Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twigs and Berries: A Tale of Retaliation on the Elementary School Playground

It’s not easy being a vegan. There are a lot of misconceptions out there floating around. The first major misunderstanding is that people think I’m on a life-or-death mission to convert them to an animal free lifestyle. In my perfect world, it would be great if we all participated in veganism. However, I realize that this option is neither attractive nor even feasible for many people. For instance, people that suffer from diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome are advised to adopt a diet that is higher in protein and lower in total carbohydrates. So I’ve always held to the idea that people will choose the option that best fits their health and lifestyle needs. Far be it from me to try and influence anyone wrongly.

The second misunderstanding is that meat-eaters assume I don’t enjoy eating. Nothing could be further from the truth. I absolutely love to eat, and I strive to eat really good-tasting food. I’m not going to lie. There is a lot of absolutely terrible vegan food out there, mostly within prepackaged food. I remember the first vegan “meat patty” I got my hands on. I was in week two of my new eating lifestyle and was perusing the frozen food aisle at my local grocery store. I ended up buying two boxes of them, each containing six patties comprised of brown rice, pinto beans, and mushrooms. It sounded like a winner, but when I got home, the taste was something else. I remember staring down at the inedible hockey puck of mashed bean curd, with one neat bite taken out of it, and wondering if this was what veganism was all about.

“I will grow to love you,” I said mournfully to the patty on my plate.

Then comes the biggest misconception of all. I like to call it the Inevitable Question. I know what you’re thinking it could be, and you’re wrong. The question is never “So what do you eat?” This would be an appropriate question, one that deserves serious attention because it’s an opportunity to showcase just how diverse a vegan diet can be. But no, I do not get asked this.

The question always goes like this: “So…do you just eat twigs and berries then?”

Yes. I eat frickin twigs. Way to go, genius.

Wait. I take that back. I have eaten a twig. One time. And it wasn’t so much voluntary as it was retribution against an evil deed I had committed against an innocent.

Let me explain.

In fifth grade, there was this annoying kid who sat in the back of the classroom. His name was Jeremy. I only ever saw him do three things: Sniff his armpits, pick his nose, and flick boogers onto unsuspecting classmates’ backs. His biggest crime was that he talked incessantly, at top volume, about nonsense crap.

Looking back on it, he was your typical irritating ten year old. But none of us liked him.

One day at recess, a few of us came up with a plan. It was a plan I was not particularly proud of at the time (nor am I to this day), but the idea of it all was too hysterical to pass on up (and it still is). Our evil plan was based on the fact that all of the outside school restrooms were being renovated at the time, so several porta potties had been placed on the outskirts of the playground for temporary use. We just had to wait for the right moment to happen.

When this poor kid briefly ducked into a porta potty one fine afternoon, we seized the day and locked him inside. We stuffed the lock and handle opening full with fistfuls of branches and twigs that we had been collecting over the past couple days in anticipation of this very opportunity. There was no way he was going to get out by himself.

But wait! Just like a bad infomercial, there’s more. We immediately forgot all about him and ran back to class when the recess bell rang five minutes later. We left him alone and defenseless in that disgusting porta potty. It wasn’t until the teacher started asking the whole class where Jeremy was that we remembered what we had done. Of course, none of us spoke up out of fear of getting into some serious deep shit, so we kept our mouths shut and our eyes guiltily glued to the tops of our desks.

Jeremy was eventually freed, three hours later, by a groundskeeper who was about to mow the soccer field when he heard the banging of small fists against hollow plastic walls. Jeremy was unharmed, a bit stinky, and aching for revenge. But he didn’t rat us out, even though he knew the six of us that did it. I immediately felt bad that he refused to give names, because I knew I deserved some kind of penalty for my poor behavior. On the other hand, I wasn’t about to turn myself in. So I approached Jeremy and asked what he thought would be an appropriate punishment for me.

He was quiet for a moment. “You should eat a twig,” he responded finally, “Because you used all those sticks to jam the lock of the porta potty.”

I was horrified. “A whole twig?” I asked, incredulously.

He conceded. “Well, maybe just a bite.”

How could I back out now? Grating as he was, no one deserves to be locked in one of those things and then forgotten about for several hours. But what was my other option? Let the guilt overcome me until I turned myself into the principle, who would then notify my mother, ending with me subsequently grounded until I was 47 years old?

I had no choice. I had to eat the twig.

It was the cruelest, toughest, most grimy lesson I’ve ever had to swallow. The ultimate message here being, “Don’t act like a shit, or you’ll be forced to eat a dirty twig.”

So no, my dear carnivores, contrary to popular belief, we vegans do not eat twigs. No one does, at least not willingly. Twigs are simply not fit for human consumption. Gastronomically, there is nothing redeeming about its rough, woody texture, nor the bits of grit that flake off from the exterior when you try and bite off a piece.

The flavor is absolutely terrible. It tastes of oversight. It tastes like little boy vengeance.

This I something I can personally attest to.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lessons in Vegas for the White Bitch on the Block

I had a feeling that Vegas was not exactly what I was expecting when I first stepped out of the apartment to retrieve my mail and said hello to the elderly man two doors down who chain-smoked Camels while constantly barbequing bacon on his patio.

"Yo fuck you, white bitch!" He growled at me through a cloud of smoke and continued to furiously flip the bacon with his hot pink spatula.

I'm ashamed to admit that up until that point, I was practically skipping down the concrete with my newfound love for Vegas. But his response put an immediate end to that. I blinked a few times and actually stumbled backwards. My brain fired off rhetorical questions. What the hell? Who is this man? What's his problem? Hold on a minute! I'm so loveable! Everyone loves me! How could he not love me too?

This was the first of many lessons to come for me, here in Las Vegas.

For instance, the weather doesn't change here. Oh sure, the temperature can range anywhere from a boiling 115 degrees to a bone-chilling 16, but I guarantee you this: It will always be sunny and dry. Painfully, overbearingly, sunny and dry. When we first moved here, people told us it rained about ten days a year. I think it's more like three.

Lying bastards.

But I digress.

You learn to adjust here quickly. You have to, I think, in order to survive. Our first night here, Josh and I laid on our backs, eyes wide opened, hands firmly clenched with one another's while listening to constant screaming and crying, lawn furniture being thrown, and those ever present sirens wailing. We had unsucessfully barricaded the door with my boxes of books and the flimsy cat carrier. If anyone were to break in, and they certainly could've if they wanted to, we hoped the cat would be enough of a hostage.

Neither one of us wanted to admit to the other that we were terrified that night. Or that we wanted to turn around and go home immediately.


But times change, and so do attitudes. About a month ago, Josh and I were getting ready for bed, and I noticed ten cop cars had surrounded the apartment complex across the street.

I wasted no time. I flung the door open wide and pointed out at the action.

"Incident!" I yelled cheerfully at Josh, and we both scurried out onto the patio to watch. Diet cokes in one hand, Marlboro Menthols in the other.

Maybe I'm becoming too hard and bitter for my own good, I thought to myself as I took a drag and watched three cops drag their kicking and screaming suspect out to a car. Maybe I need to try a little harder to not let this city get the best of me. Maybe I need to be the better person here.

I looked over at my neighbor, still smoking while barbequing his bacon. It's one in the morning.

"Hello," I called out softly to him and smiled. I even waved.

"Shut up, white bitch!" he hissed back, without hesitation.

And maybe I'm not becoming cynical. Maybe I'm adjusting to my surroundings in the way that I'm supposed to. Perhaps we make a joke out of the latest drive-by shooting because the reality of the situation is much scarier.

Everyday, I strive to be better than the last day. I can feel myself becoming wiser. Stronger. Happier. I am one step closer to being the person that I want to be.

And then I go and deteriorate rapidly, usually within a restaurant. In a 24 hour town, there are far too many choices to be had at any given hour. It's no secret that I love to eat, and now I can get anything I want at any given time.

In a one word answer, it's overwhelming. Two college degrees by the age of twenty, ability to converse in three different languages, IQ of 143...yet I can't even make a single decision on what to order at 2:45 in the morning.

"So what'll it be, hon?" the weary waitress asks me for the fifth time.

I've learned that there is such a thing as too many fucking choices in life.

"I'm starving!" I cry back, while desperately flipping through the sixteen page glossy menu.

And that there is something to be said for the limited late night menu at Denny's.


My whole life, people have always told me that you cannot change others. Rather, you have the power to change how you react to them. And this is true.

But just recently, I've come to discover that you don't have to let people change who you are. If you do a good deed and it goes unthanked, does this mean you should stop doing those good deeds? If someone doesn't say hello back, do we become bitter, angry and misanthropic in nature? Why give others that control in life? Why let them influence your true nature for the worst?

As I left for work today, I looked over at my nemesis two doors down.

Ghandi once said, "Everything we do is futile. But we must do it anyway."

I closed my eyes and sharply inhaled. I sauntered over to him.

"Hello!" I called out to him.

The man turned to me. His expression softened. For the first time ever, he removed the dangling Camel Wide from his mouth.

My breath caught in my throat.

"Hey white bitch!" he said cheerfully and smiled before jamming the cigarette back into his mouth.

Progress, I thought.

And I started to laugh.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Been too Long But I Have an Excuse

It is 3:27 am, and I am sitting in the middle of our living room floor in our apartment eating dry Cracklin Oat Bran and marking packing boxes with a thick black Sharpie. As the all important moving date of August 16th draws closer, I have turned into a Kellogg-eating insomniac who is even more tightly wound than usual.

I’ve moved more than any person I know (outside of my family), and yet moving stresses me out. Big time. Every time.

There are always hiccups when you decide one day to just pack up your life and leave, but I didn’t count on all the small obstacles that Josh and I have been faced with so far in our move to the Fabulous Las Vegas. Certain small “crises” have cut my available time shorter than I expected. I have barely spent any time with my local friends and family. I also have yet to adhere to my cardinal rule before relocating: Make a list and then experience all the places you want to see and one last time.

But despite whether I’ve been able to have coffee with an old friend just one last time or if my armoire sells on Craigs List for the price I want, this move is happening. We’ve given our apartment notice to vacate, Josh’s transfer has officially gone through, and my hands are constantly marred black from felt-tip markers. It’s all very real and scary at the moment, just like any big move should be.

Most of the time, I’ve been too stressed or consumed with the details to really focus on what’s happening. We’re leaving. For good. And this time, I don’t want to move back again. While it has its good points, the Pacific Northwest and I don’t mesh well together. Nothing ties me here anymore, and I feel I’ve been caged up for far too long. Some of us are born with wanderlust, and Lord knows I was given a hearty dose.

Las Vegas will be good for me. For both of us. We thrive in the desert heat – it’s almost unnatural.

But despite dying to get out, I still have my moments. It’s the way the trees look in the distance off my patio when the sun filters through their branches. It’s the way the elderly vendor tips his hat to me when I pass his table of freshly arranged bouquets in Pike Place Market. It’s the way the summer night smells here, as I press my face to the screen window and inhale deeply.

I hate it, and yet…I’ll miss it.

It’s hard to push ourselves to take that leap of faith and remove ourselves from our comfort zones. Moving is growing. Growing is learning. Learning is life. And I’ve always been the kid who wanted the most excitement for her time.

Life is full of uncertainties. Maybe it will be amazing, and maybe it won’t. Maybe we’ll love it, and maybe we’ll hate it. Maybe we’ll become wildly rich and famous, or maybe we’ll just be lucky to escape the luxurious accommodations of an empty Toshiba box.

Either way, it’ll be an experience I wanted to have. An experience I felt I should have for a long time now.

When we first visited Nevada, a young bartender kindly decided to show Josh and I the “sites of Las Vegas” in the very early morning hours. We drove out to the Red Rock Canyon Resort where I eagerly ran down the gorgeous marble flooring just outside the back of the casino and up to the railing that overlooked the canyon. The sun was just starting to rise, and the quiet surrounding landscape was beginning to awaken into its infamous red coloring. I spread my arms wide and splayed my fingers as far as I could. The warm dry air gently whipped through my body, and I closed my eyes to relish a feeling I hadn’t felt in years.

“What are you doing over there?” Josh’s words carried over to me from the distance.

I remember that I didn’t turn around. I didn’t answer back. I didn’t dare open my eyes. But slowly a smile crept over my face as I savored the overwhelming knowledge that all of life’s possibilities were endless.

Monday, May 18, 2009

“Casual Encounters” NSFW

There has been this new blog I’ve been following: Why Women Hate Men. It’s not as misandrinistic as it sounds. The blog is written by a man and features a lot of personal ads men have written, which are mostly sent in by alert women readers. The blog author publishes these personal ads and features his own commentary.

It is, without a doubt, the most stinking hilarious writing I have ever encountered. Some of these guys have absolutely no clue on how to attract women. It’s not even mildly poor judgment being used. It is a goddamn 80 car pileup during rush hour traffic – the kind that makes you stop in the middle of the freeway, get out of your car, and say, “Holy fucking shit! Is that an arm dangling over the overpass?”

I have giggled and read my way through all the entries on this blog, which has taken hours. Just ask Josh. I have literally been screeching with laughter in the bedroom, while he has held his hands over his ears in an attempt to concentrate on yet another impossible chemistry lab assignment.

Many of these ads have been sexual in nature and include a lot of acronyms I’m unaware of. Which has led me to ask Josh many questions over the past few days.

“Honey, what does NSA mean??”

“No strings attached.”

“What does D/D Free mean?”

“Drug and Disease Free.”

“Well what does DP mean?”

“Double penetration.”


“Use your imagination here.”

“Oh okay. Wait…PEOPLE DO THAT?”

I never knew I was so naïve.

I honestly thought personal ads were strictly for romance, so when I asked Josh where people were posting these D/D Free Seeking NSA DP ads, he directed me to Craig’s List “Casual Encounters.” I don’t really use Craig’s List, and I’m definitely not perusing the personal ads. So this was a whole new world that I never even knew existed.

I am amazed that you can specify the exact man/woman you want, detail the fantasy that you’re desiring, and WABAM! He or she is delivered to your door faster that you can order Chinese takeout. For free.

So it got me would I write such an ad, if I were single? What qualities would I want? How would I convince your typical oversexed Craig’s List male perusing through some casual sex ads that my ad, yes my ad, would be the one to respond to?

Some things are better left unexplored.

Adventurous SWF Seeking Wild Good Times

Just as the title says, I am an adventurous, gorgeous, single white female, 25 years old, looking to find a physically fit man for NSA fun. Age and race are not so much important as good chemistry is. Muscles, tattoos, and piercings are a PLUS!

Well actually, I guess I’m not that adventurous. I’m vanilla more than anything. But you know…there’s nothing wrong with vanilla. Baskin Robbins reports it as its most popular flavor ordered. Probably due to all those shitty ice cream cakes people seem to enjoy ordering.

I am a funny and classy woman who deserves to be treated with respect in bed. Therefore, I am NOT looking to be your bitch, slut, ho, cum dumpster, cock whore, sperm receptacle, or any other unoriginal, derogatory name your handicapped brain manages to come up with.

Either you can host, or I can host. If you host, please keep in mind that I will only get down and dirty in the cleanest, most orderly of habitats. I do not want to spend half of my time perched up on your kitchen counter, organizing your expired cans of soup while I spray a can of Raid at uninvited guests.

Actually, nevermind. I’ll host.

While we’re talking preferences, don’t go down on me. At least not until I meet you and have good look at your mouth. I don’t really know your dental hygiene habits, and I have this “thing” about clean, sparkly white teeth. There’s no polite way to ask if you floss twice a day, gargle mouthwash, and use a tongue scraper nightly. So I don’t think I’d be into that whole act right away. Or ever, depending upon how many tubes of toothpaste you don’t have.

I’m also not into acronyms either. So no DP, DVDA, MMF, MFF, MMMF, BDSM, or ATM…unless you’re referring to your latest bank withdrawal where you used some crisp twenties to buy me chocolates and flowers. I prefer imported Belgium chocolate and bright yellow roses.

Be a sensitive and intuitive lover to my needs, and I promise to reciprocate. Pounding away at me like it’s your last conjugal visit before going to the electric chair is only going to result in me staring at the ceiling, dreaming of Christopher Meloni, and wondering why the FUCK I ever thought posting a “Casual Encounters” ad on Craig’s List would result in anything more than a sweaty, catastrofuck of deadweight grunting on top of me.

You know what? Fuck it. I’m going to stay home with the cat and watch
Ron Popeil’s Showtime Rotisserie Hour while eating stale chicken taquitos from the shady deli down the street that keeps getting shut down by city health inspectors.

Because I guarantee that it will get me off faster than you could ever hope to.

Obviously, “Casual Encounters” is not for everyone.

So this would end up being my ad. What would your truthful ad say?