Monthly Archives: January 2011

Words and Accents: A Vlog

Found this vloggy meme on a friend’s private blog…

In this vlog, I provide the answers to the following:

*My name
* Where I’m from
* Say the following words: Aunt, Roof, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting Image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught, Orange, Coffee, direction, naturally, aluminum and herbs
* What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
* What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
* What do you call gym shoes?
* What do you say to address a group of people?
* What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
* What do you call your grandparents?
* What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
* What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
* What is the thing you change the TV channel with?


I’m the kind of person who won two straight school spelling bees in seventh and eighth grade.

I’m the kind of person to whom classmates and co-workers have turned for proofreading of assignments and important business documents.

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t quite live up to her potential in typing tests because of an innate desire to go back and correct all errors as they happen*.

So tell me, how exactly did I manage to revamp my résumé on New Year’s Day and not notice a key word missing until after I had sent it out approximately two dozen times?

Well, the proof is in the blog.  No pun intended.

More often than not, I end up going back to fix a grammatical mistake or a missing word after I hit “publish” on a blog post, even if it means rewriting an entire paragraph.  Which, of course, means I might just be getting lazy in proofreading before I even hit “publish”.

And that’s so not cool, whether it’s just my silly little blog, or the far-and-few-between freelance writing assignments, or the even more important résumé.

Perhaps a re-read of Eats, Shoots & Leaves is in order?


*Don’t get me started on this single space after a period crap.  Mavis Beacon taught me two spaces after a period over twenty years ago, dammit.

Those wacky search engine terms.

(What I really should do is save some of the spam I receive, as that has been rather entertaining lately…)

why are tuxedo cats so cute - it all goes back to that tuxedo cat world domination thing.

8th of april is the best birthday ever – no, 9th of April is.

jp drain quit working – probably time to pull that sucker out.  and, oh goodness, ouchhhhh.

will i be a perfect doctor? – is anybody perfect?

why ladies don’t like to poop in ladies rooms - I know many women have that issue but I subscribe to the belief of “when you gotta go, you gotta go”.  Which makes working at a place with one bathroom for all a little difficult sometimes.

wath is tu du with verry hurting wuonds in the mauth? – are you sure you don’t have “verry hurting wuonds” on your fingertips?  because if you don’t, somebody’s got to take away your Googling abilities when under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.  though maybe without alcohol and/or drugs, you won’t have “verry hurting wuonds in the mauth”.

cat world domination – in other words, my house, especially with a tuxedo cat inside it.


Link-o-rama.  It’s what happens when I really want to write a blog post, but am experiencing writer’s block.  Or when I use writer’s block as an excuse for not showering until 1 pm on an at-home weekday, much less get around to writing*.

On to three links I like this week:

  • The Baby-sitters Club – Where Are They Now? examines what the wild baby-sitting girls of fictional Stoneybrook, CT must be doing now that they’re approximately 37 years old, even though they never seemed to age past 13 years old in the books released over the period of 1986-1990.  I am sorely disappointed that Stacey is not a diabetes blogger in this vision of TBC’s future.
  • Speaking of diabetes bloggers, Sara is headed back to Haiti in a few weeks to do some important work, just as she did a year ago in a trip planned before the January earthquake (but taken after it).
  • I love this “photo-bomb” of Michael Douglas making his way into a picture of his lovely wife with Angelina Jolie.   Good to see him looking so good after all the depressing photos that showed up in tabloids while he was undergoing cancer treatment last fall.

*Hey now, before you judge, I could be bitching and whining about my 3+ hour commute home from work yesterday just because of a couple inches of snow…Besides, I also managed a workout before I finally got around to showering.  So there.

Dumb questions, smart responses.

Dumb things are said all the time about diabetes, based on the myths behind the condition and its two major types as well as the misperceptions of others.  I know that; it has been written about plenty around the diabetes online community.

When the latest Chronic Babe carnival topic was introduced (“the dumbest thing someone has ever said to you about your chronic illness and your witty response”), I knew I wanted to go in a different direction than diabetes.

Because, believe it or not, people say dumb things about mental health conditions, too.

The one I hear or read most often, and the one to which I am constantly crafting new witty responses, is “oh come on, nothing is THAT bad, just get over it” in regards to both anxiety and depression.

I always want to throw out a “I will get over my depression if you get over your rudeness” or “You are right, your haircut is worse than my worst panic attack”.   That gets me nowhere.  Instead, I take the opportunity to calmly educate about what it’s like to live inside my head.  Witty, perhaps not; real, yes.

The thing is, unless you experience anxiety or depression for yourself, you really have no idea what it’s like.  You do not know what it feels like to think you’re going to die in the midst of a panic attack; you do not know what it feels like to miss out on things you normally enjoy because you are either in a heightened state of anxiety or in the throes of a deep depressive episode; you do not know what it feels like to feel entirely hopeless lying in bed crying for hours or days at a time; you do not know what it is like to try to overcome anxiety and depression in the workplace, at school, at home, in life.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of anxiety or depression, I am happy for you because it sucks.  I wouldn’t wish anxiety (acute in the form of panic attacks, chronic in the form of generalized anxiety disorder) or major depressive episodes on anyone.  But, at the same time, please do not tell me what I just do not want to hear –  ”just get over it” – because I wish like hell I could.

Back pocket.

I stared at all the jewelry the local discount department store offered on racks.  So many pretty things.  So little money with which to splurge, even with price tags of $19.99 and lower.

No, if I bought anything today, it would be a nice blouse for Thanksgiving dinner.  Or perhaps even a dress.   Something I could wear again and again, maybe even lasting until after college graduation as part of an interview outfit.

The one bracelet, the one with emerald wannabes, still called out to me.  I took the disposable contacts out of my back pocket, and looked at how much money I spent this time around for being spectacle-free.   Nope, I just couldn’t splurge.  I sighed and put the contacts back in the pocket.

If I spent any more money today, it would be on that blouse.  Or a dress.

Grudgingly, I headed to the trendy fashion store, without any luck.  None of the blouses screamed out “Thanksgiving dinner!” or “future interview!”.   Next stop – J.C. Penney – surely they would have a blouse that fit the occasion(s).

Once again, I quickly found myself distracted.  This time by lingerie, of all things, with the new boyfriend in mind.   Mind started wandering for a moment or two to thoughts of him, until I felt a tap on my shoulder.

Two angry-looking women, around the age of forty, stood in front of me.  One tall and thin, one short and stocky.

“I am with security and she is with mall security.  You must have seen us following you ever since you took that jewelry from my store,”  the tall and thin one explained with anger and accusation.

“I…I…I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’ve just been window shopping,” I explained with fear and with a racing heartbeat.

“I saw you place jewelry in your back pockets at my store.  Empty your back pockets.  Now.”

Scrambling, I showed that the left back pocket held nothing.  And that the right pocket, oh NO, oh NO, it held those contacts.  Those contacts whose price I perused while looking at the jewelry in her store, just to make sure I could not afford the sparkly emerald wannabe bracelet.   Suddenly, I felt quite warm and anxious.

The tall and thin woman took one look at the contacts and asked me to open my purse.  As she searched, disappointment crossed her face as she realized this young woman she pursued through the mall was no shoplifter.

The short and stocky woman spoke for the first time.

“Sorry to have bothered you, it’s just our jobs to watch out for stolen goods.”

And then they walked away, no other words spoken.

And I hurried out of the mall into the cool November air, hoping for relief against the panic attack I thought for sure would occur.   (It didn’t.)

I did go back to the discount department store a few more times to pick up contacts.  But I refused to do anything else there, out of fear I might trigger those women to follow me again.

The thing is, even now, something like fourteen years later, I cannot walk into stores without being extra cautious.  Extra cautious so that nobody thinks I am stealing from “their store”, enough to do most of my shopping online.  Even at the grocery store, I feel the security cameras watching me everywhere I go, making me restless and panicky if a shop goes too long.

(Inspired by Schmutzie‘s “25 Things I Fear“, #23.)

The old names, the old ways.

When I was fourteen, they were called “stretch jeans” not “skinny jeans”.

When I was twenty-four, they were called “microbrews” not “craft beers”.

But it took me until the age of thirty-four to realize how disgusting cooking sprays really are and that they must not be good for us.  Scrubbing a cookie sheet coated in such spray furiously makes me wonder what exactly that spray is doing once it enters my body.  Not that the margarine my mom used is any better, right?

Sort of like refusing to call stretch jeans or microbrews by any other name than I originally knew, maybe I need to go back to the way my great-grandmothers did things* for all of my cooking.

Yeah.  I think I’ll just sit back with my microbrew, laugh at the latest stretch jeans fad, and use real butter to grease a cookie sheet when baking a winter squash.


*Michael Pollan’s catch-phrase ed for dramatic effect.  Given the times in which they lived, they may have used margarine for all I know.

Like something out of a movie.

Sounds of thunder wake me up.

Flashes of lightning keep me up.

Then sirens, overpowering the sounds of thunder and flashes of lightning.

I walk towards the window in the tiny bedroom that faces the street to find that there is no thunderstorm.


We moved to the cul-de-sac of duplexes a few months ago, after my parents chose to sell the house to ease the financial impact of medical bills.

Not long after we moved in, a single mother with two young children rented the other half of our duplex.  Often in those June evenings, you would see my parents sitting on the porch out front with her, smoking cigarettes and drinking beers.

I graduated from high school two weeks back, impatiently counting down the days towards moving into the college dorm that fall.


It looks like something out of a movie.

The duplex across the street lights up the cul-de-sac as its weak structure burns.  Flames run in several straight lines from the bushes in front of the building, all the way towards the sidewalk.

I pinch myself, thinking this cannot be real.  I rub my eyes, believing this is all a dream…a nightmare.

Yet when I am done pretending, the duplex across the street still burns, in spite of the fire department’s initial attempts to stop the flames from spreading.

I run downstairs to find my parents and our next-door neighbor staring at the incredible sight.

“Oh, sweetie, I hoped you were sleeping through this,” my mother said.

How could I sleep through this, when the thunder I thought I heard turned out to be the sounds of a building crumbling?  When the lightning I thought I saw turned out to be that building burning?  Just across the street from us, just out the front window from my bedroom.


Two weeks earlier, I stayed up all night at the high school’s lock-in graduation party.  This night, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, watching the duplex across the street burn down.  A few nights later, I would stay up late watching the Los Angeles police chase O.J. Simpson in his Ford Bronco.


The building turns out to be a total loss, an electrical malfunction being the cause.  Even more tragically, one person doesn’t escape the fire in those early hours of June 12, 1994.

Throughout that Sunday, I would catch myself staring across the street, wishing I could delete those scenes, those scenes like something out of a movie, out of my memory.

Even now, nearly a lifetime later, it’s just a little too real and a little too fresh in my mind when I recall it.

(This is an entry for the latest Living Out Loud, hosted by Genie.  The deadline for “Total Recall”, expressing the most vivid moments of our lives, is Sunday, January 9 at 5pm Eastern.)

Say yes to brussels sprouts!

If nothing else awesome happens in my life, converting everyone I know into brussels sprouts fans would be pretty darn close to that awesome.  I have been a fan since childhood, though I know many people shy away from the little cabbage-like goodness.

Though I must admit G might be right in that in order for many to enjoy the “love ‘em or hate ‘em” vegetables, they must be made incredibly unhealthy with bacon or cheese or processed carbohydrates.

…And the following recipe has all three of those!  I found it on Huffington Post, of all places, while searching for a new way to prepare brussels sprouts.

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Au Gratin (Changes I made are indicated in italicized parentheses)

Serves 6

2 lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved through stem end (I kept them whole)

2-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 tbsp salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 cup coarse bread crumbs (I used 1/3 cup to reduce carbohydrate count)

6 slices bacon, fried until crisp, crumbled; reserve drippings

1/4 cup finely grated aged gruyere (decent quality parmesan is all we had)

1-1/2 cups heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 425.  Put the brussels sprouts in a shallow baking dish that will hold them in a snug single layer.  Toss them with the melted butter, salt, and several grinds of pepper.  Spread them evenly in the dish and roast, tossing once or twice, until browned in spots and tender-crisp when pierced with a knife, 20-25 minutes.
  2. While the sprouts roast, combine the bread crumbs with 1 tbsp bacon drippings.  Mix in the cheese, set aside.
  3. When the sprouts are tender, sprinkle the crumbled bacon over them.
  4. Pour the cream over the brussels sprouts and continue baking until the cream has thickened to a saucy consistency, coating the sprouts, 6 to 7 minutes.  Stir and cook for another 6 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the oven.  Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the brussels sprouts and bake the gratin until the crust is deep golden brown, about 3 to 6 minutes.  Watch CLOSELY so the topping does not burn.

In the year 2011…

It is really quite simple.

Laugh more and pout less.

Write more and Tweet less.

Read more and procrastinate less.

Relax more and fret less.

Exercise more and eat less.

Look forward to the joy entering family and friends’ lives in 2011 while not dwelling too long on internal sorrows.

And in April, turn 35 with grace.  Or at least, with a bottle of champagne in hand.


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