Welcome To Texas, You’re Pregnant

I never thought I’d say this, but I miss California.

I miss the way you can go outside and not break into a sweat from the sheer heat and humidity, that is both oppressive and shocking – given that it’s only the beginning of April.

I miss our salads. Oh do I miss our salads with our hints of gorgonzola and our notes of fennel. I miss the ability to add beets or carrots to your salad, and I miss the endless options that are both fat free and gluten/soy/sugar tolerant. I miss our sprouts.

I actually miss our pizza. Yes, I said it. I miss our pizza. It may not be Chicago-style pizza, but it’s certainly pizza. I don’t even know what it is they’re serving out here in the heart of the Lone Star State.

I crave the way we all know that Los Angeles drivers suck. I crave our acceptance of this suck-age, as if we all understand and therefore abide by the hidden rules that come with such an acceptance. Like this one: drive like an asshole in your own lane.

Because let’s face it: Texas drivers don’t realize how horrible they are at it, and because of this it takes 3 hours to go 6 miles, and you almost get killed at least 15 times.

I am dying to walk outside and not be attacked by a bug I cannot identify. I want to go a day without a mosquito bite. I need to not find hundreds of bugs squashed in the parking lot. I’m over seeing cockroaches squished with their legs in the air.

I miss skinny jeans, even on men. I miss our attitude glasses, because as ridiculous and stupid as they look it is at least a sign that people are reading. I would kill to go outside and not break out in a sweat because any amount of clothing is too much in this humidity.

I need things to do. I crave them. I need museums that aren’t rip offs. Open spaces that I can walk in and enjoy nature through, and not be accompanied by 500 other douchebags talking on their cellphones and running into people. I need things besides watching television and sitting in traffic to get to the local mall-slash-eatery-slash gun store.

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I’ve been in Texas for a full week now. And I hate it. This isn’t to say to other Texans that you are awful for choosing this place, I’m sure you find some redeeming qualities to this cesspool. But to me – well, it’s a dump. At least in the suburbs of Houston, where I’m holed up while my daughter visits her biological father down the highway. I have been in a lot of truly contemptible places in my life, and this is by far the worst.

In fact, I would go as far as to say that this is the most miserable place I’ve ever been. I would go as far as to say that. It’s like a total trash dump covered in some nice buildings and a lot of people.

Oh my God, so many people.

And while I know that in Texas a lot of locals pride themselves on their sense of hospitality and decency, the community I am in holds some of the rudest, most horrible people I have ever encountered. Yesterday I went to the nail salon for a manicure and pedicure, and while there saw women literally yell at the innocent nail technicians, for no reason at all. None. Today I went to get dinner only to find that the first two places I hit up had no one stationed to seat people. After a considerable wait at each of the two places (continuing to stand there to be seated), I went to a third – where I got out of the car to find a used pregnancy test on the ground in the parking lot.

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Now I am not always the biggest fan of California. And I am homesick and ready to pack my shit and move back to Chicago pretty much every day of the year. But my God can I not wait to get back home. To my sunshine and my cooler temps. To my salads not covered in 20 pounds of beef. To my people that are either polite, or at the very least so wrapped up in their own lives that their rudeness doesn’t spill over into my space.

Welcome to Texas, you’re pregnant. Pregnant with a sense of horror, misery, and disbelief that no other state could produce quite the same. I miss California. Either this place really is that bad, or I don’t even know myself anymore.

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Oh the perspective a lunch date with a dead cow can give…

 

Steak

I’m in Texas, and if there is one thing I have learned in my four days here, it’s that the Texans like their meats.

We don’t eat meat very often in California. That’s not entirely true, I serve a very meat-and-potatoes-with-vegetables kind of menu for most dinners; but we aren’t talking Texas meat. Red meat. Beef. Cattle. Blood on the plate and shit. That kind of meat is infrequent in our house.

So naturally while in Texas, I am trying to find as many Texas-style places to eat at as possible, which I am finding is very beef-centric. Today’s lunch date with the dead cow was at none other than the Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse – a place I have heard of only in fables of the Lone Star State.

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Sitting in this place, with decor I hate to admit gave me all kinds of ideas for my own home (I’m a fan of taxidermy), I couldn’t help but notice a lunch meeting going on at the elongated table next to me. There were eight or so people there, and they all wore those weird things I can only remember vaguely from my days as a worker bee in the 9-5 business world: regular clothes. Suit pants. Collared shirts. It made me feel weird just to look in their direction.

And of course, because I am a self-professed misanthrope, they started to annoy me with their business mumbo-jumbo-jargon about 401(K) plans and cost analysis almost immediately. Puke. Puke in my pile of dead cow. What upsets me about these business meetings is that I was once one of those people: those self-important, arrogant bastards who takes themselves, and their meaningless bullshit that doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things, entirely too seriously. My husband talks like these people were sometimes – the pitch in his voice grows deeper and suddenly he’s talking in terms I do not understand, with acronyms and inside-jargon that makes bile form in the back of my throat. It isn’t that it’s contemptible (I mean, to me some of it is); it’s that some people so frequently get so wrapped up in this workaday world that they forget there is life beyond the numbers and the business of it all. That there is sometimes lunch which does not involve business, but rather personal growth. Or even just a pile of dead cow with a friend.

This certainly isn’t the first time I have observed one of these business lunch monstrosities. I’ll never forget the time I was eating at my local Macaroni Grill on a Wednesday only for the loudest and most obnoxious group of nurses to come in and loudly regale horror stories to each other of people’s bowels and boils, while they held a business lunch planning meeting for implementing a new computer system. Perhaps (though unlikely) to streamline the process of classifying the bowels and boils.

But it seems no coincidence that this always happens at the most opportune time. At times when I need to be reminded that I am no workaday, collared shirt-pant-suit-wearing kind of girl. Even when I worked full-time, I worked from home in yoga pants the majority of the days. I take very little in this world seriously, either, and feel that my time with my family and my soul take far greater precedence than some bullshit workaholic career that can go nowhere with me but to an early grave.

Years ago, I made the choice to become a Stay At Home Mom. Nothing more, nothing less. I do have hobbies. Like painting. Reading. Knitting. And writing. So I write my mom blog when I feel the itch; and am working on books only insofar as I have something I feel is important to say. (Not often.)

And while I would love for my writing to be seen as something with even a relatively small amount of redeeming quality to it, it is nothing more than something I do when I enjoy it. I am not a professional writer. I will not speak at conferences, nor will I teach classes on the subject. For me it is a craft and a love, not an occupation.

I veer off that track of certainty as to my station in life, though, quite frequently. I take on more technical writing projects than I’d like. I start thinking about more professional-looking business cards, and even apply for a job or two writing – vomit – SEO or ad copy. I veer off track for whatever reason, and am never happy in the process. Never.

So it is in times like today, when the most contemptible of things – the business lunch – plays out before me, that I am again grounded, and reminded of how happy I am to just be a mom. Oh the perspective a lunch date with a dead cow can give. Of course there is so much in that title (of mom, not dead cow): healer, nurse, chauffeur, chef, cleaning lady, kisser of boo boos, secretary, teacher…the list is endless. And while the workaday collared shirt-wearers of the world sit around the table at the Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse; talking so seriously about their numbers and statistics and plans and retirement packages (should they all be so lucky to make it that far), it is in those endless list of tasks that encompass being a mom that the only truly serious jobs in this world are found for me.

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STFU Fridays: Winter

Let’s just cut to the chase right here and now: if you are going to get all defensive and up in arms because I’m about to take all the people whining and griping about winter, and shit, to task – just stop. Stop right now. Go back to your fucking pity party, where you sit on your computer looking for deals to tropical places that you will never take a vacation to during the winter; go back to your bitch posts on Facebook and Twitter about the cold and the shoveling and all that bullshit too. Just stop and go back to all that shit and do not read ANY FURTHER.

Because I don’t have time for your bullshit defensiveness right now. Really, I don’t.

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I haven’t done an STFU Friday post in a long time, mainly because on Fridays I’ve been inundated with all of your fucking gripings about cold this, and polar vortex that, and OMG my weekend is ruined I have to shovel snow horse shit. Breaking the fucking STFU silence here, though, because – quite frankly – I’m sick and goddamned tired of all of you guys and your panty-waste whining.

There. I said it. Someone had to.

Well, it’s February 21st motherfuckers, and March is just around the corner. In like a lion and out like a lamb, so let’s just all agree to shut the fuck up and move on about this whole winter thing.

Before I moved to California, I lived in Chicago. I will never forget my last winter there. It was a doozy. Some nights the wind chill got all the way down to negative 30, and we had about 38 inches of snow in a period of roughly 48 hours. Now I’m not that old, and a lot of people I hear griping about the weather in the Midwest and East Coast right now have lived in cold areas like that for much longer than I have been away from it; which means that winter must be like child birth in the sense that everyone fucking forgets after a few years what a hard one really is like.

I am so tired of hearing about the polar vortex. Really. Really and fucking truly. First, and foremost – it’s over with! Fucking move on! Stop trying to analyze it, or deny the fact that the whether patterns are getting more extreme, and that the jet stream has changed, because of global warming, a.k.a. climate change. We’re not talking about why it happened – I have no interest in arguing with you ignorant fucking assholes about that. Let’s just all agree that shit is changing, and this is obvious proof of it. Now just shut up about it, because really it has been that cold before and it will be that cold again.

Shut the fuck up complaining about the way people drive in the winter weather, too. Or the way you have to shovel the driveway a lot. Every time I hear people bitching about shoveling I think to myself Jesus fucking a Christ, snow plows have been around and affordable for DECADES. Shut the fuck up about how you have icicles hanging from your roof, and about the fact that your heating bill has been so high the past few months. Probably 90% of the people I hear bitching and griping about all of these weather-related things work in the service industry: doctors, therapists, firefighters, policeman, nurses. In other words, there are plenty of jobs in places that are far warmer all year long where you could all relocate to and never have to deal with the snow driving-slash-driveway shoveling-slash-heating bill bullshit ever again. Until you make a concerted effort to do this, shut the shit up about all the rest already.

Can it with all your complaining about your kids being home from school. If you didn’t want to run the risk of your kids having snow days from school, you shouldn’t have had kids when you continue to live in a fucking place where you know this could be a possibility. Fuckin’ for real, people – someone had to fucking say it, and I know a lot of you that don’t bitch about your kids having to stay home on snow days were thinking it. That’s like saying you are upset because your child has a fever and can’t go to daycare. That’s pretty much been the lay of the land for – oh, I don’t know – since the advent of people having children in daycare. Therefore, you knew what you were getting into. Let your kids jump on the fucking bed after they play in the snow and have their hot cocoa; work from home, and shut the fuck up.

I saw an article the other day about how cities have a “new challenge” with all this cold and snow and ice and shit, in that they have to close down sections of sidewalk next to big buildings so that people don’t get murdered by falling icicle daggers. I’m sorry, new challenge? Huh? This has been going on FOR DECADES. Since the advent of skyscrapers. My mind is just utterly fucking boggled by this, because it is case-in-point proof that you people have never experienced winter before in your entire fucking lives.

But that isn’t really true, is it? The truth is that you guys had a couple easy ones, and – like I said – it was like all of your awful, 30+ hours of labor and delivery, when you tried to squeeze little Johnny out your v-hole. You forgot, quickly, how truly horrible it can be.

So let’s all just agree that you people amidst a shitty winter need to say “hey, look…it’s been a shitty winter, but just around the corner we’ll have spring and then a shitty summer to bitch and gripe about.” Because that’s what’s next, right guys? An extra hot, or extremely humid, summer that you all won’t shut your lily-livered mouths about?

Right. I thought so.

Sorry, guys. I know, this must be easy and all for me to say, being that I’m in California and haven’t worn anything but flip-flops in my 14 years here. But I’ve been back to the cold and the freezing in that time, and I just didn’t bitch about it. I actually enjoyed it. Truthfully, you guys should all consider yourselves lucky, for it isn’t until you live in the same, drab weather day after boring fucking day that you realize a harsh winter isn’t that bad in the end. It’s a change of pace. A beauty of nature. Something many people dream of and have never had the fortune to experience.

So shut the fuck up about winter, guys. Seriously. Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

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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.

So I’m On Vacation…

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….which means I haven’t had much to say lately. Not because I’ve been on vacation, I just got here yesterday. No, I have had little to say on the ol’ bloggie lately simply because I was getting ready for the trip. Traveling is difficult even on your own.

So I’m on vacation. Those of you that have been around for a while know that I’m from Chicago. I live in California now, though (unfortunately), so typically vacations involve the Windy City. Last year we came out for a couple weeks, this year we’re spending a whole month here.

Let’s hope next time it’s permanent.

So far I have learned a few things.

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#1 A Lot of People Are Obnoxious

It doesn’t say “surviving on cynicism and misanthropy” in the banner of this website for nothing: I think a lot of people are obnoxious. I’m probably more obnoxious than any of them, but that’s another blog post altogether.

We took the train again with my dad across the country, and while I had learned some lessons the last time (in terms of making it a little more comfortable for us), what I hadn’t learned was how to avoid the obnoxious people. Even the car attendant was getting on my nerves at a certain point, and it was her job to be my BFF.

The worst was on the one night that we went up to the dining car to actually dine. Typically we just stay in the room and have it delivered, or eat our own food. Stupidly I suggested we go on the first night, though, and we were seated next to the most obnoxious woman EVER.

“Is there a tilapia on this menu? There’s supposed to be a fish. This isn’t right.”

“Are these mashed potatoes made with Idaho potatoes? Instant? This isn’t right.”

“It’s so cold in here, can you turn down the air? This isn’t right that it’s so cold in here.”

“You charge for wine? Oh that isn’t right. Are you sure there is not tilapia available?”

“Arnold, what was the problem in the baaaaaaathrooooooom? You couldn’t get it out? Oh that isn’t right.”

#2 Hotels Are A Reminder That Not Everyone Practices Effective Family Planning

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Last night my cousin and I were talking about the natural, Catholic family planning course she and her fiance had to take (their wedding is one of the reasons we are in town). As if her description of the Catholic-approved “birth control” (if you can call it that) methods weren’t horrifying enough, I realized this morning that probably a lot more people practice it than you’d think.

How did I realize? If you know anything about the natural, Catholic-approved family planning “birth control,” you know that it doesn’t work. Everyone that uses it has a shit-ton of kids.

Each family I saw staying in our hotel has six or more children. One family had nine, and the mother was pregnant with the tenth. And while the children running around screaming is not noticeable while we are in our nice, relatively soundproof suite, the continental breakfast is a much different story.

It was like the state of nature with free Cheerios and waffles. Children were running around between tables, smacking the chairs and yelling “blah blah blah blah blah.”

Snot flowed everywhere.

Every thirty seconds a child would fall or trip or run into something or bite their tongue or smash their head into their cereal bowl and loud crying would commence.

All-the-while mine just sat there in horror. After about ten minutes I got a “can we go back to our room now?”

So that’s where we are. A lot of observations, and at the same time a lot of really loving being home. It should come as no surprise to all of you that I really dislike California. Sorry, it’s just the truth. I’m allergic to everything there. I think a lot of the people I have encountered are narcissistic, self-centered, overly-career focused a-holes.

And honestly, I just prefer the Midwest.

If it makes me a bad person to have a personal preference other than palm trees and beaches, well than so be it. All I know is that as our train rolled its way towards the Chicagoland area, the water towers and the rolling lands and the humidity that everyone complains about were so wonderfully “home” to me that I could taste it. It tasted like pizza and hot dogs and the White Sox and my childhood; my family, my friends, and everything I’ve always loved.

The Worst Part About California

Don’t believe anything the tourist ads, or the hipsters with their million dollar trust funds, tell you. California has a lot of downsides.

Sure, the weather is typically pretty nice; although, there are even some bad parts to that. For one, you no longer have much change to the seasons, which is sort of depressing. There is something very beautiful about the fall of leaves; about the first snowfall; and, about the beginning of spring and of summer. You don’t get that in California. But it also rains a lot here during the winter, and California is entirely ill-prepared for it. We don’t have proper drainage, no matter how many floods there are. Despite all the landslides of mud and water, which kill people every year, we do nothing to put up proper drainage walls. And don’t get me started on the lack of fire protection.

The bad things about California go well beyond that, though. There’s the cost of living, which is exponentially higher than most of the country. The $27 cake at Whole Foods down the street from our apartment is only $8 at the Whole Foods just outside Chicago. Our electric bills are higher. Our water bills are through the roof (despite the fact that we live right along a body of water). And our rents are almost double what they would be in other, equally as nice, areas of the country.

The hipsters are overruling California, making the environment a terribly narcissistic and pretentious place to live. Every weekend there are local, hippy fests wreaking havoc on traffic and the peace and quiet some of us enjoy – crappy music festivals, art walks where people sell paintings of local scenery, farmer’s markets with absolutely no health standards at all. The last time we went to the farmer’s market, I bought strawberries and the guy put down his macaroni salad and licked his fingers, then grabbed my bushel of strawberries and got macaroni and mayonnaise all over the bag.

Then there is the overwhelming hillbilly population, leftover from all the Okies that came over during the Great Depression to pick fruit. They have racetracks in almost every city it seems. Every county has a fair, and it isn’t a classy fair; it’s an “eat fried butter and wrestle with pigs” kind of event. The streets are lined with trucks covered in mud from their most recent four-bying excursion. Guns are big. Overalls are big. Beating you wife is huge.

Everyone is trying to break into the film industry, which is an awful industry (to say the least). It uses people for everything it can, and then spits them out quicker than you can say “this was a mistake.” The people that actually keep a job for a while are expected to sacrifice everything. My husband is one of them, who sacrifices lunch breaks, weekends with his family, and night after night after night of just a little bit of quality time to satisfy his bosses. He doesn’t even know how many personal days he gets every year, it’s been so long since he took them. And when confronted with the low wages and high demands, the only response is: “most people in the film industry don’t have families.”

The lifestyle in California – even if you are not in the film industry – is so ridiculously fast-paced and high stress, everyone is always rushing. Everyone is always on the go. No one has time to be nice, or to say “hello” to a stranger. That’s considered rude. People cut you off, flip you off, and feel entitled to take your place in line because they are in a hurry. At the grocery store the other day, a woman cut in line in front of us at the deli because she said her daughter was waiting for her. Really bitch? The grocery workers just let it happen, because in California it isn’t what is fair or what is common courtesy, it’s who has the biggest voice.

It isn’t just all this, though, that is the worst part about California. And there are other miscellaneous nuances that make the place miserable. The traffic. The cost of doing anything besides breathe. The horrible public transportation. The jobs. The education. The public schools. The corrupt politicians. The union stranglehold. The homeless. The way people treat the homeless. The beaches with warnings that hypodermic needles could be buried in the sand.

All this and more is not, and never will be, the worst part about California.

No, faihtful blog followers. No there is a much different thing that is the worst part about California. None of this will ever top it, either. “What in God’s name could be so awful, so heinous, to top all of that?” I’m sure you are asking yourself.

Simple answer: the ghetto trash.

Yesterday I went to pick up some soup, because we’re all sick and I wanted something spicy to clear out my sinuses. I parked my car, went in to get my soup, and came out to find that a car had been parked next to mine, and it was completely blocking me from getting into my car.

The drivers of said car were standing outside of it, two of them making out and one of them smoking a cigarette. Clearly a gang bang was about to happen.

For a brief second I thought about trying to squeeze in, but when I saw that their mirror had been smashed down by my driver’s side door, I decided to just politely ask them to move the car.

I was very nice. They were kids – clearly teenagers, driving their parent’s car. I was very, very nice.

“Is this your car?”

The girl making out put her gum back into her mouth, looked me up and down and said “yeah, what’s it to you?”

Really?

“Ok, well I can’t get into my car without scratching up yours … do you think you could move your car just a little?”

The guy smoking said “sure, sorry about that ma’am.” Then the girl piped up again, “you don’t have to be such a bitch about it.”

The guy had already moved his car by then. I got in my car and drove off.

This is the worst part of California. It’s the medical assistant who acts like you’ve morally offended her because you called to schedule an appointment with your doctor. It’s the cashier at Starbucks who gives you attitude because you point out that she gave you the wrong change. It’s the waitress that acts like she’s doing you a favor to let you pay to eat in her establishment. It’s the girls in the bathroom at Target that tell you you’d better “watch your back” wearing clothing that people don’t like. It’s the trashy kids sitting on cars in the parking lot, making out and dressing like total skanks. It’s the people that are constantly on guard, totally abrassive, and ready to call people out for something they have not even done.

California is filled with it. It’s in even the nicest of communities – which ours is fabled to be. This ghetto trash, these bottom-feeders, are what make California intolerable. Because while the weather issues are annoying, the cost of living sucks, and the hipsters and film industry get under your skin, they don’t get in your face like ghetto trash does.

Did Somebody Say Aebleskiver Asylum?

Okay, I didn’t really have any aebleskivers; yet, of course. And I’m not in an asylum. But yesterday I started off my three day tour of this strange Danish town by sharing with everyone the story of how my husband sent me to Solvang, CA, on a little bit of a “mental health retreat” since I’m Pookie-less and in a bit of a funk these days.

Yesterday we established that if you have a case of the funks, Solvang can provide a fix through: (1) the eating and drinking; (2) weird, bizarro-shit; and (3) shopping.

Today the trip continued into this faux Danish town and all it’s glories.

#4 If the fix for a case of the funks is shopping (which we all know it is, and already established Solvang is good for), Solvang is the place for it.

I won’t go into the entire list of things that I purchased; although, I will say this: the majority of it was not for me. It was for my family. I got food, I got souvenirs, I got rosemary olive oil that may as well be gold for what it cost. And while just about everything in Solvang is overpriced, I am happy to say I found some pretty good deals regardless.

The one thing I got for myself that I must discuss at length, though, is something that I never thought I would find up here: a zebra-printed apron. I almost screamed in the middle of the shop when I saw it.

#5 If the fix for a case of the funks is bizarro tourism crap, Solvang is the place for it.

I originally planned on hitting up the miniature pony farm to see the cute 34 inch ponies, but that got scratched after 15 minutes of driving around looking for it to no avail. Instead, I returned to the downtown area of Solvang and went to the Hans Christian Andersen museum.

The museum, itself, was a little drab. It’s a little larger than a room and has a bunch of old copies of the guy’s books, plus a doll house and a head bust of Andersen, himself. Below the museum, though, is the Book Loft – which had tons of amazing books I spent about an hour looking through. I could have spent more, but I was getting hungry.

Later in the day, I went to the Old Mission Santa Inez. The mission nearby where we live sits on a busy street, and is always noisy. There is a garden in the center of it, but “peaceful” is never something I envision it to be. Old Mission Santa Inez on the other hand, is a quiet gem nestled above rolling hills and vineyards. There is an awesome outdoors Stations of the Cross installation; and there are benches that you can sit on to just relax.

Clearly this mental health thing is working, because while I was sitting in the quiet outside the mission, I realized that this is the first time of true quiet I’ve had since my vacation almost six months ago, to Chicago. What is wrong with that picture? Everyone’s lives are busy. When you have kids, there is always noise (except when the kids are in bed). But I think in our house, we go beyond that. Something is always on – be it a radio, a cd player, a computer, or a TV. We never just sit and enjoy the quiet together.

This has got to change or I will for sure be admitted to Aebleskiver Asylum, and for longer than just a few days.

#6 If the fix for a case of the funks is gambling away all your life’s savings, then Solvang is the place for it.

I didn’t actually gamble away all our life’s savings. I only gambled thirty bucks. And I lost it all.

There is an Indian Casino just a few miles North of Solvang, and I’m familiar with it because my mother used to come up here all the time to gamble in the middle of the night with her boyfriend; and also because on my birthday this year I came up and won about 300 dollars on Keno.

No such luck this time. At 30 I gave up. During the day, the place is also filled with tons of old people smoking cigarettes, so 30 minutes and 30 bucks was about it for me.

So now I’m heading out again – for some more of #1 (the eating and the drinking). The credit cards are going to have to rest now, and my liver will pick up the slack. On the third Wednesday of the month, Solvang has a Wine Walk – $20 for a glass and 5 tasting room tickets. After the Wine Walk I’m going to venture up to Santa Ynez (the town) to eat dinner. Much like Solvang, Santa Ynez has it’s own theme – only rather than Danish, it’s the Old West. Who knew in the middle of wine country you could find so much weirdness?