Wednesday, December 26, 2012

the Northewestern Man's hero

I never really understood why men put such high value on a good beard. To me, it was like growing your finger nails out. It didn't really matter. And then @jonacuff posted this picture on Twitter, and it finally made sense.

I was actually impressed. Couldn't take my eyes off it. Instead of wanting to throw the man a razor, I wanted to clap for him.

But if you are a man, I am going to break your heart right now. You can never be like this man. Don't even try. Don't think to yourself my beard is very similar to this guy's. Just a little more work and it will be equal. It won't be. You are not him and he is not you, and I hate to be a dream crusher, but you should prevent yourself from looking foolish. You look more handsome clean-cut.

Friday, November 30, 2012

She Said Yes

She said yes to him. It took a while. He had waited patiently. Every day he hoped she would see him for who he truly was: the one who would love her the best. He was jealous for her. Would tear the world apart to find her. He wanted to be the only.

They started out just friends. Went to the same Sunday school. Spent some time talking together. He would tell her stories and she would ask him questions. She thought it was like every other relationship. He would disappoint her and she would disappoint him. She broke promises she made. He would stop speaking to her.

But it wasn't really like that. He never stopped loving her, no matter what she did to him. He was always there, waiting outside the door, waiting for her fits of rage to subside. She didn't know, and he wouldn't tell her. He wanted her to love him on her own. He wanted her to choose him.

She grew up and went to college, and for a short while, they weren't on speaking terms. That's what happens after high school, right? People grow apart. He wasn't going to give up though, even if she wouldn't answer any of his calls. She wrote mean things about him in her journal and tried to block out what she knew was the truth about him.

One day he sent her a CD. She listened to it once, twice, a third time. It was then that she decided she wanted him back. The music had changed her. It had reminded her of the truth. She gave him a call and they patched things up. He took her back immediately.

Things were okay after that. There were the usual ups and downs, the roller coaster ride of relationships. After a while though, things started to spiral downward. He didn't show up when she needed him to. She felt all alone. She knew he had a caring nature, but she started to believe he cared about everyone but her. Pretty soon, she only looked for what was wrong with their relationship. She tried convincing him they should end it. He could go love someone else then.

But the truth was, he couldn't stop loving her. The truth was, he knew in his heart that they would end up together. And he wouldn't give up. "I will wait one year or I will wait five. Or even fifty if I have to. You decide." That's what he'd say. "You think a lot of things about me that aren't true. But one day you'll see me in a different way." It used to infuriate her. She wasn't convinced.

One day though, she was in a bad place. She called all of her friends, but none of them answered. Her family wasn't there either. She needed someone, and she didn't know who else to call. He picked up on the first ring. She blubbered all her problems to him. He showed up with warm arms and chocolate chip cookies. "Listen to me," he said gently. "I want you to do something for me. Do you think you could do something for me?"
"I guess maybe," she said.
"Let me love you. Look for the good. Just try it."

And then there was the day that she said yes. He popped the question, unexpectedly. People might have thought she was crazy. "Look how he's treated you" they might say. "Do you really think things will change?" She figured they had to. It had never worked when she asked him to follow her life plans. Maybe she should do this. Say yes. Commit, even if it was hard. It was the only thing she hadn't tried. It wasn't even necessarily that she wanted to say yes. It was that she knew she couldn't say no.

"You don't have to," he said. He made it so easy to back out and take the easy road. But she knew he cared. She knew he wanted this. So she fought for it. She said "yes, and I will change what I do to make you the first priority."

"But do you really want me?" he asked. "Do you want to love me now for reals?" He gave her time to decide in her heart. Her heart knew. In fact, her heart was burning for him. They weren't meant just to be casual acquaintances or long term friends. They were meant to be in love.

After some time passed, he told her "You know that time when we were fighting? When you thought I didn't care about you anymore? That broke my heart. I never stopped loving you. I knew you cried tears at night, and I wanted so badly for it to be me. I wanted it to be me with the salty pillowcase. I wanted it to be me with all the hurt. But you had practically given up on us. You wouldn't let me take any of it. I had to wait for you to reach the bottom, the very deepest pit of your soul."

"It worked," she said. "It totally sucked, but it worked. I don't want to ever do that again."

"I know," he said. "But you're mine. You're mine, and I love you, and that will never change. I will love you forever. I love to see you wake up in the mornings, and I smile when your hair gets all tangled up and you lose bobby pins in it and find them two days later, and I adore the way you care for children, and I want to be with you every moment of every single day. And then when the days end, I want to be with you forever after that. Someday I'm going to get you the most beautiful house painted with so much turquoise, and there will be typewriters everywhere and so many books it will put Belle from Beauty and the Beast to shame."

"I need you to know something," she said. "I don't think I've told you this before."
"What's that?" he said. But he already knew what she was going to say.
"You're mine," she said. "You're mine, you're mine, you're mine. And I love you. I love you and you're mine."
He smiled. "I'm so glad you said yes."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Raking Leaves with a fork

When I was a child, I was tortured every fall with manual labor--the kind that made your back ache and puts blisters on your hands. Just when the weed picking of the summer ended, the leaves turned and fell to their death, waiting for me to take them to their proper burial ground. I would have preferred just to leave the crispy skeletons lying there, but my mother had this thing about not wanting all the grass to die. Pshh, aesthetics.

I was remembering all this childhood torture because I just came in from raking the leaves off my yard. I scooped up all the ones that were actually on the grass, but I left the ones on the edges in the bark chips. This is because I had no room left in my yard debris bin. I will have to wait until Monday afternoon (after the garbage gets picked up) to finish the job. Provided it doesn't rain on Monday, which it most likely will.

When I set out to rake leaves, I bundled up. I had on sweatpants, a sweatshirt, a coat, and rubber boots. By the time I had raked up three piles, I was sweating. I had forgotten how much exertion leaf raking takes. Also, it wasn't 40 degrees outside like I had imagined. The process of leave raking wasn't as gruesome as I had remembered it as a child. But then again, I didn't have over 4,000 square feet of lawn to rake this time.

Growing up, leaf raking was ridiculous. We were both blessed and cursed to have four lawns, one on each side of the house. I'm not Michael Phelps, and I've never swam in an Olympic sized pool, but I imagine that at least two of the lawns were each as large as an Olympic sized pool. Besides all this grass, we lived in an area surrounded by oak and maple trees, which are both deciduous, in case you live in LA and know nothing about trees other than palms. We also had many fir trees nearby, which are non-deciduous. Oh how I had wished our house was surrounded by Douglas Firs instead of Maples. Maple trees shed a lot of leaves, and they are big, heavy leaves.

Raking up the leaves definitely took a least a week, and on some days my sister and I were out there raking for three hours or more. We would rake the leaves into huge piles on tarps, and then carry the tarps to the beginning edge of the woods to a place called "The Pit." As far as I know, my family's been throwing organic matter into The Pit for 23 years, and it's still not full. The Pit is the place where we would dump grass clippings, horse manure, food scraps, weeds, rocks, branches, and leaves. You never wanted to get too close to the edge, for fear you might fall in.

It was a lot of work to shake out the leaves on that tarp. Dragging it there wasn't fun either. A year or two after my sister got her pony, we decided to put him to work. We rigged up this contraption with a rope around his chest, and Hawk would pull our giant pile of leaves for us. He had to work for his hay. Hawk was a good, sturdy pony, and he liked working with us. For a treat we'd let him nibble the grass. Hawk was the type of pony that had limited access to green grass, because he was greedy and would eat until he got sick. Kind of like me with a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.

When I moved away to college I was secretly very pleased that I wouldn't be home until Thanksgiving. This meant that I missed leaf raking. No more hours of back breaking work. In retrospect, I was obviously a terrible person for being happy about this, because it just meant that my poor mother had to do all the work by herself. So that shows you what kind of person I really was.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

those Christian stories you don't believe

Maybe you know a Christian who has told you a remarkable story about how they received a word from God. They just knew. Like, they were sitting across from a woman on a first date and the guy hears God tell him this is the girl he is going to marry. And two years later they're hitched. Or like, the person knew God wanted them to give $1,427 to a missionary, and two years later when that person is in their own financial trouble, an old friend mails them a check for $1,427.

I've heard stories like these. You want to believe them, but you have this feeling of "really? yeah right. That's cool..but for reals?"

Here is my Christian story that you might not believe. It's a little story, but it's still weird.

Tuesday night I came out of the gym. I was walking in the parking lot to my car when all of a sudden the name Malik came into my mind. I got the feeling that I needed to pray for the name, whoever it was.

I said something like "God, you know who Malik is. You know what he needs. I pray that you are with him right now and you take care of him. Take care of Malik. Actually, take care of all the Maliks in the world. You know him."

I normally don't do weird things like this. Names don't just pop into my brain on the typical Monday afternoon. God doesn't call my cell phone after dinner just to chat.

Thursday night I had the TV on and the news was going. I wasn't really paying attention because I was busy looking at things on Pinterest, but after I heard the name Malik and looked up instantly. I heard this story. An 11 year old boy in Georgia was attacked by pit bulls while trying to save his little sister. It happened Monday, the day before I said my prayer.

Maleik Carr saved his 5 year old sister Jalia.
I just stared at the screen. And then as soon as the news clip was over I googled his name to find the story. Was this weird? Yes. Does God do crazy things? Yes. Do I feel kind of strange sharing this with you? You bet. But I also thought it was cool and things like this don't happen to me. So I thought you might want to know.

Do you have your own Christian story people don't believe?

Friday, October 26, 2012

you suck it up and LIVE

Dear Dreamer,

What do you do when your hopes and dreams take a face plant into the concrete? When some one pulls the rug out from beneath you? When all you wanted with your whole heart (or at least 80% of it) laughs in your face and says "it won't happen to you"? This is what you do: you suck it up and LIVE.

You don't get angry. You don't hate. Because letting those nasty feelings overcome you won't do anyone any good. Instead, you show love. You have integrity. You smile and you mean it. You don't let this thing that has happened to you--this hurt that seems so unfair--you don't let it win. You fight with grace.

During tough times it's hard to remember the truth. Let me remind you.
You are brave.
You are strong.
You are beautiful.
You are loved.

There is goodness to be had, and it's coming your way. There is joy in this world, and you are fully capable of capturing as much of it as you want. Get your butterfly net out and go catch some.

Some of your plans will come true, but it will be the unexpected, outrageous, crazy goodness that you will remember the best. The never-could-think-of-it suprises are what will be your favorites.

Now go live.

Your someday is coming.


Monday, October 22, 2012

take my heart and seal it

Maybe you've heard this song called Come Thou Fount. We sing it at my church sometimes.

A part of the lyrics go

"take my heart, Lord
take and seal it
seal it for thy courts above."

I'll tell you what that means to a letter writer. If you know me, you might know that I am on the writing team for We write anonymous letters to people who need love and encouragement. It's important and it changes lives. Besides writing to complete strangers, I like writing letters to people I know in actual real-life. 

A few weeks ago I realized I've never written a love letter to God. Sure, I've written down whiny prayers in my journal, but I have never written the Lord of Creation a letter like I've written to a stranger or friend. It's something I labor over. It's choosing just the right kind of paper and the right kind of design for the envelope. It's thinking over the words I use and tasting them on my tongue. It's a carefully thought out process--one I've never done for the Man Who Saved My Life. 

This must be rectified.

Now when I sing 

take my heart lord
take and seal it
seal it for thy courts above”

This is the picture in my mind: I am writing a love letter to God. Professing how amazing he is. Describing all the ways he is good. Pouring out my heart to the One who matters the most. I'm using my best cursive, my fanciest paper, and my favorite pen. I'm putting my heart in that envelope. I'm handing the envelope to God and I say "Lord. Take my heart. All my love. All my passion. Take it. I want you to seal it. Seal it for when I'm with you. I want this to be saved for only you." 

Because how often do we give our hearts and our devotion to things that don't matter? I give devotion to so many worthless things. Pinterest. YouTube. Status updates. Hair. Cupcakes. Sleep. I have passion for watching episodes of Alias and Lost, for correcting spelling errors, for recycling, and for literacy. They're not necessarily bad things, but I'm not giving enough passion to the One who matters.  

Above anybody, He's the one who loves me the most. He adores me even more than my own mother. God's got baby books full of pictures. He knows the exact date I lost each of my baby teeth. He gave me the moon as a night light. 

The Lord of heaven and earth loves me so much, the least I could do is write him a proper love letter.

So take my heart, Lord.
Take and seal it.
Seal it for thy courts above.

Friday, October 12, 2012

We won't be settling down

If you choose to love me, there's something you need to know. We won't be settling down. There is fire in my soul and I am not willing to smother it. I refuse to let you compromise your dreams. I would never want you to say you gave something up for me. It's my hope that you would say "she added so much to me." Because, Darling, we may have a 9 to 5, we may live in the same house for years, but our lives will be an adventure. I have realized that when we are willing to say Yes to God for anything, that is when the adventure happens. God has miracles stored in his sleeve, and he's got things for me and you to see. We may live a life not knowing what might happen next. We may move every year, we may leave our family for months. But it doesn't matter. Because home is wherever I'm with you.

Some people fall in love, get married, and settle down. Not us. That won't be happening. We've got too much Truth to speak, and too much Love to share. We have Dreams to make happen and Hope to sing about. We won't be settling down. It wasn't Jesus' style. He went from place to place, upsetting the world. People followed him for miles to hear him speak, others plotted a way to put a cork in his mouth. He was a mover, a shaker, a world changer. No, there is not time to settle down. Not in this life.

There will be rest, I'm sure. Good meals with friends and lovely, lazy days. But there will be no settling down. The fire in our souls will not be extinguished. We won't ever say "Oh, let's just forget about it and pick something more secure." No, we will not. Because to be secure is to trust in Jesus. Our bank accounts may disappear, our bodies may fail, but God will hold us and take care of us.

No, if you choose to love me, your life will not be settled. I will shake up your life and I expect you to put mine in a head spin. And then we will both jump into the Bingo roller and let God turn us until something good comes out. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Comeback Kid

I'm teaching Bible Club again this year! During the summer many people asked me "Joelle, are you going to do Bible Club again this fall?" And I said I didn't know. Because I wasn't sure if I would have a job in the mornings that would conflict. Turns out I don't. After a flurry of interviews at the end of September, my over confidence became apparent. Nobody hired me.

I'm totally fine with this. If I've learned anything since quitting my reliable, salaried, health-insurance-providing full time job in June of 2011, it's that God will work everything out for the best. God will make a way for me to pay my bills. I basically took the lack of job offers as a sign to just get started with Bible Club.

We're meeting again at the elementary school where I used to teach. I'm starting out with just two days a week. I've got 17 kids right now, so I figure if I get up to 30 I will split and have a Monday/Wednesday session as well. I have some returners from last year, but a lot of fresh new faces. Lots of boys. This may get tricky, but I am pumped that so many boys want to learn about God.

I'm excited to see where God is going to lead me and this group of kiddos. Here are some stats from last year's group:

$25 per kid provided curriculum and supplies for 32 children to learn about God for 7 months.

29 Bibles given to children

16 verses memorized
11 worship songs learned

32 children reached

7 months of learning 
90 hours of instruction offered

1 God

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Lazy Vegetarian Cooks

Recipe for Mac and Cheese
Time to prepare: 15 minutes

Laziness factor: energetic enough to turn on the stove and find a pot
Tasty factor: Yummy
 Yields: 2 servings

Kraft Mac and Cheese. Don't trust any other brands. Seriously. Once I tried to save 57 cents by getting the generic kind, and it tasted awful.
1 tbs butter

Directions: Put some water in a pot. Don't bother measuring it. It doesn't matter. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat on high.

Dump the macaroni into the pot. No need to wait for the water to boil first. My way saves time. After the noodles get fat and soft, drain the water from the pot and remove from heat.

You only need 1 tbs of butter. No need to indulge yourself. Skip the milk, because soupy mac and cheese is nasty.

Clean Up: Wash your one pot before things congeal and get hard to clean.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Escaping Midnight Haunts: my story

"The Lord will protect you from all evil. He will keep your soul." Psalm 121:7

I am about to talk about a bizarre-o topic, and you may seriously start to question my brain processes, but I want to share this with you, because surely there is someone like me out there who has suffered from the same sort of torment I have. You can be rescued.

Sometimes dreams can be funny or lovely. Other times they make you not want to fall asleep, for fear of what may come.

Of all people, my friend Natalie knows of my wacked out dreams the best. We're not talking I was being chased by a purple people eater while wearing a tutu on the beach. I'm talking people straight up trying to kill me in my dreams. People that I know. I have had dreams of being pursued my viscous animals, of haunting demonic beings seeking me out, of being hung naked from the limb of a tree to die. I have drowned in my dreams, I have died in my dreams, I have been in car crashes, been buried in icy avalanches, and watched people I love take their last breath in front of me. In my dreams wolves and dogs have chewed on my arm, men have molested me, and fear has paralyzed me so much that I cannot even yell for help. It's not exactly the REM cycle people look forward to.

I have had these wacked out dreams for as long as I can remember. I used to have a reoccurring dream that I cannot even describe as anything but terrible since age six. I lived with it for years and years. Just when I thought it was gone, it would come back to haunt me as a college student sleeping in my extra long dorm room bed.

You're probably like "Joelle, lay off the mushroom consumption." I never understood where these terrible nightmares came from, because it's not like anything in real life like that ever happened to me. But I dreamt it so often it started to feel like reality. My own brain was not a safe place at night.

In February of 2011, I started to take non-prescription sleep pills because my job was stressing me out so much that I would wake up at 3am from a frightful dream of battling children who were foaming at the mouth. The pills helped me stay asleep, and they eased some of the intense dreams, but I was still getting chased on a nightly basis.

It was then that I decided to do a bit of dream research to figure out how I could control my dreams. I did things like speak into a voice recorder as soon as I woke up, and I would tell myself as much as I could about the dreams I remembered in order to improve lucidity. I tried all sorts of tricks to be able to distinguish between reality and my dream state, kind of like how Leonardo DiCaprio had that spinning top in the movie Inception.

I would pray before bed, I would read my Bible before going to sleep, but nothing worked. Then I tried something else. I found a very short verse about being protected by God, and I would say it over and over and over in my head while waiting for slumber. My goal was to have it so ingrained in my memory that I would think to say it in my dreams when I was being chased or under attack.

I read another strategy on-line about how you should confront the thing that is after you and ask it why it is trying to hurt you. I had no idea how I would make that happen, because who could  subconsciously remember to confront the enemy in a dream, when my most natural instinct was to get away or hide?

Is this taking it too far? Am I getting too weird for you? Drawing by Kaless Aradan.
As I continued with the audio narratives of the dreams that I remembered, and as I committed to memory Psalm 121:7, I tried really hard to attempt a dream confrontation.

One night it finally happened. I won't get into all of the details, but I finally was able to not be paralyzed, to be able to speak, and I yelled "Why are you after me? What do you want from me?" The people trying to kill me had nothing to say. They turned and left.

I woke up and was like "WHOA, DID THAT REALLY HAPPEN?" My bad dreams had never resulted in an ending like that. Usually I died or drowned, or I woke up from the nightmare. Never ever had the pursuer left me alone.

I felt really good that day, like I had won a battle, even if it had been in my subconscious mind.

Then came the first time I was able to recite scripture during a bad dream. I was in a dark cavern, being pursued by a band of creepy men, when I realized that what I should do is say my verse. One of the men got close to me and I shouted in his face THE LORD WILL PROTECT ME FROM ALL EVIL. HE WILL KEEP MY SOUL! I shouted it over and over, and then I stepped into a beautiful place where there was no one but me. I was safe.

Since those first times of confronting my midnight haunts, I have said Psalm 121:7 many times in my dreams. A few months after my "breakthrough" the dreams that threatened my life stopped.

I think what was the most important was that I believed in my awake state that if I said a Bible verse in my sleep, that it would save me. And what was important while I was dreaming was that I remembered the words to the verse.

I have funny dreams now. Or happy dreams. I still have some really weird dreams, but no one has tried to kill me in them. I am not fleeing from the haunts of my hippocampus.

So if you are a person who has terrible dreams where you are in danger of death or physical pain, I highly recommend that you memorize Psalm 121:7 and say it over and over before you go to bed. It has been my battle weapon, and it has never failed to rescue me from danger.

We are under Satan's attack even when we are sleeping, but more importantly, God is with us and protecting us, even in our dreams.

The Lord will protect me from all evil. He will keep my soul.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bread Butts

Brittany: I have this thing about eating English muffins. I think it's awkward.

Me: English muffins are awkward?

Brittany: Yeah. Because it's like eating two butts of the bread, and I don't really like the butt of bread, so why would I want to eat two of them?

Me: Good point. But they taste different. I can see your reasoning, though.
What are your thoughts on this type of muffin?

Friday, September 28, 2012

met Perez in pilates

It may surprise you to know that I stopped going to the gym in June and traded my daily work out for ice cream and sunshine. Now that it's fall and I can no longer justify a daily bowl of ice cream, I'm trying to get buff again. I opened up a membership at the Kroc center, and so far I have attended pilates/yoga, cardio hip hop, power (weights) and 20-20-20.

Being the new person in group exercise classes is a bit nerve wracking. You don't know how things run, you don't know any of the people, and you don't know what equipment you need. The first class I went to was pilates/yoga. I pride myself on my natural flexibility, but I knew well enough that being able to fold into a pretzel is not going to help with pilates. Pilates takes muscles that are hidden in the depth of your being.

Anyway, so there I am, taking my cues from the others in the room. I roll out a mat and take off my shoes. I do a few stretches and touch my toes. Pretty soon the guy next to me sticks out his arms airplane style and says something to me. I have no idea what he says, but he's pretty serious about his pre-class stretching. "What was that?" I asked. He repeats himself with a Cuban accent. My mat neighbor is what I imagine Perez Hilton would be like in 30 years, only less fabulous. He wants me to move over a bit because apparently I'm cramping his wingspan. I oblige. Clearly this little man is experienced at yoga/pilates. He probably does some very elaborate and advanced moves, what with all the space he needs and everything.

If you don't know who Perez Hilton is, you are a better person than me. Also, when searching for this picture, I found others of him very toned. Probably the results of Pilates.
The class begins. It's easy. I can reach everywhere and touch everything and balance fairly well. We start to do some more moves that requires more muscle work and flexibility. The guy next to me starts making puffing sounds. He starts sweating a bit. Here I am, trying to stretch and relax, and Perez Senior is over here sounding like he's gonna die of lung failure. Clearly he is not an expert. His fancy monogrammed mat and flying airplane stretches mean nothing.

I giggle on the inside, but then immediately sober up at the thought of having to give him mouth-to-mouth when his lungs give out. That's the problem with being CPR/first-aid certified. You're always on the lookout for people who might need saving. And it's never hot, single men.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Clever, sexy headline here

Hi Friends, I need someone to proof my eharmony profile before I post it. I want feedback. Thanks.

Emotionally independent 26 year old woman seeking man who likes her enough to admit it verbally or in writing. I won’t take up a lot of your time as I am used to being alone. Would like to find someone who enjoys playing Clue and Monopoly and doesn’t judge those who eat ice cream straight out of the carton. I like to take dreams and make them happen. I only give life 97%, because I'm storing the other 3% in reserve to use as a turbo boost when something really needs it.

Knitting, watching Lifetime movie originals, playing with my 12 cats, scrap booking, chatting on IM.

First date
Somewhere picturesque. Dinner. Dancing. Cake. I would feel more comfortable meeting you if I brought my friends, family, and ordained minister along. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

One Word for One Letter

Tell me one word that describes your life right now. In exchange, I will mail a hand-written love letter to you (or to a person of your choosing). These aren’t mushy romantic letters filled with scented stationery. If you think I’m crazy, then check out We’re changing lives.

If you want a letter, I need:
Your name and mailing address
one word that describes your life right now

If you are requesting a letter for a friend, I need:
Their name and address
one word that describes a struggle/hope/need/dream they have

Send requests on Facebook or to 
Requests accepted until September 30th.

I don’t sign my name on the letters. So if you request a letter for someone else, it will just show up mysteriously, which I really like.

Names and addresses of letter recipients will not be shared with anyone.

Also, I don’t write mush.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


My TV viewing frequency has really plummeted, due to the lack of shows that interest me and the increase in shows I like being cancelled. This not watching TV is probably unhealthy, as it obviously shows my lack of interest for life. Thus, I've been on the hunt. I just need one show. I was on last night and think I might have found something a bit interesting. Let me tell you about it:

It's on NBC and is called Revolution. Watch the pilot episode here.

I swear the writers just read The Hunger Games and The City of Ember series and decided to meld the books into a TV show. Because people are tired of vampires and are more interested in female characters who can shoot a bow with accuracy. So True Blood and The Vampire Diaries are out and Revolution is in.

But here's what I have to say. When Charlie stumbled across the guy in the forest that was all "most people just say hello," I thought to myself Is he a part of the Quileute tribe? Because he totally looks Native American and is probably Jacob Black's cousin or something. Maybe it was the forest setting that really set off this thought. So after watching the episode, I Googled actor J.D. Pardo. Turns out he is playing a half-vampire in the next Breaking Dawn installment. My lack of knowledge on vampires and werewolves leads me to question "Can someone be half-vampire and half-wolf? How schizophrenic are Stephanie Myer's characters?"
J.D. Pardo in Revolution. I mean, is this The Hunger Games or Twilight?
Taylor Lautner in Twilight.
While I was watching Revolution, I thought to myself "Why does Miles look so familiar? Who is that guy?" Turns out Charlie's uncle is the same guy (Billy Burke) who plays Bella Swan's father in Twilight. Coincidentally, his character's name is Charlie. Only difference is, Miles doesn't have a dorky mustache like Bella's dad does.
Billy Burke as Miles, pictured here with niece Charlie.

Billy Burke in Twilight as Charlie Swan, with dumb mustache.
After viewing the pilot of Revolution, I realized that I had liked the show, even though it seemed like The Hunger Games and The City of Ember just got together and had a baby. Then I found out the TV show is produced by J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot Productions. After that, I was like "duh, of course I liked it." Because my favorite producer is J.J. Abrams. He's the one who created Alias and Lost, two of my favorite past shows.

I think this show's going to be well received*, because Katniss from The Hunger Games is popular, and the character of Charlie is basically a form of Katniss. Plus, I mean, she wears bad ass leather pants and carries a knife on her hip. Also, boots are really in this season.

*Revolution has not been well received by the scientifically minded. But the whole point so far is that science defied itself when the blackout happened, and nobody knows why.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Lazy Vegetarian

Recipe for Comida Perezoso

Time to prepare: 4 minutes

Laziness factor: energetic enough to use a can opener
Tasty factor: Yum!
Yields: 3.5 servings

1 can black beans
1 can corn (not creamed, yuck!)
1 can garbanzo beans
handful of cheddar cheese
your favorite salsa (I like Chachie's mango-peach)
tortilla chips (stale works fine)

good salsa

Open up all the cans. Drain them all. Rinse the beans with cold water. Mix black beans, garbanzo beans, and corn in large bowl. Put however much you are going to eat in a smaller bowl. Add in your favorite salsa and a handful of cheese. Microwave for 60 seconds. Eat with tortilla chips. Store the large bowl in the fridge so you can eat your leftovers for tomorrow's lunch.

Clean-up: Recycle the cans. Put your one bowl and one spoon in the dishwasher. Do a little dance.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On why you should not take your sister to Olive Garden

Last Saturday afternoon my mom was in town and she wanted to go to lunch with me and my sister. She let us decide where we wanted to go, and I made the dumb mistake of suggesting we go to the Olive Garden. Based on past experiences, I should have known better.
                I’ll let you see why.
                “Would you like a wine sample?” asks our male server.
                “Yes,” says Jessamy, rather enthusiastically. For how fast she pulled out her ID, you’d think she kept it up her shirt sleeve.
                “No thank you,” says my mother.
                “No thanks, “ I say. I’m not against wine with lunch, I’m really not. I just don’t like many wines. I’m also very uneducated when it comes to vino, so I don’t even know the names of the few wines I do like. Riesling maybe? Chardonnay? I really don’t know. I always do a sniff test before tasting, which is typically very attractive and is how I score most of my Friday night dates.
                The server pours my sister a sample, then goes to get our waters. We debate the menu. Our server comes back to take our orders. “Are you done with this?” he says, reaching for Jessamy’s wine glass.
                “NO.” She reaches out to protect the last swig—so possessive you’d think she stomped those grapes herself and labored to make the drink on her own. I’m feeling a bit embarrassed about this, but to make matters worse, she downs the last sip in record time and then hands the glass to the man. I die a little bit inside.
“You embarrass me every time I take you to the Olive Garden,” I say, once the server is out of earshot.
“Why?” she says.
“Because that just happened.”
“Why do you care?”
“Some of us are trying to find husbands.”
Jess raises an eyebrow, “And it was gonna be that guy?”
“Well not anymore,” I half-laugh.
It’s true. Finding a husband these days is rather difficult. I mean, I have a hard enough time trying to get someone to visit me at my house. You think I’m gonna be able to convince a guy to live here with me too? I don’t even know what the issue is, because I have a very cute, tidy house and the world’s comfiest couch. Maybe I should put that into my profile.
A bit later our salad arrives. This time a woman brings it. She asks if we would like extra cheese on our salad. Sister says yes. Lady begins to grate cheese onto salad. I’m talking to Jess for a minute, then I realize the cheese is still being grated. It’s like a snow blizzard has covered the salad. You know, if snow blizzards were short, stringy, room-temperature, and tasted like parmesan.
“Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. That’s enough,” I say to the server.
“Maybe that’s enough for you,” Jess says to me, clearly upset that I interrupted her cheese flow.
“I could put some more on your plate if you’d like,” the woman offers. I think it’s a joke.
“Yes, please,” says my sister.
She just did that. Got cheese grated directly onto her plate. And okay, I get that she loves cheese. Most people in my family do. We have a Swiss heritage. Cheese making used to be the livelihood* of our great-great-great grandfather, Peter-Fred Grossen.  People who are lactose-intolerant practically get smudged out of our family line. If Grossens had been raised Amish instead of Presbyterian, then not having cheese in your fridge would nearly deserve a shunning.  But even if you have a cheese passion, you need to act with propriety. 
These are my actual real-life living cousins. We celebrate our Swiss heritage with a parade every year.
 “You did that on purpose,” I say to Jess. Because clearly now she just wants to do every embarrassing thing she can. And we haven’t even gotten to the breadsticks yet.
Jessamy begins telling stories about work, and of how her new assistant, Elsa, has a very unique personality. Apparently whenever Elsa gets upset, she says “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!” Elsa also recommends that you lay with your head over the side of the bed for at least two minutes a day in order for the blood to rush to your head and stimulate hair growth. I guess one day Elsa bobbed her head back and forth and was all “I think my hair is growing a lot faster because I’m bending over so much at work.” So there’s that.
Our food arrives. I’ve ordered the never ending pasta bowl (fettuccine alfredo) and Jess went for the Zuppa Toscana. My mother decided to get fettuccine as well. We dig in. In case you were wondering, my sister and her husband’s first date together was at the Olive Garden during their never ending pasta bowl promotion. She ate three bowls and took one home. This is how it went down: Jess posted on MySpace (because that used to be a thing, back in 2005)“I need someone to go to Olive Garden with me for the never ending pasta bowl!” And Travis said he’d go. Then it was happily ever after.
You might suggest to me that I try this find-a-date-strategy with Facebook, but whenever I’m looking for someone to go somewhere with me, I usually only hear from the crickets. I guess trying to get a partner to help with my detective work sounds too dangerous. Or maybe it’s the mention of wearing disguises that really puts people off. So instead I’ve learned a better strategy is to post “first person to invite me to dinner gets $100!” Because then not only do you attract the go-getters, but your date is guaranteed to have some cash too.
At this point, we’ve all eaten one breadstick and there’s one remaining in the basket. I look up at Jess and observe her behavior for a while. I look back at the lone breadstick and regard it with the feelings one usually has towards a solar eclipse. See, every other time I’ve been at the Olive Garden, Jess will make sure all the breadsticks make it onto plates immediately, so that way when the server comes by she can ask for more. I was mortified at her 25th birthday dinner, because I think she asked for 8 breadstick basket refills that night. After that evening, the Olive Garden manager considered starting a policy where people get their wrists Xed out if they’ve had too many breadsticks. But then my sister started an Occupy Olive Garden movement, where she encouraged all the patrons to stay as long as they could, peacefully ordering breadstick refills.
Despite my sisters attempt to embarrass me completely, I’m in a good mood. I start to joke around, but then pretty soon the joke becomes a serious plan.
“You know. I could order some more pasta for you, and you could order a bowl of minestrone for me, and then we could eat each other’s food.” Because I mean really. Does it make sense to you? Should I eat three pounds of pasta, salad, and breadsticks, when instead I could eat a bowl of pasta, a bowl of soup, salad, and breadsticks? Either way, Olive Garden is out the same amount of food. It’s just different people would eat it. But rule breaking must be done discreetly. I slide a few noodles onto Jessy’s breadstick plate, telling her to eat them immediately, then I’ll give her more.
It’s kind of like feeding a toddler, really. Only you have to do it when no one is watching.
“We should keep ordering bowls and bowls of pasta, then we can both take some home and I can have enough to last until I am gainfully employed again**.”
My mother interjects. “They only bring you one bowl at a time, so you can only ever leave with one bowl.” Such a realist.
“Then this is what we do. Mom, you keep ordering more fettuccine, and we’ll dump it all into my bowl,” I break into laughter. I usually laugh the most at my own jokes, which apparently is a really annoying attribute. “Then we’ll get a mountain of pasta this high,” I raise my hand up to the hanging lamp, “and I’ll just be sitting here, eating pasta and acting like nothing happened. Then we ask for a to-go container.”
Only we didn’t carry out our brilliant plan. Instead I had a few bites of Jessy’s third bowl of soup, and she had a few bites of my second dish of pasta, and we asked for just one more basket of breadsticks. No one left with Mount Fettuccine. Also, no one left with a date either.

*Actually, I’m pretty sure his livelihood was dairy cows, not just the cheese.      
**Don’t worry. I have a savings account and can afford to buy groceries.
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