The Problem with Beating Cancer

Cancer. What an ugly word. It seems to be taking over the world- or maybe I’m just getting older and more attune to its presence. Either way, I hate it. I guess everyone hates cancer, though. Or at the very least, no one likes it. Like Creed. (Sorry if you know someone in the band Creed. I’m sure they’re all nice fellows.)

Most Generation grannY readers are aware my mother passed away from bladder cancer in 2012. Since then, I’ve known and heard of far too many people who have also lost their earthly lives to this senseless disease. Just a few weeks ago, my little brother’s best friend (11 years old) lost his father to brain cancer. I’m positive that anyone reading this also knows- or at least knows of- someone who has passed away from some sort of cancer. Surely, I’m not alone. After all, I see post after post on Facebook of fundraisers, prayers, and heartbreak referring to case upon case. It’s exhausting. It’s scary. And it’s reality.cancer ribbons

Speaking as someone who has watched cancer take over a loved one, I can attest to its unyielding power and magnitude. Cancer is not reserved for people who fill their bodies with toxins and chemicals. My mother was an exemplary RN, a triathlete, and an avid lover of life. My little brother’s best friend’s dad was the epitome of health- one of those in-shape dads that 30-year-old single women drool over. Save a change in God’s master plan, nothing could have protected either one of them from cancer’s wrath. This is why, going against my usual style of not rocking the boat, I’m coming right out to say that I think people need to stop using the phrase “He/She Beat Cancer.”

Perhaps “surviving cancer” doesn’t sound as exciting and rousing as “beating cancer,” but the latter implies that those who’ve died lost. Like they did something wrong. I’m not generally one to be overly sensitive to political correctness- and I most certainly understand that all uses of “beating cancer” are with the best intentions to inspire, motivate, and encourage- but in this case, it’s important to take into account the perspective of individuals “losing” the battle. How do you think it makes them feel when they realize their time is up? When they’re told there are no more treatment options? When, save prayer, there’s nothing left that can be done? Should they feel like they failed? Like they could have done something differently? No. Never should those thoughts plague their minds.

I remember my mom saying that one of the many difficulties in her time living with cancer was having people try to figure out what she could have done differently. You know, to prevent a giant tumor from growing in her bladder and eventually crushing her organs. “Did you drink too much?” “Did you stand near a microwave?” “Did you not eat solely organic vegetables grown in a garden no further than 10 miles from your home?” She felt like she was constantly defending her life choices (which, might I add, included going to bed at 8:30pm most nights, running 7 miles every morning, and only drinking a glass or two of wine on the weekends). But my mom didn’t do anything to “deserve” cancer. It just happened. She “fought” it with grace, faith, and dignity. She danced with my brother at his wedding right after a round of chemotherapy. She went to Cedar Sinai hospital in L.A. to have one of the best surgeons in the nation remove her bladder, uterus, and dozens of lymph nodes. She prayed and ate well and continued remodeling the house with optimistic strength. But guess what? Cancer eventually stopped her body from supporting her soul. She did not “lose.” She was just not given the opportunity to keep living.

When someone survives cancer, they should be celebrated for enduring such a strenuous ordeal. They should be encouraged with words and hugs and reminders of how much their life impacts those around them. Cancer patients with a will to live that is paired with life’s gift to let them live are most certainly inspirational in displaying active examples of the word “hope.” And we all need hope. I by no means want to take away from the joy everyone feels when cancer does not end up taking a life. All I want is for people to remember that we are human. We are not God. We do not decide our own fate. We will never understand the reason why some people live and some people die, be it by cancer or a car accident or a bad piece of chicken. No one “beats” death. Some come a little closer to dying than others, therefore understanding mental and physical strength on a deeper level, but make no mistake- no one is weaker for dying than those who survive. For whatever reason, God decides that a survivor’s presence on earth is needed for a longer period of time, and those who pass on have already left the print they were intended to make. Or maybe it’s all arbitrary. Though that’s a depressing thought, it’s no less valid in making my point.

Perhaps we should start saying “So-and-So’s will to live was granted!” instead of “So-and-So beat cancer!” to remind those on their death beds, loved ones beside them, and the public in general that we are not in utter control of our lives. Yes, healthy choices and positive mindsets are beneficial in reducing illness (hence still commending one’s will to live!), but the ultimate outcome is not a reflection of human strength or weakness. It is a reflection of human mortality. Rather than that realization being a discouragement, we can use it as a stimulant towards leading lives filled with daily gratefulness, sensational vibrancy, and peaceful surrender. In addition to freeing us from the burden of trying to lean on our own, faltering human strength, refraining from the phrase “beating cancer” shows sensitivity towards those who are not given more time or have lost someone they love. Both of those outcomes seem like wins to me- and hopefully to you, too!

 

P.S.- If you ever say that someone “beat cancer” in front of me, then remember that I wrote this blog post- do not cover your mouth and apologize! Trust me, I will be THRILLED for you and whomever survived cancer! This is just some food for thought as we go through life trying to choose our words wisely with the hearts of others in mind.

Leave a comment

Filed under Opinions, Reflection

Never/Always: Sharing Edition

When I tried to steal a french fry from my 11-year-old brother on Sunday, his reaction reminded me of that time my college roommate/best friend tried to take a bite from my bowl of Velveeta Shells & Cheese during finals week. Let’s just say it didn’t go well (and she’ll never let me forget it). This prompted me to think- what are the things I really don’t like to share? Alternatively, when do I actually enjoy spreading the wealth? It’s been awhile since a solid Never/Always list, so what a perfect opportunity to explore these two critical questions.

11 Things I NEVER Like to Share

11 Things I ALWAYS Like to Share

ALWAYS:

1. Hugs. Maybe it’s because I’m always cold, or maybe because I’m single and don’t get enough affection, but hugging is my favorite thing ever.

2. A bottle of wine. Or two.

3. Music. I get really excited about forcing telling people to listen to my new favorite song, no matter how embarrassing (cough Style by Taylor Swift cough), and gladly accept recommendations.

4. French fries. I’m okay with people stealing my fries (unlike my little bro) because I already feel kind of guilty for having them, so a couple fewer on my plate is mentally helpful. Plus I like stealing them when I regrettably order a salad. It all evens out.

5. Blush. It’s the one makeup product that I have no qualms about sharing. You get a brush! And you get a brush! And you get a brush!

oprah gif

6. The remote. I’m not weird about letting other people take the TV reins. Again, this might be a sign that I haven’t been in a long term relationship since college. Idk.

7. Tapas or pizza. Because these dishes are meant to be shared. More on this subject later.

8. Books. Once I’m finished reading, I love giving books to friends and family. I can simultaneously prove that I’m obviously super smart because I read in my spare time and give a free gift. Booyah!

9. Friends. I’m not worried that I’ll be replaced. Trust me, it’d take a lot of entertaining stories, weird faces, and wine for you to replace me. I love when my friends become friends!

10. Texts. I’m about to confess something, and I hope it doesn’t deter any of you from talking to me. I screenshot the heck out of my text conversations and send them to people who will find them entertaining/fun to overanalyze. Calm down, calm down, I’ve never done it with a text from you.

11. Medicine. I never think twice about handing out the stray Tylenol in the bottom of my purse. Makes me feel like I’m really making a difference, like doctors in West Africa.

NEVER:

1. Toothbrushes. I will never ever be okay sharing a stick used to scrub tarter and old food from my teeth. Ever.

2. Individually-portioned plates of food. You may have a bite of my meal, but I don’t want to split it. I can’t help that I’m a bad food sharer. I was born this way. Pretty sure I didn’t even like my big brother getting near the baby food. [*See Always #7]

3. My bed. I like sleepovers (with my friends- get your mind out of the gutter), but I have to admit I get a little manic about changing the sheets if someone has slept in my bed who isn’t me.

4. Chapstick. I don’t want to kiss most people, so I don’t want to share Chapstick with most people.

5. Men. I’m cool with sharing my friends, but not cool with sharing my significant other. An open relationship is the worst idea I’ve heard besides licorice ice cream.

6. Clothes. I will do it on occasion, but I don’t like to share clothes. A byproduct of my clumsiness, perhaps, but I’m too afraid I’ll spill something on your shirt. I then project that fear onto you, and assume there’s an 80% chance my shirt will get a red wine stain if you wear it. Sorry.

7. Pens. I used to be a server. This should explain everything. If you’ve never been a server, you may not understand/probably aren’t as successful in life.

8. Electronic devices. Using someone else’s computer or phone feels really intimate. I had to use a bartender’s phone the other week and I am 95% sure she and I are now forever connected, like one day if I need heart transplant, she’ll have died in a tragic accident and the heart will be hers or something.

best friends gif

9. Hair ties. Honestly, when was the last time you lent a hair tie and actually got it back?

10. Political opinions. Just don’t.

11. Hairbrushes. Isn’t not sharing hairbrushes like 5th Grade Health 101?

 

Sharing is caring hard.

1 Comment

Filed under Lists, Never/Always

The Gift of Gab

Awkward silence. We’ve all been there.

Yep.

[clears throat]

[sighhhh]

So, uh, yeah.

Awkward silence wears many different hats. Sometimes it wears the “We don’t have enough in common to make this car ride comfortable” hat. Other times it wears the “I can’t believe you just said something that weird” hat. Awkward silence can also don the “The couple you’re hanging out with just got in a fight and it’s not resolved” hat, which was its chosen accessory a few Saturdays ago as I sat in an Uber with one of my favorite couples. They’re usually happy has clams, but the holidays can do weird things to people. As Mario-The-Uber-Driver and I pretended not to listen- despite being trapped in the same, small moving compartment on wheels- my girlfriend quietly reprimanded her boyfriend for forgetting the gift for the party to which we were heading (it was his one job!!). Now, the average human would stare out the window until the awkward silence passed, or let the couple give social cues that it was now acceptable for the third party to rejoin the conversation. Not I. No siree. I jump right into the deep end with this sort of thing. “Hey guys. So, um, would it be helpful if I told a story? I have lots of stories.” I proceeded to dive into my dating life and threw out so many names and webs for them to follow, that by the time we arrived at our destination, they were confused enough to not even remember they’d had a fight in the first place. This, my friends, is called being the token single friend the gift of gab.

People who talk a lot are usually one of two things: annoying or lifesaving. Nothing in between. The annoying gabber doesn’t know when to turn off the ole noisemaker, so his/her (usually her, let’s be honest) voice eventually develops a chipmunk-like quality that must be tuned out. The lifesaving gabber knows when to stay silent, but is always ready and willing to jump in during that moment when no one else knows what to do. I prefer to think of myself as the latter. Don’t tell me if I’m wrong.

Why do I bring up this topic, you ask? Because I’d like to help you. (See? gabbing=talking to thin air=talking to yourself=blogging.) If you’d like to improve upon your gabbing skills, thus lessen the time you spend in awkward silence, read on. If you’re one of those really dark people who finds pleasure in watching people squirm during awkward silence, you can stop reading now and return to sadistically stroking your underfed cat.

3 Ways to Acquire the Gift of Gab 

1. Find entertainment in the mundane

At first, I was going to suggest living an interesting, crazy life so that you always have something to talk about. But then I realized that some of the best gabbers are stay-at-home moms who consider a big outing their 45 minute Zumba class. Power to ‘em. You see, always having a story to fill the silence really has less to do with interesting things happening in life, and more to do with a person’s ability to find entertaining moments in every situation. For instance, yesterday, I spent an uneventful day at work, then ate pho with a new friend, then went to bed. Should someone ask me about my day, what could I possibly talk about for more than 12 seconds? Nothing. Oh, wait. Except for eating pho. phoWhy is eating pho interesting? Well, because no one ever told Vietnamese chefs that spaghetti rice noodles are simply too long. They’re just too long. Here I was trying to eat somewhat politely in front of my new friend, and I had to balance the slippery noodles on my spoon (I just mastered chopsticks for sushi- don’t press me) during the transfer to my mouth, then either slurp them all into my mouth before they slipped back into the bowl, or if I overshot my mouth’s capacity, bite the noodles in half and let the remains drop back into my bowl with an messy splatter. Did I mention my new friend is an attractive male? Not a cute look. Go ahead and judge. You try eating spaghetti with a spoon and get back to me. My point is that eating pho was part of a mundane Monday, but could serve as a funny story to tell my friends if they ask about my boring day. Instead of halting the conversation with “It was fine, I guess,” I tell them about eating pho like a caveman. Voila. Gab.

P.S.- Pho is delicious and worth the mess every time.

2. Be curious about people

How am I supposed to know if you love that new Taylor Swift mash up cover (<–click, you’ll thank me)  as much as I do unless I ask? How will I learn to understand the meaning behind expensive paintings unless I ask what you do and you tell me that you’re an artist? How can I bond with you over wine unless I casually inquire about your favorite every Thursday night activity? More importantly, how can I learn to look at life through a new, mind-opening lense unless I get to know you? The sooner we stop trying to make conversation and start trying to learn, questions will roll right off the tongue, opening plenty of opportunity for gab and leaving no room for awkward silence.

3. Get plenty of sleep

I’m serious. Gabbing takes energy. I actively record it in my health log as part of my fitness routine. HAH. Just kidding. I don’t have a health log. Unless you count scrap papers on my desk at work, on which I sometimes start adding up how many calories I’ve consumed by lunchtime, only to quickly shred the results. But I’m getting off track. Gabbing is hard work. I can barely listen to someone speak while keeping a polite face when I’m tired, much less drive the conversation. Engaging with people, or the air, or a brick wall, means displaying a relatively high level of enthusiasm. This means giving your body the fuel it needs to be awake, inquisitive, and creative. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep those vocal chords healthy and flippity floppity.

charles barkley falling asleep gif

Does this look like the face of someone ready to gab?

 

I know you probably could’ve used these tips before all of the holiday parties, but I dropped the ball. Speaking of the the ball dropping, Happy 2015!

2 Comments

Filed under Humor, Lists

2014: A Giant Thank You

Happy New Year’s Eve, all! As you can tell by my lack of posting, the holidays have been a bit hectic (in the best way possible). I would be remiss if I didn’t post one last time in 2014, however, so let me just say this:

THANK YOU.

Generation grannY came to life in January 2014, and it’s been such a source of joy in my life. Not just because I love writing, but because of the way I’ve felt so connected to all of you who read so loyally. Those of you who tell me of the laughs and thoughts it brings you. Those who encourage me in private messages, despite being strangers. Those who know me personally and still take the time to read. Those who tweet, comment, and share. I cannot express the depth of my gratitude for the way your kind words and excitement about posts motivate and inspire my writing, as well as warm my soul.

So, again, thank you. My 2014 was a beautiful year throughout the ups and downs of life, because writing for Generation grannY has given me consistent happiness. From pageant bodies and Miss America results, to the 3 stages of summer for the average white girl, to what to expect at Pure Barre class, it’s been an amazing ride! I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings alongside all of you! Cheers!

taylor gif

T Swift had a pretty good year, too. (Don’t know if you’ve heard of her, but…)

Leave a comment

Filed under Reflection

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I’m seeing a trend in my guest blogging life: To write for websites/blogs that revolve around a topic I know very little about. It started with my guest post for Kandice Pelletier Swimwear a few months ago. (Bikini modeling isn’t really my forte…shocking coming from a girl who eats a block of cheese on the reg, I know). And now, the up-and-coming NYC fashion blog, Ashli with an Eye, published some words of mine. I love clothes and like to think I know what looks decent/stylish, but I really have no right to be on a fashion blog. Definitely not mad about it, though! Plus I didn’t actually write about fashion, so don’t worry.

Please enjoy my guest blog on Ashli with an Eye about why Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year!

CLICK HERE TO READ THE POST

merry christmas

Leave a comment

Filed under Humor, Lists

10 Popular Christmas Songs Written by Someone Drunk on Eggnog

I love Christmas, I love songs, and I love wine gin and tonics martinis eggnog. Put them all together and this is what you get:

  1. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

Hands down, my favorite Christmas song of all time. When I get wine drunk and make up songs with myself friends, they are pretty much exactly like IWAHFC (that abbrev rolls right off the tongue, no?). This song keeps my dreams of being a songwriter alive and well.

Favorite lyrics:

There’s lots of room for him
In our two car garage
I’d feed him there
And wash him there
And give him his massage

—–

I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
Only a hippopotamus will do
No crocodiles
Or rhinoceroses-es
I only like hippopotamuses-es
And hippopotamuses like me too

Couldn’t decide on just one stanza…this song is just too amazing. A massage for the hippo. Yes. And addressing the fact that pronouncing the plural of any noun ending in “s” is downright impossible. Thank you.

hippopotamus for christmas

  1. The Twelve Days of Christmas

I know I’m not the only one to question the lyrics of this song. First of all, pears are top two most obscure fruits, next to elderberries. Also, any time “milking” is used in a song, you know the lyricist was not completely sober.

Favorite lyrics:

On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love gave to me:
Five Golden Rings

Because belting “five golden rings” like you’re the richest person in the world is the highlight of any sing along.

  1. Frosty the Snowman

I feel like I can kind of relate to whoever wrote Frosty the Snowman because obviously he was drinking alone and just needed a friend. The holidays do not cater to singles. Luckily for this guy, though, everyone was like, “You know what, an imaginary snowman friend actually sounds awesome,” and the writer was pegged as creative instead of sad. I wonder how he’s doing (the writer, not Frosty).

Favorite lyrics:

thumpity thump thump
thumpity thump thump
Look at Frosty go
thumpity thump thump
thumpity thump thump
Over the hills of snow

One of the saddest stanzas ever written.

  1. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

This song is so warped and hilarious. Why it’s famous, I’ll never understand, other than the fact that evidently our nation can bond over really messed up humor. I LOL every time I hear it, so no judgment from my end.

Favorite lyrics:

It’s not Christmas without Grandma
All the family’s dressed in black
And we just can’t help but wonder
Should we open up her gifts or send them back?

Rudest/most honest family ever.

  1. Feliz Navidad

“Feliz Navidad” is the only Spanish phrase unilingual, basic white folks know,  so naturally, I’m obsessed with the song and always sing it with the most authentic Spanish accent I can muster. The melody is so joyful, too! Going out on a limb here, but I feel like this was written by a group of friends just bopping around their living room having a drunken good time.

Favorite lyrics:

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Prospero año y Felicidad.
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart.

That’s literally the entire song.

  1. Santa Baby

The concept is so weird. A cougar with just enough too much Malbec in her system, if you ask me. Ten more years and I might be into it.

Favorite lyrics:

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing… A ring…
I don’t mean on the phone; Santa baby,
So hurry down the chimney tonight

Calm down, girl. So thirsty.

  1. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause

If this were a true story, that child would be scarred for life. Which brings me to this question: Was this lyricist imagining himself as Santa? Was this some sort of fantasy for him? I don’t know and I don’t think I want to. I sense that the writer put tequila or something very wrong in his eggnog.

Favorite lyircs:

Then I saw mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white

This does not give me the warm and fuzzies.

  1. Marshmallow World

Just like me last Saturday night, this writer was clearly on a food binge in the middle of the night after getting home from a holiday party with an open bar.

Favorite lyrics:

It’s a marshmallow world in the winter
When the snow comes to cover the ground
It’s the time for play, it’s a whipped cream day
I wait for it the whole year round.

Who doesn’t love a song relating anything and everything to munchies?

  1. All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth

I know it’s kind of a cute song, but keep in mind that a child did not write it. Two tired parents drinking eggnog while making fun of their kid. That’s who wrote it.

Favorite lyrics:

It seems so long since I could say, 
“Sister Susie sitting on a thistle!”

I’m sure they laughed so hard after coming up with that one.

  1. Deck the Halls

I’m sorry, but no song with lyrics that are 80% “falalalalalalala” was written without the influence of alcohol. Can’t get around that fact, despite how classic the song.

Favorite lyrics:

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis’ the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Such happy drunks! Love them!

not funt to be sober

 

There you have it, a fantastic holiday playlist. Merry Christmas, boys and girls!

4 Comments

Filed under Humor, Lists

Pure Barre: A Detailed Account of What to Expect

I’m not really one for fitness crazes. Mostly because they’re expensive, and I figure between the elliptical and lifting cases of wine the occasional weight, I look decent enough to land a few dates and am healthy enough to keep my primary care physician satisfied. Shoot for the stars.

Inspiring body transformations referencing CrossFit, Pilates, Bikram Yoga, and the like have flooded my newsfeeds for years, always tempting me to give them a try, but I can never justify the couple hundred bucks a month. Plus I keep the full length mirror in my bedroom at a slight tilt so that I look roughly 5-10lbs skinnier than I actually am. Mind tricks are the best. Anyway, I never thought the day would come when I’d sign up for a particular fitness regimen, but lo and behold, that day was December 1, 2014! Thanks to a well-advertised holiday discount and disgust with my post-Thanksgiving Pillsbury Doughboy body, you’re looking at reading the blog of the newest member of the Pure Barre family. LTB, girls! [Lift, Tone, Burn. Just clarifying.]

Pure Barre aims to give women (or men, if you’re into it) long, lean dancer muscles. They use a ballet bar, among other things, to help you perform isometric movements aimed at fatiguing your muscles in a low-impact, high-results kind of way. The goal is to end up looking like Misty Copeland:

misty copeland

Shouldn’t be a problem.

So I signed up. Step one. The real test was attending my very first class. Let me tell you about it.

I walked into the small studio in the heart of Clarendon, the neighborhood in Arlington, VA where all good-looking, young professionals gather to eat, drink, and/or reside. Not much to my surprise, the lobby was full of teeny, toned girls in athletic leggings and racer back tops, casually stuffing their UGG boots into cubbies (the class is socks-only) before entering the workout room. Ignoring the voice in my head telling me to run far, far away, I told the girl behind the front desk that this was my first class. She had me sign a waiver and deposit my belongings and UGGs (I got one thing right!) in a cubby, then led me into the studio. She handed me exactly one little red bouncy ball, one resistance band, and two 2lb weights, then offered a few words of instruction and well-wishes before setting me free to find a seat on the floor among the Blake Lively and Audrina Patridge lookalikes. Fun!

The first three hours two minutes of class were a blur, but I think they involved a lot of miniature pelvic thrusts, leg lifts, and an Ellie Golding song. I was already sweating more than the time I made it three whole feet off the ground during rope climb in fourth grade, but the tiny blonde instructor wearing a backless top and perfectly-executed half up messy bun proceeded to announce that it was time for the “first real challenge of class.” Oh, this should be good. And then came the planks. I’m still not ready to talk about it.

Next, we were instructed to take the little red bouncy ball and put it between our upper thighs. That part, I actually really liked, primarily because scanning a room full of beautiful young women who each look like they just laid an oversized egg is top notch entertainment. I also pictured a guy accidentally walking into the room at that very moment and almost giggled out loud. The things women do for a respectable thigh gap. My entertainment was short-lived, however, because soon we were lining the walls of the room at the ballet bars, on our tip toes with our legs bent and our butts squeezed. This looks as funny as it sounds and hurts even worse. It wasn’t long before I started shaking so uncontrollably that I undoubtedly made the girl behind me immensely uncomfortable. Would she definitely notice, you ask? Yes. We were one foot apart in a single file line, and as we squeezed our little butt cheeks together while making baby circles with our hips, I had nowhere to look besides at the derriere of the young lady directly in front of me. I never thought you could become numb to watching another person’s butt clench repeatedly, but somehow, it stopped feeling like a violation of her privacy after a minute or two. This is how I knew that the girl behind me had a front and center view of all things happening to my twitching, clenching, and shaking body. Sorry ‘bout that.

Then we got to stretch in the center of the room. Oh! It feels so good! Wait, why is it already over? That was literally two seconds. No, I don’t want to go back to the bar. Please? Fine, but only because I want my butt to look amazing.

Round two at the bar included something quite similar to this move:

PureBarre leg

Looks easy, right? Wrong. If you think my right leg was anywhere near straight or lifted even remotely close to the bar, you are wildly overestimating my core strength and flexibility. And the left leg pointed in front of me? You think that sucker was easily hovering an inch off the ground? Not happening. I looked around the room and saw one girl who resembled the above picture. You. You are the reason I don’t have a boyfriend.

I noticed that the instructor- we’ll call her Quinn because I like that name and she looked like a Quinn- dimmed the lights a notch lower every 15 minutes or so. I wasn’t sure about the point of that, but I was strongly in favor of anything that detracted from my shaking limbs. The darker the better. Like my men. HAH! I’m kidding you guys…or am I? [Sorry, I’m pretty hyped up on holiday chocolates right now.]

Back to regularly scheduled programming: Pure Barre. By the end of class, we were doing an ab workout in complete darkness. It was unconventional, freeing, and strangely motivating. I could make as many ridiculous faces as I wanted while crunching with my hands outstretched in front of me and my legs in a contorted V above me. Frankly, I would’ve been just fine if the whole class was done in pitch black, but Quinn didn’t pass around any suggestion cards as we filed back into the lobby to retrieve our UGGs.

As I made my way to Trader Joe’s, where I left my car because they validate my parking stub if I buy something (a $5 bottle of wine is a much better use of my money than $8 for random garage parking…my life doesn’t revolve around wine, I swear), I decided that despite the feeling that I’d never be able to walk normally again, I’m going to go three times a week for this entire month. Truth be told, I’m pretty excited to see the progress, because there’s really nowhere to go but up. And who knows? Maybe I’ll become friends with some of the hottie patotties in class! They all actually seemed super normal and nice. I even saw one other girl from class buying a bottle of wine at Trader Joe’s afterwards, so she has serious potential.

Between Pure Barre starting now and No Drink January right around the corner, I’m thinking this may be the best February bod I’ve ever had! Which is obviously a great month to have a rockin’ body. Since we’ll be completely bundled in jackets and all.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food and Health, Humor

25 Questions You Ask Yourself During Thanksgiving Dinner

As much as I’m grateful for family, freedom, and oversized sweaters, I know most of you have reached your limit when it comes to reading “I’m thankful for…” lists. Instead, I present to you 25 questions I asked myself during Thanksgiving dinner last night. I know the title of this post is misleading because I said “25 Questions You Ask Yourself…” instead of “25 Questions I Ask Myself…,” but I’m just really hoping that some of these thoughts crossed your mind, too, so that I don’t feel as alone in my weirdness.

  1. Does my body have white meat and dark meat just like turkeys?
  2. Does thinking about that make me a cannibal?
  3. Was the glossy jello consistency of canned cranberries originally a cooking mistake turned accidental invention?
  4. How can I best separate the mounds of sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes on my plate so that people can’t tell that I’m mostly only eating potatoes?
  5. Why don’t green beans make your pee smell, but asparagus does?
  6. Is stuffing essentially squares of French toast that are savory instead of sweet?
  7. Does that make stuffing breakfast food?
  8. How much wine can I drink before non-drinking relatives notice that I’m no longer on my first glass?
  9. Are jeans actually better Thanksgiving pants than leggings since they don’t have a tight band around the waist?
  10. Should I stop eating since I just had to ask myself about Thanksgiving pants?
  11. How much weight can you gain in one 24 hour period?
  12. Children stop eating when they’re full…so at what age do we keep eating just because it tastes good?
  13. Does thinking about weight at the Thanksgiving table make me a bad American?
  14. Were there obese pilgrims?
  15. Do pies have to be round?
  16. Is the shape of pies a secret marketing tool by crust companies because studies show people eat more if something is round?
  17. How much of the pumpkin pie is actually made from pumpkins?
  18. Do I literally have an invisible second stomach for dessert?
  19. Could Hercules make whipped cream from skim milk?hercules
  20. What is the breaking point between eating so much you feel sick and being one of those people whose stomach actually ruptures?
  21. Does the hospital actually have an influx of ruptured stomach cases on Thanksgiving?
  22. Would I be too afraid to ever eat again if my stomach ruptured, and therefore ultimately lose weight?
  23. How can people even think about going shopping for clothes on Black Friday?
  24. Is Black Friday a politically correct term?
  25. Should I blame the wine or the tryptophan for why my mind is like this?

Don’t judge me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Food and Health, Humor, Lists

15 Gross Words

Yesterday, I asked my coworker how she prepares her spaghetti squash, and she made the horrific decision to use the phrase “flake it off” in her description. [Any food bloggers reading this need to create a Taylor Swift parody called “Flake it Off” immediately. This is me officially signing over the rights to that idea.] Although my coworker was trying to be helpful with her mini-culinary lesson, her use of the word “flake” brought my appetite to a screeching halt. This got me thinking…what other words make my stomach try to reenact a Gabby Douglas floor routine? See list below. No, “moist” is not included. Call me crazy, but I actually think moist cake sounds delicious.

1. Flaky- Dry skin shedding from one’s body. Like dandruff. Sick. [I couldn’t very well leave off the inspiration for this post.]

2. Crusty- That crumpled shirt on your floor with dried food on it. Or worse, unwashed underw— excuse me, I just vomited.

3. Pasta- It’s such a slimy word. Passssttaaa. I mean, I love it, but just don’t love the word.

pasta

4. Slather- Slytherin. Snakes. Scales. Greasy scales.

5. Sauce- Inevitably makes me think “secret sauce,” which is probably a tangy recipe filled with pig’s blood, camel intestines, and ranch dressing.

6. Kernel- Honestly, does a kernel of anything sound appealing to you?

7. Pregnant- Let’s stick as many ugly consonants into one word as we can. I also just imagine feeling bloated for 9 months, and that makes me want to cry.

8. Swollen- I don’t like S’s or W’s or L’s, and this word has all three. Also, the aforementioned bloated thing.

9. Ointment- I have an issue with the sound of “oin.” Couldn’t we just called it “soothing cream” or something?

10. Blanch- Say it outloud. Blanch.

11. Fluffy- Some of you think of baby animals or croissants, but I think of puffy fat. I don’t know why.

12. Spongey- N’s should never be paired with soft G’s. Also, sponges are the dirtiest things ever.

13. Quail- I just think of nasty old rotten eggs. And birds in general kind of gross me out.

14. Mustache- It’s an unpleasant word paired with unpleasant imagery.

15. Loin- Again with the “oin” issue. This time we have to think of a male’s meaty upper thigh area, too. Great.

Fabio-loincloth

Try and be creative with your replacements for these words next time we chat. For instance, instead of saying, “Shanny, would you like to join my pregnant sister and me for some pasta slathered in sauce, followed by fluffy spongecake for dessert? And wait until you see my brother’s mustache for Movember. It’s so crusty. Also, could you help me put some ointment on my swollen ankle?”- why don’t you try, “Shanny, would you like to join my sister (her baby bump is so big, btw!) and me for some spagoots and yummy cake? And wait until you see my brother- he hasn’t shaved in almost a month. He looks ridiculous. Also, could you help me put some soothing cream on my sprained ankle?(<–who would ask that?)” It’s not that hard, people. Help a sister out.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Food and Health, Humor, Lists

Is Caring Too Much a Thing?

There’s a fine line between excessively sympathetic and emotionally unstable. A fine, fine line. [Cue song]

*I sang this little ditty at my first showcase in NYC (2011). This video of me is for entertainment purposes only and really has nothing to do with the rest of this post.

 

Let me tell you a story. Last week, a young lady strolled into Safeway grocery store to buy quinoa (keen-wah), chicken, mushrooms, and asparagus for dinner. She may or may not have been trying to be healthy in order to lose the 3lbs she’d gained in a single weekend from binging on potato chips and Velveeta Shells & Cheese, but who knows. After rounding up the goods, she approached the nearest checkout aisle, which occupied a teenage boy cashier of Asian heritage. His skin was a pale grayish color, his lips were swollen, his hands were red and cracking, and his ears had painful-looking scabs from whatever skin condition plagued him. Briefly forgetting her hanger (<– click for definition), the young woman tried to brighten his day with a friendly “hello” as she placed her food on the checkout belt. The boy was obviously nervous as he shakily scanned the first two items and avoided eye contact. When he picked up the asparagus, he started flipping through a book of vegetables to find their identification code, but after a minute, shyly asked his secretly-hangry customer what they were called. Feeling patient in light of his obvious nerves, she gently answered, “Asparagus.” After another minute or two of frantic button-pushing, he mumbled that it was his first day and he couldn’t figure out how to ring up the…long green things. Three full minutes later, he breathlessly called into the empty air “Darryl!”-which we can assume was the name of the one manager’s name he remembered. Unfortunately, Darryl didn’t appear in a magical poof of smoke, so the boy returned to desperately stabbing buttons on the register.

buttons

Like this, but less happy about it. Also, Merry Christmas, everyone! I know many of you have already put up your trees.

At this point, the girl’s hanger started to vaguely bubble from within. She needed food and needed it now. Quietly, so not to embarrass him in front of the long line that had formed in the last five minutes, she said, “I’m not trying to steal or anything, but they’re like, $2. Do you think you can either find a manager or just throw them in the bag? Either way would probably better than not figuring it out.” Unfortunately, an even hangrier lady was next in line and overheard, jumping on the opportunity to screech, “She’s right!! This isn’t how you run a business! Give her the dang asparagus for free and let the rest of us start checking out!” The poor child behind the counter was clearly about to have a heart attack, so the girl with the asparagus began proactively scanning the premises for a medic and/or manager. Just in the nick of time- saving the day in khakis and a faded blue polo- Darryl triumphantly rounded the corner to swiftly ring up the asparagus, double-bag the wine, and re-bag the raw chicken in its own Salmonella-free compartment. When all was settled, the cashier-boy handed the girl her receipt and issued the most heartbreaking apology in the history of apologies. She smiled and said, “Don’t worry about it,” then proceeded to her car, where she got inside and replayed his agonizing apology over and over in her head. This kid obviously had a tough life with his physical deformity, plus a terrible and intimidating first day at work…so she did what anyone who feels bad for someone would do. She cried the whole way home.

Who does that? Silly girl. Such an emotional mess. She should get it together. Can you imagine getting that upset because of a teenage boy’s battle with asparagus? Embarrassing!!

Okay, fine. It was me.

Maybe I’m more like a baby than I realized and simply can’t help but cry when hungry, but I’m fairly certain that feeling bad for a cashier shouldn’t prompt a wave of unbridled emotion. Once the tears subsided and I subsequently judged myself for a full hour (and ate, duh), I tried to see the positive: Maybe I’m not an emotional disaster who should be locked away from the world like a ball of nuclear energy on the brink of eruption. Maybe I just have shockingly high levels of sympathy/empathy. [My coworker told me her roommate once partook in a university study to scientifically determine levels of emotion, and her roommate’s results said- verbatim: Shockingly low levels of empathy. Add that to the Match profile.]

That kind of long quick story and psychological analysis leads me to one question: Is caring for others too much a legitimate problem?

When the typical pageant interview question What’s your biggest weakness? elicits the response I have too big of a heart, we all snort at the subtle nod to narcissism. Oh, you’re so great that your greatest weakness is being too great? Must be tough being you.

But what if that’s a real answer? What if it’s true that having too big of a heart is a serious weakness in life?

[For the record, my answer to that question was always “Cheese.” Make ‘em laugh and move on. I don’t need to advertise that my weaknesses include resting b**** face, an inability to keep my car clean, and a fear of instruction manuals.]

I think everybody can agree that a certain amount of sympathy/empathy is important. It’s even an implication of the Golden Rule. Think about how other people feel and treat them accordingly. Got it. But some of us find it difficult to turn off the compassion switch once someone’s suffering is completely out of our control. Our hearts break for people who were dealt terrible cards, who are hurt by people we can’t stop, or even for those who continually hurt themselves. Since there’s nothing we can do, our concerned little hearts throw their hands up in despair, asking God “Whyyyy” and wreaking havoc on the nearest tear ducts. I think it’s safe to call that reaction a weakness in life.

Like any weakness, excessive sympathy/empathy can be strengthened and improved upon. This doesn’t mean those of us with this condition should strive to be ice queens, but it does mean that we should trust in the greater plan when the suffering of others is beyond our reach. Instead of letting those moments overwhelm us with sadness, we should harness that emotion into either developing a legitimate plan or practicing trust in a power greater than our own.

And that’s what I have to say about that.

Quite a simple conclusion for such a long riveting introductory story, but I never know where these things are going until they’re finished. This one just happened to be top heavy.

pamela-anderson-picture-5

We’ll call this post “Pamela Anderson.” Get it? Top heavy? #icrackmyselfup

By the way- for those of you with “shockingly low levels of empathy,” getting teary-eyed from helplessly watching old men shuffle across the street in the rain or welling up with happiness for people crossing the finish line at marathons doesn’t make us unstable. We just really, really like our fellow humans. And if we lose control of our emotions, give us a glass of wine and throw on The Mindy Project. We’ll be good to go in no time. Actually, scratch the wine…that may add to the emotions. Wait. No. Never scratch the wine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reflection