The “G” Word…

…and I don’t mean “gay” either. I mean another one, and one that might be the mystery as to why I am totally unresponsive to antidepressant medication despite fitting the description of clinical depression. A word that is, in the eyes of many alternative/naturopathic medicine practitioners as well as some MDs, “the root of much evil.” A word that almost took away the budding opportunity in front of me.

Gluten.

Given my medical history, a more than casual correlation between neurodivergence and gluten reactivity, and certain parallels I’ve drawn in a story similar to mine, here I am faced with a painful reality. I now realize there is a very real possibility that I am gluten reactive. Of course it’s not a certainty and won’t be unless I have a full diagnostic performed, but given my family history of autoimmune disease (my biological father having been diagnosed as Grave’s but possibly was something else, and my mother having some unknown but definite autoimmune disease) and what presents as clinical depression in myself, there is a consistency there that is impossible to overlook.

Obviously this is a real shakeup of my life story and one I had never considered before as I have absolutely no GI-related symptoms with consuming gluten (though maybe my chronic piles are aggravated by it?) and I obviously do consume a fair amount.

Which brings me to why I am just down in the dumps about it all and I’ve been crying sporadically throughout the day. You know I LOOOOOOVE beer and whisk(e)y. Beer is obvious as gluten is found in abundance in barley, wheat and oats (the first of which is a common ingredient in all beer and the latter two in many styles of beer), and though distilled, whisk(e)y is debatable and there is no consensus as to whether or not it contains gluten. I also love artisan pizza, especially from a local place here in Abilene.

As such, facing the possibility of being gluten reactive depresses the shit out of me. If it turns out I am gluten reactive, all of the above has to go away, lest I face a future where I have no quality of life and suicide/euthanasia would definitely be preferable. As depressing as the thought of having to go gluten free is, the alternative is even scarier and more depressing – loss of motor function, coordination, life bound to a wheelchair. I definitely don’t want to go there.

Given this information, I’ve decided I have no choice. I have to be screened for gluten reactivity. I have to know so I don’t inadvertently fuck myself up 10-20 years from now.

So why now, of all times? Well I’m now at a point where I am receptive to making changes if I have to. Up until now my thinking on these matters (including not only gluten but getting trashed every night, diabetes, etc.) was the same – I’m unwilling to change and give up enjoyment (read: escape from pain) in exchange for better health. My attitude was “if it kills me then so be it.” You know, the same excuse heavy cigarette smokers use to justify refusing to attempt to quit (I know I sound like a hypocrite using that analogy but cigars are indeed different in how the tobacco is cured and the product is made and consumed).

So am I or aren’t I gluten reactive? For now that remains an unknown and will until I can put the immediate fires that are in front of me out because god(dess) knows that will start a whole other set of fires. I’m already finding out what a major pain in the ass being gluten free is as I am having to prepare a gluten free feast for my Indianapolis 500 viewing party Sunday to accommodate two gluten reactive guests. It won’t kill me not to have gluten after all so I’m totally accommodating.

Alas, I guess I’ll cross that bridge if it is in my path. I just don’t know how I’ll deal. There will be a years-long grieving process if I have to cut gluten, but I know it won’t be the end of the world. Plus I have the best support system I could ask for if it does transpire that I have to.

In the meantime, I’ll just do some pre-grieving so maybe I’ll have less of that to do later, so excuse me while I go cry some more.

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Cigar Review: Epicure Short Salomone

This 6″ x 54RG “Salomone” (seriously – how many fucking spellings are there of this shape?) vitola from Crux Cigars features an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and long fillers.

Using one snip with my Colibri V cutter, the first light revealed a perfect draw producing plentiful medium-bodied smoke. Dry, heavy wood dominates the flavor with a tinge of black pepper on the retrohale.

Getting into the first third we see more of the same, but with the addition of a dried roasted nuts and the pepper backing down. The body settles into a mild/medium and a slightly sweet cream enters the mix.

Getting into the second third we see a very welcome transition as the woody notes take a back seat and are replaced by a tinge of vanilla. I also detect a fleeting hint of cocoa, mainly on the finish and retrohale. Everything is smooth and well blended. Only subtle changes toward the final third as the cocoa is now on the draw also and the vanilla takes on a hint of a spicy note. The body also ramps up slightly again, wavering between mild/medium and straight medium. Ending at 1 hour 5 minutes for a truly impressive burn time for a Connecticut and bringing in a subtle nicotine strength.

Flawless construction featuring a razor-sharp burn and the ash holding on for solid third chunks at a time. The band slid off easily without damaging the delicate Connecticut wrapper.

This is one of those few Connecticut cigars I actually enjoyed. A great morning smoke, it went beautifully with a Sumatra Mandheling coffee. Rather pricy for a mild stick at $13/pop, but worth it to kick-start an epic day. These will enter rotation for me. Rating: 4.25/5.

Burger King’s “Real Meals” – My Take

Perhaps some of my followers have heard of Burger King’s new “Real Meals” – kind of like a counter to McDonald’s “Happy Meals,” but for a much older, more mature and dare I say more “real” audience. They come in different varietals, including the “Salty” Meal, “Pissed” Meal, “Blue” Meal, and my personal favorite – the “DGAF” Meal. They will feature a Whopper, fries and drink and will be available at select locations in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Austin, Seattle and Miami.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself!


Photo Credit: Burger King Official Facebook Page.

Now, some might find this highly offensive, pessimistic, among other things. I, for one, think it’s absolutely brilliant marketing.

See, here’s the thing – I’m all about being real. I’m all about being true to our deepest inner feelings and expressing those, societal stigma be damned. I refuse to feign happiness just to placate someone, and so should you. Feigning happiness and sweeping your troubles under the rug will just come back to bite you in the ass later. Trust me, I know that one from experience. It’s OK to be salty. It’s OK to be blue and it’s OK not to give a fuck. We’ve all felt that way, whether we want to admit it or not. Maybe this will give us a humorous take on the topic and make it easier for us to express how we feel, for this is how we will beat the stigma against mental health.

So yes, I will “feel my way” and I will be unapologetic about it. If I’m pissed I’ll express it. If I’m sad I’ll express it, and if I just don’t give a fuck I will tell it to your face. I enourage all of you to do the same, and if anyone tells you to smile when you don’t fucking want to, I say tell them where to shove it! It’s fucking insulting when people say that, and they need to cut that shit out.

That’s just my take on the topic. What say you?

Cigar Review: Aging Room Quattro F55 Nicaragua

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This offering from Rafael Nodal’s Aging Room line is a Nicaraguan puro featuring all Nicaraguan wrapper, binder and long fillers. The size reviewed here is the Vibrato – a 6″ x 54RG box-pressed Toro vitola.

First light revealed a perfect draw producing ample full body smoke. Flavors of dark chocolate and earth on the draw followed a huge red pepper and cedar blast on the retrohale. Not at all what I was expecting.

Getting into the first third the body settles down slightly to a medium/full while a nice sweet caramel joins the draw as well as a dry toasted nut. The initial pepper blast dials way down, hence the slightly lower body. Everything is well blended and no one flavor dominates the others.

We see a very welcome transition into the second third as the earthiness takes a back seat and is replaced by a natural black cherry note (not the artificial cherry candy flavor that I absolutely despise but usually get). The final third sees more of the same but with the pepper ramping back up a bit. Ending at 1 hour for an average burn time for a Toro size and the nicotine strength settles in at a solid medium.

Construction was flawless with a near razor sharp burn. Ash blew off in small chunks but it was windy outside. High quality self-adhesive bands that came off easily and did not damage the wrapper in any way.

Given that most of the Aging Room line are mellower smokes, this one surprised me in a big way. I was expecting the typical, hence I reached for it as a morning smoke. While not over-the-top, I’d probably opt for it again as an evening cigar with a hefty red wine or a bourbon. Nonetheless, it was a very pleasing cigar and one that will enter my rotation. Rating: 4.25/5.

Wine Review: Tortoise Creek “The Chelonian” 2014

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It’s been a good long while since I’ve done a wine review so I figured I’d do one tonight.

This California Zinfandel from Tortoise Creek weighs in at 14.6% ABV. I like a good Zinfandel but I’m kinda picky about them, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked it up, especially given the price point. I was very pleasantly surprised by this one though!

Pours a deep burgundy color. Thick streaks of lacing when swirled, owing to its slightly higher-than-average alcohol content. Nose consists of raspberry, a touch of caramel and alcohol astringency. Medium bodied flavors of plum, black cherry, toffee and a hint of spicy vanilla. Finish is long and somewhat hot with a cinnamon afterburn.

For about $13/bottle you can’t go wrong. This is a great everyday wine that’s not too sweet or dry and easy to please.  Surprisingly complex for its price point, it went well with the pictured Blanco Nine JT Limitado but would also be a great dessert wine in my opinion. Rating: 4/5.

Cigar Review: Pier 28 Habano

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This offering features an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and  Nicaraguan and Dominican long fillers. The size reviewed here is a 6″ x 46RG Corona Gorda vitola.

First light reveals a perfect draw and putting off ample medium/full body smoke. Flavors of a very dry hay/grass followed up by a bitter pepper and bright cedar on the retrohale (man I hope it gets better; not my preferred flavor profile!).

Settling into the first third we get many of the classic Rosado shade Habano flavors – unsweetened cream, leather and nuts still with a background tinge of the hay. The bitterness has worn off while the cedar and pepper remain.

We see a very welcome transition in the 2nd third as the hay wears off and a bright dried pineapple note joins the other flavors. The hay rears is ugly head again in the back so I ended it prematurely at 55 minutes which is still not a bad time for a small ring gauge. Subtle nicotine strength.

On the plus side, this cigar was well-constructed with a very straight burn. Short ash, but that’s to be expected with a small ring gauge. High quality self-adhesive band that was easy to remove.

If you like the above flavor profile this is definitely one to check out, but for me personally this one missed the mark. I imagine some would enjoy it though. If you like that sort of dry, vegetal flavor profile definitely check this one out though. Rating: 3/5.