Shovelin’

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Ok here’s the deal: If you really know me well, you probably know that one of the more annoying things about me (depending on your tolerance for stupid song parodies; mine, perhaps ironically, is quite low) is that I can’t caption a photo like that and not complete the whole song.

As promised in the last post, this post is going to basically be 100% off topic. But, in thinking about it, I think I can at least tangentially relate it to food. So here goes:

This post will be tangentially about food, but it is mostly about snow. If you looked closely at the lobster pretzel packaging (and holy christ, how the hell did I miss that the lobster pretzel has “lobster powder,” “lobster extract,” and “lobster paste” listed as separate ingredients?!? I promise had I seen that it would not have gone without commentary), you might have noticed that I actually purchased and evaluated the lobster pretzel on January 23rd, but I didn’t manage to properly post about on it until today, March 1. The reason for this delay? Well, the next day, January 24, gave us a small snowstorm that marked the start of an 18-day period in which Boston set an all-time city record by receiving over 70 inches of snow. And unlike other high snow-total seasons, these 70 inches accumulated relentlessly, with basically no melting in between. For example, this is my parking lot, from which tons of snow had already been removed:

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If you are friends with me on Facebook (and haven’t blocked me yet), you will know that this was one of the most distressing and distracting things I have ever experienced in my life (up until the dress happened, of course). I know, first world problems, but hear me out. I love snow, I think it is so great and magical and I get so excited when it is going to snow, but I think there is a strong possibility I will never feel that way about snow again. As Lorelai Gilmore so eloquently put it: “Snow and me. We’re through!”

Most of my angst was transportation related – the specific line I take to work basically got a big fat middle finger from the MBTA, as we were the only ones (outside of the poor unfortunate souls who take the commuter rail) that weren’t offered a replacement shuttle service for several days. That led to me waking up three hours earlier than usual to hitch a ride with my wife to work. She, after driving 30 min into the city in the gridlocked traffic (normal rush hour plus everyone else, on roads that were all narrowed by at least one lane), would then have to backtrack, and then work her way about 45 minutes north. The guilt is still strong on that one.

But the incident that nearly made me snap was actually food-related. On one particular Friday night, Friday the 13th to be exact, my wife was not going to be home until after 11PM because the class she teaches had so many snow-related cancellations she was doing makeup labs. On a Friday night. The next day was Valentine’s Day, and we had dinner plans. But groceries gotta get got, and shopping could not be pushed to Sunday because (1) only certifiably insane people set foot in Wegmans on a Sunday and (2) like sands through the hourglass, so were the snows of our February (another blizzard was forecast for Sunday morning). This is what Sunday morning looked like:

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20-something-year-old me might cringe at the thought of me spending a perfectly good Friday night at the grocery store, but 30-something me actually usually really enjoys it. Few people, no lines. Better than going out, better than shopping on any other day. And lately, I have discovered that the Wegmans hot bar on Friday has a SEAFOOD station with herb-crusted salmon AND popcorn shrimp, $8.99 a pound! Cooked salmon barely weighs anything! I shouldn’t even be telling you this, you’re probably going to take it all. I think this is possibly Lent-related, and so we will now be grocery shopping exclusively on Friday nights until at least Easter. It could be a Friday-only thing, or it could be an everyday thing, but I won’t be testing it for FOMOOJF (Fear Of Missing Out On Jesus Fish).

So that Friday night I snagged a Zipcar and headed out to Wegmans to get the weekly groceries, as well as some special ingredients for my new tradition I call Blizzard Cooking, where I pick a new labor-intensive thing to make while snowed in, in order to distract myself from the fact that everyone else is eating French toast (too many carbs):

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Amy Theilen’s Oven-Baked Short Ribs with Porter Beer Mop (this “beer mop,” like Amy Theilen herself, was actually kind of weird and I wasn’t sure if I liked it)

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The Better Crumb’s Low Carb Corned Beef Hash

Martha Stewart’s Fresh Ricotta (double the lemon juice)

So anyways, I was in the dairy aisle, picking out organic whole milk and heavy cream for my homemade fresh ricotta, when it happened. The fire alarm went off.

At first everyone just kept on shopping like nothing was happening. If you ever learn that I’ve died in a massive grocery store inferno, don’t be surprised. Just know I was probably happily selecting locally-sourced ingredients for a low-carb corned beef hash and it was totally worth it.

About two minutes later a manager comes through, saying “come on guyyyys, we gotta evacuaaaate” with the same reluctant tone of the RA from your freshman dorm, you know that guy: “Come on guyyyys, I know I’m the coolest friendless sophomore you know but you know you can’t smoke pot with the dooooor open or I have to write you uuuuup. I know I’m cooool but there are rules guyyyyys.”

So I pushed my cart to the front of the store, left it there and walked out. We huddled in the little airlock entryway thing for a few seconds, until “Come on guuuys. You know you can’t stand heeeeere.” So we went out to the parking lot in the FREEZING FUCKING COLD to wait, and I tried to get the scoop on what was happening by eavesdropping on the employee chitchat, picking up fun tidbits like “Remember last time this happened? It was TWO HOURS before they let us back in!”

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Well! I almost cried. Now, it was interesting that my wife was not there because she is the type of person who would immediately just be like “Fuck it. We’re leaving.” but I had corned beef and custom-sliced cold cuts in that cart, and I had paid for a Zipcar, and I WAS NOT GOING HOME EMPTY-HANDED. It actually didn’t take two hours, probably more like 20 minutes, but that was long enough for dozens of people to abandon their carts and take off:

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Later on, when I was checking out, the SAME WOMAN who made the two hour comment was complaining about the mountain of go-backs, saying “people just don’t realize that people actually work here and have to deal with that mess.” Bitch, I think they do realize that people work here and are paid to deal with that mess. I think they also heard a person who works here say it might be two hours before they get let back in, and I think that maybe next time you should keep your fucking mouth shut and also not complain to me about go-backs which are part of your NORMAL DAILY JOB DESCRIPTION. But I didn’t say that! I just said “Yeah, I hope you don’t have to stay too much later, I guess” as my wife was dropping one of her students off at home because the makeup lab ended after his last train.

So yeah, February really sucked, but I ate some good food! And despite all that good food, with all the shoveling and the forced walking, I lost five pounds! And now it’s March! The T is sort of running again! And the snow that hasn’t been trucked away has not really melted yet, but it has shrunk a little bit! Sure they’re now nasty black ice mounds, but driving through the city is now like living in the answer key to the Snowpile or Car? game.

And now it’s snowing again! But I’m halfway happy about this snow. We are 5.6 inches away from the all-time snowiest winter in Boston ever, and I am now of the mindset that we HAVE to get those final 5.6 inches or none of this will have been worth it. I am not crazy, I JUST HAVE A WINNER’S MENTALITY (she shouted at her wife on a weekly basis).

This month also taught me that while I don’t like losing access to work, I actually don’t mind shoveling that much! It’s a good, different workout and a chance to methodically tackle a challenge and get lost in your thoughts and mentally re-work the lyrics to Rick Ross songs. Widowmaker icicles can kiss my ass, giant snowbanks can suck it, and the salt on my car that totally destroyed my USC Alumni license plate frame can eat a dick, but I am happy to report that shoveling and I are still sort of ok, despite the extra strain this winter has placed on our relationship.

Shovel, shovelin’ shovelin’
Shovel, shovelin’ shovelin’
Shovel, shovelin’ shovelin’
Shovel, shovelin’ shovelin’
Shovel, shovelin’ shovelin’
Shovel, shovelin’ shovelin’
Shovel, shovelin’ shovelin’

Everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m, everyday I’m, everyday I’m shovelin’
Ev-ev-ev-everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m shovelin’
Ev-ev-ev-everyday I’m shovelin’
Ev-ev-everyday I’m, everyday I’m, everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m shovelin’ shovelin’ shovelin’ shove-shovelin’

Who the fuck you think you snowin’ on, I’m the fuckin’ boss
Since 1/25, white on white it’s like Hoth
I shovel wide, I shovel long, I shovel fat
Snow keeps on comin’ back, snow keeps on comin’ back
The Charles has icebergs forming, like the North Atlantic
We got them clipper systems flyin’ toward the Atlantic
Got work tomorrow, can’t shovel later
The guy parked next to me, he owe me a hundred favors
I ain’t petty neighbor, I’ll clear the whole thang
See most of my building shovels but he don’t do a thang
My roof rake, my winter tires
I’m on the shovel, show you what the news is like
When Harvey comes on I cry for a hundred nights
I got a trillion snowflakes, piled in a hundred piles

Everyday I’m shovelin’
Ev-everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m shovelin’
Ev-everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m shovelin’
Everyday I’m, everyday I’m

Snowpiles conceal cars, walking’s still hard
Slipping real hard slipping slipping real hard
Snowpile or car? Snowpile or car?
Slipping real hard, slipping slipping real hard
This ain’t no funny shit still ruining business
I’ve got ice-walking down still slippin’ on bridges
MBTA be laggin’ and now I’m shiverin’
Old Charlie Baker just bitchin’ cuz he won’t spend shit
We’re hiring inmates to shovel out Red Line switches
They trucking snow to Billerica to be specific
Now there’s no T you know it’s bad we’re frozen sacks
So get your Sno Cat, run and clear the tracks
Mo’ plows, mo’ clothes, mo’ froze, mo’ snows

Side street driving thrills, slushy spinnin’ wheels
It ain’t snowed two days them bitches skiddin’ still
Stuck on my street cuz these suckers scared to plow down my street
T ain’t running round me, ain’t no traction round me
Pedestrians walkin’ ‘round me, see all this gridlock ’round me
Lot of box blocking round me goin’ down in Suffolk County
My speed is twenty-two, shovel cost me twenty-two
Saturday dropped twenty-two, last Tuesday twenty-two
Pete Bouchard’s latest map, 18 to 22
I see more twenty-twos, I’m out on flight two twenty-two
I’ll ditch work for the Carribean first
Ain’t got no snowblower, so my back’s starting to hurt
The forecast still says BIG SNOW them roof guys rich off BIG SNOW
Steady slangin’ BIG SNOW, arm muscles bangin’ big snow.

Sorry about that. As I said previously, I can’t do the first line without writing the whole song. I had to put it on the internet somewhere, and this is where it is going to go.

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