A Prospectus in Retrospection

Despite not being a morning person, when I have the pleasure of being awake early and not having the need to rush off somewhere, I love lying in bed, starring out my window and taking in the quiet still of morning. I breathe that soft mid-morning way and allow thoughts to float on the horizon. How I wish I could prolong this state,

View of backyard on a foggy day.

View of backyard on a foggy day.

record these thoughts, but the moment I begin to pluck them from the sky, think and reach for my notebook, they take on weight and my breathing goes into full throttle.

This sums up my past year.

I have tasted 100s of wines, written countless tasting and pairing notes, but published only one story about wine, one about the psychology of baking. Why? Depending on the day and hour, the reason-list varies, but Reality suggests it’s because I haven’t given myself enough space to breathe. To sit. To feel. To embrace. Instead, I’ve spent too much time chasing the wind, leaving myself gasping for air. ChasingJen this is not.

Some of the wines tasted during Halloween party.

Some of the wines tasted during Halloween party.

This blog was born out of a need to write. A need to create time to listen: to myself, to the Universe, and to a menagerie of characters, characters which had disappeared from my periphery, no longer whispering their stories to me or diving onto the page and demanding to be heard, seen. And it was born out of a want to create the next generation of me.

I’ve been through many mutations — be it (wanna be) dancer, classical pianist, playwright, to name a few — but one morning as I sipped coffee and looked around my office, part library part bar, a letter led to a word which led to a thought, albeit initially strange on the tongue: I should write about wine … I think. And what started as a question led to a definite. I mean, I like wine, have been fortunate to drink some truly superb wine over the years, and as a writer we’re told to write what we know, and I just happened to know what I liked and didn’t (despite not necessarily knowing the why).

Thus is the creation myth of ChasingJen, which took its first steps in July 2011 at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia. Since that auspicious

Wine blogging tasting hosted by Christopher Watkins of Ridge Vineyards in Monte Bello

Wine blogging tasting hosted by Christopher Watkins of Ridge Vineyards in Monte Bello

beginning I have had the pleasure and honor of meeting with, conversing with, and sharing experiences with a most eclectic group of wine aficionados from around the world. But what began that July as a clear-cut idea has since been stood on its head, flipped upside down, and almost lost its balance while being turned around and around on an intellectual merry-go-round.

This is my essence: a never ending, albeit often exciting, journey of change and discovery. What will I experience tomorrow? Please subscribe to tag along and find out, but I warn you! you’ll need to buckle up as the road is sometimes bumpy.


Hop-Scotch and Sugar Cookies

Life is like hop-scotch and sugar cookies; so I wrote the other day while talking to a friend and how I often use the game of hop-scotch to describe changes in people and relationships and moments and aspects as one moves from one square to another, and my friend had just made sugar cookies, something he does when he’s stressed or depressed, something I used to do as well.  My roommates back in the day benefitted from homemade pies and breads and cookies and such at least several times a month when I was struggling with a school paper or a personal issue — the gluten in flour got a much needed punch in the face as I physically worked out my aggressions on bread or pie dough — and afterwards clarity entered my body and I finally moved forward.

As I write this a light is going off:  our first step toward resolving the various violences of the day should be, instead of intellectualism and psychotherapy, with dough-pounding baking!

I can hear people now aghast at this idea, concerned that the “need to punch something” is atrocious.  Perhaps wanting to hit something is an animalistic leftover, but we humans need releases and sadly, all too often, we take our angst out on those around us or, worse yet, ourselves (the psychological community has documented numerous ways in which we hurt and sabotage ourselves as being honest is often too painful, requires us to give up crutches, to walk away from situations and people we think we can’t live without).

So I say:  load up on yeast and flour and eggs and grass-fed leaf lard and create your golem for the day.  Take that slab of dough, lift it high above your head, and slam it down onto a countertop again and again and again.  Feel the release spread from your arms down to your hands and out your fingertips to the sticky, stretchy dough as it joins forces with you, becoming duplicitous in its abuse as its very survival depends on it.  The more you slam its masochistic-wanton body onto the smooth, hard surface, the more it turns into a product you will salivate over once done cooking and a smile is returned to your face.

How great it is that nature has given us this product, this product that not only wants to be punched but needs to be in order to be 100% realized.