Award Nominations

thanks

Many thanks to Sandra G. over at Date by Number for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger and Infinity Dreams awards! It’s so nice to know that there are people who enjoy reading my blog 🙂

 

These nominations and challenges are fun to participate in, and I’m glad to have the chance to share some blogs I enjoy reading.

Here are the rules for these awards:

1. Thank the person that nominated you and include a link to their blog.
2. Nominate 7-14 other bloggers for the award. Link to their blog and let them know!
3. If applicable: Answer your nominator’s questions and ask 7-11 questions to your own nominees.
4. If applicable: Share 7-11 facts about yourself.

Facts about me:

  1. I have a triangle-shaped birthmark on my face
  2. I don’t like dressing on my salads – with a notable exception of Olive Garden’s dressing.
  3. I taught myself how to crochet by watching Youtube videos
  4. I have a thing for blueberry poptarts
  5. I am a children’s counselor and work with kids and adolescents who have experienced domestic or sexual violence
  6. I have a goal to visit all 50 states in the U.S. (22 down so far!)
  7. I named my car Ellie, and it makes me strangely happy when friends and family refer to her by name.
  8. In my office at work, I have a desk drawer devoted to just chocolate. I call it “chocolate drawer.”

My nominees (who are under no obligation to participate):

Advertisements

Carpet Surgeon, Part 2

Please read Part 1 of this story first, where I describe how I accidentally stained my carpet with bleach, and then employed a really unconventional method for trying to fix it. Spoiler alert: It didn’t work.

But I did come up with another strategy…

I found a pair of fabric shears and a small bowl, and ungracefully plopped down on the floor in front of the offending spot. Before I could change my mind, I used the scissors to gouge a hole in the carpet, and began hacking away.

My “brilliant” plan was to cut out the entire piece of stained carpet, and switch it with normal-looking carpet from another area in my apartment. The bowl would guide me in cutting out the carpet, so that both the damaged and undamaged pieces would be roughly the same size and shape.

You know, much like surgeons plan out organ transplants.

 

carpet-r

This may surprise you, but fabric shears were actually not made for cutting through thick carpet. Crazy, I know. Using a bowl as a unit of measurement is also not advisable. I developed a newfound sympathy for carpet layers, even though I was guessing they worked with slightly more sophisticated equipment.

Before too long, my hand started to ache from cutting through the carpet. My back grew tired from awkwardly hunching over. But this idea felt smart, like it was really going to work.

Soon, I had a disastrously-cut circle of carpet in my lap. I then gazed around my apartment, attempting to find an unobtrusive location where the transplant would come from. I thought about using a portion from under my couch or bed, but quickly nixed that thought.

And then, my gaze drifted to my bedroom closet. It was the type with sliding glass doors on a track – the kind where you’re never able to see the clothes at the very back, because the light doesn’t reach that far.

Fortunately for me, this meant that the carpet at the very back was also much less noticeable.

I spent half an hour folded up like an accordion in the back of my closet, clothes hanging overhead, cutting out another circle of carpet. I briefly wondered how many people had found themselves in my exact situation, and decided the number was probably pretty low.

When I finally had a circle of soft, blemish-free carpet, I placed it gingerly in the hole where the stained circle had once been. The new circle fit well enough to sit level with the rest of the carpet, but there was an obvious ring around it, similar to the “dents” that heavy furniture leave behind.

I sighed, but I didn’t take the time to fret about it. I found a sewing needle and beige thread, and got to work sewing carpet fibers together so that the new circle would blend more smoothly into its surroundings.

You know your life has taken a strange turn when you find yourself lying on your stomach, sewing pieces of carpet. They should make Girl Scouts do that shit for patches.

carpet6

After the sewing was complete, and over the next few days, I stacked heavy books on top of the new carpet in an effort to further squish it down and soften out the obvious indentation. I even marched in place on it – again, much like surgeons probably do during transplants. Anytime I had to vacuum, I did so very carefully, so as to not destroy the delicate carpet stitches.

After all that work, you could still see the ring when you got up close, but from a few steps away, it was surprisingly pretty blended. If you don’t believe me, you should know that in my three years of living in that apartment, not one family member or friend ever gave the transplanted carpet so much as a second glance.

And when I eventually moved out? Management didn’t charge a penny for my ridiculous, over-the-top mistake(s). Because they never noticed it.

I think that’s enough to be considered a genius.

Carpet Surgeon: The Story of Why I Can’t Have Nice Things

carpet2-1

When I left my hometown to attend graduate school, I moved into an apartment in San Marcos, a city 30 minutes south of Austin. I loved that apartment. It was my first time living alone, and I had a grand time setting it up just how I wanted. I’ve never been a neat freak, but I was proud of my adult home and I took good care of it.

One day, after a marathon cleaning session, I walked through my bedroom and was surprised to feel a small patch of wet carpet under my bare feet. I couldn’t remember spilling anything in my room, but I figured it was probably just a bit of water, so I used my toes to rub the moisture in, assuming it would dry.

A lot of mistakes happen in this story, and this was Mistake #1.

Hours later, I walked back in my bedroom and stopped dead in my tracks. The “bit of water” on my carpet had dried as planned, but had left behind an ugly orange stain. The texture of the spot felt rough and fried.

Turned out, the innocent-looking wet patch had been caused not by water, but by BLEACH. I was dumbfounded. I had been cleaning with bleach earlier in the day, but I really couldn’t remember carrying the bottle through my bedroom, much less spontaneously pouring some on the carpet.

Like I said, I was proud of my little apartment, and I felt sad that the Great Bleach Monster had invaded my lovely space. It was all I could think about for the rest of the day. My unhappiness only increased when I realized that my apartment managers would likely charge me an exorbitant amount of money to replace the carpet, when (not if) they found the damage.

An amount of money I didn’t have. Because I was in graduate school. Earning a degree. Pretending to be intelligent.

I couldn’t and wouldn’t be foiled by the Great Bleach Monster. I Googled ridiculous things like: “how to reverse the effects of bleach” and “how much does carpet cost?”

I felt sick. I wanted to cry.

I kept asking myself how a “real” adult would handle this situation, and I quickly (and irrationally) decided that adults don’t make mistakes. If they do, they make adult-sized mistakes…like running someone over in their car. Spilling bleach was kid stuff. All night long, I tossed and turned in bed, trying desperately to think of solutions to get myself out of forking over hundreds of dollars.

The answer came to me the moment I woke up the next morning: I was going to have to paint the patch of stained carpet.

Stay with me, here. It was the only solution, aside from confessing to the crime, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to do that.

Still in my pajamas and wild sleep hair, I tore through my art supplies, frantically searching for a paint color that would match the carpet. Apparently the paint gods were smiling down on me that day, because I found a pretty close shade of beige. I held up the little bottle of paint, beaming at it with pride.

It was like Jonas Salk probably felt when he finally worked out that tricky polio vaccine.

carpet1

I knew right away that it’d be foolish to use the paint in its original form, because it’d dry too thick and leave the carpet feeling strangely “hard” and brittle. (Like interior decorators always say, if you’re going to paint your carpet using acrylic craft paint – you have to do it right.)

I poured a little paint in a bowl, watered it down, and sat cross-legged in front of the stain. Painting tiny carpet fibers was delicate, tedious work, but my little brain was full of shiny hope and confidence that it would work.

carpet4

And that was Mistake #2.

Look, the paint idea technically did work. You’re probably rolling your eyes at me, but trust me here – it looked MUCH better than the awful burnt orange had. When I backed away from the stain and squinted my eyes, it could almost pass for normal carpet. The main problem came when I stepped on the painted patch and discovered that it felt like walking on a pile of crunchy toast crumbs. I knew it’d be noticeable to anyone who happened to walk on it barefoot.

I barely resisted the urge to throw myself on my bed and cry. Instead, I resigned myself to my computer to pitifully Google “how to unpaint something.”

I mentally toiled over my carpet for weeks. When I wasn’t searching online forums for insights from fellow Bleach Monster victims (there aren’t many), I was staring at the stupid patch, anxiously wishing for inspiration to strike – or for the carpet gods to bless me with a carpet-healing miracle.

At night, I dreamed about the stain taunting me for my incompetence. I could feel my sanity deteriorating.

Then, just as before, the answer came to me when I woke up one morning. As I got out of bed and gathered the necessary supplies, I felt grim and nervous. I knew my intervention would either solve the problem for good, or spell total and complete disaster – there would be no in-between.

carpet3

Carpet Surgeon, part 2

Which “Friend” Worked the Most? The Answer May Surprise You

It’s a long-running joke about the television show Friends that the six main characters spend more time drinking coffee at Central Perk than they do actually learning a living.

Personally, I think the lack of work is pretty understandable – the show is supposed to be about a group of close buddies and their struggles and triumphs together, and seeing them at their individual jobs doesn’t allow for those fun interactions to take place.

After all, if they worked all the time, when would they get to play football or poker together? Or crowd in on Chandler’s bathtime? When would they tease each other about having a third nipple, or breaking the porch swing? These are the things we want to see.

Although it makes sense to me that the Friends aren’t often shown working, I was still curious about which one works the most. In order to find the answer, I watched all 236 episodes of the show – episodes I have seen dozens and dozens of times before – and combed over each and every scene for any signs of the characters working.

I took meticulous notes. There was a spreadsheet involved.

It was totally worth the effort.

friends2

So what counts as “work”? Obviously, I included any scene where the characters are shown doing their jobs at their actual work places – whether it’s Monica cooking something delicious at a restaurant, or Ross lecturing to a classroom of students. However, for the purposes of my super scientific study, I counted other types of situations as “work” as well:

  •  Odd jobs that are separate from more consistent employment – such as writing restaurant reviews, temping, spraying cologne on unsuspecting store customers, etc.
  • Discussing  the work day – applies when Friends exit the room, saying they’re “headed to work,” or return home and share a work story with the others
  • Work-seeking behaviors – job interviews, auditions, internships, etc
  • Appearances of work – wearing uniforms (such as Monica’s outfit at the 50s-style diner), or dressed professionally, PLUS carrying work-specific props (such as a briefcase or massage table)
  • Miscellaneous work-related events – includes charity functions, conferences, dinners at boss’ homes, formal work parties, etc – the Friends may not have been paid to be at these events, but were probably still expected to be there
  • Performances – seeing a Friend act on television, or perform in public places (where tip money could be made) totally counts. This one’s specific to Joey and Phoebe.

On the other hand, these more ambiguous references to employment did NOT count toward the tally:

  • Talking about work in general terms – “I don’t like my job” or “I have to work that weekend.”
  • Dressed professionally, but not discussing work in any way, nor carrying any props that might suggest they’re headed to (or coming from) work. We see that you’re wearing a nice outfit, but how do we know you were at work, and not some other dressy event?
  • Non-public performances – singing in other Friends’ apartments does not count

Now that we’ve gotten the boring criteria out of the way, it’s time to reveal our winner and hardest worker. Are you ready for this? Drumroll, please…

friends4.gif

Winner: Rachel
It probably comes as a shock that the character known for being a spoiled rich girl (at least in the beginning) is actually seen doing the most work throughout the ten seasons of Friends. There’s something so fitting about this, actually: the woman left a financially-secure lifestyle behind in order to make a stab at independence, and we get to see her gradually progress from waitress, to low-level employee in a fashion company, to merchandising manager at Ralph Lauren. You go, girl.

Admittedly, Rachel probably never won any Employee of the Month awards, as we often see her sitting on the big orange couch when she’s supposed to be waitressing. And then there’s that whole affair-with-her-subordinate thing. And the falsely-accusing-her-boss-of-trying-to-buy-her-baby thing.

Ironically enough though, Rachel is the only character who never really dealt with unemployment on the show – unless you count the day-long gap between getting fired from Ralph Lauren and hired at Louis Vuitton.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 137

Runner up: Joey
When trying to convince Chandler to hire him for a role in a commercial, Joey refers to himself as a “chameleon” – and he is, at least in terms of employment. Despite not working quite as much as Rachel, Joey held by far the most jobs: actor, model, sperm donor extraordinaire. The list goes on. Even his acting jobs ranged in prestige from playing Al Pacino’s butt to playing Dr. Drake Ramoray on Days of Our Lives.

Admirably, Joey carried out ALL of these roles with pride. (And with dishonesty, as he lied quite a bit on his resume.)
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 115

Ross
Despite having the most advanced degree of the group, and once enthusiastically proclaiming that he “can’t get enough dinosaurs,” Ross really isn’t seen working all that much. He technically comes in third place in this list, but his number is far behind that of Rachel and Joey’s. Perhaps all of those weddings and divorces got in the way of getting much work done.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 73

friends3

Chandler
It was a surprise to see Miss Chanandler Bong work so little, considering it’s heavily implied throughout the show that he makes good money as a “transpondster,” and takes his WENUS very seriously. Shockingly enough though, he was the only Friend to go an entire season (the 6th, to be specific) without being seen working at all.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that he truly didn’t work, but we don’t see it taking place, and that’s what counts here. There are plenty of times that Chandler is shown wearing a suit, but with no work story or briefcase to provide supporting evidence, it couldn’t really be included.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 63

Phoebe
Ah, Pheebs. It’s really no shocker that the free spirit is next-to-last in this study. She held consistent jobs as a massage therapist and Central Perk performer, but a lot of the work we see are side jobs, like catering with Monica or temping as a secretary for Chandler. Of course, it can’t be forgotten that she also held a one-day stint as a life-saving telemarketer.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 56

Monica
It’s a bit cringe-worthy when the most competitive person in the group comes in dead last. However, although we don’t see Monica working as much, I’d hesitate to call the woman lazy – she cooks and cleans for everyone, gives the best bad massages, and is always the hostess. In a way, Monica was the stay-at-home mom to the other five. Especially when she made lunchmeat foreskins for Joey.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 50

 

So, fellow Friends fans, what are your thoughts on this list? Could you BE any more surprised by the winner? Which character’s work record surprised you the least?

Queso Critique – Texican CafĂ©

Texican CafĂ© – Austin, Texas

On Valentine’s Day Eve, Amanda and I journeyed through 5 o’clock traffic to get to the Texican Café, an award-winning restaurant known for using spices and flavors unique to El Paso and Mexico. Interestingly, this café was located just down the street from our current queso front-runner, Sazón.

Neighbors in delicious competition.

The timing of our outing was perfect, as it was roughly a year ago that Amanda and I enthusiastically declared our affection for each other as “work wives” – to the slight discomfort of a few of our other coworkers. When you spend so many hours of your day at work, it’s comforting to have someone you can laugh with, vent to, and conspire with. And sometimes, these coworker relationships become strangely marriage-like in their level of support and camaraderie.

So basically, this dinner served as our work-wife anniversary celebration. Or at least the anniversary of our “engagement,” as there hasn’t been a formal wedding. Yet.

After toasting each other with absurdly large alcoholic drinks, the wife and I agreed to order the Queso Flameado, a blend of chorizo and white cheese broiled to perfection in a hot skillet – and then served with homemade corn and flour tortillas. Oh, yes.

 

quesoflame1
The restaurant’s low lighting makes this picture seem strangely sensual.

Right away, we learned a valuable lesson: this dish is not to be recommended for date night. As we used our spoons to scoop up the queso, long strands of cheese followed behind, forcing us to use our fingers to help the process along. At one point, Amanda accidentally dropped a dollop of cheese onto her napkin, and then proceeded to pop it in her mouth like nothing had happened.

I found it charming, but others may disagree.

Another less-than-romantic discovery was that the dish was very, very greasy in a way that previous broiled quesos have not been. Both of us ended up with small puddles on our plates, which we found a teensy bit…gross.

grease

Now, on to the good stuff: the Queso Flameado was intensely, deliciously cheesy. Months ago, we stated in our Queso Criteria that we wanted to be “punched in the face with cheese,” and this dish was certainly up to that challenge. Normally, I want to gobble down as much queso as I can get, but this was one of those cases where less was more – and not at all in a bad way. It was so rich and flavorful, that I could only eat a tortilla and a half before surrendering.

We also appreciated that the chorizo was cut into smaller pieces, which allowed us to more quickly and efficiently scoop it into tortillas. While we’re on the subject of the carb vehicles, Amanda expressed a preference for the corn tortillas, but I was a bit more fond of the flour ones.

Sometimes disagreements happen in a marriage.

When it came time for rating, we both felt that the Queso Flameado deserved a better score than a 9, but the greasiness held us back from giving it a 9.5 – which would have tied it with the current leader.

Therefore, we gave this one a slightly arbitrary fabulous 9.2 (Revised score: 4.2)

Texican Cafe’s website

Scandinavians Get All the Good Stuff

I’ve been a little fixated on Scandinavia for a while now, and I’ve recently decided that I should just go ahead and move there.

Why? Because every time I read something about which country is happiest, or smartest, or most progressive, one (if not all) of the Scandinavian countries always tops the list. I’m constantly reading positive things about that area, and I’ve come to realize that it has no flaws.

scandinavia-r

If the world is a high school, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway are the over-achieving students who have perfect GPAs, but are also really good at sports, really attractive, and really nice. You want to hate them, but you’re too busy staring at them in awe and trying to copy their outfits.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is the befuddling, not-as-attractive, tries-hard-but-never-quite-gets-there younger sibling of Scandinavia.

Put another way, if the world is a kennel of dogs, Scandinavia is the beautiful black lab who’ll one day become an intelligent service dog, while the U.S. is a Saint Bernard puppy –cute, but legs and head too big for the rest of its body, so it falls over a lot. And it drools.

scandinavia2
He just looks smart, doesn’t he?

Or, if the world is –

You know what, I think you get the picture.

As a side note, there seems to be a contentious battle going on about whether Finland and/or Iceland should be included as part of Scandinavia. My post focuses only on the main three (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway), but for the record, I have nothing against Icelanders (Icelandees?) or the Finnish. If the actual Scandinavian countries don’t let me in, I’d happily settle for either of those two.

Here are my 8 biggest reasons (in no particular order) for moving to Scandinavia:

8. The mere gorgeousness. ‘Nuff said.

scandinavia-r2

7. Impressive parental leave 
Sweden has the most generous paid maternity/paternity leave in the world, at 480 days. That’s more than a year of couch-and-television time, with some time left over to pick up and feed your baby now and then.

And it’s all PAID.

Under this system, it’d be wise to keep popping out child after child. It’d be a painful hobby, but a worthwhile one. The Duggars could make a killing there, if they could accept that whole socialism thing.

6. (Sort of) Free healthcare
Now I can finally afford to do stupid things without those silly fears of hurting myself and not being able to afford treatment.

scandinavia4

5. Happier people
Scandinavian countries consistently take the top spots on Forbes Magazine’s list of the happiest countries. According to Forbes, happiness = a healthy life expectancy, social support, and self-reports of well-being.

I picture these countries having a Disneyland-like atmosphere, where strangers regularly hold hands and skip through flower-lined streets. And the merry skippers aren’t even drunk.

4. Ikea
It’s at the famous furniture store that I plan to learn how to speak Swedish. I’m sure the words for “blanket” (polarvide) and “picture frame” (nyttja) will get me far.

3. Nice prisons
Just to clarify, I don’t plan on committing any prison-worthy crimes. But when considering a move to a new place, it’s best to check out their prisons beforehand, because you never know what obscure, culturally-unique crime you might commit.

For all I know, loudly proclaiming that I hate fish might be illegal in the fish-loving countries of Scandinavia. Fortunately, the prisons there seem more like college dormitories or summer camps – complete with woodworking classes.

2. Gender Equality
According to the World Economic Forum, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark all rank high on the list of the most gender-equal countries, meaning that the pay gap between men and women is almost nil in those places.

In yo face, misogynists!

scandinavia5

And last, but definitely not least…

1. All of the noms

 

Considering these reasons, you’d think I’d already be packing my bags and running over old ladies on my way to the airport. But there’s one major disadvantage about moving to Scandinavia, a disadvantage that threatens to overshadow the good points.

A disadvantage that brings me great sorrow:

1. I’d really miss my friends and family

1. There’s probably no chips and queso there

The U.S. may have its flaws. It may never be on those lists of happy people or gender-equal employers. But, damn it, it has bowls of melty cheese, and that just might be enough for me.

Letter to Future Me

I was nominated by Erin at http://bubblesandbeebots.com/ to write a letter to my future self – the February 2017 version of me, if you will. If you’re unfamiliar with Erin’s blog, I highly recommend visiting it, because she’s a great writer and has lots of stories about her adorable, food-loving little children.

My first reaction to this tag was excitement, which moved into slight panic as I couldn’t think of anything to say. Now I’m just feeling happy that I completed it 🙂

Here are the rules:

  1. Tag the letter under “dearfuturemetag”
  2. Write a letter to yourself to read again in a year’s time. You can answer then if you’d like.
  3. Nominate other bloggers. (My nominees are at the end of this post)

Dear Future Me,

First off, congratulations on still being alive! I guess all the quesos you’ve eaten haven’t yet given you a heart attack, so that’s good to know. How many quesos have you tested up until this point, anyway? I wonder if Sazón is still your favorite, or if some other place has taken that top spot.

Second, congratulations on finally being a fully-licensed professional counselor! You’re in the big leagues now, lady! Or, at least, I hope you are: three years of graduate school and two years under supervision were no easy picnic for your mind – or for your wallet. At least you’re no longer eating peanut butter crackers for every meal, simply because they were easy to eat in between clients, or while driving from one place to the next.

Speaking of food, I’m holding out hope that you’ve magically sprouted into a fully-functioning grown-up human woman by now. You do pretty good on a lot of adult tasks: you work full-time and you pay those bills like a frickin’ boss. You even do laundry on a semi-regular basis. Keep up the good work on those fronts!

The problem is, you often come home and have cereal for dinner. Or cubes of ham, straight out of the plastic packaging. Not because you’re out of food, or incapable of cooking something else, but because you just don’t want to.

Let’s try to do a little better at that, shall we?

While we’re wishing for things, I also really hope you’re still doing this blog. Sometimes, you fear that you’ll eventually run out of ideas (or that some sort of technological apocalypse will erase all the blogs from the internet), but you enjoy it so much. You’ve always loved writing, and the blog seems to encompass all the things you loved about being a yearbook editor – playing with fonts and designs, finding relevant pictures, etc. Plus, it’s fun to read all the other funny, amazing, and inspirational blogs out there.

Future me, you should continue to do things that make you feel happy and alive.

Another hope I cling to is that you’ll have finally figured out how to style your own hair. Right now, you only have about five options for hairstyles:

  1. Down and straightened
  2. Down and wavy
  3. Up
  4. Hmm…
  5. ????

…Oh, look at that – guess you only have three styles.

Let’s see, what else might be important to ask you?

Oh I know – do you still have your terrible laptop? The young and modern side of me is crossing my fingers that you’ve embraced new technology, but the nostalgic, easily-impressed side of me will be fascinated if you’re still using a computer that is now 11-years-old.

Enough about me! Let’s talk about you, future me.

If you’ve already forgotten, the February 2016 version of you is in a place where everything feels a bit uncertain. You might be working at a different job now, and maybe even living in a different city. That concept scares 2016 you. You like fresh starts as much as the next guy, but you hate the feeling of “flying by the seat of your pants,” and always have. You want to know where you’re going, and what’s happening, and who’ll be there. You crave the security.

I don’t know what you’re up to now, but wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, I’m sure you’re okay.

Maybe you’ve even mastered something incredible. Maybe now you know how to make a perfect soufflé, or you’ve completed a decathlon, or become mayor.

I know, more than likely, none of those things is true. A year from now seems so far away, and yet it doesn’t seem like a long enough amount of time for me to have enacted any major changes. But the point is, you should remember that the world is your oyster! You can have whatever you want if you work hard enough!

…Except for the decathlon thing. You love cheese and television too much for that to work out.

Sincerely,
Current, 2016, Work-in-Progress, Me

My nominees for this fun tag:
https://myleastfavoritechildtoday.wordpress.com/
http://momsranting.com/
http://wwww.rockandrollsupermom.wordpress.com/

lettertoself

Therapy is a Mental Work Out

In my yoga class the other night, I had an epiphany. Yoga-induced epiphanies are probably pretty common, but I’m going to guess that most of them revolve around how to achieve inner peace within our chaotic world.

Mine wasn’t.

Let’s back up. I attend a yoga class on Tuesday evenings after work, and over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that there have been quite a few more yoga-doers than usual. Considering we’re still early into 2016, I’m guessing my suddenly-busier class is the direct result of New Year’s resolutions.

Although I don’t usually make a resolution myself, I genuinely admire those who do. Resolution-makers want to live healthier, happier, more-enriched lives, and are (hopefully) taking the steps needed to make that happen.

These courageous souls are attempting to cut back on wine or delicious fattening foods.

They’re joining gyms.

They’re…gulp…exercising.

I’m especially in awe of the people who just jump right in and go from Couch Potato-ing to Insane Psycho Spin Class-ing overnight. That shit’s admirable. The closest I get to taking a spin class is attending a yoga class that happens to be held in a spin studio.

therapy2

Even if the new routine doesn’t last as long as they’d hoped, at least the resolution-makers are giving it a shot. Meanwhile, I’ll growl and punch you in the face if you try to take my chocolate away.

Getting a gym membership isn’t the only way that I’ve seen people attempting to help themselves or others – as a children’s counselor, I’m seeing more kids in therapy now than I was last month. Granted, this is probably more of a Susie-needs-help-but-let’s-get-through-the-holidays-first phenomenon more than an actual “resolution,” but the idea of making positive changes and starting over fresh in the new year is still much the same.

therapy1

Keeping all of this in mind, I was in the middle of downward-dogging in my class when this epiphany hit:

Attending therapy is a lot like working out at a gym.

The more I thought about it, the more similarities I came up with. After all, both (may) involve:

  • Acknowledging that there’s some sort of challenge or problem
  • Seeking out a means to working on that problem
  • Talking with a professional to get support and/or guidance
  • Being honest about uncomfortable and vulnerable things
  • Giving up flawed coping mechanisms in favor of healthier ones
  • Doing a lot of “heavy lifting” (whether mentally or physically)

Call me biased, but I do think the mental work involved in therapy is a bit more intense than the physical work of being at the gym. At the gym, you might do several different exercises in one trip – maybe you warm up on the elliptical, move to free weights, and then cool down with stretches on a mat.

But being in therapy means doing a lot of exercises at the exact same time. Imagine your hippocampus jogging on a treadmill, while your Broca’s area does bench presses and your prefrontal cortex swims some laps.
Nevertheless, both activities can be really scary, especially in the beginning. Both might be accompanied by a loss of hope and motivation when there are setbacks. Both might make you feel worse before you get better.

And both take a lot of courage.

Queso Critique: Super Taco

Super Taco – Marble Falls, TX

It’s official. All of the decadent, delicious quesos that Amanda and I have tried over the past few months have spoiled us, possibly beyond repair. I say this because our most recent queso, which I would have thoroughly enjoyed a year ago, left me a bit disappointed.

Super Taco is housed in an orange adobe building attached to a gas station. We are in the camp of people who do not need fancy digs in order to enjoy a meal – sometimes, the more ramshackle a place looks, the better! We also thought it was a promising sign that the restaurant was packed when we arrived.

Clearly, the locals approve of this gas station excellence.

The inside was fun and colorful, painted with different shades of yellow and orange – possibly to match the beautiful colors of tortilla chips and cheese. It actually felt a bit like we were sitting in a giant bowl of queso – which I did not consider a bad thing.

The downside to the restaurant being packed is that we had to wait pretty long to get our food. By the time it finally arrived, we didn’t have much time to eat.

I’ll keep this review short and sweet salty. The queso had a nice cheese flavor, but the consistency was a bit thinner than we like, and there was absolutely no spice.

This is what I mean when I say that other dishes have spoiled us – in the past, I likely would have found Super Taco’s queso to be quite tasty and easily scarfed it down. But now that I know what a queso CAN be – deliciously creamy and spicy, and chock-full of meat and other ingredients – I find myself a bit let down by a more lackluster version.

We gave this dish a ho-hum score of 5 out of 10 (Revised score: 1). As established in a previous review , a 5 is adequate enough to keep eating, but really nothing special.

On a side note, Super Taco is worth visiting for the tacos. Those things are both monstrous and amazingly cheap. And yummy, of course. If you want to eat something larger than your own head without breaking the bank, this is the place for you.

cheesepun2

Queso Criteria