I’ve been messing around with the layout a bit, trying to find a new look that will set the feel and tone of each of the blogs. I think I have something for now. Anyways, back to my “novel” writing (I’m woefully behind in my word count). Perhaps inspiration from a Hemingway Classic cigar will help me.
I, too, can dare to hope and dream. It’s not just for the privileged few that make up politics and the like. I wrote a lot of this for the National Novel Writing Month 2008. As it happens, today is the day after the election. I hear the morning birds chirping perhaps with a little more ‘pep’ in their chirp; the buses rumbling along with the sound of kids laughing and teasing; the sky, while grey, is still bright in some way.
A powerful thing for a great nation and individual men alike.
I sit, gently puffing on my cigar as I ponder my future and what I’m becoming. The Pending Boi inside me is growing up fast with the realization of becoming a man one day, perhaps not quite what I want but the reality of it all. It’s been over 2 years since I started my transition from woman to butch to genderqueer to transguy. Some may question why I did it and why it took so long to do it. No path for any goal is the same for all people. Mine is my own path and it’s a unique one with terror, fear, love, hate, joy, dreams and even hope. I may one day call myself a guy, dropping the trans along the way when my historical self becomes a footnote to my present self. For now, I’m a transguy and I have hope for who I am, where my future lies and what will become.
Maybe one day transmen and transwomen won’t have to announce their transitions of the true selves they are; maybe they’ll be able to just become who they are supposed to be (much like many of us) and all of us will celebrate that, rather than remember the ones lost along the way for being true to themselves.
The cigars I enjoy today are not little Short Storys but rather ones that could make up novels and epics. They come with intricate details that weave a tale of mystery and temptation. I watch as the gentle smoke from the Gurkha Centurian dances at me, beckoning me to join into the story. It becomes the symbol of being apart and yet, being part of. I still remain somewhat of an outsider to life but less so today. I belong here as the transguy I am and the guy I will become.
Maybe one day, we too can have the audacity of hope and dreams to be seen as people.
Today was less than fun at work and I was nearly fully late but made it in with a couple of minutes to go. But by the end of the day I was ready to go home so I thought I’d treat myself to something interesting an ddifferent. So I went to the Wall Street store of Barclay-Rex and picked up a couple of things, including a Rocky Patel Summer Collectoin 2008 Lancero. This cigar is a 7 x 42 guage, thus appearing slim and long. While it’s a nice cigar it’s rather unremarkable. There are no hints or flavours of really anything. In some ways, a bit disappointing. 🙁 But still, enjoyable in the sense of not being horrible to the palate.
Perhaps this one will flavour with age if left in a humidor for a year or two.
I always try to find the silver lining or happy stuff within the things that annoy me. For instance, yes, I don’t like getting up so early in the morning but some nice side effects have come from working downtown this week. For example, I’ll probably finish reading my 2nd book for the week, would have walked around some and got a few sprinking-like posts in here to add variety. The cooler weather is making walking around more enjoyable and more likely to wake me up more in the morning. This morning I took the added treat of smoking one of my Georges Reserve to start the day off. The cooler weather means I can open windows to let air in and out. I pondered Burns’ longevity and really, the only thing I can attribute it to is general contentment and enjoyment of life. And this is what I am finding now. I am a bit weird — ok, ok, a **LOT** weird — being a cigar-smoking, vegan, transguy Canadian living in the US under a work visa. Each of those are small groups in their own way and I bring it into an even smaller group.
But if you met me on the street you’d probably seem me very happy and enjoying what the world has given me thus far. I’m a very laid back person (perhaps reflective of my Acadian heritage) and more go-with-the-flow at this point of my life. Except now I get to generate the flow. The world around me seems to be falling apart (Bush’s recent State of the Union Address is attempting to suggest that) but even if it did, I know I could find a way to survive and continue with what I have started.
Anyways, as a sidenote, I’ve recently acquired the domain cigarnewbie.com. I did so because of the number of cigar and cigar accessory (I sound like Hank Hill) reviews I intend on doing here. Unlike other cigar afficiandos I figure I offer a different kind of review because I’m an average guy who only discovered cigars at age 38 (and smoking in general, although I have no intentions on smoking cigarettes as they do not appeal to me). This means my take on things tends to be rather fresh and uninfluenced by others. Hopefully, others will agree or at least, find some insight in my commentary. For those of you interested in cigars, what kind of things would you look forward to hear about from me?
And on that note, I’m off.
Cigar Name: Ashton VSG Tres Mystique
Cigar Description: Ecuadorian wrapper with long aged Dominican long filler
Review of the Cigar itself: It lit beautiful and the first draw was flavourful without being overpowering. The ash didn’t flake like other cigars I’ve had and it held it together well. The previous Ashton VSG I had came close to my palate preference for Padron Serie 1926 cigars. The burn is consistent with minor tugboating (where the cigar burns more on one side than the other) but the cigar recovered nicely from that fairly quickly.
The size, a 4.3 x 44 guage, isn’t indicative of the flavour that’s produced from the cigar. It’s is well constructed enough to ensure a long ash that held together. The taste is a mild nutty flavour with robust spicey flavour and minor hints of cedar, peaking in now and again. Additionally, it wasn’t wrapped too tight thus allowing a good draw to come. The initial ash fell on it’s own in one piece and the burn continued with a consistent, even burn.
The smoke that comes from it is a nice gentle white smoke that isn’t over powering. Even with a deep draw, the smoke wafes gently up from it without turning the air around me blue and overwhelming. As it continued to burn, the 2nd part of the ash continued the same as the first part — held together, indicating attention to how the cigar was made and put together. And for more than 60% of the cigar, I never had to relight it. I did touch it up a bit, to help it after the 2nd ash fell.
For the last 3rd, it continued burn consistently and evenly as it burned down to the nub.
I enjoyed this cigar with a bottle of spring water to clean out the palate and the company of a beautiful woman. What more could I ask for for a great evening: a cigar that I’d rate a 9/10 with a 11/10 companion. Life sometimes shows itself as perfect.
Smoke time: approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes
Purchased from: Barclay-Rex Cigar Store in Wall Street district
Final Review Rating: 9/10 and defintely would smoke it again
(images to come)
This early morning stuff has got to stop. Seriously. To make it even more fun, I don’t have enough time to enjoy a nice cigar and will probably have to wait until the weekend (maybe Friday afternoon). I’m a bit disappointed as I have some new ones I can to really test out and perhaps do a review of. This weekend suggests lots of rain so it may be a perfect one for it (although a photo shoot I was to be at last weekend was pushed over to this one so I’ll have to venture out for one day at least).
So for now I’m limited to some nice coffee (for that morning perk) and a Rocky Patel Jr., Baccarat Connie or a Macanudo Ascot. My favourite remains the Rocky Patel Jr., featuring a nice dark maduro wrapper. It has a nice flavour to it, almost a deep, rich nutty or coffee flavour, and generally takes about 45 minutes to smoke (a bit longer than my walk from the subway to home but if the weather is ok, I can linger outside enjoying it). I know all the health risks that come with smoking and certainly am respectful of laws put into place but I have to say that I feel far more relaxed after a nice smoke, particularly when I can enjoy the whole cigar down to the nub, than I do otherwise.
Life is short enough as it is. We spend the majority of it working for ourselves or others in hopes of making enough to support family and dreams, sometimes spinning our wheels due to issues outside of our control. A little luxury now and then is hardly enough to worry. We need to enjoy life and remove more of our worries. George Burns, well known for his cigar smoking, smoked upwards of 10-to-15 cigars a day! And he was booked right up to his 100th birthday (he lived to be 100 plus a couple of months).
I’ve come to the conclusion that while food, alcohol and exercise are all factors the ultimate item that helps one’s longevity on this planet is happiness. And I think with the way my life has been shaping up lately, we’ll have to have the fire department on hand at some point to deal with all the candles on the birthday cake.
A quick little post about an issue that bugs me: as I smoke a good cigar I want to smoke it down to the last little bit. Often a good one will cost me a pretty penny and I want to enjoy it all. The problem becomes when you get down to the “nub” it’s hard to hold because it gets too hot as the center burns. So a little trick: toothpicks. Use a simple but sturdy toothpick to hold the cigar by poking it in the side near where the cap was (not too close to the end but not in the middle). Avoid going all the way through the cigar. Just puncture it enough to hold the cigar with it. This way you can get right down to the last little bit. Alternatively you could use tweezers to hold it with.
While in Vegas I got to enjoy some Fuente Fuente Opus X. While Vegas is very dry and thus, cigars tend to burn faster I still enjoyed them very much. I also brought back a God of Fire Pyramide which I enjoyed tonight. It burned beautiful and tasted great. It had a nice cedar flavour and the Cameroon wrapper helped add to that flavour nicely. I do find that those wrappers make a cigar even more enjoyable to pass an evening away quietly and with no thought.
Unlike many cigar aficiandos who enjoy a cigar with a nice whiskey, scotch or other stronger liquor, I enjoy mine with a pop, water or a nice rich coffee. It isn’t what I drink with it that makes it enjoyable but rather the fact that I can take time to enjoy the flavours and slow time down for a bit. So how does one enjoy a good cigar? Well, from my point of view, this is how..
- Ensure you have a couple of interrupted hours in a low wind environment that is well ventilated. You want to be able to enjoy the flavours that the cigar long-filler and the wrappers provide. You don’t want to be overwhelmed by the smoke from the cigar, especially if it burns hot (something that happened when in Vegas because of the dryness of the area).
- While enjoy a scotch or other hard liquor with it is good, water can clean out the palate and allow the true flavours come through. I’ve found that when enjoying a cigar with water I actually can taste things like chocolate, cream and other flavours come through on “non-flavoured” cigars.
- A good cutter. Whatever cutter you have or method you use, be consistent on all your cigars. I have a very nice Xikar that I use to cut the tip off of a cigar so that the wrapper doesn’t come undone. Others use a bullet for the same effect.
- A good lighter or a good set of long matches. I splurged on a decent single flame Blazer Torch lighter as well as have some nice Davidoff long cigar matches. The best matches I’ve ever had were Lieb Cedar Long Matches I got in Mexico. What you shouldn’t do is use a regular cigarette lighter (those cheapo 99 cent ones you get). Those add extra chemicals to the cigar when it burns. If you do have to use it, let it burn for a little bit to allow for the chemicals to burn out.
- Don’t over-indulenge and try too many extremes of cigars. I’ll enjoy a strong full cigar with perhaps a Dirt (a very sweet cigar) as a dessert. You want to ensure that your taste buds get a chance to relax so they can enjoy the flavours. Again, water in-between cigars can help.
- Relax and, if possible, enjoy good conversation with friends and/or family. A cigar is truly an social thing and more enjoyable when conversation can happen (or a good poker game).
Smoking cigar isn’t just enjoying a good smoke; it’s enjoying a full experience that takes in all senses to the fullest — much like how we should enjoy life in general.
It’s a wonder I don’t respond to questions with “mooooo” these days.
I spend a better portion of my month on the road because of requirements of work. I teach courses about my company’s software products and I have a specialty for one product. In fact, I’m one of 3 instructors that teach it. As a result, it’s not unusual for me to spend a fair amount of time on the road. And, even more time, it seems, in the air. So I’ve begun to learn how to benefit from that travel but there is still some things I have no control over it — specifically, the life of being cattle in the economy class. For example, if the planes packed, get an aisle seat or, if you want window stick with ones where there are only two seats in the row. Three across can be annoying, more so when you’re in the middle seat.
I mean, who gets the arm rest if you’re in the middle?? But to make it even more fun is the challenge of the size of seats. The average seat for most airlines, for their economy class, is about 17-17.2 inches (as per Seat Guru). The average “seat” for most adults these days is about 35-39 inches. That means one needs a seat of 17-20 inches. So either you just fit or you “overflow”. And a lot of us, myself included, kinda “overflow”. It’s neat trying to fight with the arm rest while it pinches the nerves in your upper hip.
Then there is the challenge of leg room, or rather, the lack thereof. The only way you can stretch your legs effectively and keep them from completely falling asleep is to walk in the aisle. But with the “pleasant weather” of late, pilots are keeping seat belt signs on more often (for obvious safety reasons). The downside of this, especially on a 5+ hour flight is that it really can hurt the back. Worse when it’s a “moo plane”. I always try to prepare for this before getting on the plane by taking advantage of walking around the airport.
I actually enjoy it — except for the 50lb laptop bag. That’s never fun but at least I can use it to strengthen my shoulders, neck and arms (biceps and triceps). I usually have to anyways because of a lack of vegan food on the plane (chips really aren’t it). Looking for a salad, soup or other simple foods is really hard sometimes. Apparently everything must include dead flesh in it, even something as simple as a salad. Ya know, veggies and fruits aren’t that bad — especially raw? So I usually find some nuts, sunflower seeds or something like that with some water to enjoy on the plane and wait until after checking in at the hotel to find something more substantial, like pasta and tomato sauce.
So the recent trip to Vegas, at times, felt like this. Although I did get in more walking than I had anticiapted since I was able to enjoy it with friends but it was all good. In fact, it was kinda needed. We ate at some pretty nice restaurants and ate well. One of the best was Delmonico, an Emile Lagasse restaurant. The staff went out of their way to ensure that all the food I ate was vegan. They warned me about the bread having butter in it and that the roasted potatoes were done in duck fat. They had encouraged my carniverous friends to have side dishes (that were shared by all) were vegan (steamed asparagus and oil-sauteed mushrooms). I ended having a pasta dish with smoked tomato sauce and grilled veggies. Very good indeed. And worth every penny.
Afterwords, we enjoyed some fine cigars at Case Fuentes, one of the premiere cigar manufacturers. I finally got to experience an Opus X Fuentes Fuentes. I enjoyed it with a nice mojito and great conversation. It allowed me to stop mooing for a bit and enjoy the trip some.
And that truly is the trick: get outside the plane, the hotel and walkabout. That will stave off those feelings of mooing. Oh, and if that fails, remember this: you’re not alone in it and might as well enjoy the ride — such as it is.