Monthly Archives: April 2013

Oh, Fork You

Occasionally, I like to take a break from regular blogging and do some product reviews.  And by product reviews, I mean eviscerate the inventors of anything in the Skymall Magazine and mock those who buy their products mercilessly.  There is simply so much shit out there that we just don’t need, and we keep coming up with more and more of it.  Back stretchers and garbage “systems” and blankets that are actually backwards robes and stupid shoes for animals; the list goes on and on.  So when I came across an article last week for the HAPIfork, I simply couldn’t stop myself from sharing it with all of you.

What is the HAPIfork, you ask?  I’ll tell you.  The HAPIfork is a vibrating fork designed to tell you when you’re eating too fast.  It is apparently going to revolutionalize the way we eat, because eating too fast is the root cause of pretty much everything from acid reflux to obesity and beyond.  Need me to back up, you say?  Did you get stuck at the phrase VIBRATING FORK, like I did?  You read it right.  The HAPIfork, according to their website, “Records how long your meal lasts, records how much time elapses between each bite of food, records how many mouthfuls of food you consume, vibrates with flashing lights when you are eating too fast, and includes a USB port and is Bluetooth capable,” so you can upload your data and track your progress, you food scarfing monster.

So you’re pretty much using the vibrating, light-up version of a shock collar to feed yourself.  If you are eating too fast, HAPIfork tells you.  If you eat too fast a couple days in a row, HAPIfork tracks your lack of progress via an app you can upload to your smartphone.  If you eat at what HAPIfork considers a normal pace, HAPIfork acts like a regular fork instead of acting like a sex toy while you’re trying to eat dinner.  How does the journal read, I wonder?  Day One: You ate like a cow.  Stop it.  Day Two:  Slightly less like a cow, but still way too fast.  Day Three: Can’t. Stop. The Buzzing.  Day Four: Congratulations!  You ate like a “normal” person!  Maybe next week we’ll give you one of those potties that lights up when you make your pee-pee in it!

The science behind HAPIfork makes sense.  If you eat slowly, it gives your brain time to realize that you’re getting full.  I get that.  So does anyone else who has ever attended a Weight Watchers meeting or, I don’t know, taken high school biology.  But personally – and I suspect I’m not alone – I didn’t get overweight because I didn’t understand that I was getting full.  I got overweight because I really fucking like to eat.  Being full has nothing to do with it.  It has a lot more to do with the fact that, ahem, there’s-still-more-macaroni-and-cheese-and-I-know-it’s-there-and-what-if-it’s-the-last-time-I-ever-get-to-eat-macaroni-and-cheese-I’ll-be-so-fucking-mad-if-I-die-tomorrow-and-there’s-half-a-pan-of-it-left-and-my-last-thought-is-DAMMIT-I-should-have-eaten-that.

Also, I’m not a big fan of the shame-based tactic to try and lose weight.  On one hand, I guess it could work; after all, how do you explain that you have so little self-control that you essentially need a fork with training wheels?  But on the other, if I want to be ashamed of the baked potato soup-a-palooza that was this winter, I will simply go to the beach in my swimskort that I like to pretend hides my thighs and watch the skinny bitches that have the confidence to run in a bathing suit play beach volleyball.  (Seriously?  How does that work?  I suck at volleyball fully clothed.  In a bathing suit, especially my swimskort which can be slightly restricting once wet, I would probably knock myself unconscious when my boobs hit me in the face and end up face down in the sand and on YouTube in one of those fail blog videos.)  (Which is one of my biggest nightmares, by the way, right after getting caught on the jumbotron at a baseball game right as I take a bite of hot dog.)

This might sound self-depreciating, and it is.  In reality, I rock that swimskort and have a blast at the beach several times a year. It doesn’t hurt that we bring a bottle of rum with us, but that’s besides the point.  The point is that I’m able to have fun despite the size of my ass.  I play catch and go underwater and get sand in unmentionable places and laugh all day with my husband and friends.  And you know what?  I’ve yet to notice anyone making fun of me.  Because they’re too busy laughing and playing catch and enjoying the day with their own family and friends.  The last thing I need is to pull out a vibrating, glowing fork that records and broadcasts my eating habits to the general public.

I so don’t want an app for that.

My utensils?  Don't need a USB port.

My utensils? Don’t need a USB port.

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Looking For the Helpers

Like so many others yesterday, I watched the tragedy in Boston unfold on the news – standing with co-workers in the lunchroom, mouths covered in horror, heads shaking in disgust, eyes tearing up in sadness at yet more lives lost and damaged beyond repair.  The act of one person ruining the lives and hopes and dreams of so many.  What was supposed to be a triumphant celebration of achievement, a joyous occasion of accomplishment shattered by unspeakable violence.  More questions of what can we do, more fear of where we can go, and more disgust at the actions of cowards.  Our country mourns yet again; this time with another city, with another demographic, over another type of violence.

I think any writer with a modicum of a platform, no matter how small it may be, would be remiss in not addressing this attack on some level.  The part I need to address is hope.  Yes, hope.  Since the advent of social media, anyone with access to the internet can voice their opinion publicly, can share their thoughts and feelings and words.  And so very much of what I saw on Facebook and Twitter yesterday was, for the first time in a long time, simply support.  From tweets simply reading, “My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in the tragedy in Boston,” to statuses sharing from all over the world, “NY Loves Boston,” “Dublin’s Heart is With Boston,” to pictures of the Boston skyline, to entire articles depicting the emergency personnel and civilians alike running toward the injured instead of away from the chaos.

The helpers.  The picture and words I saw the most yesterday were that of the beloved Mr. Rogers, who said this, “Always look for the helpers.”  What phenomenal advice.  Look for the helpers.  Look for the ones who are doing what they can to make a horrible event bearable.  There were so many yesterday. The exhausted runners who should have been celebrating the culmination of years of hard work with an ice bath and a chair continuing to move, to push wheelchairs and help people up and give blood.  The people of the city of Boston opening their homes and hearts to those stranded in a strange city that had just been attacked, no questions asked.  The restaurant owners giving out free meals without regard to their bottom line.  Google setting up a site to help frantic family members find their loved ones.  The emergency personnel; the doctors and nurses and fireman and police and EMT’s and servicemen who have dedicated their lives to helping being put to the ultimate test and stepping up once again.  The list goes on and on.

Smartphones make it almost frighteningly easy to immediately share pictures and videos without censure; many of us saw some raw video footage of people with limbs blown off, puddles of blood, and tearful horror within minutes of the explosions.  But so much of what I saw yesterday gave me hope.  These videos were unscripted; this was real life and real reactions, and so much of it showed helpers.  These are real people.  This is the real world we live in.  In the midst of explosions and terror and unknown, these were real people that did everything they could to help.  And that is what our country is made up of.  Helpers.  We’ve shown it over and over and over again, in New York and Pennsylvania on that dark day in 2001, in Newtown just before Christmas, in Boston yesterday, and countless other times; there has always been more helpers than evil. There has always been more love than hate.  We just need to remember it.

There’s many who will say I’m being naive, that I’m trying to find the rose-colored lenses for a pair of broken glasses.  I’m okay with that.  Because I’m right.  I may not always remember it, but we’re surrounded by helpers.  Try using my rose-colored glasses – you’ll see it too.  Instead of the sadness of the homeless person on the corner, you’ll see the helper who drops a quarter in his cup.  Instead of the frustration of a crowded bus, you’ll see the helper give up his seat for a tired mom.  Instead of anger at being stuck in a long line, you’ll see the helper patiently counting out change for the elderly person at the front.  And instead of pure evil in a time of terror, you’ll see the helper in not only the people in Boston that physically risked themselves, but in the millions of us around the world who did what little we could to show our support.  To help.

Mr. Rogers was a smart man.  Always, always look for the helpers.  They’ll be there.

We're with you, Boston.  Kudos to all of your helpers.

We’re with you, Boston. Kudos to all of your helpers.

Lessons Learned

I’m not sure about all of you, but this whole rainy/wet/dreary/no sunshine all week weather we’re having is kind of making me want to take a hostage and make them fly me to anywhere that’s dry and bright.  As I’m a fan of self-diagnosing disorders – every time I hurt, I’m pretty sure I have fibromyalgia – I’ve decided I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and require sunshine at least every 72 hours.  Otherwise, normal, everyday irritations take on giant proportions.  You know that feeling?  You’re slightly irritated, then something else minor happens like your pen running out of ink and all of a sudden you’re like the fucking Hulk, wanting to smash everything in sight.

That being said, I decided a Friday Blast Off of things that made me crazy this week would probably be a little self serving and more than likely be an incoherent, profanity filled rant.  Instead, I put together a small list of things I’ve learned this week.  They’re nothing life-changing, but hopefully my experience will help to serve you well in the future.

  • Don’t go to Sephora in a hoodie and jeans.  The salespeople will either think you’re trying to rob the place or descend on you like vultures, assuming you are there for a life-changing makeover and your desperate ass will be grateful for their helpful tips.  (Yes, I know I could use an eyebrow wax, thank you, Skyie.  Is that seriously your name??  How do you say it?)
  • Rain gear is never where you need it.  I have boots, I have a raincoat, and I have an umbrella.  (Well, I had a raincoat.  My stupid Potato cat decided to take out his frustration with me buying cheap cat food by pissing on it, so now I’m down one piece of rain gear.)  But Tuesday, I did have a raincoat.  However, all of these things were snug and dry in my office, while I walked through a torrential downpour Wednesday morning in gym shoes and a cotton cardigan because it was the only thing I had with a hood.  Lesson?  Keep two sets of rain gear.  One at work, one at home.  When they both end up in the same place, BRING ONE SET HOME.
  • The floors at any CTA facility will be permanently wet and slippery as soon as the first raindrop falls.  Proceed with caution.  Very few things incite a panic attack than that split second when you slip atop the stairs, an image of your smiling face on the front page of the newspaper under the headline, “CLUMSY GIRL WIPES OUT COMMUTERS DURING FALL DOWN STAIRS,” flashing before your eyes.
  • Speaking of the CTA, you’d be wise to remember that the bus drivers don’t care that you’re wet and trying to stay dry in the shelter.  They will cruise through that puddle, splashing you head to toe with dirty, filthy water before they stop the bus.  That’s why the busses smell so bad.  Another note?  The bus floors are also slippery.  Grab hold of something immediately upon entering said bus if you’d like to keep your pants clean.
  • Last but not least, if you make the copycat recipe of Red Lobster’s Cheddar Biscuits, keep in mind two things.  1)  There’s a reason people go to Red Lobster.  It’s the fucking biscuits.  They’re amazing.  If you are the type of person with little self control, having twelve of them within grabbin’ distance is probably a bad idea.  2) They have a lot of garlic.  Your co-workers probably don’t want you to eat them for breakfast.

Happy Friday!!  Everyone have a great weekend!!!

Rain, rain, go away, I hate you!

Rain, rain, go away, I hate you!

 

How We Survived Childhood in the 80s

Like approximately 600,000 or so people have this week, I recently came across the hilarious “Reasons My Son is Crying” on Tumblr.  If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a picture blog written by the dad of a 21-month old, who, like every other 21-month old I’ve ever known, cries for no particular reason.  His dad, instead of sticking his head (or the baby) in the oven, documents all of the silly reasons that his son is crying.  They include such gems as “The milk isn’t juice,” and “I wouldn’t let him drown in this pond.”  Great stuff, and I imagine if you’re a parent who lives with a toddler, you’ll find it even funnier.  I cracked up looking through it, and then made the mistake of scrolling through some of the comments.  I was astounded to see comments stating this man was a horrible father, that he was humiliating his poor child, and a comment from one woman – whom I have to assume is one of those crazy people that tries to REASON with her toddler – in which she diagnosed the child with a sinus infection who needed his Eustachean tubes removed.  What in the fuck?

It got me thinking about that whole helicopter parent mentality – parents who would like to put their child in a bubble, shielding them from any and all disappointment, pain, and fear until they’re like 21.  At which point they will not have the capability to understand that not everyone is like their mommy; sometimes really bad shit happens and it hurts like hell.  But as I don’t have the experience or fortitude to discuss parenting strategies, I instead started thinking of the things we did as kids that our parents would probably be arrested for should they try them in the no-dodgeball playing, everyone-gets-a-trophy present that we live in.  Here’s a few things we all survived.

The Backyard

My next door neighbors have little kids.  They have a perfectly even yard, an entirely plastic playset, complete with plastic bats and balls, plastic cup holders for their water bottles, a shaded area for those hot days, and perfectly even steps leading up to the (plastic) slide, which they climb up in their little plastic Crocs so their feet don’t get burned.  You know what was in my backyard?  A tire swing made out of an actual tire and rope,  a trampoline, and a slip and slide set up on a slope which was secured at the end with bricks because my mom lost the (metal) stakes that went with it.  And a hose.   We used to make a game of pushing someone as hard as we could on the tire swing to bounce them off of the tree.  And then we would run around, playing running bases and kick the can in our bare feet. We would sit on the edge of the trampoline, with our legs dangling between the (metal) springs, waiting our turn to jump, and sometimes, someone would fall off.  Occasionally, if you were unlucky enough to be waiting while I was jumping, you got knocked off while I attempted a backflip and then overcorrected when I had a panic attack because HELLO? Even then I knew I wasn’t destined to be a gymnast.  Then, when someone inevitably ended up bleeding, we washed down their skinned knee or toe or face with the hose and right after took a big drink from it.  And you know what?  We didn’t die.  And it was fucking AWESOME.

Roller Skates

My next-door neighbors had a circular driveway, and my friend Becca and I used to fancy ourselves famous roller skaters, careening around the driveway, coordinating routines that included jumps and spins.  The thing is – roller skates?  Make no sense.  They especially didn’t make sense for me. Let’s strap four wheels to this obviously uncoordinated child’s feet and put a rubber stopper on the FRONT of the shoe, so every time she tries to stop, it will be immediate and painful.  As we clearly had no helmets or wrist guards or shin guards or safety suits that kids today have, learning to stop properly on cement was imperative to our being discovered as world-class skaters.  Being a spaz, I never quite grasped it.  I could gain speed like no one’s business, I could even pull off a little jump and twirl but come to the end of my routine?  I was on the ground, picking cement out of my palms, crushed in my disappointment of ruining yet another stellar performance.  You know what I did?  I didn’t stop roller skating.  I didn’t learn to use those stupid rubber stoppers.   I knew my limitations, and stopping gracefully wasn’t happening, no matter how hard I tried.  Instead, I used my imagination, and choreographed the end of MY routine to end in the grass.  Sure, sometimes I tripped over the sprinkler head or a rock, and yeah, there were those few times I hit the tree in the middle of the yard.  But I didn’t stop roller skating.  And while I’d love to chalk this up to my grim determination, it was more likely because we weren’t allowed to play inside when it was nice out and I’d be damned if I was going to let her have all the fun just because I couldn’t figure out shoes with wheels.

The Playground

Have you seen a playground recently?  It’s all soft mulch and rounded edges and plastic that doesn’t get hot and the only possible way to hurt yourself would be to climb to the highest point and try to bungee jump off of it, headfirst, without using any calculations.  Or a bungee cord.  Do you guys remember the park when we were kids?  The park at the end of our block – which we got to go to without parental supervision – was possibly the most dangerous place in the world for an eight-year old outside of a war-torn country.  First of all, the entire thing was rocks.  Not mulch, not grass, but rocks.  Small rocks, to be sure, but still – ROCKS.  Except for the spot where you could run around the merry go round, which was cement.  I still have a scar on my leg from one time when I was pushing someone on it and trying to run with it and fell down, but being the spaz I was, didn’t have the the wherewithal to LET GO of the bar and instead held on for dear life as the wheel of death dragged me around and around and around on the concrete, which just so happened to have broken glass on it.  That?  Hurt.  But the merry go round had nothing on the most dangerous piece of equipment at the park, which was clearly the slide.  Those of you younger folks whose asses have only slid down plastic slides can’t possibly understand the pain of a slide in the eighties.   Because you have never had the pleasure of having your bare legs stuck to a white hot piece of metal that’s been sitting in the sun all summer after you made the foolish attempt to go down it in shorts.  The slide at our park didn’t even have stairs; it had metal chain ladders on either side and a single bar on the back that the more coordinated children in the group could climb up from.  And you know what we used to do?  Play King of the Hill.  Which, for those of you nineties kids, basically means one person stands at the top of the slide on the platform, and attempts to KNOCK EVERYONE INTO THE ROCKS BELOW as they try to climb up from every direction.  Super fun game.  Amazingly enough – I don’t even recall an emergency room visit.  “Oh, you’re fine.  Let’s spray the shit out of those bleeding hands with Bactine.  Rinse it off with the hose first, you’ll be fine tomorrow.”  And guess what?  We were.

Gym Class

Admittedly, I haven’t been to a grade school gym class recently, but I’m going to go ahead and guess that’s it’s a pretty different picture than last time I was involved in one.  First of all, I know there’s no dodgeball anymore.  Which is ludicrous.   If the arguments were simply safety related, that makes sense.  However, it seems to me that people are more concerned with their kids’ feelings being hurt, “Oh, poor Connor isn’t that athletic, it isn’t fair to him!  The other kids pick him last and gang up to get him out first!”  Or course they do!  You always go for the weakest link!  I know, I was one!  You know what happens?  One of two things: you either learn to duck, which will serve you well later in life, or you get the fucking wind knocked out of you.  And believe me, if you get the wind knocked out of you, you learn to duck faster next time.  You could learn a lot from gym class.  When I was in fourth grade, we were playing hockey with these giant plastic sticks and I got hit so hard in the face that the boy that hit me started to cry.  You know what I learned?  Playing hockey with boys hurts, there’s a reason high sticking is a penalty, and if you don’t cry after getting hit in the face with a hockey stick, fourth graders think you’re cool.  One time, my sister ran smack into the wall during a heated game of Army/Navy and broke her finger.  (Apparently, she learned how to stop from her big sister.)  And despite the fact that her finger was the size of a sausage, the gym teacher told her it wasn’t broken and she went back to her classroom.  Were my parents pissed?  Probably.  Did they sue, as I have to imagine a lot of parents today would?  Not so much.  They probably told her to work on stopping BEFORE she ran into the wall with her hands out and put a splint on her finger.

I’m not against implementing some safety precautions that make sense.  Mulch instead of rocks?  Yes.  Games where everyone wins just so no one gets their feelings hurt?  No.  It’s been said before and I’ll say it again – if kids are given a trophy every time they try something, they are going to be super disappointed when they grow up and have to learn as adults that a lot of the time, your best isn’t good enough.  Life’s hard and it’s messy and it hurts and sometimes you fall down and sometimes you get laughed at. There’s always going to be a bully or a mean girl or a kid with a hockey stick.  Things will break and you’ll get sick and you’re not always going to win.  But the sooner you know this, the more you appreciate your victories.

Believe me.  I had glasses, braces, AND a perm.  If I survived middle school, so will everyone.

We didn't get any signs.  You live, you learn.

We didn’t get any signs. You live, you learn.

Bucket List for the Insane

A friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook page, “Skydiving!!!  One more thing to mark off the Bucket List!”  and for some reason, it stuck with me.  I love the whole idea of a Bucket List.  Things to do before you die, things to strive for,  places to go.  It’s a great idea.  It gives us a sense of purpose; it helps us give our lofty dreams some sort of structure.   I started thinking, “Hmm, what would be on my Bucket List?”  I did some Googling – is that a word?  It should be – and stalked some other people’s lists and oh, holy baby Jesus, you people have some GOALS.  Hiking Everest and ziplining in the Everglades and saving starving children and starting charities – amazing.  My list?  Not quite so lofty.  And even as I wrote mine down, my mind immediately came up with 400 reasons of why that particular idea was the dumbest one I’d ever had.

But I’m not giving up.  It’s my Bucket List and I can do with it what I want.  So I still wrote out my list, and then let the rational part of my brain yell at the hopeful, creative side.  The result is that now I think maybe not everyone needs to make a Bucket List and some of us should probably just be happy for every day that goes by in which we don’t get hit by a bus or shit on by a pigeon.

Courtney’s (Sort Of) Bucket List

Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

  • Thought: I love cats!  I have time! Ever since my stupid Potato cat went missing and I visited every shelter in the south suburbs looking for him, my heart breaking at these poor kitties in cages, I have wanted to volunteer and spend time loving on these neglected animals.
  • Counter Thought: Are you even serious right now?  First of all, at that one shelter you went to looking for that idiot cat, there was a fucking PIG there that had just had babies.  Can you see yourself caring for a PIG, Courtney?  Think about it.  Also, remember that one time you went to the pet store when you had PMS and almost came home with an ugly dog, even though you don’t even like dogs all that much?  Let me paint you a picture of how this ends – you, fourteen cats, and a piglet.  Alone.

See the Northern Lights

  • Thought: That would be so amazing to see.  I hear Alaska is a great place to see them – I could kill two birds with one stone!  I mean, who ever goes to see Alaska?  Plus I’d see the amazing lights!
  • Counter Thought: You know what else is in Alaska?  A raging drinking problem.  And darkness.  Given your love of beer and the fact that not seeing sunlight for more than 48 hours makes you homicidal – this is not the place for you.  Any lights you see are likely going to be hallucinations.  Why don’t you try for an eclipse or super moon here in your home state, yeah?  We’ll get you a telescope or something.

Live in a Continuously Organized, Orderly Space In Which the Corners of Baseboards are Always Clean

  • Thought: This isn’t impossible.  My mom does it.  My sister does it.  It’s likely just a simple system – a routine I need to get into.  I bet if I do a complete overhaul, I can keep everything spic-and-span and never have a heart-stopping panic attack again when someone drops by unexpectedly!
  • Counter Thought:  Really?  It’s just a routine you haven’t quite picked up in the past 20 years?  Sure.  I wasn’t going to do this, but let me remind you of what happened last week.  Remember? DO YOU??  You got a new towel off of the shelf and then had to take a whole new shower after using it because it was covered in cat hair.  Why don’t you concentrate on never, EVER letting that happen again before you start scrubbing baseboards with a toothbrush.

Do One of Those Walks/Bike Rides For Charity

  • Thought:  Why not?  I could help people and get exercise all in one.  It looks like such a rah-rah good time, and for such a good cause!
  • Counter Thought: Are you even fucking kidding me right now?  You bribe people on a weekly basis to go places for you so you don’t have to walk up your stairs more than twice a day.  Also, not to be the bearer of bad news, but giving up cigarettes did not magically take 50 pounds off of your frame, give you the gift of balance, or shrink your giant head so that it will fit in a normal-sized bike helmet.  This one’s a super nice idea, but let’s keep it on your level.  Try a nice short walk at a local high school – I know you, you’re going to sign up for that 3 Day Walk and you know damn well you don’t like to do ANYTHING for more than 45 minutes at a time and you’re simply setting yourself up for disappointment.

There was more, but one can only imagine what my subconscious revolted with when the word “Skydiving” crossed my mind, so I had to stop because I was hurting my own feelings.  Regardless, I still think it’s a good list and am standing by it.  What’s on yours?

It's Still a Bucket

It’s Still a Bucket