Hamster wheel . . . next stop? Friday.
About a year ago, sometime around Dad’s cancer diagnosis, I went into survival mode. Wake up. Worry about Dad. Go to work. Plan our next trip home. Make dinner. Kiss David. Walk dog. Lay in bed. Worry about Dad. Sleep—if you can call it that. Repeat. The months flew by as I passed on a high-speed train through tragedy. Memories. Alaska. A life flight. The hardest week of my life. Tears—so many. A funeral. A memorial. A different kind of Christmas. A work-consumed life in the new year for which I was grateful.
I don’t mean to say that I’ve been sitting in a cave wallowing. Anything but. I’ve had moments of love and laughter and life. But somehow, I still felt like I was running on the hamster wheel of life. We all know that waiting feeling. Working and running and waiting and running towards some invisible, temporal destination that will inevitably vanish and appear a few more years down the road.
Dreams were always very important to Dad. And dreams I have had and achieved. But lately, my mind has been on living the dream. “Living the dream.” A saying that is always accompanied by sarcasm—but why not? Last Saturday, we sat in freckle-inducing sunshine with friends so close I’d call them family, sipping cider and eating good food and laughing way too loud for our respectable, professional, 30-something selves. And that night, my heart could’ve burst with happiness when I crawled into bed late, curled my hand into David’s, and heard him mumble a sleep-drunk “love you” before giving my hand a squeeze. I remind myself that this is the dream and it is my obligation to live it and love it and be present for it.
All of it. Even the hamster wheel parts that I repeat every week. Because every week will still be a little bit different and if I’m not present for each and every one, I’m going to let another year pass without knowing how it happened. So even if it’s “heigh-ho” and off to work I go, I am determined to love it. Even on the days I hate it. Because those days don’t come around very often, despite me thinking otherwise when I’m up on my soap box. And even the bad days can be filled with good people and puppy snuggles and hand holding and cookie dough. And those things are the dream.
Bahn Mi Hot Dogs with Homemade Hoisin Sauce
Bless his heart, but one of David’s favorite foods in the world is hot dogs. I feel like I’m a kid at a BBQ every time we have them, but I just love how happy they make him. I’m usually a minimalist when it comes to my hot dogs. Cooked extra well done with plenty of black grill marks and lots of mustard. Just like my Granny taught me.
I fell in love with bahn mi sandwiches from the small Vietnamese shop near my law school. Crispy bread filled with pork and topped with their incredible slaw and some SUPER hot peppers. These bahn mi hot dogs are based on the traditional sandwich with some non-traditional additions. But feel free to change them up as you see fit! David loads his bahn mi hot dogs with peanuts and I’m pretty heavy-handed with the hoisin sauce and hot peppers.
For some reason, the grocery store closest to me did not carry daikon, but I was able to find it at our Whole Foods. If you’re unable to find any, you can replace it with an equal amount of red radish (a little bit “spicier” for lack of a better word) or jicama (a little bit sweeter) for the pickled slaw. And even if you’re not a huge cilantro person (aka me), definitely try adding a few cilantro leaves. I feel like it really completes the bahn mi hot dogs and the flavor is translated into something extra special.