Boston, Connecticut and New York Diet

Do you read New York Diet on Grub Street? Each week they pick a different celebrity and have them document everything that they eat. Even when they’re trying to be casual, it always has that hilarious tinge of pretension (“And then we had our dear friends the Stephanopouloses over”) sautéed in coconut oil and quinoa.

It’s a great feature, because when it’s good, it’s entertaining and you can get some good tips (thank you Jamie for teaching me about the Trader Joes jalapeño hot sauce, which I now buy in bulk). And when it’s bad, it’s even more entertaining, like this one. Please read it all, including the part about how it’s bigoted (yes, that’s the word of choice) of farmers to get up so early to run their markets.

Seriously, I wish Grub Street did a Boston Diet feature. “I had two Lean Cuisines and punched somebody in the face. What the fuck are you looking at?” Anyway, I spent the last week doing my own, and feel confident that my vegan, clean living diet will inspire you to be your best self. If your best self aspires to eat ballpark food four days a week.

Sunday, July 13
On the weekends my boyfriend Ben sets out my coffee while I’m in the shower and then makes breakfast. He is a dreamboat for many reasons, but this is obviously one of them. Funny enough, I was decidedly anti-coffee until December, when I spent a few days in Iceland and was throwing back espressos to stay awake after a redeye. Then a gruff Icelandic chef/bartender/jack of all trades made me an insanely good cappuccino (at 9 PM, thank you very much) and that was it, I was hooked, and thanks to the caffeine probably super annoying for the rest of the evening. Turns out, I’m in good company with my new addiction and now well-versed in this “Starbucks” that you all talk so much about.

We went to Island Creek Oyster Bar for a late lunch, and were deliriously happy sorting through the Duxburys, Wellfleets, Prince Edward Islands, and oyster sliders on brioche with lime chili aioli. Moment of silence for lime chili aioli, kids. Ben had their version of a whiskey sour and I had the rosé flight. I’ve been very into rosé this summer, and I liked theirs, particularly the Raventos I Blanc La Rosa Penedès. You’d better sell it, Wegmans. I’m already a high maintenance customer at their liquor store since I asked them to find me creme de violette, which apparently isn’t sold in the state.

We got to talking to a couple next to us who were visiting from Sweden. They were staying in the North End, so we chatted about the Freedom Trail and where to find good beer, pasta, and cannolis (maybe not all at once). They told us that their main body of knowledge about Boston was from The Departed and The Town, so I felt a little bad that I didn’t have any mafia connections or Jack Nicholson to offer up. Seriously, almost 20 years after Good Will Hunting and everyone thinks Boston still has a total hard on for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. I mean, I guess we do. But shut up.

Of course, being down the street from Fenway, I encouraged them to stop over for a visit, especially because it was the Futures of Fenway game, which is minor league (i.e. cheap tickets and good seats). They weren’t too excited about the game and more interested in catching the World Cup, but we exchanged information with the promise to get in touch if we’re ever in Stockholm.

We headed over to the game, during which I got a text from my new Swedish friends. They ended up blowing off the World Cup and going to Fenway after all. True Bostonians at heart! After the game they played Field of Dreams on the jumbotron as the sun was setting, and I was in heaven (or Iowa). My favorite movie at my favorite place with my favorite guy. We had a pretzel at the game and a slice of pizza before the movie.

Monday, July 14
For breakfast during the week I usually have a Shakeology shake that I drink on the way to work. I’m not in the cult, I promise, but I did start the 21 Day Fix workouts and have been enjoying them. For me it’s mainly an easy breakfast that I feel starts my day out well. I add almond milk, a banana, and lately PB2, which is a powdered peanut butter that was recommended from a favorite blogger. I am a big fan of peanut butter, though I’m undecided about the powder. Like many imitations, I think I’d probably rather have the real thing.

For lunch I had grilled chicken leftover from the weekend in a pita with hummus and spicy pickles, and for dinner I had avocado toast, which is basically my favorite thing to eat, always and forever, especially when it’s just me for dinner. The key is really delicious bread, which I get from a great farm stand between my home and work. Of course, delicious avocados are also key. You always need a few good squeezes of lime, preferably fresh, cracked pepper, the aforementioned Trader Joe’s jalapeño hot sauce, and salt. My preference is ghost pepper fire salt from the Salt Cellar in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which is an unbelievable place, but that’s a whole other story. Gwyneth Paltrow has a recipe for avocado toast in her cookbook, which is helpful because it’s obviously super complicated to make. She recommends using vegenaise, but I give you permission to consciously uncouple from that suggestion.

Tuesday, July 15
I planned poorly, so during my work day I had two Siggi yogurts with chia seeds. My preference is Skyr, but it’s basically the only thing that Wegmans doesn’t carry. My love affair with Wegmans started when one opened right near me. After work I was starving so I picked up a wheatgrass smoothie, just kidding, a toasted bagel with honey walnut cream cheese from Panera.

For dinner, Ben and I went to Oishii, which is in my neighborhood and super delicious. He had miso soup, which I love but can’t wrap my brain around in 90 degree weather, so I went with seaweed salad. We shared spicy scallop maki, eel with avocado, yellowtail, crispy foie gras, and a bottle of sparkling sake called Poochi Poochi. I was not feeling the foie gras, but tried it for the sake of the food blog.

Wednesday, July 16
Breakfast was Shakeology, almond milk, banana, and PB2. For what it’s worth, the chia seeds and I are done. I brought a container to work and it spilled all over my bag. In cleaning out my bag I realized that my sunscreen had opened and spilled as well, so the sun and I are also now done.

Summer in a school is a tug of war between the skeleton staff and the custodians, who are diligently trying to clean and wax the school around us and barely tolerate our presence. Seriously, even the nicest custodians absolutely hate you during the summer, and my new school is no exception. Random rooms can suddenly become inaccessible, so I smuggled the 100 year old Keurig machine from the teachers lunch room down to my office. I read that Jessica Seinfeld drinks coffee with coconut oil whipped in an immersion blender. So that’s pretty much the same thing.

For lunch I had a Thai chicken salad from Panera. I had an interview before a meeting, with about five minutes to eat lunch in between, so I ate the good parts. At the meeting I had a crunchy chocolate chip cookie. For dinner, I had avocado toast again, this time with two avocados to use them up before I left for the weekend.

Thursday, July 17
I’m out of almond milk and can’t do my shake, so I leave a little early to get to Starbucks and get my other favorite breakfast: iced caramel with milk, and Greek yogurt with raspberry puree, lemon curd and granola. I love this breakfast, but Starbucks in the morning is a mess. I’d be there every day if there wasn’t always a line out the door. But after the wait, I have the best breakfast ever. You know, for a weekday.

To avoid this and still have my coffee, I usually pick it up the night before and add almond milk in the morning. It’s not as perfect as when it’s fresh, but a girl does what a girl must. I neglected to mention my night before coffee habit earlier in the food blog, which really compromises the integrity of the whole project.

Lunch was a strawberry poppyseed chicken salad from Panera, and dinner was grilled pizzas with Ben. We get the garlic naan and use ricotta and chicken sausage. I had a dentist appointment after work, so he picked it up (at Wegmans, obviously) and got it ready while I probably complained that my teeth hurt. We also had salads and salted watermelon. Have I mentioned that you need to go to the Salt Cellar, like yesterday?

Friday, July 18
My dad and I left in the morning to head to New York for a baseball weekend. I grabbed a packet of almonds from Starbucks and my coffee (black for him). We stopped in West Hartford at the fantastic Frank Pepe’s, where we split a margarita pizza. Later at the game, I had a hot dog, pretzel, and Corona Light.

Can I mention that Yankee Stadium serves daiquiris? In the stands? And in the tall squiggly containers like you get at a swim-up bar on vacation. When you’re 25. So funny.

Saturday, July 19
For breakfast we stopped at a little place, where I had an everything bagel with scallion cream cheese and lox. My dad had pancakes and a greek yogurt. We both had coffee. That kept us going for most of the day. Dinner was at Les Halles, where I had scallops, he had the filet, and my friend Kate had raviolis. I may have also encouraged her to dip fries in bearnaise, which there is really no excuse for, ever. Later she and I had drinks on my hotel deck. They were called Summer Rains and Blood Orange Clovers, so I basically have no idea what was in any of them. But they were delicious! And it was fantastic to have a night with my beloved Kate.

I have to just say that, despite lovely accommodations and Bliss bath products that were replenished daily, the W is sort of a delightful hot mess. While Kate and I were catching up (over a giant version of Connect Four, obviously) they were quietly roping off portions of the deck for…who, exactly? Who gets dressed up to come to the financial district on a Saturday night? Suddenly my hotel lobby was a club. Seriously, there was even a DJ. Random people super dressed up and dancing, empty reserved tables, and a guy in a full suit, sleeping. The demographic was very unclear, and I was still in jeans and sneakers from the game. Obviously, I danced through them to get to my elevator. I may have been singing this, but that cannot be proven at this time.

Sunday, July 20
We met my friend, her husband, and her amazing little baby for brunch on the Upper East Side. She and I have been friends since we were 11 and 9 respectively, and I love getting to see her. I had smoked salmon benedict and coffee, and took many, many pictures and videos of her edible 9 month old.

At the game, I got a giant Diet Coke for the souvenir Yankees cup. On the drive home, we stopped at a diner in Stamford, CT. I had grilled cheese with pickles and my dad had a burger. Oh, and the place was called Pat’s Hubba Hubba, which is obviously why I picked it.

10 Years Whaaaat

When I thought about an entry to write to resurrect the Tent, I weighed many options.  Scathing deconstruction of pop culture?  Iron-fisted political commentary?  Reiterate my enduring love for 80s soft rock?

Then I realized that my first entry ever was just shy of ten years ago.  Ten!  Years!  I was a 27 year old in my very first year working in education, discovering my love for the field and making absolutely zero money.  I had no idea what the next ten years would bring.  Do we ever?

So, what would I have said to myself ten years ago?  Please note that this isn’t one of those “now that I know everything” manifestos.  I mean, I am 36 years old and today I spilled sunscreen AND chia seeds all over my purse, sooooo.  Yeah.

It’s been ten years, so how about ten things I’d tell that 27 year old who wrote her first shiny new blog entry?  You know, aside from “check the tops of your sunscreen AND chia seed containers.”

1.  It’s not a race.  Let other people inspire you (or the opposite), but don’t let their lives be a barometer for what you should do with your own.

2.  Similarly, hold back on judgment.  The only person’s life that you have any idea about is your own, and even that is a constant learning process.  You don’t know everything.  I know!  It’s shocking.

3.  If you love someone, say it.  Life is short.  No, like, REALLY short.

4.  Be nicer than you think you should be.  The person who cut you off in traffic might have an emergency.  Even if they don’t, tell yourself that they do.  Stress and needless anger just make you old and angry.  Some things are worth your anxiety, but not strangers, traffic, or SERIOUSLY HOW DO YOU GET THE SMELL OF SUNSCREEN OUT OF A MICHAEL KORS BAG THAT I PAID FULL PRICE FOR TWO YEARS AGO JUST SAYING.

5.  Let go of the things and people that don’t make you feel good.  Give yourself permission to walk away the same way that you would stop reading a book that isn’t doing it for you despite multiple attempts (I’m looking at you, Anna Karenina).  It doesn’t mean anything about them, just that they weren’t a good fit for you.  People make you feel good or they don’t.  Sometimes it’s that simple.  (Less poetic version:  Get rid of the assholes in your life.  For serious.  You know who they are.)

6.  That said, work to keep the people that you love close.  Not that it’s WORK, but family/jobs/life/etc. can make it difficult to connect.  Do it anyway.  Once your kids go to college you’ll all be back to drinking wine together on a couch in your jammies anyway, and it’s best if you don’t have 10 zillion things to catch up on when that time comes.

7.  I can’t remember where I read this, which means it was probably Pinterest Dostoyevsky:  Find something you are passionate about, something that you are good at, and something that you can make a living doing.  If you’re missing one of the three, it might not be right yet.  Do whatever you can to make it right.  We spend way too much time at work for it to not be inspiring and a vehicle for bettering ourselves.  Surround yourselves with people who understand that the lessons from work are also lessons about life and personal growth. Don’t just have a desk job.  Don’t just put in your eight hours to pay your bills.  Ten years ago I started my career in education, and today I went to my first directors meeting.  It’s unbelievably exciting and scary and wonderful.  Don’t worry.  You won’t be fully ready for it, because no one ever is.  That’s how you grow.  It sounds SUPER CHEESY, I know.  But trust me.  (Having said all that, leave work at work! If you’re doing it right you’ve already given it enough of your time. Go out to dinner. Seriously. Right now. And order wine.)

8.  Travel.  It doesn’t matter how far you go.  Go everywhere you can.  Write everything down.  Take a million pictures.  Talk to people and listen to what they have to say.  (tedmosby) Everyone that you encounter is a part of your journey in some way, and is there to teach you something or make you think about something differently. (/tedmosby)

9.  If you wouldn’t be proud to have a son or daughter like them, don’t be in a relationship with them.

10.  A lot happened because of this blog.  I met my friend Kate, who read everything I wrote before I met her in person.  I met countless other friends who are still a part of my life, people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise, because they are in DC, Minnesota, California, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan.  They became people whose lives and joys and struggles I now hear and talk about daily (what did we do before Twitter? Wait, if you’re reading this, 27 year old me, INVENT TWITTER).

But also, start the blog, Red.  It will make your life better.  And so will all the people and things and opportunities coming into it over the next ten years.

The 20 Minute Jog Heard ‘Round The World

On Friday, I had planned to take the day off work. Emily and I were going to head into Boston in the morning to take pictures, and then go to Amanda’s dissertation defense in the afternoon. Right before I went to bed, we talked on the phone about what a positive day it would be, after an overwhelming, crazy week. I was excited to be able to sleep in until 7:00, which shows what an exciting life I lead.

At 6:50, I woke up to my phone ringing. I remember thinking, “Man, what are the odds? Ten minutes before I have to wake up?” before realizing that anytime the phone wakes you up, it’s probably bad news. It was the police chief telling us to stay inside during the manhunt and not to open our doors unless there was an identified police officer there. MANHUNT?

I had several text messages, all from friends asking what was going on. I had no idea. Let’s just say that I don’t have any pending job offers from CNN. I texted one of them back and asked HER what was going on, as I was turning on the news. One suspect was dead and the other was on the run. The governor shut down Boston and all surrounding towns.

“Your city is on the list, and you have to stay inside,” she told me. “And they’re doing door-to-door house searches.”

“What? Should I put pants on?”

“Yes. Put pants on.”

As it turned out, they were only doing door-to-door searches in the next town, where they felt confident the suspect was (and, SPOILER ALERT, they were right!). Another spoiler: I put pants on. And then proceeded to watch TV for 13 hours.

Something funny happens when this sort of thing shows up on everyone’s TV screen:

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Everyone who didn’t live in one of those places contacted everyone that they know in one of those places. Just like Monday, it was very sweet, but it wasn’t quite as dramatic for those of us not in Watertown. I’ll be honest, initially my reaction was, “IS HE…IS HE BEHIND ME RIGHT NOW?” Hours later, it was pretty clear that we weren’t exactly in the line of fire. And by not exactly I mean NOT REMOTELY. There were roadblocks, a few helicopters, and the occasional siren, but they were in the next town. There was a whole lot of waiting around and TV-watching going on. Of course, being stir crazy was a good problem to have that day, given the possibilities.

Incidentally, the comments on the news about Watertown being a “small, ideal New England hamlet” were pretty funny. Pretty much everyone I know lived in Watertown after college. When I lived there, my neighbor used to park on her lawn and had a sticker on her front door telling people not to bother her. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it there, and I have great memories. But not of a SMALL, IDEAL NEW ENGLAND HAMLET.

Around 3:00, I needed a change of scenery, so I decided to go for a run, a quick 20 minutes after being stuck in the house for eight hours. No big deal, right?

HOLY CRAP, I’m surprised that it didn’t break into the already breaking news.

I heard several different versions of this over the course of the day:
“How’s it going?”
“Weird, but fine. Just stuck at home. Went for a quick run. You?”
“What?!”
“What?”
“WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL, RED. YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO STAY INSIDE.”

And my family, forget it. This story will be told until the end of time. There are already jokes. You’d think I ran by the boat, instead of around the block. My mom’s final two cents: “And I don’t think you should even be running at all! You come from a family with bad knees, you know.”

I don’t mean to stand so firmly by my run, but I sort of do. My city was CRICKETS, you guys. And I gave it eight hours. The shelter in place was lifted altogether a few hours later. I refuse to see this as wholly irresponsible of me. But at the same time, I can’t not laugh at “Hey Red, I saw you slow jogging from the aerial shot on the news. Good form!”

Monday

My friends and I watched the marathon from mile 14, conveniently across from a DJ who was playing Thriller, Eye of the Tiger, and other gems that we danced along to with too much enthusiasm, and some of the tired runners gamely danced along to a little bit as they went by. Emily is the ultimate marathon buddy, texting me “We’re here and we have a seat for you!” while I was barely awake. She also chased down a runner who dropped her cell phone, after which I tweeted that she was the hero of the day. As it would happen, she was the first of many.

We yelled the runners’ names, which they tend to scrawl on their chests or arms, and they flashed quick, appreciative smiles, or pumped their fists, or ignored us, those ungrateful athletes, what, are you in the middle of runnin’ a marathon or something? One named Celeste replied with what seemed like an especially heartfelt “Thank you.” It was a beautiful day after a long, long winter.

Patriots Day is a special day in Boston, while also being a completely made-up holiday, because that’s how we do. It did make me laugh a little to hear Obama say, “Today is a holiday in Massachusetts.” We are so busted for our fake holiday, you guys. You caught us. No one was at work. But we swear, every other day, we have jobs, really.

My friend Jess was trying to figure out the best place to watch her fiancee run by. She settled on mile 24 and then taking the T to the finish line. I was keeping an eye out for him. “What’s he wearing?” I texted her. “Blue tank top and blue shorts,” she replied. I remember thinking, “Don’t you hope you never answer the question about what he’s wearing with those words again?” but I’m not sure I sent it. Then later, when we spotted him: “Just saw him. Looks like he’s owning it. Sending him your way!”

My friend Joe was volunteering at mile 13, giving out water and Gatorade and taking videos of his liquid philanthropy. He saw me post on Facebook that I was at mile 14 and when the runners had mostly gone by, he wrote that he was walking down to us. His sister was running, and he was wondering the best way to get to the finish line. “We’re leaving soon anyway, I’ll drop you at the T,” I told him. I drove him to the train, and told him where to get off: Copley.

An hour later, everything changed. What’s happening? And then: Blue tank top and blue shorts. Get off at Copley. Where are Jess and Joe?

I texted Jess and didn’t hear back. I checked Joe’s Facebook page. It was filled with, “Where are you? Please tell us you’re okay.” Then I remembered him needing to use the charger in my car because his phone was almost dead, and surely was by then.

My loved ones from out of state started calling and texting to make sure that I wasn’t at the marathon, but the thing is that we all were. That’s kind of how the day goes. But I was nowhere near the finish line.

I heard from Jess. She was fine, but looking for her fiancee. I pictured him running by us. Then, later: “Found him.” Joe was okay, too. Deep breath.

It’s surreal to end the day worrying about people who didn’t cross your mind that morning. They were the only ones that I was genuinely concerned about, because of the unique circumstances of that day. It could’ve been anyone else. I think of my best friends. At work in Copley. Editing a dissertation. With her toddler. Producing a TV show. What if I was looking for one of them? I really don’t know. I was lucky.

I left work today to drive to class, almost my last one before graduation. I live close to Boston, but I work in the sticks and it takes at least an hour to get into the city. Today there wasn’t any traffic. And once you hit 93, the city opens up in front of you like a postcard. Passing the giant paint can gas tank in Dorchester, there was a double-sided sign flashing “COWARDS” and “PRAY FOR BOSTON.” Signs said over and over again, “Copley Square/Boylston Street closed/Seek alternate routes.”

Between the first responders, the Google doc with thousands of people offering to open their homes, the signs at Yankee Stadium, the outpouring of kindness for the city that everyone loves to hate was overwhelming. More overwhelming than anything that happened in Boston yesterday.

And you know, I said more “I love you”s to the people in my life over the past two days than I can remember. Some to friends I’d maybe never said it to before. So, who wins? I know we’re a competitive town, but I think we do.

Here are some of the pictures that I’ve taken over the past few years on Patriots Day. For those of you who have never joined us in Boston for that day, I hope they capture the true spirit.

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Learning To Love Yourself, It Is The Greatest Love Of All

I like terrible soft rock from the 80s. I like good music too, but I seriously love the horrific, absurd, contrived, ridiculous, pandering, embarrassing, not even well-written ballads in this particular genre. For awhile it was that age-old question of whether or not my affection was ironic and satirical while enjoying some dark roast with the other hipsters. Now it’s clear that I’m just lame, and I don’t even drink coffee. I own this about myself. If you don’t have any love for crap music yourself, well, I’m just going to put it right out there: I don’t trust you. You’re probably one of those people who said they knew all along that Bruce Willis was dead in The Sixth Sense. NO YOU DIDN’T, NOSTRADAMUS. Shut your filthy mouth.

Are you wondering how bad we’re talking here? Think of a bad song. A really bad one. No, what’s wrong with you? That was in The Karate Kid. If it’s a sentimental favorite from our childhoods, it’s automatically disqualified and can’t really be that bad. Got one? Okay. Well, I’ve got it on my phone. That one, too. I don’t want to leave you caught between the moon and New York City, so let me save you a little time: Got that one, too. If it was playing in the car in the 70s or 80s while your mom or dad dragged you around to stores that sold curtains and lighting fixtures on the weekend, all the while promising you the new Sleepover Friends book at the end of the journey, well, that’s what I’m talking about here.

In finding songs on my iTunes to make this example, I stumbled on All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You by Heart. How great is that song? She picks up a random hitchhiker and has sex with him, which, I know, you’re thinking, sounds about right, what’s the problem so far? Then the next morning she leaves him a note that says, and I quote, “I am the flower, you are the seed, we walked in the garden, we planted a tree. Don’t try to find me, please don’t you dare. Just live in my memory, you’ll always be there.” For serious, lady? What’s wrong with you? Your ridiculous note guarantees that no one would ever try to find you, even if there was a missing persons report and I was the FBI. And remember the twist ending? It turns out she just did it because her husband couldn’t get her pregnant and she wanted a baby. Who needs IVF when there are, apparently, ready and willing random drifters coursing with testosterone about? Hope your husband doesn’t think it’s weird that your kid grows up to be like, “I just wanna live on the road, man. Don’t fence me in. Hey, does anyone want this half a grilled cheese sandwich I found on the median?”

Anyway, one of my favorite 80s soft rock specimens has always been Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston. Like many women my age, fourth grade was utterly defined by Whitney tapes, and my friends and I spent endless Saturdays choreographing intricate dance routines to How Will I Know and I Wanna Dance With Somebody.

But Greatest Love of All was always different. First of all, she opens with a fact misstated as an opinion. Yeah, children are the future, girl. In fact, that’s exactly what they are. So whether or not you personally believe it, they are going to be running the nursing homes and bingo halls someday, so you’d better…oh. Right.

Rest in peace, Whitney. You were incredibly talented.

Another reason this song is awesome is the fact that it’s apparently the product of two completely different songs that were somehow recorded as one. We start out sweetly proclaiming that children are important and beautiful. Aww, they totally are. And then, without warning, she gets all ramped up and starts yelling about how you can’t take her dignity, no, you absolutely cannot, despite your best effort SHE WILL NOT LET YOU. At this point, you almost feel like you did something wrong and should maybe apologize, because you probably accidentally implied that you were going to take her dignity, and now things are kind of awkward between you. I liken this to having a nice conversation with a friend of a friend of a friend at a party or wedding reception or something, and then suddenly they want you to come to their church and see what they’re all about. Holy shit. Has this happened to you? I never have a clever exit strategy, either. It’s always something like, “Oh, THERE are the olives!” and an inexplicable sprint in the opposite direction.

But back to the song. We go from talking about children to getting pretty upset. And then? THEN?

She sings the song again. She straight up SINGS THE SAME SONG TWICE. Was anyone cooler than Whitney Houston? I don’t know of this sort of lyrical revolution happening before or since. And don’t you love how we all just accepted it? Oh yeah, this is the part where she sings the song again. You know, if I’m at work giving a report on a kid, and I run out of stuff to say and everyone’s still looking at me, do I just start over, verbatim, shushing everyone who tries to say, “Red, you just told us all of this two minutes ago?” No, I don’t. Because I am not even one iota as ballsy as Whitney Houston was.

Also, when I was younger, I used to quote the song to sketchy dudes in bars who asked me how I got into education. When I’d say, “I like to let children’s laughter remind us how we used to be,” and they’d say something like, “That is so true!” and buy me a Bud Light, that was just the best. For more about my 20s, read the archives.

So anyway, to sum up, I like terrible soft rock from the 80s. I like good music too, but I seriously love the horrific, absurd, contrived, ridiculous, pandering, embarrassing, not even well-written ballads in this particular genre. For awhile…

Suckas! Don’t you take my dignity!

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Boss got me an iPad. And the angels sang.

I was a little ambivalent at first, after hearing all the hype about Yet Another Thing With Bells And Whistles, the possible redundancy (MacBook is too big, iPhone is too small, and the third porridge was just right?), and the awkward size (do I carry it in my bag? In the rain? Do you do it on a train?). Not to mention the unfortunate Kotex connotations.

But, sure enough, iUnderestimated the magical mind control that is Apple, and once this thing is in your hands you don’t know how you lived without it for so long and then no no I’m listening to you I can listen and type at the same time there’s actually an app for that wait come on man I need it what do you mean 10% battery remaining DEAR GOD I NEED MORE TIME. Heroin, essentially, peddled on a virtual street corner by Steve Jobs, bundled up in a sleek, sexy, smug little package that’s really more like a candy wrapper than a carrying case and have I mentioned that we’re in love and registered at Crate and Barrel?

The iPad also makes you say crazy shit like, “Look at this Shakespeare app! It’s free! And it has all his plays! I can read any of his PLAYS anytime for FREE!” when you vaguely recall using the enormous volume of his plays as a makeshift iron in college, and besides, hasn’t that ramby, tangled Old English secretly kinda pissed you off since high school? Or, “Look at my Supermarket Mania app! You stock the shelves and pick up trash and if you’re slow the customers get MAD!” when in real life sometimes making a quick post-work and pre-taco night stop at Shaw’s seems completely exhausting. How things that sound like an absolute nightmare in real life make for giddily fun games, I’ll never understand. (I’m looking at you, Frontierville players. I’m pretty sure the actual frontier was sorta exhausting. Also, those bonnets.)

So they organized a training for the havers of the iPads in my district, which Boss attended. While our relationship has been mostly good, she’s usually only around for dire situations as opposed to day to day stuff, so we’re sort of conditioned to fear her, or at least associate her with chaos and duress. It’s not even entirely her fault, since the gist of her job is to run around putting out fires. (No, I’m not a firefighter. You’re so literal. But pretty. I’ll excuse it this one time.)

So, seeing Boss triggers a bit of the fight or flight response, but I tried my best to squelch that this particular day. It should’ve been an endless day in a stuffy room because that’s what all trainings held by every company since the beginning of time are required by law to be, but it was actually very interesting, bordering on damn near inspiring, because one of the Apple guys came out to get us all fired up.

Toward the end of the training, the Inspirational Apple Man paired us up to do a quick project. I was matched up with Boss because of course I was. As far as I know, this is a woman who communicates in questions that contain two words at the absolute most (“Goals met? Making progress?”) so I wasn’t sure how an actual conversation with, you know, sentences and prepositions would play out.

The directions for the longest 20 minutes of my life were to imagine that we had to assemble an exhibit for a zoo animal, the purpose basically to illustrate that we can use the iPad for many a purpose: pictures, media, text-to-speak, oh my. Boss and I chose a monkey for our zoo animal. Inspirational Apple Man said that wasn’t specific enough, and Boss narrowed it to white monkey. Okay, sure.

We turned toward each other, me with a hesitant smile, her with the unblinking eye of evil, and I suggested that we start by googling our animal and progress from there. I typed in “white monkey,” expecting:

And saw…well. See for yourself. The third hit, specifically.

All right, Urban Dictionary. First? Big fan. I’ve learned so much from you. But…BUT. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. While I appreciate efficiency in all its forms, and while I do typically prefer curiously named sex acts to be explained to me in extensive detail, preferably involving Power Point, in this particular situation I would have been MORE than happy to have had to click on your site to get that helpful nugget of information, rather than have it pop right up on the screen.

But no. There it was. THERE IT GODDAMN WAS.

Of course Boss saw it. When something like that is on your screen, who would bother to read about white monkey tea, apparently a Chinese delicacy?

There was a beat, during which I had a nervous breakdown. She said, “Good Catholic girls don’t talk about things like that.” I wanted to reply that even dirty chicks don’t usually talk about that, but why split hairs.

Instead I said, “Um. Why don’t I try googling white monkey at the zoo?” which had much more churchgoer-friendly results.

And shortly after that I used my iPad to spell check my resume, ultimately proving the point that there really isn’t anything that little piece of technological wizardry can’t do. Aside from help you hold onto your job and dignity, of course.

Don’t Drink The Kool-Aid

I’ve finally found my way to Curb Your Enthusiasm, and people, it’s true love. I heart Larry David so much I want to doodle his name all over my Trapper Keeper. I think I could be entertained listening to him read the Gideon Bible.

No offense, Gideons. But you do just give your gospel away for free in hotel room drawers. Maybe if you made me work for it a bit, you know? I don’t even have to buy you a drink first. You’re kind of like the hooker of religions, if you think about it. You’re totally a forty six year old wearing leather and too much eyeliner waiting in the lobby.

So, yeah. The beauty of Larry David’s character is that he’s well-intentioned but always ends up in awkward situations and then exacerbates the awkward. Not unlike SOMEONE ELSE YOU KNOW. Ahem. Roll tape.

I’m redoing my kitchen. And by “I’m” I mean random collections of sweaty men. Usually I’m not home when the magic happens, but this week I’m on school vacation. Actually, there was an electrician here yesterday swearing up a blue streak when I happened to walk downstairs. I walked out of my bedroom and froze when I heard him ranting; it’s a discombobulating thing to hear a stranger pitching a fit in your front hall. Five seconds after “fuck balls” was coming out of his mouth he was apologizing profusely “for using profanity like that in front of an angel.” Okay then.

So anyway, granite, new cabinets, new appliances. I basically waited until everything in my kitchen was broken or 1,000 years old before taking the plunge. And hey, we all have to do our part to support the economy. The carpenter is the one in charge of everything, and he does awesome work. This week I’ve been bringing him Dunkacinnos and promising not to touch his power tools.

The other day I was eating lunch with him. He held up his energy drink so I could see it and said, “Hey, have you tried these?”

“Mmm, no…I think there’s some Red Bulls in the fridge, though.”

“These are MUCH better than Red Bull. They’re not too sugary. They give you a really natural energy boost. There’s no crash afterwards. They have all these vitamins. They’re really healthy. And they taste really good.”

“Ha, what, do you work for them?” Um, yeah, turns out HE DOES. He sells these random energy drinks on the side. And so began him working references to free radicals and antioxidants into totally unrelated conversations in painfully obvious ways.

I was escaping yesterday when he stopped to show me what he’d put in my fridge. It looks like a bottle of red wine and retails for the totally reasonable $37. If I have that amount of money to spend on an energy supplement, it’s going to be crystal meth, am I right? Can I get a what what?

“Drink about two ounces,” he tells me. I nod as if I understand how much two ounces is. And when I get back home after he’s left, I put a little in a cup. It looks like purple sludge. It tastes like purple sludge. I look through my fridge at what I can add to it (Grey Goose? I’m on vacation, people!) and settle on Sprite Zero.

No dice. The magical acai berry It still tastes like grape-flavored ass. And it’d be easier to avoid the sales pitch if the juice salesman wasn’t camped out in my kitchen as I type this.


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