Transferring my Thoughts

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” -John Milton

After a bout of the flu, the winter-blues have me caught within their frigid grip.  With February dragging on, the short dreary Wisconsin days allow my negative emotions to seep in. When the days are so dark and cold, it’s easy for doubts from the past and anxieties of the future to surface. As I almost succumb to the desire to curl up and hibernate, a series of simple texts from a great friend across the country reminded me to embrace the moment, get up and get out for some righteous pizza.

New pizza in a unique environment was the exact recipe I needed to snap me out of my funk and remember that the days are only getting longer.  I could think of no better way to jog myself out of my rut than spending a Saturday afternoon at a stylish little pizza joint in Milwaukee sampling pies.

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Time for Transfer Pizzeria Cafe.

I had several hours to kill for lunch in Milwaukee so I grabbed a table at Transfer Pizzeria Cafe. I was seated at a table near a window to people watch, put my phone down and intentionally tried to soak up the atmosphere.

Before long gentle whispers of indie singers and delayed guitars floated around me as I began to peruse the menu.  I was joined by The Shins, Bon Iver, then The Postal Service; the rapid fire of feel good classics, the aroma of fresh pizza and Transfers contemporary ambience caught up with me.  All of my distractions and worries in life suddenly began to fade as the glow of a warm pizza buzz snuggly wrapped itself around me.

Transfer Pizzeria Cafe was the suggestion of my dear friend Sean Williamson.  Sean is lucky enough to eat pizza in New York everyday, but Transfer was his #1 pick in his old stomping ground Milwaukee.  Sean and I have eaten pizza together for many years, so I take his opinion very seriously and he even encouraged me to order two pizzas; now that’s a true friend.

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Garlic Pies.

Transfer is renowned for their garlic pizzas, which all begin with base of a garlic cream sauce instead of red tomato sauce.  I started out the Garlic Special.  The Garlic Special came with large hand-pinched sausage and mushrooms that were smothered in high quality mozzarella. The crust is flaky, yet light and airy, so it provides a nice chew, but is still able to support ample toppings.  According to my waitress the dough is made in-house every day.

I took note of an older couple across the way from me sharing a more traditional looking deluxe pizza; pepperoni, onions, green peppers and mushrooms.  So, I opted to make that pizza course number two for me, though I was tempted to ask them for a slice.

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One of my favorite things about Transfer was that they put their toppings underneath the cheese.  I have a soft spot for joints that put the toppings under the cheese.  The cheese seems to melt at a different consistency and all the flavors seem to meld together better. Overall their pizza was rich, decedent and truly outstanding and I can understand how many claim it to be Milwaukee’s finest.  In addition to great pizza, they have an extensive wine and craft beer list and even have live music.

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At Transfer Pizzeria Cafe I was able to transform my negative emotions. 

Coming out of the winter-blues I realize I had started to let my worries take over.  I was starting to ruminate over things I would normally shrug off.  A reset was necessary and appreciating the subtleties of a new environment was key to getting me back on course.

The personal development classic How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie lent some timely advice:

  1.  Compartmentalize the past and future: Carnegie explains that we can eliminate worry by envisioning the past, present and future as different compartments, like the compartments of ship. We can lock off the regrets of the past and the fret of the future, leaving ourselves in the present.
  2. Plan: If something is stressing us out and we can change it, devise a plan to fix it. If the feared outcome is inevitable except it as it is, then move on.  By keeping busy making progress towards our goal our anxiety disintegrates.
  3. Put things in perspective:  Life is pretty dang good.  We live in a world where pizza is in abundance.  Carnegie quotes Abraham Lincoln “Most of us are just about as happy as we make up our minds to be”.

What pizza taught me:

Good ol’ Sean reminded me that when Wisconsin winter gloom rustles up regrets from the past and anxiety for the future, it’s more important than ever to live in present.  Incredible pizza from a modern Milwaukee pizza joint helped me gain perspective.

What I’m eating: Transfer Pizzeria Cafe– Garlic Special: sausage, mushroom, cheese on a garlic cream sauce.

What I’m reading: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living –Dale Carnegie

Settling on a Slice

“Win-Win is a belief in the third alternative. It’s not your way, or my way; it’s a better way, a higher way” -Stephen Covey

Seeing eye to eye can be difficult, especially when pizza is on the line.  Many Friday nights Tess and I just aren’t on the same page as far as the pizza we’re craving. Whether we’re deciding between take n’ bake or delivery, thick vs. thin, or contemplating the necessity of extra cheese (it’s necessary); finding common ground can be tough. When the stars don’t align we have to put a little extra effort to meet in the middle.

Negotiating can seem strenuous with anyone we share our time with.  When it comes right down to the essential decisions in our lives (Dominos or Pizza Hut?) the answer is often very simple.

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The fan favorite.

Tess and I have gotten pretty good at finding a compromise and the one pizza we can always agree on is a Jack’s Frozen Pizza.  A Jack’s classic cheese or pepperoni cut in squares is a pizza we will always cherish together.  Though I was raised a Tombstone man, I now find myself on the other side of the tracks like Romeo after forbidden Juliet, smitten with the deliciousness of Jack’s.

For many, Jack’s is the archetype of frozen pizza. When I polled my friends the consensus seemed to be that Jack’s is the most popular go-to frozen, with almost 90% choosing Jacks.  Sometimes the beauty of pizza is in it’s simplicity, convenience and nostalgia and Jack’s is the epitome of all three.  So, it’s an easy pizza to bargain with.

Surprisingly, Jack’s originated in 1960 in the smelly small town of Little Chute, Wisconsin.  It’s interesting to think a pizza so yummy could come from a town that smells like a fart (supposedly it’s the paper mill).  They are now owned by Nestle, but still pride themselves on using 100% Wisconsin cheese.

img_8820.jpgThe Win-Win

For Tess and I, Jack’s is a Win-Win.  The Win-Win concept from Stephen Covey’s personal development classic The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People states “Win-Win means that agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying.  With a Win-Win solution all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan.”

Several reminders I give to myself when negotiating pizza with Tess. 

  1. Listen up.  To arrive at a win-win scenario we have to hear each other out.  We have to have a clear cut vision of what we’re trying to achieve.  If Tess wants stuffed-crust I need to know that, so I don’t order us a thin-crust.
  2. Give a little. The willingness to give a little can go a long way. If we open our mind to opportunities we may come across a pizza even better than the one we originally envisioned.
  3. Practice patience. When negotiating pizza it can take time to think up a proper plan that suits both parties.  Do we want a cracker thin-crust or little chew from some hand-tossed? In slowing down we can often find the best course of action.
  4. Detach from the outcome. By giving up any attachment to a particular pizza, we allow ourselves to find satisfaction in an alternative outcome.
  5. Be comfortable walking away. Some Fridays Tess ends up with Thai food and I end up with a frozen pizza and that’s alright. Stephen Covey describes this as the concept of a “No Deal” in which two people can’t come to terms and simply walk away in good graces.

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What pizza taught me:

Whether we’re figuring out Friday night pizza or making plans in life,  the ability to  sensitively negotiate can have a great impact on the quality of our relationships.  The solution can often end up as simple and yummy as a Jack’s frozen pizza.

What I’m eating:  Jack’s pepperoni and sausage

What I’m reading: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People  -Stephen Covey