Front yard garden

okay dad, this one’s for you!

Last year, we bought a new house with a great yard (albeit minimal direct sunlight on any given patch), and I didn’t want to commit to an in-ground garden, so I tried a container garden. It was total crap. I got like four tomatoes, and the little urchin-furry-nuisance-rabies-carrying-public-health-disaster-rodent squirrel community got the rest. Which was still only three or four.

The problem was not enough sunlight. My tomatoes were all leggy and then they sagged under their own weight and the tomato stakes weren’t doing much to help, and all of my dreams of thrusting a giant four pound tomato up over my head in a paroxysm of triumphant glee went right down the compost pile.

The moral of the story is that tomatoes actually really do need about 6-8 hours of sunlight. They’re not joshing ya. If you only get four hours, you’ll get a tomato. It’ll just be sad, and not big, and it will be the ONLY ONE. It’ll be a massive waste of time and a lesson in extreme disappointment.

So. I fretted about this problem all winter long. The whole reason I wanted to put the garden in the backyard is because it’s sort of a little bit kind of trashy to put a vegetable garden in the front yard, and let’s face it, I don’t want to bend over in my front yard if I don’t have to. Nobody wants that. Nobody. At least, nobody whose not creepy. People put expensive fences up for a reason.

But the only place that gets 6-8 hours of sunlight is the very front part of my front yard. So. Option A – trashy front yard garden. Option B- Buy expensive organic produce from Whole Foods all summer long (drool). Both me and Evan are cheap, and really, who am I kidding, there was no contest. We’re doing it. Trashin’ it up. Heck yeah. Theres a reason we live in Durham and not Chapel Hill.

So. We’re making it bigger and better this year. 10 by 4. That’s forty square feet of raised bed delight. Here’s a picture of my little seeds starting in an old turkey roasting pan. Soon, they will transform into tasty nubbins that will go into my belly. yummy.

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I gave up Christianity for Lent

Lent is about sacrificing vices. It’s about giving up that which you rely on most to see if you can hack it without your addiction.

So, i thought to myself, what am I most addicted to in life? What do I rely on the most?

It wasn’t that hard to figure out. I grew up in Texas, in a highly religious family. We went to mass every Sunday, sometimes multiple times a week. God was my rock. Any time I had a problem, I just gave it up to God, and He solved it for me. Anytime I saw something bad, or negative, or anti-Christian, I gave it up to God. God will Take Care of Us All And Solve All Our Problems. He solved all my problems. I prayed to Him to keep my family safe. He did. I prayed to him to let me into graduate school. He did. I prayed to Him to not let me be pregnant. He did!

Wow!God gives me everything I want!I thought.I wonder if I can hack it without God? So I decided to give up relying on God for Lent.

Week 1 was hard. I saw two homeless people begging for money. One of them had a dog. I couldn’t ask God to take care of them.  But if God wasn’t going to take care of them, who would? So instead, I bought them hot dogs. The dog too. That’s not cannibalism, is it?

My parents were flying somewhere for a vacation. Oh no! i can’t pray to God to keep their plane safe! I paced in circles, terrified that the plane would crash without God’s assistance and constant oversight. I constantly refreshed cnn.com’s homepage, certain that they’d die. But no. They landed safely. Weird. Someone else must have been praying.

A few other minor things happened. My dogs didn’t run away, nobody died, I didn’t get cancer, I didn’t fall down the stairs and break my neck, my car continued to run, I didn’t lose my job, and they even renewed Breaking Bad for another season!!!!!!!!!!!

Week 2.

Things were going okay without God’s intervention. I had a sacrilegious thought of ‘what was the point of even praying to Him, if He was going to do all of these things anyway.’ But i realized it couldn’t be sacrilegious because I’d given up God for Lent. How great! I wonder what other things I can do?

That weekend, I got really drunk and danced in a cage suspended from the ceiling at Shooters II, a classy disgusting bar for college students in Durham. Because you know what, God wasn’t going to punish me! Because i’d given him up! Ha God! Take That!

The next morning, as I knelt in front of the Porcelain Gods, I was sure that other God was punishing me. I thought about praying to God to not let me die, please not let me die, and I’d be a good Christian every day, but i didn’t pray. I resisted the urge. Because I am nothing if not strong willed. And guess what. In spite of my non-prayers, I didn’t die. The tequila stains even came out of my skirt after only one wash cycle.

Week 3.

I started to actually listen during Biology 101 instead of trying to figure out whether the world was 6,543 years old, or 6,547 years old. (There is a line in Genesis that is unclear). This week was on Evolution.HA! SACRILEGIOUS FRIPPERY! CARBON DATING IS BULLSHIZ!But wait. I’ve given up God for Lent. I opened up my mind to Science.

My brain did a flip flop when I allowed the evidence to seep in. Evolution was real. Wow. There were no non-religious, science based arguments against it. Wow. I was speechless. My mouth hung open a little bit. The fossil record….current evidence of geographical separation causing speciation….carbon dating……it was all real……….

I couldn’t stop thinking of those homeless people. God wasn’t going to take care of them. I had to do something. So I built a homeless shelter and a soup kitchen and got some of my rich friends’ parents to endow the shelter so it could run for 10 years. SNAP. Several of the residents had severe, untreated medical conditions. God wasn’t going to take care of them, so I got them medical insurance.SNAP. Who needs you, God, anyway?

 
Week 4

The doctors found a tumor on my shoulder. I thought about breaking my lenten promise and praying to God, since science and medicine is all bullshiz anyway, and then decided not to, and I allowed the medical team to remove my tumor. I was pronounced cancer-free, without God.

Hmmm. My life seemed to be pretty much the same without God. Better, actually. What was God’s deal, anyway? He didn’t really seem to care if I prayed or not. Then I had a perspective shift.

Maybe it wasn’t that he was doing all those things anyway. Maybe it was just that he wasn’t ever doing anything, at all. Maybe God was just a big lazy fathead playing in the clouds and inhaling plane exhaust. Maybe he was just this selfish dude who demanded everyone worship him or he’d send them to Hell, and did nothing in return. Maybe he used to be able to handle everyones prayers, when there were only like 10 of us, but now it was just too much to handle. 7 billion is a lot, yo, even for an omnisciently omnipowerful God, and our prayers must contradict each other a lot. Maybe he was addicted to Jersey Shore and Downton Abbey and the X Factor and he’d just gone AWOL for the rest of us.

 

Or Maybe God doesn’t exist.

 

 

all the new things!

I recently turned 27. It sorta sucked a little bit. If you haven’t done it yet, I strongly advise you to go ahead and not do it. You basically leave your mid twenties, land of the free and irresponsible, and enter your late twenties, where you become a real adult and your mother starts nagging you about not making enough money. And so does that little voice inside your head. Anyways.

To celebrate this entry into adulthood, Evan and I are about to buy a house! Yippee yaay yeehaww!!!! I am so super duper completely totally excited! I haven’t been this excited about anything since I met Evan! It’s at least twice the size of our current tiny little one bedroom apartment. It has a huge kitchen with a giant serving bar/island thing and we won’t ever run into each other in the kitchen, and it has a big yard with a fence for Puppy, and it has THREE WHOLE BEDROOMS and TWO WHOLE BATHS and all these trees! And a two tier deck in the back! OMG ITS SO AMAAAAAAZIIIIIIIIIING. Okay we haven’t closed yet, we close in 11 days, but I think it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. Unless our loan gets rejected. But It’s Totally Going To Happen. I Think. Fingers Crossed.

ahh so cute! even cuter on the inside!

Also, we are going on House Hunters? How did that happen?

And then, let’s see. Evan and I bought a scale, and we weighed ourselves for the first time in years. It was not good. It was also not good for Puppy, who is a little fatty and weighs 10.5 pounds. Yeah. Teacup Yorkie my ass. “It’s all muscle,” he says. Pffffft.

Furniture is so expensive. I hate it. I am never, ever, ever, going to buy new furniture. Ever.

***

Even though it’s not New Years, I have two new goals in life. One: get good at cleaning. Two: become the scrabble master.

1) is difficult. I always told my mom she was silly for cleaning all the time, and that she was wasting all this time when she could be watching tv shows with me, and she’d just get mad at me. Now I understand. Her floors were clean enough to eat off of. I’m nervous to walk on mine in bare feet. She never let the dog on the couches, and they were in pristine condition. Our dog, however, is up and down, and he tracks so much dirt and dog things onto them that they’re disgusting. She cleaned our bathroom every week with a gallon of vinegar and bleach. She was so freakin’ GOOD AT IT. So, I too, want to be good at it. I’m going to get good at it. I will.

2) Scrabble master — i’m on my way, peeps, on my way.

 

 

On Leaving Old West Durham

Evan and I are thinking about buying a house. We’d love to stay in Old West Durham/ Watts Hillandale, but it’s just not workin’ out for us. still, i love the neighborhood, and I would like to share why.

So I’m walking Napoleon around Watts Hillandale, as I sometimes do, since it’s nicer than Old West Durham, when I happen upon Wilson Street. I love Wilson street. It’s fabulous – beautiful houses from the 40s, great landscaping, lots and lots of charm. So there I am, contemplating what can only be a new handicapped ramp that is being built in the front of someone’s house, wondering what tragedy befell these people, when I hear a screech.

“BRIIIIGGGSSSS!!!! YOU POTSTINKER! BRIIIIIIGGSSS!”

Startled, I turn around. And there she is.

My most favorite Wilson St inhabitant. Poncho lady.

I’ve seen this woman maybe 5 times in my life. Each time, she is wandering drunkenly in the middle of the road, wearing what I assume to be either a poncho, or a carpet rug with a hole for her head. Last time, she was borrowing a cup of sugar from her neighbor friend, and actually apologized for her bare feet.

Hmm, you think. That’s not so odd.

Okay, you’re right. That alone is not so odd. But what if I told you that she is in her mid forties, 5’2, around 160 pounds, and the poncho comes down to her upper thighs, and that she doesn’t wear ANYTHING. ELSE.

NOTHING. ELSE.

No shoes, no socks, no shorts, and, I’m pretty sure, no underwear. Hey, at least she’s got some great thighs.

She sees me staring at her. Poncho lady smiles. “Hey!” she recognizes me. “I’ve lost my cocker. Stupid potstinker. runs away at the first chance.”

Cocker? Is she referring to her husband? Or perhaps an overnight guest? “Oh, I’m sorry.” I look around. “What’s he look like?”

“Like a King Charles Spaniel.”

Ah Ha.Cocker Spaniel.

I start keeping my eyes peeled, when I notice a very sweet, youngish, attractive gentleman helping her. He’s literally parting bushes to look for this dog. What a nice neighbor, I think. I continue walking down Wilson, while poncho lady screams every few minutes for her stupid potstinker to come back.

Finally, I hear a shriek come from someone on a side road. “HE’S OVER HERE!” Wow. Another neighbor helping her. Poncho lady goes flying down the road, the back of her poncho flapping in the wind. I turned my head away, grateful that someone had located the potstinker.

“Hey, you little potstinker, you. Want a cookie?”

Yes. I will miss poncho lady. I doubt they have any of those where we’re going.

 

P.S. If, on the off chance, poncho lady reads this, I love you. You rock. Keep rockin’ it.

 

A Radiolab Advertisement

(You guys, my neighbor asked me what my secret was for my tomato garden. This confirms it. I am a locally famous tomato raiser.)

Occasionally when I’m at work, doing something that requires minimal brain concentration, I’ll put on the ol’ headphones and listen to Blitzen Trapper or some other hipster artist on grooveshark or pandora. At some point last week, I realized that I could be listening to the news. So I headed over to NPR, where they stream all of their content on their website for FREE (NPR is one of my favorite things, right behind brown paper packages all tied up with string), and I started listening to the news. The News gets me all riled up, and it makes me sweat, and sometimes it makes me cry. So it’s not a good thing for me to listen to, as I just tear off my headphones and rage around the office. It’s very unproductive.

Then I discovered Radiolab.

And the Heavens sang. The great thing about Radiolab is that it is completely politically neutral. 100%. And it’s as rewarding as reading The Onion, or a passionate article on the NY Times, that is all about how Republicans are destroying the country in the wake of failed leadership by Obama.

Here are some mindblowing things I’ve learned on Radiolab:

If you tell people to remember a two digit number, and then tell them to go to another room and repeat that number back to an experimenter, and then a nice lady interrupts them in the hallway and asks them if they would like a snack of fresh fruit or chocolate cake, they are more likely to pick fruit. If you tell people to remember a 7 digit number, and then tell them to go to another room, and then a nice lady interrupts them and ask what they would like, they pick chocolate cake. WHAT! That story is here. They also show that people who lie to themselves more often tend to be happier, better functioning people than people who are more honest with themselves.

And then I learned that the nation’s best ultra runner (ultra runners are crazy people who run for days without sleeping. Ultra-runs range from 30 to 100+ miles) is a woman who is recovering from epilepsy. She had part of her brain removed by doctors to prevent seizures, and after that, she became a champion ultra-runner. Incidentally, the part of her brain that was removed is the part that deals with visual-spatial skills, and also deals with time. Yep, ladies and gentleman, when she’s out on a run in the Yukon, pulling dog sleds through the snow, she has no idea if she’s on day 4 or day 9. So she just keeps goin’. Basically, she doesn’t know when to stop.

There was this very, very, very cool story on how language shapes thought, and I can’t even begin to explain how awesome this podcast was. Even my grandpa liked it, and my grandpa and I can not agree on ANYTHING. Nothing. It was the most awesome thing I’ve ever listened to.

And there’s this musician who can memorize and replay symphonies in their exact tempo back in his head. He can keep track of four musical symphonies at once. Mind blowing.

Meanwhile, Bachelor Pad is going to be very satisfyingly trashy. Vienna is a horrible human being.

God needs to come back and stop abandoning the Jews

you guys, you guys. (first of all, nothin against Jews, i love jews. Their curly hair and delicious…uh…delicious…uh…food….ummm….OH I KNOW, their awesome little hats! make them okay in my book!)

Evan has always told me that circumcision is weird. But I never really bought it until I was driving home from work yesterday and I was listening to an NPR conversation about hardcore modern-day-leftist Jewish people from California wondering if they really and truly wanted to mutilate their baby boy’s genitals for some crazy forgotten promise made by God a billion years ago.

So basically some schizophrenic prophet-type thought that God said, “Genesis 17:9-10 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.”

For those of you not properly versed in God-Speak, essentially God said, “You can be my people and be saved and shiznit, as long as you CUT THE FORESKINS OFF OF ALL OF YOUR MALE BABIES on the 8th day after their birth. Right after you stone all the gays and the divorcees. With big, jagged rocks.”

When I heard that on NPR, I just started giggling uncontrollably. I mean, I’m all about free religion and believe-whatever-you-want, but just the thought that in order to go to Heaven the tip of your foreskin has to be missing was just hilarious to me. I’m pretty sure that Abraham, or whoever it was, had a hearing problem. Seriously: Abraham also thought that God wanted him to sacrifice his first born son on the mountaintop, so he brought him up there, all ready with a crazy sharp knife and some rope, and then God was all, “JK, LULZ, HAHA, SUCKA!!!!!! Just a test! Go back down the mountain and write a poem about this.”

So, pretty sure God didn’t do that. I mean, LOL wasn’t even invented until 1992 A.D., and then LULZ wasn’t invented until 2008 sometime. Must have been Abraham misinterpreting his voices. I bet God actually said, “I’ll save all y’all, as long as you are CIRCUMSPECT in your decisions regarding your penii.”

If you don’t get that, please go to http://www.dictionary.com and draw your own conclusions.

But, since Abraham was a crazy motha, he heard what he wanted to hear, and then wrote it down in his personal diary, and somehow it made it into the history books, and as a result, billions of poor Jewish baby boys had their foreskins removed for the next several thousands of years.

Let’s just engage in some modern-day comparisons for a moment, shall we?

So, let’s say there was some psycho cult in western Iowa. And, let’s say that one of them really and truly believed that God came and spoke to them. And then let’s say, that God told them they were all saved, as long as they cut off their female babies’ labia on the 5th day after they were born. And let’s say that all of these people started doing this.

Okay.

I am pretty sure the NAACP, the ACLU, slate.com, and women in general would all be like, “OH HELL NAH,” and then they would descend like a crazy hornets nest on the cult and denounce them for the psycho crazies that they were.

And it would be called GENITAL MUTILATION and they would be ordered to stop doing it. So. How is penile circumcision any different (other than the fact that it is an effective preventive against the transmission of HIV/AIDS, but thats another story)? Well, penile circumcision does happen to be a million years old or whatever, whilst labial mutilation would only be like, two weeks old. Still. Does the age of something make it okay?

People. Everyone needs to rethink why the mutilate their child’s penii. CIRCUMCISION IS WEIRD. WE DO IT BECAUSE SOME CRAZY DUDE THINKS GOD TOLD HIM TO DO IT A BAZILLION YEARS AGO.

This is not okay.

Also, while we’re discussing Jews, wasn’t what happened in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s way worse than what happened in Egypt in, like, 2000 B.C. ? Isn’t it time that God reappeared again and renewed the covenant, with something like, “oh hay Guys, sorry I abandoned yall for that decade, I was on vacay on Galaxy 91350EXYTI, IT WAS DA BOMB, falling stars all OVER the place! but my homies in the New World saved yall, so we cool? we cool! be fruitful and multiply, amigos! Oh, P.S., I really didn’t intend for anyone to cut off anyone’s penis, SORRY BOUT THAT.”

That’s what should happen. srsly. If God exists, he should really first apologize for abandoning his people in the mid 20th century, and then he should stick around to clarify a bunch of stuff. Like, what was the point of turning that poor woman into a pillar of salt? Why was Jesus so nice, but everyone in the Old Testament was such a freakin a-hole? How come he invented McDonalds? Why do Jewish people wear those silly little hats?

i have a million other questions for God. If he shows up, you let me know. I’m gonna go Alex Trebec on his ass.

Jesus exploded in my mouth the other day.

I have unfortunately come to realize in the past couple of days that I am no better than Mark Zuckerberg.

I, too, eat my best friends for breakfast.

I never meant to make my tomatoes my best friends. “Firm separation between garden life and love life,” I said. “Nothing good ever comes out of mixing personal and garden relationships.” Little did I know how this mantra would get blasted out of the water as soon as I caught my first glimpse of greenery poking out of the dirt.

In the beginning, all I wanted was a strong, healthy garden. The Garden Guru says to talk to your plants. So I talked to my plants. First I started with the radishes, then later I moved on to my tomato plants. Remember these guys?

Unfortunately, what often starts out as innocent conversation, eventually turns into maybe getting a beer together after work, and then eventually it becomes late night chats, and then all of a sudden you’re fantasizing about whether or not Cherry the cherry tomato plant would be a good spooner, or if Sherry the Beefsteak tomato plant might provide a little more cushion.  And then finally…you start baring the deepest, darkest parts of your soul.

Here’s how it happened for me: As soon as I saw that healthy little green sucker come shooting out of the dirt, all of the firm barriers I’d thrown up between garden/personal life immediately came melting down. I spent hours sitting in front of my tomato plants. At first we just idly chatted. Harry was jealous of Sherry’s top leaves. Sherry was jealous that Cherry got to sit closest to the window. Cherry thought I spent too much time chit chattering with Harry. But as we ran out of trivial things to discuss, I began digging into deeper fears. I wondered aloud about whether or not i was really getting osteoporosis at the tender age of 26. I asked them if they really and truly thought that they’d help me get blog-famous (they said yes! stupid sycophants). They confirmed that yes, that shirt really did make my boobs look too big but no, I really shouldn’t get a breast reduction. (Harry helpfully added that all of my jeans made my butt look too flat, and I huffily replied that those weren’t my jeans, it was just my butt, and then we endured the first awkward silence of our hitherto  honeymoon relationship).

Why, you may ask, Why did Evan not put a stop to this madness? Surely he must have known of the deep and abiding emotional attachment you were forming with these mere plants? These…these…these homewrecking, tomato producing, invaders!

Evan knew nothing. I put my cell phone on silent and held it up to my ear, pretending to talk to my mom, or to Clare, or to Elena, but really just talking to my tomato plants. It was quite deceptive. <avoided forced trip to mental hospital><pats self on back>

Eventually my besties started growing. Then, they grew big enough for their very first perma-week of sunlight!

Now, if i wanted to talk to them, I had to walk the ten yards out to the yard. Despite this significant obstacle, I went outside every day. Cherry, Sherry, and Harry would pop their little leaf-heads up at my approach, struggling to look a little taller and fluff their leaves out a bit. Sometimes, I’d go out with a measuring stick and I’d mark their names down on the ruler, with their age and date. Soon, they were all competing with each other for my attention. I organized photo-synthesizing contests, water drinking contests, anti-leaf mold contests. Harry Cherry and Sherry all struggled to do so well. My love for them grew in leaps and bounds. I even bought a best-friend heart necklace, broken into several different pieces, and each of them wears a piece of my heart around their leaf-neck.

We were in love.

The thought that someday I’d have to eat their babies crossed my mind every once in a while, but I just pushed that thought to the back of my mind. “They’re young,” I thought. “The day they bear fruit won’t happen for a while. I can enjoy their childhood and love them while it lasts.”

Oh, how terribly, terribly wrong I was.

It happened two days ago.

I came home from work. I popped out of my car, and Harry Cherry and Sherry all immediately started waggling their leaves at me, eager for me to come over and show me the cool new things that they’d done. At first, I just oohed and aahhed.

Those big green tomatoes were far too ripe for me to do anything about them. But then Sherry mentioned an itch she was having in one of her branch crotches, and as I leaned over to get to that hard-to-reach spot, a flash of red caught my eye and I glanced upwards.

Stars fell from the sky. Victory music blasted from the radio of a car driving by. A starving orphan in Africa was adopted by Angelina Jolie. They cured cancer. Rupert Murdoch was never born.

My tomatoes were edible.

All thoughts of how Cherry Sherry and Harry felt about my eating their babies fled from my mind. Shakily, and without permission, I reached out one hand and plucked that ripe little sucker right off of the vine and crunched down with my omnivorous molars, releasing the magic of sun, dirt, water, seeds and time into my body. Such joy, such a taste of Heaven, has never been experienced.

Jesus himself exploded in my mouth.

But wait…isn’t that the only time that cannibalism is acceptable? Is when you eat Jesus? That’s what I was brainwashed taught every Wednesday at CCD classes growing up, and thats what I’m reminded of every time I go home to visit my parents and am subjected to Catholic Radio Theology blasting through the house beginning at the ungodly hour of 7 am. On Saturdays. And Sundays.

Therefore, since Harry Cherry and Sherry were giving birth to little baby Jesuses, then it was totally okay to eat them! IN FACT. Every time I eat a little baby Jesus, I am forgiven all of my sins. Especially when I follow this up with the washing of someone else’s foot. Feet. whatever.

I’M TOTALLY GOIN’ TO HEAVEN, Y’ALL!

with my plants!

schmeeple.

peeple, schmeeple.

Know what I heard on the radio the other day? These people were talking about how Jon Huntsman, former gov of Utah and former US Ambassador to China under the Obama administration, has recently declared his run for 2012 Republican Presidential bid. So, Jon Huntsman seems to be a pretty decent guy, as far as Republicans go. Unfortunately, the radio show I was listening to seemed to indicate that maybe “pretty decent guy” isn’t what Republicans want. Ha.

“Jon Huntsman made the announcement from the same place Reagan made his presidential bid announcement back in 1980. There, he declared that he was committed to taking ‘The High Road’ during his presidential campaign. The question is, do Republicans really want someone that’s going to take the High Road? Lately, it seems that Republicans have really been clamoring for ‘Red Meat Politics’…”

whaaaaaaaa? If that’s true, that’s effed up, and it just shows how dismally pathetic our nation’s politics have become. Nobody even wants to take the high road anymore. PATHETIC. And what does Red Meat Politics even mean?

In other news, USA and a bunch of other countries are going to release oil reserves to combat the price of rising gas — which is fantastic (SARCASM). Yes, let’s just prolong the painful death of our reliance on oil, and retard the progress of our movement over to solar, wind, geothermal, ethanol, etc. If you haven’t heard this argument, it’s basically that without expectations of prolonged higher prices of oil, investors aren’t willing to sink money into expensive alternative energy projects if they won’t be competitive against oil. This means we have to live with expensive gas for a little bit while we make the switch, unless the govt decides to sink in loads of unsustainable subsidies to get alt energy off the ground. Even still. NO PAIN, NO GAIN, SCHMEEPLE.

And, finally, in local politics, Evan and I went to revolution again last night. For those of you unfamiliar with revolution, it is a stark white, pseudo modern restaurant on Main street, where they don’t capitalize their sentences and their appetizers are called “small”, their main dishes are “big”, and their cold dishes are “cold”. And it’s ‘spensive. We’ve been before, back when we were rollin’ in the dough, but they sat us in the bar and completely, totally ignored us. This time we got to sit with the real people in the normal dining area, and they treated us pretty nicely. The food is excellent, and their waitstaff was nice. That, my friends, is the only thing Revolution has going for them. Didn’t we abandon stark white walls and uncomfortable chairs in 2002? Ugh, I hate the way that place is decorated. It’s awful. I much prefer comfortable grunge to uncomfortable stark modern whiteness. It’s so laboratory. Also, i have no idea where the name “revolution” came from. Revolution against…comfort? against…ambience?

While at dinner last night, we reaffirmed that our favorite local eaters are still Bali Hai (for me) and Chubbys (For Evan). Nothing beats cheap, fast, and delicious, in a comfortable atmosphere.

THAT IS ALL.

(One of) The Most American Thing(s) You Should Do

Join Costco. Seriously.

There are several things in life that scream,

“Americana!!!”

These include: guns, lifesavers, obesity, diabetes, reality TV, heart attacks, really overpriced medical care, fast food, golden retrievers, cowboys, underpaid Mexicans, Texas, tacos (this would be ironic, but Mexico and America are actually supposed to be the same country), baseball, racism, extreme wealth gaps, ranches, Sarah Palin, idiocy, nuclear weapons, Las Vegas, ignorance, camping, being unilingual, whitewater rafting, and a desire to return everything back to the way they were in the 1950s. Oh, and, hypocritical old people is sooo classic Americana. They’re all, “don’t you dare touch my social security or my medicare! back off, you young whippasnappas!!! We are entitled to our entitlements! Oh, poor black people need some help? well, EFF THEM, they should go get themselves a J-O-B!”

Anyway. Some of these things are terrible, some of them are awesome. At the top of the awesome list is Tacos, Texas, golden retrievers, lifesavers. And, you know, I really like Sarah Palin. Now that everyone thinks she’s a nutcase and she has no chance at becoming president, she’s got that accent, and she tries so hard to be American; it’s very entertaining. I loved reading the news stories about her RV trip across America. Shes a TRUE AMERICAN. Not like that Muslim impostor, Barack Hussein Obama (you have to say that in a very southern accent). Conservatives universally hate educated people. Not sure what that’s about…

ANYWAY. There are lots of things that are equally American, or equally adopted/loved by Americans, but not considered to be uniquely American. This is because people in other countries  also have these things. These include: hybrid vehicles, friendly people, vegetarians, homosexuality, electronics, marijuana, booze, good literature and artistic expression, and progressive ideals.

However. The one thing that really stands out amongst American awesomeness, is Costco.

Here are some interesting facts about Costco:

1. 80% of your fellow shoppers are obese, which is guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself. Especially when you compare your kart-contents, and you look down at your spinach and fish fillets, and then look over and see they are purchasing a pallet of diet cokes and Twinkies.

2. Free food before 5 pm. This includes diet cokes and twinkies, spinach and fish fillets, coffee, vitamin water, berry smoothie, YOU NAME IT, they’ve offered it as a free sample. Superbowl weekend is the most fantastic weekend of the year at Costco. I’m thinking about actually hosting a pre-game party next year at Costco.  Last January, they had this huge wing table set up, with like ten people working on cooking wings, and all the different flavors laid out with celery and carrots and several different dipping sauces, and you could just grab a plate, and pile it with as many wings as you wanted! oh man, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

3. The ceilings are, like, one mile high. You can’t even see the top. But you can see the huge pallets from across the store. There’s nothing that makes you feel like an American more than a 10′ by 10′ pallet labeled “5 HOUR ENERGY DRINK,” stacked on top of pallets of dog food for your golden retriever. While we’re on the subject of 5 hour energy drink, can we discuss the last word in the name? I thought the use of the word “drink” was just a substitute for juice – like, Orange Drink, or Grape Drink (Dave Chapelle did a hilarious piece once on the merits of grape drink). Are they trying to insinuate that “5-hour-energy” is some kind of fruit? Or were they initially trying to appeal to the demographic that consumes lots of Grape Drink? Also, whats with those commercials? Were they shot by a 5 year old who doesn’t know how to alter the color perception of their video camera? And why would you want to forgo coffee in favor of 5 hour energy drink? I LIKE supporting Honduran coffee workers every morning at 8 am. I feel at one with the world. Also it’s the only time of day I consume dairy, so I can’t switch to 5 hour energy drink or I’ll get osteoporosis. And cancer, probably–who knows whats in any product that contains the word “drink” ?

4. You can not buy anything in less than one gallon quantities. And the majority of the time you must buy at least two of any one item. This is okay if you have several freezers with lots of space.

5. You can get a hot dog for $1.50. With sauerkraut and mustard and onions and ketchup, and i swear its one foot long. Or a slice of pizza for $1.99. Or an entire pizza for $8.

6. They do not accept any credit cards except for AMERICAN EXPRESS. See that? See? I should have started with that one. Last year, American Express sent us several hundred dollars in cash back rewards. It was fantastic. (Chase Freedom is better, but thats a topic for another day).

What to eat in order to make Super-Baby. Also a manifesto for veganism??

I know I’ve totally neglected this blog for the last five days, but I have my reasons. Which I am not going to reveal here, because, let’s be honest, who really cares about what I do in my personal time? I certainly don’t. (Disclaimer: this post isn’t very funny. It’s a serious lesson on what makes you healthy.)

Garden update: My radish babies have gotten HUGE and I’m going to pull some of them out of the ground on Sunday. I’ll let you know how that goes. My tomato seedlings, meanwhile, are just getting tall and not really doing much else, which is kind of boring, but highly expected for week 2 of development.

ON TO BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS.

Ladies and gentlemen, lately I have been inundated with tales of what makes a baby strong and healthy, and what makes a human being more likely to not get cancer. This first part is for everyone, the second part is on pregnancy:

VEGANISM? WHAT?

I am not a big fan of vegan diets. You can’t eat eggs, milk, dairy, animals, fish, cheese, cream, whipped cream, nothing. I would basically starve to death. And if you’re a true vegan you can’t wear leather. Once I was at a dinner party and I was wearing this awesomely rocking leather jacket, and I got cold so I put it on, and the person sitting next to me was vegan. We’re friends, so he can say whatever he wants, and he looked at me and wrinkled his little nose and said, “Is that leather.”

Not a question, just a statement. I said, “Yes.” and then, as his nose wrinkled a little more and his hands started flapping in distress, I said, “Why, can you -”

and he cut me off and said, “Smell it. Yeah, I can smell it.” Judgment was just oozing out of his pores, and he was so upset. To make matters worse, another vegan was sitting on the other side of him, and he was also staring at me in judgment. They then went on to talk about where you can buy vegan shoes (apparently payless is great, since they’re all made out of plastic — although how is a pair of shoes made by 8 year olds in an environmentally unsafe factory better than leather – otherwise you pay hundreds of dollars for ‘vegan shoes’).  At some point I stuck in a question about whether they felt awkward in situations where they went to dinner parties and there were no vegan options, but they just shrugged and said they didn’t eat anything if that was the case (they clearly didn’t understand that I was being snarky, and that this behavior is upsetting to hosts).

I was totally traumatized for a couple of weeks after that and didn’t wear my jacket anywhere else, but then I was like, screw that, I’m wearing my banana-republic animal hide. The Native Americans did it. (Aaron, if you’re reading this, don’t feel bad. That’s what i get for going to an evolutionary anthropology dinner party).

So Evan comes home yesterday, all a blazes about a new book he wanted to read. Immediately I sensed it would be non-fiction and I shut down. But then we pulled it up on wikipedia, and there’s no criticism section. What? How is THAT possible? Basically these scientist dudes (men, of course) went out to China to do a longitudinal study on diet and disease and blah blah blah (Why rural China? My best guess is that they wanted to do unsanctioned, IRB disapproved research, and that was the best place to do it, so the question remains: what else, exactly, were they studying out there?).

So they found that eating animal products and getting cancer has a completely linear, 1:1 relationship. This, apparently, was easy to study because people tended to eat the same things throughout their lifetimes in China. And they provide all kinds of comparative statistics about rates of cancer in China vs the US and what we eat, etc. Those claims are totally absurd and ridiculous, as there are so many other cancer-causing differences between the US and rural areas of China, that i can’t believe that part hasn’t been deleted from Wikipedia, or at least criticized.

My own critique: The basic statistics are probably correct. In rural China, people who ate less meat probably did get less cancer. But, people who don’t eat animal products in China are probably poor – meat is a luxury item in developing countries. You could probably redo the analysis and find that poor people are less likely to get cancer. So, one could claim by the same logic, having money makes you get cancer. This is wrong – poor people live completely different lifestyles than wealthy people, and the differences could be any number of different things – wealthy people drive more, and are exposed to pollutants more often; wealthy people visit cities; wealthy people drink contaminated water in cities; wealthy people use cell phones and modern electronics; poor people use their own clean water wells; poor people don’t use bpa-filled plastics; poor people walk more; poor people exercise more; etc, etc, etc. This stuff, of course, is specific to a developing country; you might find the opposite poor/rich behaviors in countries like the US.

I need to read the book, and it’s possible that they controlled for all of this. Still, it’s an interesting claim, that appears to be gaining some traction.

PREGNANCY:

There is an enormous amount of evidence that says that what the mother eats during pregnancy affects how well the child performs later in life. My mother ate two pounds of kimchi and non-nutritious white rice every day while she was pregnant with me, and thus, I have grown up with crippled mental capabilities and an inability to walk in a straight line, or update a blog on the regular. Also I have halitosis. And I crave salt. And starbursts. So, ladies and gents, the question is, what can all y’all learn from my mother’s mistakes, and the findings of science ? (i’m not ripping on my ma. i love my ma. What she handed down in diet and brain defects, she more than made up for in giving me a fantastic set of genetically-perfect chompers and a genome that keeps my body at a perfect 8-12% fat level, in spite of anything I may consume. In fact, I was thinking about redoing the SuperSize Me movie, because I’m pretty sure that not a damn thing would happen to me after three months of eating McDonalds every day for three months. HA, TAKE THAT, GENETICALLY DEFICIENT OTHER-PERSON-WHO-STARRED-IN-THEIR-OWN-DOCUMENTARY!)

On to the science:

Tina Williams, a Duke professor, discovered that feeding pregnant rats an enriched-choline diet made their babies have better memories that were stable throughout life — other rats weren’t as good at remembering how to navigate mazes, and their memories declined as they got older. This didn’t happen to the choline rats – they had better memories in the beginning, middle, and end of their lives.

LESSON: Eat lots of eggs and chopped liver during pregnancy.

On NPR yesterday, they discussed a study that found that mothers who were exposed to more pesticides during pregnancy had children who had significantly lower IQs throughout childhood. Three different, independent studies were published confirming this phenomenon, and they were all published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the premier journal in that field.They did look at abnormally high levels of pesticides, not organic vs inorganic food consumption, but still.

LESSON: Eat all organic foods. If you buy inorganic, wash them all. Even the outsides of oranges and bananas.  Don’t visit farms. Don’t work on a farm. unless its a hippy organic farm.

Eating folic acid during the first 28 days of pregnancy reduces the likelihood of spina bifida, a neural tube defect.

LESSON: Eat lots of spinach, chickpeas, melons, citrus, eggs, all of the time, if you think you might get pregnant, cause you might not know you’re pregnant until it’s past 28 days.

Cat feces cause toxoplasmosis.

LESSON: get rid of your cat. While we’re on the subject, everyone should just get rid of their cats. They’re evil and they communicate to each other using their little mental mind waves. They take joy in shitting in their weird little poop boxes and then tracking their poop-covered feet all over the rest of your house. They’re plotting the takeover of Earth as we know it, one poop-covered house at a time. Get. rid. of. your. cat. Consider yourself warned.

From Wikipedia: A 2006 study found that children who were exposed prenatally to the insecticide chlorpyrifos had significantly poorer mental and motor development by three years of age and increased risk for behavior problems.[72] A 2007 study using a mouse model suggested that exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons prior to conceiving and when lactating reduces the number of eggs in the ovaries of female offspring by two-thirds.[73] A 2009 study of pregnant women exposed to tetrachloroethylene in drinking water found an increased risk of oral clefts and neural tube defects in their children.[74] A 2009 study found that prenatal exposure to phthalates, the chemical compounds used as plasticizers in a wide variety of personal care products, children’s toys, and medical devices, may be an environmental risk factor for low birth weight in infants.” [75] A 2010 study found that prenatal exposure to flame retardant compounds called polybrominated diphenyl ethers is associated with adverse neurodevelopmental effects in young children.[76]

LESSON: Don’t touch anything. Go live in the woods with chickens so you can have an unlimited supply of eggs, preferably in an untouched environment. This means nowhere in the United States. Canada, maybe, would work, or maybe somewhere like Bhutan. Yeah, go live in Bhutan. Bhutan is awesome.

Moral of the story: Bhutan is awesome

yeah, i went there, what! Tigers Nest, Buddhist temple nestled on the side of this sheer cliff. Only accessible via a 4-5 hour walk up a mountain. When the Buddhist need supplies, they load up pack horses. Yes, thats right. Pack horses, that walk up the mountains.

what a cool flag! It's a dragon, in case you couldn't tell

A monk leaves a Buddhist temple - Bhutan is like 98% Buddhist

Playing a Bhutanese sitar in this rice farming couple's Buddhist shrine inside of their home.

Ah, Bhutan. Greatest six days of my life.