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

Advertisements

Exclaimer!

Hello, my name is Zoe and I am an Exclaimer.

I believe there are two types of people in this world: those who use exclamation points and those who don’t.

Probably the most famous Exclaimer is Elaine from Seinfeld.

Though I’m about 85% sure I wouldn’t have lambasted my boyfriend about a handwritten phone message, I might have been more pedantic about a lack of an exclamation point on a text message, were I to get one that said a friend of mine just had her baby. Fact: good news requires exclamation points! Case in point: when my terrible neighbors finally moved out, there weren’t enough exclamation points in the world to express my joy and relief. That’s why I had to find the Handel’s Messiah clip. The entire thing is one giant exclamation point.

Despite my anal-retentiveness about using good grammar, I break the rule about not using more than one exclamation point at a time. “OMG” absolutely needs a few “!!!” if you have big news or you’re really strongly reacting to something. I will go ahead and admit that when I’m perplexed or shocked, I go so far as to use two question marks. “What??” just has a more astonished look and feel to me.

So it probably comes as no surprise that I feel underwhelmed when people write, “Have a good weekend.” or, “Merry Christmas.” It makes me have to start reading into the tone of the sentence too much, and then I begin the downward spiral of speculating what kind of mood they’re in or what kind of person s/he must be if there’s no joy in wishing someone a good weekend or a happy birthday, even.

Dwight from "The Office" is an Underexclaimer.

The Dwight Schrute birthday cake.

Have you ever gotten a Facebook message from someone and all it says is, “Happy birthday.”? It’s like, okay thanks for taking the five seconds to type that out, but is there really any reason not to press Shift+1 to denote the enthusiasm for the ONE day out of the year that’s all about you? C’mon, people.

Obviously there are boundaries to the use of exclamation points. Overuse of exclamation points on every sentence is just about on the same level as USING CAPS FOR NO SPECIAL REASON WHATSOEVER. ALSO, I THINK IT’S LAZY, BECAUSE THEN YOU’RE NOT WORRIED ABOUT HAVING TO PRESS THE SHIFT KEY A FEW TIMES TO CAPITALIZE THE PROPER NOUNS. (Stop it!)

Because I’m an avid Exclaimer, I have had to reign in my !! tendencies. I have a history of writing thank you notes and emails to friends and family that were almost entirely made up of sentences ending with exclamation points. It looked like I was either acting really fake or was perhaps on meth, so I began using them less on the mundane sentences.

Still, if you want to freak someone out, write a note to a person with tons of exclamation points and see what kind of reaction you get. However, I highly recommend avoiding being an Exclaimer at work; your colleagues may suspect you of having a personality disorder, especially if you preface all your forwards with “FYI!” It won’t take long for you to be summoned to your HR department.

On that note, I’ve put a little poll below to see if anyone else out there thinks about this kind of thing as I do.

Zoe out!

 

 

 

I’ll bring the cream.

20130626-151053.jpg

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!”

When Gallbladders Attack

This post could alternatively be titled, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation at the Doctor.”

Hi, folks. Been a while.

I didn’t mean to take such a long hiatus from writing. It just sorta happened. You’d think that when life gets nuttier, I would run to the soothing salve of writing. Instead, I tend to bury my head in the sand. For any of you who have followed me for a long time, this probably isn’t news to you. I was on a really great streak for a while though, wasn’t I?

Okay, let’s get down to business. I’ll try to recap what’s happened since last summer and what has kept me away.

First and foremost, I started a new job, which took just about every ounce of energy I had for almost the entire year. Seriously. It wasn’t just ordinary stress of starting a new job, either. It was a doozy because the department I work in was going through a major transition. Myself and my colleague (who turned out to be awesome) just kind of grabbed on to each other for dear life and had a “make it work” moment à la Project Runway, except that it was twelve months of make-it-work moments. Things are much better now. Our office made it through the first year of transition and I am hoping the really rough stuff is behind us.

On top of that, Kevin and I finally left the house that tried to kill us. We moved into a great place and are very happy. Naturally, because it’s us, I have a story to tell about the adventures in the new place, but I’ll save it for later.

Adding insult to injury, our former landlords turned out to be giant pieces of crap in human form. The home’s condition probably should have tipped us off but we really didn’t know that we were dealing with legitimate scam artists. What I’m hoping happens, thanks to karma, is that they get back what they did to us and presumably countless others. They claimed we damaged their home to the point where they felt it necessary to hang on to our security deposit. They know it’s bullshit, we know it’s bullshit. But in the end, it would have cost way more time, money, and energy to prove we were in the right (which is exactly how they exploit their student tenants), and it ended up being more important just to get the hell out of there and never look back.

I’ll put it this way: the dog food in the oven was definitely not an accident and it was definitely in retribution for these people being truly awful. Even worse is that their daughter, who assists with their real estate business, is in on the whole scam. It’s like all three of them ripped off their human masks and underneath were writhing piles of rotting flesh. Graphic? Yes. Apt? Yes.

In general, 2012 ended up being a continuation of more bizarre health issues for me, as well. I’ll say this: being in my thirties has definitely given me a newfound appreciation for cell turnover rate in my twenties. By June, I was having some serious pain in my stomach, particularly when I would eat fattier foods. I don’t experience nausea very often–hardly ever–so when I started having nausea and dizziness (and confirmed that pregnancy was definitely not a plausible scenario) on top of a really full feeling in my stomach after eating, it got to the point where I went to an urgent care center on a Sunday.

The nurse practitioner ruled out appendicitis but ordered me to get an ultrasound after having an appointment scheduled with my primary care physician. Oh, that’s another thing–I finally got away from a really crappy doctor.

I was all over WebMD and Googling all my symptoms until I could figure out what could POSSIBLY be wrong with me. On the way home from the urgent care center, I came across some symptoms of a problem that mirrored exactly what I was going through: those of having a gallbladder attack. I had pretty much every single symptom on the list and it explained a lot, including having inexplicable pain on my upper right abdomen.

When I talked to my doctor later in the week and told her I was strongly suspicious I had been having gallbladder attacks, she dismissed this hypothesis of mine but ordered me to get an ultrasound, anyway. (She was a real winner.) The ultrasound was a really non-traumatic albeit expensive experience, which ended up not showing much. I didn’t have gallstones but my gallbladder was also not functioning, either. They give you this shot of stuff to stimulate your gallbladder and then monitor how it works while you’re in the ultrasound.

My doctor was smart enough to send me to a surgeon to talk to me about my gallbladder issues, however. Long story short, the surgery was scheduled in August and I had it taken out through the magic of laparoscopy. It’s hard to describe the pain when your gallbladder is giving you the finger and refuses to work, but essentially, if you aren’t properly digesting fats in your diet, your whole digestive system just like, shuts the hell down. So my little gallbladder had become inflamed and was throwing a shit fit and needed to be removed altogether. I am in the rare percentage of people, around 5%, who have their gallbladders removed without having any gallstones. Makes me feel special, all right.

I had never had major surgery before and the whole notion of having something I was born with, a formerly functioning ORGAN just totally removed, really scared the bejeezus out of me. Kevin was a trooper and waited until after everything went smoothly to tell me he had been terrified, too. I was glad I didn’t know at the time. Being wheeled on a gurney into this cold, sterile room filled with trays, bright lights, and stainless steel utensils that you just know are going to be inside of you had me tearing up something fierce. I was and am so incredibly grateful that everything went routinely and I was just another successful gallbladder removal case. The surgeon had a sense of humor and was from New York. Somehow that was comforting to me as a scared patient.

After I got the little bugger removed and I was finally on the mend, I thought I would magically bounce back to some supreme state of being. 2012 laughed and said, “Oh, Zoe. You’re cute to think so.”

I had been experiencing all kinds of whack things that I just attributed to having a faulty gallbladder: acid reflux, tinnitus, incredible fatigue, and on and on. As life would have it, all of those things continued. Not one of them changed.

Fast forward a few more months and I finally do more research and plan to go back to get more lab work done; this time with a different clinic system. Evidently my iron levels have been in the toilet for quite some time and when that happens, it sends your entire functioning-as-a-human-being thing out the window. Extremely low iron levels can not only mimic hypothyroidism, which I thought I had, but can cause a whole slew of symptoms as I was experiencing, including but not limited to digestive problems and inflammation of organs, causing them to crash and burn.

Ding!

There is always the chance that I was always going to have my gallbladder out because all of my mother’s siblings have theirs out. So, shittygallbladderitis runs in the family. But since I’ve been my own medical researcher for a few years now and I’m still making a comeback with my health, I’d venture a quasi educated guess and say my low iron levels are the culprit of my chronic ailments.

The upshot is I was not only able to switch to a primary care physician who treated me like a human being and is a nice person to talk to, but my lab results confirmed that indeed I need to consume lots and lots and LOTS of iron to get my levels back to where they need to. As I’ve been taking my iron supplements diligently and consuming lots of delicious red meat and spinach, I’ve noticed a reduction in some of the symptoms that have plagued me for a while. By no means am I out of the woods but at least there appears to be a proverbial trail of bread crumbs for me to follow.

While it’s scary as all getout to go to the doctor, even and especially when you know something is really, really wrong, as I did, it is so much better to figure out what the heck is going on and get it taken care of. It also made me a hundred times more thankful for the healthcare plan my employer provides, because I had been without a healthcare plan since I left New York City. Having consults and labwork and endless blood drawn and a surgery still cost me a lot of money we didn’t have immediately on hand (thank you, Discover Card), but looking back from the privileged standpoint of hindsight gives me reassurance that I absolutely did the right thing by paying attention to what my gut was literally telling me.

2013 has already been a better year on the health spectrum than the last two years combined. I am hopeful the streak will continue but I have come to realize how much my health lies in my own hands. It is all about the daily self care, even down to something seemingly simple like taking iron and vitamin supplements to make sure my cells are functioning properly, which then means I can hold down a job, pursue hobbies, and walk around and do stuff like spending time with friends and family. You know, little things like that.

Last but not least, I want this to be the rebirth of getting back to mental and spiritual side pursuits, as well–like writing!

For now, je suis revenue.

Until next time, friends.

Yeah Toast! and Other Trips Down Memory Lane

In the process of moving, we have been ardently striving to downsize our collection of STUFF that we’ve accumulated since childhood, adolescence, college, and then Young Adulthood. We’re not yet in the place where we are moving into a four-bedroom house with lots of extra storage space. This means prioritizing what gets to stay and what gets to go.

It’s actually escaping me whether I’ve ever shared how many times I moved when I was in New York City, but it was a LOT. Between 2005 and 2010, I moved six times to various neighborhoods around NYC. If you count the move from New York to Illinois, that’s seven. This is lucky move number eight in seven years. When you do the simple math, I’ve moved more than once per year since 2005. Yikes.

Considering my other half can’t stand moving – and I daresay it’s a toss-up whether he hates celery or moving more – we’re trying to make this move be the last one before we’re in a more permanent housing situation. But only time will tell.

While downsizing, I came across my cassette tape holder that I have had through all of my moves since 2005. It’s never occurred to me to go through it before now. I’ve just said, “That goes with,” and then it sits on a shelf or a desk or in a closet until the next move. Since I grew up with cassettes, I guess there is a sub-conscious part of me that never wanted to throw them away, so I never thought, “I should sort through these.”

Just as I was putting the tape holder in a box, all of the little drawers slid out. When I looked at the contents, none of these were critical for hanging onto any longer. I mean, it has probably been over a decade since I popped one into a tape player, even just for nostalgia purposes.

But before I put these little babies in their final resting place in a landfill far, far away, I thought I’d share some of the contents with you. There’s a small selfish motivation to this, if only because I’ll have this post to remind me what kinds of things I used to have on tape before CDs and then digital music came along.

What’s in Zoe’s tape deck?

The bulk of what I found were mix tapes. My tape collection began at a young age but the mix tapes are from the ages of 12-18, most likely (circa 1992-1998). I discovered at an early age the magic of recording on blank tapes. I even have tapes of myself pretending to be a radio DJ but those are elsewhere and are not being thrown away. (Guests included people like my brother.)

I had a CD player/stereo starting when I was 14 but the car I got at age 18 only had a cassette player, so until I put a CD changer in the trunk, I was jamming out to some mix tapes in the late 90s.

Some samples of songs on my mix tapes are: Silent All These Years by Tori Amos, Never Ever by All Saints (yeeeeah……), The Sound of Silence by Simon & Garfunkel, Linger by The Cranberries, Beautiful Disaster by 311, Emotions by Mariah Carey, Vogue by Madonna, Hippychick by SoHo (hahaha remember that song?), Finally by Cece Peniston, Rollin’ With My Homies (nod to Clueless), I Love You Always Forever by Donna Lewis, Good Vibrations by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, something called “Yeah Toast!”, which apparently is something I recorded from the former St. Louis morning show Steve and D.C. and is now a YouTube video (see below), Machinehead by Bush, The Key, the Secret by Urban Cookie Collective, Daughter by Pearl Jam, Send Me On My Way by Rusted Root, Self-Esteem by The Offspring, Cantaloop by Flip Fantasia, Brain Stew by Green Day, Hello by POE, All That She Wants by Ace of Base, Rhythm Was a Dancer (by ??), Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio (only the coolest song everrrr), Time by Hootie and the Blowfish, Ironic by Alanis,  Santeria by Sublime, Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn, Faith by George Michael, and Toy Soldiers by Martika (what ever happened to her?).

Full albums I owned that make me chuckle are: The Simpsons Sing the Blues, Tom’s Album (which is just a bunch of takes on Suzanne Vega’s classic hit “Tom’s Diner,” an ALL-TIME favorite of mine), the soundtrack to the movie Straight Talk with Dolly Parton, Amy Grant’s “Heart in Motion, Johnny Mathis’s “Merry Christmas” album, and Mariah Carey’s original self-titled album.

I also found a bunch of nature sounds like Distant Thunder and Gentle Ocean, both from the store The Nature Company, which was eventually bought out by The Discovery Channel.  We had a Nature Company store in the Galleria in St. Louis. It was extremely popular in its heyday. I think there are only so many rainsticks and natural mineral stones people need, though. Anybody else remember that shop? I had the nature tapes because I liked to listen to them at night to help me go to sleep. Even now, I need some kind of white noise in order to get to sleep. Pure silence unnerves me.

Anyway, I had a few, “Oh…my…..GOD” moments while I was going through the tapes. I don’t remember recording much of the songs, though I do remember doing quite a few tape-to-tape and CD-to-tape mixes. All this reinforces is that music affects us from an earlier age than we can imagine. Quite a number of the songs on the tapes remain some of my favorites to this day, even for no other reason than I loved them on such a pure level when I was younger.

However, I’m still scratching my head over “Yeah Toast!”

Adolescence is such a bizarre time. I leave you with the skit to hear for yourselves.

Sixteen

Earlier this month, I turned 32.

I’m still kind of coping with the number. I don’t FEEL 32. Thirty-two year-olds are supposed to have a few things figured out, aren’t they?

Sixteen years ago, I turned 16 and the only thing I could eat, sleep, and breathe was taking my driver’s test. Since the age of nine, I counted down the years until I could drive. I just knew at that young an age that I was destined to love driving.

Obtaining my driver’s license was one of the biggest thrills of my entire existence, no exaggeration. Getting that little laminated card sent to me in the mail felt like a bucket of freedom pouring all over me. No more would I have to solely rely on anyone else to pick me up and take me places. I could just get there myself and derive every drop of pleasure from driving.

Some people hate driving. My best friend is one of them. She still can’t drive and until some life event forces her to have to get a license, she will remain a chauffeured passenger. While I may not understand it, I am fully supportive of her if that makes her happy. (And I think we’re all a little safer with those who can’t stand driving not being on the road.)

The sensation of driving is a therapeutic one for me with the road under my tires and the steering wheel in my hands. Driving also satisfies my intense need to control. I fully admit I am a control freak. I don’t like to think of it as negative but there are several people who have told me – Kevin included – that I am bossy. I don’t have an answer for that except for a shrug and a, “Yeah, so?” I’m also one of those people who thinks my ideas and the way I do them are ideal.

You might think I’d be a manager of some kind by now but I’m not. Not even close. Despite my being utterly confident in carrying things out a certain way (and usually being disappointed when others don’t hold themselves up to the same high standards of execution), I am extremely non-confrontational. Having a subordinate or a team of them would be an incredible challenge for me. Though, having had some less-than-terrific superiors in my work history, I can say I would sincerely strive to avoid doing the things that have really aggravated me or been my own undoing. It has never ceased to astound me who makes it to a managerial level–anywhere. It could be Pizza Hut. When I run into inefficiency or sheer incompetence, I think, how am I not at the top again? But I don’t make it my life’s mission to choose a different path that might get me there. I stay put. I ruminate. I dwell on the what-ifs.

That’s the bite of irony, there. I feel mostly out of control when it comes to my situation in life, so I clamp down to control what I can. I’m not in the career I thought I’d be in by the age of 32, I’m not yet married, I don’t own my own home, I don’t have children, and for the most part, I feel very in limbo. (I do have a steady rock of a partner for whom I am grateful every single day. So I appease my litany of complaints with that solace.)

The number one thing I struggle with is self-discipline.

Mostly, that applies to exercise and other self-care choices. When I was much younger, maybe 12 or so, I thought to myself, “When I’m older and on my own [say, 25], I’m really going to have it all figured out. I’m going to be successful and physically fit because I’ll be making ALL my own decisions and doing what I want when I want.”

If only! I think back to that long ago thought and wish I could hug my younger self. I so wish it were that easy.

I am an absolute perfectionist and if I can’t have exactly what I want, when and how I want it, I give up quite easily (or take no action). My modus operandi is that something just won’t happen if it can’t be done in a manner matching whatever idea of perfection I’ve dreamed up in my mind.

A perfect example of this is with our vacuum cleaner.

When Kevin and I began our cohabitation adventure, he brought to the household a vacuum cleaner – one he had thoroughly researched that would really clean up pet hair. While we were still living in New York City, I determined that I hated this vacuum. It smelled bad when you turned it on (which was half the reason I hated it) it clogged easily, and the pet attachment only feebly worked.

Due to our budget constraints, this thing had to stick with us for a while longer. Fast forward to 2012 when I received my tax refund. I made an impulse decision that this would be The Year of the Vacuum and I could fulfill a fantasy of mine and purchase a Dyson.

I know, what is this, the 1950s, where the little wife dreams of her shiny new appliance?

Nonetheless, with nothing short of pure jubilance, I took myself to a local store and purchased a Dyson Animal. Let me tell you, this thing has seriously changed how I view vacuuming. Whereas before I avoided vacuuming at all costs, I have pulled this thing out again and again and again because it works just as it should. I have never in my life enjoyed vacuuming but since I can see everything being lifted away with ease, it actually takes away the blood, sweat, and tears I previously associated with this chore. I triumphantly proved to myself that if I only had the perfect tool, the one thing I really wanted, then all would be well and I would be motivated to do something I had formerly hated. I don’t jump out of bed every day and want to vacuum, but considering I do it without having to have a pep talk AND it’s done much more regularly, I consider this an incredible achievement.

I sincerely wish this were the case with all things. I think that’s why infomercials which tout that this ONE piece of exercise equipment will change your life are so successful. It’s so easy to buy into that fantasy! I have fallen for it, as have millions of others. I have owned (and loved) a Gazelle, that non-treadmill piece of equipment that that Tony Little guy is advertising incessantly. It’s actually pretty fun but it is not a miracle machine. Then again, nothing is.

I continue to struggle with my perfectionism, trying to just relax and let things be. It is the hardest thing for me to do. Because I can’t control situations, how other people react, or even the results I get if I put effort into something (read: exercise/weight loss), I struggle every day to not become completely immobile. In one of the thousands of episodes of The Simpsons, Homer says to Lisa, “The lesson is….never try.” I can so relate, since I have gravitated towards taking the easier path more often than not.

At the same time that I have all this self-awareness about this issue, overcoming these innate urges takes the same force of will that a 500-pound man would need to climb Mount Everest with no experience. I don’t want to be the fat guy choking for air on the side of the mountain. I’d rather stay put on the ground, safe and sound, where I can complain in pure comfort.

And then the question I have to ask myself is, where does that get me? Answer: directly to where I don’t want to be.

Sixteen years ago I was a junior in high school. I hadn’t even thought about what a college career would look like or where I’d apply, much less seriously considered what I would do for a living. (I also thought I’d be married by the age of 25. Hahahahaha.)

I look back and wonder where the second set of sixteen years went. The difference is, I didn’t begin in infancy to get to where I am now. I was a young adult and now I am a fully-fledged adult who is still trying to figure out the same things. I suppose we all are, on some level.

Sixteen years from now I will be 48. Talk about scary. It’s not just a little different, it’s a completely new era of life I will be experiencing. While I am striving to enjoy the small moments, the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days, the weeks, the months, each year as it comes….they will add up into another sixteen years, where I will look back and wonder how I got from here to there, whatever “there” looks like. I will find this post and instead of mourning the choices I did not make due to some paralyzing sense of perfection, I hope I will celebrate the risks I ended up taking instead.

Deep breath and……Ready. Set. Go.

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.

Sendoff to 2011

If someone would have told me when I was 16 years old that time would eventually fly by so quickly I could barely catch my breath, I would not have believed that person.

Here I am, trying to get in one last blog post before 2011 expires and after being on Christmas vacation for over a week. I have no idea how it is December 31st – none.

As each year passes, the days, weeks, and months speed past me at an alarming rate. Scarier still is that while I have much to live for and much to look forward to, I believe I could be living more fully. Does that make sense? Essentially, instead of putting down specific resolutions which I want to “stick to” (and probably wouldn’t (see last year’s list)), I’m keeping it simple for this coming year and for all my years to come: be present. Live in the now.

It is so easy to get caught up in the details of life which are unpleasing. That’s what I have done in 2011 and at the year’s end, today, the first things that come to mind when I look back are the hardships. I dealt with some health issues–sometimes alarming ones–which have made me sit up and pay more attention to what’s REALLY important.

So what IS really important? Love. Family. Real friendships. Personal fulfillment. Being in the moment. Appreciating those times of joy and laughter and cherishing them for their immeasurable value.

Kevin and I spent the morning with some family members and had some belly laughs, swapped stories, and ate some delicious food. It’s such a blessing to have so much love in both our families. That’s how I enter 2012: with a full heart and more clarity on how I want to be spending my time.

The “bad stuff” is unpredictable and will always happen when we can least afford to endure it. What I am making an effort to do is to not freak the hell out when something happens now, and yes, to even try to laugh at it. This is a particular challenge for me because I have a flair for freaking out. I can really mull something over and over and over questioning, “WHY ME?” quite a bit.

For example, I’m still in the middle of unpacking from Christmas vacation and figuring out the rest of my weekend. I’m sitting here at my computer, minding my own business, and the shelf which sits above my computer monitor suddenly gives way. I had to clear off everything from the shelf and now I wait for Kevin to repair it for me. I really wanted to whine and complain about it for a little while but I took a few deep breaths, focused on the fact that it didn’t come crashing down on my monitor while I was gone for a week, and now I  simply look forward to it being repaired.

That’s some serious pivotal behavior for a freak-outter like me! (Can you tell I’m patting myself on the back about it?)

I love the freshness that a new year brings. I always wish I can hold onto it as the months pass by but it seems inevitable that by the fall, the year has become as comfortable as a well worn pair of shoes. December never feels like a full month but a couple of weekends and we’re at Christmas and New Year’s.

2011 has seen a continuing passion for blogging and an expansion into another art form, that of photography. I am so appreciative for the gift of writing and sharing with you all and am thoroughly excited for another year ahead. I’m focusing on this sensation of brimming with enthusiasm and of course I’ll be sharing more exploits. (I thought of another driving post I could do!)

May 2012 bring you a tidal wave of happy moments, new adventures, and fulfillment until you burst.

See you on the flip of the calendar!

Last of the blooms

A top favorite photo from 2011.