Whisky Wind-down, 18: Love and Lightsabers

A Star Wars stein sits on a mantle beside a bottle of 12-year-old Glenkinchie whisky.

Today’s dram: Glenkinchie, 12-Year-Old

Today’s tasting notes: Dunno. Haven’t tasted it yet.

Today’s thoughts: I love Star Wars.

Since I wrote about that life-long affection a year ago, I’ll focus on something else this time.

The salient point to bring forward is: I waited 32 years* to know what happened to those beloved characters. When The Force Awakens hit theaters two years ago, I was anxious as hell about seeing it, wanting to have hope, but fearing another heartbreak a la The Trilogy of Which We Do Not Speak.

I left that theater feeling renewed hope for the future. Of Star Wars, anyway.

Last year’s Rogue One was also good, but my excitement for a prequel, even a good one, will never match my interest in the futures of Luke, Leia, R2, Threepio, Chewie … and Rey, Finn, Poe, and BB-8.

Tonight The Empress of Whisky and I see The Last Jedi.

She enjoys the films, and we have had tremendous fun at the last two opening night events, but there is, shall we say, an enthusiasm gap. She would, for instance, be happy waiting as long as tomorrow(!) to see this film.

But she indulges me, even when, as it so happens tonight, the occasion falls on, for example, our anniversary.

Twelve years she’s been indulging me. That’s pretty good, no?

In celebration of which she gave me the whisky above, which is as old as our relationship. Pretty good thinking there. We’ll open the bottle tonight, at home, and discuss the movie over a dram.

Happy dozen, love!

Today’s note on sharing: I think it’s worth considering just how much better life is because we’re in it together. I do, in fact, consider this all the time.

Today’s toast: To my love: May the Force be with you, always. Me, too.

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* — If you want to be picky — and really, what Star Wars fan isn’t, to some degree? — I waited 32 years and seven months between the release of Return of the Jedi (May 1983) and the release of The Force Awakens (December 2015). That’s a long time with no Star Wars.**

** — No Star Wars. Nope. You imagined that other trilogy. You must have been on a bender. Bad you.

2017 Whisky Wind-down, 30: Wrecked

[Note: If you’re new, catch up at the 2017 Whisky Wind-down Primer.] 

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A bottle of Ardbeg Corryvreckan lies on its side, apparently empty, its cork a filled whisky glass nearby. These items are arranged near a keyboard and a computer monitor. On the monitor is writing about whisky.

Today’s dram: Ardbeg, Corryvreckan

Today’s tasting notes: This is cask-strength, big Islay whisky at its finest, and it’s where I left off last year.

I am tempted, by both laziness and a love of my own words, to just repeat the description I wrote last year, but that would be a disservice to you, me, and this cask-strength 57.1 ABV monster.

Really, calling it a monster is another sort of disservice. A kraken is a monster. A corryvreckan is a swirling whirlpool about which a kraken might feel a trifle anxious.

As an anxious person whose sigil is squid, I find this whisky delightfully appropriate.

Much like its namesake, the whisky is a complex swirl. Sometimes I get straight campfire in the aroma, followed by a woodsy burning on the palate. Other times, it’s brine in my nose and saltwater burn on my throat. I can’t say it’s the same thing every time I try it. It’s shifty, spiraling on my palate and in my mind, and that’s why I keep coming back to it.

I know my perception is influenced by the name and legend, but isn’t that part of the point? If labeling and legend don’t matter, just buy a bottle of Fermented Grain and call it a day.

I remember my first dram of this one, taken in the kitchen of an old friend. I’d gifted him the bottle, which he immediately opened and poured, and we were both blown away. I’d bought it on reputation alone, and we were both expecting … something. What we got was a punch in the mouth, but one that left us refreshed and searching.

Today’s thoughts: Here’s where I tell you the plan that didn’t come to fruition.

Last year, I had this bottle set aside for the conclusion of 2016 Whisky Wind-down. My intent was to take it with me to an annual New Year’s Eve party hosted by some lovely friends of mine, at which I would share it, wax philosophic about it, and generally commiserate with like-minded folk over the wretched year ending and the one to dread ahead.

I would have written the post, published it, then perhaps added updates as the night wore on and the year wound down.

Alas, I got sick instead. A few days shy of the end of the year, actually. And it wore down my enthusiasm for writing, as well as my capacity for fully experiencing whisky.

I didn’t miss any posts, but I still feel those last few were not what I wanted them to be. Granted, little of my published work is ever what I wanted it to be. There’s a disconnect between thoughts, writing, and publication that I shall never put together to my satisfaction. Frankly, I don’t know how any writer does. I don’t know if the ones who seem to are just the rare breed, or liars. I do know I once spent half an hour in the leasing office of my college apartment complex because I got writer’s block when the office manager asked me to write down my reason for not renewing my lease.

That’s … not really uncommon for me. The feeling, if not the outcome. Deadlines are good, if only because something will (usually) get done, but deadlines are horrible because whatever gets down will (usually) not be as good as it could have been.

Nothing ever is. Struggle, struggle, struggle.

And here, where there are no deadlines except my own, and I am the most lenient deadline-giver that ever there was … things don’t always get done.

What have I been doing all year, instead of writing?

Well, to be accurate, instead of publishing? I’ve written. My drafts folder rivals the size of the published folder.

But nothing’s ever good enough.

Let me explain, by going back to the bottle.

I’ve been nursing this one all year. In and of itself, that’s not unusual. I tend to keep whiskies around forever, pulling a dram now and then as the mood strikes, but acquiring new bottles at a far greater pace than emptying old ones.

But I’ve been at this one lately, reminding myself what it represents, why I’m compelled by it. I’ve been caught in a corryvreckan for over a year, treading water, going with the flow.

I want to find the optimism with which I pretended to face this year, the hope with which I believed I could still proceed, the faith in certain people …

But, no.

I stopped writing for a reason.

Reasons.

Beyond any particular personal failings (or illusions of such), I did not think a string of words mattered, anymore.

At some point, if you do not have common ground with people who are important to you … what?

Don’t misunderstand. I am as close as ever to almost everyone I care about. I have, even, to my own surprise, formed a few new friendships and found formidable firmness in some others already extant.

But.

I let some go. Others, I keep only beneath a modest shroud of shared pretense.

To be perfectly frank, I stopped writing here because some of the things I was compelled to write about threatened to pull that shroud right off.

Right.

Off.

But it’s a year later, and the world rolls on, and I’m still aboard, and growing bored, and, well, shit, what is a writer who does not write?

Today’s overwrought symbolism: Obvious, isn’t it?

Today’s pithy summation: Writers’s block is all in your head. Too bad you live in your head.

Today’s toast: To being back at the keyboard.

2017 Whisky Wind-down: Primer

If you follow my writing here on even a semi-regular basis, you’ll have noticed, well, “semi-regular basis” is about as good as it gets. There are, shall we say, “gaps” in my publishing schedule, assuming I have a publishing schedule, which, of course, I do not.

And yet, last December, I posted daily for an entire month.

I owe that rare publication streak to whisky and friends. In the course of friendly conversation, I and several “booze enthusiasts” of my acquaintance noted the growing prevalence of alcohol-based advent calendars. Not only were they suddenly everywhere, there were seemingly collections curated for every palate and budget. It occurred to me that it would be fun to use one of these as a daily jumping-off point for writing.

Advent was starting by the time I had that realization. However, while I am overall pretty bad at planning ahead (and shopping), I am aces at keeping whisky on-hand.

I daily profiled (to the limit of my amateur-but-improving abilities) one whisky from my collection, with accompanying anecdotes and other ramblings each somehow thematically related to the selected dram.

It wasn’t advent, exactly.

That term has a particular meaning in liturgy relating to Christmas; since what I really wanted was to say goodbye to a shit year, the exercise instead became a countdown to the end.

I’m not going to rehash my loathing for 2016. I’m not even going to (yet) get into my feelings about 2017.

What I am going to do is get my ass back to the keyboard. I’ve been away longer than I meant to be. Now the whisky is calling me back.

With that, lastgreypoet.com proudly presents “2016 Whisky Wind-down 2: 2017 Whisky Wind-down, The Quickening Boogaloo for More Money.”

Or “2017 Whisky Wind-down,” if you’re into brevity.

Later today, maybe, I’ll get started.

Writing, I mean. The whisky is already open.

Obviously.

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Note: If you missed last year’s adventure, you can catch up by hitting the 2016 Whisky Wind-down category tag. If that seems like too much reading, you can get the basics in last year’s primer or just skip to the end. If you are unfamiliar with whisky (or need a refresher) there is also this post on terminology.

 

Notes on a New Year

Sick. It’s a lousy way to start the year. 

Well, except for the part where The Empress of Whisky keeps bringing me whisky-laced coffee. 

Mmm. 

I should probably eat something, though.  

Plenty of choices. Two days ago I made a large batch of dressing (using my mom’s recipe). I intended to take half to a New Year’s Eve party, but, well, sickness. 

Instead we stayed home and The Empress beat me at board games. At midnight we toasted each other and our kitty. 

For New Year’s Day, I made black-eyed peas, not because I am superstitious, but because they are delicious. Also: turkey breast, the aforementioned dressing, potatoes, several vegetables for The Empress … quite a holiday feast, most of which happily doubles as good comfort leftovers for sick people. 

I’d like to tell you I’ve been sittting here, planning my year, looking ahead … but mostly I’m just fighting the kitty’s advice to nap again. 

Outside, rain falls. 

All together, it’s a good enough day. A quiet place to start what promises to be a noisy year. 

We’ll see to tomorrow, tomorrow.  

2016 Whisky Wind-down, 12: Procrastination 


Today’s dram: Laphroaig, 18-Year-Old

Today’s tasting notes: Strong, deep breath of the sea. Somewhere a fire is burning. Sit here and remember with me, the things we loved in days gone by. 

Today’s thoughts: This one is a bit late, especially considering I had basically all day to get it done. 

Well, not all day.  

I had presents to wrap, shopping to finish, dishes to catch up, probably other tasks that are slipping my mind … 

So, I slept in. 

I thought I might just have a quick lunch and then get going, but Sappho looked at me pitifully, so I sat on the couch and let her flop with me a bit. 

Then she reminded me the remake western The Magnificent Seven just dropped for streaming rental today, and she really likes westerns and The Empress of Whisky (who does not) is away hiking, so …

Yeah. 

Decent flick. It ain’t Seven Samurai, but then, what is?

Then an unusual thing happened, the sort of thing that I suppose happens a lot but I never notice because I am away at work — a crew came by to pressure-wash our building. The water made weird sounds out there, and the sounds made Sappho anxious, so I stayed on the couch to console her, and I decided to read a bit …

Next thing I knew, The Empress of Whisky was home with dinner. 

Not only had I accomplished nothing on my personal to-do list, I also had yet to even pick today’s whisky. 

The topic, however, basically writes itself. 

I have long had the great ability to put off ’til tomorrow what cannot be accomplished today. 

“And what can be put off ’til tomorrow might just as easily be put off ’til day after tomorrow as well.”

I forget who said that, but I remember it was Douglas Adams who said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

I love being on holiday when the only deadline I have is a self-imposed one to daily drink a dram and then write about it. 

I realize how incredibly fortunate a position that is to be in. Moreso, I realize how, when I’m not on holiday I mostly work by a set of generous white-collar deadlines that would be the envy of most workers the world over. 

So being unhappy that I cannot meet my own deadlines is an admittedly advantaged position in which to find myself.

Doesn’t make it any easier. But I do acknowledge it. 

Today’s deeply morbid thought on tomorrow: A good friend of mine — the same who gave me the Laphroaig 18 — once said to me, as I was lamenting my lack of progress, feeling like I was spending too much time on trivial pursuits, “Someday this will all be dust and no one will be here to remember or care; so, in the long run, idle chit-chat is about as useful as anything short of building an empire.”

Today’s toast: To the reader: I’ll have something for you tomorrow. Probably.