Eating Brown

Remember when people used to eat fluffy white bread?

Okay, I don’t either, though I’m pretty sure it used to happen… bread was bread, Cheerios were Cheerios, and there was none of this whole-grain, multi-grain, 9-grain, extra fibrous, sunflower-seeds-in-my-crust nonsense.  (Though I do love that nutty crunch).

But I guess it all makes sense.  The Carbohydrate Community has, undoubtedly, had it rough since, over the past few decades, dieting has become the number one most (futilely) all-consuming obsession nationwide.  The poor saps probably found themselves in a position not unlike that in which the Tobacco industry found itself once the word got out about the big C.

How can we spin this English muffin?  …they probably asked themselves.  What are we to do with these starch-white and suddenly stigmatized flour tortillas?

So, as follows, they turned their products cardboard-brown and put a lot of redundant buzzwords on the packaging.

No longer gold, the poor things
No longer gold, the poor things

This mass conversion from white to brown has caught on to such an extent that even Chipotle has had to follow suit.  People are in there like a bunch of A-holes, peeling their foil off of brown burritos filled with brown rice, knee-deep in the self-righteousness that comes with complex carbohydrates and the lower levels of the food pyramid.

I have to ask, what difference has all this brown food made? As far as I know, the obesity epidemic is only getting worse, and it is probably, at least in part, due to the fact that people are, in the spirit of heart-healthfulness and under the guise of vague weight loss goals, buying Multigrain Cheerios instead of Honey Nut (the latter being sixteen times more delicious), then eating five times the serving size in pursuit of that elusive feeling – satisfaction.

And satisfaction can be elusive, now that most things taste like squirrel snacks.

But hey! At least they’re getting their recommended serving of Wholesome Whole Grains!!! I wonder… if you get an entire week’s supply of Whole Grains over the course of one exuberantly heart-healthy meal, can you return to white rice for the rest of the week?  I’ll have to ask a nutritionist and get back to you about this, though I think the answer will be something along the lines of an irritated “well, no.”

And a quick word on all this fiber: If a semi-literate caveman meandered along the bread aisle of a Whole Foods, or even just a Safeway, he’d probably come to the conclusion that “fiber” is of vital importance, that it is a staple in our diet, a magically nourishing and life-promoting source of strength and health.  But, let me tell you, I’ve overdone it with fiber, and the results were not positive; let’s just say that more than one Fiber One bar in a day has the complete opposite effect from what you might think…

… Which reminds me of a joke my grandparents have told me several times over, because they think it is hilarious (which it was… the first time):

Them: Have you seen the movie Constipation?

Me: (Sigh) No…

Them: (Gleefully) It hasn’t come out yet.

Girl Unable to Stomach Hot Tea without the Life-Affirming Quotes

Early this morning, after switching on the water heater and picking out her favorite bowl-sized mug, Alika was astonished to find that the label on her tea bag was missing an inspirational quote.

“It was just like any other morning before my 6:30am Vinyasa Flow.  I had already done my hair into a fishtail braid, and I was about halfway through my Greek yogurt when I discovered that the mango black tea bag label was completely blank.  I was at a loss.”

Sources say she was unable to go through with the steeping, and, as she spent the next few minutes tearing open every tea bag in the box in a frenzied fury of disbelief, the heated water cooled before even being poured.  The extent of her severe bewilderment caused her to be only three minutes early to yoga, rather than the usual fifteen, which meant she had no choice but to set up her mat in a dark corner of the room where she couldn’t satisfyingly showcase her magnificent downward-facing dog.

This incident can be traced back to Alika’s daring venture to save a buck or two, when she recently made the switch to Safeway store-brand tea.

“I knew I was sacrificing some degree of quality when I gave up my usual Yogi brand tea bags, but I could never have imagined that would extend to the quotes.  The quotes are an integral part of the modern tea-drinking experience.”

Alika is doing her best to move past the devastation of this morning, holding on to the lingering memory of a recent quote printed one of her last Yogi tea bags: “Nothing is too great to overcome.”

teabags

(Okay, I know, but the Onion doesn’t OWN news parody…)

Target: Entering the Void

I could count on one hand the number of items on my shopping list before going to Target last weekend, yet somehow my receipt did not stop printing until it reached the length of Pau Gasol’s femur.

(In case there was any confusion...)
(In case there was any confusion…)

The list was concise and straightforward, as lists tend to be: garbage bags, alarm clock, foam roller, makeup remover, shampoo.

So how did it come to be that at one point, I had to verbally talk myself down from pulling a four-pack of Bicycle playing cards off the shelf?  Why did I spend so much time deliberating between place-mats, and seriously considering whether or not I should buy a Mariners jersey?

Well, first of all, thank God I didn’t buy Mariners gear.  Not only should that degree of posing (as in, actively being or exhibiting characteristics of a poser) be illegal for people who have lived in Seattle for as short a time as I have, but also… I went to a game shortly thereafter.  Though I did nearly get hit in the head with a home run after staring uncomprehendingly, through the fog of three overpriced beers, at a speedily approaching baseball (something to tell my grandchildren, surely), the team really just sucks.

In other words, both rumors about Seattle are true: the weather IS certifiably crap, and the Mariners DO play like a bunch of sissies.

But nonetheless, Target, in its subtle, cunning way, had me on the cusp.  It had me right where it wanted me: vulnerable, tempted, intrigued, and so deep in the white-tiled bowels of the store I couldn’t have dropped everything and sprinted for the exit if I wanted to.

Of course, that’s crazy, because I didn’t want to. Not even a little bit.  I had yet to reach the Office Supplies.

Notebooks, Sharpies and gel pens make me weak in the knees.  Binders sing to me.  Roller tips tease me, taunt me, lure me in with the promise of writing that is sensually smooth and endlessly inky. Neon highlighters beckon me, challenge me to test them out by striking through the entire text of Atlas Shrugged.  I can’t say why exactly… maybe it’s nostalgia for those first days of school, when a trip to Staples felt like a very specific type of Christmas. Or maybe it’s that these aisles invite me (and you too, probably, I know I’m not alone) into the irresistible illusion that starting RIGHT NOW, I could become outrageously, pathologically organized.

… all I’d have to do is feed that insatiable red-mouthed beast they call Target…

Anyway, I abstained. I’m safe… for now.  But turns out I got the wrong kind of garbage bags, and I have to go back and exchange them.

Now that I think about it… maybe it was a subconsciously intentional error planted in my brain by subliminally communicated messages sent out over the loudspeakers to ensure my speedy return.  Maybe I’ll just keep these garbage bags out of spite.  Maybe this entire post is a pedantic justification towards not having to haul my ass back to that money-vacuum of a store.

Before I go back to my crossword puzzle, I feel it is my duty to inform you that foam rollers are absurdly overpriced.  Over forty bucks for a cylindrical chunk of Styrofoam?  Thanks, Gaiam, but I’ll find another way to massage my calves.

Feel the burn.
Feel the burn.

Scientific Evidence that Grinding is the Worst

grinding1

So, we all know that sociology is the science of assigning fancy names to things that everyone has already noticed but thought unworthy of naming.

For example, take Post-Purchase Rationalization.  This phenomenon is defined by Wikipedia as a “cognitive bias whereby someone who purchases an expensive product or service overlooks any faults or defects in order to justify their purchase.”  Also known as Buyer’s Stockholm Syndrome (really?), this epidemic has apparently afflicted secretly remorseful shoppers everywhere.

I mean, duh.  Anyone leaving Whole Foods with his or her reusable bag slightly heavier experiences some degree of Post-Purchase Rationalization.  As in: I don’t feel guilty.  I’m GLAD I spent $14.99 on raw sprouted macadamia nut butter.  It is so natural, no animals came anywhere near it, and I am desperately lacking in omegas.  I can’t wait to carve into it with the bejeweled knife I bought at Anthropologie and spread it on some gluten-free soy crisps.  Also I’m saving the earth with this reusable bag.  

But enough about PPR.  I would like to turn the focus to a different sociological phenomenon, which is so eloquently dubbed Pluralistic Ignorance.  It is best illustrated by an example:

At the end of class, a professor asks if anyone is confused about her dense, rambling and disorganized lecture on the irregular conjugations of ser in the past perfect subjunctive, and she gets crickets in response.  Despite the silence, which seems to indicate collective and complete understanding, however, everyone is confused.  But since everyone thinks everyone else is on top of their shit, no one speaks up.

Get it?  It’s basically when everyone does something because everyone thinks everyone else wants to be doing it, but really no one wants to be doing it.

Keep this in mind while I start talking about something else now.

I couldn’t even begin to give you an accurate estimate of the number of times I have found myself on some dark, sweaty dance floor, lost in a sea of gyrating body parts.

Because everybody loves to grind.

boomchickaboomchickaboomchicka
boomchickaboomchickaboomchicka

Especially this guy Tim (false name, never know), a golfer from Yale, who began to grind with me one fateful night at Princeton.  He was kinda cute and freckly, so when he pressed his front against my back and started to bend his knees and sway to the beat, I figured what the hell.  So I got low… like in that rap song! Ya know??

Eighteen seconds later, my thighs were screaming.  That was to be expected – the price of the grind, if you will.  But then something unexpected happened.  With his hands on my hips – I suppose that’s our modern take on “leading” – and with his left foot as our anchor, he started to maneuver our bodies into a rather dizzying, continuous pivot.

We grinded (ground?) in circles.

He might have intended to keep circling, round and round, chasing ever-elusive tails, for hours… eternities, for all I know… had I not started making desperate, wild hand gestures and exaggerated grimaces at some friends nearby.  The universal signal for “grab my arm and pull me away from this hellish wall-sit-meets-merry-go-round.”

Continue reading Scientific Evidence that Grinding is the Worst

He Needed More CDs: A Trip to Tower Records

He needed more CDs.

This came as no surprise to me as his thirst for more music was only ever temporarily abated, and during those periods of “abatement,” if you could call them that, he was always drunk with sound.  Empty disc cases would litter his room like discarded beer cans, his prone body amongst them, limp but alert to the unceasing influx of audio. At the moment, however, all evidence of his last binge had been carefully picked up, discs clicked back into their appropriate cases, then inserted neatly into alphabetically allotted slots on the wire racks lining his bedroom wall.  And he was itching for more.

tower_records_logoSo I found myself, not for the first time, driving Sam to one of the only remaining music stores in the area – a small Tower Records tucked humbly off to the side of Newport Boulevard in Costa Mesa.  My silver SUV idled in the late afternoon traffic as the lowering sun’s modest warmth took the edge off of the cool breeze that had wandered in through the open windows.  I reached and turned the volume up a notch for the Violent Femmes’ Gone Daddy Gone.  Sam turned, snapped out of his reverie, and allowed his hand to sneak slyly across the center console and make its way to my upper thigh, where his fingers began to tap the beat of the song against my blue jeans.

tumblr_mdlzwsc4GX1qeyuoqo1_1353117272_cover

It took only a few steps onto the scuffed black tile of Tower Records for me to sense the rapid shift in Sam’s demeanor.  During the short walk from the car we had giggled as our bodies swayed playfully into each other, clasped hands swinging; Sam had stopped me abruptly in the center of the parking lot for a tight hug and a sloppy kiss.  I had blushed and reprimanded him for blocking the path of a Volvo that was pulling in nearby, to which he had replied, smiling and turning defiantly toward the oncoming vehicle, “So what?!” Laughing all the while, I had resorted to tugging at his wrist, then more forcibly yanking his arm nearly out of its socket to get him to move his stubborn, scrawny, but surprisingly strong body out of the way.

Now, however, before the glass doors had even shut behind us, he was suddenly distant and focused, eyes narrowing as they scanned the store from wall to wall.  His hand fell away from mine and reached up into his long brown hair, mussing it up absentmindedly.

I gazed for a moment up at Sam’s sharp profile. Behind it I imagined a tiny, intricate system of machinery clicking and whirring, collecting all of the visually available information and using it to calculate the optimal location at which to begin browsing.  Then his eyes stilled.  The cogs and wheels gave a satisfying click, and Sam walked purposefully away without a word.  I stood and watched him go with a tinge of sadness, or maybe it was fear, that I could be cut off from him so swiftly, that our closeness could turn so far inside out it seemed inconceivable that it could ever turn completely back.

I pushed the thought out of my mind and trailed along slowly in his wake.

Twenty minutes later, I was milling around noncommittally somewhere between Nirvana and the Pixies, stopping occasionally to flip through jewel cases, taking one out, putting it back the wrong way.  Peering around the store for Sam.  Discreetly peeking at the album selections of other shoppers and making judgments accordingly.

Music was tricky.  Especially when you were dating who I was dating.  What I really wanted, though I would never have admitted it, was for him to march over and tell me exactly what to buy.  That would have made things so much less complicated.  After all, he always knew what I would like, and, as had happened many times before, when I did pick something out for myself, my selection was sure to elicit from him a condescending wince or, best case, an indifferent shrug.

Just one time, I would have liked to surprise him, to impress him with my secretly sophisticated, obscure and somewhat ironic musical taste… only problem was, it didn’t exist.  Or, at least, it hadn’t fully matured.  (So I told myself).

I finally spotted that familiarly greasy head a few aisles away, bent down intently, obviously still on some other planet.  Eh, fuck it, I thought, and, turning, picked up a colorfully quirky-looking album.  This is going to be so good.

I knew it wouldn’t be.

Continue reading He Needed More CDs: A Trip to Tower Records

Romantic Exhaustion

On Valentine’s Day, I ate a frozen pizza and went to bed at 8:40pm.

There was just too much romance during the day for me to handle.   Picture Leo and Kate, bodies pressed together, flying at the bow of the Titanic… for twelve hours straight.  That’s how romantically exhausting my day was.

First of all, the girl at the Starbucks drive thru was really nice and gave me a warmed cinnamon roll in a box with a fork and napkin. (In exchange for money).

Then I got in an elevator with a young Fed-Ex guy, who seemed intent on staring at his First Class envelope.  Until suddenly he peered up at me from under that brown visor, and said, voice drenched in innuendo, “So how’s your Valentine’s Day going?”  I immediately burst into laughter, then walked out.

The second time I got in the elevator, two older men invited me to come with them to Jimmy’s.  I don’t know a Jimmy.

The third time I got in that same elevator, I had a repeat of the Fed-Ex incident. Only without the visor.

Apparently the elevator = the love box.

Later on, in First Aid certification class, I got to put a middle aged man into a sling.  I wrapped bandages around his wrist.  He looked at me skeptically from under bushy eyebrows.

I then went to Trader Joe’s… need I say more?  Walking into that store is like walking into something by Jane Austen.

I spent the rest of the evening texting people “Happy Valentine’s Day” ironically while drinking ginger tea.  Not sure whether they got the irony.

Also I hate ginger.

TV Panic

watching_tv

We’ve all experienced that brief moment of crisis, those few seconds of rapidly and exponentially mounting tension, when the television fades to black and remains obstinately so for just a tad bit too long.  Milliseconds, probably, but it feels like…  minutes.

Who knows… maybe some behind-the-scenes monkey dozed off and forgot to ensure that the cut to commercial break be as seamless as a Speedo.  Or maybe the film editors got lazy.  Or maybe you were watching something directed by David Lynch, in which case everything is intended to make you uncomfortable.

The thing is… we’re so used to sharp, quick, smooth cuts, cuts that leave no room for even the smallest lapse of attention.  After all, can’t let those eyes wander.  So when you’re sitting next to your homie on the futon watchin the boob tube while your buttery hands duke it out in the popcorn bowl, and the screen suddenly stays black for just a second too long… you are suddenly and rudely confronted with your own mortality.

Okay that may be a little dramatic.  Or not.  I mean I’m sitting there, blissfully allowing myself to indulge in the cheap and readily available form of escape that television provides, when suddenly my reflection, alongside that of whoever is bored enough to be watching television with me, is on the screen and will not go away.

I almost can’t breathe until the screen lights up again, and, with a sigh of relief, I can bask in the warm, familiar comfort of Alex Trebek doing something horribly condescending.

I think a large part of that panic, during those short moments, stems from the sudden and undeniable realization that I am, to boil it down, sitting still and staring straight ahead at a glowing box – an inanimate object that most certainly does not reciprocate my tender sentiments.  Oh, the horror.

Watching television: the anti-hobby of slightly shamefaced people everywhere.

It’s true.  Rarely does a hefty portion of TV come without a side of guilt and a dash of self-loathing.  Forgive the cheesy cooking metaphors.  (And that half-assed pun).

I mean, you probably didn’t intend, when you first pressed that seductively circled red play button, to spend fourteen consecutive hours watching Downton Abbey (or Walking Dead, or Game of Thrones, or Pretty Little Liars…) on your computer, lying on top of crumpled sheets and an ever-accumulating nest of crumbs. When you finally dragged yourself out of bed to brush your teeth at 3:30am, you probably weren’t thinking, Yes! I can check THAT off my to-do list!

More realistically, at least based on my own personal experience, while scrubbing those pearly whites you were probably slowly and painfully coming to terms with the fact that you do not live in early 20th century Britain, that you do not have to worry about Germans, and that you do, in fact, have to wake up in four hours.

Continue reading TV Panic

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