Friday, November 25, 2011


“I’ve volunteered every year so that you could spend the time with your families, Jeremy isn’t home and I don’t have to cook but I would love to have this year off, just to stay in my jammies all morning, cook breakfast and watch football. Was wondering if either of you would be willing to step up so I can do so.” An email I sent to my coworkers a couple of weeks ago regarding working the Thanksgiving shift. It’s a short shift, (although Randy went and snuck another hour in this year) only five hours and I have to say, working the store on Thanksgiving is kind of fun. The people are in a great mood and always so grateful that we are open for a few hours, so it’s not at all a chore really but for some reason I just really wanted to be off. Randy works it every year as well and our newest employee Tim, (very young and hungry for the time and a half) stepped up right away but he doesn’t know wine so I thought one more person might be needed. Randy didn’t so even though my beloved Ronnie, (our Italian, Spanish, Bordeaux and Port buyer) offered to scoot in before the troves of family arrived at his door, Randy didn’t think it necessary…woo hoo! Off on Thanksgiving, now there’s something to be thankful for!

Opted to accept the invite to my best friend Merritt’s “Drunksgiving” a ritual started a couple years ago in which massive amounts of food and drink are consumed without the whole family around to keep you on your best behavior. Skipped it in the past as I had to be all spunky and shit for work the next morning but this year, all in for the festivities. After one too many white Russians, which is only one when they are being made by Merritt’s adorable boyfriend Evan, dude makes a mean ass drink I can assure you, (and some other behavior that I shan’t spill, gotta save some crap for the next time I am given one of those awards dealies and I have to confess to stuff), a plate of smoked turkey and mashed potatoes…okay I might have partaken in the better part of a bottle of 2009 Azo Petit Chablis…I stumbled through the front door with just enough spunk to do a, “I am so off tomorrow mother f’ers!” dance, wash my face, climb into my most adored green polka-dot pajamas and crashed, a spent puddle of the-day-before-Thanksgiving workday and too much merriment. 

Woke this morning with nothing on my plate other than lounging amongst the cheers of football on the television, cooking some bacon and eggs and at some point slow roasting some Brussels Sprouts in bacon drippings and citrus to haul over to the in-laws for the holiday feast. Bliss. Unabashed and unfettered bliss.

“Powers out!” I heard it floating from my neighbor across the way as my eyes were still darting this way and that, trying to figure out what the hell just happened. Television black and silent and ceiling fan slowly wheezing to stop, deafening silence, well other than the sound of my own voice screaming, “Noooooooo!” in my head. My first Thanksgiving off in I don’t know how many years and the fucking power is out. No football, no eggs and bacon, no internet and I can’t even leave yet as my lazy ass is still in my pajamas…something I was bragging to anyone that would listen, that I was going to do, stay in my jammies all day, as we don’t have a hairdryer that works on batteries. Don’t think even the shittiest of TBS writers could have made this up. Whimper….Merde.

So I write you dear reader from my little couch island, the tapping of my nails across the keyboard and the mutterings of, “Oh Goddamn it” in my head the only sound in my annoyingly still and quiet apartment. However, the stark silence does give one time to reflect, to think about what this day is about and the things I am truly thankful for and seeing as I passed on cranking out another lame-ass, useless, “What to pair with Thanksgiving dinner” post, and seeing as I have NOTHING better to do, why not use up the rest of this slowly dying laptop battery, (feeling mighty thankful for that battery business right about now) to share with you the things I am most thankful for. Very original idea I know.

I’m thankful for:

Fucking electricity….

Jack in the Box- Both for being slave drivers and being open today and for their divine breakfast croissant which is sustaining me as I am currently without stove.

The Potato- For weathering the storm of famines and Dan Quayle jokes to be here for me. One of my all-time favorite foods, since birth The Potato and I have been through a lot together. Fried and crispy, whipped or mashed into creamy lusciousness, or simply aromatically soothing me as they bake away in the oven, The Potato is simply brilliant and I am forever thankful to have it.

Francois Chidaine- For his truly masterful coaxing of Chenin Blanc into profound greatness. Giving me mind bending wines to drink, share and teach people about. Drinking them is my pleasure, turning others on to them, a joy.

My Dislike of Chocolate- Without which I would surely weigh in at 400 pounds.

Tessa Jansen- My sister. My first true love and now a woman with a laugh that I simply cannot live without. So proud of the woman she has become.

Epoisses- The slinkiest of all the things I’m thankful for. Ungodly creamy texture, saltiness just this side of being too much, a stink that now resonates the kind of guilty pleasure I should be ashamed of. Perfect. It is a perfect cheese….and it comes with the added benefit of pissing my husband off every time I bring it home.

Randy Kemner- For taking a chance on a very reluctant wine newbie. Giving me a job that I love going to each day, (crazy last two weeks notwithstanding) and getting a kick out of my sometimes irreverent outlook on life…and wine. He has changed my life in ways I could have never imagined and there are simply no words big enough to encapsulate my gratitude.

Dave Matthews- Although really fucking slow on discovering that we are madly in love, I’ve been yanked through the gambit of emotions; pleasure, desire, sadness, awe, hope and peace through his words and music. When nothing seems to soothe me I plug into Dave and I am a calm and often inspired.

Blogging- For cracking the protective layer I’d hidden behind a good chunk of my life. Doing this has not only brought new and astoundingly loving people into my life, it has forced me to tap into this writing junk, discover my voice and in turn, made me not only better at my job, a better and more complete person. Might sound stupid or like a bit of a stretch but I assure you, it’s not. I would not be the person I am now without having this place to share my stories, my heart, my history, my love and my soul. Beyond thankful to have this place and all of you.

The Save Feature in Word- Without which this post would be vanishing in a few minutes.

Pho- Spicy citrus laden broth and noodles, surely a gift from God.

Billecart-Salmon Champagne- Now a wine of my past as I don’t think they are what they once were but, this was the Champagne that rattled my bones and sprung my passionate wine lover into action.

My In-laws- Where I am now, plugged in and able to connect to the five of you. The glow of my trusty laptop sparking a gleam in my eye like that of a five year old on Christmas morning. The smell of turkey, mushrooms and tiny heads of cabbage roasting mixed with the smell of a home I’ve been in hundreds of times before…the smell of family.

Gevrey-Chambertin- For teaching me what lust smells like. For showing me that power is not proven with weight or force but with its ability to captivate. Cooked red cherries, smoked meat, nectarines, truffles, cola and soy….all in one glass and tiptoeing across my palate.

My Husband- aka The Saint. No one could put up with my shit the way he does and has and wakes each morning willing to take it all over again, for no other reason than he gets and loves me….enjoys waking beside me every day. I don’t understand how or why he does it but, am eternally grateful, thankful that he does.

My Mother- I miss her, today more than any other day of the year. This was her holiday and the one time a year she was genuinely happy. Her face lit up, beautiful and confident has she swung from pan to pan preparing food to fill us…in more ways than one. Yeah, I miss her and am thankful in ways too enormous to articulate.

Chablis- For showing me what Chardonnay can be. Thought I might be a part of that “I loathe Chardonnay” crowd…until Chablis.

Grown Up Wipies- Without which I would feel far less fresh than I do right now. We’ve had running water through the outage but not hot or even warm water…opted to skip the shower and Ho-bath it today. Might want to add how fucking thankful I am for hot water and goddamn electricity once again.

Working Retail- This unplanned for gig has taught me to be a more patient and fair minded human. It’s amazing the things I hear, both good and bad, working the floor and it has helped shape who I am as a consumer.

Southern California Edison- For paying ridiculous amounts of money to their poor turkey less employees to come out and restore power to our little conclave of apartments. 22 hours later and I am now back on my couch, television flashing and hot water heater starting to huff away ensuring, (please, oh please) that I will have a hot shower before work tomorrow. 

My Baby- Now you know this had to be here right? I logged on this morning to have a picture of my son’s massive back tattoo meet my eyes. FFL, it runs down his spine and the message behind it was the first thing I saw…and it ran down the length of mine. Family, Friends, Life, FFL, his moniker and the thing that got him through when things seemed too much.  Jeremy was on his own this Thanksgiving, his roommates all off spending time with their family and my son, my baby, was alone and still grateful for the love that has been bestowed upon him from thousands of miles away. I will confess that I cried, allowed myself an indulgent hanky soaked moment as sat with my courser hovering above the many names on my email list, wondering who to email to unload my, so-lonely-to-hold-my-baby grief upon. The only person that I knew would understand was the young man that had penned the post that made me cry in the first place. My son. Never in my life could I have imagined that another person could hold my every emotion so tightly in their grip…should have known the second those strong premature fingers gently but forcibly wrapped around mine. Not expected, wanted or understood…those fingers that tattoo, my son knows and loves me in a way that defies every bit of logic and conventional idea of family I had, or have, ever been taught before feeling his skin against mine. My heart and awareness came alive with his touch, his laugh, his snarl when he felt he was being held to an idea or image that was beyond what he was willing or able to give. I envy his strength and understand his plight. He is my personal hero…

Lastly I am thankful that even one of you come here, to visit and support me. Never sure what the hell I am doing here, the late night rants, the gushing and the endless waxing about wine, life, my son, my loves….am forever amazed and warmed by the responses and connection spun from my lips, tongue, fingertips and voice. You all let me do this? Showers and the ability to cook bacon have got nothing compared to the warmth I feel when I’m here, talking to You. I’m thankful every day that you let me do this. I need and love you more than you can possibly know….

Happy Thanksgiving All
I am so thankful for You.


webb said...

As always - the many sides of Sam. All interesting and all from the heart. That's why we tune in. Glad your day was good - well, all but that electricity part - and that you were with most of the folks you love best.

Anonymous said...

Thank god the power's back on, I heard that Sam with unblow-dried hair is one of the signs of the apocolypse...

Love and thankfulness for you and all that junk, from afar.

chris said...

I'm thankful for a wine-slinger named Sam who steered my little family to grower bubbles this Thanksgiving. Wow, that farmer fizz (Camille Saves Carte Blanche Brut) was fantastic.

Thank you, Sam.

Samantha Dugan said...

I hope you had a wonderful holiday.

Funny you should mention the apocalypse, kind of what the place looked like last night. The quiet, the shadows, the people with flashlights looking for signs of life...eerie.

Yay! So glad they arrived on time and that you trusted me to selected your holiday bubbles. Was very flattering for me and made me feel as if I was part of your holiday. So thanks for that.

John M. Kelly said...

I'm thankful for so much I couldn't possibly enumerate everything. But high on the list are: just being here, having the desire and ability to cook for friends yesterday, and for dear friends dropping in with gifts - including a bottle of the delicious Vajra Barolo Chinato supplied by someone I also think of as a dear friend, one I don't get to see nearly enough of.

KTNala said...

You are so beautiful, Samantha..... I passionately, feverently and eagerly consume your words whenever I come across them.

Samantha Dugan said...

As ever I am always thankful to find you here. So glad to hear you had a wonderful holiday and sipped upon that divine Chinato. Love that stuff, and you.

Wow, thank you so much. I think that is the nicest thing I've heard all week. I'm blushing and grateful that you took the time to tell me. Made me feel all proud of myself and junk.

Voltage Daddy said...

Big smiles as I was reading through Samantha at her best.

Thanksgiving has always been a big event for my family and remains that way now. Thirty-five for dinner yesterday. About twenty for leftovers tonight.

Adults telling adult stories and the ten members of the next generation outside in the street (we live at the end of quiet cul-de-sac fortunately) playing hours of soccer, coming in and pausing just long enough to scarfe down some food, then on to the next event.

Last night, after my 49ers had retired from the TV screen in utter ignominy, we let the kids watch the end of the Blues Brothers. They could barely keep their eyes their heads although it was not the music but 100 wrecked police cars and the tanks and helicopters in the final chase.

Very cool. And obviously, we did have electicity.

Tessa said...

Love you sister! So wish we could have been together for Thanksgiving

Samantha Dugan said...

Sir Charles,
Sounds like a holiday fitting for such a sweet and caring man. Thrilled to hear your day was full of the things you love. Hugs to you.

Samantha Dugan said...

Me too dear sister. Would have loved to have the puppies to play with as well! I miss you sweet girl.

Winey the Elder said...

"Love is something, if you give it away, you end up having more." Children's songs indeed. Your beautiful words of blessings rightly bristle with abundance. Thanks for the ongoing "tastes" of Samantha; they're deliciously addicting.


Thomas said...


I have two words for you: gas stove.

Well, I have two more words: love you.

Samantha Dugan said...

This makes you two-for-two in the puddle inducing department. The things you say....

Two words back at ya, "Apartment Complex" and truthfully the stove s gas but dealing with the pilot and again having no hot water to wash dishes....and my craptastic mood after having my day essentially foiled, I was just too annoyed to deal. All ended up fine and, I love you too!

Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I have been thankful for You every day of the past several years, not just on the fourth Thursday of November. My Life would be empty without You.

In your inimitable style, you transform what was a miserable day for you into a magical and memorable day for us. Thank you for that. Your remarkable wisdom and profound courage are guideposts for me.

I cannot ever list the best parts of my life without "Samantha" appearing in the first breath.

I love you!

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
You "buttered" me again. There is not one day that goes by that I am not thankful to have you in my life. Not one. You are a rare and treasured gift to me and I love you so.

The Woo said...

Hey Sam - It's been a while, I know. Sorry about that. Travelling nearly nonstop for the day job has definitely taken its toll on keeping up with your blog. Not to mention the kids and family. However, I consider myself supremely blessed and fortunate... this poor immigrant kid from the total 'hood knows that he is living in the bonus round. Like you, I am also thankful for many things and your blog is one of them.

Keep it up. You are a gifted writer. More importantly, you have good and important things to say that mean something. That's a huge deal. Self expression is a good thing, but when your self expression is of this high caliber and quality it is a GREAT thing that should be treasured. Thanks for sharing. I am certain that YOU are high on the list of things and people that other folks you know are very thankful for. I guarantee it.

Be well... and let's go to the Ox sometime soon!

Samantha Dugan said...

Are you trying to say that life has gotten in the way of you reading my blog?! Well I never. Don't be silly kid, I'm always flattered when you pop by to see what I'm up to and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the kind words you shed upon me here. Too sweet and you bet you ass I will be in for that dinner at the Ox.

HamishWM said...

Hi Samantha
Just come across your blog. Love the frankness and feeling. Glad its not just us remote people living in the south of France who have the electricity cut. Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving.

Samantha Dugan said...

Well welcome! Always so nice to hear from a new reader. Frankness, I like that and a far cry from some other adjectives I've used to describe this place, thanks for that too! So you too were in the dark for Thanksgiving? Not that I suspect it's much of a big deal in the South of France but still. Hope you made the best of it and I do hope you hang around and chime in from time to time. Cheers back at ya.