Hey, I’m blogging today! What a treat!
As I sit and wait for the floors to dry (yes, I’m cleaning the house today, and really enjoying it, too!) it seemed a good time to do some writing. I’ve been traveling a *lot* for business lately, and one of the things that I thought I’d find time to do while on the road is a bit of blog writing. But business travel being what it is, I was always either a) working late at the office; b) out to dinner with colleagues, or; c) catching up on email and other work in the hotel room. I was impressed that one evening out of the past month of travel I managed to squeeze in 40 minutes at the hotel gym, but that was the only “me” time I’ve had. Besides sleep, of course. I will *not* give up sleep for anything.
This is one place where the “know yourself” bit comes in. Life is full of compromises, so the best way to make sure you get what you need to feel reasonably happy is to know enough about yourself to figure out where you can comfortably make those compromises.
While I have had to travel for work nearly every week since mid-April, I’ve been able to do it within some boundaries that are important to me, like getting a decent night’s sleep. This means that I’ve had to set myself up for working during the evenings in order to catch an afternoon flight, but at least I don’t have to settle for 5 hours of sleep in order to make a morning meeting. Sometimes schedules for meetings and flights are outside my control, but I make things work as much as possible.
One thing I have to try much too hard to do while traveling is to eat decent food. And this is not a problem of me making poor choices or compromises, but simply not having the choices available. It makes me pretty crabby that it is so hard to find fresh, minimally-processed, non-industrial food while traveling for business. Airports all over the country present “healthier” options these days, but they are only healthy at the surface.
Doing the right thing by picking up a salad? Well, you can be sure that the produce in that salad is factory farm produced to be tasteless and low in nutrition. If you’re OK with eating animal protein, you’re sure to have the option of adding “chicken” that has been pumped full of “flavor enhancers” and such that don’t make much of difference in flavor but are terrible for your body. Then there is the dressing for the salad. I’ve joked that I really should travel with a bottle of olive oil and a lemon simply so I could have a decent topping for salads and food in general.
Commercially available salad dressings are inevitably made with cheap oils. The ones found in packets at airport kiosks and take-out places are generally made with soybean oil, which is the cheapest most foul tasting food-grade oil in existence. Even those marked as “olive oil” vinaigrette inevitably have soybean oil as their base, with a touch of olive oil added since that’s what’s on the label. Occasionally you can find dressings made with canola oil, but those are very rare, and really not much of an improvement.
Sometimes, though, you want to have something besides a salad. Really, eating iceberg lettuce twice a day gets pretty monotonous. One week I found a great dinner option at a sit down place in the Nashville airport: a large baked potato with toppings of your choice. Oh, it was heaven to dig into that puppy-sized (yes, it was *huge*) potato, adding a bit of butter as I wanted. Washed down with a microbrew, it was the best on-the-road meal I’d had that week. Unfortunately, the next week I was in Nashville airport, the restaurant had re-done their menu and the big baked potato was completely gone.
Business travel doesn’t mean eating exclusively in airports, though. Business hotels aren’t much better, offering the same sort of industrial food, at even higher prices. I managed to get a pretty good dinner that one night I also made it to the gym: grilled salmon with sauteed veggies. Most nights, though, dinner choices were things that involved lots of melted cheese, white breads/rice/pasta/french fries, and factory farmed (meaning tasteless) meats and veggies.
To me the really sad thing is that most people seem to be OK with eating this way. I can only assume that this is considered “normal” food, which is why it is available everywhere. I guess I’m a picky food snob, even though I shudder to think this is the case. Why is that we must eat this way? Really, it’s terrible for us and the world around us. Why can’t we just give it up?
I’ve been able to get home for the weekends, at least, but the remedy to all that tasteless food — home cooking — is a challenge when you have just a couple days to do laundry, spend time with friends and loved ones (including the pets, too!), and get some normal chores done. So I’ve been eating out more on the weekends, too. Thank goodness I have access to better food here in my home town, though, since I know where to get it.
Only one more week of travel left for now, and then I can get back to my “boring” life of cooking at home most nights and packing lunches for the office.
I found time to get the summer garden in yesterday, thanks to help from my new co-gardeners and friends Krista and Jeff. We went to the garden center and picked out all the usual starts (peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli) as well as some less traditional favorites like brussels sprouts. We came back to the house and got everything in the ground before dinner time, too. What a difference it makes to have helping hands!
Today I’m cleaning house and enjoying a day of domesticity. I do have one more thing to plant (strawberries), but I’m sure to find time before dark. For now, it’s back to mopping floors and hanging out clothes to dry on a sunny, breezy day.
It’s the simple comforts that make me happy: good food, good company, and clean, comfortable surroundings. That’s what I know about myself for sure.