Counting Sheep…

Counting Sheep
It’s the night before my 2 month trip to New Zealand and I’m feeling anxious and excited. I’ve never been away from Michael for that long. I will miss him. Michael will get the remote and be able to watch whatever he wants while I’m gone and with Cuse being number 1 (congrats) and March Madness around the corner I’m sure he’s stoked. Taco, my dog, will get away with murder since Michael is more laid back with his antics then I am. I will leave the comfort of my bed and trade it in for less than comfortable “accommodations” at farms in remote areas 19 time zones away where just outside my door or tent I’ll be able to smell cow manure all to well.

From the time I started my culinary career as a food stylist and culinary producer I’ve always dreamed about working on a farm. The idea of working with soil, connecting with the land and cultivating food has always appealed to me. I look forward to getting my hands dirty and working outside every day - a big difference compared to the lock down here in Chicago that starts around November and can easily take you to the end of April. For 2 months I will be living and working on organic farms and vineyards. Almost everything I eat and drink will come right from the land I’m living on. I plan on visiting various farms, from produce and fruit to organic butchery. I’ll learn to make hand made cheeses and pick grapes to make wine. New Zealand has over 1100 organic farms. It’s one of the world's most agriculturally advanced nations. What better place to have this experience than New Zealand?

My backpack looks like it’s going to burst. Unlike my other trips I can only pack the essentials this time…no blow dryer, no makeup, no heels…you get the picture. I have to be honest, it’s a bit liberating. Starting tomorrow I will live simply. Michael says I will come back skinny and crunchy. I hope he’s right on the skinny part. My 6:45pm flight from Chicago to LA will be a piece of cake. In LA, where I’ll meet my friend Tara coming from NY who will join me on this trip, my connecting flight to Auckland NZ is scheduled to depart at 11:30pm. This leg of my trip is the one I’m losing sleep over due to anxiety. It’s a 12 hr and 40 min flight…yes I realize that’s a long time and for those of you who know me – I’m deathly afraid of flying. I paid a visit to my new doctor in Chicago. I explained to him my anxiety attacks and the lack of sleep I’ve been getting the last month since I booked my flight. The dark circles under my eyes were a dead give away - one look at me and he knew what I was talking about. He wrote up a prescription and hooked me up with a copious amount of Xanax that should last me a lifetime. Thanks doc.

Ironically, I’ve become a frequent flyer in the last few years due to work (and play) so I’ve come up with a great recipe for flying…Ingredients: 1-2 Xanax and a "few" drinks. Method: Place Xanax in mouth and quickly add liquids of your choice. Swallow. Enjoy. I’m on my way to black out city – which in my opinion is the only way to fly. I always feel bad for the person who has to sick next to me (unfortunately, Michael has had that seat one too many times so he knows all too well what kind of condition I’m in when I land at my final destination but he’s been known to join in). I hope to sleep most of the way and with the extra help I’m sure I’ll have no problem.

We land in Auckland at 9:10am 2 days later but the fun doesn’t stop there. We’ll board a bus to take a 7 hr ride to the eastern side of the north island. I think, no let me correct myself, I know I will lose my shit on that bus. That might be my last straw but it will be worth it because we’ll be on our way to Hawke’s Bay. An area known for its food and wine, it’s our first stop on this culinary adventure…now to get some sleep, 1 sheep, 2 sheep, 3 sheep…

5 Responses to “Counting Sheep…”
  1. Christina says:

    So excited for u and this awesome adventure! What a once in a lifetime opportunity! They are lucky to have u. Can't wait to read all about it! Safe and fun travels.

    Christina from Every day with RAchael Ray

  2. Chauncey says:

    You realize you're safer in a plane than driving a car, right? Much safer...although that knowledge probably doesn't dim the anxiety at all. Funny (or not) the way the mind works.

    Your Xanax and drinks reminds me of going to Hawaii years ago. After hearing a story on NPR about people in Appalachia getting hooked on Oxycontin ("hillbilly heroin"), I chopped up and snorted a couple before boarding the plane at O'Hare with my then live-in girlfriend. Bad move. I got extremely sick and had what I can only describe as night terrors but in full daylight, a sort of extreme paranoia/anxiety attack that didn't abate until I finally passed out on the plane. "This is Oxycontin?" I thought to myself, incredulous. How do people get addicted to this shit?

    Nice blog. I can't wait to hear about your adventures!

  3. seng says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your adventures with us. I will have my popcorn set aside every night to laugh, cry, and live vicariously through your sight, touch, smell, and taste. You make me proud Monica girl. Miss and love you mucho. xxoo -Seng

  4. Jessica says:

    Monica, you are better woman than me and so proud of you for grabbing the bull by the horns. This is something I would never have the nerve to do... Geez, I'm having issues deciding whether I should move to the West coast for work! :) Good luck and cant wait to hear all about your adventures. Tell Hutch the Mounties will crush Cuse in the Big Est Tournie... xoxo

  5. Colin says:

    I hope the trip is off to a good start!! Looking forward to seeing the updates.

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