Wine Is No Longer A Part of My Narrative

I remember the general time period when I started to question whether or not my husband and I were drinking too much, too often. It wasn’t one incident in particular, rather a group of them.

It was Easter Sunday several years ago when I walked into a back room at my in law’s home to find my husband had passed out, drunk, on fruit-infused vodkas.

It was a Monday when “Sunday dinner” had included more wine than food, and that day was a special hell of feeling too headache-y and nauseated to do much in the way of parenting. So I called a babysitter.

It was wine in a coffee mug, even though I don’t even drink coffee.

It was selecting restaurants based on whether or not we’d be able to have a drink with our meal.

I wouldn’t say that I had reached the point of interventions, Betty Ford clinic, and AA meetings for the rest of my life. But I could see it going there, quickly. I had no ability to moderate or regulate my drinking.

So I quit drinking, altogether. Wine is no longer a part of my narrative.

It is still a part of my husband’s, which is a little weird. Since I never got to the point of having an actual problem, I guess it seems innocuous.

But still, it’s weird because in the grand picture, deciding to no longer drink alcohol is a pretty big life decision; one that isn’t taken lightly and certainly requires support. Most of the time it doesn’t matter to me, though. I’m not – like – salivating at the thought of a glass of wine; and I still cook with wine or beer and vodka. I even occasionally take a drink and hold it politely to lessen having to explain myself at parties.

I get it. Drinking your way through the hardest years of parenting (or just adulting, in general) has always been a thing.

Ladies used to drink their martinis after serving dinner in the 50s; and they’d down wine coolers all day to get through the summer months in the 90s.

Alcohol is to motherhood as fish are to water.

And yet, to me, it seems more now than ever before.

Probably – at least in part – thanks to social media, just how much women drink to get through the trials and tribulations of motherhood is in your face. It’s everywhere, every day. Having a bad day? How about some rosé. Midweek got you down? WINESDAY! Stressed to the max just getting your kids out the door for school? It’s 5 o’clock, somewhere, right?

It’s everywhere.

Making matters worse is the attitude the general public takes when you stop drinking.

We don’t live in a society that supports quitting. Anything. Giving up alcohol in 2019 is like showing up for an AA meeting only to be greeted by shots of tequila and motivational handouts that say “it’s okay once in a while…”

It took me about 6 months to actually quit the sauce, altogether. Every time I told myself that this was it, I’d have another bad day and meme after meme on Facebook justified (in my head) that wine was the Land of Milk and Honey for mothers. Or we would go out to dinner with family that orders by the bottle, and that was all I needed to postpone my cutback another day.

Then, in 2016, I got pregnant, so wine was officially off the table. That’s when things got weird.

It’s either I was too tipsy to realize how weird things were before, or the result of me no longer drinking – when I used to be a regular partaker – was that things became uncomfortable between me and the general crowd in which I find myself often.

Nonetheless, uncomfortable.

There were the people that wanted to prove to me that it was perfectly safe to drink in pregnancy.

There were those that – after I was no longer pregnant – made a big deal about how I could drink again. And when I told them I was breastfeeding, they went into the prove-it’s-safe mode again.

Now they run the gamut.

There are the people that I never realized get sloppy drunk every. single. time. I. see. them.

And there are those that ask what I’m drinking, then joke that since there’s no alcohol in my cup I must be pregnant (again).

Then there are the people that ask stupid questions when I say I stopped drinking. Like “well what do you do to have fun?” (As if the only way to have fun as an adult is to get shit faced.)

And finally there are the people who use it as an opportunity to justify their own drinking (“oh I just couldn’t do that”) or even get outright hostile towards me. As if – at the end of the day – my personal choices with regards to my body and what I put in it have anything to do with anyone else but me.

If that makes other people uncomfortable, I guess that speaks more to them and their own issues than anything else.

Wine was such a prevalent part of my narrative for years. It no longer is anymore.


I Can’t Believe I Have To Explain This To You People; How “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “The Little Mermaid” Have Proven Our Cultural Ignorance

I remember the first time I heard the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” I was riding in the car with my mother. It was Christmastime, I was visiting her in Seattle as I always did for the holidays. We were on our way to some dive bar, where she would hang out in the bar while I sat, alone, in the dining room section with a book. I was 15.

She was dressed to the nines, ready for a night out and she sang (more like belted) along with the song as her wild and big hair whipped and gyrated around the car to the melody. It was the Barry Manilow version, and I will never forget my mom oo’ing and ahh’ing with the song.

This was in 1997. Now, 21 years later, I am 36 years old and cannot hear that song without that horrifying memory. But it wasn’t the song that brings up the horror; no, let’s be clear here –  it was my mother.

The song was innocuous then, as it is now.

Similarly, I can remember the first time I saw ‘The Little Mermaid.’ I was somewhere around 8 years old. My parents were still married, ‘The Little Mermaid’ had just been released in theaters. My dad took me to see it, and while I didn’t want to go in the theater (I may have been younger, because I was scared), I ended up loving the film. Since then, I have seen it countless times, hundreds or even thousands in fact, and every time my favorite scene is the “Kiss the Girl” scene. They’re in the boat. It’s romantic. The fish are all singing and – I don’t know … it’s just really magical, okay. 

For almost 30 years, and as a woman with a strong sense of bodily autonomy who is raising two daughters and one son to understand the importance of consent, it is still my favorite scene/song.

You guys can imagine, then, my complete and utter shock at the news that radio stations, a cappella choirs, and all manner of places and people are now banning the two songs of my past.

I completely get that we live in a culture where everyone is offended by everything. All the time. That is our 2018 reality, and I suspect it will only continue to get worse as the years plug along.

I’m not sure how it got to that, although I have my suspicions.

Regardless of the reason, or reasons, for people in general being more offended by more things these days, there’s the real thorn in my side of the issue that has to be pointed out: the hypocrisy of it all.

I saw a meme today that says it perfectly:

Credit: Me.me

Right then.

Here’s a lyric from the last couple of years that I find offensive: 

“You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, yeah you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, you a you a stupid hoe
You a stupid hoe, yeah you a you a stupid hoe” – Nicki Minaj

There are so many of them like that, too many to mention. They are about rape. They are about gang banging. They are about the objectification of women and their bodies. But I digress… The point is that if you find that stupid hoe nonsense to be perfectly acceptable, while finding “Baby It’s Cold Outside” or a children’s song to be just too far, I can’t believe I have to explain this to you people, but: you are hypocrites.

Honestly.

On the flip side of it, there is that sticky issue of consent, because don’t get me wrong, even though I think that both songs are completely harmless, I also think they do raise a serious point on the matter.

“Baby It’s Cold Outside,” on the surface, sounds like a man trying to pressure a woman into staying at his place and, presumably, getting warm in his bed. A few years ago was the first time I heard someone claim it had a “rapey vibe” to it. As if that wasn’t an intelligent enough analysis of the song and its narrative, this year’s holiday season was ushered in by the pearl-clutching ladies of the Internet sharing blog after blog in which headlines like “Baby It’s Cold Outside – EWWW” took down the decades-old ballad.

‘The Little Mermaid’ – the other of our most recently banned songs – is of the same ilk. She wants to be a human and to marry this guy (after literally seeing him once after a shipwreck, whatever you do you Ariel), but it isn’t socially acceptable in her mer-world to do so. What’s laughable about people calling into question the matter of consent in “Kiss the Girl,” though is that Ariel signed a contract. Literally, in plain English, it says that she can be a human and get her voice back if the guy kisses her, and she signed it. How much more consent do you need?

In reality, both really are about consent; but not the way the naysayers of the Internet would have you believe. They’re both about women who actually want to say yes, each in their respective ways; but who both live in a time or place in which it is not socially acceptable to do so. So if you want to be offended, be offended but for the right reason.D

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I Don’t Shave My Crotch, and Other Assorted Coffee Time Conversation

I had coffee with a friend yesterday. Coffee is sort of a weird way to say it, though, because I actually don’t drink coffee. So what I had was this blended iced milk with vanilla in it; it was big and full of sugar and something like 600 calories – but who’s counting, because at least it wasn’t coffee – am I right?

(I seriously cannot stand coffee.)

Anyway, so we were talking about I’m not sure what and then we started talking about other stuff, and somewhere in there she said “now don’t blog about this.”

So naturally I had to.

OK, but I won’t give any identifying characteristics (curly hair). Or what we were there for (crafting). Or what she drank (an Italian soda, also a non-coffee drink, which begs the question: why were we meeting for coffee and crafting when neither of us intended on drinking that horrific beverage?).

I will just say that we were having coffee (not really, I basically told you everything and also we weren’t drinking coffee) AND amidst all of that we were talking about how my ten year old is starting to grow boobs and I’m panicking about said boobs.

Because puberty is terrifying. As a mother, that is.

And we were talking about how neither of our mothers taught us much about femininity. Now my friend’s situation I cannot attest to, but my mother moved across the country when I was 10 years old to live 2,000 miles away from her daughter (that would be me) so that she could be available to shack up with a married man whenever he came around. Then when that fell through she stayed and I saw her over the summer and holidays – whenever my dad would force me to go.

When I got my first period, I happened to be visiting her, but she was too busy talking to her married boyfriend on the phone to help me deal. Otherwise, what I learned of femininity came from my wonderful and saintly aunt, and the occasional time that my dad took me with him to work and a female coworker would spend time talking to me.

Somehow that coffee time conversation turned into discussing the West Coast obsession (at least I hear it’s a West Coast thing, stemming from the porn industry) for women to go bald down there.

And somehow that turned me into saying way way WAY too loudly, in the middle of this coffee shop where I most certainly was not drinking coffee: “oh yeah, I don’t shave my crotch…never have, never will. What do I want to look like – a five year old girl?”

Now, maybe I don’t do that because I grew up with my dad, and was lucky to get out knowing how to put on pantyhose. Shaving anything was unchartered territory for me until my early 20s, and quite frankly shaving my pits and my legs is a miracle at this point.

But it also stems from my belief that only little girls have hairless netherworlds. Sorry, but it’s true. Ladies, you were born to have hair on your vaginas. There, I said it. But you all should accept it.

Before I wax too philosophical, though, let me stay on track. So I announced loudly to my local Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (there I go with more details again) that I, in fact, do not shave my shit. I mean I was loud, and realized I had made an err when some young, clearly crotch-shaven, women at the table next to us looked over and snickered.

They were on Facebook on their computers, so I’m sure there’s a video or some shit of me yelling it for the world to hear just waiting to go viral right now.

Upon noticing this, I took a look around, as my friend and I continued to chat about all things not crotch-related (because we had already covered that territory). I took in the full scene at my local coffee shop and realized something:

People are really self-absorbed.

Each table contained someone or someones that all seemed self-absorbed. Someone came in trying to get her son in a wheelchair through the door, not a single person jumped up to help. Every which way you looked there were teenagers with headphone earbuds in, guys playing video games, and twenty-somethings checking their Facebook accounts excessively while ignoring each other talk.

The girls that clearly overheard my crotch hair proclamation took no less than 45 selfies.

All the while, it was loud and people were there, so you never would have known it was a room full of people that literally care about no one but themselves.

Now I’m not saying that when you go out for coffee on a Sunday, you’re supposed to engage the entire world and spend all your time meeting new people and helping out strangers.

But if the only thing that snaps you out of your self-awareness coma is some psychotic lady in yoga pants, drinking something other than coffee in a coffee shop, shouting as loudly as she can to her friend that she doesn’t shave off all her crotch hairs in the interest of not looking like a five year old …well maybe if that’s the only thing that makes you realize that others are out there, others exist, and others have things to say (clearly)…

…well maybe you need a reality check.

It’s a big world out there, people.

A lot of hairless and hairy crotches.

Put down your phones and your computers, take out your headphone earbuds, and look outside your bubble for something like twenty minutes the next time you’re at your local coffee shop.

Who knows what’ll happen. Moreover, who knows what you’ll hear.

 

From California

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I take it pretty offensively when people refer to me as “from California.” First and foremost, I don’t really like California. It’s nothing personal against anyone that does – I just don’t gel with it. Secondly, though, I’m just not from there. I’m from Chicago. Get over it. Just because I happen to live in California right now doesn’t mean anything.

I would get just as annoyed anywhere said besides where I’m actually from. It’s linguistically wrong.

But then there is the added insult that comes when someone says that you are from California, because they don’t just say that. That you are from California. In the last few days, I’ve witnessed quite a few embellishments on the statement.

“You talk like you’re from California…”

You don’t say. What exactly does that mean? For someone to talk like they’re from California?

Is it the accent? I don’t really have an accent, in fact if I do it’s still a Midwestern one. My ‘a’s are always hard, and on occasion I get that Northern ‘you know’ that you find in Minnesota.

People say all the time in Chicago that I talk like I’m from California, and I’m not entirely sure what they mean by that. I didn’t think that I said words such as ‘like’ or ‘oh my God’ or ‘rad waves dude,’ but perhaps I’ve become so much from California that I don’t even notice it anymore.

“You’re from California… you must want brown rice, tofu, and vegetables…”

It is true that in California we often eat very light food. Brown rice. Tofu. Salads. California style food is supposed to be fusion, but a lot of the time it’s just shit. Shit with shit piled on top. Add some asiago cheese to make it sound slightly more appealing, and that about sums it up.

We were at Panda Express today and I was talking with the guy behind us in line about how we were visiting from where we live – in California. When we got to our turn in line, the guy slopping the faux-Chinese food onto the plates said “oh you’re from California… you must want brown rice and vegetables.”

Kiss my hairy ballsack, you minimum wage employee. What a horrific stereotype.

“Coming from California, you must be spoiled from the weather…”

People’s response when I say that I want to move back to Chicago from California is always one of horror. How could you not love laying on the beaches in the sunny, 70 degree weather every day? Basking in the glow of the warmth that showers down on the Golden State literally every day of the blissfully perfect year?

How dare you insult us as we sit in the snow, or the muggy heat? How dare you insult us with such a suggestion that the perfect climate in California is not something you would give up everything for?

Coming from California, you must be spoiled from the weather… you must have forgotten what it’s like.

Actually, no. I haven’t forgotten what it’s like because it still gets cold and it still gets super hot, and we still have really muggy days and the times that it is legitimately 70, sunny, and perfect are so few and far between that we don’t really know how that California stereotype came about.

What’s worse about California weather too isn’t just that it isn’t what everyone thinks it is, but we’re not equipped for it. When it rains, we have massive flooding. And mudslides. When it’s hot we have disastrous fires. When it’s hot we have no air conditioning. When it’s humid, our houses get demolished by mold.

And even when it’s nice in California, the air is so filled with the pollutants and pollens that you can barely breath without choking and getting a migraine.

From California…

Being on vacation – this vacation in particular – is hard enough without having to deal with that kind of stereotypical bullshit. It just goes to show that everyone is judgmental, or has their opinions on what it means to be this or that.

If people are proud to be from California, kudos to them. For me, it’s just not who I am. Daily I struggle with the influence that the California culture has had over me. I feel guilty for eating anything beyond air. I can’t go out without making sure my hair, my makeup, my accessories, and my clothes are just right. When you’re from California, this is the kind of crap you do; you do more – I do more – but that is just the tip of the iceberg that is my daily struggle.

Really it’s all of our daily struggles, though, when we find ourselves in a place that is not conducive to who we are. It doesn’t matter if you are from the Midwest, from the East Coast, from another country, or from California. The ongoing crisis identity is not reserved for the alleys of high school hallways, nor people that go somewhere new to reinvent themselves. Wherever you go, people will notice that you are not from there. Or maybe they just assume when they hear it that you are different.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did my opinion offend you?

983697_579422125435615_1137414111_nTough shit.

Last week I posted this photo that I found on EpicFail.com of a cat that’s owner had covered it in make up. A few people noted feeling a little disturbed by it. Someone else told me that she hoped a herd of cats mauled me while I bitch.

Note that I said “…of a cat that‘s owner…” as opposed to “…of a cat whose owner…” You know why? Because cats are not people. They are animals. Filthy, disgusting, rancid, disease-filled animals.

That’s just my opinion.

Now as for putting makeup on the cat, it didn’t look like it was all that disturbed to be dolled up like that. In fact, it sort of appeared to enjoy the attention. It wasn’t – like – chained down or anything. It was of a healthy weight and its hair had a nice glow (indicating it is well taken care of). If it had appeared to be abused, that would be a different story. While I do like to distinguish the difference between animals and people, I also can respect an animal as a living, breathing thing. But really … the cat looked a-OK with the makeup. So I saw no problem with it.

I’ve pasted it in above, do you? I mean really. Let’s keep things in perspective here.

And yet it turned into a direct attack on me, and lost me a whopping 20 blog Facebook followers, because I included the note that I actually hate cats.

As for owning cats, while I wish all of them were nuked off the face of the earth; and I do see a moral dilemma with domesticating any animal meant to be in the wild – in the end I say: to each his own. I respect other people’s rights to their feline friends if they so desire. But that isn’t going to make me love cats. As horrifying as the thought of me hating a kitty-witty is, I actually do and feel I have good reason. My mom was bit in the neck and sent to the hospital once by her cat of five years; and I am so seriously allergic that on more than one occasion my throat has started to close from a cat rubbing against me.

But what do I get for it? What? Courtesy? Understanding? Fuck no. I can respect all of you for loving your cats; but then I  in return have a herd of psychotic, mauling cats wished upon me for having a different opinion than all (some) of yours. Gee, this seems fair, doesn’t it?

I think this is a bigger problem.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I think that there is very little respect anymore in our culture. Maybe around the world it’s different, but in American culture – and especially in the community in which I live – it seems to be waning.

A great example: RSVPs. This last year I have thrown so many fucking parties that I didn’t want to throw: birthdays, dinners, funerals… you name it, I threw it. The only thing I asked everyone for was an RSVP. Let me fucking know if you are going to come. You know that I am going to cook up a gala of a meal. You know how hard I fucking work to make my house look nice when people come over. You fucking know that it is a thorn up my asshole every time someone doesn’t even acknowledge that I invited them. You know goddamned fucking well that after throwing all these parties for everyone and everything else, I didn’t even get a fucking piece of cake on my birthday.

And yet there is so little respect for other people and their time and effort and planning to pick up the goddamned phone and say “sorry, I just can’t make it” around where I live. Or maybe it’s just no respect for me. In truth, I’m starting to think that’s the case.

Fuck that.

I’m throwing one more party this year and then I’m done – forever: a baby shower. It’s in the Midwest, though, and etiquette is a little different out there. People that plan on not coming actually let you know. Some of them even call and apologize, rather than just sending an email or RSVPing “no” on an event site. I hardly know what to do with myself after years of assholes being so rude.

There is very little respect for other people, other people’s feelings, and others’ opinions anymore.

Opinions Are Like Assholes:

Everyone’s Got One And Some Of Them Stink.

I don’t know why everyone always gets so up in arms when I say the following:

Opinions are like assholes: everyone’s got one and some of them stink.

What is so offensive about that? It’s a case-in-point fact.

One of my favorite undergraduate professors once told me that: sure, everyone has an opinion, but that doesn’t mean all of them are right. This is a big issue in philosophy, and it’s called relativism. Anybody who’s anybody in academia knows that relativism is a big, fat, crock of shit. Allowing relativism is how you get people like Hitler mass-murdering Jews; and psychopaths like that Batman Returns killer, just last year in Colorado. It was just their opinion that those people deserved to die! Baseball players believe it’s OK to use performance enhancing drugs because they believe the rules are stupid. They all had a right to their opinion, right?

Sure, everyone has a right to their opinions, but it doesn’t mean that their opinions are (a) actually the correct or accurate or morally OK option, or (b) that they have an inherent right to act on them.

And on the note of opinions, I think people take opinions too personally. I have never seen people so offended than when I say that I hate California. I do! So sue me! A lot of people do. Just because I’m honest and don’t bottle up my feelings doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. Instead, though, a lot of the people I know who take personal offense to my feelings about the Golden State spend all their fucking time trying to invalidate my feelings and tell me why I’m wrong for having them. Which brings me to one last issue…

Cultural Narcissism

I think one of the biggest problems with our contemporary, American culture is that we have somehow come to the belief that everyone is experiencing things exactly as we are. So often I experience with people in my own life and my own community others forgetting that everyone in this world is living a different life, with a different situation, a different financial standing, a different upbringing, in a different time period, with different parents, under different circumstances, and along the lines of different health issues beyond their control.

Clutter in the house makes me feel physically sick. It stresses me out. It creates more dust, which I am terribly allergic to as well. My husband doesn’t get that and just keeps adding more and more clutter, because he fails to recognize that I am different than him. Along the same vein, I am deathly allergic to cats. And no matter how many times I say that, people very close to me absolutely refuse to understand why I would not like them. They have a hard time believing that I could dislike something that they love – they love it so everyone must love it, right?

Wrong. We all are entitled to our own opinions, just like we all have our own lives to live. Oh, I’m sorry. Did my opinion offend you? Well isn’t that too bad. Unless you are living in my shoes, in my life, with my problems, with my money, with my family, during my time, and encountering everything that I encounter, you kindly can keep your own comments to yourself.

I say put makeup on all fucking cats. And if that makes me deserve a group of psychotic, mauling cats, so be it. At least I went down being honest, rather than acting like a little bitch who’s too afraid to speak the truth for fear of the wrath of others. But then again, the wrath of others really is the problem, isn’t it?

STFU Fridays: It Ain’t No Harlem Shake

The Harlem Shake: another cultural phenomena that makes any of us with an IQ over that of a banana cringe. It’s another Gangham Style, or series of photos where people plank in weird places. It’s stupid. It’s pointless. It reeks of a culture that is easily entertained and entirely moronic.

And what’s really fun about this one is that it’s disrespectful.

A born and raised Chicagoan, I am familiar with the closeness and affection for dance a city can have. In Chicago, Blues and Jazz gave rise to an entire culture of movement in dance that – I believe – continues today. Quite frankly, it’s beautiful; and while not all people can dance well, growing up near a city such as that taught me that an expression such as dancing (done well or not) can bring people together, even in the starkest of circumstances.

I’m sure without even watching the video, then – “Harlem Reacts to the Harlem Shake” – you faithful blog followers can imagine the response from Harlem.

The Harlem Shake is an actual dance,

and it does not involve dry humping

… the air, each other, or a canon. Yes, this morning when YouTubing this new dance phenomena, I found one that started where a guy in his underpants, wearing a mask, was simply dry humping a statue of a canon. Tasteful, indeed.

So the Harlem Shake is an actual hip hop dance; and an old one, at that. It does not involve dry humping the air. It does not involve dry humping anything – it involves an actual shake. There is an actual method to it too – so much so that instructional videos have been made on how to do it. You don’t just shake and hump and strip to near-nothing. It used to be called the albee (after the guy that invented it), but was renamed the Harlem Shake, and has been featured in music videos, as well as high profile hip hop clubs.

In other words: it’s legit.

The Harlem Shake Internet meme where large groups of complete morons imitate having anal sex with each other, as well as hump the air while making a slapping motion, is not, and never will be, a version of the dance.

You people are stupider than we all thought you were

if you find that entertaining

With Gangham Style, I did (sort of) get the appeal. There was a method to the dance. The video was entertaining in a “what in God’s name is going on here” way. I do believe the whole thing was (and remains to be) dumb, and that Psy guy – well he is quite a piece of work, in his mink coat and fancy eye makeup. But I still got it.

This Harlem Shake thing, though, is a totally different ballgame. It’s like planking was – stupid, pointless, not unique by any stretch of the imagination, and in some cases dangerous. There is nothing unique about people dry humping the air and just shaking like morons. There is not a thing fascinating about people stripping down to near-nothing in large groups (as they do in the majority of the videos I’ve seen).

There has to be a lot missing upstairs for someone to find this so-called dance truly entertaining. Sanity, decency, respect, and intelligence are among those things.

The question we should all ask ourselves…

Whenever an Internet fad comes up like this, I always ask myself “would I do that in front of a group of people.” Or more specifically when it comes to this so-called Harlem Shake – would I do that in front of a group of people in Harlem?

Shit no. Shit no I would not.

I wouldn’t dream of doing that in front of a group of people in Harlem, and I especially wouldn’t dare call it the Harlem Shake. Now personally, I have never been to Harlem. But I have been to places like it, and it isn’t often that – in places like Harlem – I have seen a bunch of stupid white people dry humping the air to weird, new age techno music. Yeah … no. I just haven’t, and I wouldn’t do it.

The same went for planking, Gangham Style, owling, fridging … all of it. All of the idiotic Internet fads that seem to prevail in our ever-devalued popular culture. I wouldn’t do any of them in front of a large group of people.

Clearly there are those that would, but I am just not one of them. Maybe you would. Maybe you would strip down to your tighty-whiteys and throw on a mask. Do the stupid intro where one person softly humps the air, inspiring gads of people to show up and then violently do the same. Slap the air as if there is an actual woman there being slapped. You enjoy your dry hump to tacky techno music. STFU when it comes to the name of it, though. It may be a tacky, crappy dance fad. But it ain’t no Harlem Shake, that’s for sure.

More Brain Gruel: Year of the Dragon, Family Drama, and a Startling Realization

Year of the Dragon

Happy Lunar New Year, faithful blog followers! While celebrating the resetting of the Gregorian calendar on December 31st with shit loads of alcohol, whorish outfits, illegal fireworks, and making a host of resolutions to do things you will (a) never do, and (b) never realize you probably should have been doing all along is not so much my cup of tea, the Chinese/Vietnamese New Year most certainly is.

During the last semester of my Bachelors in Philosophy at Cal Lutheran, I did an independent study with my advisor and boss, Dr. Chen, on Eastern Philosophy. While the majority of the semester was spent going over good tofu recipes and trying them out, the culinary experiments were laced with perhaps the greatest journey in discussion and personal exploration I have ever had. Twice a week, Dr. Chen and I met and talked about Eastern philosophy, which uncovered ideas and beliefs that at the end I felt entirely changed me as an individual. And in fact, since then my most favorite place to go to is temple. Growing up Catholic, I never had some of the experiences I have had when going to the Buddhist temples – especially the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, CA and the Ventura Buddhist Center in Ventura, CA. Where I previously found rules, judgment, and dogmatism in my Catholic upbringing, I now find acceptance, intellectualism, and peace in this relatively new (to me) culture.

So the Lunar New Year is very special to me. It reminds me to visit Dr. Chen. It celebrates a culture that is still new and yet unbelievably beautiful to me. And it metaphorically guides me towards starting fresh for another year. So happy Lunar New Year; hopefully the Year of the Dragon brings us all peace and prosperity.

Family Drama

I don’t know about you guys, but things have been a little light on the family drama front as of late, and I was starting to wonder if this is just the calm before the storm. Hello Kitty Toaster hasn’t even taken it upon herself to act as the moral authority on my Facebook page in a while, and I fortunately have not run in to them anywhere around town.

Could this be a turn in the right direction? I thought to myself just yesterday as we were on our way to a family celebration of my grandparents’ 62nd wedding anniversary at IHOP.

Not so fast.

We should first disregard the immense drama that occurred when we showed up at the IHOP in Valencia, only for my mother to scream over the phone for the entire place to hear that she meant the one in Newhall Ranch. Let’s also (for a second) just disregard the fact that my mother and her family decided that the best place to celebrate a wedding anniversary is their local International House of Pancakes. And we’ll even ignore the fact that I had to order off the children’s menu because that was the only place I could find anything that had less than 900 calories. Ignoring all of those things, all of this could have been tolerable as a one-time event if only it weren’t for one thing: family children and cheap pricks.

Whenever we are around other children under the age of 10 or so in my mother’s family, it’s a stark reminder that mine ‘aint so bad. After these kids ate yesterday, they proceeded to run around and scream – I shit you not, faithful blog followers – for at least fifteen minutes before anyone told them to simmer down. For a moment, I thought this might have been why they selected a more “family friendly” (i.e. little, uncontrolled shits) restaurant, but then I remembered the time these children were allowed to act the same, exact way at a five star steak house. It’s no wonder some restaurants are choosing to go kid-free with little terrorists like that.

Then came the time to pay, which never ceases to be awkward. Rather than allowing the table of 16 people to break the bill up, IHOP insisted it be on one bill (understandably so). This turned into a complete debacle because – no matter how many times this happens – no one had cash. (Well, we had cash, but no one else did.) About twenty minutes after we got the bill and handed over our cash, one of my cousins who could best described as an “obese jerkface” started yelling at the waitress because they weren’t given the senior discount with my grandparents there. This, of course, was after the screaming children were allowed to run around like assholes – and another incident earlier in the meal when everyone was too “hot” sitting in the area they were sitting, so demanded the wait-staff move all sixteen of us to another area in the middle of appetizers. Apparently grammie and grampie ordering off the senior menu negated the possibility of the entire table getting a discount – too bad for them and we tipped a little extra on our portion for the massive amount of rudeness.

Always a good time with my mom’s family. It sort of reminds me why I don’t see them often.

 A Startling Realization

At that very family luncheon for the celebration of my grandparent’s anniversary, we were positioned as follows:

 All of the adults on one side of the table, with my mother at the head. All of the kids and my husband and myself at the other side of the table – so far away we really couldn’t converse with anyone about anything other than Barney and Dora.

As I sat there, trying to figure out a way to sneak to the corner store across the parking lot to buy a fifth of vodka to help me get through the three and a half hour IHOP lunch, I came to a startling realization as I stared down to the head of the table: my mother looks like a turkey.

I know that’s messed up to say, but I’ve said worse about her and to be honest it’s just the truth. She even has something like a gobbler, which flaps around when she gestures wildly (as she often does when she talks).

Is this my fate? Will I one day have to hide around Thanksgiving time for fear of being mistaken for one of the tasty fowl? I shudder at the thought.