Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Holidays!!!


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Look at the photograph above.  Can you guess where it is?  Click on the above link to look at a larger and more detailed version.  It is just beautiful.

Happy Hannukah to my fellow Jews!
Merry Christmas to my fellow Catholics and Christians!
Merry Kwanzaa to my cross-cultural friends!
Happy Holidays to everyone!
Happy New Year to all my dear and loyal blog fans!

I've been thinking about what I have accomplished this year.  Sometimes it makes me a little sad, but other times it makes me incredibly happy.  To be honest, I cannot wait for 2013 to start.  I'm already so over 2012.  So many fabulous events are going to occur in 2013...I can hardly wait.  Here are my top five accomplishments for the year 2012.  I'm sure there are more...I'll think about it even more and report back next week.

5.  The Successful Slaughter of the hen named, "Butterball."

4.  Successfully raising two Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats, Trixie and Vincent (Vinnie) Van Goat.

3.  I saved both "Daisy" and "Griselda" from the brink of death when they were egg-bound.

2.  I figured out a bizarre behavioral pattern, which deeply affects my loving relationships.  More to come...

1.  I am most proud of finishing my manuscript, "How I Learned to Smile From The Inside."

What were your biggest accomplishments?  Think of ten!  Think of twenty!  Think of them all.  I would love to hear them!  Please email them to me.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

1)  Next week, I will share my Resolutions for 2013.
2)  It appears my book will available on my website (SethSantoro.com) and Amazon as early as February 1, 2013.  Yeehaw!
3)  I cannot wait for my new great position at an incredible company.  I feel it coming real soon.  Hopefully sooner than later.
4)  Thank you for reading this.  Thank you for coming with me on this journey.  I guarantee next week will even be more eventful than this year.
5)  The photograph above is actually taken in Puri, India. Incredible, no?

Christmas in Milan, Italy

A Smile From The Inside Production :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

HOW DO WE EVEN BEGIN TO HEAL FROM NEWTOWN CT???


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I am not going to talk specifics.  So, please don't worry about that.  The details are far too gruesome and terrible to have in our lives over and over again.  I am also not going to make this a political blog about how I think all automatic and semi-automatic weapons should be banned from the hands of anyone.  Nope.  Instead, I want to talk about a subject about which I know a great deal.  How To Deal With Trauma.  Trauma touches all of our lives.  Every last one of us.

I don't know about you, but last Friday, I was a mess.  Let me briefly explain a little of what I went through last week.  First, I need you to know that I went to Samuel Staples Elementary School, in Easton, CT, which was about 12 miles from where this horrific event occurred.  I knew I group up in different times and I probably do NOT know anyone currently in Newtown, just a short 12 miles away, but it hit home.  Boy did it hit home. It hit me in such a way that I could not even concentrate.  Clearly, we were all beyond affected by what happened.  I was devastated.  I was in Shock.

1.  THE SHOCK OF TRAUMA - "Whoa!"
Once the news hits, it's like a torpedo straight to your heart.  The body, however, has one of the strongest defense mechanisms known to humankind...Shock.  Your mind will NOT allow the information through until such time as you can properly and appropriately handle the traumatic event.  We don't really know why.  It just happens.  But, thank god it does.  Shock -- it does a body good.  We all experience it the same way. 

2.  THE MOCK-CCEPTANCE OF TRAUMA - "I'm fine!"
Over the weekend, I was busy.  I kept telling myself that I was fine.  That everything was going to be okay.  That I didn't want to know anything else...I knew enough.  Remember, though, the details of what had happened weren't 100% clear as of Saturday.  This is sort of a fake acceptance, which coats and protects you from the truth.  I loved my world where everything was a-okay.  It was nice and peaceful...the calm before the storm, if you will.  Everyone will also pass through this "blissful" phase, no matter how short lived.  The mind is a powerful thing, no?

3.  THE OVERWHELMINGNESS OF TRAUMA - "Ugh!"
Ugh! says it all, man.  This is the part where all of our emotions come through.  For me, it was Tuesday morning when I read through the entire CNN timeline of what had occurred last Friday.  The tears were flowing and I could feel my heart racing.  At times, I thought I was going to throw up.  I was upset, sad, and angry.  These feelings are important to feel.  They are not bad.  They are all constructive and we must plunge through them to get to the other side.  Remember, there is sadness and anger and then there is overwhelming sadness and anger.  All unique yet poignant emotions.

(I myself am somewhere between Overwhelmdom and Learning with this Newtown catastrophe.)

4.  THE LEARNING IN TRAUMA - "Ohhh...Wow!"
Once the overwhelming feelings subside, there will come a time of reflection.  This reflection is where we stumble, where we pull up our sleeves, and where we eventually grow.  Inevitably this event has already changed anyone who reads about it.  It is how we move forward that will show our strength, our resolve, and our livelihood.  There will come decisions in the next few months, I suspect, that will shift our consciousness a bit.  That's good.  That's what growth and learning is.  I say, let's all welcome it!

5.  THE EMBRACE OF TRAUMA - "Yeehaa!"
Last, but certainly not least, we need to eventually accept what happened (emotionally - speaking).  We will never forget the situation -- it will always remain in our hearts.  Once in acceptance, we can then take the final step toward Embracing what happened as a necessary evolutionary step in our lives at humans, or as our culture as Americans.  I can't say I'm even close to this point right now, and sometimes, it's just not possible.  It's some place for which I personally strive with all my traumas.  Again, sometimes we just can't!  In this case, I just don't know if it's possible.

Horror is horror and this was absolutely terrible and mind-boggling for us all.  So, how do we even begin to heal from this traumatic ordeal?

In order to heal, we need to acknowledge the process happening to us.  The more aware we are of our own individual process, the more poignant and constructive our healing can be.  It takes great courage and determination.  We each have the capacity to climb the insurmountable with inner strength, hope, compassion, and love.  Follow the above plan and watch yourself.  Be kind to yourself this week too!

Lots more to come on this topic of trauma and healing.  I promise!  :)

FINAL THOUGHTS:
1) Shout out to my good friend Ciara for her new blog (which I love) http://tgfrl.com/.  Check it out!
2) My apologies for being late this week by 24 hours.  It has been quite the week for me.
3) I hope your Hanukkah was fab!  Please create a safe, happy, and healthy Christmas and Kwanzaa!
4) When President Obama wept, I couldn't help but clench my heart and cry right along with him.  It was beyond heart-wrenching.  And so honest!  God, I love him.
5) I should be receiving the electronic version of my book any day now...and the first physical copy of my book next week.  OMG...i can't believe it.  it's really happening.  Will start the countdown soon.

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A Smile From The Inside Production :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

TEN THINGS WE HUMANS CAN LEARN FROM GOATS!




Sometimes I just watch "Vinnie" and "Trixie Van Goat" in amazement.  They are ZEN warriors and they are definitely exemplary masters of the Smile From The Inside way of living.  Here is just a tiny list of things we humans can learn from my goats.

1.  BE PLAYFUL...ALL THE TIME
     I have never ever seen the like in any animal especially in any "pet" I have had the pleasure of owning.  Trust me, there have been probably over FIFTY animals including but not limited to horses, cows, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, birds, dogs, fish, cats, etc...  Anyway...they constantly act as if life is just one big playful recess.  God bless, right?

2.  LIVE LIFE ON THE EDGE
     They climb to the highest reaches of their goat jungle gym, nap on top of the huge recycle bins, test the severity of the current to our electric fences.  These goats consistently teeter on the brink of danger at least ten times a day.  It's refreshing to watch!

3.  ITS' ALL ABOUT THE FOOD!
     If you know goats, you'll understand this one.  They aren't like our pot-bellied pig neighbor, Delilah.  They won't eat anything and everything.  Nope.  They are completely picky eaters.  And they are fickle eaters too.  Some weeks they LOVE the clementines, whereas the next, not so much.  Though these kosher creatures might have unique and different fancy tastes, Vinnie and Trixie have one thing in common, no matter what their palette craves, they definitely enjoy each and every bite, even at the bitter end.  Oh yeah, and just like any human, they get a tad concerned when there is no Alfalfa Hay in their hanging feeder (a/k/a their version of an outdoor fridge).

Delilah&Maggie

4.  WHERE'S THE LOVE?
      Whenever Vinnie and Trixie hear the beep of our house alarm when we enter or leave the premises, one can always hear the faint sound of their little vocals cords saying, "Come visit me!"  Once the door opens to the backyard, they always come over to the entrance of their pen.  They love us.  They love people.  And, they might back away at first, but they will never refuse an extremely tight bear hug.  So cute!  

5.  THEY DON'T GIVE A "SHIT" ABOUT WHAT OTHER GOATS THINK
      Case and Point:  They shit wherever they feel like shitting and they pee whenever and wherever they feel like peeing.  They don't care what anyone else thinks, not us, not Maggie, not the chickens...absolutely no one.  It must be nice!

6.  NATURE VS. NURTURE?
     Just like us sentient beings, Vinnie and Trixie maintain the very same DNA as well as the fact that they were socially brought up in our fabulous gay backyard.  So, why is Vinnie gay and Trixie straight?  Go figure?  The debate goes on...  

7.  BE MASTER ESCAPE ARTISTS
     In case you don't know, Goats can escape from any fence, any pen, or any situation if the threat is  enough to endanger their lives.  It is incredible to watch them scale a six foot fence with just two steps (or hops, rather).  We could definitely learn a thing or two about escaping from dangerous situations.  Don't you agree?

8.  JUST WALK IT OFF
     Trixie likes to test her agility every time we turn around.  When she gets hurt physically or emotionally, she makes a little goat-noise squabble, shares her woe with Vinnie for a two-second bit, and then walks and shakes it off.  Now, that's inspiring.

9.  REST WHEN YOU ARE TIRED AND NAP DURING THE DAYLIGHT HOURS
     When no one is watching, or the hens are silently laying, sometimes, you can catch a rare glimpse of Vinnie and/or Trixie resting their little bodies.  Always safely.  Always comfortable.  One in a great while, you might even see them napping with their eyes closed.  Delicious.

10.  BE CURIOUS ABOUT EVERYTHING
     If there is one thing about goats you probably know, it's that they are curious 100% of the time.  They explore.  They circumvent.  They plot.  Usually, their behavior is all about mischief.  Vinnie and Trixie carry within them a great light of curiosity and it's infectious.  At least to me!  

I'm sure I will write more about Vinnie and Trixie in the future.  I just thought I would change the vibe for this week's blog entry.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
1)  This week, I will be submitting my manuscript and all respective material to my publisher.  AWESOME!!!  Next week, I will commence the 30-day countdown for my book, How I Learned To Smile From The Inside.
2)  I want to wish you all an incredible and healthy Happy Hanukkah!


Some Goat Quotes:
(unknown)

Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will spend it’s whole life thinking it’s a goat. (Albert Einstein)

The Fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a goat.
(Shakespeare)

A Smile From The Inside Publication :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WHAT WOULD HARRY POTTER DO?



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Lately, when faced with a choice, I find myself asking, "What would Harry Potter do?"  As you all know, it has been a challenging couple of months for me.  With financial issues, work-related issues, etc..., things have been up and down.  There have been a great deal of tough choices made this past year and some were easier than others.  

As most of you know, I am a Harry Potter freak.  So much so, in fact, if Harry Potter were to have bedroom paraphernalia, I would have the sheets, the duvet cover, and the throw, which would undoubtedly double as my invisibility cloak.  I would be ALL about it.  I wouldn't say I'm an expert in the Harry Potter world, but I have literally read each book three times over and have seen all the movies countless times.  Anyway...my love of Harry Potter is very near and dear to my heart.

What would Harry Potter do?  What does that even mean?  (P.S. I'm talking about Harry, the character, not Daniel Radcliffe).  I have deduced that there are three main qualities at the core of each decision Harry Potter makes.  Those three qualities are Intuition, Non-Violence, and the Just.  Harry follows his gut.  He follows his instinct always comes out in the end.  There is not a violent bone in Harry Potter's body either.  He practices what we call in Yoga, "Ahimsa," which is Sanskrit for to do non-harm to those around you.  Lastly, he always does what's just to all involved.  His moral and ethical compass are astronomically on par to the wisdom of today's greatest thinkers and doers.

I believe if we all took a little bit more time to think and act like Harry Potter, we would live in incredibly amazing society.  People would have similar moral and ethical compasses; they would have be accepting of our differences and that which makes us unique; and we would be OPEN to anything.  There would also be a great deal more adventures and purposeful chaos.  (meaning chaos with poignance).

Over the past few months, I have been grappling with my own legal dilemma, which stemmed from my last relationship.  We leased a vehicle together.  Therein lies the first issue.  When we broke up, half way through the lease, he wanted to keep the car and I politely obliged.  I drew up not one but actually, over an eighteen month period, three separate contracts/agreements, to ensure that, when the time came to return the vehicle, he would be responsible for ALL the expenses.  I wish I could say those eighteen months went smoothly but they didn't.  At one point, he even stopped speaking to me...completely (even via text).  That become extremely awkward and challenging to say the least.  

Long story short, when he returned the vehicle (late, I might add), something tells me he did not have the large sum of money to pay the dealership.  So, instead of being honest and forthcoming with me, he just didn't do anything.  I gave him many many chances over the last several months to make good on the last and final settlement amount, to no avail.  Finally, I had to make the payment myself as it was four days away from affecting my credit.  In my last ditch effort to collect money from him, I did receive a final response, which was to eat shit and die.  Not really the most adult of responses, but I'm sure the judge will love it!  (Note the sarcasm)

Thinking about what Harry Potter would do, I felt that I had given him more than enough time, consideration, and opportunities to do the best thing for all of us.  As angry as I was with him, I still wanted to do what I felt to be just.  Despite many suggestions from others, most of which, wouldNOT have been productive.  Those same friends felt that he was taking advantage of me the entire time.  Perhaps he was.  At the end of the day, I had to do what felt good to me.  Therefore, I followed my intuition, I struggled with the non-violent approach, and I did what was just.  So, now I am taking him to small claims court here in Los Angeles.  I will win!  I will collect the money... just not anytime soon.  This decision was not easy for me.  Now, would Harry Potter sue someone?  That answers really remains in the eyes of the reader.  In this instance, if you listened to all of the facts and evidence, I think he would do the same.  If homeboy would even contact me now and offer up some of the money, I would be willing to listen.  I doubt that's going to happen though.  Anyway... I'll keep you posted.

Intuition.  Ahimsa (non-violence).  Just(ice).  Think about them.

So, the next time you need to make a grave decision or even a minor one, think What Would Harry Potter do?


Speaking of Harry Potter...
Did you hear today about the invisibility cloak that the U.S. Army will soon make into a reality?  Read the article here.  It's called HyperStealth technology.  OMG, perhaps soon we can all become like Harry Potter or like a super hero!  Read about it or watch the video.  It's absolutely intriguing.


FINAL THOUGHTS:
1)  Waiting on a couple of final edits for my book before I send off to publisher.  It's almost there.  Wow!  It's really happening!
2)  Everyone send positive energy my way, I have two great opportunities on the horizon for starting in January.  Either one would be absolutely incredible...and my financial troubles will definitely be eased.  Woohoo!
3)  Bessie Cooper, of Monroe, George, age 116, died yesterday.  Wow!  Imagine living 116 years.  Apparently, there are only eight people in the Guinness Book of World Records to have lived that long.  I hope we ALL live to be that old.  Rest in peace, Bessie!
4)  When was the last time you laughed until you cried?  Think about it for a minute.  Take yourself back to that joke or that moment.  (Dramatic Pause!)  If you didn't just smile, then do it again.
5)  If you liked what you read, share with one other person.  If you didn't, please be quiet and let me know.
6) Birthday shout out to Heather and Danielle.  Love you both!!!


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A Smile From The Inside Production :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THANKSGIVING IS THE BEST HOLIDAY EVER!!!

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I hope your Thanksgiving was as incredible as mine was.  This year, I celebrated in Nashville, literally right up the road from Carrie Underwood.  Awesome!!!

For those of you who don't know me all that well, Thanksgiving has forever been my favorite holiday.  It helps that I am able to see past the fact that originally we most likely sacrificed and slaughtered lots of Native Americans and their game in order to have a fabulous and fierce dinner.  No, it is my absolute favorite because it has no religious affiliation, I usually get to travel somewhere fun, and it is all about the family we keep in life.  That could be the family we choose or the ones we don't!  Let's not forget that we also get to eat like gluttons for three to five days following the big meal.  Stuffing should be its own food group!

Thanks (Gratitude) and Giving.  Two concepts of my favorite concepts of late.

Gratitude.  The act of being grateful is a powerful one.  For me, when I am feeling a little blue (and I remember, which is the tough part), I start to think of all of the wonderful and happy things for which I feel grateful.  Sometimes it may feel as if there are none, but start small and work your way up!  I promise within the period of about thirty seconds, something changes on the inside.  Call it an energy shift or call it emotional movement.  Call it what you will, it's the openness and expansiveness that attracts the good feelings into our thoughts and therefore our bodies and souls.  It feels good.  It just plain feels better.  If you don't believe me, try it for yourself.

Giving.  I like to think of myself as a giving individual.  I give to people all of the time.  The best part is I expect nothing in return.  I give without expectations.  I give to be more ME.  I give to spread joy into the world.  Giving is not about what you receive, it's about the act of giving.  Granted, every relationship has its ups and downs and so on.  With regard to giving in relations, we need to always be aware of the life-giving qualities present and current.  When it stops being life-giving and life-affirming, then perhaps its time to move on.  It's always hard, and it sucks for a while, but really, on this malevolently fantastic life, it's all about you, your life, and your happiness.  Be good to yourself.  Be good to others!  Give!  Give!  Give!

Something fun to read.  Enjoy!


Step 1: Go buy a turkey
Step 2: Take a drink of whiskey, scotch, or JD
Step 3: Put turkey in the oven
Step 4: Take another 2 drinks of whiskey
Step 5: Set the degree at 375 ovens
Step 6: Take 3 more whiskeys of drink
Step 7: Turn oven the on
Step 8: Take 4 whisks of drinky
Step 9: Turk the bastey
Step 10: Whiskey another bottle of get
Step 11: Stick a turkey in the thermometer
Step 12: Glass yourself a pour of whiskey
Step 13: Bake the whiskey for 4 hours
Step 14: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 15: Take the oven out of the turkey
Step 16: Floor the turkey up off the pick
Step 17: Turk the carvey
Step 18: Get yourself another scottle of botch
Step 19: Tet the sable and pour yourself a glass of turkey
Step 20: Bless the saying, pass and eat out


Final Thoughts:

1)  I'm also grateful that I didn't have to kill the turkey myself.  I have had enough slaughtering for a while.
2)  Black Friday?  Cyber Monday?  What's next?
3)  In the next two weeks, I will start a cyber-wide countdown (sorry, I couldn't resist) for my upcoming book, "How I Learned To Smile From The Inside."  It should be available around January 15, 2013.  I am so psyched!
4) One more thing, if we treated ourselves the same way we treat our dogs and cats, can you imagine the love we would feel for ourselves.  Love yourself.  You always win!
5)  If you like what you've read, please share it with everyone!  If not, don't say word!


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A Smile From The Inside Production :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

HOW TO SLAUGHTER YOUR CHICKEN - PART TWO




How to Slaughter Your Chicken -- Part Two

I know you guys have been dying to read Part Two of the Slaughter.  Craziness, right?

I caused quite a stir amongst my friends and family this past week.  People have either a greater respect for me or they think I'm nuts and a killer.  For those of you who believe I am ungrateful or did not think me serious about the whole situation, I must assure you that is incorrect.  Ahem...soap box please!  We had been planning this event for four months.  I do not take what I did lightly in any way, shape, or form.  As I said in my email last week, I am grateful for the 10,000 chickens I've eaten prior to this event and for the 20,000 chickens I will eat after this event.  I do not make light of what happened last week.  It wasn't easy for me...at all.


And for those that question if perhaps I've gone a little off topic and how does slaughtering a chicken possibly relate to a Smile From The Inside lifestyle, I would say the following.  Living a Smile From The Inside life is about hope, love, inspiration, and it's about being in gratitude.  This blog also happens to be about me and sometimes I do crazy or unique things which I want to share with you.  It's a commentary on how I live my life and how well I handle certain situations.  It's been a riot, don't you think?

Lastly, I would like to point out that if we all asked our grandparents and great-grand parents (if they are still around) whether they had either witnessed a slaughter or slaughtered a chicken in their day, I bet the answer would be a resounding yes.  Further, if you leave the country and travel to anywhere south of Texas, and asked that same question, they would simply laugh...and say, "You Americans!!!"  In fact, they would probably be curious as to "how" you slaughtered the chicken, right?


Step 1:  Prepare
Step 2:  Slaughter
Step 3:  De-Plume Your Chicken

Secure some strong rope and hang it from a tree or strong tree branch.  The rope serves so you can tie up the chicken while removing all of her feathers.  Prior to tying the chicken up by just one leg, dip the hen in the HUGE pot of scolding hot water.  Be careful not to burn yourself, but you need to make sure the entire chicken is submerged and absorbs water everywhere.  You might think this easy -- not the case.  From there, you just start plucking.  It feels weird at first, but you'll get used to it right quick.  The last and very important step is, after you have de-plumed your entire chicken, you must singe the skin for random feathers/hairs.  Trust me, that are not tasty at all.  You can use a creme-bruler torch.  That's what we used.  :)





Step 4:  De-Gut your Chicken
This part, although you would think to be disgusting and nasty, was actually informative and captivating.  Adam, for those that don't know, is a physician.  Therefore, as he was dissecting the incredible "Butterball," he was explaining the anatomy and physiology of the bird, with an insane amount of detail, AND he was also spouting what I can only refer to as a comparative analysis between the human species, bird species, and transient beings at large.  It was very very cool.  Even though he had only watched the video of how to remove the entire digestive track in one "fowl" swoop (pun intended), he was a pro!  Be gentle with your chicken's insides.  You don't want a mess and you don't want anything to spill on any of the "good/edible" parts.  The goal is remove their innards all at once.  Good luck!

Step 5:  Clean/Prepare your Chicken for Dinner

After the de-pluming and the de-gutting, it was now time to clean off the bird.  She was a mess at this point.  To me, at this point, she now appeared to be a small whole organic chicken that you would purchase at Whole Foods.  I washed her in lukewarm water for about ten minutes.  It doesn't necessarily need to be that long, but I felt she was really really dirty.  We had purchased another organic chicken from Whole Foods, which was indeed thrice her size, which makes me really wonder what the hell they are injecting into those hens.  Anyway...I followed a recipe by Martha Stewart -- her Double Roasted Chicken.  Basically, coat the inside and outside with loads of organic butter, use salt and pepper sparingly, and every herb you can find in your herb garden, which was precisely what we did.  



In addition, I made my own stuffing from scratch and enthusiastically stuffed "Butterball," as well as the other organic steroidal-induced chicken.  Wouldn't you know there was even enough to make a blanket between both chickens inside the pan itself.  It turned out delicious!  The key to an amazing stuffing is securing day old French bread, cutting the whole loaf into small cubes, and then toasting them for about 5-7 minutes in the oven.  Add onions, celery, carrots, raisins (if you like 'em...i don't), turnips, and sweet potatoes, along with a bunch of herbs, some butter, garlic, salt and pepper...and voila.  There you have it!

Lastly, don't forget to invite some fabulous friends, make some fabulous dishes, and ENJOY.  Since we are gay and do things a little bit fancier than others, don't be afraid to ask your fab guests to bring specific wines, Astis, or whatever you so desire to have in your house for next time or a special occasion.  In all honesty, it was a bit challenging to eat "Butterball," but her meat was delicious!  I just couldn't eat her skin, but Maggie, was more than willing to eat any and all parts of her.

THE END.  Okay.  Now, I'll stop with the chicken slaughtering.  You have my word.


FINAL THOUGHTS:
1)  I cannot tell you what a sigh of relief I feel now that Obama has been re-elected.  Now, I just hope he gets a TON done.  Can I get an Amen up in here???
2)  P.S.  I have only had chicken about three to four times since that frightful day, and it's official, I can no longer eat chicken skin.  For whatever reason that may be, I just cannot do it.
3)  Keep your fingers crossed...there are some good opportunities on the horizon for me!!!
4)  Update on my manuscript, How I Learned To Smile From The Inside.  It's going well!  Working on last and final edits in the up-coming week.  I am preparing my soundbytes and my PR-ready questions.  It looks like it could be available within the next six weeks.
5)  I wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for sticking with me and my blog.  I am proud to report that since February 15 (essentially), i have had over 7,500 unique hits.  (Who knows what that really means?)...but it sounds great, right?  Doesn't it?  Thanks to you all!
6)  I cannot wait for next week.  Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday EVER!


ButterBall is on the right

A Smile From The Inside Production  :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

HOW TO SLAUGHTER YOUR CHICKEN -- PART ONE


ButterBall's Last Supper

I don't know where to begin.  If you are a little queezy, then you probably shouldn't read this particular blog.  It's okay...i won't be offended.  I will try NOT to be too graphic, but some things need to be explained.  Here is the story.

In Preparation for this momentous occasion.  First, you need to purchase the chicken.  Adam bought our lucious "Butterball" from GreenFireFarms.  Check it out!  They also sell amazing and rare hens.  Second, you must raise the chicken.  Word of caution: Don't name or touch the chicken.  We named our hen "ButterBall" as we knew that would ultimately denote her unblessed but not ungrateful fate.  I believe that I touched her four times in her 100 days with us.  Two times just to see how soft she was; the night prior to the slaughter for a practice run; and finally for her last two minutes of life.

Continuing In Preparation:  It is recommended for the last two weeks of their life, you enclose them in a small coop/area where pretty much all they can do is eat, shit, and sleep.  During these two weeks, you feed her whole cow's milk every day and lots of chicken feed -- in essence, all in the effort to lavish her with grapes and wine like 15th century Medieval European royalty.  Hopefully, at the end of the two weeks, you have fattened the hen up as much as possible.  It kinda-sorta worked.

What We Didn't Expect:  Life always gets in the way.  It just so happens that our pipeline to the city sewerage system decided to back-up and overflow in our backyard not five days prior to our sacrificial event.  For days we had endured smells, gurgles, and other excrement nonsense in fears that we would have to call the plumber.  Finally, we broke down, and with our landlady's permission, they came to our house.  Instinctively, I knew there was something wrong and it could be a much bigger deal.  I was right.  It turns out that we needed a whole new set of pipes.  The plumbers were awesome.  It turned out that we had a great super uber-gay friendly straight plumber who was incredibly intrigued by the idea of the sacrifice.  So much so, in fact, that he asked if he could invite his photographer friend for the sacrifice at 2pm.  Yes, this is my life!!!

Right before the sacrifice, he advised that our landlady would need to come to the house the following day to inspect the situation and make some major decisions with regard to our current sewage debaucle.  Only issue was, we were not certain if she knew we had hens in our backyard, let alone the two amazing and incredible Vinnie and Trixie Van Goat.  Needless to say, we were scared shitless about what might transpire the following day.  More to come...

There are FIVE steps to slaughtering and preparing your chicken:
Step One:  Set Up Your Three Stations: Killing; De-Pluming; and De-Gutting
Step Two:  Slaughter / Sacrifice the Chicken
Step Three:  De-Plume Your Chicken
Step Four:  De-Gut Your Chicken
Step Five:  Prepare Your Chicken for Dinner

Step One:  Set up your three stations:  Your Killing Station; your De-Pluming station; and your De-Gutting station.  The Killing Station consists of a firm chair/seat, a very very sharp knife, some candles (for ambiance), and a couple of plastic trash bags.   For the De-Pluming station, you need strong rope, a tree or strong tree branch, a pot large enough to submerge the entire chicken, and some plastic bags to trash all the feathers.  In the De-Gutting station, make sure you have two very sharp knives, a table/platform (standard height), a roll of paper towels, more plastic trash bags, a flat sheet-pan to de-gut the chicken, and a deeper pan to house the insides you want to keep.

Step Two:  Slaughter / Sacrifice the Chicken
It wasn't that easy, but it wasn't that hard either.  To be honest, I needed to take about two shots of Southern Comfort (with apple juice chasers -- if you haven't tried it, it's incredible!).  Thanks Danielle for your support in that.  I was nervous, I'm not gonna lie.  Even with the alcohol piercing through my veins, I had no idea what to expect.  We had watched an incredible chicken lady do her respectful rendition of a slaughter about ten to fifteen times prior to embarking on our own sacrificial endeavor.  (Click here for that link! -- She's really cooky!)  Anyway...because I was anthropomorphizing our hen so, even speaking about "Butterball" in therapy, we allowed "Butterball" to have one last night of freedom.  Free of the coop.  Freedom to walk the earth.  One more day.  :(

I want to mention that during our practice run the night prior to the elicit affair, as she was in between my knees and I was feeling her carotid artery and massaging it,  I swear there was a moment when she closed her eyes and it was as if she had resigned to die.  She just knew.  Of course that could be me being silly or it could be the intuitive side of me.  Who knows?  Either way, at that moment, I knew it would all be okay.  She was ready.  Was I ready was a-whole-nother situation?  I was shaking when Danielle, our restauranteer friend, handed me Butterball.  (Just an aside, Danielle (and a lovely young lady named Jennifer, own this incredible casual wine bar Vintage Enoteca in West Hollywood, just up the street from our house.  It is absolutely incredible and our neighborhood place.  Check it out.)

My favorite line from the day was when Adam asked me if I wanted to put on shorts.  My response:  "No, I want these to be my slaughter-pants."  And now, they are just that.  It reminds me of my favorite scene from My Cousin Vinny where Joe Pesci asks Marisa Tomei what type of pants he should wear to go huntin'.  Her response is hilarious!  Watch it!  It's one of the all-time funniest lines in a comedy, Ever.

I'll tell it to you straight and fast.  It was quite a scene.  Justin, the plumber was watching, in his plumbing outfit.  Frank, the photographer was there.  I placed Butterball between my knees and squeezed tight.  The tighter the better and the more she calmed down.  Butterball's feet were to the right side of my legs and Danielle was on feet patrol.  Adam was hovered around to help hold her down as she would squrim from time to time.  We quickly gave thanks to the 10,000 chickens we have eaten prior to Butterball and the 20,000 chickens we will consume after her.  I started to massage the area right below her little beak.  Everyone was telling me to take my time, but I just wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.

I waited for Butterball to relax a bit (ten seconds or so), and waited for her to close her eyes.  I gently sliced into her as if I was cutting a stubborn piece of meat.  She squirmed a bit.  Be prepared.  Blood started to drain and then started to spurt everywhere, so please make sure you clear an area of about 5' by 5'.  Adam explained to me that as the blood drains, she grows weaker and weaker and basically just goes to sleep.  After about thirty seconds of letting her bleed out, in one three second motion, I quickly snapped her neck back over my thumb and pulled off her head as if I had done it one hundred times before.  Believe me, I wanted to get over it quickly.  And just like that, it was done.  It was messy.

I was fine up until that point.   As her little head lay about two feet away from the rest of her body, still in between my legs, her head was still moving.  Her eyes were opening and closing and her tongue/beak/mouth acted as if she was struggling for air.  Of course she was, I had just ripped off her head from her body.  LOL.  It was in that instant that I went into shock.  It's hard for me to describe.  Not because I don't have the words, but just because it makes me re-live the event over again.  All I have to say is prepare yourself for the spontaneous nerve convulsions to last anywhere from three minutes to about ten minutes.  I kid you not!  In disbelief that she was dead, I kept asking those around me if she were dead.  I was traumatized for a bit.  I just sat there.  Blood covering my hands, my feet, and all around.  I couldn't escape it...and oh yeah, I had just killed a chicken with my bare hands.  This  whole situation can best be described in the photo below.

Things you should know:
1)  Your hands will be covered in blood.
2)  Blood is much brighter than the movies.
3)  Take your time and breathe deeply.
4) Blood is HARD to clean up...as we all know from Dexter.  (Check it out -- the final season!).
5)  Thanks to Ciara for the incredible hen collage...the first picture!!!

To Be Continued...




FINAL THOUGHTS:
1)  By the end of this week, I should be able to give everyone a new available date for my upcoming book, How I Learned to Smile From The Inside?  I cannot wait!!!
2)  As much as I have enjoyed my first week of filing and scanning, hopefully this week, there are some new opportunities on their way.  Thank God!  Thanks, Kristin!
3)  Thanks to Justin, the great Plumber, and Frank Dorosy, for the fabulous shots.
4)  Stay tuned for more about our landlady.  Did she discover we had chickens?  Vinnie & Trixie?  Pigs, Goats, and Chickens, Oh My!
5)  If you understand the quote below, please let me know.  If you are part of the google group, kindly forward me an email directly at sethsantoro@mac.com.  Thanks all!


Sincerely yours,
Seth (a/k/a the Chicken Slayer)



"It is better to be the head of chicken than the rear end of an ox” - Japanese Proverb




A Smile From The Inside Production  :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

WHY IS MONEY SO GOSH DARN STRESSFUL...



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Why is it so stressful?  I have always had a really hard time with money.  Either I spend too much, I don't save enough, or I am paying off large amounts of debt.  Now that my debt is under control, I still have regular bills and some loans to pay back.  That said, I find myself so stressed!!!  Why am I so stressed?  For years, I have been racking my brains to figure out an answer to this question only to discover that I am terrified of losing everything, being a failure, and returning home to my parents, broke, at thirty-four years of age.  That would be my worst case scenario. (My parents would never let me sleep on the street or starve.  Knowing that does honestly make me feel better.  Because, even that's better than nothing.)  My goal is to distance myself from that worst-case situation rather than grow ever-closer to it.  And over the past few weeks, I have been feeling the imminence of the worst-case-scenario.

And some of you might say, but you have your book coming out...or three books coming out in the next two years.  Believe you me, that definitely keeps me alive and kicking, but it's not making me money now...and I cannot rely on that money as my source of income...unless I sell 100,000 copies.  Then, I can definitely stop the temp job, and focus on my other books and aspirations.  But, living in reality, as challenging and disgusting as it has felt recently, I need to keep my big pants on...and get to fucking work already...perhaps even get a second job.  Yikes!  I hate being an economic statistic!

What am I going through now?   I have very little money in my bank account.  I am anxiously awaiting not only an incredible full time position, but also the release of my book, which hopefully will be within the next two months.  More about that later...   Anyway... I need to contribute to my household, to my relationship, and pay all my bills.  Therefore, I must work NOW and it took me six weeks even to get this temp position.  Good news is I have been on probably 2-4 interviews per week for the past few weeks.  Bad news is, I am either overqualified or not "seasoned" enough.  I am probably applying to anywhere between 15 and 30 great positions per week...looking for jobs three to four hours per day.  I must admit...I am exhausted...and am so tired of searching for jobs.  It's hard.  And it hurts at times.  My emotions are a daily roller coaster with one second being extremely disappointed in myself to the next being extremely excited and enthusiastic about my next job.

I struggle with this.  A lot.  Lately.  Yesterday, I was sick.  I stayed home.  Even though I was at home, watching CNN and Sandy, all-day-long... (as all of my family lives in the Northeast), as if Sandy wasn't enough, I was also stressed about losing one full day of wages.  Ugh.  On a happier note, today I started my new temp job.  It is an HR Assistant role at KornFerry.  Good company, right?  The problem is after being a Senior Management Executive in HR/Operations for several years now, it takes an enormous amount of humility (or something) to enter into this new situation.  Today, I was asked by four different people if I had ever worked in HR before.  That's when it hit home the hardest.  I had to literally bite my tongue, swallow my snide remarks, and gently reply in the affirmative.  I see no reason to tell anyone yet about the fact that I used to run HR, am accustomed to having 7-8 people report to me, and if we were in different circumstances, they ultimately would be reporting into someone else, who would then me report into me.   It was difficult, but I kept a smile on me the whole day long.  I think I'm just happy to be working and knowing that money is on it way.

No matter what the situation, you must make the best of it.  Today, I literally FILED for the vast  majority of the day.  Aside from the silly paper cuts, the time flew by and I just found myself happy in my organizing and chronological bliss.  I strive to always leave companies in better shape than when I started.  That doesn't change whether I make $20/hr or $100/hr.  Today, the file room went from super disorganized to uber spic and span...and to be honest, I cannot wait to return tomorrow, so I can finish and Wow them with my organization skills.  Who knows...anything could happen, right?

What's my solution to it all:  I have decided I'm just gonna enjoy myself.  I'm going to enjoy the menial tasks and enjoy not having mega-responsibility.  I have also decided I am going to look for  great opportunities to learn new HR thingies and be grateful that I even have a temp job given today's market.  Further more, I am going to do everything in my power to make a certain amount of money per month, even if that means getting a second job for $12/hr.  The more I work, the more money will come in, and the less time I will have to worry about it.  Listen, I'm not saying it's easy.  It's not.  But i'm doing the best I can.  I'm doing the work that needs to be done.  It will all pay off in the end.  (Man...my book better make me millions!!!)

FINAL THOUGHTS:
1)  I surreptitiously ran into my PR guy over the weekend.  He was raving to a book critic about how excellent my book is...but I wasn't prepared with my sound-bytes and answers, so I failed miserably.
2)  Good thing is...he thinks the book is fantastic and has the potential to be something absolutely huge. Bad news is...I have a great deal of work to do to tidy up my answers, responses, and sound-bytes in order to be Matt Lauer and Katie Couric proof.  lol.
3)  My heart and prayers go out to everyone in the Northeast affected by Sandy.  Click here and it will take you to at least three ways to donate.
4)  I hope my story this week helps someone else close to me.  The range of emotions I have been feeling lately I would not wish upon anyone else.  I hope it helps.  Stay honest.  Stay humble.
5)  Smiling From The Inside is a lifestyle choice.  It is all about living a happier, easier, and more balanced existence.  Some days it's easier than others.  Don't you agree?
6)  Perhaps I am also sad because I haven't been watching RuPaul's All Star Drag Race...I can't wait!

Have a great week!

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A Smile From The Inside Production :)