So I had a breakdown on the phone with Time Warner Cable last night.

Perhaps “breakdown” is a strong word. I burst into tears and uttered the words, “please, sir, you can’t do this to me,” when I was told that no technician would be available to fix my modem until next Wednesday. Does that count?

In retrospect, this little episode should have been a welcome, and perhaps a cautionary, signal of how dependent my life has become on the whims of technology. But it didn’t feel welcome. It felt like a breakdown.

Before you decide to stage a “Gena, you’ve gotten a little too attached to blogging” intervention, let me ‘splain: it isn’t just blogging. I take a lot of work home, each and every night, and a lot of it needs to happen online. My counseling practice is, at this point, almost exclusively via email, and there are other parts of my work life that depend heavily on internet access. So, not having a working modem means a lot more than having to update my blog from the office. It means falling way behind on a lot of things I need to do in order to make a living.

And it wasn’t just that. It had been a long week: my work schedule switched around again to the insane rhythm I was keeping up at the start of this past summer. I had fifty dollars stolen from my wallet. And it’s that time of the month.

In short, not the optimal moment for my internet to go out.

Fortunately, my heroic mother was on the line when I got off with Time Warner, and she assured me that all would be well. (And it will be: thanks to my hysteria, I have an appointment with a technician on Thursday.) She also recommended I go to sleep immediately, which was the best advice I’ve heard in ages. I tidied up my little apartment, closed all of my books and manuscript pages, and went to bed at 9:57 pm. I woke up this morning, and for once I sipped my coffee without the distraction of emails and blog reading. Instead, I gazed out my window onto Columbus Avenue, and remembered that there was a time in my life (not so long ago, really) when my early morning ritual didn’t involve frenetic internet activity. It involved a quiet appreciation of the sounds of New York City waking up.

It was really nice.

I’ll never be a person who likes to “escape.” I like being plugged into the action at every moment. Even when I travel, one of my favorite moments in the day is the moment when I have some time to write emails and check in at the office. I can’t help it; it’s just how I am. There’s pressure aplenty in our busy age to unplug and go offline and empty our minds. This is fine, but it isn’t me: I like being “on.” Still, this morning reminded me that I am capable of appreciating quiet, if not constitutionally suited to enjoy it for very long. So in a way, I’m grateful to my internet for momentarily abandoning me.

Though if my modem’s not fixed by Thursday night, I can’t be held responsible for my actions.

On to the food. Recently, I saw that Brigid had made my tofu scramble, and that she really liked it (thank you, Brigid!). This reminded me of a reader request I’d recently gotten for “tofu burgers that won’t crumble and fall apart on the grill.” According to this reader, such things are a rarity. I’d never made tofu burgers before, but it sounded like an excellent challenge to me—especially since I’ve been on a burger kick lately (still haven’t tried my chickpea and sweet potato burgers? Do it!).

My goal was to find a way to bind the burgers together without making them too dense. My solution was to use a bit of whole grains (oats) and a bit of nut/seed butter (tahini). It worked better than I could have imagined. And the taste? Thanks to carrots, nutritional yeast, and a bit of nama shoyu, these were delectable. And not even a little crumbly. Here’s how it’s all done:

Gena’s Tofu Burgers (yields 4)

12 oz tofu, extra firm and pressed if possible
2/3 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp tahini
2 small carrots, grated
2 small stalks celery, chopped
¼ cup nooch
1 tbsp + 1 tsp nama shoyu, tamari, or soy sauce

1) Mix all ingredients in a food processor. You’ll want to begin by pulsing, and then let the motor go till it’s all well mixed and fairly uniform.

2) Shape into patties.

3) Heat a skillet or grill pan (or, if you don’t live in an apartment with the kitchen the size of a shoebox, heat up your grill), and grill the burgers until each side is crispy and golden brown.

4) Serve, if you’d like, with salad and avocado strips—because what isn’t made better with avocado?

These burgers were a shining example of how wonderful it is that I have readers who write in with requests for food. I’d never have thought to make them–usually, if I want a burger, I’ll make my sunshine burgers, raw or cooked—but now that I have, I imagine they’ll make a regular appearance in the CR kitchen. Thanks to all of you for continually challenging me to go outside of my routines!

And now, It’s back to work I go. I ask you all to cross your fingers and hope that I’m the proud owner of a new modem very, very soon. I already did away with my pride on the phone with Time Warner last night; I’d hate to think how pitiable I’ll get if there’s a “next time.” 😉


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