Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Read This While I Puke

This blog kind of grew on me. I wasn't sure at first and I stuck with her and kept reading and I got to kind of enjoy her style and the nice voice she writes in. She's had a lot of struggles and I always seem to identify with those kind of writers more. I hope you like her too.

The Oxygen Chronicles

I learned of her via Green, who is also great.

Manda was my favorite commenter of the day but she hasn't written in her blog in a while.

TK was my other favorite commenter of the day.

In Which I am Punished By God

I would just like you all to know that I do not have the stomach flu. It really drives me crazy when people call it that. It's a stomach virus. It has no relation to the flu, unfortunately for me because I had a flu shot, which I wish prevented this but doesn't. The flu is a respiratory illness. This is definitely not a respiratory illness. No wonder my stomach was feeling all rumbly and weird last night and making me remember my trip to Arizona. It was about to reenact the whole scene.

I began to wonder if perhaps I was being punished by God for ranting and raving and being judgmental. No, I thought. I was just around a bunch of sick people in a dirty public place. I can't be superstitious about that.

But when I got a text message at 1 am which stated simply "I AM PREGNANT" and was from one of my younger relatives, I knew absolutely that I was 100% being punished by God.

You can imagine my discomfort, gastrointestinal and psychological when I found myself both on the toilet and on the phone trying to be logical and rational and come up with a good solution for this girl.

I was terribly, terribly sad about this news. She's just one more in a long, tragic line of girls in my family who felt badly about themselves, who were raised with no skills other than mothering skills and who did not receive adequate love and attention from their fathers and felt they needed to seek that out in the form of sex with young men who really had no interest in fatherhood. This poor girl isn't even sure who the father is and neither option wants any part of it. Her only choice is abortion or raise it alone, but she doesn't have a lot of education and she seems idealistic about raising it on her own. She wants a baby. So what on earth do you tell someone?

I told her how sad it was growing up for me feeling abandoned and unwanted. I explained to her the desperate measures my mother went to for me and how they all backfired and landed her in jail making me suffer yet another loss. I tried to tell her how these children live lives so full of chaos and struggle that it makes them grow up angry, depressed and desperate so that they self-medicate with drugs, turn to violence and engage in all sorts of other self destructive behaviors. I attempted to paint a picture for her of how it feels to have a fractured identity where you feel as if bits and pieces of yourself are all broken up and scattered around never able to fuse. Then I tried to explain to her how it feels to know that one of the people who made you has gone off and created an entire replacement family in your absence who you don't even know so that there are brothers and sisters that you have never even had a conversation with. I told her about how the boyfriends of single mothers commonly reject the children from other fathers and how the rates of sexual, physical and mental abuse towards these children increase because of that. Almost every day on the local news I hear stories about babies and children beaten, brutalized and even murdered by their mothers' boyfriends and every time I cry. In my case, I got really lucky and I got a perfect new father, but most don't. After that I explained how when mothers bring home new boyfriends that their children get really attached to these people and experience the break-ups perhaps even more than the mothers do so that all these children feel is repeated rejection and deflated dreams for a family. I know all of this because I was one of these children. So was my sister. So was my brother. Yesterday my sister told me that she has literally blocked out memories of years of her life before she came to live with us. I'll bet my brother has too. Somehow I broke out of the pattern, as my sister is right now. My brother has a baby by a young girl he isn't married to, but he seems to be taking care of him and he seems to spend a lot of time with him, which is a good start at least. I'm not exactly sure how I broke the cycle and it took a really long time for me to do it, but I did. That's what I tried to share with her and what I'm trying to share with you. I don't want her child or any child to suffer through these things like I did and like my siblings did with their original parents.

I know that she wants a baby because she wants something to nurture and love and she thinks the baby will love her back when she feels that no one else does. Young girls are naive and romantic that way. She is a sweet girl and would make a good mother in many ways, but she has already proven herself to be a bad mother by irreverently creating life without a plan and without a willing and enthusiastic second parent.

I would like to encourage adoption. I wish more people were as enthusiastic about adoption as I am and I wish gay couples were allowed to adopt. I also wish that interracial adoption was more accepted and encouraged too. I wish I could be like Angelina and adopt 15 kids myself. Maybe one day. I don't think she's interested in adoption but I'll make her go see "Juno" and perhaps it will inspire her. I love that movie. It's the best movie I've seen in years. It's a movie where a lot of people screw up royally and then somehow manage to get it all together in the end.

I hope that this girl will get it all together in the end too and maybe one day so will I.

I am so sick and so sad for that child. I will try to let you know how it all works out, if it does at all. I can only just try to be a good role model.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Weekly Odds and Ends

Yesterday my parents called from the road. If you are a new reader sent over from Violent Acres who is about to find that my writing is very different from hers, let me catch you up. In October my parents unexpectedly announced that they were moving away to California and that they were taking an RV around the country at their apparent whim. I didn't believe them. I should have. Periodically they call with updates about where they are and it's always something I didn't expect. They moved and left me with their house which has now decided to fall apart on me. I also inherited a dog and my sister's cat to add into the mix.


My parents, for those of you who are tracking, have left Sundance and have gone to Vegas and from there they have decided to go to Phoenix because that's where the Superbowl is I guess. Being that I have that football learning disability problem I don't follow the sport very well. I am also a little wary of Arizona after this horrible story. It's like I have post traumatic omelette disorder. I can't even think about it without feeling a little gut-bubbly.


Bomboclaat, the dog I inherited, is now on Prozac and thyroid medication. This is particularly disturbing because I looked at him and realized that he is exactly, in every way, like me if I were a small dog - neurotic, obsessive, anxiety ridden and hyperthyroid. It's as if I have this constant, hideously foul smelling, canine mirror of myself following me around and shrieking 24 hours a day in deaf dog language and reminding me how vile I must be in human form where I can actually speak and write and interact with others. We can only hope that my anal glands don't soon need to be expressed.

In other news I broke down and bought Girl Scout cookies. I didn't want to. They are veritable discs of corn syrup and I can't eat that, and I certainly can't eat it now after I broadcast to the whole Internet that it needed to be eradicated from the planet and shot off in a rocket into a super massive black hole. I bought it because I felt badly for the Girl Scout herself.

Back when I was growing up there was never any remote possibility of me ever becoming a Girl Scout because that would have meant consistency, committment and the purchase of a green dress and some sort of hat that I would have scratched someone's eyes out had they made me put it on. When I was little I was always trying very hard to be extra-cool (hell I probably still am) and the ironic thing about it was that in my trying so hard to be cool I was extraordinarily not cool. This is still probably true as well. The cruelty of cool is that it has to be effortless.

Girl Scouts were not cool in any of my 29 schools. Maybe where you went to school they were, but not where I was. The Girl Scouts, bless their hearts, were the girls who had eczema and smelled like milk and who had mothers who pushed them too hard into extra-curricular activities. These were the mothers who were convinced that good colleges would look at things their kids did all the way back to second grade and reject them based on their ranking in the kindergarten "I Can Tie My Own Shoes Now!" chart. These were also the mothers who made these same poor little chunky, skin disease plagued girls suffer through ballet classes where they had to wear the most unflattering outfit on earth - a pink tutu. The cruelty of that is unbearable for me to even think about now.

This is the kind of mother who showed up at my doorstep. I could tell because she was wearing a Valentine's sweater although Valentine's Day is still a few weeks away. The sweater had plastic chocolates dangling from it, as well as pink and red hearts and some lace. The little girl looked like every other poor little Girl Scout from my sad, childhood memories. Apparently Girl Scouts still aren't cool and though I had hoped and prayed I guess things haven't changed much since I was little. Her name was Peabody. Her first name.

I'm generally opposed to the last name as first name thing for kids. I'll make a few exceptions, but overall it's just a sign of a parent who wants his or her child to seem higher class. Some names sound like rich people's names so pretty soon middle class people catch on and name their kid these names so that the kids have a better chance at getting ahead and fitting in with a "better" crowd. Pretty soon the poor people catch on too and totally ruin the name, causing it to become synonymous with low class and the rich people have to start all over again finding more and more unusual ways to name their kids. I have a theory that pretty soon they'll turn to old people's names and suddenly Doris, Hilda and Marv will be the new Madison, Olivia and Dylan. I'm telling you. Watch. I bet some movie star names their child Mildred and then we'll have a bunch of Ethels, Harolds and Normans toddling around too.

Peabody seems like an awfully big name for an awkward little girl to be carrying around.

"Peabody," said the mother with a push to the girl's back, "Tell the lady what you're selling."

"Umm, girl scout cookies," Peabody said.

I noticed that poor Pea had a big chunk missing out of the side of her head. It was one of those moments where you don't want to stare, but then you can't help yourself and then when you don't stare it's obvious that you're purposely not staring so then you do stare. It was awful. The mom saw me looking at it.

"She had an unfortunate incident over the weekend on the Teacup ride. I told her not to go on that and I tell her all the time that she needs to put her hair in a braid to get it out of the way,"

"MOM!!"

I was mortified for the child. My friend Emma, of Party Store fame (see pretzel salad post below) was also over.

"I'll buy some Samoas!!"

"Ma'am they aren't called Samoas. They're called CARAMEL DEE-LITES. Samoa is an island in the Pacific, not a cookie, ok?" said the mother.

Poor Emma can not get a break. First FIESTA and now CARAMEL DEE-LITES. She is clearly a consumer racist here.

"Well fine I'll have some CARAMEL DEE-LITES then!" said Emma.

All of a sudden I couldn't get "Groove is in the Heart" out of my head. I still can't dammit.

I felt so badly for Peabody that I ordered some Thin Mints. I will eat them like an asshole and secretly I hope that Peabody sells more cookies than any other Girl Scout and gets some sort of a prize for how many girl scout cookies she sells. I hope she sets a world record. And I hope her hair grows back nicely and very soon.

Other than that I have ordered parts for the electronic toilets and the broken TV and I haven't seen any blood dripping out of the wall in the upstairs bedroom, although the voice is still telling me to GET OUT NOW.

You People Need a Vacation

We'll start with this to warm you up. Oh, and could someone please comment. I'm worried that my comments are broken. I haven't heard from anyone in 3 days, which has never happened before.

Fish and Chips

You can tell I was extremely impressed with my own cleverness in naming this picture. We have a lot of interesting murals around here that I've been taking pictures of lately. I'll show you some more.
Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ghetto Superstar Awards 08

Come on people, put your hands in the air, yo!!! It's time for the first Ghetto Superstar award of 2008!!!

Last Saturday my cousin Fallon and I were driving down A1A, which is our beachfront, easternmost roadway. It's our equivalent to PCH in California. It was a glorious day of the sort that makes tourists from Minnesota really happy that they picked that weekend for their vacation. Old men in Speedos strolled the white sands, Europeans swam in the cool green sea and the traffic was bad because several old people and Quebecois tourists were driving very slowly acting as if they had never seen a beach before in their entire lives and could not comprehend the magnificent combination of water and sand that stretched before them.

Suddenly Fallon and I hear:

"APPLE BOTTOM JEANS AND THE BOOTS WITH THE FUR"

The music was so loud that the dashboard of the Saturn literally began to creak from the vibrations and I feared the windshield might crack. Fallon and I started to dance. In the car. We couldn't help ourselves. My philosophy is dance first and ask questions later, but oddly this only works when I'm driving. I'm like those people who can only sing in the shower. I can only dance in the car, while sitting down. Get me on an actual dance floor where I have to coordinate two entire separate halves of my body and I freeze up.

Still dancing, we look around and can't figure out where this music is coming from. It seemed to be emanating forth from the sky itself. We also noticed that all the other people in the cars around us, including the 75 year old couples from New Jersey and the equally ancient Quebecois were also dancing. All the people on the beach were dancing. Old men in Speedos were doing the sprinkler and the lawn mower. A gaggle of Hispanic girls in string bikinis started booty dancing and an old lady nearly broke her hip trying to dance while holding her right ankle and rotating.

The music got louder and it seemed to be coming from my side of the car, so I looked over and a very peculiar ice cream truck had pulled up beside me. The music was coming from an ice cream truck, but this was no ordinary ice cream truck readers. This was the most pimped out, Ghetto Superstar ice cream truck in the whole world.

For one it had some massive speakers. Someone had ripped out the whole front console and replaced it with big ass, ghetto speakers. You know the kind. They're the ones that people in the hood will forego living in actual homes of their own just so that they can afford to put them in their $500 cars.

"NEXT THING YOU KNOW SHAWTY GOT LOW LOW LOW LOW"

My eardrum was about to burst. Of course this didn't stop me from dancing and driving at the same time, which really excited the driver of the Ghetto Superstar Ice Cream Truck.

Before I go on to describe the rest of the truck, I have to take a moment to really do justice to its driver. He was a little Latino guy who had his seat leaned completely back, as far as it would go and still allow him to place on hand on the steering wheel. Might I also add that the seat was upholstered in some sort of fake Louis Vuitton print fabric. He was also wearing a floppy chef's hat and oversized sunglasses with gold frames that looked like the ones Elvis used to wear. He wore a white tank top, lots of gold jewelry and had tattoos which made me think that this dude was probably selling more than ice cream. He too was dancing and he took an obvious pride in the pimpacity of his ice cream truck.

The outside of the ice cream truck was a pastiche of graffiti tags and Good Humor ads as well as memorials to fallen homeys who died in battle, one assumes. Street battle of course, not Iraq. If you can imagine this, the ice cream truck was raised up and the tires sported the biggest sized rims in existence. It was like they took the tires off a monster truck. So essentially, and I may be coining a new term here, it was a donked out ice cream truck. Fo' reals people. But that's not all. It had spinners and they were purple.

Naturally the Ghetto Superstar Ice Cream truck caused much sensation on the road. People were actually running after it. It was a combination of an ice cream truck, a club on wheels and just an unbelievable spectacle. I kind of loved it and because of that I have decided to award it the very first Wide Lawns Ghetto Superstar Award this year.

And yes, I tried desperately to get a picture of it with the phone, as did Fallon, but as it was moving, we were moving, and I was trying to actually drive a vehicle, this proved nearly impossible, however, I'm going back out in search of it today. Also, I was wondering if this guy could in any way be related to the Crown Royal Bag Car guy.
Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Flow Chart

The Parents

My Mother - redneck from the South, convicted felon, former drug dealer (it was forever ago), rescuer of all lost and neglected humans and animals. Converted to jewish for my father, but hates the food. She has bleached blonde hair and big boobs and a Southern accent and can make ass kicking chicken and dumplings.

My Father - My dad is Israeli. His family is orthodox Jewish. He is still Jewish but not orthodox. He is a hipster dad who wears sneakers that look like bowling shoes, listens to cool music and has a buzz cut. He is also very handsome.

Biological Father - No relationship here. The man is insane and abandoned me when I was 11. He is a Baptist preacher and missionary and belongs to some offshoot independent Baptist cult and he embodies every bad religious hypocrite stereotype there is. He has five other children and his wife, who was just as evil as he is, just died of cancer.


The Siblings
My Sister - She is 8 years younger, going to school to be a cop and is a bartender at the beachfront dive, The Rusty Badge. She is into blue-collar New Englanders and has a cat that looks like the cat from Pet Cemetary. We drive the exact same car. My sister is not actually my sister, but really my half aunt. Many years ago my mother's father got a young girl pregnant and my sister was the result. Her real mother was very troubled and my grandfather died so my mother took her and raised her like my sister and she is.


My Brother Mini-T - Mini-T is my big black brother who was basically dropped on our doorstep. He is my sister's age, has a baby now and pimps out cars for a living.


The 5 Half Siblings I Don't Know - I don't know them. I think they are brainwashed by the Baptist cult for the most part.


The Long Lost Half Sister - She is one of the 5 above. I've recently started talking to her. She is the only one who seems to have broken out of the brainwashing and is not religious, though she acts like she is for her family. I've instant messaged with her and talked to her on the phone once. She plays violin in a rock band and seems strangely, a lot like me in many ways.


The Grandparents (I am lucky to have 3 sets)


Memere Marie - My mother's mother. She lives in Millpond, Deep South. She is very fancy and married the richest man in town after my grandfather died. They own racehorses and my grandmother has a lot of luck playing the slots. She is obsessed with who has cancer and who has died in Millpond and loves to talk and send me articles clipped from the Millpond Chronicle. She also likes to eat weird organ meats and spray paint things gold.


Mommom Jewel and Pop Byron - They live in Millpond too and are Biological Father's parents. Pop Byron is a retired General and has some health problems now and Mommom Jewel takes care of him. She is very crabby and was in an armed robbery and didn't know it.


Saba and Savta - They are my Dad's parents and live near here. They're orthodox and Eastern European Holocaust survivors who moved to Israel after WW II. We see them a lot and they are very sweet.


The Aunts and Uncles


Mom's Side - My mom comes from a family of 6, the youngest two being my sister and her brother who lives in Ohio with his mom and doesn't travel so I've never met him. My mom is the second child of the original four by Memere Marie. Her older brother is my Uncle Bull the grass roots political activist who has been all over TV, so I won't say much about that. He does incredible work and my mom helps him. Then there's my mom. Then there's my Uncle Gargle who got dropped on his head and then did too much acid as a teenager. He lives in a trailer, never has a job and is a Pentecostal now. The youngest is Aunt Kiki who lives a couple hours away and is my favorite aunt of all.


Dad's Side - My dad is the oldest and has two sisters. One is Orthodox and lives in New York and has 3 kids who I absolutely adore. The other is close to my age and lives in Israel with her two little children who I also love passionately. They visit pretty often, which is good.


Bio-Father's Side - Although I don't have a relationship with my Biological Father, I do have a relationship with his family. More than he does even. They are the Hollands and they're great people. My BF has two older brothers who are twins and who are married to lovely women and they all live in Millpond too. Aunt Janey is Mommom Jewel's youngest sister.


Cousins


Mom's Side - I can't keep track of all the cousins on this side. I'm closest with Aunt Kiki's kids by far, of which Fallon is one. Aunt Kiki has four daughters. Uncle Bull has two redneck sons who like to shoot guns. Uncle Gargle has two daughters in the trailer park and one has a baby and works in Walmart and might get married this Spring. The youngest brother who I don't know, is 23 and got an 18 year old pregnant and she's due this summer.


Dad's Side - My three cousins from New York are all super over achievers. The two are in prestigious universities and the youngest is in 8th grade. They're religious and good kids who don't participate in fraternity hazing rituals at all. Ahem. The other two cousins in Israel are very little and sweet.


Bio-Father's Side - I have a lot of cool cousins on this side and I wish I could see them a lot more because they're line dancin', Jell-O eating, horse riding, seriously fun girls.


Bella Holland - Bella is my OCD, insane cousin who is my best friend. She used to live here but moved back to Millpond last year and I miss her more than you can imagine. She is a lot of fun. I went to Paris with her and we just went to Disney in December. Aunt Deenie and Uncle Byron are her parents.


Cousin Stu - Stu and I are a month apart in age and Stu lives down here too. He is an electrician and a glass blower and LOVES Jam Bands. He drives a truck and surfs in Hurricanes and looks like Joaquin Phoenix. We have the same nose.


OK, that's pretty much it. I hope I haven't forgotten anyone. If I did I will add them as I remember. Maybe this will clear things up a bit. I know its confusing.

Please let the spacing on this post be normal now and if it isn't I just give up
.

The Money Pit

Pat, who doesn't have a blog I can link to, asked for the family flow chart, and I said to myself "It's about time I do that." So thanks for asking, Pat!

First real quick let me tell you what I'm doing besides mountains of school work and trying to get my students to write an intelligible sentence.

The house is falling apart. All of a sudden everything in my parents' house, where I now live, decided to break and OH MY GOD, I am not kidding you people, I just glanced out the window and a SCUBA DIVER is traipsing across my lawn in flippers, wet suit and mask. Never a dull moment people.

Anyway, the house has begun to remind me of The Money Pit. Do you all remember that movie? It's actually one of my favorite movies from the late 80s. I remember going to see it with my friend and I was probably about 11 or 12 when it came out, so we felt like we were so grown up getting to see it at the mall by ourselves. If you haven't seen it, Tom Hanks and Shelley Long are engaged and they buy their dream house, an old mansion on Long Island (I think) and they get it for a steal and think it just needs a little redecorating. Once they move in everything falls apart and the situation just gets worse and worse.

I am now living in the Money Pit. All of the toilets are broken, the pool is broken, the stove is broken, the TV totally died, weird bugs are inside, every light in the house inside and outside blew out at once, the landscaping is dying and Bomboclaat is having a nervous breakdown and must be heavily medicated. Also, I keep hearing this deep voice saying "GET OUT" and blood was dripping from one of the bedroom walls.

Ok, so the Scuba dude just rang the doorbell and when I came to answer it he peeled down his wet suit revealing his enormous tattooed beer gut. He then asked me for a hundred bucks to go to Jamaica with and I noticed that he had three teeth. The Scuba dude's name is Dave and he is one of a breed of many boat people that roam the neighborhood working on boats and docks. Dave scrapes barnacles from the hulls of boats docked in the neighborhood and I guess my parents made some sort of deal with the boat people that they could all park here and use our yard to get access to the waterfront. My parents are also friends with all the boat people and often ask them to dinner, hence Dave's idea that it would be ok to ask me for a hundred dollars to go to Jamaica. I wanted to tell him he might need a little more than that, but I guess he'll find that out on his own.

The boat people all have problems. They are a transient lot with all sorts of outrageous life stories. They're always ending up in jail or needing a place to stay. For some reason boat work attracts the unstable of South Florida society. I guess it has something to do with the impermanence and mobility of boats and the constant shift and flow of tidal waters. One day I'll tell you some more stories about the boat people.

Right now I've got to get back to this falling apart house. Husband and I pride ourselves on our Do-It-Yourself skills. Husband thinks pussies hire help and I think girls should know how to fix things, so together we usually figure out how to get things done around the house and that's what I've been doing.

One of my claims to fame is that I know how to fix toilets. I love fixing toilets, because really toilets are a simple mechanism. Or so I thought. When all the toilets here decided to break at once I figured oh, no problem, let me at it. Very wrong of me. Very, very wrong. These toilets are electronic, computerized, new fangled devices. I've never seen anything like it. I opened up the lid and found what looked like the control panel off of Darth Vader's chest inside. What the hell??? So I have to order new control panels and have an expert install them, except Husband will decide that is pussified and try to do it himself, which will then cause the toilets to erupt, overflow and then cause severe water damage, thus creating even more problems. I'm really looking forward to this, I have to tell you.

So basically what I've been doing is school and trying to get things fixed.

Ahh, but back to Pat's flow chart. I think it needs it's own post.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Brief Sea Lion Interlude

While I work on pressing issues please enjoy this photograph of sea lions in La Jolla that I took during my recent vacation.
Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pretzel Salad - A Culinary Crime Against Humanity

Here are our desserts from my cousin Fallon's birthday party this weekend. Remember on Electric Company, or maybe it was Sesame Street, when they sang that song and you had to pick which one of these things is not like the others? I have a clue for you - PRETZEL SALAD. There it is, in its gelatinous, red glory. Please also note the maracas. Those, along with the beautiful white chocolate cake were provided by my friend Emma, who is the epitome of class and style and never comes to a party empty handed. We had a little Mexican theme going on for the evening and Emma went to the party store with a grand vision of plastic sombreros which floated in cocktails and perhaps a few other colorful decor to set the mood. She asked the saleslady where they kept the "Mexican themed items" and was met by a fierce stare.

"Umm, excuse me ma'am, but it's FIESTA and the FIESTA themed merchandise is in aisle 7, ok. It's FIESTA."

The woman was really ticked about it, so I'm just letting you all know that the next time you need a pinata or some maracas for your party that your taco night is not called MEXICAN, it's FIESTA. Jeez. Get it right people, ok? FIESTA dammit.

In any event, our FIESTA was great and yes I did make that damned pretzel salad in spite of the fact that my status as former professional cook should be revoked for doing so. Sometimes you have to do things for the people you love if it makes them happy even if you don't like it.

I had to do a lot of research on pretzel salad, culinary atrocity that it is. I had never made one before and although I knew roughly what was in it, I didn't know the proportions or how exactly one gets Jell-O on top of Coolwhip without the two abominations running all together and creating a far worse abomination. Thank God for the Internet where one can find a million variations on pretzel salad as well as hundreds of sites and blogs with posts singing its praises. No wonder our country is in trouble. People are eating pretzels and Jell-O. What's next people? Pudding Burgers?

I found site after site where commenters just raved and gushed about how good the pretzel salad looked and how they loved it and were going to/ already had made it and how amazing and simple and earth shatteringly perfect was the salade de pretzel. You would think the shit was made from pure gold. I realized then that most food bloggers and the people who read and comment on them are a combination of full of it and too polite, because pretzel salad does not in fact, look good, by any stretch of the imagination. And its not just pretzel salad. Plenty of other food blogs post photos and recipes for things that I can tell are disgusting and all the commenters commence complimenting it immediately. Pioneer Woman Cooks - perfect example. The woman can post a recipe for lasagna made with breakfast sausage and cottage cheese and the blogosphere goes wild over her 17 pictures of her cutting open a tube of Jimmy Dean and glopping some cottage cheese over noodles and she gets 785 comments all saying how good it looks. No it doesn't. It does not look good. I don't care if you live in the wilds of Cow Ranch, USA and can't get ingredients, you should never EVER EVER use cottage cheese in a lasagna. And yes I'm jealous of her traffic and her graphics so you can just forget that comment you were about to leave me about how good that cottage cheese is and how I'm just jealous because she's more popular than I am and was on CNN. I would love to be on CNN for something good. Right now my best chance at being on CNN is if my parents do something notorious and Nancy Grace has to interview me about it and make me cry, or if we have another hurricane. I could be the dirty looking redneck in the tank top holding a beer and standing knee deep in flood waters and debris who says it sounded like a freight train. Then I could be all like "Anderson Cooper, ain't you that Gloria Vanderbilt's son? I just bought me a pair of them jeans at Ross last week. I heard you was a homo. Is that true? Tell me it ain't cuz yer cute."

But back to the pretzel salad. It was worse than I remembered. The recipe I settled on was from, where else, Cooks.com, a veritable hot bed of white trash recipes. Entertain yourself sometime by going on there and searching simply Jell-O. You will die. You know what, I'll do it for you. HERE. Have fun. It is there that I learned about a rare version of pineapple pretzel salad. Who knew?? Pineapple!

The pretzel salad was easy enough once I accidentally obliterated several pretzel rods in the blender and realized I had to crush them by hand instead. I made sure I used the cheapest, most generic pretzels I could find for authenticity and I used store brand Cool-Whip too for the cream cheese layer. As for the Jell-O layer, get this, it's mixed with frozen strawberries which make it set quicker because they are so cold. It's freakin' genius I tell you. That's why it doesn't melt all into the cream cheese/ Cool-Whip (or in my case, whipped topping) layer.

As I constructed the pretzel salad I began to muse over its origin. Who came up with this? It appears to be a sort of trailer park cheesecake as best as I can figure. It has crust, cream cheese and fruit on top, which is fairly cheesecake-esque, but then it's also really salty and really sweet at the same time, as cheesecake is not. The redneck palette seems to favor strong salty-sweet combinations though, so perhaps when Wandella came up with this, she thought she was actually improving on the standard cheesecake. I don't really know. I can say at least that pretzel salad is slightly easier to make than a cheesecake, so perhaps that was its original appeal.

My husband was optimistic. He thought this was going to be one of those things that sounds gross but then when you try it, it's surprisingly good. I tried to tell him it wasn't, so he tasted it anyway, as did my exceedingly polite guests.



Here it is all cut and ready to eat. It's disturbingly firm. You have to be really careful to scrape up all the pretzel from the bottom of the pan too because you don't want to miss out on a single crumb. Terrifying, isn't it? Look how it just glistens.

Here is a slice of the pretzel salad, just where it belongs on a paper plate. It just wouldn't be right on fine china, you know? It might mess up the taste (forgive me if the alignment is jacked up, I'm not great at adding pictures on blogger for some reason).

I'm thinking about starting a pretzel salad fan club, since so many people seem to love it. If you want to dare and try making it yourself HERE is the version I used, courtesy of Miss Mary Boyd, who I picture as a plump Mennonite lady from the Midwest who has 13 kids. I could have chosen from any of about 379 pretzel salad recipes but what really got me about Miss Boyd's version was this line:

"Serving on a lettuce leaf or with a sprig of green is always a pretty touch."

I mean, how can you argue with her? Is that priceless or what? And she's right. Lettuce leaves are always a pretty touch, especially with desserts, but then again, maybe I've finally hit on the answer to why this is called a salad though it bears no resemblance to any salad I know other than that it's cold. DUH. If you serve it on lettuce leaves it HAS to be a salad. God, how did I not realize that?

For more pretzel salad love I've compiled a list of blogs involving it.

The Equivocal Epicurean - thinks it's better than the sum of its parts. She is entitled to her opinion of course.

Musical Mom - loves pretzel salad AND Jesus, which is very important.

Party of Six - mentions that her friend introduced her to desserts that sound gross and weird but are delicious. I beg to differ, but I'm with her on the gross and weird part all the way. I liked the comments on this one.

There you go people. Pretzel salad. I made it. I love my cousin. A lot. Enough to let her take the whole pan of it home with her.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Jesus Loves Me, This I Know

Some people have so little faith. Any little thing can knock them off the glittery faith wagon and cause them to start complaining that there's no God and that God wouldn't let bad things happen to them if he really loved them, and all kinds of blather like that. Well, it's simply not true, at least not for me. I know there's a God and a Baby Jesus and a big grown up Jesus who looks like he follows Jam Bands around the country like my cousin Stu, and this is the story of how I came to have the Lord, Our God, Jesus H. Christ living in my heart (I think I feel him tickling my left ventricle right now). He is happy because I am writing about him.

Today I had one of those experiences where another person that you know does something or says something so extraordinarily assholetrous that you stand there in stunned silence feeling like a mute fool shocked that they did this. In my case, I was outright, blatantly dissed, snubbed even, in public by someone I know and I couldn't believe it. The sheer force of this dis almost knocked me off my feet. I was so shocked I had to call my friend and complain to her about it just to be able to breathe again, and the friend, who I'd like to call Emma if she has no objections, made me feel better because she compared the offending individual to an unsocialized dog who needs to go on Dog Whisperer to know how to act around other dogs.

Of course I didn't respond to the dis because in the grand scheme of things it isn't remotely important, but in some ways I kind of wished I had just for the sheer sadistic fun of it. You know how when something like this happens then three hours later you think of 57 brilliant, witty, ascerbic, delightfully rotten things you could have said at the time? I've been doing this. Of course, you can never seem to think of all these clever comebacks when you're actually in the situation.

Only one time in my entire life have I ever had the proper retort. It was the time that God spoke through me and proved that he really did exist in all his loving glory.

Some time ago, right before I met Husband I was sort of half-assedly dating a guy who was, by all accounts, unanimously, an idiot. I don't know a single person who liked this guy once they got to know him. The thing that got me was that he was very charming at first and being a criminal defense lawyer, he was also a smooth talker, so he sucked me in briefly. Plus, he was mildly cute. My sister once referred to him as beautiful, but I definitely wouldn't go that far.

For the first month or so he was on his best behavior and things were just great. Then slowly, all the skeletons starting exiting their closet. First I'd notice a little femur, then maybe a piece of a rib, then a skull, next a whole skeleton, and before I knew it it was like the friggin' Mexican Day of the Dead celebration going on there were so many damned skeletons. Skeletons in sombreros, skeletons playing guitars, skeletons booty dancing. It was a gigantic parade of skeletons coming out of this guy's closet. There were even parade floats and a marching bands of skeletons led by cheerleader skeletons with pom-poms. At one point I wouldn't have been surprised if he told me he killed JonBenet and that he wasn't even a real human being but was a robot that was part of a government conspiracy to manufacture the biggest possible example of jackass intelligence the world has ever seen to use as some kind of secret weapon. He could annoy other countries into surrender.

This guy really reminded me a lot of Larry David. He had poor social skills once he let his guard down and stopped his charming act, which apparently had a 30 day expiration date, and he was always having bizarre interactions wherein he did things that really pissed off other people. I know I'm not one to talk, but his examples were extreme and got him fired from jobs, thrown out of living arrangements and caused him numerous other serious troubles.

One day he called me and asked if I'd like to come over and have a slice of pizza because he'd just ordered delivery. I went to his apartment and he gave me a slice of pizza. Once he gave me the slice of pizza he wrapped up all the other pizza and put it away. I said I would like to have two slices of pizza, to which he replied:

"I asked if you wanted to come over for A slice of pizza, not TWO slices of pizza."

I nearly dropped dead of a brain hemorrhage when he calculated the cost of the pizza, divided into slices and attempted to charge me if I wanted a second piece.

By the time the first skeleton beauty queen had passed in her vintage car, waving her bony hand, I was already plotting my escape but one day he begged me to go to Starbucks with him and for whatever reason I went and met him there. As we were sipping our lattes he began to sigh dramatically.

"It's my fate," he said all breathy.

"What?" I asked.

"All I want is a skinny girl. I ask God to please just send me a skinny girl, but I always seem to end up with you chubby ones. I guess the good side is that the chubby girls are always a lot better in bed because you're trying to overcompensate for not having a hot body."

Stunned silence. I wondered if I needed an ear candling. Did he just say that to me? Yes, readers, he really said that and normally I would have never said anything or I would have just burst into tears, but looking down from Heaven, even God Himself was offended. Knowing that I was a sappy wuss who wouldn't be able to come up with anything great to say, God temporarily took over my body and literally spoke through me in order to not let this offense pass.

Casually, I smiled.

"Oh yeah," I said, "Jeez, I know exactly, exactly how you feel. I ask God all the time to send me a man with a big dick, but I keep getting all you small dicked guys. It kind of sucks, but you know, you small dicked guys are better in bed because you're all trying to overcompensate for your shortcomings too so there's a lot more foreplay."

"Did you just say I had a small dick????"

"Did you call me chubby?"

With that I got up and left. Later he called me and I dumped his ass. A few days later a friend told me he had a 19 year old Honduran girl moved into his apartment and explained that he had been dating her the entire time he was dating me.

See, there is a God. And if I had even remotely doubted His existence then, I definitely knew God loved me when a couple months later I came upon the idiot at the exact moment that he was getting arrested, but I'll save that story for later.

Read This NOW Dammit

I'm writing you a story, two stories even, plus my cousin Fallon is coming down for the weekend for her birthday and in lieu of birthday cake has requested a pretzel salad, which you may recall from my Thanksgiving post about nasty-assed recipes that my family likes. Because I love her I am going to consider making the pretzel salad, but I can't promise anything.

While I mull over the implications of combining Jell-O with pretzels, you have honestly got to read this. I'm not playing around, this is one of the funniest blogs I have ever read in my entire life. I learned about it from my friend Bo, who I used to link to until he got contrary and deleted his blog. Bo is my friend from high school who used to drive me to school everyday and get Pizza Hut with me on the weekends and he is one of the best people I have ever known, but I digress as usual. 15 Minute Lunch is flippin' hilarious and if you don't read it I will say mean things about you behind your backs. I've read some mildly funny things on this here Internet, but rarely, rarely do I find something that makes me need to pee immediately. This guy, whoever he is, made me run to the bathroom and the whole time I was in the bathroom I was still laughing. It was the post about his childhood drawings that had me, but the one about the cat's ass was equally hilarious because just a few months ago I had this same issue and got into a long debate with my mom regarding anal glands.

I'm trying to read more and varied blogs and I try to comment on as many of your blogs as I can as often as I can. You may recall my resolution to link more, well here ya go. I'm linkin'. Leave me more suggestions of funny blogs I may not have heard of in the comments section - and no one famous. I'm sick of the same damned names showing up everywhere. I want some new surprises.
Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Moron - But 30% Bigger

This morning I was out walking Bomboclaat when a big, black G-Wagon pulled up next to me, causing me to think I was about to be kidnapped and dismembered by a very wealthy serial killer. The tinted window on the passenger side rolled down and a man in a dreadful toupee leaned over from the driver's side.

"Do you live in that house?" he asked.

"Sort of," I said because massive paranoia kicked in and I imagined that he was from the FBI or CIA or something and wanted to investigate me.

Not that I've done anything wrong ever, but I'm just kind of paranoid for no reason. It's kind of like if I'm in a group of people and someone passes gas but it wasn't me and then someone asks who farted I will immediately get all embarassed as if it actually might have been me, although it wasn't and then I'll act so guilty that everyone thinks it really was me. I was like this as a child too. Whenever someone misbehaved and got caught I always felt like maybe I had really been the guilty party even though I wasn't. To this day I still feel terribly about putting Metamucil in the coffee maker, except I didn't do it. It was my cousin.

"Didn't I see you outside the other day cleaning the birdbath?" the man asked.

Did I? I didn't recall.

"Are you the housekeeper?"

This is not the first time someone has asked me this. The other day two guys selling fish out of the back of a pickup truck rang the doorbell and asked if I was the maid and if the lady of the house might be interested in buying fish from the back of a pickup truck. I'm starting to worry here. Do I look like hired help? Is it really that hard to believe that someone like me lives in a house like this? I can't figure it out.

"Umm, no. I'm not the housekeeper. Can I help you with something?"

"Yeah, I came by over the weekend with my girlfriend Tiffany. We were in the Lotus and I asked your dad, or whoever that guy is, your dad right? I told him I was building the same house as this one across the street, only 30% bigger. I really like your birdbath fountain and I want one for my house. Do you know where you got it?"

This was ridiculous on so many levels. First of all, it was the same guy from the other day except now he was wearing a toupee. Over the weekend he was letting his scalp feel the breeze and I suppose this was because he was in a convertible and the toupee might blow away or God forbid, flap up and down in the breeze. Second of all, the guy he thought was my dad was actually my husband, which is hilarious because my poor husband doesn't look old at all, and is really five months younger than me. Last, the birdbath fountain contraption in front of the house isn't particularly unusual and in fact, came from the Target garden center. I remember when my mother ordered it. She wanted a fountain that circulated the water and made pleasant splashing sounds. It is kind of big though, so she ended up not being able to fit it in the car and had to order it online and then when it was delivered the pieces were really heavy so she couldn't put it together and my parents had to call everyone they knew to come help them assemble the thing. Now the fountain mechanism breaks constantly and the whole thing gets clogged with leaves and algae and won't work, which is why Husband and I were out there with the kitchen sieve in the first place.

"It's from the Target Garden Center," I told him.

"Yeah, I really it," he said, "You know, I'm building that same house, only 30% bigger, and I want a fountain."

"I know, you've now told me that your house is 30% bigger three times."

I wonder why that's so important for him, because I can assure you the house across the street is massive already. Maybe he has a complex about his possessions being small. Hmmm.

"Yeah, it is," he said.

"Ok, so the birdbath fountain came from the Target Garden Center."

He looked at me quizically. He scratched at the skin in the place where the seam of his toupee met his forehead.

"I don't know if I've heard of that nursery before. Did they have to import the stone, do you know?"

"It's TARGET. You know, TARGET, the store with the big red bullseye. They have a gardening section. It came from there."

"Yeah, no. It's not ringing a bell. Target? No. Never heard of the place."

How is this possible being that in South Florida there is a Target at every major intersection?

I tried for another minute and a half to explain to him what Target was and finally I gave up.

"Where are you building your house?" I wanted to know.

"At the Basura del Este Beach and Sailing Club, right on the golf course. Well, its a links really since it's directly on the ocean."

I understood then. The Basura del Este Beach and Sailing Club is a super exclusive spit of land on an adjacent island a little North of here. It's connected to my island with a drawbridge and sometimes I like to drive down there to look at the houses, which are indeed, 30% bigger and look like movie sets instead of actual homes.

"Ok, so the fountain came from Italy and was chiseled from marble that was actually excavated from Greek ruins on the isle of Thera which was the lost continent of Atlantis. They shipped the marble to Sicily where it took Sicilian fountain artisans seventeen years to fashion and it's one of a kind and you can't get another one unless you're willing to pay a lot of money. I heard there might be another one almost just like it, but I don't know if you could afford it, I mean, it's a lot of money."

"No shit," said the man, "How much?"

"Oh, in the six figures definitely."

"Can I make you an offer on that one?"

"Sure, but this is my parents' house and they aren't here so maybe you could give me your card or something and I could talk to them and see if we could get you one too."

"Yes! Yes, you have to. Please, as soon as possible!"

The man was very excited. He gave me his card, which did not say what he actually did on it. I certainly wanted to know. His name is Ronald.

Do you people even know how proud my parents would be if I sold their fountain which probably cost only a couple hundred dollars, for a couple hundred THOUSAND dollars? Maybe I should give this poor moron directions to Target or the nearest Home Depot or Lowes. They all have similar birdbath fountains.

Except 30% bigger.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

At Least It's Only Once a Year

Today I'm paying a stranger to dig around in my crotch and stick metal things in it. No, I'm not getting an exotic piercing (once I had a roommate with what I used to call a pee-pee ring and she showed it to everyone, literally, everyone). I am going to the gynecologist. I am about halfway to a full blown, massive anxiety attack over this because I hate going to the gynecologist. Hate it. It's right up there with flying and puking and going to the gym. Hell for me would be a naked stairmaster on a turbulent flight with no dramamine.

I'm just going for that yearly checkup thing you're supposed to get. Nothing's wrong and to all of my anxious family members, I AM NOT PREGNANT DAMMIT. With my dislike the of OBGYN pregnancy would be a nightmare. I imagine it partly as rooms full of strangers inserting their entire arms into my Hoo-ha and all looking at it and making decisions about it and using a bunch of annoying words like "dilation."

Part of the reason I go to the gynecologist, besides that you're supposed to, is to aggravate my mother who has never once ever been. Can you imagine? It's always horrified me. Part of the insanity that's rampant on my mother's side of the family is a paranoid phobia of doctors and my mother definitely has it the worst. As long as I've been alive my mother has really and truly never been to the doctor. My parents have never had health insurance. I never had health insurance growing up and they never took me to the doctor or dentist either, although they did take me to get braces and followed up with about two other orthodontist appointments after that so I had braces on my teeth for three years that didn't do a single thing. At the end of tenth grade I got fed up with having hardware in my mouth for no reason and took pliers and wire cutters and removed them myself. I fear that had I not done that I still may have had those braces on right now.

Growing up without health insurance is stressful because you have to be extra careful. I wasn't allowed to do certain things like ski or go on my school's overnight camping and riverrafting trips because I could break my arm or get a concussion and cause my family to starve to death and have to live in a refrigerator box on the streets of the Bronx. If I got sick I had to suffer because my mom wouldn't or couldn't take me to the doctor for medicine. Her overblown distrust for the medical community, paired with poverty and lack of insurance was a horrible combination, but due to her PhD in hypochondria, my sister and I were treated to sporadic (because my parents were never good with consistency or sticking to plans) and downright weird homeopathic remedies designed to prevent illnesses and make us specimens of fine health. Some of these things were part of multi-level marketing schemes.

Once a friend of my parents came over selling these big white bottles of some mystery liquid called "Km" that was supposed to do everything from curing cancer to eradicating canker sores. It allegedy cured insomnia, anemia and tuberculosis and you could supposedly even rub it on poison ivy. Brochure upon brochure advertised all of the possible miraculous uses for this stuff. Douche with it! Use it as a mouthwash and watch halitosis disappear! And then there was the line that sealed my sister's and my fates - Prevents Childhood Illnesses!! Well that was it. My mom bought cases of it and every night my sister and I had to stand in front of the refrigerator as my mother poured us each a general tablespoon of the thick, black liquid. It was so bad I still remember the exact taste of it - a combination of black jelly bean, tar, bandaids and Tylenol. My sister and I would cough and gag and make a big fuss but every single night for about a year, which was record for doing anything consistently in our family, we had to drink this mess.

For fun I just googled to see if the stuff was still around and on a website called quackwatch.com, I find this as proof that I am not making this up, especially the part about the taste:

"Matol Botanical International, a Canadian firm, markets Km, a foul-tasting extract of 14 common herbs. Km was originally marketed as Matol, which was claimed to be effective for ailments ranging from arthritis to cancer, as well as for rejuvenation. Canada's Health Protection Branch took action that resulted in an order for the company to advertise only the product name, price, and contents. In 1988 the FDA attempted to block importation of Matol into the United States. However, the company evaded the ban by adding an ingredient and changing the product's name. The product literature acknowledges that Km has never been tested for effectiveness against any disease and states that distributors should not diagnose or recommend its products for any specific disease."

And oh my Lord Readers, they still sell it even and it's still in the same white bottles with orange letters that I remember. Here is its website. God help us and if any of you order this mess I'm coming after you. It was awful and if I recall correctly I still got bronchitis that year and may have even had strep, so it really didn't prevent any childhood illnesses in me.

But back to the topic at hand. I have to go to the gynecologist, my ultimate act of rebellion against my mother who is appalled that I would do such a thing in the way that normal mothers are appalled when their daughters dye their hair blue and sleep with guys in bands. My mother thought it was cool that my high school boyfriend was in a punk band, whose big song to play at house parties and high school talent shows, was "Jodie's Poodle", and was about a girl named Jodie who had a poodle that got run over by a car and kicked or something. My mother also liked when I colored my hair. She did not approve when I first, after an excruciating bladder infection, went to the doctor. She nearly disowned me when I took antibiotics for it.

I remember the first time I got a job that had health insurance. I felt like I was rich. I felt like I had actually won the lottery and I went on a small spree of going to the doctor just because it felt privileged and posh and very high class to me. The thrill wore off pretty quickly thank heavens or I might have ended up with Munchausen's.

Now, I've struck a balance. I go to the doctor when I have to. It makes me feel like a responsible person to get my yearly Pap smear, but that doesn't mean I enjoy it. I still have a lot of my mother in me and I become nervous and frightened before an appointment.

Part of my terror has to do with some kind of Puritan modesty that takes over only when I go to the gynecologist. You can ask any of the guys I've dated and they'll tell you how very modest I'm not. Ask the doctor and he'd swear I was actually a fundamentalist Baptist who calls her vagina her "EVIL PLACE" down there.

I put more effort into my personal grooming and hygiene to go to the doctor more than I did before a date. I actually worry that I may have missed a spot shaving my legs or that I have a pimple on my butt that the doctor and his assistant, the sexual harassment preventer, might see and later laugh about with the office staff. I worry a lot about pubic hair. Did I shave enough? What if I shaved too much and they think I'm a freak? Are parts of it prickly? Do I have some kind of razor burn that they might mistake for a raging case of herpes? Did I trim right? Does my thing look like everyone else's? What if it doesn't? Does it look like it piranhas attacked it? Oh my God do I have a defective crotch? And what if I smell bad?

I shower for about an hour before I got and I use so many products that I smell like Bath and Body Works erupted and I was drowned in the resulting scented lotion flow. I use spray and perfume. I put on makeup and I even wear especially pretty underwear. It's a big deal. Just like going on a date, I swear. Please tell me I am not the only neurotic woman who goes through all of this.

Part of the reason I do this, I think, is because I do have a little sympathy for the doctor and the assistant. Can you imagine the amount of nasty, infected vaginas they have to spend their days looking at? I shudder to think at what these poor people have seen and I just don't want to ever be a part of the nasty crotch group.

Aside from the anxiety, I rather enjoy my gynecologist's office. It's downright opulent in there and looks like the lobby of the Ritz Carlton with tassles and brocade, orchids and real paintings. You have expect a maid in a lacy cap to bring you high tea when you sit down, it's that foofy. He shares his office with another doctor and they have the lobby divided into two sides. For a long time I couldn't figure out why my doctor's side was always empty and the other doctor's side was always packed with women of all ages, pregnant, not pregnant, pubescent and menopausal, all messing with their hair and applying lipgloss before their appointments. Then I saw the other doctor and understood. My doctor looks like someone's Dad who plays golf and likes to sing 80s songs on karaoke. The other doctor is HOT. I mean, seriously, movie star hot like he stepped right out of Nip/Tuck or ER or Grey's Anatomy. And he is young and has an equally gorgeous and glamourous African wife who looks like Erykah Badu and wears tall head wraps and gowns of spice colored kente cloth.

I'm relieved that my gyno isn't the hot one. I actually have a fear that my doctor will have to rush off for an emergency C-Section and the hot doctor will have to examine me, which would make me feel all the more self-conscious and defective crotched. Perhaps I fear I might enjoy my examination too much. I don't know. I'd just have a really hard time explaining to the Hot Doctor that I have a mysterious discharge, whereas with my doctor it all seems a lot easier. I guess because my doctor fits into my prescribed image of what a doctor really looks like and Hot Doctor is, well, just hot. Really hot. I wish you could all see him because he is that hot.

Somewhere in my life I must have heard or read somewhere that you could have herpes and genital warts and not even know it. This is another terrible fear I have and I imagine terrible scenarios wherein I contracted something back in my more promiscuous era that hasn't shown itself until now. I have repeatedly asked the doctor, who clearly thinks I am insane, if this is possible and he keeps telling me it would have showed up long ago, but I just have this nagging fear that one day I'm going to wake up and bust out in herpes sores or warts or that the doctor's going to tell me I've actually had a furious case of syphilis for the past ten or fifteen years now. This is irrational, I know, but I always dread what the doctor might find when he goes spelunking between my legs. Oh! That's where my last pair of glasses went! Thanks doctor!

My appointment is in two hours. I had better get ready for my closeup.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Housekeeping, Odds and Ends

I hate pissing off so many people. I really like my blog to be a generally creative, fun, entertaining space but I haven't been feeling particularly amusing lately. It happens. I feel a bit awkward now after enraging the anorexic and obese communities. You can't just jump right back into telling funny stories can you? Personally, I don't see why not, so I'm going to try, but first I really need to clarify.

My healthy eating tips were not aimed at the overweight. They were aimed at everyone. Healthy eating is my passion and being a bit fanatical, I believe that the majority of Americans, regardless of size, eat like crap. My tips were not about losing weight they were about eating to avoid disease. Of course, most of the time eating to avoid disease will probably cause one to lose weight and losing weight can also help lower one's risk of illnesses, so they aren't mutually exclusive. So for the record, you skinny people eat like fucking assholes too, ok? Shit, you all should have seen what I ate for dinner. I am a total hypocrite. Want to feel better? I made Philly Cheesesteaks and then sat there and tried to justify it by saying that at least my ingredients were low fat and organic and at least I made it all from scratch. I mean, I could have been eating Steakums right? But about halfway through I asked myself if I was eating like a fucking asshole and I had to admit that indeed, I was, so I had to stop. So there, I'm not perfect. We're all assholes sometimes.

Anyway, I feel like moving on to lighter topics.

Remember the house across the street that seemed like it had been being built forever? I think it may finally be done.

For a long time the residents of Basura del Este speculated on who might be the owner of this jaundice colored monstrosity. Rumors swirled between joggers and dog walkers that the home was being built by a very famous football star who I had never heard of because no matter how many times Pop Byron has tried to explain the game to me, I still just can not understand it. It's like I have a learning disability specifically prohibiting me from understanding the rules of American football. My grandfather has gotten so frustrated with me that he has literally sworn at me in frustration.

"God dammit, how hard is it to understand???" he yells.

"So they get how many tries to move the ball somewhere? And then when do they throw it through the big H?" I ask and ask until he pulls his last remaining hair from the top of his head.

Since I don't follow a game I can't comprehend I never heard of the guy and now it looks like the rumors were false anyway. For the past two weekends the builder has held an open house where a frighteningly shiny faced real estate agent has led a veritable fiesta of potential buyers through the home, across the travertine floors and sent them out with cards, brochures and small bottles of Fiji water. I've kept an eye on the process because I'm scoping out my potential new neighbors. I suspect that because of the horrendous state of our housing market now that the only kind of person looking to buy a home of this sort is going to be someone with masses and heaps of expendable cash, so a celebrity would make sense. Or a criminal. This is South Florida afterall and with my luck the real life Sopranos will move in across the street.

Husband and I were out yesterday fishing leaves from the birdbath with a kitchen sieve when a bald man in a Lotus drove up with his 20 year old girlfriend in the passenger seat. I noticed instantly that her boobs bore an uncanny resemblance to the top of his head. It was really weird. It was like she had two hairless men buried face down inside her sundress. She was wearing large sunglasses and chewing on chocolate covered altoids one after the other in some sort of odd nervous tick. The man got out of the car and looked at Husband and I stirring around in the birdbath.

"I'm building this exact house," said the man.

"Oh yeah?" said Husband (I wanted to say "so").

"I'm building it 30% bigger," the man replied before getting in his car and speeding off.

"Did that man really drive all the way over here specifically to tell us that he was building a bigger version of that house?" I asked.

Husband confirmed this.

And why would I care about this? Because if you were wondering, I don't.

An entire afternoon passed where very boring Rich White People drove up in nice cars wearing clothes that made them look as if they'd just arrived from a photoshoot from the Brooks Brothers catalog, and finally my prayers were answered an a big group of Black people showed up in three matching yellow Porsches. That did seem a bit odd, but well, at least they coordinated. I watched intently from the upstairs window.

They were all very dressed up. I wouldn't have been surprised if the men had all put on top hats and twirled canes. The ladies had tall hairdos and all of them wore a great deal of jewelry. I wanted them to be famous. I wanted them to buy the house. I wanted them to buy the house so much that it was all I could do not to go downstairs and tell them myself how fantastic this neighborhood was and why they needed to live here. Just think about the possibilities. I mean, what extraordinary sorts of people would all have matching cars? I was fascinated. Plus, they were BLACK PEOPLE!! Diversity! Finally! And diversity with style even. It was too good to be true.

This new neighborhood of mine isn't all that ethnically varied. It's an unusual place really - a combination of old and new because it's in a state of huge transition. It used to be a quiet little beachfront community where people grew old in one story houses with crank windows and gravel instead of grass lawns. Then the old people started dying off and the developers got ahold of the now expensive properties and tore down the old style homes building mega-villas in their places which allowed a new generation of residents to move in. At this point the new building has slowed down leaving half of the neighborhood still little houses built in the 60s and the other half three story, waterfront mansions with gates and yacht dockage. It makes for an odd mix of people, but none of them are all that diverse. You've got people's grandparents and Rich White People from New York but they're all pretty much white, save for a few Venezuelans. I've never seen any African Americans until now. I wonder if they liked the house. Oh please let them have liked the house.

Someone asked me a couple days ago what was going on with my parents and now I have an answer. I called them yesterday to see why I hadn't heard from them in a week. They went into some long explanation about my mother losing her phone in Orange County or something and how the puppy got fixed and then totally out of the blue my mom goes:

"We're going to this movie festival called Sundance. Have you ever heard of it?"

"The Sundance Film Festival? Duh, of course," I said.

"Well it's supposed to be really big and a lot of stars are there and they have these big parties the liquor companies throw everynight so we decided we're taking the RV and we're going to ski. It's in Colorado or something."

"Park City, Utah actually."

"Oh No, Honey, she said it's in Utah. Is this some Mormon shit you're taking me to? I thought you said there was liquor!" I heard my mom saying to my dad.

Then my dad spent like six minutes explaining to her that it wasn't run by Mormons and that there would indeed be cocktails. I still have yet to figure out why my parents are going to a film festival, but nothing would surprise me at this point. For all I know they've turned into members of the paparazzi by now. Or they could be famous and next week I'll see them in US Weekly on some red carpet. You just never know with my parents.

I wouldn't be a bit phased if my mom called me up tomorrow and told me they had taken the RV across the land bridge into Russia or if they decided overnight to fly to some small African country and become King and Queen. I could absolutely see my mother as the warlord of a tiny African nation. She'd look spectacular in fatigues and a beret with lots of chunky, gold jewelry. I can imagine the phone call I'd get.

"Sweetie, we're in Africa. Your father's riding a zebra and I've taken over a rebel faction and we're kicking the Janjaweed's asses, those motherfuckers! Hey Mbutu, light me up a cigarette, will ya? What's that Mokelembembe? You roasting up some wildebeest for supper? You got any ketchup around here? God dammit. Honey, you there? Yeah, you need to send me some ketchup and the mosquitos here on the veldt, Jeezuz H. Christ I ain't seen bugs that big - but anyways, I just got my militia to take over a diamond mine, so I'll be sending you a five carat - Holy Shit! I hear machine gun fire. I gotta go. Don't let Bomboclaat piss on my oriental carpets!"

So honestly I don't know if they're going to Sundance or not, but I hope they do because that would be interesting to hear about.

I'll keep you updated on the house across the street and my parents' travels in the RV.
Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Told You Fruit Plates Were Wonderful

See! Isn't this beautiful, inspiring and appetizing? Doesn't this make you want to eat better already? It seriously took me all of 5 minutes to put together. I didn't even resize it just so you could see the yumminess up close if you click on the photo. If you're interested, the little green things are our native Key Limes. I'm not sure if you can get them other places or not, but these actually come from Mexico. I heard that the real Key Lime groves were decimated by a blight or a hurricane or something so there is no longer a commercial Key Lime industry in the Florida Keys.

Are You Eating Like a Fucking Asshole?

Lately I've noticed a lot of blog posts devoted to fitness, weight loss and healthy eating and this happens every new year because it's resolution time and people swear this is going to be the year they get serious and lose the weight. My girl-crush over at Violent Acres has written about this for the past two days herself and I wanted to jump on her bandwagon and add my ideas because this is something that I'm passionate about. Obsessed about even. I also noticed back on the Day of No Consequences that the majority of the comments dealt with weight issues. Weight is a highly charged, very emotional topic and it seems to really effect everyone's lives these days, which I find sad and interesting at the same time. The obesity epidemic hurts me personally because I come from a big, fat redneck family and so many people that I love are going to die simply because they eat like shit and this breaks my heart. Most of my relatives outside of my immediate family think I'm insane and have an eating disorder and am a hippie, grass eating freak. My parents and sister don't count because they, thank God, follow very healthy diets for the most part and cook all the time.

A lot of people who knew me from the blog and then met me in real life were surprised because apparently I write as if I weigh more than I do. The truth is that I am not even a little overweight, but because I am a neurotic, head case perfectionist whenever I gain weight I flip the hell out. I don't carry it as far as an anorexic because I'm way too concerned with my health to ever do something as unhealthy as starve and plus I can't even stand the discomfort of not eating for five hours, so I can't imagine not eating for five days or five weeks.

I also really like to eat and cook. I love food. I like reading and writing about food, I love feeding people, and I like the community aspect of mealtime and how food connects us with one another. Sometimes I think I like all of these things more than actually eating. I love food so much that I'd desperately like to start my own food blog. This is partly because I feel that most food bloggers (not all, I love some of you) are stuck up and pretentious and totally lacking in humour. Food writing is sadly devoid of satire and I could take care of that pretty quickly. Ahh, if only I had the time to sit on my ass all day in front of a computer. Well, thank goodness I don't.

I have an extraordinarily healthy diet and since a lot of you probably resolved to lose weight this year I wanted to give you some of my tips. Some of you may have seen me eating things like chocolate or desserts or the occasional chip, but those things are part of my healthy diet. You may also protest and say "But you had lasagna last night, what'd you do puke it back up?!" Give me a chance and I'll explain how that fits in too. Not puking, but lasagna. Puking does not fit in at all.

I'm lucky because I had health problems at a young age which caused me to really be aware of how I eat. When I was 16 I was really sickly and it turned out that I had a mild form of Type 1 Diabetes caused by a virus. I have never heard of such a thing but that's what the doctor said and it was reconfirmed last year by my endocrinologist. It was so mild that if I just ate well, was active and didn't abuse any substances that I wouldn't have to take insulin. I radically changed my diet, because before that I ate nothing but Slurpees and Twix with the occasional nacho and since I was less than a hundred pounds my mother actually encouraged my garbage eating without realizing that it was making me sick. I stopped drinking sugary drinks. I gave up candy. I got used to eating whole grains and whole fruits. I liked vegetables. I was so scared of insulin injections that I ate well. Then I learned how to cook, cooked professionally and expanded my palette to eat all kinds of things I had previously never even heard of like cilantro, shitake, confit and camembert.

Pretty soon I became a food snob because once you get used to eating really well prepared, high quality food you can never eat a packet of Lipton noodles ever again without wanting to hurl. You just can't do it. Your mouth rebels and says if it once tasted Valrhona you can never give it another Three Musketeers. It's like tastebud abuse. Luckily, high quality food is a zillion times healthier than cheap processed garbage, so I highly encourage you to develop your inner food snob without reservation. Food snobbery is really the only kind of snobbery I can endorse because it can literally save your life.

In my late 20s I started to gain weight. I got depressed. I went through a traumatic break up that I am sick of hearing myself talk about. I laid around and took anti-depressants and gained 15 pounds, which looked a little too voluptuous on my tall yet petite frame. I know that sounds like an oxymoron. I'm almost 5"7" but I have a smallness about me that makes people think I'm shorter than I am. I have freakishly teeny feet and only wear a 6 1/2 shoe. I'm like a five foot tall person that someone stretched like silly putty. Suddenly people stopped calling me skinny and telling me I needed to eat. Guys said I had "meat on my bones" and suggested I lose weight. It was horrible. I knew I had to get this under control so I stopped the anti-depressants which I do not recommend unless your doctor says it's ok. In most cases being fat is far preferable to being crazy. I wasn't crazy - just upset about a boy. After becoming conscious about my diet and stopping the Zoloft I immediately lost ten pounds.

I found out I had a bad thyroid disease. I had a tumor growing in my neck. In fact, I had a disease that causes some people to gain huge amounts of weight. I had to take medication that made me swell up and retain water so I gained all the weight back that I had lost. It sucked and it has taken me two years to get my thyroid under control. If any of you reading this have thyroid problems please email me because it can be really scary and confusing and I know a lot about it now. I had to have my thyroid killed, which means that it doesn't function anymore and I'll have to take medication for the rest of my life. This can also cause people to become obese but I haven't. I actually lost weight and now I am 5" 6 1/2" and weigh 128 pounds. I wear a fairly loose size 6 and I am convinced that this is because of how I eat and yes, I'd love to be a size four but I am happy with the size I am even if I am no longer as skinny as I was when I was 16.

Having these health issues young in life was a hell of a blessing. It scared the shit out of me. I know what it's like to have a doctor look at you gravely and tell you to go straight to the hospital. I've seen the patients, bald and zombie-like, in the cancer hospital and I know how sick radiation can make you and I know that I will do everything in my power to prevent myself from ever becoming one of those frail skeletons attached to the chemo machines.

Here are some of my best tips for healthy eating to assist you in keeping your resolution this year. Nothing is difficult. Some of it can be a little more expensive, but personally I think the one thing you should never cheap out on is food. Buy your clothes at the Salvation Army and shop at Whole Foods if you have to. I'm going to try really hard not to repeat the same shit you've heard everywhere else that you haven't listened to (drink 8 glasses of water, exercise 30 minutes - you know all that).

Get Rid of Corn Syrup NOW

If you do anything at all, do this. Go through your cabinets and toss anything containing corn syrup. You will likely be left with an apple and some pepper when you're finished. Corn Syrup is the devil. Corn Syrup is toxic and will kill you and make you morbidly obese and it's in freaking everything. I predict that corn syrup will be the next trans fat and I pray for the day when they outlaw it. There are studies that say corn syrup causes you to eat more because it doesn't react with receptors in your brain that control hunger. Corn syrup is also profoundly unnatural and it takes so much energy and so much effort to make it out of corn. I guarantee you that you will lose weight if you just eliminate corn syrup from your diet and you have to be militant about reading labels. Mostly it's found in junk, garbage processed foods anyway so by eliminating the corn syrup you're also eliminating junk foods too. Luckily, plain potato chips don't have it. Neither do Fritos. Snack on these but only if you can eat a little. Which brings me to my next tip.

Stop Eating Like A Fucking Asshole

If in the process of eating you can answer the question "Am I eating like a fucking asshole?" in the affirmative, immediately cease consumption. I don't need to define eating like a fucking asshole for you because you know what that means. Everytime you eat or want to eat ask yourself that question like a mantra. "Am I eating like a fucking asshole?" You probably are. So stop it. Do not eliminate the cuss words. Asking yourself "Am I eating like a dumb-dumb poo poo head?" is not nearly as effective as calling yourself a fucking asshole. On Christmas or Rosh Hashanah and your birthday you have permission to eat like a fucking asshole, but only then.

Cook From Scratch and Quit Whining About It

Processed food has destroyed our country. We eat processed food because we're lazy, over-scheduled and stupid and because it's marketed to us as healthy, convenient and fun. It's none of these things. Processed Food - generally anything in a box, packet, powder, mix, pre-prepared packet, already mixed, instant anything - will literally kill you. Learn to cook some things and manage your time better so you can prepare your own food. I don't want to hear the excuse that you don't know how to cook. Cooking and providing food for yourself is the most basic and most essential of all survival skills. There is no excuse for not being able to feed and nourish yourself, and you don't have to cook fancy things. Preparing real food as simply as possible is actually the healthiest way to eat and dammit, who can't cut up some stuff for a salad?

Sometimes I get violent sugar cravings. I have to watch my blood sugar so I try really hard to avoid sweets, but sometimes I just can't. My rule is that if I really want some brownies or some cookies or a cupcake that I must make it from scratch. I'm talking creaming the butter and sugar, cracking the eggs, melting the chocolate. Baking from scratch ensures that you aren't eating chemicals, like corn syrup, and you have to do some work. You have to earn your sweets. Plus, when you finally get the cupcake or the brownie it actually tastes better and you've burned a few calories making it and cleaning up. Sometimes I find that after going through the baking process that my craving has subsided. Then I give stuff away. My one exception is Trader Joe's truffle brownie mix which, though a mix, contains absolutely no chemicals or anything I can't pronounce. In fact, all of Trader Joe's baking mixes are fine to use in moderation.

Fruit Plates Are Wonderful

Every single night for dessert Husband and I have a fruit plate for dessert with green tea. Each night as I make dinner I also make up a fruit plate with lots of cut up fruits arranged in a pretty design. Then I keep it in the fridge and bring it out for dessert. I take great pride in my fruit plates because they're beautiful, healthy and they taste good. They make me want to eat fruit more and since the fruit is already cut, it's easier to eat. I try to change it up a lot because the variety is fun and I like to try new fruits as often as possible. Who cares about a $4 box of raspberries? You could spend that on one latte. Husband and I have a rule too because we often want ice cream more than fruit. We have to eat the fruit first. Then we have to wait to see if we still want the ice cream and I'll admit that sometimes we do, but at least we ate the fruit and that causes us to eat less of the ice cream than we would have. Making deals like this with yourself will prevent you from eating like a fucking asshole.

Make Barilla Plus Pasta

I'd like to award whoever invented this the Nobel Peace Prize. I love pasta as much as I love cheese but I would never eat it before Barilla Plus. Now I eat it every week or so. Barilla Plus is not gross like whole wheat pasta. You can't tell the difference. It also has Omega 3s, protein and is made out of beans or something and has no chemicals in it. It comes in every pasta shape and was sent to earth by God Himself. Buy only this pasta. It comes in a yellow box.

Drink Green Tea

It's good for you. You can get flavored ones. It makes you less hungry, is rumored to promote weight loss and gives you caffeine without the jitters of coffee. I weaned myself off of sweetening it and now I'm one of those people who's all Zen-like and drinks unsweetened green tea all day. I like Republic of Tea and Tazo the best.

Read Books About the Food Industry and Scare the Crap Out of Yourself

Here's One

And Another

Still Another

Don't be ignorant and passive about what you put into your body. Get outraged, it burns more calories.

About the Lasagna

I made my lasagna completely from scratch, sauce and all. It took about 20 minutes to put together and another 20 minutes to bake. I used low fat cheeses and it was delicious. I ate a little square and will freeze the rest.

You can't deny yourself. Every so often you have to let yourself have lasagna and cookies, just make these things yourself with real, fresh ingredients. Don't eat so much of these foods that you go overboard into asshole territory. If you really can't control yourself then get help for food addiction or impulse control. Don't be ashamed or embarassed. Just go and do it. It is life or death.

I will now step down from my soap box. And oh yeah, carry snacks with you. I am particularly fond of tangerines and toasted, blanched almonds.

And here is a link to my very favorite fitness blog. Cranky Fitness kicks ass.

Good Luck with your resolutions and please use my comments section to post your own tips, ideas and encouragement, as well as links to any other good fitness or healthy eating blogs that we should check out. One of my resolutions was to link to more and varied sites.

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