As a former student of German, I found the first half of this David Sedaris quote hilarious. The second half is interesting:

In the beginning, I was put off by the harshness of German. Someone would order a piece of cake, and it sounded as if it were an actual order, like, “Cut the cake and lie facedown in that ditch between the cobbler and the little girl.” I’m guessing this comes from having watched too many Second World War movies. Then I remembered the umpteen Fassbinder films I sat through in the ’80s, and German began to sound conflicted instead of heartless. I went back twice in 2000, and over time the language grew on me. It’s like English, but sideways.

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is in the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself at sunset.

– Crowfoot Blackfeet

 

There is no general information about the nature of mind. It is hardly ever written about by writers or intellectuals; modern philosophers do not speak of it directly; the majority of scientists deny it could possibly be there at all. It plays no part in popular culture: No one sings about it; no one talks about it in plays; and it’s not on TV. We are actually educated into believing that nothing is real beyond what we can perceive with our ordinary senses.

Despite this massive and nearly all-pervasive denial of its existence, we still sometimes have fleeting glimpses of the nature of mind. These could be inspired by a certain exalting piece of music, by the serene happiness we sometimes feel in nature, or by the most ordinary everyday situation. They could arise simply while watching snow slowly drifting down, or seeing the sun rising behind a mountain, or watching a shaft of light falling into a room in a mysteriously moving way. Such moments of illumination, peace and bliss happen to us all and stay strangely with us.

– Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

I love me some Tokyo Joe’s. I eat at TJ’s a lot and have for years. When I was waiting for my second transplant, I would often eat at the TJ’s by DU (now Snooze), oxygen and all. Before and since my second transplant, I usually go to the 13th & Grant TJ’s near my work. I typically order a medium chicken bowl with white rice, extra white rice, peanut or curry sauce on the side, and broccoli on the side. They know me at TJ’s so I can say, “The usual with curry sauce.”

Eating out for lunch is not smart. Wiser heads bring lunch from home. But then I would have to eat at my office either at my desk or in the cafeteria. I need to leave the building for an hour each day and lose myself in a book while I eat. So I overpay for a bowl of rice. I make better rice at home but it is not about the rice. It is about escape.

The standard serving of Tokyo Joe’s is like saying, “Would you like some rice with your sauce?” They skimp on the rice, which mystifies me. Asking for extra rice every time has caused some funny moments. I’ve become known as the guy who can never get enough rice. When rice seems to be lacking I ask for more and I get my little bonus bowl. But sometimes they will try to head me off at the pass by giving me a giant, overflowing bowl of rice. They are always very nice about it but it can be funny. I never know how much rice is going to appear and it sometimes feels like a challenge from the kitchen. “Can he eat that much rice?” Yes.

Like I said, they pile on the sauce so I have to ask for it on the side. Yes, I may be the pickiest diner at TJ’s — but it is so good and so simple. I started adding broccoli about five years ago. I needed to start eating some vegetables. I started out asking for it on the side because I didn’t like it and could drown it in a sea of soy sauce and eat it separately. I wonder if they think my broccoli on the side is some scheme to still get my maximum rice and chicken? I have moved from hate to neutral on broccoli but I still like that sea of soy sauce.

Tokyo’s Joe’s main competitor at 13th & Grant is Panera. Panera is the smooth-talking player of fast casual dining. They say all the right words…the food sounds so good. For example:

Chicken Tortellini Alfredo

Tender tortellini pasta filled with a blend of ricotta, Swiss and romano cheeses and tossed in our rich alfredo sauce then topped with smoked, pulled antibiotic-free chicken and asiago-parmesan cheese.

But it is not good. This delectable sounding blend is a little plastic packet that gets heated in the microwave.

Now I don’t claim Tokyo Joe’s is gourmet dining but I think it is under-appreciated relative to its flashier cousin. Simple is good. Don’t fall for the sweet-talker.

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