
3. Fry until meat curled and edges and is a deep mahogany color.
4. Drain on a plate covered with a paper towel.
5. Eat with sticky rice or white rice with a chili dip or sambal if you have it.