Torture Chambers and Other Pleasant Ideas

A couple of days ago, I waxed poetically  complained about my mutant eye disease. I’m happy to say that I simply have a mild (though mysteriously-obtained) eyelid infection, and I should be back to overusing eyeliner in no time!

 “That’s good. You looked like Quasimodo, but without the hump.” – My mom

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Damn. She’s not wrong.

The upside to this appointment (aside from the fact that my eye is not going to spontaneously fall out of my head), is that my eye doctor  paid me a lovely compliment. He took note of the fact that my toenail polish, shirt, and purse all (unintentionally) match today, and told me I “looked fancy.”

I fluttered my crusty and swollen eyelid at him in response.

The downside to this appointment was entering the exam room and feeling like I’d crossed the threshold into my own personal torture chamber. It was like someone had asked me to write down my least favorite things in the world, and then charged me an insurance copay to experience them. Granted, the room didn’t include knives and chains and fire, so it wasn’t THAT torturous. It was more of a modest torture chamber. You know, as opposed to a severe one.

First of all, directly across from the exam chair, there hangs a huge, floor-to-ceiling mirror. Therefore, as a I sat in the chair, I was forced to look in this mirror and witness what my hips and thighs look like when I’m sitting. Everything just sort of….spreads out.

Perturbed by the sight, I started adjusting my sitting positions and leg placements in order to get the most attractive angle.

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Yes, this looks totally natural.

To add insult to injury, the office radio started playing the song, “Maria” by Brooks & Dunn. I have held an unwavering hatred of that song since I was 4 years old. The song didn’t even come out until I was 8, so that should show you how much I hate it. When it plays, I want to stab someone, vomit, and cry, all at the same time.

Seriously, it’s like listening to a bag of cats being set on fire. I just can’t do it. I can’t. No.

The only way this (modest) torture chamber could have been made worse is if the office staff had somehow managed to waft the smells of gasoline and burned popcorn through the vents. Even worse,  if they’d dangled a platter of chips and queso above my head – just ever-so-slightlyyy out of my reach.

All in all, I’d say the compliment and positive eye news almost balance out the wretched song and thigh view. It’s a close call, though, so I may have to have a glass of wine just to make for certain the day ends well.

Weapons and fire aside, what would be your idea of a personal torture chamber? Would there be a certain song or noise playing? A specific smell? What other factors would be present?

 

 

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When Body Parts Rebel

I thought my eyes and I had a good relationship going. I use them to drive and watch TV, and they even help me find lost items, such as bits of popcorn that have fallen in my bra. Even my eyelids are useful! They’re like little curtains for my eyes when I need to sneeze or sleep. Granted, I poke and prod them with eye makeup a lot, but that’s only because I like them so much and want others to notice them.

APPARENTLY my left eye is feeling unappreciated. APPARENTLY it’s sick of this bullshit, and is calling for mutiny.

A couple weeks ago, I woke up to discover a stye on my eye. That’s right, everyone! STYE and EYE rhyme! Hahahahahaha. Haha. Ha. If you didn’t have a hearty chuckle over that, you clearly don’t have a sophisticated sense of humor, because it’s brought endless hours of entertainment to my so-called loved ones.

If you’ve never had a stye, it’s this tender, red bump that forms on your eyelid, up close to the lashes. It’s not fun, and it makes the makeup process a bit more challenging, but it usually goes away on its own in a few days.

Turns out, this critter ain’t no stye. Or maybe it was a stye at one time, but it got pissed about my nonchalance towards it, so it decided to up its game. It’s pulled out the heavy artillery.

Here’s a dramatic reenactment:

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Now my whole eyelid is red, painful, and puffy, and even droops so that it looks as though I’m half-winking all the time. No, I’m not flirting with you, sir. You can stop winking back.

I’m unwilling to post a picture of myself in order to preserve my anonymity (and vanity), but I will provide some example comments from loving friends and family who have witnessed The Eye:

 “Eeeek! Lord have mercy!” – my mother

 “You look like the bride of Frankenstein.” – also my mother

 “It hurts me to look at that.” – a friend

I sort of felt like crying when I looked in the mirror this morning, but I was afraid that the salt in my tears would make the swelling even worse, so I’ve decided instead to deliriously smile and insist that I’m totally okay and comfortable with all of this.

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Don’t worry friends, I plan to march my eye to the doctor first thing tomorrow, where perhaps we can figure out a battle strategy together. I think we’re going to need to take major action to show this bastard who’s boss.

How’s your Sunday going? Any of your body parts revolting?

 

 

 

Things I’d Rather Meditate About

If you’ve ever done a guided meditation, you’ve probably noticed that the meditation leaders (is that what they’re called? Do those people have an official title?) encourage the listeners to focus their minds on positive, calming things. Typically, you’re supposed to repeat affirmations in your head, or think about the places where you feel safe and happy.  Oftentimes, they ask you to reflect on what you’re grateful for in your life.

That’s all well and good. It’s good to be grateful. It’s good to focus on the things that are going well in my life. It’s good to have a positive attitude.

It’s good.

It’s also a bit of a snooze fest.

During a typical day, we use up 92.7% of our brain power* thinking about plenty of stuff that we don’t really want to think about – bills, paperwork, rogue political candidates, etc. So, if we’re going to use the remaining 7.3% of our mental energy* on meditating, on just sitting still and focusing our minds on something, then that something should be really good, right? Things that make us glad to be alive. Stuff that brings us genuine comfort, or puts a smile on our faces.

*made up statistics

These are the kinds of things I’d rather meditate about:

  1. The smell, sight, and taste of chocolate. Candy bars. Cookies. Ice cream. Brownies. I feel calm already.
  1. The sensation of having my back scratched, or my hair washed.
  1. My own private island: Weather that’s warm enough for swimming, but isn’t too hot. Crystal-clear water. A chimpanzee with bartending skills. A hammock to lie in, but not the kind where your elbow or knee falls through the hole and you get stuck.
  1. What it’d feel like to sink into a bathtub filled with warm mashed potatoes. You heard me.
  1. Sam and Dean Winchester.
  1. The inner peace that washes over me when I walk into a used book store and find that they have a large clearance section.
  1. The delightful, if foolish, idea of Tina Fey discovering my blog, becoming a huge fan of my weird posts, and offering me a job.
  1. The feeling of slipping under a thick, warm comforter on a cold winter night.
  1. The utter joy of being locked in a room with 19 baby corgis.

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I asked the people I know to try meditating about the things that bring them joy in their lives, be they attractive celebrities, the sound of children’s laughter, or the smell of sharpies. No judgment here. Then, I asked the “meditators” to share with me their personal results from this challenge.

These are actual testimonies from the meditation participants:

“Five minutes of meditating about kittens cured my adult acne forever!” – best friend

“I no longer have kidney disease!” – relative

“My spouse stopped cheating on me, and we’re no longer getting a divorce!” – boss

Do you meditate when you need to de-stress or improve your mood? If you were to liven up your meditations, what sorts of things would you think about? Even if you don’t meditate, what kinds of things would you reflect on if you did?

Sleeves of Secrets

I am a lover of all things Friends. I own a Friends soup mug, a special commemorative Friends book, and even a Friends board game, which I unfortunately have never been able to play, because I don’t know enough people (who know enough about the show) to survive a round with me.

In previous posts, I’ve analyzed which Friend works the most, I’ve made a word cloud of Phoebe’s music, and I’ve even done the impossible by sticking up for the pedantic critter that is Ross.

When I’m 108, I may no longer remember my name or what year it is – but I’ll probably still be able to rattle off a Chandler quote or two.

Dear God, this parachute is a knapsack! *Paws frantically at back.*

During one of my many Friends marathons, I started to notice something peculiar about the show, particularly in regards to the styles of clothes that the characters wear. In the wonderful, coffee-filled world of Friends-land, seasons and/or weather don’t appear to exist.

Take this scene from the final episode, for example. (I know, it hurts me, too.) Ross and Chandler are both wearing warm pullovers, and Monica and Phoebe are similarly dressed in jackets and high boots. Given these clothing items, one might assume that the weather outside is somewhat chilly.

But then these two jokers are dressed like it’s December in Texas. In other words, as though it’s 90 degrees outside.

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I was going to show you more examples of the weather inappropriateness, but I stumbled upon another weird observation, and then my focus for this post shifted a little.

Observation #2: Ross wears a lot of long-sleeved shirts.

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Like, a lot.

And just like that, the subject  of this post moved from the friends’ inability to dress for the seasons, to the curious monotony that is Ross’ wardrobe.

Sure, many of his clothes are simply appropriate for his line of work – after all, blazers and button-downs are a respectable look for a professor. But not all of his long-sleeved outfits can be considered…er…formal.

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Now, I’m not trying to say that Ross NEVER wears short-sleeved shirts, because he does every now and then. But trust me when I say that his warmer stuff is seen much, much more often. If you have the show on Netflix or DVD, go back and watch five episodes of any season. I guarantee you he’s wearing long sleeves in 4 ½ of them.

The question is, WHY? Obviously, long sleeves are to be expected in the cooler months of the year. But Ross seems to wear them year-round, even when others are sporting more summery things.

What are you hiding, Ross Geller?

After some brainstorming, I’ve come up with a few theories to answer that question:

Theory 1: Ross is unusually sensitive to the cold
Perhaps our favorite paleontologist simply has poor blood circulation and is more susceptible to getting chilled. He needs the sleeves and layers to keep him all cozy and warm, like a baby bear. Granted, circulatory issues are seen more often in elderly folk than in young people, but maybe that explains why Ross and his high school librarian got along so well back in the day. Wink.

Further evidence for this theory: Ross’ reasoning for hating ice cream.

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Theory 2: Ross is hiding some kind of skin abnormality
Something evil may be lurking under those sleeves. Maybe it’s eczema. Maybe it’s warts or boils. Maybe Ross is part reptile, and is shedding. Whatever it is, it probably embarrasses him, which is why he self-consciously hides under the pullovers.  It’s okay, Ross. Let us see your disgustingness. We want to see it.

Further evidence for this theory: Ross has a documented history of weird skin things.

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“Just as I suspected – it’s a kundis.”

Theory 3: Ross takes his skin care routine very seriously
It’s possible that Ross is simply concerned about the health of his skin, and has chosen to protect his pasty white arms from the harsh rays of the sun. Of course, I’m not sure how much direct sunlight New Yorkers even get in the first place, but perhaps he wants to be extra cautious.

Further evidence for this theory: Ross has been known to use moisturizer on his face, and chooses spray tans over tanning booths.

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Theory 4: Ross is hiding a regrettable tattoo
I know what you’re thinking – Ross doesn’t seem like the type of guy to get a tattoo, and there is that one episode where he slightly judges Phoebe and Rachel for getting them. The tattoo theory is probably the least likely of the four, BUT let’s not forget that Ross makes terrible decisions while drunk. He once let Rachel draw all over his face in marker, so it’s not a stretch to think that he might get himself more permanently inked – if he’d had enough to drink.

If Ross did get a tattoo, these would be the designs he’d most likely consider:

  1. A realistic-looking velociraptor, perhaps accompanied by the caption, “Dinos rule!”
  2. Two little lobsters holding claws
  3. “We were on a break” written in cursive script

Unfortunately, we may never know why Ross chooses to cover up his arms so often. If the writers and actors ever decide to do a reunion (which I sort of hope they don’t), perhaps they’ll address this important and confusing question for all of us.

Queso Critique – Lupe Tortilla

Lupe Tortilla – Austin, TX

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

When shopping near a Mexican food restaurant that might potentially serve you queso, enter said restaurant, demand piles of cheese, and write a review for your blog.

That second phrase may not be as catchy as the first one, but it’s great advice.

Saturday, I ran errands around Austin, eventually meeting up with my fellow cheeseketeer at a mall, where she was shopping for school clothes with her kids. The trio was tired and in need of sustenance, and I’m rarely one to turn down delicious foodstuffs, so we all decided that Mexican food was in order.

The wonders of the Internet lead us to a nearby restaurant called Lupe Tortilla. After being seated at a table with a sombrero light fixture, we ordered a bowl of Chile con Queso with taco meat, mentally patting ourselves on the back for ordering the regular size, instead of the large. We’re such health nuts.

As we waited for the food, we sat back to admire the restaurant’s ant-pig-gecko-swordfish theme. Take a moment to let that artistry soak into your brain.

Nonsensical? Probably. Festive? Definitely.

Before we get into the queso review, I want you to see this picture of four tiny baby fajitas that the restaurant gave us just for being first-time patrons:

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I felt overly affectionate toward these little guys. Their cuteness had me wanting to wrap them up and take them home with me to keep forever in a special refrigerated shadow box.

On the other hand, their deliciousness had me wanting to shove my friend’s kids out of the way, so I could devour the fetus fajitas on my own.

Soon after polishing off my one fajita, the queso arrived:

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Amanda’s ravenous and cheese-loving children were eager to offer perfect scores, but my friend and I exchanged dubious glances. The queso had a decent consistency – it was liquidy, but not  too runny. It also had a nice level of spice, and the meat was relatively flavorful.

However, we were 100% convinced that this queso was made primarily of Velveeta, or one of its spongy cousins. To be fair, Velveeta is probably added to many of the quesos we’ve tasted,  because it lends a creamier texture. BUT, ideally, the dish should still taste like some kind of real, actual cheese. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

It’s just cheddar that way.

We settled on a score of 3 for Lupe Tortilla’s Chile con Queso. All in all, we found the dish to be stable, but not amazing. In other words, it was the exact opposite of Britney Spears.

The reason for the cheesin’

Queso scoring

Lupe Tortilla’s website

Ten Truths Behind the Lie

If you were to call or text me on a Sunday morning and ask what I’m up to, the answer would probably be, “Oh, not much.” Or, “Just watching TV.” But that response would usually be a lie.

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I’m often doing something somewhat more riveting, but I fear that the truth would frighten you away, so I give a generic and bland response.  The downside of answering this way is that you might think I’m dull and uneventful, but at least you don’t question my mental stability. I call that a win.

In the interest of being more honest, I will now come clean to you all about my Sunday morning lie. If I were to answer your question about my activities more truthfully, my response could look like any one of these:

  1. “Eating cinnamon toast in my underwear.”
  1. “Lying in bed, looking at Twitter, and making eagle noises.”
  1. “Trying to get pancake syrup out of my pajama top.”
  1. “Singing ‘She’ll be Coming ‘Round the Mountain’ with a gravelly, Louis-Armstrong-like warble.”
  1. “Facebook-stalking myself. I’m really quite fascinating.”
  1. “Meowing to the tune of the ‘The Waltz of the Sugar Plum Fairy.’”
  1. “Reading a book in a British accent.”
  1. “Making up a song about chickens.”
  1. “Watching a Youtube video of a golden retriever playing the drums. He’s better on the cow bell.”
  1. “Trying to get pancake syrup out of my sock. Don’t ask.”

You may have noticed that most of my Sunday morning festivities involve either food, or making some sort of obnoxious sound. That observation is completely accurate. Pigging out and being annoying are two of the many perks of living alone.

Anyway, if I were to text YOU on a Sunday morning and ask what you were up to, what kind of reply would I get? Do you spend time with family? Go on an early-morning jog? Eat foods drenched in syrup?

The Angel of Pancakes

 

Months ago, I did a queso review of Kerbey Lane Café in Austin, Texas. Kerbey is a bit of an institution in this area –  nowhere else can you eat queso-covered eggs, follow them with a fried-chicken-and-pancake combo, and then wash it all down with a $2 mimosa. For the lazy and hungover hermits of the world who can’t be bothered to put on pants and go out for their food, Kerbey even sells their very own pancake mix in local grocery stores.

To my eccentric glee, the restaurant recently challenged Austin-area bloggers to create an original recipe using the beloved Kerbey pancake mix. The recipe could be savory or sweet, pancake or non-pancake, as long as it contained any flavor of their mixes.

As you can probably guess, I’ve been a pancake-making monster over the past few weeks. Well, let’s face it. Someone who spends a lot of time making piles of pancakes is no monster. I’m a pancake-making SAINT.

A breakfast food humanitarian.

I’ve come up with different concoctions by flinging random ingredients into the batter and taste-testing it until it seemed remotely edible. Then, I’ve carefully poured the batter onto a hot skillet, or shoved it into a hot oven, and left it there until it successfully bloomed into something else. I’ve even taken careful notes of the way the results looked and tasted and smelled, so that I could more efficiently alter the recipes for improvement.

Forget sainthood, I was like a pancake-making mad scientist.

Take a look at the chemical combinations I created in the lab over the course of a month:

I attempted to de-sweetify the pancakes by adding savory ingredients…

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I created a s’more-like dessert using a blondie, marshmallow, and chocolate icing (and instantly developed diabetes after one bite)…

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Then, I made a peanut butter bar topped with, once again, chocolate icing. Simply looking at this one will give you 8.5 cavities…

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Taking a break from the sweets, I made some cheesy, garlicky biscuits that had the look and texture of cheesy, garlicky dryer lint…

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As Monica Geller’s mom would say – It did not taste good.

All in all, I probably made around 10 different creations before finally hitting the FLAPJACK JACKPOT. Say that five times fast.

I’ve submitted the recipes and photos for these three beauties:

Caramel-pecan pancakes topped with…well…chocolate icing again. Stick with what you know, ya know?

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Grilled ham-and-cheese pancake-for-bread sandwich, which has a terrible name, but tastes similar to a Monte Cristo sandwich. A beautiful marriage of sweet and savory.

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Peanut Butter Bars, now sans chocolate icing…

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The winner will receive a $250 gift card to Kerbey Lane Café. I tried to tell myself that I was doing this contest for the simple fun of it, and to not get my hopes up, but then my queso-and-mimosa-loving little heart collided with my irrational competitive streak, and now I really want to win.

Cross your fingers for me! And also maybe your legs. You know what? Just go ahead and cross all of your body parts for me, including your eyes and lungs and toe nails. I need all the luck I can get!

Have you ever participated in a cooking contest before? How did it go? If you were doing this pancake contest, what kinds of recipes and combinations would you have tried?

6 Sort-of-Smart Things I Do Sometimes

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In the past few months of running this blog, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of poking fun at myself and the not-so-smart decisions I occasionally make. Think of my blog as an exercise in humility.

Now that I’ve thoroughly described some massively poor choices, I feel the need to list some of my good decisions in order to balance things out.

That’s how life works, right?

You can make as many bad decisions as you want, as long as you make an equal number of good decisions. For example, it’s fine if you smuggle cocaine across the Canadian border – IF you follow it up by helping an old woman cross the street.

The bad decision is just… erased.

And if you help two old ladies cross the street? Well, then, you’re basically a saint.

However, you have to be careful about the number of smart choices you make. Too many will make you seem like an overachiever or a martyr – like someone who wants to make everyone else look bad. No one wants that, so keep on doing dumb stuff! And then redeem yourself again by doing good stuff. The cycle continues.

As an example, here are some decently intelligent things that I do. Think of it as an exercise in redemption:

  • I pay my bills as soon as they come in.
  • I’ve never once kidnapped an animal, no matter how cute it was, or how much I wanted to.
  • I replace the toilet paper when it runs out at work.
  • I always eat a sensible dinner before I plan to devour an entire chocolate cake.
  • I always call 911 to report dangerous grass fires. I’ve technically only seen one, but that’s still a perfect record.
  • Sometimes I eat vegetables.

That’s it. That’s all I can think of. I’m convinced that I do other smart stuff, but this is all I can come up with for now.

What weird decisions have you made in the past? What good choices have helped redeem you? Let us know in a comment, or if you’re a blogger and you’ve made a post about a good or bad decision before, feel free to leave a link to it! 🙂