Thx but no thx

Internet slang and acronyms are not new concepts. Even I succumbed to typing “OMG,” though I resisted for the longest time.

Over the course of time, internet acronyms such as DIAF, GTFO, IDGAF, FML, and other acronyms made their way into my regular chat and texting life, too.

(I still don’t use IDK, bae, fleek snatched, fam, or any of the new-fangled words that the kids are using these days.)

One thing that sticks in my craw and I can’t get unstuck is when people use “thx,” especially in email. I kind-of-but-not-really understand when people text “thx” if they’re in that big of a hurry, but when it appears in an email (particularly a work email), all I can think is, “Really?”

Considering I still send handwritten thank-you notes, it probably isn’t a surprise to people who know me that I abhor “Thx.” Another one that makes me want to light myself on fire is “K.” I flat out don’t understand wasting a text with “K” when the O is just above it, for starters, and if you’re not 10, it seems to me that more of a response is warranted.

Go ahead, text me "K."

Go ahead, text me “K.”

While I understand we live in a hectic world where time feels of the essence 24 hours a day, can we take two extra seconds to make the recipient feel worthy of a reply, and at least spell out “Thanks” or “Okay” or insert some emojis to convey, “Message received”? In a technological universe where our phone software has automated replies AND shortcuts that you can program into your phone, e.g. type “thx” and it spells out “Thank you” or “Thanks,” the excuses seem to fall away, in my opinion. We’re not typing these replies on numbered tactile keys anymore. It doesn’t take typing 84499 to do “thx” any longer.

If you are a person who uses “thx” or “k” on the regular, I’d love to hear a case made for it. We seem to be eroding courtesy and etiquette one letter at a time with each of these abbreviated responses, and my reaction to that is,

could-you-not

Me and the Sea

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I have a strange dichotomy with the sea. Seas = beaches. Beaches are hard to find when you grow up in landlocked states like Missouri. If you want some sea, you have to go and find it.

When I have found it, I have stared and contemplated for long periods of time (what felt like little eternities), soaking it all in.

No matter the weather, these bodies of water mesmerize me.

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I become very aware that I am in an otherworldly place, someplace else that is not my day-to-day. Perhaps the sea is my “somewhere over the rainbow.” The rhythmic sounds of the waves, sometimes gentle, sometimes harsh, lull me into a state of inner peace where I am much more easily able to put away my cares. My favorite nature sound is listening to the ocean to help me get to sleep when I’m feeling anxious or experiencing insomnia.

Despite my love for the beauty and tranquility of the water (this is where the dichotomy comes in), I don’t feel the need to live near one.

Some people require being in close proximity to bodies of water. My mother is one of those people. She takes her pleasure from the lake(s) she lives close to; I truly think it grounds her.

But for me, I prefer to keep the specialness of the sea apart from my daily life. In addition to seas and oceans making me feel as if I’m on vacation, which I enjoy preserving, I also do not possess skin genes that allow for high doses of sun on a regular basis. In another life, perhaps I’ll have gorgeous skin that browns like a turkey at Thanksgiving. But in this life, I have pale, incendiary skin, suited for shade, air conditioning, and computer work.

When forced to be outdoors for any length of time, sea or no sea, I swath my skin in high doses of SPF sunblock, the better with which to help me be an outdoors(wo)man for a few hours.

Me and the sea are tight. I can’t wait until the next time I’m near one, so I may dip my toes into the frothy water and drink in the salty air.

Until such time, I’ll remember the sea fondly with previous memories and look through others’ eyes who have captured it in places I will probably never go.

The Lonely but Beautiful Path

This post was in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea.

Moth to a (Pink) Flame

When I was a child, I had a raging sweet tooth. It required a lot of ’round the clock feeding and was rarely satisfied.

I had the cavities–and now have the fillings–to prove it.

As a girl who has always been a sucker for anything in pretty colors, especially pastels and especially things in the pink family, I have always been drawn to food items that came in pink. Cakes and candies swathed in this color trumped all. (I believe the British call these “sweeties.”)

Pink + cake = Zoe craves to eat it.

That is the formula of my life, best illustrated by this food pyramid by a delightful artist out of Seattle. Thank you, Cakespy.

Definitely my version of the food pyramid from the ages of 2-16.

Definitely my version of the food pyramid from the ages of 2-14.

I’m happy to say that as I matured, I grew out of my insatiable need to have pure sweets in my belly for the better part of my existence. Over the years, I have thought about some of the the “foods” I used to eat on a regular basis, and I cringe (and so do my teeth).

I possessed a much higher tolerance for crazily sweet and/or tart candy growing up. SweetTarts, Starburst, Skittles, Warheads, Smarties, Jolly Ranchers, Fun Dip, Now ‘n Laters, Fruit Rollups, candy necklaces…anything and everything in that spectrum and I consumed it like it was my job. (If only!)

One of my lasting all-time favorites, though? Nerds. There was just something about those teeny little candies that got me every time. They even put my two favorite flavor-colors together, pink and purple, into one box, so I could just ingest pink and purple to my heart’s delight.

On a recent road trip, I purchased a box of Nerds for when I would be driving and I needed something sweet to crunch on. It helps keep me more alert when I’ve been driving for long periods of time.

I saw the box of Rainbow Nerds at the store and knew it would do the trick.

Nerds Box

As expected, it lasted me the entire trip home. I even had some leftover. When you’re on the road for hours upon hours, you have a lot of time for reflection. One’s mind wanders. As I was nostalgically eating my rainbow candy and wondering why the hell it was SO freaking tasty, even to my thirty-three year old tongue, it hit me that this particular blend of flavors made me think, “This is what pink tastes like.”

Which sounds ridiculous, I know. But that is exactly what the mixture of flavors in this box makes me think of–pink!

And when you look at them, there are supposedly a varied amount of flavors here; it seems like there’s lemon, orange, apple or watermelon, grape, strawberry.

Nerds Hand 1

If you’re wondering what I did after taking this picture, I had to shove all of them in my face, lest a tiny morsel fall and start a nerd avalanche. It was awesomesauce.

Put them all together, though, and you get this pink tasting flavor (YUM) that explodes in tang once you get to start crunching on them. Talk about addicting.

The thing is, I really don’t buy candy anymore, save for something chocolate on occasion, but colorful, pure sugar candy? No way. I’ve just plain moved on from it.

And yet Wonka, that crafty bastard, has managed to keep my interest in this one particular candy, a relationship now spanning twenty-five years. These teensy, delicate, food-colored bits that are nothing more than hardened syrups and sugars still do it for me. And now that I’ve declared this “the taste of pink,” I foresee myself buying another box as a treat sometime down the road.

On the one hand, I want to embrace my quirky passion for this Zoe-tailored treat. On the other, I feel like a sucker to Mass Marketing, who knows exactly what they’re doing when they target kids at the earliest of ages with their extreme flavors and bright colors.

I have SOME self-control. I won’t be stocking up on Rainbow Nerds as if they’re going to disappear from shelves like Twinkies did (for all of what, a week?). But I know I’ll be back.

Being an 80s child means I have some majorly strong attachments to the things I grew up with. Nerds have withstood the test of time. They’re just as fun to eat as they were when I was a kid and now they embody the flavor of pink in my adult mind.

Wonka: 1 | Zoe: 0

Disturbing Revelation

When TV shows go away during the summer, I’m usually forced to go through my movie collection or I have to finally watch all the previously recorded stuff on my DVR that I never got around to watching, e.g. the fourteen episodes of The Best of the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. Seriously, that dude is terrific, right?

Recently, my dude made the decision to cut the cord to cable TV, which means I say goodbye to the DVR, which is My Precious (be sure to read that in Gollum’s voice).

To soothe the crushing anxiety of losing this modern marvel which is seriously life-changing, we reinstated our Netflix account, in addition to trying out Hulu Plus.

Having streaming-only television is still kind of a wacky concept to me, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Currently, I’m a little nonplussed by Hulu Plus (ba dum shh!) but if it is the only way we can enjoy current programming, especially when new shows begin airing in September, we’ll live through this transition. Side note: not exactly understanding why I pay for Hulu Plus when there are ads, but I guess thems the breaks. I’m over a barrel on this one.

One of our favorite shows is New Girl from Fox. If you haven’t given this show a chance and you’re not over 62, you’ll probably HIGHLY enjoy it. It has the same je ne sais quoi that Friends had. The chemistry, humor, and character development are just brilliant. I can’t say enough good things about it–honestly. Watch. This. Show.

So when we came across the first season of it on Netflix, we immediately jumped on watching the entire first twenty-four episodes. We basically had just a handful of binge sessions, streaming one episode after the other, devouring them like candy. It was fantastic.

One of the silliest plot lines has stuck with me post season binge. Well, it’s more like an image than a plot line. Nick not being able to go get a haircut doesn’t exactly move the character over a serious obstacle.

The episode is called “Bad in Bed” and in it, Jess is trying to take her sexual relationship with Paul to the next level. There are some pretty funny moments, of course, but the seemingly infinitesimal plot point about Nick’s resistance to get a haircut and then going to Winston’s barber is burned into my brain.

What am I leading up to, exactly? Okay, so…I know that we’re all supposed to laugh at Nick’s “ridiculous” haircut, right? I mean, he looks like Vanilla Ice.

Nick Miller Haircut

Here was Jess’s/Zooey’s reaction, combined with the fact that she told him she didn’t think he looked like someone who was very good at sex with that haircut. (Zing!)

Zoe Reaction

But there was something about it that honestly made me think Nick looked pretty damn hot like that! And then it hit me that perhaps that means I (still? ever had?) have a thing for Vanilla Ice. I mean, I was ten when Ice Ice Baby came out and I learned allllllllllll the words, baby. Oh yes. But then you go and watch the music video and the guy is wearing a sweatshirt while “dancing.” Not a cool hoodie or anything. A white run-of-the-mill sweatshirt that you could pick up at a gas station. Good God.

Fast forward twenty some-odd years and this imagery somehow grabbed and held onto me. Maybe this is my very, VERY latent crush on a guy who resembles those from New Kids on the Block? I’m asking, because I do not know.

Whatever it is, I’m going to ride it out and just enjoy the Nick Miller/Vanilla Iceness until season three premieres. I’m going to post a few more of The Haircut because it is tight, dope, and super fly.

Word to ya motha.

Nick Miller Haircut 3

Nick Miller Haircut 2

Nick Miller Haircut 5

Nick Miller Haircut 4

I’ll bring the cream.

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Photo courtesy of Mikael T on Flickr.

I grew up with a father who worshipped coffee. He still does. I absolutely attribute my love of the rich, bold tasting brew to him, since I may not have given being a coffee drinker more serious thought if it hadn’t been for his influence.

He took it so seriously that I thought one must be a cool person if s/he is a coffee drinker. And I still hold this opinion. But we know I am a total coffee snob.

Anyway, my dad took his coffee with cream when I was a kid (well, half ‘n half). On Sundays when we’d go to church, he would bring a carton of cream to share with others during coffee hour (the hour(s) adults would stand around and talk about grownup things), because he wanted his coffee doctored just so. I always thought this was a strange practice, not understanding what was at stake, of course.

I didn’t know what “powdered creamer” was or that it has nothing whatsoever in common with the real thing. I was ignorant of what delicate texture cream gives to a hearty cup of joe.

As a grown woman who has strong preferences on just about everything, especially what food and beverages I consume, I can safely attest that given the same set of circumstances, I, too, would be hauling my own cream to a weekly function where there is coffee but nothing with which to doctor it.

I have brought my own cream to work on many occasions, because otherwise I cannot drink coffee at work. Coffee and cream go together, plain and simple.

At one of my previous jobs, my employer actually provided milk and cream in the kitchen in the fridge. It was even stocked for us. Do you know what a luxury that was? Picture Forrest Gump saying, “Magic cream.” (Instead of “magic legs.”)

Seriously, best. thing. ever. My cup runneth over with cream. I had my fill of coffee those three years, perfectly blended just the way I liked it.

As I was doing some dishes in the not too distant past, I got to daydreaming and thought about whether I would ask my staff to keep cream in the fridge for me if I ever made it to a top position in management or public office or something. I really think the answer is yes.

Certainly, if I were a pop star, my rider would explicitly state that a small carton of very cold heavy cream would need to be in the fridge in my dressing room, in addition to a pound of my coffee bean of choice.

Thanks to my father, I totally GET the utter importance of having one’s cup of java doctored to one’s exact preferences. And it makes total sense why he would get so understandably upset when he would forget to bring it to church.

“God BLESS it! I forgot the cream!” he would cry out in the car.

Diva or no diva, when it comes to coffee and conversation, I try to plan ahead. Thanksgiving, brunch at a friend’s house, or even church, should I someday join one. I’ll be the woman who states loud and clear, “I’ll bring the cream!”

A Sebastian Amongst Wo/Men

You’re all familiar with the song “Les Poissons” from The Little Mermaid, right? Let’s go with that assumption, since most of humanity has seen that movie.

Well, I am what you would call a Sebastian. I can not tolerate being around most fish flesh without getting queasy. It sounds hyper dramatic but it’s totally true.

Crab legs? Lobster? Mussels? Cold dead fish with the eyeballs still intact, staring vacantly back at me?

My issues with creatures from the ocean center largely around two aspects: how does it smell and does it have a shell?

I can’t say that I have never consumed seafood or that I never will again. About once a year I can tolerate a few ice cold shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce. Caveat: no sauce, no shrimp. If I think about eating a shrimp on its own, ice cold or otherwise, my knee-jerk response is to hold my breath. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have texture issues.

Cooked shrimp should not come near me. (Smell.) I enjoy a delicious “crab” rangoon but I have been told that my taste for it is more about the cream cheese and seasonings more than any “crab” that may be in it. (No smell, no shell.)

Other things I have tried over the years, whether by force or by choice, are fried calamari (only if the smell isn’t fishy, also no shell) and crab cakes (smell/hint of fishiness will get a thumbs down and with crab cakes, I didn’t have to witness the crab being mutilated).

However, watching/hearing crustaceans being cracked open is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Recently, when watching Top Chef, Paul began ripping open LIVE lobsters and I had to cower under a blanket with my fingers in my ears until the scene was over. I was uncertain for a few moments whether I’d keep my dinner down.

It looked something like this.

I’m pretty sure I must have been a crustacean in a former life because I just lose it when I have to be around any kind of shellfish and people are smashing/cracking/ripping them open. It’s an intensely physical response where I want to curl up in the fetal position, throw up a little, and then die.

I refuse to step foot into a Red Lobster or a Joe’s Crab Shack or anything resembling one of those places. I just don’t “get” having a gigantic crusty thing sitting on a plate in front of you and wanting to rip it open. To me, lobsters are the roaches of the sea. I know–gross imagery. But that’s just how I perceive them.

Despite being a grown woman who is well familiar with my senses of taste and smell, I get some strange looks and/or reactions from people when I tell them that I can’t stand fish or seafood and that even the smell makes me lose my appetite. I don’t know if it’s because most people outgrow it or what but some people’s responses have made me feel as if I should get over it or that I must be faking or overly exaggerating. The truth is, I’m really not. Fish just isn’t for everyone.

In the same way that I flat out do not understand people who don’t enjoy chocolate or popcorn, I get an occasional incredulous stare when I pipe up during a conversation where a group is deciding where to eat dinner and I have to say, “As long as it’s not only a seafood restaurant.” It makes me wish I were allergic, quite honestly. That would probably go over better.

It should go without saying that sushi is included in my general distaste for fish but people have had to clarify that with me. I’ve lost count how many times I have heard, “Taste this, it’s REALLY not fishy.” Correction: it ALWAYS tastes fishy! I don’t know if this is because I’m a supertaster or why I can’t stomach it, but both my brother and I have extremely strong aversions to fish. (My parents, on the other hand, are both avid lovers of seafood and don’t understand how we’re related to them.)

On rare occasions do I wish to be like “everyone else” and enjoy a fresh seafood dish. Visits to coastal cities are wasted opportunities on me when it comes to going to acclaimed seafood restaurants. When I lived in New York, I hated to even walk past a fish shop or seafood restaurant, worried that the smell would follow me, or worse yet, stick to my clothing.

And folks, the smell CAN stick to clothing and hair. Prime example: on Valentine’s Day, Kevin enjoyed a seafood dish for dinner. Later in the week, I went to wear the shirt to work, since I had only worn it to dinner. When I put it on, I immediately smelled the remnants of his dinner all over the shirt. It’s lucky I didn’t put the thing in a bucket with gasoline and set it on fire. The shirt survived after I put it in the wash but my brain was screaming from the olfactory overload.

Before writing this post, I even tested myself and watched “Les Poissons” on YouTube to see if the images OF A CARTOON MAN KILLING CARTOON FISH would still bother me and I confirmed that my stomach muscles still tense up and quiver when I’m watching and listening to the gutting of non-existent seafood. Sad? Probably. But oh so true.

And so, after more than 31 years of detesting even the smell alone of dead/raw/cooked fish, I think it’s safe to say my taste buds aren’t converting anytime soon.

B-Y-O-L: A Peccadillo Story

I’m about to share both a quirk of mine and an awesome way to enhance what will hopefully be your already-kickass Thanksgiving dinner.

Ready?

Set.

Lemon!

No but seriously, that’s it. I don’t even remember how many years ago now I discovered that lemon on top of my Thanksgiving dinner was delicious but it is a tradition I will not forgo.

If I have Thanksgiving dinner without freshly squeezed lemon juice on top of my turkey, stuffing, and [insert green here – usually broccoli], the meal is kind of ruined. I know, it sounds drastic. But have you ever squeezed lemon onto turkey or stuffing?

Broccoli and greens are kind of a given (unless it’s something like green been casserole, which I wouldn’t eat, and then I can’t say for sure) but lemon juice on the dressing/stuffing is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD.

I repeat: soooooooooooooo goooooooooooooooooooooood!

People like my  mother and aunt think I’m a freak show and that the lemon is “ruining” the flavors of Thanksgiving. Nay! It just brings out all the delicious flavors and textures in my mind. But I have such a penchant for tart and sour flavors, which is why I love anything vinegary, as well.

My brother is also a big fan of adding lemon to his dinner. We have to chop up at least three because there’s a lot of lemon squeezing happening at the table.  (Oh, and if anyone is wondering, “What about the cranberry sauce?” it’s a moot point for me because I don’t eat cranberry sauce.)

I have one or two friends who have begrudgingly admitted that it’s pretty dang tasty, which it is. But it’s not a Must Have for their dinners, whereas it’s do or die time when it comes to lemon and my holiday meal.

To recap:

I'm so crafty.

And, when I’m not having Thanksgiving dinner at my family’s house, as is the case this year, it’s all about BYOL: bring-your-own-lemon. (I’m not even exaggerating. I will be bringing my own Special Thanksgiving Dinner Lemon. I will not risk there not being any for the table.)

What are your mealtime traditions? Any oddball ones like mine?

Last but not least: Happy Thanksgiving!!

Who Decided Peppermint is the Flavor of Christmas?

The above question is not rhetorical. I would really, really like to know.

So if any of you fine readers out there have a conspiracy theory or an actual fact for me, I’d love to hear it. In lieu of knowing the answer, I’ll pose the question a different way, phrasing it around my own personal unsubstantiated hypothesis:

When the heads of food companies get together to strategize on just how to brainwash the masses with the next food trend, how did they decide that peppermint should be the ubiquitous flavor of the holiday season?

Peppermint is on my “Not a Huge Fan of” taste list. There are exactly four things I can withstand with peppermint/wintergreen/menthol crème de menthe:

  • Breath mints and gum
  • Thin Mints (also known as Grasshoppers, made by those wonderful Keebler Elves; they also make Samoas that aren’t Samoas, in case any of you are still keeping up with my Girl Scout Cookies in Disguise)
  • Andes Mints (pretty much the only chocolate/mint candy I find that balances the chocolate and mint JUST right)
  • Toothpaste

I don’t “do” Mojitos, peppermint candy canes are only for decoration in my mind (though the cherry ones are amaaaaaaziiiiiiing!), I will not deign to eat the round peppermint candy after-dinner-mints, and I’m unsure why peppermint flavored lip gloss is so popular, but it is. (I think it has to do with the lip plumping. Or maybe that it’s the most effective way to make something taste like candy without it being too childish, as is the case with watermelon flavored things.)

Is mint a wintertime thing? Does the cooling sensation remind us of snow? I guess that’s where York Peppermint Patties got their whole shtick.

And also, is it just me or does anyone else have difficulty drinking water after eating anything minty? I never know how long I’m going to have to wait before I can consume liquids again.

Some people jump for joy at the release of Everything Mint come November but I’m finding it more challenging to get to the regular, non-minty holiday candy. Just today, I went to go get a favorite holiday staple of mine: the red, green, and silver Hershey’s Kisses.


Sorry, a little nostalgia break.

In my search for the plain old, delicious, nothing-extra-just-chocolate-Kisses, I came upon a WALL of peppermint candy. At the bottom of this post are just TEN examples of the bags of candy proudly put on display. It’s like the peppermint candy went through some kind of population explosion. It’s seriously crazy. My jaw was slightly slack while I snapped the photos with my phone. (I may have looked a little daft at Walgreen’s.)

Even my friend who was with me was surprised at all the inventive ways that candy companies are making peppermint more enticing. Is there just some huge stash of mint laying around somewhere that needs to be used up? Do the mint farmers have something with which to blackmail the food companies?

Maybe I’m in alone in this and it’s just a popular flavor that everyone else digs but me. I can name a handful of flavors I love to enjoy during the holidays, but peppermint ain’t one.

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