the new neighbors

We live in what I think of as the rural equivalent of an apartment complex. Instead of one big building with lots of units stacked on top of each other, there are several smaller buildings with two units each, plus one single unit in a stand-alone house with a garage (which, those people are clearly just showing off). The way our building is set up, there’s an apartment in each end and a maybe ten foot wide covered entryway in between that we share.

Over the two years we’ve been here, we’ve seen a few neighbors come and go in the unit we share the entryway with. There was the suspected tweaker, there was my boss from my high school job at the local general store (that was…awkward. Especially during his poker nights when a giant cloud of weed smoke would come rolling out his front door every time it was opened. Not that I have the slightest problem with people smoking weed…it just seems odd when it’s someone who was an authority figure in your young adult life, you know? It’s kind of like if you happened upon your high school principle or soccer coach packing a fat bowl. Part of your brain is like ‘coooool’ while the other part is like ‘wait, WHAT?’), and there was the last guy who just moved out at the end of February. We’ll call him D.

D was basically the perfect neighbor (at least, for us): he was a trucker so he was often gone for a week or more at a time. He was also quite hard of hearing, so even when he WAS home, he wasn’t bothered by our yappy dog, my husband’s propensity to sing along to music while he walks said yappy dog, or my propensity to talk to the neighborhood wildlife. He happened to also be a very nice guy, what little we knew of him, so we were sad to see him go.

The new neighbors moved in last weekend. Aside from a mysterious pile of cat vomit that materialized next to our welcome mat (which I strategically ignored until it disappeared about 24 hours later.WIN!) the day they moved in, and the fact that the female inhabitant smokes in our shared entryway, they’ve given me nothing to complain about.

Except…and I know how batshit crazy this is going to sound, but that’s never stopped me before…

…they leave their outside light on. Like, ALL the time. 24 hours a day.

I didn’t think much of it at first because they were in the process of moving and that’s stressful, you know? Half your shit is at one place, half is somewhere else, everything’s in boxes and all you want is to cook a grilled cheese but you have no cheese and you can’t find the right pan and the cat hates the new apartment so he’s spite-vomiting in inopportune places. I totally get it.

After three days, though…it seems like you should have probably bought some cheese. You should have probably put the pans away and found a place for all your shoes and gotten the cable hooked up and hung the curtains. You should probably be better acquainted with the location of light switches. You can probably remember to shut the outside light off, if not when you go to bed at night, then certainly when you get up in the morning and the sun is shining.

And yes, I know, I’m an asshole because I’m not considering that maybe one of them works odd hours or maybe they came from a place where shit would get stolen or vandalized if people thought you weren’t home or any number of other reasons why they might choose to leave the light on. Also, yes, it’s their electric bill not mine, so what the hell should I care whether they leave the light on or not.

You’re not wrong. Just for the record. I’m not saying you are.

But it still fucking bothers me. It makes my god damned teeth itch.

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Exhibit A, taken in broad daylight. Why wouldn’t you shut it off? JUST SHUT IT OFF. OMG, my teeth. I can’t even.

your Danzig is drooping…

Walking the dog is usually a business-like affair for me. I want to get it done and over with as quickly as possible so that I can get back to whatever it was I was doing (aka: sitting on the couch). Preparation is minimal: I put Junior’s harness on him, I step into whatever shoes require the least amount of effort to wear, and if it’s especially cold I’ll put a coat on. We probably average about 90 seconds between “come on, it’s walkies time” to stepping out the door, and a good 45 of that is trying to get Junie to hold still so that I can harness him up.

My husband, on the other hand, has a rather involved process which centers chiefly on picking what music he’s going to listen to. He’ll tell the dog it’s time to go out, then pick up his phone and spend five minutes scrolling through Pandora looking for inspiration. The funny part is that he almost invariably ends up picking one of like five songs. I know this because he always starts singing along as soon as the music starts. He walks around singing while he’s looking for his hat, gloves, coat, boots, harness. He then finds the dog, puts the harness on him and away they go, singing all the while.
Last night’s walkies selection happened to be ‘Mother’ by Danzig. Mark started out humming the opening guitar riff, then broke into the first verse:

     “Mother…Tell your children not to walk my way / Tell your children not to hear my words/ What they mean / What they say / Mother…”

I tend to sing along to whatever he’s singing, except that I sing along in my default silly voice, which is an exaggerated version of Droopy Dog. Junior happened to be on my lap when this whole thing started, so I grabbed his front legs and started waving them around, forcing him to do interpretive dance accompaniment to my Droopy Dog cover of Danzig. Mark was around the corner in the kitchen and couldn’t see or hear any of this, mind you. Junior eventually got fed up of my puppet-master act and broke free. He ran out to the kitchen to be harnessed and walked while I was reduced to a helpless giggle fit over the Droopy Dog version of “…and if you wanna find hell with me / I can show you what it’s like / til you’re bleeding”.
I’m pretty sure Glenn Danzig would NOT approve.
Also, side-note: I totally thought Glenn Danzig was dead until this morning when I Googled him. That is in fact WHY I Googled him. I was like “how long has he been dead, anyway?” TRICK QUESTION, apparently. Sorry, Glenn Danzig! For…well, everything really.
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random word-like sounds and a poorly rendered owl

Guys, I bought a sweater in my regular size online last week and when I put it on this morning it was ENORMOUS, and it’s certainly not like I’ve shrunk any so I’m kind of thinking either someone was asleep at the wheel when they cut the pieces out for this sweater, or the person writing up the descriptions on the website forgot a crucial part about how “this sweater is cut extremely generous, to the point where the sleeves will completely cover your hands and you’ll kind of wonder if your arms shrunk a couple inches in the night, and also the bottom of it will hit halfway down your thigh even if you’re five foot ten. If you’re a shorty, you can wear this sweater as a full-on dress”.

I’m not complaining. It’s super soft and comfy and I actually really like the longer sleeves because I prefer to be able to hide my hands and the shanks that I may or may not be holding at any time. That’s not true, I don’t even have a shank, but still. I prefer my hands to remain as enigmatic as possible. If you don’t KNOW I don’t have a shank, you might be slightly less inclined to mess with me. In theory.

Anyway, what’s new? I know I was quiet for most of November. Originally it was because I was raring to go on my very first NaNoWriMo project. Then we took a road trip to Philly (which was mostly super fun), and I came back with the plague just as the election was happening. Then I spent a couple weeks basically wanting to just run away to Tazmania and pretend I’ve never even heard of the United States (that’s still a lingering thing, to be fair). Then it was Thanksgiving and I was like “OMG PIE FOREVER”, except the pie never lasts for more than a couple days because I will eat it for every meal until it’s gone (notice I do NOT say “until I make myself ill”, because even that doesn’t usually stop me. There are no stomach aches in Pie Club). And basically that whooole time from right after we got back from Philly until now, I haven’t managed to even LOOK at my NaNoWriMo project. In the past I’d have beaten myself up for that, called myself a failure, thrown my hands up and wailed about how this is why I can’t have nice things and be a writer because JFC I can’t even write every day for a whole week straight let alone a whole month….but I’m not letting myself do that this time. I’m attempting to actually be kind to myself instead, to look back and say “Hey self, you were REALLY sick and then you were REALLY down in the dumps and then you went through your first official big holiday without your Nana around. That was all kind of rough and no one else is going to hold not sticking to NaNoWriMo against you, so you shouldn’t either.” And it’s…kind of working? I can’t say that I feel super OK with the whole thing, but I’m not actively beating myself up and that’s several steps in the right direction and I’ll take it.

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I also bought myself a set of watercolor pencils off Amazon because they were like 65% off for Black Friday. This weird derpy owl was the first thing I attempted to draw with them. I think his name might be Phil.

potato hole

A couple weekends ago Mark and I drove down to southern New Hampshire to attend a beer and chili festival with a group of friends. The beer and chili festival was exactly what the name implies: a festival in which you get to walk around trying many different beers and many different versions of chili. The chili was all you could eat, in fact, and was included in the price of admission. Chili = zero dollars in this scenario.

Remember that. It’s going to be relevant later.

When you first go into the festival they give you a sample glass and ten drink tickets, the idea being that each time you go to an exhibitor’s booth and get a sample of their beer, you give them one of your tickets. When you’re out of tickets, you’re ostensibly out of beer. Except…none of the exhibitors were actually taking tickets. Some of them had containers out to collect tickets, but not a single one of them were creating any kind of “you can’t have this beer until you give me a ticket” enforcement situations. So in essence, it was a no-holds-barred, beer-sampling free-for-all. With chili. FREE chili.

We entered the festival and proceeded to work our way around the small tents, sampling chili and beer. We got almost to the end of the lawn area where we had entered and I asked if it was time to perhaps circle back around to hit the tents we hadn’t visited in our first round. Our friends, who had been to this festival before, laughed and pointed down along a paved walkway at the end of the lawn which led to another, larger lawn with several GIANT tents set up on it. Turned out there were a lot more breweries exhibiting at the festival than we had realized there’d be. Three giant tents worth, in fact! Excited at the prospect of sampling many more beers, we made our way toward the giant tents.

It’s worth pointing out here that New Englanders are known as a thrifty lot. My people aren’t big into wasting things, especially food and drink. Thus, the concept of getting oh, say, a sample of beer, and only drinking a few sips before dumping the rest out is kind of foreign to me. Also, how would YOU feel if you were a brewer giving out samples of your wares only to watch people take just a few sips and then dump them out? You’d be offended, right? You might begin to question your chosen profession, even. You’d surely be hurt. I try to do my best not to hurt people if I can help it, so I was doing my level best to finish off each beer sample entirely before I’d go for the next one. Even if I didn’t particularly like the beer. Unsurprisingly, this resulted in me drinking a fair amount of beer on a stomach that only had a few sample-sized portions of chili in it.

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Ommegang Brewery’s Rosetta – it’s a lambic that tastes like sour cherries and heaven. And my heathen ass doesn’t even BELIEVE in heaven. A++, will buy.

So, we were there by the giant beer tents and my husband started talking about wanting more food. Beginning to feel the effects of all the beer samples I had been diligently finishing off for the last hour or so (mustn’t waste, after all), I agreed that food would be a smart move. We assessed our options. The chili tents were waaaaay off on the other end of the park where we first came in, but there were a couple of food trucks vending quite close to the end where we were.

“But the chili is FREE”, I said.

“But the guy selling sausages is CLOSE. Plus: we got cash on the way here for just such a situation. Plus: sausage,” Mark replied.

“Damn you and your flawless logic”, I grumbled, and off we went to the sausage truck (which is an inherently funny phrase, but don’t derail me).

There were a few people in line ahead of us so we got a good look at the wares as others got their orders. The choices were a disturbingly long grilled hotdog, a pretty normal-looking grilled sausage with or without grilled onions and peppers, and french fries. The purveyors didn’t have any signage displaying pricing, but it was kind of too late at that point because it was our turn at the counter.

Me: “Hi, how much are your hotdogs?”

Sausage Man: “Sausages and hotdogs are $8”

Me: “$8…does that include fries?”

SM: “Nope.”

Me: “Oh. How much are the fries?”

SM: “$6”

Me, trying not to snort at that absurdity: “Ok, we’ll take just a sausage please”.

We stepped back from the counter while the guy made the sausage and I turned to Mark with wide eyes.

“Six bucks for FRIES?!” I hissed. He made some malarky argument about captive audiences and hand-cut fries but I stopped hearing the words coming out of his mouth because, six bucks. For fries. When there were seventeen (at least!) types of chili like 500 feet away. FREE CHILI. ZERO. DOLLAR. CHILI. 

The guy gave us the sausage (hurrr), we ate it, I went back and told others of the outrageous pricing, then we all drank more beer and talked about more amusing subjects. A good time was had by all. (That whole story was really just background, so I don’t feel bad ending it abruptly.)

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My husband is shown here exhibiting the infinite patience for which he should be sainted. Note the slightly manic twinkle in my eyes. Or slightly drunk? Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. JOKES WITHIN JOKES, OMG.

Anyway. Fast-forward to last night.

(I wanted to put a gif here of the thing they do on Wayne’s World when they change scenes, but you think I could find that thing anywhere? NO. Fucking Internet. Why do I even bother?)

Wait, what?  Oh yes. Last night.

So last night Mark and I were running some errands and I was ranting about…I don’t even know, something…and at the end of the rant Mark pointed out that I was nearly as offended by that thing as I had been by the price of fries at the beer festival. Since the rant pump was already well-primed, that was all the nudge I needed to go off about those stupid fries.

“Six bucks for fries. THAT WAS INSANE. Do you know how much a 50 pound bag of potatoes costs? Like $10. MAYBE. And that’s RETAIL. If they were buying them through a wholesaler they were like half that. And it’s not even like there’s LABOR involved with making fries. With the sausages, I can kind of see the justification – you have to grill them, you have to slice and grill the onions and peppers, you have to put the sausage in the bun…there’s semi-skilled labor involved in that. But french fries? You dump potatoes into hot oil and you WALK AWAY for several minutes. You maybe go back and shake the basket halfway through cooking, but that’s it. There’s no labor. Nothing.”

Mark tried reason on me:  “Well, someone’s gotta cut the potatoes, at least.”

“NO THEY FUCKING DON’T. They put them through a fry cutter!  You set the potato on it, push the lever down, it forces the potato through a cutting grid, and VOILA, french fries. You don’t even have to PEEL the potatoes. The most you could argue is that they have to WASH the potatoes, but big fucking deal, how long does that take? Not $8 worth of time, that’s for damn sure.”

“Err, $6.”

“Huh?!”

“You said $8, but the fries were $6.”

I side-eyed him as best I could while also keeping the car on the road, because I was driving through this entire thing, it’s worth noting.

“Six dollars, eight dollars…I don’t fucking care. They were too damned expensive and I am deeply annoyed by it. So…so shove THAT in your $8 POTATO HOLE,” I spluttered.

Needless to say, the $8 potato hole was still being brought up this morning. I don’t even want to think about how long it’s gonna to take me to live that one down.

It’ll be longer than it takes to make a batch of french fries, though. I can guarantee you THAT much.

Order of the Perfect Avocado

A week or so ago, I had an avocado so perfect that I was compelled to take a picture of it for posterity.

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Mythic-level perfect avocado.

If you’re an avocado person, you get it. A regular person shopping for avocados will be satisfied to test a couple to make sure they’re not rock-hard or mushy before making their selection, but an avocado person will stand in front of the display and feel up so many avocados that it starts to get awkward. Other shoppers will openly look askance at us. Some of us may in fact be on the produce section staff watch-list because of the ardent attention we pay to the perpetual pile of olive green wonderment that is the avocado display.

A perfectly ripe avocado is rare enough, but finding a truly flawless one is a rarer beast indeed. Feeling up an avocado for ripeness is an art, but there’s plenty you CAN’T tell just from feeling and looking at an avocado:

  • has it been bashed around in transport?
  • have pinholes in the skin caused the dreaded grey-green oxidation in the flesh?
  • does it have those weird still-unripe spots where the flesh will continue to cling to the skin or the seed even though the rest of the flesh seems perfectly ripe?

You simply cannot know until you cut into it and see. That’s why it’s so exciting when you DO end up with a perfect one. They’re so few and far between that the perfect ones feel…miraculous. It’s what I imagine someone finding the image of Jesus charred onto their morning toast, or the face of the Virgin Mary outlined by the speckles on the skin of their banana might feel. Except, you know…somewhat less inclined to religious dogma.

Anyway.

I shared this picture of my miraculous avocado on Facebook and Twitter because I know I have a lot of similarly avocado-loving friends. In terms of “like” clicks, this picture outpaced basically EVERY OTHER picture I’ve EVER posted on Facebook, memes included.  On Twitter, someone actually downloaded the picture and set it as the background image on their phone.

This avocado has clearly spoken to people. LIKE A MIRACLE.

So, after speaking with several other avocado disciples this morning, I would like to announce the formation of the Order of the Perfect Avocado, dedicated to sharing miracles of avocado perfection for everyone to enjoy. If you have a shining example of avocado perfection that you’d like to share with the world, you can tag it as #APerfectAvocado on Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr. We’ll find it and feature it so that everyone can bask in the green glow.

deeply un-fleek

Last night I had a full-blown stress dream about my eyebrows.

In said dream, I was on some video conference thing (for a non-eyebrow-related reason, presumably…it felt worky in nature). The lady I was conferencing with just stopped mid-stream and was like, “your eyebrows are really distracting”. I asked what she meant and she pointed out that my brows were uneven and patchy. She asked me if I even look in a mirror while I’m doing my eyebrows. I grabbed a hand mirror (that was inexplicably sitting on my kitchen table where I was doing the video conference) and saw, to my horror, that she was right. They were BAD. There were spots where the makeup I had put on them was all gross and flaking off, even. I got super mad, said something along the lines of “YOU DON’T KNOW MY EYEBROW LIFE, BITCH”, and slammed the laptop closed. I woke up right after that so I don’t know if I would have ended up going on a violent rampage, or shaved my eyebrows completely off, or what…which is probably just as well, really.

My eyebrows ARE uneven in real life, though. The two sides grow in very different shapes. Both individual shapes are totally fine and I’d be happy with either one…but they don’t MATCH. The left one is long, it has a good arch and it tapers nicely after the arch. The right one also arches, but the arch is much closer to the temple side than my left one. Also, instead of tapering to a nice pointed tail, it just kind of grows a little further at the same width and then…stops.

It’s not like I spend hours agonizing over my eyebrows. I can kind of carve a little bit of a taper into the right one with tweezing, and I can kind of use filler makeup to draw the arch of the left one back a little bit and bring it closer to the shape of the right, but I’m no fucking Johannes Vermeer here, people. They’re always going to be slightly uneven and I’m at peace with that.

Or at least, I thought I was, until I had that dream. Apparently my subconscious is not fully convinced.

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As long as I don’t reach The People’s Eyebrow levels of unevenness, I think I’ll be ok. Also, The Rock is not convinced that I am at peace with my eyebrow issues either. Maybe my subconscious IS The Rock? That would actually explain some things…

 

Delivery Day

Yesterday I worked from home because I had to be around to sign for the new washing machine that was being delivered.

As an aside, my old washing machine committed one of the ultimate washing machine sins: it died during a load of post-vacation laundry. At the time, I may have actually kicked it and yelled, “YOUR TIMING COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE WORSE, YOU BIG METAL ASSHOLE“. I’ll give credit where it’s due, though: it at least had the good grace to finish the cycle and drain all the water out of the tub first. It’s not like I was left having to bail water out of the washer with a coffee cup. I would have yelled something a lot fucking worse if that had happened, trust me.

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, working from home.

When I work from home, I usually sit at the kitchen table with the laptop. It’s near a window, it’s near the fridge, I can see out the front living room windows and hide in plenty of time before anyone gets to the front door…it’s an all-around good locale. The only downside to working at the kitchen table is that it’s about the farthest point away from the bathroom in our entire apartment. Which, granted, it’s a pretty small apartment so it’s not like it’s THAT far away…but still. Sometimes seconds count, especially when you have to traverse a staircase.

The delivery guys were supposed to show up sometime between 10:30 and 12:30. I wanted to be super extra adulty and ready to meet them out front so that I could direct them where to park the truck, so I tried to make sure I had everything personal done and squared away by 10:30.  The creepy cobwebs around the laundry room door had been knocked down (which was a traumatic fucking experience in and of itself because you know how I feel about spiders), I had consolidated all the empty wine and beer bottles (aka: ‘the recycling’, but let’s be real. It’s all bottles.) into a plastic bag, and I walked Junior not once but TWICE just to make sure I wasn’t halfway across the lawn watching him do his patented ‘four crab-walk circles of varying widths before I finally shit’ dance when the truck showed up.

I was totally prepared.

10:30 came and went. No truck. Unperturbed, I drank my coffee and dug in to my computer work.

11:30 – still no truck. ‘That’s fine‘, I thought magnanimously, ‘I’m surely not the only delivery they’ve got scheduled today. Besides, I have plenty here to keep me busy‘. I drank a bunch of water (I believe in aggressive hydration, partially to make up for my converse habit of occasional aggressive inebriation), ate a big apple, and did some more work.

Noon – no truck. Again, not that big of a deal. Except…

…coffee makes me need to poop. Apples also make me need to poop. Drinking a liter of water doesn’t specifically make me need to poop, but what goes in must come out, and…yeah.

My guts gurgled somewhat forlornly.

I looked at the clock.

I looked out the front windows for any sign of a truck coming down our road.

I looked at Junior.

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“I’m so disappointed in you, Mahm.” – Junior, every day of his life for the last 6.5 years

His beady little eyes seemed to be saying to me, “Just go. You’ve got plenty of time. Plus, you know I’ll bark like the world is ending as soon as I hear anyone pull up. Go on, you got this.”

With as close to a blessing as I’m ever likely to get from the dog, I made my way upstairs to the bathroom to care of business. I won’t get into the graphic details, but suffice to say it was not merely a tinkle-and-dash situation. It took a few minutes.

Roughly four minutes into the proceedings, the worst case scenario became real: the dog started barking his fool head off.

“Of COURSE the delivery truck is here. OF FUCKING COURSE IT IS,” I muttered to myself, finishing up as quickly as I could.

I got downstairs and looked out the front window. No truck. ‘Balls, that means they’re already backed up to the breezeway, unloading the washer! They probably knocked and I didn’t even hear them! UGH. I AM A FAILURE AS AN ADULT.

The dog kept barking and barking, jumping against my leg so I couldn’t move quickly lest I kick him. It took me a full minute to get from the bottom of the stairs out to the kitchen where I could look out the front door to see…

…nothing. No truck, no delivery men. Nada. There wasn’t even a god damned neighbor cat around that would have set the dog off. I’M PRETTY SURE HE WAS JUST BARKING TO GET ME TO COME BACK DOWNSTAIRS, YOU GUYS.

We had a quiet discussion after that.

Phrases like “poopus interruptus” and “payback’s a bitch” may have been bandied about. We eventually came to the understanding that I as the human, provider of kibble and meat, purveyor of walkies and scritches, actually had zero rights in the household and that if he, as the dog wanted to bark bloody murder until I came running to see what the matter was, that was entirely his prerogative. Further to that, I should probably be thanking him for the privilege.

At least we’re all on the same page now.

Epilogue:

The delivery truck showed up at 12:15, at which point Junior had an even MORE frenzied barking fit. They took away the traitorous old washer, hooked up the shiny mystical new one, and were gone by 12:30. Junior was the beneficiary of several more walks after that, during NONE of which did I interrupt his crapping in any way. Because some of us have MANNERS.

Chinese Lizard Zombies

(Scene: Mark holding the laptop toward me, dramatic music fading from the speakers as a trailer for The Great Wall ends on the screen)

Me: Sooo, instead of the Mongol hoards, they’re trying to say that the Great Wall was built to keep out…lizard monsters?

Mark: Kind of, yeah. Oooh, it was written by Max Brooks!

Me, not knowing who that is, but trying to be supportive: Oooh…?

Mark: He wrote World War Z.

Me: UGH. You know, I was thinking that the trailer had a lot of the same look as World War Z, but I didn’t say anything because I figured you’d pooh-pooh me.

Mark: I wouldn’t have pooh-pooh’ed you…

Me: I don’t think I need to watch a movie about Chinese lizard zombies, honestly.

Mark:

Me, talking to the dog:  Junie, maybe we could get a lizard zombie and tie your leash to it and it could take you for shamble walks! YAY, SHAMBLE WALKS! Grrr! Aaaarrrrgggg!

Junie:

Me: But that probably wouldn’t end well because we’d have no control over which way the lizard zombie shambled so you’d eventually have to call us from your little doggie cell phone, like ‘beep bop boop boop…hey guys, I’m in Thetford and I don’t know the way home. Can you come pick me up?’  Except, you’re a dog so I don’t think you’d even really know where Thetford was, so you’d be lost and we wouldn’t know where to come pick you up. Stupid lizard zombies!

Mark: Not only would he not know what town he was in, but how would he dial a cell phone with no thumbs?

Me: Well clearly it would be voice-activated. We’d pre-program the numbers for him.

Mark: So he could just dial by saying ‘beep bop boop’ like that?

Me, exasperated: I DON’T KNOW. Maybe it’s like, that simulated tone thing that hackers used to use to get on the Internet from pay phones.

Mark: Was that ever a thing? I don’t think that was a thing.

Me: IT WAS, I saw it in a movie once!

Mark: What movie?

Me: HACKERS.

Mark: Oooh, ok, you meant the movie Hackers and not real, actual computer hackers.

Me, going upstairs to bed: Eh, six of one, half dozen the other, really.

Mark: Riiiiight…

****

So the moral of that story is that you probably don’t want to try tying your dog to a Chinese lizard zombie for shuffle-walks because it will get lost and you won’t know where to go pick it up because APPARENTLY you can’t set cell phones up for dogs to voice-dial from, according to my husband.

Also, Hackers wasn’t a documentary, I guess?  I’m still pretty iffy on that one, honestly.

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Very clearly using payphones to get on the Internet. I AM VINDICATED! Also, remember when Rollerblades were the amazing thing that all the L33T badasses wore? Me neither…

turns out I may be part raccoon

Sometimes, on the way back to my office from having gone to get my lunch out of the staff fridge, I’ll realize that I need to make a pit-stop in the bathroom. I blame this largely on the fact that the bathroom is directly in front of me for the entire route from the conference room fridge back to my office. I can’t NOT see it, and my bladder is nothing if not strongly subject to suggestion.

Anyway.

So, sometimes…in fact, we’ll say often…I find myself in the bathroom with my lunch in hand. Our bathrooms are individual ones, like half-baths in a home, and the one upstairs by my office even has a little sideboard type thing with drawers and small cabinets in it. So it’s not like I’m bringing my lunch into a bathroom stall and setting it on the toilet tank or the toilet paper dispenser while I take a leak, you know? But, every time I exit the bathroom with lunch in hand, I can’t help thinking that people must kind of wonder.

Like, ‘is there a fridge in that bathroom?’

And ‘is she so antisocial that she actually eats lunch in there?’

And ‘is she part raccoon and dousing her lunch under running water right before she eats it?’

Being part raccoon would actually explain a lot about my life though, truth be told. My poor eyesight, my body shape, my eyeliner preferences, my propensity for eating garbage…it’s all so obvious now that I think about it…
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The ADHD Baker

You know on all those cooking shows and food blogs where they’re like “MAKE SURE YOU READ THE ENTIRE RECIPE BEFORE STARTING”?

That’s because of people like me – people who find a recipe next to a picture of something they like the looks of and immediately run to the kitchen to start throwing things in a bowl, only to realize halfway through that the recipe says some bullshit like “now let this sit overnight”, or “cook on low heat for at least four hours” and it’s already like 8pm.

Or, halfway through throwing things in the bowl they realize, “fuck, this calls for a whole bunch of turmeric. I don’t have any frigging turmeric. What do I have that tastes LIKE turmeric? Nothing, basically, because turmeric tastes like dirt”.

That’s right, TURMERIC TASTES LIKE DIRT. I’m not saying I don’t like it or that you shouldn’t use it. I’m just saying it tastes like dirt and you know I’m right so cool your fucking jets and keep your pants on or whatever. Jeezis.

turmeric

Also, it kind of looks like cat turds. Who saw turmeric root and was like, “yes, good idea, let’s eat these bright orange dirt-tasting cat turds”?

Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yes, recipes being a challenge.

So, with my brand of ADHD, I can have a recipe right in front of me, I can read through it 14 times, I can fully understand the gist of what I’m making and how to make it, I can look at where it says, “1 teaspoon of dirt-tasting turmeric”…and by the time I reach up into the cupboard for the turmeric, I’ve forgotten what the measurement was. Turmeric in hand, I’ll look again but the recipe will now say “3 teaspoons of dirt-tasting turmeric”, because my eyes are reading half of one line and half of another. I’ll think to myself “that seems like a lot, especially since turmeric basically just tastes like dirt”, look at the recipe again, and it will be back to 1 teaspoon and I’ll wonder if I’m hallucinating a tiny bit (possibly due to high turmeric intake).

I usually manage to side-step my brain’s attention shortcomings while cooking by having a strong culinary instinct to begin with (I come from a long line of good cooks), being creative, and keeping my sense of humor about sometimes-ugly-but-usually-still-tasty food.

That’s not really helpful with baking, though. With baking, measuring is important. Paying attention to how your dough acts is important. Not changing 14 things in the recipe on the fly IS IMPORTANT. You can be the second god damned coming of Picasso and have the best sense of humor on Earth but your cake is still going to come out like chocolate-colored sawdust if you don’t measure your flour properly.

I decided I wanted to start baking bread after watching a cooking documentary about fermentation and the history of fermented foods back in the late winter. I’ve long been a fan of fermented foods and I’m a keen believer that the bacteria living in our guts are probably one of the most crucial (and most overlooked) contributors to our overall health. Fermented bread, aka: sourdough, has a much lower glycemic impact than commercial yeast bread, it has more bio-available minerals and vitamins, the gluten proteins have been chemically altered by the bacteria in such a way that they become less inflammatory to the gut and more easy for the body to break down, plus probably a whole load of other happy horse shit.

Point being, I was sold on sourdough. I wanted to make some and it didn’t seem that hard. All you need, after all, is flour, water, salt and patience. Or, if not patience, at least a will to succeed. At least, that’s what a whole bunch of websites told me.

And they weren’t ENTIRELY wrong…but they left out a motherfucking TRUCKLOAD of details, it turns out. Like, temperature is almost as important as measuring your ingredients…and I’m not talking oven temperature, I’m talking ambient temperature in your kitchen from the time you start mixing your dough until the time you put it into the oven. Also, bread dough acts differently depending on the humidity level in your kitchen. Different types of flour (just wheat flour, mind you…I’m not subbing like, crystalized unicorn tears or anything) absorb different amounts of water depending on not only whether they’re whole grain or not, but also whether they’re winter wheat, spring wheat, red wheat, and apparently what fucking PHASE OF THE MOON THEY GERMINATED IN. I swear to god it’s like the most ridiculously convoluted thing ever. There’s actual note taking involved, people. COME ON. “It’s just flour, water and salt”, my ass.

But somehow, it works (usually). And I love it. And not just because I get to have delicious toast in the mornings or give away pretty loaves of bread to appreciative friends. I’ve found working with bread dough to be so…I don’t know, meditative, I guess. It has its own rhythm and once you start a batch, you’re just sort of along for the ride. Except you can’t just be the co-pilot who sleeps the whole ride because you have to be aware of what the dough is doing, how it’s progressing. You have to be ready to move it from one phase to the next, but not until the dough itself is ready. It’s kind of like a pet that is independent and likes to do its own thing but that is also a little bit derpy and needs you to keep an eye on them so they don’t like, chew on wires and stuff. That got weird, but I think you get my drift.

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It totally looks like a brain when you cut it in half. Complete with nuts even!