Friday, March 30, 2012

Condoms and Me: Tales of Misconception

Most seven year old girls don’t ask their mothers for condoms, but that’s what I did. We were at Rite Aid (then known as Payless) shopping in the baby aisle. I don’t remember what my mom was looking for, but I think it may have been for a baby shower gift. We were in that aisle for a really long time, and one can only scrutinize pacifiers for so long before getting bored. I moved down the row and saw these brightly colored, shiny looking disks. They had a picture of a man imprinted on them, and I recognized them as those golden chocolate coins that you get at Christmastime or whenever you attend a pirate themed birthday party.
            Being a chocolate fiend, I asked my mother if I could have them. I don’t remember my mother’s expression, but she was most likely horrified.
            “Sweetie, those aren’t chocolate coins.”
I was so confused. They were the right shape, right color, what else could they be?     
       “What are they?” I inquired.
            Bluntly, she said “They’re for when adults have sex.”
It was now my turn to feel horrified. I felt embarrassed, dirty, and shocked. Something that I thought was an innocent piece of chocolate turned out to be for naked people.
            I think I was about 16 the next time condoms made a substantial impact on my life. We’re not counting 9th grade health class, because the teacher just said to use condoms if you have sex—we never actually saw one in real life. So I was 16, rummaging around in my older sister’s room while she was gone. Typical. I think I was looking for nail polish remover or something, when I stumbled upon a not-so-friendly object sitting amongst the clutter on her vanity table.
At first guess it looked like a chocolate coin. Logic told me this was not true, because I had been fooled before. I took some other facts into consideration, like how my sister had not been to any pirate themed birthday parties recently, and how she was hanging around with this one guy quite a bit.
Here’s what popped into my virgin mind: “My sister is a whore.”
I began to feel betrayed. Disappointed. Shocked. What a slut! She hadn’t even known this guy for a year. I had to be sure it was not a chocolate coin. I prayed that it would be. Nervously, I began to open it up, hoping to find milk chocolate and not lubricated latex. I poked the faux coin with a finger nail. I peeled the wrapper back a bit. As I exhaled, I felt the weight of an elephant being lifted off my chest. It was just chocolate. Tricked once again.
At age 20 my skin actually came in contact with a condom. It was purple.
I was attending a health curriculum workshop with the eighth grade teachers in the district. Mostly we covered new info on STDs, we discussed pregnancy prevention, refusal skills to teach our kids, etc. Towards the end of the day, we each had to teach  a 10 minute lesson from the new curriculum book. One of the teachers did her lesson on how to use a condom (Which, btw, is only allowed at one middle school in the district. Apparently showing 13 year olds condoms is the equivalent to making them watch porn).
 We partnered up, and one of us had to put the condom on our partner’s hand. I got the privilege of being the penis. I held my hand up straight as the other teacher began to unroll the purple condom onto my hand. She pinched the top and took care of business. Another teacher impersonated a student and asked “So, is it okay if I open the wrapper with my teeth?” The person teaching the lesson said, “Sure, if that’s what you prefer.” This, btw, is a big fat NO NO. Opening condom wrappers with your teeth is not safe since your teeth can accidentally puncture the latex. Duh. This is why we have so many pregnant teens. Teachers forget to tell students the important facts for condom use.
When I was a junior in college I really had to get comfortable around condoms. I was an RA (resident assistant) for one of the freshman halls, and part of my job was to ensure that the community bathrooms were stocked with free condoms.
When they ran out, I would go to the health center to get more. I’d say, “I’m an RA in Landers. Can I get a bag of condoms for my hall?” I was very careful to make it clear that the condoms were for my residents. I didn’t want the receptionist to think that I was there to get a big brown bag full of condoms just for myself.
After receiving the condoms, I put them in an empty locker in the bathrooms, one on the girls’ floor, one on the boys’ floor. The girls were really good about not abusing the free condoms, and by that I mean they wouldn’t all disappear in two days. The boys, however, liked to play pranks with them, and did things like stick ten of them to a friend’s door or use them as water balloons. It got so bad I had to have an intervention.
I held a meeting for the boys I was in charge of, and it went something like this:
“Guys, you better stop playing pranks with the condoms, or I’m not going to get them for you anymore. Then you can just go down to the health center yourselves and ask the old lady behind the counter for them. Is that what you want?”
They looked down at their feet and said, “Noooo.”
I continued, “And if you are the person who takes ALL the condoms in the locker, you need to stop. There’s no reason to be a condom hoarder. I don’t want to go to the health center every other day asking for five pounds of condoms. They’re going to start thinking my residents are shooting a porno.”
There was some grumbling from the boys.
“Now, have a cupcake and go study,” I said, holding out a plate, because no one ever comes to community hall meetings unless you promise free food.
            One last condom tid bit regarding my life: I used to not like to say or spell the word “condominium” for obvious reasons.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The man at the door

Summer of 2007, prior to my senior year of college.
I really should check through the window before I ever answer the door. But I haven’t, because I am an idiot. So for punishment, I run the risk of getting abducted by old men posing as charity members.
I was upstairs, waiting for Sierra to call because we were going to hang out. Then I heard a knock on the door. I figured maybe she just came over, because she often shows up unexpectedly at my doorstep. So I jump downstairs, all excited to open the door and hug Sierra. Instead, I blindly open the door and nearly fling my arms around the middle aged man waiting on my doorstep.
I am instantly confused, because I have never seen this person before. He begins to speak, his voice a bit muffled. He talks about a mile a minute, so it’s hard for me to understand. He says something about going around and meeting all the neighbors. I think to myself, “Oh, he just moved in on the street and wants to meet people. That’s sweet.” So I stick out my hand and say “I’m Joelle.” I should have lied and said “My name’s Cordelia,” but I wasn’t thinking straight.
He keeps on talking, explaining he’s part of a group that helps people get over a fear of public speaking. He asks me if I have ever given a public speech. “Uhh…” I say, thinking back to the speech I gave in high school to a crowd of a thousand or so. “Yeah, this one time in high school.”
“And wasn’t it scary?” he asks. Not really, I think. This guy started talking about how he gets points for talking to people, and he whips out this laminated paper thingy, and I start to think I will have to sign something saying he talked to me so he can get his points. It's like Cub Scouts for socially awkward middle-aged people.
Then he gives me a laminated list of magazine titles, so I become more confused.
“What do you like to do?” he asks me. I say that I like to read, because I am a nerd. He assures me that I am not a nerd. First of all, he doesn’t know that I’ve read about a thousand pages this week, and it’s only Wednesday. Second, I don’t need some stranger to tell me he thinks I am not nerdy, because he’s only saying that because he’s after his points.
Then he asks me what my boyfriend likes to do. In retrospect, I should have either said 1) My boyfriend likes shooting guns and bounty hunting, or 2) My boyfriend likes boxing. Because then maybe he’d think twice before kidnapping me. But what I really said was “Oh, I don’t have a boyfriend.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” he says. Yeah, big joke, haha.
“No,” I say. I mean, we really don’t need to get into my personal life and talk about how I often spend time in my flannel pajamas, watching HGTV, alone.
“Wow.” he says, “every guy in this town must be either blind or gay.” Oh great, now we can get into my past and talk about how I once had a crush on a guy who I later found out was homosexual. Just what I need to remember.
“Well, again, my name is Jim and I like long walks on the beach and blah blah blah”. That statement sort of creeps me out, because he really doesn’t need to pretend like he thinks I’m cute. Flattery is the sort of thing a kidnapper would say to lure a victim. And really, strangers knocking on my doorstep can just save it and shove it. After all, his only motivation is those stupid points.
Then he tells me about when he gets enough points, he gets to go to Bermuda for spring break. Well, great. He encourages me to look over the list he's put in my hands. I glance down at it and finally realize what has happened. 1) He is not my neighbor 2) He does not really think I am attractive (but I knew that was a ploy all along) 3) He is not just trying to get over his fear of public speaking, and 4) He is really trying to sell me magazines.
I ask to confirm. “So, you want me to buy one of these?”
“Yeah,” he says, “that’s how I get my points.”
“How much are they?” I ask
“Oh, really cheap. Just like my mother and old roommate.
I’m taken aback.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’m interested today.” 
This is the part where he hits me over the head and throws me in his trunk for not cooperating. But I'm sorry, I'm just not going to buy a subscription to US Weekly. This thirty-something year old man is trying to sell magazines so that he can go to Bermuda for spring break, meanwhile I have never even been to Disneyland? I think I'll save my money, thank you very much.
And that is the story about the time I should've dead bolted the door.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Phone Convo between J and N

Last week in the Willamette Valley we experienced some psychotic spring weather, which included a thick blanket of snow. Natalie and I had a phone conversation about it.

J: My lawn is covered in snow. And you know what's funny? I was totally going to cut the grass today. Well, at least I was thinking about it last night. I'm pretty sure God doesn't want me to mow the lawn though, because if he did, he wouldn't have made it snow.

N: I'm also pretty sure God wants you to buy a Cricut machine*. You know, so we can craft excellent things together.

*In case you didn't know, a Cricut is a very expensive crafter's dream. It's a glorified electric die cutter and makes tedious cutting less boring. Martha Stewart wanted to take her Cricut with her to prison so she could teach the inmates how to make beautiful cards and decorations, but she couldn't get it past the prison guard. Now that she's out of the slammer, she using her Cricut daily, die cutting fake money.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hunger Games Opinions

I just finished reading the Hunger Games because I succumbed to peer pressure. Everybody has been talking about it, everybody has been reading it, and everybody can't wait to see the movie. Here are some of my thoughts on the book. Be warned, it contains revealing details, so if you haven't read it yet and don't want me to ruin anything for you, then go just X out of this right now.
I didn't read this book with the intention of being critical; it just sort of happened. I am a reader and I think that even a futuristic novel needs to be believable. I'm not just going to accept everything the author writes and pretend like none of it was stupid.

Before I spout my opinions, I will commend the author on some points.
1) The Hunger Games warrants being published and read, unlike some books I've had the misfortune of meeting. I don't think back on the six hours of my life and think "Man, that was a waste of time." It wasn't a crap book.

2) Unrequited love always makes for a good story line. So go Suzanne Collins for creating Peeta's character.

3) The Hunger Games is basically a personal account of a reality TV star's experience in a horrific version of Survivor. Kudos to Collins for thinking this up. America is obsessed with reality TV, and the narrative of a young girl who does not want to be on the show is gripping.

Now on to the problems I had with the book:

Tracker jackers, really? That's the name you are going to give those deadly, determined wasps? When I read tracker jacker, my mind immediately changes it to Cracker Jacker, which leads to Cracker Jacks. So while I am supposed to be really afraid of these terrifying wasps, what I'm really doing is thinking about eating Cracker Jacks and shaking the box upside down looking for the prize. Couldn't they just have been called tracker wasps?

Those character names. Not a single one of them was normal, except for Gale, who at first I thought was a female, because Gail is a girl name. I could actually handle Prim, because Primrose was the name of the main character in a Jerry Spinelli book. But Effie? Couldn't they have just named her Steffie? Because--I'll be honest--when I read Effie, I immediately thought "Oh Eff." As in a shortened, more acceptable use of a curse word. And Haymitch? At least the author was consistent, I'll give her that. She didn't have Linda and Sue running around with Cinna and Octavia (which just makes me think of Greek tragedies).

I understand that the book is supposed to be futuristic, and the many years between 2012 and whenever this takes place could leave a lot of room for popular names to change, but you know what names were used about 2,000 years ago? John. Luke. Jacob. Matthew. And look where we are now, still using them. So I am sorry if I have a really hard time with the masculine name of Gale, but I do.

That whole sponsor thing, with the tiny parachutes. Really? It seems totally unfair that some people can get delivered presents and others can't. But I guess the whole premise of the Hunger Games isn't fair. I have a hard time believing that there are hovercrafts around, just ready to drop down loaves of bread and pots of broth.

How many times have I read a book where there is a sleeping bag scene? You know, there is only ONE sleeping bag and a guy and a girl has to share it in order to survive the cold? It starts out a little awkward at first. "Should I or shouldn't I?" the character thinks. But then the two end up in the same bag keeping each other warm with their body heat, and they kind of like it and feel safe. This concept is way over done. You know how many times I have been out in the elements with just one sleeping bag and needed to share it with an attractive young man? Exactly zero times. And I've been camping a lot.

The whole "here, let me wash your wounds" scene. Happens ALL THE FREAKING TIME. In like, every movie that features a guy and girl in some sort of survival/battle setting. The two instances that come specifically to mind are when Kate had to sew up Jack on the first episode of Lost, and when Isolde had to nurse Tristan back to health in that little underground cave. Taking care of men, of course, requires that they take their shirts off. Usually there is a little blushing in these scenes. If the girl character gets lucky, she gets injured somehow and then the guy has to take care of her, and it's then that she realizes how tender and loving the man is, and how she just can't live without him.

Another part that was rather unbelievable to me was the grand entrance/interviews that the tributes had to do in the beginning. CBS's Survivor never starts off by showing the players enter in really fancy dresses and suits (they leave that up to ABC's The Bachelor, which I guess is just a more glamorous version of Survivor). The players don't go on some stage for a preliminary interview so that people can have more information in order to place bets. In my opinion, if people are going to some televised games to die, getting all dressed up and fancy seems out of place. This isn't a pageant, it's death.

The book started getting good when Katniss set out to find Peeta (because you know, after that is when the sleeping bag scene and the let-me-wash-your-wounds scene happened). But maybe I was just getting bored by lack of dialogue. I feel like dialogue really drives a book, and if there is no one for the main character to talk to, it gets boring. Because then all she's doing is eating groosling legs and hiding in trees. So I was really glad when Katniss teamed up with Peeta, but then some stupid stuff came with it. Like how Katniss "just knew" revving up the romance with Peeta is what Haymitch wanted. That whole angle was dumb. It seemed like a very forced way to foster a romantic relationship between characters, and to cause Katniss to question her feelings for both Gale and Peeta. I think the romantic relationship could have been developed just as well with having Peeta pull all the moves. Then, you know, when Katniss saves his life she realizes how much she cares about him. But of course if there hadn't been "an act" put on by Katniss, the ending wouldn't have been so heart wrenching for Peeta, who really does love her.

And oh my goodness those muttations at the end. First off, dumb name. You can call them mutations, or you can call them mutts, but Suzanne Collins, please don't name them muttations. It's almost as bad as tracker jackers. I wish she would have left those ridiculous creatures out of the ending. Really? It's the dead tributes come back in another bodily form to get revenge? And they have the human's eyes? They can stand up on their hind legs and wave to each other? The author should have just included a pack of rabid wolves. They would have done the job just as well, without me thinking it was moronic.

So yes, I am full of criticisms. Did I spend a considerable amount on my couch yesterday thinking "I must finish this book TONIGHT"? Yes. Am I going to go see the movie? Yes. Was this novel better than Twilight? Yes. Would I give it an award? No.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The time I was almost roommates with a Cocker Spaniel

About a year and a half ago I almost got a dog as a roommate. I'm not talking about how people living by themselves get lonely and decide to buy a pet. I am talking about how I was going to get paid $300 a month to have a Cocker Spaniel live with me.

 I was searching on Craigslist for roommates when I stumbled upon an ad for a long term pet sitter. A family had to move to Taiwan for a year and they couldn't take their dog with them (do they eat dog in Taiwan?). They couldn't bear to get rid of their dog, so they were trying to find someone who would keep it for cash dollars. In addition to the $300 you would get for letting Sadie sleep on a rug in your house, the owners would also pay for food and vet bills.

It seemed like a near-perfect set up. I had an extra bedroom and a little yard. I had always thought Cocker Spaniels were adorable. And okay, the most I had ever done was owned a Cocker Spaniel stuffed animal who did nothing but sit on my bed for years, but I had her since I was eleven years old. I had grown up with a family dog, but it was a strictly outside dog. She was very low-maintenance because we lived in the country so she had a lot of space to run around. We never had to take it for walks or scoop up poop.

I seriously contemplated getting Sadie as a canine roommate, thinking about how we could go to the park together, have girls' night, watch movies, and paint our nails. If she got annoying I could just tell her to shut up and she'd still like me, and I knew she'd never leave dirty dishes in the sink. But I found this ad during October, which is a dreadfully rainy month in Oregon. The more I thought about letting a dog roam in my backyard, the more I didn't like it. See, I have really poor drainage due to the clay soil my house sits upon. You walk out in the yard more than once a week and you've got a mud pen on your hands.

During this time of my life I was also gone from my house usually 12 hours or more at a time. It seemed really mean to keep a dog locked in the house for that long. I mean, I know what it feels like not to get to use the bathroom for four hours. I can't imagine three times that. I didn't desire a mud hole for a yard or pooped on carpets, so I decided that Sadie would have to find a different roommate. And that is the story of how I almost had a blonde canine for a roommate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

NeedToBreathe left me breathless

Last Thursday I was in musical blissdom as I got to see/hear NeedToBreathe live at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland. I hadn't been to a concert in several years, which is quite a sin. But you know what happens to me? I always find out about the artists I want to see two days after they've been in my area. Thank Jesus for my friend Brittany, who told me about the NeedToBreathe concert a week before it happened. I was able to snag a ticket and a ride.

The concert did not have reserved seating, which basically meant everybody went crazy trying to get near the stage. We scored a pretty decent spot, but I still struggled to see the band, as I had left my stilts at home. While we were waiting for the show to start we (me, Brittany, and her husband) came up with the idea of collapsible heels or a collapsible step-stool that can easy be folded up and stored in a purse. If I had just been six inches taller at the concert, I would have been able to keep my nose out of that plaid-shirted man's armpits. He was standing in front of me the whole time, which I did not really appreciate.

Besides wishing I had brought along a ladder, I also wished I had brought ear plugs, because apparently I have sensory issues like an autistic child and loud noises cause me pain. I have acute hearing, and even though I loved the sounds that were coming out of the speakers, it was too much for me. You can make fun of me and call me an old lady, but you are the one who will be deaf in thirty-five years while I am still able to hear the sound of a dog whistle.

While we are on the topic of sensory overload, I'll just go ahead and tell you that I can't stand bright lights either. Bright lights to me probably mean normal lights to you, because I am the one who wears sunglasses on a cloudy day and installed a dimmer switch in the bathroom. There's nothing worse than starting your day getting ready in a fluorescent lit bathroom. I prefer the cave-like atmosphere of shadows and darkness, which probably explains my poor make-up application.
Ooooh, lights.
But back to NeedToBreathe. I about passed out when I saw the backdrop for the tour. It was beautiful and ingenious and I need to figure out who designed it, because if it was a man, I need to marry him. It was this giant set of typewriter keys that lit up different patterns and colors. If you know me well (or just marginally) then you know that I adore typewriters. My heart beats a little quicker when I just look at them. You can imagine my elation when I got to stare at a forty foot long typewriter replica for two hours. I left that ballroom wanting nothing more than to have my very own giant typewriter installed on a wall in my living room.
I didn't take this photo. I did not have that good of view. I was able to see the letter Y, and that was about it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Man Pants

On Saturdays I put on my man pants and do the things that I wish a guy would do. It doesn't even have to be a guy who belongs to me. It can be the gardener man. Or a teenager down the street. Maybe even a hobo man, but that is kind of pushing the safety perimeter.

Of course, I don't need a guy to do things like mow the lawn, clean the gutters, trim tree branches, dig up shrubs, and go to Home Depot with me. I can fully do all those things by myself if necessary. There is just something inherently wrong about it. I just feel like there should be a man doing these things, or at least helping me with them.

I look at it like this: If a button falls off a guy's shirt, he probably can figure out how to fix it himself with a needle and thread. But it just seems like he should have a girl there to help him, or to do it for him. Or maybe the guy is searching for pillows for his living room. He is fully capable of choosing pillows he likes, but it seems a bit wrong, like there should be some sort of female input on it. So he settles for asking the cashier what she thinks, kind of how like I settle for asking the Home Depot guy what kind of refrigerator I should get.

There's nothing wrong with a guy baking or a girl installing a light fixture, but to me, it seems like a key element is missing. Call me old fashioned. Am I the only one who thinks this way? Are there any other girls who have a pair of man pants folded up and put in a drawer for when you need them? Any men out there who need my help picking out pillows for their living room?

P.S. Mad props to my cousin Jason, who mowed my lawn last week in exchange for some freshly baked oatmeal apple cookies. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

hot body in motion

It's been at least eight days since I've been to the gym, so I force myself to put on stretchy pants and my Nikes. I get in my car and drive towards the gym, which is a bit like driving towards your own death. The entire time I'm behind the wheel, I am simultaneously shoving gummy fish into my mouth. I've got a whole bag of them sitting in the passenger seat, and they are hard to ignore. If you want me to explain to you why I've got a pound of Swedish fish in my front seat, then I'd also have to explain why I've got sidewalk chalk under my seat, masks in the glove box, and scotch tape laying on the backseat. So I'm not going to explain any of it.

Ten minutes and about 27 gummy fish later, I'm at the gym. You might say to yourself "Why don't you just skip the candy and not go to the gym?" To you I say, Why make your bed if you are just going to sleep in it that night? Why wash your hair if you're going to the beach? Why lock your front door if you have to go out it the next morning? We do these things because they make us feel better about ourselves.

Group Power is first, so I get some plates and a bench. But this isn't a restaurant. By plates, I don't mean the china, but weights. And by bench, I don't mean the kind you sit in at a park while you admire the sun shining or read the newspaper with a latte in your hand.

 I know I'm going to be feeling weak, so I only put 45 pounds* on my bar to start. This isn't the Marines. No need to try too hard. I do fine during the warm up, but then it's time for legs. The instructor advises us to double our weight, but I always take this as a bad suggestion that actually means 1.5 times your regular weight. I am a wuss and I'm not afraid to admit it. The music starts up and I heave the bar over the back of my head so that it can rest on my shoulders. Then it's time for squats and lunges.

I think squats were invented for people who have flat butts to get bigger butts, but this is the least of my worries. I've got enough booty to make a pirate jealous. And lunges? As far as I can tell, they just make your thighs bulge with muscle, which is a problem I already have. I've mentioned this in previous posts, but I have thighs like a kangaroo. Granted, I can't hop as high or balance on my tail, but these thighs o'mine are a workhorse.

For some reason, when the track is finished, I am out of breath and mostly feel like collapsing on the ground. This is what happens when you don't exercise for a week. But my least favorite track is the bicep track. Bicep work is always very difficult for me, because I have weak wrists. I feel like my wrists are doing all the work, not my arm muscles. Because of this, I have very fit wrists. They are super tiny, which makes it impossible to find bracelets that don't slip off. Unless they are Hello Kitty bracelets, because children's jewelry usually works.

Fifty-five minutes later, Group Power is over, but do I go home and faint on the couch? No. I stay for kickboxing, because it's my favorite class. Plus, you know, I'm a bad ass. Whenever I am in Group Kick, I pretend like I am Alex training in the Division compound, or Sydney Bristow training at The Farm, or maybe even I'm a Ninja Turtle practicing in the sewer.

I really enjoy the moves for the most part, but there is one particular move that I find uncomfortable: scissors. All you do is criss cross your legs back and forth, but I've found that all this jumping causes my brain to hurt. Like, my brain isn't strapped tightly enough into my head and it just kind of shakes around in there while I'm jumping around, and it gives me a headache. I once had a stuffed kitten with a similar problem. It had a special ball in it's head to make it sound like it was purring when you pet it, but after having the stuffed animal for a few years and dragging it all over the place, I think the ball kind of loosened up, because GreyFeather started to sound more like a baby rattle than a purring cat. But I digress.

I throw punches and kicks and do jumps that would clear a stack of encyclopedias,** but thank the Lord when we are two tracks away from finishing. We've just got to do our ab track and the stretching track.

 "Does Tracy usually make you do a victory lap?" Our substitute instructor asks before we get our mats.

"Is that what you call it?" I think. Because I call it the Lap of Torture. But I suck it up and jog around the gym twice, which is much like jogging around the entire city perimeter, except that you probably won't get mugged, but there's no 7-Eleven to stop at and get a Slurpee either.

After the dreaded lap, I lay down on the undoubtedly germ-drenched mat to torture my abdominals into submission. It's not much fun, but it's better than doing scissors or bicep curls. I actually have a pretty good set of abs, but you wouldn't know it by my ability to do a full sit-up. You might be able to catch a glimpse of my muscles when I do laundry though. When my washing machine breaks down, I just use the washboard called my stomach to scrub those clothes clean.

*So I exaggerated a bit. I only put 15 pounds on my bar to start.
**a stack of two. Let's not get crazy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Crush Quiz

Meg Cabot is my favorite female author. Her characters are typically hilarious, candid, and always hopeful. Maybe if I become a popular YA author, Meg and I can become friends. And then we can co-write advice pieces together.

While catching up on Meg's website, I discovered a little gem she wrote from 2004. It's a crush quiz. It is really excellent. If you are a guy, you should read it anyway, because it's funny. If you are a girl, it's a must read.

Never mind that it was intended for girls under the age of 18. It is totally applicable.

Here it is. It only takes five minutes. If you are one of my closest friends, then you know that I scored mostly C's and D's. But mostly D's.

Here is a sample question.
3. How often do you guys have actual conversations?
a. Often, almost every day
b. Sometimes, maybe once a week or less
c. Only when I've gone out of my way to make it happen
d. I chose to admire him from afar only

Monday, March 5, 2012

Izzy's Overload

Here I am on a Sunday afternoon, sitting in a booth at Izzy's, working on my second plate of delectable food. "I love America," I say to my sister and Travis, who are sitting across from me. Because in what other country is it socially acceptable to have three empty plates on your table and then go in for more? Certainly not Africa, which is actually more of a continent.

I am sitting here, proud that I am hungry. Happy that I have such a voracious appetite. See, the week prior I had been suffering from Stomach Rot. Stomach Rot is a non-medical term I just came up with to describe the wretched non-flu related pain and barfing that snatched hold of my body. It's when your intestines just kind of give up working and start to rot right inside your body. Not only does eating food make you sick, but not eating food makes you sick. You're trying to go about your daily life with your innards just rotting away. Occasionally you may throw some of them up, as I did. Doing this in sight of the school children you work with may disgust and worry them.

As far as I know, I'm the only known case of Stomach Rot, though I suspect pirates used to suffer from it. That, and Scurvy, but thanks to multivitamins most people (sailors included) no longer have that problem. I had to ease food very cautiously back into my diet. And here I was feeling fantastic, ready to really eat and make up for those five days of wretchedness.

I go in for another helping. This time I actually go to the salad bar. I use tongs to pick out pineapple and orange slices. I pile on the Caesar salad. Then I go back to the grill to get some more of those delicious vegetables. That's right, a second helping of vegetables. They have that grilled, barbecue flavor to them, and as I'm eating them I can't help but wonder why people love food that tastes smokey. Smoked cheese, smoked salmon, smokey burgers, smokey all tastes delicious and I can't figure out why. I mean, when you are trapped in your house with the walls burning down around you, you hardly think "Oh, what a delicious flavor." Maybe it's because it's your own skin that's about to shrivel. Also, take fire pits for example. I love a good marshmallow roasting pit just as much as the next girl, but I abhor the smoke that wafts in my hair and stings my eyes. And cigarettes. That is the nastiness scent I know. But still, people like a good grilled meal.

When I used to be a teacher, there was a co-worker I knew who liked to pour smokey sauce into her V8 tomato juice to give it a better flavor. I personally found it disgusting. Tomato juice is gross on its own, but you are going to straight up drink smokey sauce with it? Yuck. Why don't you just add a pickle to the side while you're at it.

But back to Izzy's and its deliciousness. After three plates, I finally decided to go in for dessert. I get a little bowl full of Oreo pudding, a freshly hot cinnamon roll, two chocolate chip cookies, and one oatmeal cookie. I eat the pudding first, and while it is thick, creamy, and Oreo flavored, there is also something rather wrong about it. You know, the same sort of wrongness that Velveeta and Twinkies share. I continue eating the speckled delight, but imagine to myself that Izzy probably orders this pudding by the bucket full. It probably doesn't expire for five years and can sit open without getting moldy.

Worried about my impending health, I stab my fork into the heart of the cinnamon roll. Every body knows that the middle of the sticky bun is the best. I eat it first, because what if I get so full working my way to the middle that I can't even bring the center bit to my lips, and I have to leave it on the plate, wasted?

I look up at my sister and Travis, who both have decided to get soft serve ice cream (no toppings) as their only dessert. Are they mad? What kind of person chooses out-of-a-dispenser ice cream when they could be eating preservative chocked Oreo pudding or a hot cinnamon roll? This isn't Cold Stone. There isn't good ice cream coming out of that machine.

But people shouldn't be judged at Izzy's, so I say nothing. Instead I bite into my little oatmeal cookie and eat it very slowly. The three of us decide that we will all go take naps in our respective homes. There's nothing like a Sunday afternoon nap after a 12 pound buffet lunch.

I sit there, worried. I've still got two cookies sitting on my plate, and it would be a shame to waste them. I look back up at my sister. She understands.

"Darn, I forgot to line my purse with foil," I joke. But it's not really a joke. I prefer to use Ziploc baggies. You're able to keep the juices in that way.

Surreptitiously, Jess slides me a fresh napkin. I casually place my cookies on it. I look over my shoulder and scan the immediate area. It is safe from employees. I wrap the napkin up over the cookies, but leave it on the table for another moment. Jess fakes falling asleep right their in the booth. In a quick second, I put the napkin in my purse, like the 75 year old woman I am.

I don't know why people joke about old folks at buffets taking food home with them. In my experience, I've known a lot of young people try to take home whatever free food they can. Most of these individuals have been college students. High school students are nearly as zealous about taking left overs, because they are still living at home and at least half of them still have parents cooking dinner for them nightly or giving them lunch money. Many college students don't have that luxury. Like homeless people, they take food where they can get it. The difference is, a lot of college students have mini fridges to keep the stuff cold.

The fork lift finally arrives to scoop me, Jess, and Travis from our seat inside the restaurant to my car. In case you didn't know, Izzy's has a contract with Home Depot. You'd be surprised how many times patrons of Izzy complain that they can't move and need help to their cars. The Home Depot fork lift drivers make bank on this little service.

Once in the car, we drive home. I drop Jess and Travis off so that they can take a nap, then I go cuddle up on the World's Most Comfy Couch and sleep for three hours. I don't eat until the next morning.
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