Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Old vs.The New

At the risk of sounding like a brat (...too late...), I really don't know why I blog sometimes.  It's not like it serves any purpose other than to make me feel less bad about not keeping journal when I really could because I'm not that tired at the end of my work day.  But I sort of am.  But I'm sort of not.  Whatever, don't look at me.

For the past forty-eight hours, I've been battling the big bad flu but I am sure you would never know because it's not like there is an ever so subtle whine to this post.  And it's not like I've asked you to just leave me here to die.  But maybe you should.

Wait.  Don't leave.  I swear I am stopping.

So what can I possibly have to type about that is not a complaint?  Well.  Funny you should ask because before I found myself practically shuffling off this mortal coil, I was planning an almost useful post about all the new things that I like.

You probably don't need to have a talent for telepathy to know that I am almost always hesitant when it comes to new things.  It's not that I don't like to try new things--contrary to popular belief, I have a pretty open mind about almost everything, that's not the problem--but it's just that I really, really like the old things.  I would call myself a creature of habit if that classification didn't kind of make me want to die.  Well, even more than the flu does already...

So in an effort to be moderately more adventurous and by moderately I mean, barely, I've tried some new products/movies/fill in the blank and am here to report back on how they compare to the old favorites.

Yes.  The Garlic Press.  A thrilling place to start.  I don't know about you but I always cook with garlic. And I mean allllways.  Always.  Garlic is one of those things that grows particularly well in upstate New York and Moses' parents keep us pretty well supplied.

My old garlic press was fine.  It did the job, I had no complaints.  But it turns out that in this instance, I was so ridiculously wrong.  It was a terrible, medieval contraption and I didn't know how wondrous it could really be until Moses ordered me this garlic press, which just about changed my life for the better in every way possible.  First of all, you just get so much more garlic out of the cloves with this press.  Like 50% more and you're not constantly have to prod the sticky insides to readjust the clove so you can get just that little bit extra out of it.  It's a one and done kind of thing.

And the cleaning.  Oh!  The cleaning!  No matter how well I scrubbed the old one there were always remnants of garlic that I could get out of it because the sponge just couldn't hit all those tiny crevices.  But the new garlic press comes with its own brush that fits right inside one of the arms of the press so that those prone to losing adjustments (clearly not me because I am perfect) won't "misplace" it in the trash can or down the sink.

The new garlic press is only three dollars more expensive than our old one and approximately a trillion times better.  So best decision ever.  New totally wins out.

I wear a fair amount of lipstick.  Not as much as I used to but that's mostly because all of my grooming habits have gone steadily downhill due to laziness.

What I hate, and I mean hate, about wearing regular lipstick is taking a sip of coffee and seeing the plum colored lip print on the rim of the mug.  It drives me bonkers and yes, I realize this probably means that I have some form of as of yet undiagnosed OCD.  Regardless, because I hate the smearing with such a passion, I usually go more for lip stains, or at least products that claim they don't smudge (although trust me when I say that most of them are liars.)

Until recently, my go-to was CoverGirl Outlast Double Lip Shine.  It didn't smudge, it didn't dry out my lips; I could apply it in the morning and maybe retouch it once during the day and would need to scrub it off at evening.  It was that good.

But in recent years, the elbow grease required to take it off became too much effort and the wear and tear of it was too rough on my lips, so I either wore regular lip stick and suffered through the smearing and smudging or just regular ol' chap-stick.

That is, until Moses' brother's girlfriend, Mallika (side note: maybe we should come up with a term for each other so I don't ever have to type that out again), sent me Tarte LipSurgence for Christmas.  It's a natural matte lip stain and it's perfect; the color is rich, it doesn't smudge, and it leaves my lips incredibly moist. Like: don't feel the need to reapply chap-stick every five minutes (per the usge) moist.  I do have to reapply it more than once per day but it wipes off clean and easily; no vigorous scrubbing required. I've also gotten tons of compliments on it, which is what I pretty much live for.

Oh Jillian, Jillian, Jillian, I've done every single one of her work out videos and as annoying as she can be, she gives you results.  But I've been doing Jillian's videos pretty religiously (and by religiously I mean on and off--I'm not an Olympic athlete, people) for over four years now and as much I hate/love them, they've gotten a little boring. So I thought I would throw a new exercise dvd into the rotation: Mary Bowers' Ballet Beautiful workout.  She is much less obnoxious than Jillian and her work outs give you that long lean look--essential for someone like me who bulks up easily--but I've got to admit readers, this one's a bit of a toss up.  Don't get me wrong, Mary's work out are challenging and I am always sore the next day but it doesn't give me that: I just worked off a whole beluga whale's worth of fat feeling that Jillian's work outs often do.  Also, it doesn't contain as much ballet as I had hoped for, so I've kept the high intensity cardio and circuit training from Jillian and gone to Mary Bowers for my muscle toning.

Of course, I did just get my Ballet Conditioning DVD in the mail today, which may very well replace both those fools if it really is as good as all the reviews say.  I'll test it out once I am not longer succumbing to influenza.

Okay, so this one is a little unfair because Sofia Coppola's Bling Ring is only loosely based on the short-lived E! reality show Pretty Wild.  I was probably one of five viewers (my girl Teah, being one of the few others) who watched Pretty Wild when it was on and who still watches it now that it is on Netflix Watch Instantly.  And let me tell you: the Bling Ring has n.o.t.h.i.n.g on Pretty Wild.  

Pretty Wild is so upsetting and absurdly fascinating, it makes me wish I was getting a PhD in Cultural Studies, just so that I could write my dissertation on what that shows says about youth, femininity, education, and capitalist culture.

For a young-ish gal from a family of Polish immigrants and Irish farmers, raised in a small liberal, intellectual town, who was always taught to value cleverness above beauty, watching this show is like peering through the Looking Glass into a bizarre and truly frightening realm that I would never have even known existed. And the Bling Ring? Well, the Bling Ring is kind of like a really long and boring music video.

Let's start this analysis off with a little analogy, shall we?  Wendy: Clothing :: Moses: Board Games.  And I'm not talking about Milton Bradley board games here, I am talking about sophisticated, well crafted board games or sophistocraft games, if you are looking to drive people to stare at the ceiling for a moment.  Or fifteen.

Settler of Catan has been kicking around for a while and almost all of my good friends have played it and liked it.  Now, I want to urge all you fans of Settlers to invest in Arkham Horror and make it your next Thursday game night game.  Why?  Because it's interesting, dark, challenging, and collaborative. You're all playing as cool, film noir-esque characters, battling monsters and the end of the world as you know it.  It's a bit of an investment to learn but after a few playthroughs, you will be seasoned veterans of the game.  And unlike Settlers, it's a game that is just as fun with two people as it is with five.

I'm not a fan of Starbucks and I don't go there unless:

A. It is the only coffee shop around for miles; any coffee is better than no coffee.

B. I am on my way back to work from the dentist: there is a conveniently located Starbucks Drive-Thru where I can have blissfully minimal interactions with other humans and still get my coffee just how I like it.

C. It's been a long, rough day and I need to splurge.

Today, I had to go into to work for a few hours and the only thing getting me through, aside from being heavily medicated, was the thought of getting a tall latte of my choice with whipped cream when it was all over.

My usual preferences are the seasonal lattes: Pumpkin Spice, Salted Caramel Mocha, and Peppermint Mocha.  But today, since all my favs have since retreated into suspended animation until the next holiday season rolls around, I thought I would give the new Caramel Flan Latte a try.

Big, BIG mistake.  It had the strangest aftertaste that was both waxy and burnt.  I forced five sips before I slunk into a deep depression (that I have not as of yet climbed out of) for spending four whole dollars on something so undrinkable.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, first world problems.

Anyways, this is exactly what makes me reluctant to try new things: I like the old things so much and the new things might only disappoint me.  Of course, if I always adopted that philosophy I never would have come to experience anything that I now love (see entire list).   I also probably wouldn't have ever watched Game of Thrones (which I resisted for the longest time) and that I just can't abide by.

All right, all right.  That'll do pig. Now off to sleep another fifteen hours.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Having a point is overrated

Back with the usual assortment of randomness for your Wednesday...

Over the holiday break, when visiting my extended family, I was playing with my cousins' children and at one point in the evening, one of them looked at me earnestly and asked: "Wait, are you one of the mommies or are you one of the children?"

My first reaction was a blank stare.  Of course, that is my normal response in social situations to being asked just about anything other than "how are you" and even that sometimes is a crap shoot. My second reaction was to scoff (internally, of course): those are my choices?!  My third reaction was a little more appropriate, which was to laugh and fudge my way through an answer.

It's a fair question.  I was playing red light, green light with the kids instead of chatting it up with the adults in the other room. But what can I say? I love me a good game of red light, green light.  Especially after some wine.  So sue me.  But don't really.

Anyways, you've read all about this sort of thing before because, duh, you've read all my posts, so I will spare you the philosophizing of what that query means to this not a child, not yet a mommy.  Now I hope you too will have Britney Spears stuck in your head for the remainder of the evening.

So as you know it is Blahuary and nowhere is this more evident than in my feelings towards my hair.  It is meh-central up in huur (here).  My hair is no longer short but nor is it long.  I've come to the dreaded crossroads with my bangs where I either have to cut them again or suffer through the awkward: I'm just growing out my bangs stage.  I've never died my hair before and I sure don't intend to start now.  I also can't/won't/nope, mostly won't spend more than five minutes on anything styling related.  So if you know of a three minute cure all to the hair blues that doesn't involve drinking Oatmeal Stout (which is what I am currently doing to lift my spirits) feel free to pass that information my way...

I recently painted my nails this pinkish-lilac color:

Not actually my nails but whatever.

I have instant color regret when it comes to nail polish.  Always.  But I'll usually overcome my noncommital feelings and fall deeply in love with my color of choice once the paint has dried and I've accepted that it's too late to go back.   But this time, it's days later and I'm still not so sure about it.  I'm a dark nail color kind of gal and this makes me feel almost too feminine. You know, because getting your nails painted every month isn't feminine at all...

So ignoring the previous paragraph, I have made tremendous strides in recent years in dealing with the anxiety that comes with being a chronic over-thinker.  What I can't seem to conquer?  A pervasive feeling of annoyance in anything and everything that I do.  I would say that I spend approximately 70% of my day feeling annoyed about something.  Email from a student: annoyed.  Reading the news: annoyed.  Looking at my budget: annoyed.  Having to choose something for lunch: annoyed.  Driving anywhere in Los Angeles: so, so annoyed.  I desperately wish I could be one of those: oh, whatever people. And while my general air of politeness may trick some into believing that I am, I'm not.  I am not a let it roll off your back kind of person; I'm a cake yourself and wallow in it kind of person.  I wish I wasn't but I am and I'm working on it.

Speaking of driving in Los Angeles.  I would say that at least three times a day I think of this image:

and it makes me smile because it's just so perfect.

I took a Which Star Wars Character Are You? quiz recently on Zimbio and got Luke Skywalker.  I took a Which Harry Potter Character Are You? quiz recently on the same site and got Harry Potter.  Just slowly proving to my brother Scott that all of his favorite characters are really just variations of me.

One day, I will come home from work, exercise, make dinner, and clean up all before 9PM.  That day is not today.  Dear People with Actual Responsibilities: how do you do this? Sincerely, Not Yet a Mommy.

Don't judge me.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A retraction

Moses would like me to make it perfectly plain to my readers...all four of you...that he misunderstood which Captain Phil I was talking about.  He thought I meant Captain Phillips, the one who was taken hostage by pirates and is portrayed by Tom Hanks in that new movie that's probably nominated for an Oscar because Tom Hanks blah, blah, blah.

Captain Phil from Deadliest Catch does not have a reputation for being a reckless dick (that Moses knows of) and my faith in humanity is thus restored.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I confess!

...which also just happens to be the title of a Hitchcock film that my parents really like.  But I mean this as more of a rando confessions for your Tuesday and less of a, hello catholic priest, let me tell you about this murder I just committed.

Confession 1:  I hate January.  Not like how I used to "hate" my students when they were being psychopaths because I still secretly loved them.  Nope, I straight up hate hate January.  I'm not even entirely sure why.  Maybe it's the weather.  80 degrees and sunny?  Get over yourself, Los Angeles. Or maybe it's the getting back to the old grindstone and it punishing you for neglecting it for so long.  Or maybe it's the ever so severe holiday hangover.  You've just resumed your normal routine after the exhilarating and intoxicating experience of high stakes traveling and ordering that glass of wine on the plane because, why not? you're on vacation and eating candy from your christmas stocking for breakfast but only vaguely feeling bad about it and seeing a whole slew of people you've cared about most, if not all of your life; sharing a space with them again, exchanging familiar joshing and even possibly threats.  It's marvelous, it's exhausting, and it's over. You're home and you're glad but also sad and gosh darn it, you've just got a lot of feeling.  You've also seemed to have forgotten your taste in music after a month straight of nothing but your favorite holiday carols.

Confession 2: I am terrible at keeping secrets.  I am not a spoiler (ahem, not like my sister...) but I really like telling people things, especially if I find these things exciting or interesting or horrifying or even sometimes when I find them plain mundane.  Clearly, I don't have the strictest criteria... Anyways, it's killing me that I can't share some news I found out recently that, if it comes to fruition (which is seeming increasingly more likely), will mean that 2014 will be a much, much more eventful year than 2013...

Are you waiting with bated breath, yet?  Good.  Because I want you to want me to tell you as much as I want to tell you.

Confession 3: I've seen the movie America's Sweethearts maybe twenty times.

Confession 4: I don't really even like America's Sweethearts...

Confession 5: I am thinking about enrolling in an adult ballet class.  I took ballet in my youth and I've always admired the grace and athleticism of ballet dancers.  Plus it would be nice to actually be doing something when I work out as opposed to counting down the seconds until it will be over. Which is what I normally do.  Why can't I be one of those people who loves working out?  Who looks forward to a morning run? The only thing I look forward to in the morning is hitting the snooze button fifteen times and enjoying my half cup of coffee that I take two sips out of and then let get cold and then reheat and then take two sips of and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

Confession 6: I dislike my new water bottle because I have to press a button every time I want to take a sip of water.  It sort of makes me feel like a rodent in a lab experiment, but you know, instead of pressing a button to get heroin injected into my brain, I am drinking water...

Whatever. The analogy still stands.

Confession 7: I'm addicted to Deadliest Catch and I was positively heartbroken when Moses told me that Captain Phil had a terrible reputation for being a reckless dick (No!)

Confession 8: I haven't bought a single item of clothing in over a month.  Or do sunglasses count?  Because if they count it's been...three days.

Confession 9: I've been in a surprisingly good mood recently considering that I will be working for 10 days straight, I pulled a muscle in my leg, and it's January.  But you know, ever the optimist...

Confession 10: I don't think that in my current state (however oddly good natured) I could have rallied to write a post today, if I didn't follow some tired formula.

You're welcome.

Monday, January 6, 2014

For Auld Lang Syne

Amazon Prime Instant Video just added thirteen seasons or some equally ridiculous number of America's Next Top Model, so I think it's safe to assume that you will see me never from here on out.  Well, even less than you normally see me.  Don't you fret, I am like, 55% joking.

The Blogosphere is a twitter--woof to mixing social media metaphors but moving on--about the advent of 2014.  I know I've posted the usual twaddle about new years before and I was determine to boycott it because...that will show my ten followers?  Who knows.  But I decided to post about it anyways because that's just the sort of maverick I am.

The past several years of my life have been challenging.  Mostly in good ways but not always: I finished undergrad, moved across the country, lost my grandmother, started grad school, started teaching, lost my grandfather, finished grad school, applied to more graduate schools, and on and on it goes. Suffice it to say that the new year has consistently heralded a significant struggle (and sometimes triumph) since 2008.  Except for this past year.  2013 was oddly...placid.

Now before commencing your hardest and most dramatic eye roll of 2014, understand that I am not saying this is bad thing.  At all.  It's just strange when thinking back on the year that was, not to find it riddled with catastrophe (however minor) or notched by notable, transformative events.  I am almost taken aback to reflect on how relatively quiet it was.  But I think that it's tranquility belies it's importance because it was in this past year that I truly became an adult.

Of course, just typing that sentence instantly makes me feel childish; it's like a declaration a teenager would make to try and convince her parents to let her go to Virginia Beach with friends over the weekend.  As if her mere insistence of the fact makes it that more true.  (Not that I know from experience or anything...)  But this year something changed.  It happened gradually and then suddenly and I still can't quite seem to trace back to the exact how and when, but somehow, that doesn't matter.

I really don't even know how to phrase it other than the way I just did and I don't even have any proof to offer you other than this testament.

I guess more than anything I feel ready.  A lot of my 20s were marred by feelings of ill preparedness for what was to come.  Mostly, I had no idea what was to come and that was perhaps what was most frightening of all.  But the thought of not knowing doesn't seem so daunting to me anymore.  What I thought would happen in my life has shifted so many times that it ceases to be an area I chart.

Wait.  Record scratch, is that it?  Accepting change?!  That was the trick all along?  Son. of. a. mother. Shouldn't I have learned that from E.B. White like twenty years ago? 

Anyways, I think I've waxed introspective for long enough.  Back to the frivs.

I don't make new year's resolutions because I don't particularly like failing at things, but if I were forced to make one, I think it would be to cry less at Chopped episodes because it's sort of getting a little ridiculous. I mean, they aren't all especially heart warming.  Sometimes, they're just cooking calf brains.

Isn't it nice to see that becoming an adult doesn't totally eliminate one's neuroses.  I think it safe to say that for me, most of it's preserved in my winning personality.

And do you want to know what else is nice about becoming an adult?

Owning one of these bad boys.

There was some debate about the color (Pistacho) but I gave Moses a choice: either we could get the color he wanted or I could have 100% control over our first born's name.

Moses, haunted by the fate of little Gilbert on the playground, relented and we got the color I wanted.  He'll thank me later, don't worry.  (But don't think for a second that I am giving up on Gilbert.)

The hugest thanks to Dan and Lynne for assuming that Moses and I will never get married and getting us one of these.

I love it.

A happy 14 to you.