How to Be a Mildly Attractive Human

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Do you ever feel that your physical appearance is way too gorgeous? Are you always looking for ways to ugly yourself up a bit? Well, look no further! I’ve got just the solution to help you take your looks from devastatingly beautiful to simple and run of the mill.

I don’t like to brag, but I’m a natural talent at looking normal and average. You know those days where all aspects of your appearance cooperate with each other and look on-point at the same time? I sure don’t! As one area of my appearance improves, another falls apart. Something about my appearance is always amiss.

How can you be more like me, you ask? Take a look at how I effectively balance my style and beauty so that I never look too attractive or put together…

  •  Just bought a brand new shirt! It looks great with my favorite jeans!
    –> Grows a fresh crop of pimples on face.
  • After tons of work, skin finally looks clear!
    –> Gets haircut that makes me look like an early-2000s pop star
  • Figured out a way to style my outdated hair!
    –> Attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes and have freakish allergic reaction that makes the bites swell up to the size of baseballs and take weeks to heal.

(I’m still not quite over that last one.)

If horrendous allergic reactions are a bit too extreme for you (pansy), there are other ways to de-beautify yourself. For example, if you have naturally clear skin, a red marker can go a long way in creating acne spots. If your hair is gorgeously frizz-free, I suggest washing it with gasoline instead of shampoo, and using dirty gardening tools to style it.

Giving up hygiene products for several days is always an idea too.

If one day you find that your hair, skin, and makeup are all looking good, and you’re even dressed in a nice outfit (the horrors!), you can always sabotage your look by accidentally breaking a pen and spilling ink all over yourself like some sort of unstoppable moron.

That never happened to me.

(Okay, that’s a lie. It did happen. I had to leave work in the middle of the day to change my clothes. I’m a style badass.)

It’s important to not go overboard in the anti-attractiveness department, however. The goal is to look as average as you possibly can – NOT to look like this guy:

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To help us all find the line between slight attractiveness and slight Shrek-ness, I created this handy table:

 

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If you’re greatly disturbed by people constantly asking you for beauty and skin tips, simply follow my advice, and they’ll pester you no longer!

What are your tips for decreasing the attractiveness of your makeup, hair, and skin? Is this something you struggle with, or do you find that you have natural talent for it, like I do?

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Maybe I Don’t Want Kids

I decided I wanted to do something a bit different for this post, so it’s both longer and seriouser than what I usually write. Fair warning.

I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m really not sure that I ever want to have kids.

I have liked children and enjoyed being around them pretty much my entire life. I was still in elementary school when I started baby-sitting younger children in my neighborhood, and by middle school, I was watching babies.

(Now that I’m an adult, I seriously question the sanity of any parent who would leave an infant with an untrained eleven-year-old, but that’s beside the point.)

For a few summers in a row, I even held “mini camps,” where all the children in my neighborhood could descend on my house for a few hours for snacks, art projects, and outdoor activities.

The camps were lots of fun – and also probably illegal, once you took the child-to-caregiver ratio into account.

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It’s a bit tricky to explain my line of thinking in regards to having kids. I think most people hear about others not wanting children, and assume it’s because they either dislike them, or because they have circumstances that get in the way of child-rearing, such as fancy, high-powered jobs.

Neither of those is true for me. I have worked at daycares, I have worked in foster care, and I currently work as a child and adolescent counselor. I’m also quite close with my niece and nephew. I very much do like children.

But I still don’t know that I want my kids of my own.

Through all the baby-sitting, child care, and counseling, I have experienced many amazing moments with kids. I have rocked sleepy babies, I have witnessed toddlers’ awe at discovering new things, I have giggled with preschoolers, and I have had fascinating conversations with older children and teens.

I have felt total elation at being a part of so many “firsts” – first steps, first days of school, first time swimming without floaties. I have played dress-up, acted as a tickle monster, made up songs, painted tiny fingernails, and cooked pancakes in the shape of hearts – all while genuinely enjoying myself.

However, I have also experienced what it’s like to hold a screaming baby in one arm, stir dinner with the other, and shout at the toddlers in the next room to share their toys. I have changed diapers, only for them to be dirtied again with seconds. I have been in public with bloodshot eyes, a pale face, uncombed hair, and spit-up on my shoulder.

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I have known the bewilderment and frustration of having a child throw a temper tantrum for reasons I don’t understand, and can therefore do nothing about. And I have, at times, dare I say, been annoyed by the antics of overexcited kids.

Gasp. Better notify the church elders.

If you’re a parent, or have provided childcare in some way, you’re probably thinking, “But everyone gets annoyed with kids sometimes! Everyone has days where they want to pull their hair out!”And you would be absolutely right.

But the difference is, on the days that I feel annoyed and stressed out, I am still being PAID for my services. Big difference.

Also, at the end of a long day, I can go home to a quiet apartment, take a hot shower without little hands banging on the door, and go to sleep in a bed not covered in cheerios. Parents don’t have those luxuries.

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Maybe this is selfish, but I find the idea of having to cater to a tiny person’s needs, 24/7, with NO time for myself, terrifying. Props to all of you who do it.

One thing I’ve learned through countless discussions with parents, whether in my role as a children’s counselor, or simply with friends and family, is this:

Parenting is hard, y’all.

It is a never-ending job in a company that you have no hope of moving “up” in. There are no lunch breaks, no sick days, and the boss is not at all understanding if you find the work overwhelming. There are many, many “thankless” jobs out there, where employees don’t receive much positive feedback from customers (or employers) – but parents have it way worse.

Children actually don’t say things like, “Thank you for prohibiting me from skateboarding in the street, Mommy. I understand now you were trying to protect me from being run over and killed, and I appreciate your concern for my safety, and your desire to see me live. Let’s have some tea.”

Paradoxically, even though everyone seems to understand and agree that parenting is difficult, everyone on the planet LOVES to criticize parents – especially other parents!

We shake our fingers at those who we perceive as being too harsh, and roll our eyes at those we see as being too lenient. We turn up our noses at the sight of toddlers tantruming at Walmart, disregarding the times that our own children (or baby-sitting charges) did the same thing.

We conveniently forget what it feels like to be that stressed, confused, embarrassed parent, in favor of judging them so we can feel better about our own skills.

 

Is it really so odd that I might want to spare myself from these types of challenges?

For me, the advantages of having children are about equal with the disadvantages. The one thing that may very well push me over the edge is fear – if I don’t have kids, I think there’s a very real possibility of reaching old age and regretting my decision. To be fair, it’s also possible that I’d reach old age and feel perfectly content with my choices, but the fear of maybe being regretful and sad just might be enough to convince me.

We’ll see what happens.

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I Amygdala You

I’ve found a great way to aggravate people.

Now, I’m not saying that you should go around irritating others. I’m usually not the kind of person who enjoys doing things like that, though I know those people exist – usually in the form of older brothers. But if you ever find yourself needing some sort of revenge against someone (and slashing their tires seems a bit harsh), this idea would probably be effective.

Here’s what you do:

  • Step 1: Earn someone’s trust and friendship. This may take awhile, depending on the quality of your social skills.

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  • Step 2: Once you’ve earned this person’s trust, prepare yourself to become a sounding board for his or her feelings. This is an unpleasant but necessary part of friendship.

 

    • sharing1

 

  • Step 2a: When the person finally starts talking about feelings, relationships, or other sentimental crap  things, he or she will likely say something along the lines of, “It’s like my heart is saying one thing, and my brain is saying another.”
  • sharing2

This is where you attack.

  • Step 3: Grin maniacally and pipe up with, “Actually, the heart is an organ that pumps blood throughout the body! It has no thoughts or feelings!”
    • Bonus points if you appear overly excited when explaining this to them.

The person will very quickly get annoyed, because they were trying to have a heartfelt conversation, and you clearly ruined that. They may even try to argue by saying, “Yeah, I know that the heart technically doesn’t have thoughts. I just meant that I’m thinking with my emotions.”

…Which, of course, you can energetically respond with, “The emotions don’t come from the heart, silly! They come from a little structure in the brain called the amygdala!” (Show them this diagram, if necessary.)

amygdala

Your friend will be super grateful for the anatomy lesson, and not at all peeved that you were an insensitive jerk. Or, they’ll hate you, and you’ll have gotten revenge for whatever minor crime they committed against you. Either way, it’s useful.

This technique works in other kinds of situations as well:

  • The next time your partner looks at you fondly and proclaims that they “heart you,” smile back and sweetly say, “And I amygdala you too, muffin.” SO romantic.
  • If you’re at a funeral or some other solemn event, and the person in charge invites people from the audience to come to the front and “speak from the heart,” stand up and loudly declare, “My heart does NOT speak! But I’ll talk from the emotion center of my brain – it has lots to say!”
  • When singing along to any song that includes the word “heart,” replace that word with “amygdala.” The number of syllables won’t match up, and the rhyming will be ruined, but damn it – you’ll be anatomically accurate! And that’s worth … I don’t know, something.
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Believe it or not, there are also situations where this technique may actually backfire. Weird, I know.

  • If a person is clutching her chest and saying she’s having a heart attack, it’s unlikely that her amygdala is acting up. (Not impossible, but unlikely.)
  • On the other hand, if someone simply complains about a “hurting heart,” they could technically be referring to either their chest heart or their brain heart. In order to clear up any confusion, if you ever see someone making this complaint, it’d be best to lunge at them and scream, “What do you mean?!? Is it your LITERAL heart or your FIGURATIVE heart?? What is the geographical location of your pain?! Help me to help you!!!”

The above situations are the only times that this technique would be a bad idea. Otherwise, it’s perfect.

Queso Critique: R Bar & Grill

R Bar & Grill (Marble Falls)

We were ready to rate another Marble Falls queso, and this time, we headed to a little bar downtown. The R Bar & Grill is very laid-back and pet-friendly – the kind of place where you can easily kill a couple hours drinking, snacking, and chatting. A hand weight had savagely attacked Amanda’s foot and fractured her toe earlier in the week, so we got her foot propped up in an extra chair and set about getting our sedatives queso ordered.

The queso arrived looking attractively cheesy, but in a disappointingly small container. (Let’s just say, Amanda and I can put away a concerning and unhealthy amount of melted cheese.) We plopped our chips in and got to crunching. The flavor had a nice mix of cheesiness and spice, and initially had a very smooth consistency; unfortunately, after several minutes of dipping, the texture hardened, and several chips were broken in the process.

We gave the R Bar & Grill’s queso a respectable 6 (revised: 2), BUT we should point out that we enjoyed the queso enough to order some tacos which, coincidentally, also came with queso on them. (I know – we have a problem.)

cheesegraph4

R Bar & Grill’s website

 

This Dog is a Con Artist

When I was in high school, my older brother adopted a dog from a shelter and brought her home to meet the family. He intentionally looked for the least-cute (which sounds slightly nicer than flat-out calling her ugly) dog at the shelter, because he figured she was less likely to find another home. It was a sweet thought, and my parents and I admired him for that.

Until he brought the dog over for a visit.

This dog appeared to be made up of about 100 different dogs. She had the little ears of a terrier, the short legs of a corgi, and a tail that was long like a beagle’s, but also curled up like a pug’s. She even seemed to have a little muskrat or sea lion in there. She had an underbite and was thin, but oddly muscular, like she’d been pumping iron in some sort of canine gym. In sum, she was not very cute. Hers was a face only a mother (or someone with really poor eyesight) could love.

But my dog-loving family and I and welcomed Her Weirdness with open arms and soothing tones, mentally proud of ourselves for being so kind to such a strange-looking animal.

It turns out, the dog was just as unimpressed with us. The moment she entered the room, she scampered away from us and began sprinting around the entire house. We assumed she had some nervous energy to get out and would begin to calm down after a minute. Nope. She made laps down the hall, through the kitchen, into the living room, out the back door (that we had kept open in case she needed to potty), then around the yard and back inside.

Anytime she came close to one of us, we’d reach a hand down, thinking a gentle touch or opportunity to sniff would make her more comfortable; instead, there was more running. We also quickly noticed that she had some sort of phobia of the threshold that connected the outside concrete with the inside of our house – each time she approached it, she’d gain speed and take a flying leap over to the other side. I began to understand why she was so muscular.

My parents and I breathed sighs of relief when my brother took the dog to his own home a little while later.

Of course, no decent story would ever end there. My brother eventually joined the Navy, and my family became the skeptical proud new owners of Caramel, named for the color of her fur. Fortunately, Caramel had relaxed considerably by then, and was actually a very sweet little dog. She was relatively well-behaved (despite her inability to learn ANY tricks), and kept her running sprees to a minimum. She also adored our other dog, Abby, who was pretty old by then. She followed Abby around the house, curled up next to her on the couch, and seemed to consider it her personal mission to keep her face groomed, much to Abby’s indignation.

Despite having some undeniably good qualities, Caramel also had some strange ones. For starters, she licked everything. I don’t just mean people or sticky floors, either. This dog happily licked the refrigerator door, the cabinet, the couch, even rocks. If she came across a particularly tasty rock, she’d even take it in her mouth and attempt to gnaw on it – appearing puzzled when she couldn’t chew it up.

She also had a strange penchant for biting toes. It wasn’t an aggressive thing at all; she’d just happen to walk past someone with bare feet, and then decide to casually gnaw on their toes. No big deal.

Unfortunately, we were pretty certain that Caramel had been abused by previous owners, and as a result, every time she was told “no” in a stern way, she cowered down and gave us sad looks. This made dog parenting a bit challenging.

The Pitiful Dog Cycle:

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It’s entirely possible that Caramel was smarter than all of us and somehow cooked up this entire scheme – like a furry con artist. Trying to eat rocks doesn’t usually indicate high intelligence, though.

Caramel’s social skills were another point of confusion for our family. Although she appeared to feel intense love and affection for Abby, she seemed to think that all other creatures are malevolent and must be stopped. She would perch herself at the front door, still as a statue, and wait for suspicious animals – which included humans, dogs, cats, birds, butterflies, and pretty much any other live being – to cross by our house. Oddly, the smaller the animal, the more evil it appeared to her. Grizzly bear outside? Meh. Baby squirrel? NOPE.

If anything dared set foot near our property, or even glance in the general direction of our property, Caramel let out some intimidating warning barks. If the suspect didn’t notice her (which was often, because they were outside and she was not), Caramel’s brain switched into Enraged Mode.

Caramel: Normal/Sweet Mode                        Caramel: Enraged Mode

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She’d pounce on the door with her short front legs, bark angrily, and glare at the offender with bloodthirsty eyes. If and when my family intervened and attempted to scold her, she’d ignore us completely, or employ the Pitiful Dog Cycle again. We even tried comforting her, thinking that maybe the dogs and butterflies were “just stressing her out,” but our kindness was no match for the crazy.

Once the suspect moved out of sight, Caramel pranced victoriously around the house, her tail high and proud.

This complex little animal was also a bit of a drama queen, and felt the need to make her feelings known to everyone around. She loved going on walks with my dad, and the second she saw him holding her leash, she became filled with more joy than her little body could contain. Wild-eyed, she’d bark excitedly and do some sort of hyper jump-dance around my dad. (Picture a tap-dancing jack rabbit.)

On the other hand, if he dared go on a walk without her, Caramel made sure the rest of us knew about her anguish. She’d sit at our feet and whine, and then pace the house, looking out every window for Dad Sightings. After several minutes of No Dad, she’d start howling – a terrible, pathetic howl. This wasn’t the high-pitched sound that I’ve heard from other dogs; no, this noise was groan-like and raspy, as though she’d been smoking cigarettes for thirty years. (To our knowledge, she only smoked pipes.) Nothing we could do or say would soothe her, and she would punish us with this noise until Dad finally returned.

Truthfully, Caramel was probably the most “human” dog I’ve ever known: varied emotions, lacking manners – and a strong desire to do whatever she pleases.

Totally Legitimate Scientific Theory

In college, I took a course in neuropsychology and loved learning about different parts of the brain and their various functions. I learned neat phrases like, “dorsolateral prefrontal cortex” and “anterior cingulate gyrus.” I have only a thin grasp of what either of those things mean, but my ability to insert them in conversation makes me really fun at parties.

One thing I learned is that our good friend The Frontal Lobe, which I like to call “Fro Lo” (okay, this is the first time I’ve ever used that phrase) is responsible for planning, decision-making, memory, and behavior.

Fro Lo helps you put together plans for a Saturday picnic, remember where your house is located, and inhibit your impulse to laugh during funerals. When your friend suggests getting drunk and dancing topless on the roof of your own house, if you respond with, “Nah that’s okay, I’ll just stay in and watch Netflix,” you can thank Fro Lo for doing its job.

Here is my crude interpretation of what the frontal lobe and his lobe-y friends are up to in the brain:

 

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Whenever I see diagrams of the brain, I can’t help but think that my brain seems to be divided up in a very different manner. For example, I like to think that I’m pretty well-behaved, and my mind never seems to stop thinking/obsessing, so it seems like my frontal lobe should be slightly larger than normal. To compensate for this change in size, my cerebellum is probably somewhat smaller; this theory checks out because I have little to no balance or coordination (and anyone who has seen me dance or  play sports would agree).

My brainstem is likely the correct size, though, because I feel about averagely talented at things like breathing and blinking.

This theory is totally scientific and completely accurate.

I think my brain would be more truthfully depicted in a pie chart. Let’s go back to my Fro Lo, for example. Ideally, it would contain a neat, organized arrangement of intelligent information, well-planned ideas, and pleasant memories.

Instead, my frontal lobe probably looks something like this:

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  •  Useless facts = Information that is in no way needed in my daily life, but once struck me as interesting, so it’s in my memory to stay – maybe forever. These facts might be useful for someone, but the point is, they serve no purpose in MY life. I can tell you that women blink more than men, that triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number thirteen, and that only 5% of babies are born on their actual due date. Want to know the clinical term for Mad Cow Disease? It’s Spongiform Encephalopathy.     These useless facts do come in handy during games like Trivial Pursuit, though. I’ve also used the facts as some sort of bartering mechanism; when people help me do menial tasks that I should be able to handle on my own, I like to “thank” them by informing them that the capital of Uruguay is Montevideo.
  • Song Lyrics = The words to any song that I’ve ever memorized in my entire life. This includes everything from classical music learned throughout seven years of choir to the most excellent of 90s songs (I’m looking at you, Backstreet Boys). If you’re ever in a situation where you urgently need to know the words to Destiny’s Child “Say My Name” or Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” I’m your girl.
  • Quotes from Friends = Let’s just say, I’m a big fan, and leave it at that. Just kidding, I have plenty more to say about it! I own all ten seasons on DVD, and have seen each episode more than I can count, and probably more than is healthy. No matter what topic is being discussed, I can find a relevant quote or plot to rattle off. Remember the “fun fact” about triskaidekaphobia? Straight from Friends. I have never failed a single internet quiz about the show, and I’m fairly certain that’s something to brag about. And if you complain about your overbearing mother, I might just say, “Hahaha, yeah that reminds me of a Friends episode where Monica’s mom is super condescending to her and it makes Monica insane.” (Side note: that’s a scenario that happens in multiple episodes.)
  • Information relevant to my career = This is where knowledge about life span development, dynamics of domestic violence, and mental health diagnoses all reside. You may have noticed that all of the unimportant facts, memorized songs, and sitcom quotes are taking up much more room in my brain than information that is actually helpful and necessary.
  •  Phone numbers to elementary school friends = This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Back in elementary, cell phones barely existed and certainly weren’t given to 10-year-olds, but actual real-life address books weren’t exactly cool either, so everyone just memorized their friends’ numbers. And apparently, my brain has decided that these numbers are more important than other things. Things like conjugating irregular Spanish verbs, or knowing how to do stuff on Excel.

Fortunately, I don’t think I’m the only one whose Fro Lo is arranged a bit differently…

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Now it’s time to ask yourself one of life’s great philosophical questions: what would a pie chart of your frontal lobe look like?