December 31, 2010

Hello, 2011

Dear Twenty Eleven,

It's so good to finally meet you! I've heard very good things about you and I'm very excited about the year we'll have together. I must admit I was predisposed to like you anyway; after all, you are an odd number, and I do prefer odd numbers to even. But I think we'll get along in many other ways as well.

I regret that we meet in such circumstances. It's not always easy to have to say goodbye to a bad year, in fact I wish they were all good years, but it does give me the chance to meet new years, like you. I understand not all years are the same, and I know there are a lot of factors about years that cannot be compared, but it's still obvious which years are good and which years are bad. I hope that meeting under such circumstances does not tarnish what good we can do together.

Before we begin, I'd like to make clear my objectives for the next 12 months. First, I need a new job. It's something I've been working at for a while and something I hope can be cleared up in no time. You'll like the work I've done so far: clean and updated resume, positive outlook and great interview skills (one I get an interview, that is). Second, I registered to run a half marathon. I have less than 3 months to prepare, but I've already paid $65 so I can't back out now. I'm going to need a little support on this. Third, there's a long list of projects of various sizes, ranging from finally fixing my car to building back my savings account (also, a long list of purchases of various amounts I need to make, ranging from good running shoes to a new computer) that I'm going to need to tackle. I hope they won't be too daunting for us. I also have a strong desire to increase the frequency of my posts by about double. But this shouldn't be a difficult task.

I look forward to the hope that turning over a new leaf brings us both. I feel confident we'll attain our goals and that time will fly, in a good way.

Finally, I want to extend my gratitude. You've stepped in at a crucial time, at just the right moment, and I'm thankful you're here. Now, let us both look forward to many happy times to come!


Lindsay Marie

December 29, 2010

100% Real Chicken!

Go to a fast food restaurant. Or drive around and check out billboards. Or just turn on the TV and watch some commercials. I guarantee you'll be promised 100% real chicken. Or real cheese. Or real beef. Real food. At restaurants.

Am I the only one who thinks it's silly that restaurants feel the need to advertise that they sell real food? Are the ones that advertise real meat implying that the ones that don't are selling fake meat? Is there any chance that we're eating fake food products? If there isn't any chance of that, why would some restaurants advertise that they sell real food?

This is a scary thought. The thought is made more scary having just finished The Jungle. That is a scary book, especially because it's all real. Sinclair went undercover in a Chicago slaughterhouse in order to write the book. He got a job, toiled as a worthless cog, saw the insides of the meat industry, and wrote so the rest of the world could understand. And understand they did. Well, kind of. The Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act were passed, which was a step in the right direction, but his goal was a bit loftier. He wanted to expose the lies of America for what they were: lure people with the promise of wealth and the American Dream and crush their hopes for a decent existence. But that book was written waaaaay back in 1906, over 100 years ago. No way food is still produced the same way, especially after all the regulations we have now.


That's what I'm not sure of. Sure, sausage isn't made from the scraps of beef on the slaughterhouse floor anymore (I think...), but would we be proud of how our meat is made? Probably not. A new report came out showing the amount of antibiotics in the livestock we eat: an insane 80% of all antibiotics consumed in the United States is consumed by livestock. Americans only consume 20% of all antibiotics in the country. But if we feed our animals all these drugs, aren't we consuming them in the end when we eat the animals?

And what does 100% real mean???

Turns out I'm not the only one asking this question. There's a Facebook page wondering what McDonald's served us before if now they're serving us "100% real" chicken. It seems that the more I learn about the food I eat the more questions I have. Now I understand why there are people who only eat "dead" plants (like, apples that fell from the tree on their own accord) and why there are people who will spend 4 times the regular cost of produce for organic. There has to be a happy medium somewhere, a way to eat food responsibly and healthfully without going into debt. It seems the search for answers continues.

December 19, 2010

Guns On A Plane

The concessions we make, as Americans, when going through our airports has gotten a little ridiculous. I was fine taking off my jacket. I was fine even taking off my shoes. But I'm not fine taking off my underwear, or letting TSA agents see my naked body through an x-ray scanner. Many, many people, however, don't feel the same way, and will put up with all the infringements on our rights the TSA forces upon us because it's the quickest way through security and dammit we want to fly. Many people even feel safer exposing their bodies in the scanners because they believe if a terrorist were to try passing through the security measures the TSA would catch them.

Here's why that last part isn't true:

This article tells of an Iranian-American man carrying a loaded pistol through an x-ray and onto a plane. This article shows how the metal detector and TSA pat down aren't enough to keep bombs from planes. This article tells how airports catch testers when they're tipped off about a covert test. What this all boils down to is 20 security failures out of 22 tests in Newark, 50 failures out of 70 tests in Los Angeles and 45 failures out of 75 attempts in Chicago. That means that if each of those failures were a terrorist wanting to blow up a plane there would be hundreds dead. That means our security measures just aren't cutting it.

So, if security isn't doing much in the way of protecting Americans while flying, why should I submit to the ineffective and degrading procedures? I can't bring my face lotion on a plane. I have to buy special toothpaste in small packages before I fly. I have to choose between having a stranger see me naked or another stranger touch private and sensitive parts of my body in order to fly. Some Americans say that's what it costs to be free. But I sure as hell don't feel free.

But here's something that makes me have hope: Ron Paul introduced the American Traveler Dignity Act. In it, he suggests that Americans need not give up our rights or our dignity in order to fly. The act intends that:
"airport security screeners are not immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us."
Paul further suggests we allow the airlines themselves the opportunity to provide their own security. After all, they have arguably a bigger investment in keeping Americans alive and safe on their planes because if they were slacking they would lose business, while the government can say, "oops, sorry" and not really lose anything but a moment of silence if we have another terrorist attack. Bottom line is Americans shouldn't have to give up their rights for the right to travel by airplane.

December 8, 2010

Ode To The Internet: A Tradition

Old news: I move a lot.
Newish news: Every time I do, I miss the Internet so much I decide to dedicate a post to all things wonderful about it.

I probably wouldn't have done so with this move, but this wait for the Internet has been the most brutal yet. My new roommate and I planned ahead specifically because we didn't want exactly what happened to happen. We discussed our internet options, chose a carrier, made the call, ordered the supplies, and two days after move-in a box arrived and we had our modem. I excitedly texted her to say I would set it up and get everything working. It was better than Christmas.

And that's when bad things started to happen.

Seconds after I got the box open I saw a letter with GIANT BOLD LETTERS instructing us to not install it until our installation date and time. It was a week away from December 1st and my heart jumped at the thought of having to wait a whole week, after we'd been so careful. Scrolling the page for a date, my stomach sank when I found it: December 7th, 8pm. Not one week away, but TWO FUCKING WEEKS AWAY! It made no sense. I frantically texted my roommate again explaining the situation, hoping she'd have some magical answer to make what I read irrelevant. Alas, it was not the case.

In an attempt to get around this ridiculous installation date, she called our carrier (AT&T, we'll see about you) to try to enlighten them of the fact that we've received our modem and would not only like to set it up now, but like to pay for a whole two more weeks of service. And the bastards said no.

Finally, after two weeks of being frustrated with my phone's limited capabilities, bringing my computer over to every friend's house with wireless (and, in a show of desperation, even one that didn't), and going to coffee shops and buying a tea in exchange for the interwebs (which is all in all a very pleasant experience, save for the terrifying 2 minutes in the bathroom hoping no one would steal my POS laptop because I just had to pee and the thought of packing everything up to go 10 feet away seemed ridiculous), December 7th arrived. I sent another excited text to my roommate (and maybe a few other people...) and happily began preparing dinner, waiting for 8pm to come.

It came. The Internet, however, did not. I felt so helpless. It had been set up by my roommate's friend and she wasn't even home and I was starting to lose it. I didn't know what to do. A whole night went by with us, again, internetless. Which is not to say it was a bad night. On the contrary, we ate enchiladas, drank wine, watched TV and played cards. But when I woke up I was determined: I would have internet today. I braved the angry howls of my roommate's cat, who was hiding under her bed and letting me know my intrusion into her territory was most unwelcome, to check all the connections. Everything was solid. Again, I felt helpless. I was ready to call AT&T and let them know of my frustrations when my roommate came home on her lunch break and tried a different phone jack.


But there's a problem: the other phone jack is in the living room, and she needs everything set up in her room for her desktop, which does not have a wireless card. With a non-functioning phone jack in the room the Internet needs to be in, the Internet Ordeal is not over. As a temporary solution, there are very long cables connecting the modem and router from the phone jack in the living room to the desktop in the bedroom. It's not pretty, but it's functional, and that's about all I'm concerned with right now.

And so I have my Internet. My fun (Reddit, Fark, Damn You Autocorrect), my love (this here blog) and my sustainability (back to the job hunt) are back. No more stealing a connection from the neighbors, no more shitty loading times when trying to watch a video and no more disconnect from the world. I'm back online, and I love the Internet.

December 5, 2010

Eating Animals: A Review

This guy knows what's up. And so do I.

I've embarked on a mission. Since middle school I've restricted my meat intake, cutting out cows, pigs, sheep (not that I ever even ate sheep) and fish (but I didn't even like fish anyway). Then I discovered I really liked fish and kept my meat-eating to fish and poultry. Then I more or less discovered (rediscovered? remembered? acknowledged?) the pain and suffering most poultry endures to become food, so I decided to (mostly) stick to free range birds and sustainable fish. Then I discovered how expensive it is to eat animals and by default became a vegetarian-when-alonekind of person who ate chicken and fish when someone else was doing the grocery shopping.

Then I read Foer's book, Eating Animals. I learned cows are treated the best of any animal we eat (which is still awful), pigs are treated better than they used to (which is still awful), and birds and fish suffer the worst (which is awful). Which is interesting because I and probably others restricted our diets to poultry because we figured cows were too... human... to eat. Chickens are birds and fish are fish, and they're much further removed evolutionarily from us mammals. But as Foer rightfully points out, they still feel pain and their ethical regulations are kind of nonexistent, with stuffed bird cages stacked one on top of the other and fish left hanging on hooks for hours at best. So when you look at it that way, the best thing to do is to be a vegetarian.

Actually, the best thing to do is to be vegan, but that takes resources unavailable to many people. And, let's face it, I'm not giving up cheese.

As Foer mentions several times throughout his book, what you eat is a choice. You choose to order chicken or beef or fish or no meat at all. Every meal is a choice, and every time you choose meat you support the meat industry, like it or not. Foer, obviously, chooses to be a vegetarian and to raise his young son vegetarian.

But here's where I disagree with him: though he never once wrote that the goal of his book was for everyone to become vegetarian, he did say those in the know about the animal industry have a responsibility to inform others of the meaning of their choice. Which means you should inform your friends and family that their turkey sandwich is the end product of hundreds of thousands of birds suffering cruel torture their whole, short lives until dying a slow and painful death, and that's to say nothing of the toxins and bacteria found in the meat. The biggest problem with that plan, though, is it's a surefire way to lose friends and alienate people. And then what good are you to the vegetarian mission if everyone you know thinks you're crazy?

Where I do agree with Foer is that every time you eat you influence others. I believe that is a stronger method of conversion, even if just for one meal, than scaring your tablemates with horror stories of factory farms. When others see your delicious vegetarian meal (creamy mushroom risotto, for example... mmmmm) they'll be more apt to think they ought to give that a try next time. But if you're sitting at the table with a salad and everyone else ordered a juicy steak, telling them the pain and suffering that cow endured right before they take their first bites isn't going to win anyone over.

I think I can sum up America's problem with meat consumption in one sentence: we believe that we have to have some sort of meat on the plate or it's not a complete meal. (For example, bacon and eggs at breakfast, turkey sandwich at lunch, meat sauce on pasta, and pepperoni on pizza.) When we have a vegetarian meal we think we're being so healthy or giving up so much, when we really aren't. The picture below is what I ate while typing this paragraph.


A black bean, corn and onion mix, spooned onto a tortilla with melted cheese, and topped with bell peppers, tomatoes and spinach. I served myself with a side of mango salsa and tortilla chips, and I felt very satisfied.

And speaking of myself (because, after all, this is my blog and I am writing about my own little mission for truth), I made the decision to not make a decision. Ta da! I've read one book on the subject and there are hundreds more equally full of good information. I know what my conscience tells me, but I know what my reality is. For the time being, at least until I can read some more books, I'm going to be as vegetarian as possible. It's actually very easy to be vegetarian: meat is just too expensive to buy regularly anyway, and vegetarian dishes from restaurants are almost always as good or better (vegetarian burrito from Chipotle FTW!). My biggest hurdle is cooking with friends. Most of my friends enjoy eating meat and because I'm not skilled in the cooking-vegetarian-dishes-that-meat-eaters-would-love field I give up easily. I'm comfortable enough buying fish that the EDF says are sustainable or eating fish my friends caught themselves (my lady and I make BOMB fish tacos), I'll still put chicken in my enchiladas until I figure out a good meat-free alternative and I'll still eat eggs (which I'll do my best to buy ethically). My homework includes reading The Omnivore's Dilemma (for funzies I'm re-reading The Jungle while I'm in between researching), experimenting with new recipes and shopping for ethical animal products. It will be a process, but it's been an interest of mine for more than a decade, and one I feel compelled to research until I'm satisfied with my personal answer.

November 15, 2010

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

Which old witch? The wicked witch!

Through the magic of Facebook (because my dad cut me out of his life) I learned that my last living grandparent, my dad's mother, died of stomach cancer last night. Most people get pretty upset about losing a grandparent, but most grandparents like their grandkids. Ours not so much.

We never really knew why she didn't like us, but even at a young age we could tell. There was a certain coldness surrounding our dad's mom (who will be referred to as MM) that was present as far back as I can remember. Maybe MM didn't like that we weren't boys (my dad's brothers and sisters all had boys). Maybe MM resented our dad, the baby, leaving the nest. Maybe we symbolized something negative to her. Maybe she blamed me, the first born, for being female and setting precedence. Who the fuck knows.

Today I wondered what that funeral would be like. MM adored her daughters and grandsons, but she picked fights with her sons, her son's wives, and her granddaughters. She wasn't a warm, loving person to anyone (except her dog) and seemed to will the time to pass faster the rare occasion she was put in charge of us. What will people say of her? She was married to and divorced from the same man multiple times, made no effort to contact her sons for years, and created a very exclusive group of individuals she spent her time with. What will everyone else be feeling? Who will say the eulogy? Who will really mean what they say to others? Most of the family (my sisters and I excepted) decided to make amends with MM when they learned she had cancer. But I call bullshit on that. Just because someone is dying doesn't mean they deserve peace. It's like a loophole in Christianity I can't ignore: if you're a terrible person and you have no regard for others you can ask God for forgiveness right before you die and be redeemed and get into heaven. Which means heaven could be filled with those murderers and rapists who got a priest right before the chair. Unfair! Live your life how you want to be remembered!

So, this is how I remember my dad's mother:
When I was less than 2 years old I was blamed for pooping in the corner of MM's living room: a baby taking off her diaper, pooping in the corner, and then putting her diaper back on was a more likely scenario than MM's dog taking a shit in the house. But that was small beans. Here are some of the things our wonderful grandmother said to my very young sister:

Sister: My gramma died.
MM: That's nice. Do you want strawberries on your ice cream?

MM: Do you like that doll?
Sister: Yes.
MM: Would you like to have that doll?
Sister: Yes!
MM: OK, I'll leave it to you in my will.

Sister: Hi Grandma!
MM: Here honey, throw this away, will you?

There were more, but these ones cut pretty hard. And my poor sister just kept on going back, all excited her grandma was here, and kept getting verbally slapped in the face. Eventually she gave up. I think we all got Christmas cards a couple of years ago, but in the last almost decade the only contact we had with her was at our uncle's funeral (which was heartbreaking) and that was only what couldn't be avoided.

"Kickin' it with grandma. Sorry, one I didn't get along with."

Lastly, it would be fucking fantastic if Facebook stopped suggesting I "friend" my dad. The bastard cut me out of his life because he's getting tail and I don't want to sit there and listen to him brag about it. No, we're not "friends."

November 14, 2010

Moving, Again

At least the horse didn't have underwear to ruin.

So, I move a lot. Like, in the 5 years I've lived in San Diego I've had 8 different addresses, and I'm about to get a ninth. That's darn close to moving every 6 months. And believe it or not, I'm about over it.

Also believe it or not, I don't move on a whim. I am a terrible roommate picker. When I first moved here I decided to live with a friend of the family who went to my school. She was certifiably insane, but I stuck it out for a year and a half before I threw in the towel. The next house I lived in was OK, some typical roommate problems (girlfriends moving in and being messy...) but I moved because the lease ended and we all went our separate ways. The next house had one girl who refused to acknowledge I existed (not so much as a nod when we passed each other in the hall) and another who made giant, smelly messes in the kitchen and left them for a week. The next house... well, the next house had a 6 year old whose dad hit on me, a messy girlfriend who lived for free because she walked around half naked, a roommate wrapped around a crumbling "open" marriage, and a host of smaller issues. Then (and this was without a doubt the worst decision of my entire life) I moved into a new house with the roommate and the girl who was leaving her husband for him, and my sister. Very shortly after that was the glorious year I lived in my studio. I remember first seeing the Craigslist ad for it, seeing the place, checking out the location, and thinking, "this is too good to be true." But it wasn't. I know some of my neighbors didn't have the greatest experience, and I'm sure I had gotten to such a low point with roommates that any experience living solo would be great, but it really was the greatest. Unfortunately, a month after signing the lease I got laid off. I was able to stay the whole year, but towards the end finances were so tight. So I got another address. I ended up with a great roommate (but I knew he'd be great ahead of time, so it wasn't like I got lucky or anything) but we lived in a boring area in an apartment neither of us liked. Less than six months later I had yet another address.

And the roommate at this address rivals the first I had: either certifiably insane or on hardcore drugs. I knew he was a little weird when I moved in (and I've written about my annoyances before), but the events of the last week have made me so fucking glad I have a new address all lined up. A few nights ago I was all curled up in bed, lights out, TV off, winding down a text message convo with a buddy, just closing my eyes... when from the next room I hear, "NO! OH NO! NO NO NO NO!" THUD. He jumps out of bed, runs around his room and slams doors for a few seconds. Then he tears off down the hallway, booming like a minotaur, throws open the front door and runs outside. At 1 AM. In his boxers. Meanwhile, I'm very awake, very terrified, double checking the lock on my door and peeking out my window at the crazed man in his underwear on the sidewalk, silently but furiously begging him to not come to my window. Suddenly he calms down, turns around, walks back in the house, slams his bedroom door, and starts talking. He talks every now and then, and I can never tell if he's on the phone, on Skype or if he might even have someone in there. Now I'm starting to believe he's not talking to anyone... he's just talking. For the next two nights he screamed in the same way, but didn't get up. All I could do was send a text or two, just in case something went wrong, and countdown in my head until I get the keys to the new place. I was actually too afraid to go to a friend's house because unlocking the door and going down that hall was way too scary.

So I think I'm pretty justified in moving, again. Though I will admit to getting real pleasure from the process. Hunting on Craigslist, seeing apartments, feeling that tingle when you find the right one, then setting up my new room, trying out my new kitchen, finding the right place for everything feels really good. I can only imagine when I'm looking for a house... the process will probably consume my life for at least a year. But I imagine liking that year very much. And when that happens I think I will be very happy to stay in one place for a long time, to not have anything to escape, to not feel the need to leave. Someday.

November 5, 2010

Size Queen

I bought a shirt from Target a week ago. It's a purple plaid button up kind with sleeves you're supposed to roll up to your elbows, and all in all pretty cute. Not really worth writing about but I'm mostly pleased, especially at $10.

Thing about this shirt, though, is it's labeled extra small and it fits me loosely. Now, at a somewhat athletic 5'7" no part of me is "extra small" (except maybe my wrists... somehow I have tiny wrists). I wear a size 8 shoe, anywhere between size 6 and 9 jean, and usually medium, maybe sometimes large shirt depending on the store and if I plan to wear other shirts under it (or if I'm buying it from the Internet, then it could even be extra large, because the Internet is made of midgets), and large jackets. Nothing I own is "extra small," until this shirt.

Joan Holloway would have a difficult time finding the right clothes now.

This isn't a one-time occurrence, or just a Target thing, or a mislabeled shirt or even a maternity shirt accidently put in the wrong section (dear god how embarrassing would that be). Clothes sizes are getting bigger. I've been trying on shirts labeled "small" at a handful of shops. This also definitely isn't a case of me losing weight, as awesome as that would be, because I was just at the doctor and the numbers are, unfortunately, not going down even though I took my shoes off. Others have noticed the change too. My sister just gave me a pair of jeans (Sevens!) because she said they're too short for her. Sizes are getting bigger!!!

Now, to be honest I felt pretty good about being a small sometimes, but owning a shirt that is extra small is a little ridiculous. I mean, what are the girls who really are extra small supposed to wear? If I'm wearing an extra small, and it fits loosely, a girl who is 5'2" and 105 pounds would have to start shopping in the kids section.

The big problem I see with sizes changing is it's giving us a false sense of comfort. It's no secret America is one of the fattest countries in the world (we're #3!), so if XXL is now just L seriously obese people might start thinking their weight isn't that bad or, worse, that the bad habits they've practiced over the years are causing them to actually lose weight, giving them even less reason to change. Plus, I don't need anyone trying to tell me I'm extra small when I'm not even small. I'm a medium sized adult woman: I have hips, I have boobs, I have muscles and I'm at least 2 inches taller than the average adult woman in this country. I like the way I am, and I am not extra small.

I'd like clothes companies to stop trying to flatter me. All they're doing is confusing their customers.

November 4, 2010


The most handsome, happy man.

I've kind of been putting off this post because it's another step in the "admitting it's true" direction, and that's still too hard to believe.

Having grown up with all sorts of animals and having maybe a cumulative year and a half of pet-less time in my whole life there've been some really awesome animals. Joker was one of them, and the best dog I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Everyone who knew him, even everyone who just met him passing by or at the park commented on what a wonderful dog he was. No one didn't like Joker.

Staring down the ball.

Joker was the smartest and most obedient dog I've seen by far, and one of the most loyal, most loving and most eager to please creatures on the planet. Part of that was his breeding, but a lot of it was his personality. When you sat on the couch he'd come sit right next to you and put his head on your leg, staring up into your eyes with such unashamed adoration. If you didn't immediately respond with love he nudged you with his chest, then threw his leg up on you. He needed to be next to the ones he loved as often as possible.


The mere sight of his leash or a ball or frisbee or the neighbor kids or anything that could be chased (rock, tree bark, water bottle, dart, some other dog's ball) he would wag his whole body with explosive excitement. Sometimes it looked like he'd fall over from wagging too much. At the dog park he almost completely ignored other dogs and people and stared at the ball like it was an enemy to destroy. He outran all other dogs in the chase, flew headfirst into wherever the ball landed, often coming back with a face full of dirt or grass but always an unmistakably happy grin of accomplishment. His teeth were so worn down because of his enthusiasm for playing. Sometimes he got so wound up over fetch that he'd throw the ball back in your general direction, too eager for the next game to bring it all the way to your hand. But just call him over and ask for it nicely and he'd put it gently in your hand. It took all of his self control to do that. It was amazing.

What he lived for.

Joker died quite suddenly on Halloween night. His absence has left a gaping hole in his family, his house is empty, and those who loved him have hollow hearts. People often live for animals more than they realize, and losing one, especially when he was the most amazing animal, can make life seem worthless. Joker was too young and far too good to die. He should have lived forever, or at least until right before his family died, so that way he'd never have to feel the pain of separation.

Dog tired.

If there is a rainbow bridge or a heaven or a place where good souls go, Joker's is there. And I hope there is so he can see those he loved again, and so they can play endless games of fetch and so they can lay down, dog tired, together again.

October 31, 2010

Eating Animals

I kind of have a hard time eating guys like this.

As you may have noticed to the left, I'm reading a book called Eating Animals. Eating Animals is a book I've wanted to read for a long time now for it's frank journalistic look at what eating animals means for us, for animals, and for the planet. The author has had a on-again off-again relationship with eating meat, often being a vegetarian who had bacon on Sundays and on burgers. The book is not, so far at least, an evangelical vegetarian piece. It proposes an honest look at our meat industries, doing research too involved to do on a smaller scale and too unbiased for Peta or other animal welfare groups. The author, Jonathan Safran Foer, is someone who really likes the idea of vegetarianism but also really likes how meat tastes. When his first son was born he realized that he would have to make decisions about food for him, and he decided he couldn't do that without knowing what that meant.

The first few chapters talked almost exclusively about tuna. I read those chapters while eating a tuna melt. The second time I sat down to read I was eating a banana with peanut butter. The third time I ate black bean and corn tacos. I feel I'm going to find it more difficult to eat meat as I read this book, an issue Safran Foer discusses. He points out that the automatic assumption we make when reading about meat, even when we see the title Eating Animals, is that it must be against the meat industry for its inhumane practices, and if that's the automatic assumption made by the majority of the people, what does that tell us? It tells us that we already know the meat industry is wrong, that even if eating meat isn't wrong in itself, that how we treat and kill the animals we do eat is wrong.

One of the reasons I like Safran Foer (so far) is his inquisitive manner and understanding way of writing. He likes meat. It tastes good. He gets that. He just also gets the importance of not supporting the way we obtain our meat. To him, supporting something he believes in is worth ignoring his cravings. He's not out there to convert you- just to provide any reader with the information they need to make a decision 3 times a day. If you make the decision to eat meat, fine. But here are the facts anyway.

Peta, take note. The whole "chickens are people, too" campaign doesn't work. Mostly because chickens aren't people.

October 28, 2010

Why I Hate The McDonalds Smoothie Commercial

Why so serious?

I already don't like McDonalds, but having to listen to crappy radio commercials makes me like it less. Their fruit smoothie commercial, however, is the worst in a while. Here's why:

The ticking: I get it's meant to simulate how a working mother might feel going through her rushed and hectic day, but all it does is make me anxious, like I'm late for something. Since it's a radio commercial, I'm probably listening to it in the car, which means I'm probably at work, which means I'm already anxious. Thanks for adding to my stress, McDonalds.

The voice: The woman's voice was chosen perfectly. It sounds like it belongs to a woman who is not only raising a family but working full-time, and doing it with a perky and upbeat attitude, no less. Bite me, perky perfect housewife. I'm not raising a family or even working full-time and I'm not perky or upbeat half the time. So this woman is superwoman, doing everything she's expected to and with a happy face. And if you drink McDonalds fruit smoothies you can be too!

The boss: She has to compliment her boss's haircut as soon as she gets to the office. So her boss is a woman, which conveys a progressive America. However, the commercial also conveys she must compliment her female boss's new haircut if she wants to get anywhere, just like she'd need to blow her male boss if she wants to get anywhere. Or maybe this woman thinks that by complimenting her boss's haircut she'll have an edge over the men in the office, who likely won't notice or compliment it if they did. Either way, way to work for progression in America, McDonalds.

The job: So the woman gets in to work and barely checks her e-mail before she starts to slow down. Really? Was the haircut complimenting a little tiring, dear? I get she's supposed to be a busy working mother (she spent all morning making sure Janie has her book report, after all) but she should be able to get past 10am without a pick me up.

The pitch: The woman acts like getting a new fruit smoothie from McDonalds is the smartest thing she's done all day. She's not just reenergized, she's HAPPY! OMG IT HAS REAL FRUIT THIS IS SO EXCITING!

The return to work: The rest of her work day is all fun time play now that she's had a smoothie from McDonalds. She's sitting at her desk, giggling like an idiot and e-mailing ridiculous photos and youtube videos on company time and equipment. Oh, and if you're ROTFLOL at work you'll probably attract attention, and then all that hair complimenting you did earlier will go right out the door. And if you're not ROTFLOL then you shouldn't say you're ROTFLOL.

The couch: It's 5pm, no one bug mommy on the couch after a hard day at work. So, lady, all your time with your children was in the morning? Now you're not making dinner or helping them with their book reports or spending quality time with them? You've had a rough day getting the kids to school, sipping a smoothie and e-mailing pictures so now you deserve to veg out on the couch? Some supermom.

The text message: Oh wait, you were going to veg out on the couch all night (after all, you deserve it for being a hard working mom!) but Rachel texted you for girls night out. At fucking McDonalds. So, girls night out is now when you spontaneously leave your kids at home to go sit on tiny uncomfortable red and yellow plastic chairs and watch other people's kids run around like animals and play in the ball pit? Really? You don't go to, I don't know, maybe a relaxed wine bar? Or coffee shop? You'd really rather go to McDonalds for girls night out and watch other people's kids run amok? Do you also go to a cubicle farm on your vacations from work?

Lame. And beyond irritating.

October 17, 2010

Love Songs

Love may lift us up where we belong, but it can also drag us down. Sometimes way down. And after listening to rock radio stations for the last decade I know it's not just girls whose hearts are in the gutter- love and heartache is the stuff of all-dude bands, too.

Either way, my heart fucking aches.

I'd been feeling somewhat abandoned by various males lately and my dad's sudden and complete abandonment was the icing on shit cake. Plus, it's hard to find someone to talk to about it: a couple of close friends know, but it's so unbelievable that I almost feel like anyone would think I'm making it up, even though I'm obviously not, and I don't want to talk their ears off, which I've been doing for years, thanks to my overly dramatic family. If I talk about it with friends who are less close or don't know the full story that is my family it's like I'm searching for condolences, which I'm not. But I do need to talk about it with someone, so, world, here you are.

I'm having a hard time dealing with rejection, real and perceived. I feel rejected by a friend who talks about nothing but the goodness of positive people in your life; I valued him highly but now I'm questioning his role in my life... maybe it wasn't as positive as I thought. I feel rejected by a friend I had romantic feelings for, which were rejected, and now I'm feeling rejected as a friend (which may or may not be related and which may or may not be real). I feel rejected by yet another friend (geeze, these are all male friends...) who talked a big game about friendship and staying in touch but who now seems to have forgotten I existed. I think what hurts the most about these rejections is they lead to realizations that these people I once thought so highly of end up disappointing me once they stop being the amazing souls I saw and start being real people.
Also, it's getting harder and harder to tactfully handle the "why don't you have a boyfriend" questions when the askers just can't believe that I don't. True, I've done more rejecting than being rejected, but it would be nice, just once, to have my crush turn into a relationship, rather than be someone else's crush-turned-girlfriend. Maybe the problem with that is I don't get those butterflies very often and when I do finally get those feelings it's because we've become friends, and then it's just awkward.

But to have your own father abandon you as his child is the ultimate form of rejection. But it happens: listening to the radio made me realize also how many songs are about fathers leaving. At least I'm an adult, not a little kid. But your parents are supposed to love you unconditionally. My relatives tell me he'll always love us and I try to remind myself that they're right, but it doesn't feel like it at all. If you love someone you call them on their birthday. If you love someone you make yourself available, even if you disagree sometimes. If you love someone you don't tell them you love your girlfriend more. If you love someone you don't tell them you never wanted them around. I'm sure deep down he feels a little guilty, deep down he still does love us... but he's trying to make us think he doesn't. My sisters and I discussed some of the things going on with our aunt and uncle who brought up another point: we may blame our dad's girlfriend for doing these terrible things and convincing our father that we're awful people who don't deserve his love, but he is an adult and is making these decisions on his own, knowing full well what he's doing. And that's the disgusting part: he's doing this on purpose. To his own kids. And that's what's so painful.

So, I was already kind of feeling a little down and out regarding my relationships with the rest of human kind when my dad dropped that bomb, but it seems things all happen together. Maybe it's best that way. Things can only go up from here, right? And maybe some of those romantic love songs I hear on the radio will have some meaning in my life again.

October 10, 2010


I found out - on my birthday - that my sisters and I have no place in our dad's life anymore. I knew that he had asked my youngest sister to leave, I knew that he had kept her dog and took her key back, I knew he refused to see our middle sister in order to give back mail, and I knew he had no contact with them since. And my birthday came and went without so much as a card, phone call or even text message. Both sister's called, I texted back and forth with my mom all night long, friends called and texted throughout the day and my godmother texted and sent a card. Nothing from my dad.

Thing was, though, I figured that would happen. After he cut off contact with my sisters why should he call me on my birthday? As bad as I felt the next morning when I woke up and realized he really ignored me, it was also a small relief. He's made his feelings and intentions clear: the only company he cares about is his girlfriend. Other than her he has no family and that's the way he prefers it.

It's almost funny. My dad has been such a shit to us, even going to far as to spread lies and exaggerations about us (his kids!) to our extended family, telling me to my face he never wanted kids, telling my sister to her face that he would choose his girlfriend over us any day, and now has fully disowned us, abandoning his daughters for a manipulative woman, doing (to his pathetic credit) exactly what he said he wanted to do. At least he's consistent. And at least holidays will be a little bit simpler: no hurt feelings over whose house we go to for which meal, no trying to split the time evenly between parents, no fighting because we were a half hour late or had a big meal at one house and weren't hungry for the next.

But this abandonment, even though I knew it was inevitable, is a bit of a hurdle. Part of me hopes when they break up he'll see the error of his ways and go back to being a dad to us, but even if he does how could I forgive him? Being abandoned by a parent, no matter how old you are, is something you'll never forget. And as much as maybe I shouldn't feel this way because I know my dad and know how he is once a vagina decides to stick around, it fucking hurts.

September 30, 2010

Somewhere I Belong

These guys are my friends.

Sometimes it's easy to feel like you don't belong anywhere. Often enough I didn't feel like I fit in with my family, I didn't fit in with coworkers, and I didn't fit in at school. The first time I really felt like I belonged with people was in photo caravans. All of a sudden there were these people who shared the same interests as me. And they were really passionate! Like me! It was the most exciting time of my life. I grew so much in 5 months, learned I didn't really belong in my relationship, learned I didn't have to compromise what I really cared about in order to have meaningful companionship. And I felt fantastic!

Few jobs in my working life did I feel more outcast than in Flightline and at Sammy's. Currently, there are certainly those times when I feel like I don't belong. Walking through the office I'm sometimes talked to like I don't understand what's going on. I mean, I'm just the driver. Few people know I have a degree, few see my dedicated work ethic, and few imagine that I know as much as I do about the secret goings on of the school. When the salaried staffers are taking off at 4:59PM, buzzing about getting to happy hour and I'm just walking in for the night shift I feel a little left out. It also doesn't help that my job entails taking bus loads of kids to clubs downtown.

The other day I was feeling especially frustrated, not just because of work. But these students are incredible. They can tell in 2 seconds if you're having a bad day and they make you feel so much better. One girl gave me Swiss chocolate (the real deal), one boy is trying to help me find a new roommate, and some seem to think they have a right to the passenger seat. I actually look forward to Wednesday nights (In Cahoots) and Friday nights (lately it's been Fluxx night) because they get in these ridiculously infectious good moods. It's sad to see them go back to their countries. Some would seek me out before they left just to say goodbye- it made me feel like I was a significant part of their experience in San Diego.

We just got about 120 new students who will be with us for the next 6-9 months and so far so good. Because I welcomed a good 40 or so as they stepped off the plane I'm learning the new faces and names (and house families) quickly. And they recognize me. And with them I feel like I belong.

September 27, 2010

Gluten-Free Is Silly

I've heard (perfectly healthy) people (who can regularly tolerate gluten) talk about how cutting gluten from their diets has made them less lethargic or crabby, but I wonder what's really causing the difference. It could be that they're just eating less, or eating more vegetables, or cutting back on fat and salt, or exercising more, or just experiencing a placebo effect. Tons of people who aren't normally affected by gluten have decided that gluten is the devil and must be avoided at all costs. Look around in the grocery store: gluten-free brownies, gluten-free pizza crust, even gluten-free bread!

Granted, if you have celiac disease you probably don't want to die... but this isn't about that 1% of the American population, it's about the rest being silly. My dad's girlfriend is all about gluten-free; when my sisters were living with them they complained about there never being any food around. While there was always food around, it was either raw vegetables or gluten-free (not exactly easy to prepare on the run and not exactly tasty). They complained gluten-free pancakes didn't taste good, and I scoffed at them and suggested they suck it up for the free food. While I was visiting I made some Trader Joe's gluten-free brownies, thinking if it's from Trader Joe's it must taste good. Not true! That pan of brownies sat there all weekend... no one, not even my dad or his girlfriend, ate them (highly uncharacteristic of my dad to refuse brownies).

Don't search for images of food when you're hungry or craving sweets.

Which leads me to the word of the day: uncharacteristic. Except for those with celiac disease, people are generally fine with eating gluten. True, it's a relatively recent thing for our bodies to learn to accept in terms of intestinal evolution, but you may have noticed humans are pretty hardy little buggers; if we've been A-OK with it for the last 10,000 years, why has the last year or so been so tough on our little tummies? Because it hasn't! We're just fine with eating gluten, but celebrities and fad diets have told us otherwise and now a quarter of US adults are buying everything gluten-free.

But there's a giant glitch: gluten is a naturally occurring protein in wheat, barley and rye. You know what else comes from wheat, barley and rye? BEER. True, there are gluten-free beers available, but just try going into your regular bar or restaurant and ordering one. I would love to see someone order a gluten-free pizza crust ($5 extra) and a Bud Light. How silly.