Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday night

Mom has spent a lot of time talking about how people don't know, don't understand history.

Dad was talking about false cognates. I mentioned (in Russian) how they were a common pitfall in the Czech Republic. Mom corrected me.

Mom: In Czechoslovakia.
Dad: No.
A.: Um, no.
Mom: No?
Dad: They separated.
Mom: Slovakia spit off?
Dad: Yeah.
A.: Like, 20 years ago.

They were also taunting me, inadvertently, with talk of their solar panels.

A.: Yeah, not as affordable in Virginia. The policies don't favor them. Largely because the coal lobby is powerful and the heads of the state government don't believe in global warming.
Dad: What do you mean?
A.: I mean, the last Pope already pardoned Galileo for suggesting that the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around, but there are people in this country who still aren't there, and one of them is VA's attorney general.
Dad: Unemployment would be even worse in Virginia if it weren't for coal.
A.: It's ironic that the two people who have offered that argument or a variation on it are the ones who rail against socialism. How is it capitalistic to keep an industry afloat as an employment program?
Dad: That's a fair point.

Friday evening

The trip to the beach was peaceful, once we left the house. Mom did quip, in the car, once she noticed that I was sitting up front, that "we really do sacrifice everything for our children." I reminded her that I asked her where she wanted to sit before we got in the car.

By the time we left the beach, just before 5pm, I was already hungry. Which is not surprising because we didn't have lunch, just brought some nuts and grapes with us. We'd planned on stopping at Trader Joe's on the way back, because my parents like to buy chocolate there and the moths had gotten to theirs. I had to point this out to them this morning when I opened it. They have so much stuff that they don't notice when moths get into it.

So I was trying, actively, not to snap at mom in Trader Joe's, but she was not only taking her sweet time but insisting that I sample whatever they were offering (she had already sampled it and found it amazing). This was especially time consuming because there was a whole family blocking the sampling booth. For a long time. Finally, I peaked over the family and saw that it was a guacamole blend with Greek yogurt. I told mom as much. Mom said, you should try it. I reminded her that I didn't eat yogurt. Dad and I went to check out (I'd grabbed everything we needed within two minutes). She was still dilly-dallying back there. Oh, and she started complaining about how dad parked in the back, instead of across the street, and now he'd have to turn left. Which was much less of an issue than having her cross the very wide street. But that didn't stop her from complaining about it in both directions, even after we were long gone from the parking lot.

We agreed that dad would park at the liquor store and mom and I would walk home. Except mom wanted to stop at WF. I told her, go ahead, I was just there yesterday. But she felt like going in and seeing what samples they had. I was starving, so I continued on my way. I got in, unloaded the groceries, and started snacking and making salad. Mom got in, asked why I was cooking in the dress. I said it would be fine.

A few minutes later, mom again noted that I was cooking in the dress and should change. I said it would be fine.

This happened a third time. The fourth time, I said, "for the fourth time, no."

Mom: What fourth time? It's not the fourth time.
A.: Yes it is.
Mom: You know what? Keep counting.
A.: Hasn't required extra effort, yet.
Mom: You are horrible. You are cold. You are overly rational and cold.

Mom leaves, comes back.

Mom: Overly rational, and cold! This isn't my problem; it's your problem. I don't know what it's like, but I can only imagine. It's for your sake that you could work on this.

We're still here

We're still here. Mom is f*ing around with something or other upstairs. I'm waiting for her to come downstairs and blame dad and me for wasting time. Maybe she won't do that until we get to the beach and see that it's crowded.


A.: You're going to want to retire at some point, right?
Dad: Well, I am 75.
A.: Right.
Dad: But everyone I know who's retired isn't happier.
A.: What if you travel? Instead of hanging out around the house.
Dad: Because traveling with mom is uncomplicated. Remember China? Remember Arizona?
A.: I do.
Dad: I do, too.

A couple of months ago, I'd told dad it was too bad he couldn't make it to Prague. He agreed, but said, "well, you know, when mom's not happy, she makes sure nobody's happy." And he wouldn't leave her here alone, which is probably just as well.

So let's recap: mom's 75 year-old husband doesn't want to travel with her and would rather keep working than spend more time with her. Oh, and also with regard to Prague, one of her closest friends was relieved when she bowed-out of attending her daughter's wedding, because she feared mom's drama-queen tendencies. But mom still takes it upon herself to lecture everyone else on what's wrong with them.

Evidence I don't eat right

I've had an apparently permanent pimple or other blemish on my forehead for as long as I can remember. Mom asked about it during breakfast.

A.: So if we leave within an hour...
Mom: What's that on your forehead?
A.: What's what on my forehead?
Mom: That?
A.: It's a pimple.
Mom: Huh.


Mom: What's going on with your skin?
A.: Nothing?
Mom: You have that spot on your forehead.
A.: I've always had that spot on my forehead.
Mom: No, you haven't. It's evidence that you don't eat right.

That robe

I left the breakfast table because mom started seething in political bitterness. I left not because she was saying things I disagreed with--dad was doing that too, but calmly--but because I didn't care for the hatred.

Mom (seething): A liar! A criminal! A socialist!
Dad: I don't think I could respect anyone who could vote for him this time around.
Mom: Welfare checks with no requirements!
A.: Every fact-checker on the planet has debunked that a million times.
Mom: Whatever.

She continues seething. I walk away to blog. Later...

Mom: Where did you get that robe?
A.: What robe?
Mom: The one you're wearing.
A.: It's a dress.
Mom: It is?
A.: Yes.

I get up, go to the kitchen to show her.

Mom, dad: Oh, it is. It's a nice dress. Looks good on you.
A.: Thank you.
Mom: Where did you get it?
A.: I ordered it online.
Mom: How much did it cost?
A.: About $25.
Mom: That's too much. (Pause.) For me.

Wow, that's an improvement. She didn't try to tell me, at least not explicitly, that I shouldn't have paid that much for it.

Friday morning

Mom decided to get out of bed before I was done lifting weights. Which meant she felt the need to sit there, stare at me, and make comments. She asked me a question. I answered curtly.

Mom: You've become very... harsh. Cold. Something's happened.

I wanted to say, "you happened." But all I said was,

A.: Could I please get through my workout without a lecture?

I told dad about the exchange. He said he gets that stuff every day, and that he gets that mom is feeling 'unloved' but it's hard to display affection toward someone who's constantly criticizing and nagging at you.

Odds and ends from and reflections on yesterday

When I opened a drawer in the fridge to get salad ingredients, I saw the moldy breads and had a fit. Mom was outside watering plants (after having yelled at dad for not watering the plants).

A.: That's what she did? She took the moldy bread outside of the plastic wrapper and put it in the crisper drawer? So that the mold can spread to everything else in the drawer?
Dad: Huh. That's some moldy bread. We need to just toss it.
A.: Right.

After dinner, mom threw a fit because no one else was washing the dishes. Dad was making tea, and he and I generally agree on washing the dishes after tea. Then she was angry that no one else was watering plants, and stormed out. Dad and I had tea.

Dad: They've extended my contract again.
A.: Congratulations? Are you happy with that, or are you ready to retire?
Dad: Well... I'm ready to retire, but I'm not ready to be here full time. Can you imagine?

There we have it: the husband of the woman who just told me she knew why I was single, just stated that he wouldn't retire because she would drive him up the wall.

Dad: And if I'm here all day, I'll be able to keep my mouth shut even less. Regular screaming fits, all the time.

Yesterday's "outburst" regarding my unsuitability for human companionship was not mom's first. You may recall that she suggested, nearly four years ago, that I was changing jobs because I had no choice, having alienated everyone I worked with, on account of my overbearing, know-it-all personality and need to be right all the time. A couple of years before that, she lectured me, on my birthday, about talking too much and (again/already) having an overbearing personality. She was telling me this out of concern: she wanted me to have friends. I told her I had friends; she said they were just being polite.

I have to say, I've done very well for myself for someone who's such a nightmare to be around and work with. My friends and coworkers must be really, really f*ing polite and self-sacrificing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


I'm seeing a theme in writing about exercise. From an interview with Tony Horton:
Stop focusing on your six pack abs, for God’s sake, and just focus on the fact that you’re going to be a better human if you get off your butt and eat better. Today.
And from a recent Times Well blog:
For those of college age, for example, physical attractiveness typically heads the list of reasons to begin exercising, although what keeps them going seems to be the stress relief that a regular exercise program provides.
I walk three miles daily, or bike ten miles and swim three-quarters of a mile. If you ask me why, weight control may be my first answer, followed by a desire to live long and well. But that’s not what gets me out of bed before dawn to join friends on a morning walk and then bike to the Y for my swim.
It’s how these activities make me feel: more energized, less stressed, more productive, more engaged and, yes, happier — better able to smell the roses and cope with the inevitable frustrations of daily life.
I can identify with that. That's how exercise was first sold to me: a friend said, "everyone feels better when they exercise," and it's true. I exercised regularly without seeing any fluctuation in weight; that's not why I do it. Once you get used to exercising, not doing it makes you feel crappy. I couldn't wait to get back to the gym after my wisdom-teeth extraction not because I was worried about long-term fitness benefits, and certainly not weight gain; it was more that being sedentary didn't feel good.

I would also extend that to eating well (and particularly, eating vegan), which is what I've tried and failed to convey to my mother. I'm not worried that my head will explode if I put cream in my oatmeal; I just see know need to do it. I feel good, and I don't see any reason to mess with that. I also understand how if you're not in that zone with either food or exercise, there's a lot of resistance to making changes.

And even more so than feeling good, it's a matter of functioning better. I'm cranky when I'm tired (or hungry). Sleep is important to me not just so I can feel good--I know I can function on limited sleep--but so that I'm the best me at work and around the people in my life. I take care of myself in terms of food, sleep, and exercise in part because if you don't take care of yourself, you're of no use to anyone else. My mom doesn't see it that way; she sees herself as a martyr for foregoing sleep, or as a trooper for skimping on food because she's just too busy. Honestly, it just exacerbates her already difficult disposition.

Just recently:

Mom: I'm so tired. I went to bed late and got up early. And it's making me achy.
A.: Go to sleep.
Mom: What does sleep have anything to do with it?

I've seen people at work 'martyr' themselves by pushing food and sleep, and then come down with debilitating colds. To people who think that kind of thing works, I probably come off as self-indulgent, perhaps even fitness-obsessed. I've only recently come to understand the magnitude of the divide between people for whom exercise is a part of life, and those who perceive it as an exotic hybrid of luxury and discipline. I maintain--and I'm vindicated by the above excerpts--that it's really about taking care of yourself and the people around you.

Thursday Dinner

Mom approaches the dinner table, looks at the counter nearby.

Mom: Those poor tomatoes! What happened.
A.: Those are the tomatoes you bought today. Dad just took them out of the shrink wrap.
Mom: Huh. Well, let's try them.
A., Dad: No.
Mom: No tomatoes?
A.: There are fresh tomatoes in the salad. Also, we have two pints of cherry tomatoes. I think the best thing to do with those tomatoes is bake them in a casserole with the eggplant.
Mom: Do we need anything from [the Russian store]? We have those cookies. Do you eat cookies?
A.: Depends on the cookies. [She hands me the package; I read the ingredients.]
Mom: How you've complicated your life! (then, sarcastically) Make sure to read those ingredients carefully.

Have I complicated my life? I've just written about how I feel about obsessing about food, but reading ingredients is something we should all do more of, whether or not you're vegan. Besides, I generally don't consume anything with enough ingredients that they're an effort to read. So, no, I haven't complicated my life. Is there something wrong with knowing what you're eating?

Thursday evening roundup

Two things (second and third letters): unsolicited medical advice is especially not welcome when it comes off as blame, and yes, don't torture your kids about food. Everyone I knew who grew up in restrictive, nutrition-obsessed households has $hitty eating habits. I grew up on sugar cubes and potato chips. No, I don't plan to raise my kids that way, but the other extreme is equally bad (see earlier post on how if there are things you should never eat in this world, white rice is not one of them). Thank goodness my mother waited until I was 30 to help f* up my relationship with food (it took a few years to fight off the influence, and I believe that that--not obsessing about what I ate--had more to do with my dropping the weight than anything else), To my parents' credit, we always ate primarily real food. There were no restrictions on junk food in the house, but it wasn't that appealing because we mostly filled up on the good stuff. The idea of 'never' foods bothers me (well, I never eat meat, but that's a different story); the much better idea is never eat when you're full.

Later that day

Dad and I ended up going to WF anyway. He said something about mom's dilly-dalling having gotten to the point that leaving the house is a crawl. Even this afternoon, when he got in from work before coming to pick me up, mom was insisting on doing a few more things. I told him about the outing to Russo's, about the litany of critiques.

A.: Oh, she said I threw a fit at the slightest provocation.
Dad: Hah! She said that to you? She says that to me all the time.

That's hilarious, because dad is very patient and level-headed. Truthfully and objectively, it's mom who throws a fit at the slightest provocation. I think it's hilarious that she accuses either of us, but especially dad, of doing so.

Dad: Why, why did she buy those shrink-wrapped tomatoes?
A.: I tried to stop her.
Dad: They don't even taste like tomatoes.
A.: I know. But when I told her that she accused me of butting my nose into everything and knowing it all.
Dad: [Sigh.]

Mom knows why I'm single

This afternoon was a perfect storm, or rather, offered perfect storm conditions: I was tired, mom was tired, we agreed to go shopping (i.e., told dad we would), and mom dilly-dallied until the shops would be crowded (I get cranky in crowded shops). Here's a chronology:

2pmish: Dad drops us off (after picking me up from the airport), goes back to work, says he'll be back around 4:30pm. Mom and I say we'll get groceries. We debate between the nearer Whole Foods and the farther (and much less expensive but equally excellent Russo's). I personally hate going to Russo's with my mother because it gets very crowded, and she insists on taking a cart through the store's narrow aisles. But, whatever; at that point I'm game.

For the next hour or so, mom showers and looks for food around the house. She keeps saying she's tired. I encourage her to take a nap. She keeps saying she doesn't want to, it's too nice out... but she doesn't go outside. I proceed to remind her that if we're going to go shopping, we should go shopping. Finally, she agrees that we should go shopping. I ask her if she has the keys to the house. She does not. She looks for them and tells me to look, too. I tell her I don't know what they look like (they recently had the locks changed because one set stopped working). She said they looked like keys. I looked around and saw six pairs of glasses, then seven, but no keys. Then, she found a key. By then, it was almost 4pm.

As we were about to leave the house, mom stopped to dilly-dally about something else. I don't even remember what it was at this point, but it was not important and we didn't have time for it.

A.: Let's go. We'll deal with it later.
Mom: You know what? You make me sick! I don't want to go shopping with you!
A.: Then don't. I'll just go to WF.


Mom: Well, I know that's not what you really want to do. So be it, let's go together.

There are a few more distractions on the way to the car. Finally, we get to the store. Mom passes up a perfectly good parking spot and drives across the lot, in the opposite direction from the store, and parks in the middle of two spots. I point out to her that she didn't park well. She tells me to shut up, but she moves the car.

We start shopping. She tells me to get a cart, which I do, and of course it is I who ends up pushing it through those narrow aisles. I ask her what kind of greens she wants. She briefly deigns to answer before she goes to the section with the pre-packaged discount foods. Which is normally fine, but the only thing there is plum tomatoes, and store-bought plum tomatoes are already horrendous even before being shrink-wrapped like these are. I balk.

A.: Why are you buying those?
Mom: They're a dollar.
A.: That's a great reason.

We keep shopping. I remind mom she already has onions; she insists she does not. I tell her I saw a whole basket. She doesn't believe me. [Upon getting home, I point to the basket of onions. She says, "huh, I don't remember getting those. Maybe dad did. Anyway, I don't remember their being there." I told her I'd reminded her.]

The crowds are gathering; I'm getting crankier. We come across some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes.

A.: Could we get those instead?

Oh, side note: mom thought she lost her wallet (she later found it, in the house, but not before she cancelled all the credit cards). I told her I'd charge the groceries. She insisted she'd pay me back; I said it was fine. Point is, it's not like I'm only going for more expensive groceries because mom's paying for them.

A.: They're not much more expensive, but they're going to be much better.
A.: Alright, whatever you say.
Mom: Now I know.
A.: Now you know what?

I know what she's going to say, but I want her to say it.

Mom: I know why you have problems with people.
A.: Please tell me.
Mom: You're so cold. You're difficult to be around. You emit no warmth!

Mom has a point: when I'm stressed and cranky because I'm in a crowded grocery store that I don't want to be in, I emit no warmth. Guilty as charged.

Mom: No warmth! No warmth!


Mom: I know why you're single!

This went on as we checked out, walked to the car, and drove home. I texted Jay and tweeted as she talked.

Mom: No warmth whatsoever. You're cold. You're difficult to be around. You're a know-it-all!
A.: What all do I know?
Mom: I used to wonder, why things worked out for other people but not for you. Now I know.
A.: Things?
Mom: Relationships. Other people have relationships. You can't.

It's funny, but all three people in this world who have taken the liberty to lecture me about being single are divorced (two, one of whom is my mother, have since remarried). And all three said that they married the first time because they were afraid of being alone, were afraid no one else would come along. If there's one reason I'm single, it's because I'm not afraid of being alone. Note: I'm not suggesting I don't have issues; I'm saying that my issues are no less manageable than those of people who happen to have relationships. In other words, my issues are not why I'm single.

Mom: No warmth! I know this woman, she's really fat. But her husband adores her, because she's not a know-it-all and she emits warmth.

Mom: You're so harsh! And you know what, at this point you couldn't correct course if you wanted to. Maybe you've tried to do it, but you just can't.

I think she's projecting. The truth is, I'm very aware of my more negative tendencies, and I'm very willing to manage them. I don't claim to be perfect (nor do I claim to know everything). I own my behavior even when it's tempting to blame mom for putting me in a mood; it's tempting, but I can't. I know that ultimately it's me.

So here's another guilty as charged: if I'm in a mood, I may snap. Certain things--air travel, crowded grocery stores--bring out the mood in me. There you go: I am not a saint. But does that make me an undateable ice queen?

And I know, and I've told you before, that I was not of a saintly disposition in the weeks that my last relationship went to hell, and it's no "excuse" that I was in a bad place. But the relationship did not go to hell solely because of me or because of my alleged harshness or know-it-allness or lack of warmth. It went to hell because that's where it belonged. Mom may see its demise as a failure on my part, but that relationship could never have been a success. And I can almost assure you that I'm the only one taking responsibility for what I could, should have done better as the relationship failed.

Mom: Warmth is important. But you, you emit a coldness. And you snap over the smallest things!

Okay, now mom is truly projecting.

PS: Dad is now arguing with mom about the plum tomatoes. And mom is throwing a fit in response.

Greetings from Boston

I'm just saying hi; there's little to blog about as yet, apart, perhaps, from dad's concern about my getting up here. I called my parents last night to touch base. Mom asked what time I was getting in. I said, "I think around 2pm?" Dad pointed out that I was quite wrong, that I was arriving much earlier and that the departure time was 11:30am. I assured him that I'd already calculated what time I'd have to leave the house (i.e., just after 10am).

 So he calls me at 10:22 am this morning. To see where I am. I told him I was just about to leave the house. He said I was cutting it close. I said, "I know. That's why I have to go. Bye." He said to keep him posted. I left the house a few minutes later and arrived at the security line at 10:40. I called dad from the gate a few minutes after that, partly because he asked me to and partly because I couldn't help pointing out that he needn't have fussed.

Upon boarding, I resisted my newly-possible urge to tweet about how yappy adults are almost bad about screaming kids. The woman in the row behind me wouldn't shut up for the entire flight. Noise-blocking headphones can only block so much.

Got home, was offered food. Gladly wolfed down some grape leaves, thought about how I was warned not to by HuffPo. I thought that was an incredibly misguided article; there are almost no foods you should never eat, and those especially are not so egregious as to merit that kind of language. You know I'm a big fan of whole grains, not only because they're healthier but because I prefer the taste. I love brown rice. But I don't see how having white rice once in a while will bring about the end of the world. But I digress.

Mom and I talked about going to the grocery store (dad went back to work after dropping us off at home). I asked her to shower first. She said she hadn't eaten anything all day; I said, okay, eat first, but we're not leaving the house until you shower. She took it well. We agreed that I'd make her oatmeal while she showered. But first she had to find the oatmeal. She looked in the pantry; I heard a loud noise and ran over to the pantry. I noted a package of bread that looked moldy.

A long argument ensued, in which she argued that I'd lost my mild, no way was that mold. That's just the type of bread. To which I repeated, "it's mold. Of course it's mold." Finally, she relented, said, "huh, that's odd."

I found the oats, made oatmeal, and noted a cup of tea on the kitchen table.

A.: Even your tea is moldy, mom!
Mom: You're crazy, that's not mold!
A.: What is it then?
Mom: Hmm. Well, it's not my tea. Maybe it's dad's. Or maybe I was drinking it a few days ago and forgot about it.

Then I came to blog, and mom offered me brie. I reminded her I didn't eat cheese.

Mom: What did cheese ever do to you?
A.: We can have this conversation for the hundredth time when I'm done here.
Mom: What would you do with all the cows?
A.: I'm busy, mom.
Mom: Would you just kill all the cows?
A.: The whole point is not killing all the cows. Cows get killed to make cheese.
Mom: How does that work?
A.: What do you think they do with the calves that would otherwise feed on the milk that instead gets diverted for human consumption?
Mom: Huh?
A.: Will have this conversation for the hundredth time when I'm done.


Mom: I'm putting cream in my oatmeal. You must be jealous.
A.: Nope.
Mom: Cream is made from milk. You know that, right?
A. Uh-huh.

Video and sign

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
RNC 2012 - The Road to Jeb Bush 2016 - The Republican Platform
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Also: clear sign that it's time to dump someone.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quick Wednesday evening roundup

Have you heard of the "Bic for Her" pens? Tracy Hamilton's review is the best, but there are plenty additional awesome reviews. Here's another favorite.

F* that! I'm not going out to Fairfax for Whole Foods. The bigger question is why the Alexandria store sucks so profoundly; it's not like there's no competition, even for organics or bulk goods. But it took months for the bulk section to even develop, and it's still pretty sparse.

Wednesday morning roundup: Middle East and Africa edition

What actually happened at Marikana?

Tom Friedman considers Mr. Morsi's travel itinerary and argues that better choices were available.

There is planning for Syria's transition... at least at USIP and perhaps Jordan if not in-country.

The angle from Lebanon.

The Horn of Africa is seeing a lot less piracy this year.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday evening roundup

Our first topic of the evening is... Droids! Shortly after my phone committed suicide in mid-March--upon spending over an hour on hold with United--I quasi-reluctantly upgraded to a smart phone. For the first month or so, to the great annoyance of everyone around me, I was like a kid in a candy shop with that thing. "Look! It makes honey badger noises!" Or, "it doubles as a solar panel!" (except it doesn't; that was a mean joke).

I got a Samsung Galaxy 2 ($10 with contract, baby!) and I love it. I like it better than the other people's iPhones I'd previously availed myself of. So you can imagine my apprehension amid the recent Apple-Samsung kerfuffling. The good news is, no one is coming to take our Droids. The neutral news is, Samsung made a bad bet and some hasty decisions that have come back to bite it.

Our second topic of the day is... kids these days! So those of you who tend to get indignant about these things can ready your indignation muscles, because the Times' Room for Debate on the topic has something for everyone. Here are some choice excerpts:

From Why I don't let kids in my bar:
Businesses have every right to dictate policy regarding children and strollers. Strollers can take up the space of three paying customers and create a hazard when left in high-traffic areas. Parents wrapped up so tightly in their new family world don't realize that their unruly children ruin things for those around them who are trying to enjoy a nice meal or a drink at the bar.
Common sense, right? This woman disagrees:
They think it is parents of young children who have become self-absorbed, but I think it is something else. It’s our society. It’s broken.
We no longer have any tolerance for other people’s needs.
Because people need to bring their children to a bar? And not watch them there while they trip other people? I blogged about accommodation yesterday. Here's her point of view on it:

It’s the same respect I show on the subway when I put up with people of all shapes and sizes who lean into my space or eat garlic potato chips and breathe my way. It’s the same respect I show when I walk down the street and move out the way for people on scooters or who need extra room. I help older women cross the street if they need it or stop in the cross walk for someone who takes a little longer than the light because they are slower. It’s called living in a society.

I, personally, don't feel the need to show respect to people who lean into my space. I give them the same dirty looks that I give parents who let their kids wreak havoc without even trying to rein them in. I also don't get scooters and don't feel the need to give them extra room. I don't think any of those categories are aligned with older women who need to cross the street. She goes on about how her kids have as much right to be on planes as everyone else. True enough, but rights come with responsibilities, and those of us sharing in small spaces like cities and especially smaller spaces like planes have the responsibility to make that shared, compact space comfortable to everyone to the best of our abilities. Your kid has the right to be on a plane; you have the responsibility to bring entertainment for it and try to quiet it down when it screams. I have the decency to cut you some slack if you make that effort, but I also have a right to glare at you as if you're evil incarnate if you don't. And it's not only for everyone else's good that you do that; this guy pretty much explains it brilliantly:

No parents want strangers telling them how to raise their kids. 

But children absorb and internalize how their parents behave. So what happens when a kid sees his mother hogging tight restaurant space with a gigantic baby stroller while anesthetizing him with portable DVD player playing at full volume tableside? What life lessons does he learn when this father lets them run between the legs of servers who are carrying bowls of hot soup? It teaches children that they can do what they want whenever they want and ignore the needs of other people.


Watching their moms and dads politely interact with other grown-ups in a restaurant teaches children how to say please and thank you, sit still and appreciate the hard work of servers and busboys hustling to make a dime. Indeed, a restaurant can help raise a child, but only if the parents teach and practice good manners themselves. 

But dragging your screaming tykes into a restaurant at 9 p.m. on Saturday night is inconsiderate: Leave them at home! Other couples are taking break from Dora the Explorer, trying to rekindle the magic which creates children in the first place.

Please understand that I want your kids to learn manners. By all means bring them out with you, within reason, but don't outsource the parenting to the people around you. Yes, yes, sometimes things happen and you can't help having to bring your kids somewhere they're going to be a pain. I understand. Sometimes we all find ourselves in tough positions (but babies at bars are not one of them unless you work at a bar). But the bottom line is that even if you must bring your kid to Barney's and you must also let your kid run around at Barney's, it's still up to you to make sure your kid isn't tripping everyone else up.

Next topic: just days after we talked about the benefits and pitfalls of seeking online medical advice, CNN has come out with a nice analysis on the matter. It echoes what I wrote about my experience: don't let the user groups freak you out.

Oh, it's been a while since I've updated you. It's now Day 12 and I'm essentially back to normal, except that I still feel the need to rinse with baking-soda'ed water after every meal and I still haven't reintroduced crumby foods to my diet (if I'm going to gain weight to assuage concerned friends, I'm going to do it by way of Newman's O's (non-dairy, mint)). Like I said yesterday, I still have a few pounds to spare, but in the event that those pounds come off thanks to my deliciously high-carb diet, and I make an effort to bring them back, the Newman's O's are going to have to wait another week or two.

Lastly but not leastly, the following conversation transpired in my cubicle today:

B.: Oh! For a second I thought that was the Kazakhstani flag.
A.: Huh. I've never gotten that before.

B. was referring to my (light blue) camping towel, which was hanging to dry (I biked to work and used it to dry off after showering). And it was momentarily mistaken for the flag of Kazakhstan. Who knew.

Quick Tuesday morning roundup

Israeli schools are holding discussions about hate and hate crimes.

In Russia, the Life of a Galley Slave apparently includes luxury watches.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Look at that sleepy f*!

What? What just happened?

Are we done? Can I go back to sleep?

I'll take that as a yes.

Mmm, I love sleep.
Wait, you're still here?

Monday evening roundup (weighty issues edition) and ramble

All we're saying is we have a right to know about our food. The argument that less knowledge is power--that less knowledge is more choice--is just Orwellian.

Let's talk about weight, in light of the potentially positive effects of pro-ana websites to the "phenomenon" of doctors refusing to take obese patients. And in light of a conversation I had today at work. And one I had nearly twenty years ago in college. That conversation was with a fellow college student who had recovered from an eating disorder. She raged against fashion models and offered the following scenario: an impressionable teenager sees a picture of an emaciated model hanging on the wall of her boyfriend's room; she can't help but compare herself to the model, to see the model as an ideal. I guess, but that's already a tinderbox situation; the solution is to make the girl less impressionable, not to hide the model (though the boy, too, might want to be more sensitive). Look: you can't blame people for displaying looks or behaviors. You, we have to decide for ourselves to love ourselves the way we are. Models are generally tall; I am 5'1". And as I wrote last week, I wear flats. I wear flats even in the face of the douche bags on Date Lab and other forums balk at the fact that women dare wear flats. I wear flats because I'm secure about myself, not because society in general and men in particular have sent me the message that short is the ideal. I don't wear makeup, not because models and magazines encourage it (and certainly not because the "real guys" the magazines interview say it's okay). Rather than asking magazines and models to tone it down, shouldn't we focus on building ourselves up? If we just keep shifting the ideal, there's always going to be an external ideal. Once we accept ourselves from within, we'll be able to own our own ideal.

I'll get to the conversation I had today at work in a minute, but first I'll tell you about a conversation from a couple of months ago. Someone was railing against the "fat acceptance" culture; if there's anything we in this country don't need to do, it's accept fat. As you can deduce from what I just wrote, I disagreed. From an aesthetic perspective. I'm all over 'big is beautiful,' but I'm not going to pretend that at some level, big isn't inherently unhealthy. And impractical. I rolled my eyes at the rejected new patient in the video; I don't blame the doctor for not wanting to deal with her at the expense of her staff, who have experienced injuries on account of overweight patients. I know of emergency responders who have been permanently injured in the process of coming to the aid of overweight people. I've worried about my own overweight friends who are insufficiently mobile to get out of a dangerous situation, should one occur. It's not unlike dealing with smokers: I don't judge you, but you come with natural consequences that I don't want to deal with. For example, I don't want my spaces smelling like smoke. It's not shaming; it's acknowledging that there are practical consequences to being overweight. I don’t blame a doctor who’s concerned about her staff’s safety, and I don’t blame airlines for charging for two seats when people require two seats.  There's acceptance and there's accommodation. And there’s evidence that non-accommodation works. I’ve heard from people that it can be a wake-up call, a sign that something’s got to give.

Onto the second conversation, which, though technically happened "at work," really happened at the gym. It's not a coincidence that, of the handful of colleagues who commented on my weight loss, all but a few did so at the gym. Two did so outside of work (i.e., they're also outside-of-work friends), and one is enough of a friend that it wasn't weird. But the work people whom I don't know that well, who have said something, said something at the gym, where it’s understandably more reasonable to draw notice to people’s changes in weight.

Even at the gym, there are, as I wrote in November, right and wrong ways to comment on someone’s weight loss. “Are you even tinier?” fits into the right category because it doesn't make you feel that your “before” state was one of ginormousness. The same woman who said that then approached me again today and asked whether I’d lost even more weight (yes, probably another 10 pounds since she last asked). Was I done, she asked? I shrugged, told her I wasn’t trying, hadn’t been for a while. She expressed (genuine) concern, said I didn’t want to go “too skinny.” I reassured her that I still had a few pounds to spare before I’d have to worry about that (I even lifted my shirt to expose my mid-riff so as to demonstrate). I also reassured her that I, myself, wasn't interested in being "too skinny." When I see models like those in the androgynous slide show I posted the other day, I think "ugh," not "ooh, ten more pounds to go!" (See what I wrote above about honoring our own ideals).

Nonetheless, she asked whether I had someone to warn me if I were to get too thin. I said I hadn’t thought about it, but that she was welcome to—that I wouldn’t be offended of she expressed concern. And I won’t be. But what could I do?? I wouldn't exercise less; I exercise because I want to, not because I want to lose weight, and I eat whatever I want. I’m not willing to force myself to eat more than I want—that’s something I’ve trained myself not to do, and I’m not willing to unlearn. I certainly have no interest in consuming meat or dairy or junkfood. As of now, I still have several pounds' worth of cushion, and plenty of muscle.

This woman isn't the first to suggest that I quit losing weight. Another friend (who takes enormous amount of pride in being thin and takes it very seriously) also told me it was time to stop. I also told her I wasn't doing anything (except for eating lots of carbs, which she eschews at all costs).

I bring this up in the context of my visit to my parents later this week: people are warning me that I'm on the verge of emaciation; will mom still manage to tell me that I've gained weight? Tune in.

Monday morning roundup and announcement

Turkey has reached capacity in terms of Syrian refugees

Egypt is facing a garbage crisis.

The world--or at least the country--could use more great writing teachers. I've taken very little formal instruction in writing, and any that I've taken has been specific (writing in a given language, writing a certain kind of product) and so has assumed a basic level of writing skill. I agree with the "rules" discussed in that article: revision is key, write to express rather than impress; but I come across a more fundamental issue in a lot of writing I see: lack of clarity. I must have developed a sensitivity for clarity in taking foreign language classes, where there's an emphasis on agreement, but this sensitivity is lacking even among many educated people. I very often see sentences where there's a mismatch between the stated and intended subject, or object, and the verb. Put less technically: a lot of writers don't put enough care in making sure the reader has no doubt about what the writer means.

Over the weekend, a friend said she wasn't doing any food shopping over the weekend since she would leave town for the following weekend. "I shop at the Farmer's Market; that food is to expensive to risk wasting." If only that were the case with food in general. I believe that food should be generally affordable, but it should also be valuable enough that we're wary of wasting it. Even I--who is very wary of wasting food--sometimes find myself throwing things out. I hate to do it, but it happens. But I get the sense that many people find food a whole lot more disposable.

Guess what? In anticipation of my upcoming visit to my parents' house, I have joined Twitter. I will continue to avail myself of these pages to share actual conversations, but I'll take to Twitter (@youputonweight) for--you guessed it--Mom's one-off observations that I've gained weight. And, I suppose, Mom's one-off observations in general.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday evening roundup

The only surprising thing about this story on Chinese arms in African conflict zones is that it's news.

Sufi sites in Libya are under attack.

A Colombian writer memorializes his father.

There's more to Jeffrey Rosen's review of David K. Shipler's "Rights at Risk" than the anecdote about the TSA and the t-shirt, but it stands out because of today's story about appropriate attire on airplanes. When is a message shirt offensive? As someone who feels little need to broadcast my beliefs on my chest (though I'd make an exception for an "I eat carbs" shirt), I still bristle at the idea of censorship by selective boarding rights.

Speaking of appropriate attire, it's okay for kids of diaper age to wear only diapers.

Does Gene Weingarten read the very paper he writes for? Crime is low? Pick up the Metro section of the Post. Also, I'm sorry but Metro carpets are filthy as all hell. Oh, and you know what's really not cool? Gene Weingarten's comic strip. But yes, Chinatown has "authenticity issues" and we can have a conversation about how cool Forbes' designated cities are.

Please don't take my Droid away. Oh, you should hear what Lewis Black says about Droids (and other stuff). Watch "In God We Rust," it's hilarious.

Sunday afternoon roundup (body edition) and another ramble about getting around

This woman's boss told her that pumping was disgusting.

Today is Go Topless Day and I'm wasting it. Remind me to hit a beach this time next year.

You can't exploit the attention paid to other women's post-baby bodies and then act shocked--shocked! when it comes back to bite you. Also, for your own sake, don't assume someone's pregnant even if she looks it.

Recently, I've been writing a lot about getting into, around, and back from DC. You've read that I refer to take the Metro, within reason, but sometimes driving's the best option. Those times are usually weekends--especially when there's single-tracking--or late nights, or anytime you'd need to change trains outside of rush hour. Then there are the factors related to driving, like traffic and the availability of parking. And external factors, like how behind you are on New Yorkers you could read on the metro, as well as your plans to drink or transport unwieldy objects (such as food you're bringing to an event, or good you're planning on purchasing).

Sunday is generally both the worst day to metro and the best day to drive, especially in the morning. Sunday morning is when I also prefer to be on my bike, but I wasn't feeling it this morning. Also, I would be transporting a large object--the latest effort to manage my cat's asthma, in the form of a tower air purifier. And I'm happy to report--in case you care, for the purpose of your own driving vs. Metro decisions--that it was a surprisingly smooth drive in both directions. That it's a straight shot from Alexandria to Columbia Heights doesn't matter when there are scores of lights in between, but those lights are synchronized such that when traffic flows, it really flows.

But here's another issue about driving in DC: DC is stricter about cell phones. I think the ban on operating phones in any way is intact. So what happens when a phone is not just a phone? When using the phone as a phone is the last thing you're thinking of doing? When the phone is your map and navigator, and also your radio? Could I be pulled over in DC for looking at the map on my phone or turning on Pandora? Would that be any more right than pulling someone over for looking at a paper map or turning on the radio?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What I'm not eating

This or any of this. I do not care whether the deep-fried Koolaid balls are vegan; I don't think I could handle them.

If only talking stupidly were a crime.

More adventures in getting around the city (and eating with holes in my mouth)

Two Fridays ago, I took to these pages to vent about my nearly-90-minute return trip by Metro from a friend's house. A couple of weeks before that, I'd driven there and back in twenty minutes each way. I often metro from that area, and it takes 30-40 minutes, which is fine; 90 minutes is not.

The thing with Metro is that it's great until it isn't. Last week, I wrote about how my wisdom teeth were out by 9:15am and prescriptions picked up by 9:45, and I was home, by metro, before 10:30. I thought about how when I lived in Boston, I'd arrived late for a dentist appointment because the T was just that unreliable, particularly the Green Line and even more particularly outside of downtown once it splits. You just don't know when that thing is coming. How nice that I didn't have to worry about that kind of thing in DC. Until I did. On Thursday morning, I had to wait over ten minutes for a Blue Line train (oh, the irony! usually my frustration is in watching two or more Blues go by as I wait for the Yellow that will take me to work), and it was even longer in coming, because I didn't miss any on my approach to the metro. I thought I'd still make my appointment in good time, but there was a "switch problem" farther down the line, so we were stranded at Rosslyn--one stop away! for ten minutes or more. I was about that late for my appointment, and they were fine with it, since the oral surgeon was equally late and I'd called from the Metro--but it was not good. Some dentists' offices charge you for every fifteen minutes you're late. I wasn't so much worried about that as nonplussed. I suppose I could consider the bright side: they resolved the switch problem relatively quickly.

It took me longer to get to the appointment from Rosslyn than for the appointment to transpire. The oral surgeon cut out my remaining stitches and told me to keep rinsing. All the teeth had come out in one piece, so fragments were not an issue. After the appointment, I headed toward the Metro, until I realized that I could walk to work in about as much time. Even during rush hour (it was only not quite 8:30am), waiting for two trains and factoring in any more potential Metro delays would not save me much time, and it was a beautiful morning. So I walked to work, rolled in just after 9am.

I'm happy to round off this ramble with a surprisingly positive commuting experience. A friend had called a gathering to celebrate his surviving his first week of law school. I really wanted to join him, but the prospect of getting to and from Glover Park--where I lived my first year of grad school, i.e., my first year in DC, and which is notoriously far from any Metrorail stop--was stressing me out. I almost considered going home from work, picking up my car, and driving back into DC, but that would be ridiculous. Getting there was less of an issue: I'd Metro up to Woodley--direct line from work--and walk (a bus would have shaved four minutes off the half-hour trip from there). Getting home would be trickier: would it be absurd to just walk to Rosslyn? I've written about how wary I am of DC buses. But when it was time to go, my friend said that a number of buses leave from directly in front of the restaurant (the awesome Surfside, more on that in a minute) and go to Foggy Bottom. And there was one approaching a minute after I stepped out of the restaurant. It was seamless: straight shot. Now, this was largely because there was little traffic. The one delay happened when three tourists came in and had to change money. I don't blame them: it's not their fault that DC doesn't have a system where you can pay the fare outside the actual bus unless you have a SmartTrip card--but it causes delays, and delays can build upon themselves. Once the tourists paid, the light turned red again. Fine when there's no traffic, but when I took DC buses all the time, this would often compound on itself. But I digress. It took me an hour to get home, door to door, which is really not bad considering that it wasn't rush hour.

As for Surfside, I'd never been or even heard of it. I don't know if it was there when I lived just a few blocks south of where it is. But I love a good roof deck,

and the food was very fresh, and tasty. You can order pre-made tacos, burritos, etc. or build your own on a sushi-like order form. I got a grilled veggie burrito with spicy black bean garnish. The veggies--you can pick, and I opted for mushrooms, zucchini, and spinach--were really fresh and not overdone.

This was my biggest adventure in solid food since the surgery--and my friend, who'd had his wisdom teeth pulled, with complications (dry socket, infection) was impressed. It felt really good to eat salad. There's still food I'm staying away from (chips, anything else that creates crumbs) but this was all pretty soft, even thought it wasn't mushy. Also, from a purely logistical standpoint, it's nice to order, pay, and sit without having to wait for a check afterward.

This friend and I have friends in common--other grad school friends, and friends we've introduced each other to since--but none were there, so it was good to chat with his other friends. It also made me realize that I needed to get out more because maybe I'm the one who inhabits a parallel universe? One person there asked who Janet Napolitano was (keep in mind that at least a few people there worked for the agency she heads), and another--in all seriousness--suggested the Taj Mahal was in Moscow.

At one point, the conversation turned to wedding planning, as one couple there was in the midst of just that. I've heard so many couples go through this--more, even, than go through the no-meat conundrum: how much, if any, God to invite into the ceremony. It's a huge generation gap, already, but throw in the gap, if any, between the families, and it's quite the decision. This couple was still undecided.

The people who suggest having oatmeal as an early, mushy post-extraction food are confused about oatmeal or at least missing out on good oatmeal. Oatmeal should be chewy. I just had oatmeal for the first time since the surgery, and I couldn't have handled it a few days ago. Set aside the abomination that is instant oatmeal (disclosure: I am known to partake in said abomination when camping or traveling, or in other situations with limited breakfast logistics, but it's merely a convenience food). Even lots of rolled oats out there--and even those labeled "old fashioned"--are so rolled as to practically disintegrate into a porridge when cooked. Which is fine, if you like that kind of thing or are nursing fresh holes in your mouth, but less-rolled, less-steamed oats offer more flavor and texture. I literally go out of my way--yes, a few miles is out of my way when there are four grocery stores and counting that I can walk to--to Mom's Organic Market for their bulk, organic oats. The ones at Whole Foods are almost as good, but now, more expensive (at $1.99/lb to MOM's $1.39/lb, which adds up when you put away as much oatmeal as I do). By the way, these prices still come to less than you'll pay for pre-packaged, conventional rolled oats at other markets. I'll get the ones at WF when I can't get to Mom's, but the ones at Mom's are the best.

I just Googled Mom's and rolled oats to see if I could add a link to the above paragraph; I didn't find one, but I did come across this silliness. I don't have an opinion about Lance Armstrong, but I do have an opinion about LiveStrong, which is that it's a joke. Any advice there is pretty pathetic and superficial, if not wrong. So I had low expectations going in, but really? First of all, if you're asking whether oatmeal is low carb, I don't want to hear your opinions, should you have any, about human reproduction. But more importantly, just embrace the carbs.

Saturday morning roundup

They caught the Dupont Circle assaulter-on-wheels.

How many mass shootings in a short time would be considered too many to keep track of?

Anxiety and love can only compete, and the one chosen will always push the other out of the way.

Abstinence educations is failing much of the country.

Dietitians may be coming to your supermarket.

Sigh. The old "imposing one's dietary restrictions on others" argument is just... old. By the way, a friend pointed out that the Phillies' Stadium is the most veggie-friendly in the country. I honestly had no idea that so many baseball stadiums had ample vegetarian offerings.

Don't buy the green-washing: your guide to compostable packaging.

Sometimes (but not usually) digital breakups, if done correctly, are for the best.

Slate is right: internet advertising often falls into the "too much, too late" category. When I was shopping for a smart phone, I visited a lot of review sites and sent out an e-mail to everyone I knew with a smart phone asking for their opinions and experiences. My browsing behavior and my e-mail (as well as those sent in response) were screaming, "show me smart phone ads!" And those ads arrived and invaded every website I visited--about a week after I'd already ordered a phone. And they didn't go away for a while. Similarly, I got months of Gmail ads for trips to the Galapagos... after I'd already come back from the Galapagos and sent out pictures.  Don't even get me (or Jay) started on Russian bride ads.

The common denominator I'm getting here (i.e., in a slide show of fall trends) is androgyny, but I can't tell whether it's the clothes or just the models.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday morning roundup

I've never understood private school.

Lots of hate out there for single women... and women in general, apparently. Wow.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday evening roundup

Harry G. Barnes, Jr. was an accomplished, principled statesman.

The Chinese resort to the Kickstarter approach not only for philanthropy but basic social services.

Tensions in the Pacific are not surprising, but the lack of meaningful mitigation (kind-of) is.

You may not have thought it possible, but inequality in Latin America has only gotten worse.

Can activists save what's left of Nizhny Novgorod?

Can Europe's royals survive the continent's severe recession?

Fox's female anchors sure do layer on the cosmetics.

Turns out your cat isn't poisoning you, even if he/she is a jerk.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 7 of wisdom-toothless bliss

Please ignore how crappy I look in both of these photos and focus on how much my swelling has gone down between Day 1 (left) and Day 7 (right). The strings are from the teabags I bit on to promote clotting. It worked. And no, they're not what's causing the swelling--they shouldn't have taken up any "extra" space. That was all swelling. Convex to concave again in less than a week.

My follow-up appointment is tomorrow morning. I did quite a vigorous workout this morning with little fear. I think once the blood clot is pretty established, it's actually good to get blood flowing.

Wednesday evening roundup

I did not know that in 30 states, rapists have custody rights. That's f*ed up.

Oh, I see: it's easy to confuse human women with Australian black field crickets.

The Guardian offers some brilliant commentary (some of which is already excerpted in the article above).

Some people have (birther and other) issues.

Meh. Notice that a guy wrote this (a gay one, at that). I can appreciate some of his general point (I do like shoes), but no, they don't make you more interesting. Really interesting shoes may, at worst, make you less mobile, and at best, draw disproportionate attention to your feet.

By the way, I had the 'flats' discussion with some friends at work (see yesterday's post) and everyone (including the guys) thought it was fine for women to wear flats on a date.

Wednesday morning roundup

DC's Ethiopian diaspora community parses Meles' death.

Anne Applebaum writes that the nature of dissent in Russia has changed.

Think of massive food waste not only as an abomination in its own right but in the context of the argument that we need industrial agriculture to feed the world. Or, as Mark Bittman puts it, feed our junk food and cheeseburger habit."

It hardly needs to be said that there are two Virginias.
Capitol Hill loses a beloved, homeless personality.

Kathleen Parker points out that a lot of men don't really understand women.

I find all but one of these homes (ironically, the least expensive) unappealing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day six (sans the third molars)

I believe I discussed yesterday the pitfalls of relying on the internet for information. It's not the internet, per se, that is the problem; it's the prevalence, in any search, of discussion groups (rather than sites by dental experts). You can make yourself crazy and get a lot of bad information, if you choose to believe it. I do find user groups amusing. I think I've blogged about how, with every question that someone posts online, there are people who feel the need to respond in a way that is not helpful. For example, ages ago, I looked up recommended soak times for plumping raisins and was amused to find one person who responded to such a query to say that, the asker doesn't really want to do that; no one really plumps raisins anymore. Well, I do. But I digress. With regard to wisdom tooth extractions, far too many responses to any question are, "check with your dentist." Why thank you, genius! Why didn't I think of that?

All that said, there is some useful information to be had, even online. Sometimes even in discussion groups, when the responders are dental professionals or people who've had extractions, rather than people who have nothing better to do than troll these groups and say "ask your dentist." Of course, they have a point: everyone is different, so there's little value in pinpointing how much something should hurt a given number of days later. But it's helpful to get a general idea. Another thing about general guidelines: it may be useful to check out suggestions for when to move on to increasingly solid food, but what I've learned is that you'll kind of know. Your own level of pain will guide you as to when you're ready to take on foods that require a little more chewing. Of course, you can only trust your own level of pain once you're off the painkillers. Another noticeable change: I still feel the need to rinse with water and baking soda (or salt) after every meal (and I should), but two days ago I felt the need to rinse after every bite.

But back to the topic of the blessing and curse that is the internet, through which I determined that I do not have dry socket, not by effectively showing me what dry socket looks like, but by making me understand that it apparently sucks one's will to live. Although I'm still experiencing some residual discomfort, my will to live is well intact, so I guess those blot clots must be in place.

I'll continue the soft-only diet through Thursday morning (when I have my one-week follow-up appointment).  I moved on from mush-only yesterday, when I had injera (and other Ethiopian food, the most solid of which was green beans). I had some soft pasta today, and I wasn't frightened by any non-pureed chickpeas that appeared in my hummus. Maybe I'll even move on to whole chickpeas on Thursday, when I run out of hummus and may be too lazy to make more. I do miss my oatmeal (the beta-glucans in which, incidentally, are supposed to be good for helping one heal). Maybe I'll pick some up tomorrow.

Tuesday evening roundup

The Onion is not mincing words. Wow. See also here and especially the third opinion here. But the Onion has competition: see the best tweets on the topic and this graphic. Also check out this poorly-written but on-point piece. Finally, the image on HuffPo's front page but not in the associated article reminds ladies to keep those metal clothes-hangers handy.

A moving photo essay--actually, just a segment of Walter Astrada's more comprehensive album--that associates faces and places with the apparently misunderstood concept of violence against women.

Moving on to lesser douche bags (i.e., of the Date Lab variety), what's wrong with flats?? Jezebel has some choice words on the matter. I love it:

I can't believe we're even still having this conversation, but dudes, LISTEN: Women's bodies, even ones into which you get to stick your penis, are not yours. Women have the right to be gross, to have hair, to be slow, to put on make-up, to not put on make-up, to wear fake eyelashes, to smell good or bad, and to be human beings. Women are not your dog our your lawn or your living room, you do not get to prune and groom and design us, and negotiating things like hygiene and style within a relationship is a matter of mutual respect. My right to do my own nails does not stop where your personal boner for trimmed cuticles begins.
Also, women: If you are single, it is not because your fake eyelashes are too bushy or Kevin doesn't like cucumber lotion. This shit is an oppressive waste of your time. Here's my new beauty tip for everyone on earth: Go read a book or something.

Now then, on a happier topic: Molly Ringwald's reflections on writing.

Tuesday morning roundup

Israel is dealing with a serious, violent, racism problem. In other Israeli news: politicians use rhetoric to push for a higher defense budget.

Pakistan is not dealing with its religious violence problem.

Burma (still) has a political prisoner problem. But they are easing up on censorship.

India blames the internet.

Somalia seats most of a parliament.

Is Ciudad Juarez's peace, Pyrrhic?

Eve Ensler has a point about who shouldn't be making decisions about women's reproductive health.

Look! A brave, principled politician in a sea of the opposite.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday evening roundup and ramble

Sleeping pills do very little other than mess with your body.

I have to admit, I don't understand why some of this stuff is considered bragging. Then again, I'm not on Facebook; I gather that if you are, you're setting yourself up for hearing other people share this stuff. I think someone expressing appreciation for the 'best birthday gift from the best husband ever' is just sweet; I doubt the accused is actually out to empirically designate her husband the best ever, and if she is, good for her: let her (him) set a high standard. I feel like people who complain about that kind of thing are the same people who complain about how their friends' weddings make them feel pathetic. If you can't feel happy for the people in your life and celebrate meaningful events with them without making it about you, the problem is you and not your friends. For those about to accuse me of hypocrisy, since you've heard me complain about parents who brag about their kids, keep in mind that I was talking about a certain set of bragging parents. I care about my friends' kids, and they don't brag so much as share. There's a difference between a friend sharing in a positive moment or a child's epiphany, and someone you barely know lecturing you about how brilliant her kid is (and yes, I've been a victim of the latter, more than once).

On Day 5 sans wisdom teeth, I went to work for the first time and even did a light workout. I felt like I had to: I wanted to feel my muscles move, after four days of lounging around. As far as I can tell, nothing (i.e., no blood clots) budged during the workout.

After the workout, I caught up with a friend in the locker room. We talked about getting older in general, and in particular, going gray and seeing our facial structures change. I told her about the part of “Celeste and Jesse Forever” where Celeste describes the woman she sees her ex with as “a younger me.” To which my friend said she'd heard about the film but was wary, because of the very review I discussed on these pages yesterday. I told her that the film was cute and funny, but yeah, the message that the woman had to try harder to accommodate the man-child in her life, as Ann Hornaday impeccably phrased it, was disturbing. I'd like to think that maybe the message was that they both should have tried harder, but that we see the toll on the female protagonist because women tend to take more responsibility, engage in more self-blame, when relationships go bad.

I think I've written about how the biggest issue with a lot of dating advice out there is that it's geared to women from the perspective that men will be boys, and it's up to us to accommodate their bad behavior. If we freak out because they're putting us in a position to freak out, we're not understanding men's nature and we're threatening the relationship. Well, who started the cycle?? More importantly, why is it on us to manage it? Maybe--as I also wrote on these pages, as another friend just reminded me--that relationship was doomed, so why give women a complex about how they killed it because they didn't adequately read the male mind? You, my readers, offered that priceless wisdom when I was banging my head against the wall over the relationship advice I was getting: pay it no mind, because it won't matter with the right guy, in the right relationship.

My friend at the gym talked about how “I should just try harder” runs into natural limits; it only makes you crazy. I told her about the epiphany I had many years ago, a year after I got out of a dead-end relationship, months (of trying harder) later than I should have. The epiphany hit as Jay and I were hiking on Mt. Charleston, outside of Vegas. We thought we were on a promising trail and kept trying different paths that we thought were the continuation of the trail. We tried and tried and tried, but never got anywhere. It turned out that we had taken the wrong trail head, and so no path would have gotten us on the right track. How analogous: when you're in the wrong relationship, the whole relationship is a maze of wrong ways; no amount of trying will get you on the right track.

In my case--the more recent one--trying harder not only kept me stuck, but made things worse. Trying harder manifested itself in convincing myself that I was at peace with things I couldn't actually accept. This made me feel like I was sacrificing, which, in turn--and perhaps this was going on on both sides--skewed the proverbial half-way point, and the frustration of sacrificing without being met remotely half-way, I later saw, brought out bad behavior (but in fairness to me and fidelity to the topic, the other person's bad behavior also brought out my bad behavior). In the end, trying harder—and the strain it put on me, and the outward manifestations of that strain—ended the relationship in its own way, because the relationship was bound to end. It was the wrong path. And so was Celeste's. I can see how her pain would have had her think, "I wish I had fought for it," but she had to know that no amount of fighting for it, would have fixed it.

Monday morning roundup

Satire makes inroads in Saudi Arabia.

The National Parks are hurting.

The Akin comments are just a really sad reflection of how ignorant people can be.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wisdom food

I'm not going to lie to you: it's been rough. I'm probably as well positioned as anyone to make post-extraction food, but I still miss the solid stuff. I miss the pasta--which, theoretically, I could have as soon as tomorrow but I don't want to tempt fate. When you've got the internet to feed your paranoia about the chances of dry socket, you don't want to take any chances. What I could probably do is get back on oatmeal, but I ran out and I have another few days' worth of breakfast smoothies prepared. I do miss the chocolate, the pistachios, the peanuts, the tempeh. Oh, and I really miss the wine, but that's going to have to wait until I'm off the antibiotics.

So, here's what I've made to tide me over until the holes where my wisdom teeth were, heal:

Smoothies. On day 1, it was all smoothies. You can use either soy or coconut milk (if coconut, which is all I had at the time, mix in some protein powder; I use Garden of Life Raw Protein). My understanding is that even if you're not a vegan, you probably want to stay away from cow's milk. I mean, particularly if you've had your wisdom teeth pulled.  If you used soy and you want some more fat, toss in some ground flax seeds. Anyway, you have your milk and your thickener; add some cacao powder if you wish, and then toss in some fruit. I switched it up, with various combinations of farm share yellow watermelon, while it lasted; orange; banana; and papaya. Don't use anything with small seeds that you can't remove, like most berries.

Chowder. I'd previously roasted the farm share veggies, so I blended the roasted potatoes, zucchini and squash, a little bit of fennel, and leek. And added some raw corn. The leek was of questionable judgment--great for flavor, but a bit stringy for day 2. It was okay by day 3. Oh, I also added brown rice and coconut milk.

Gazpacho. Blend (organic, preferably farm share or farmer's market) tomatoes, cucumber, basil, and just a splash of sherry vinegar.

Lentils. I cooked some red lentils with onions and tomatoes. They came out very soft and didn't require additional blending.

Dips. Hummus, baba ganoush, and guacamole. I'd made the first two before the surgery, and the third takes seconds.

Sweet potato pie filling. Mashed sweet potatoes, coconut milk, cinnamon, and a pinch of garam masala.

Tofu. I finished the tofu scramble I'd made the previous week--definitely a day 3 and later food--but then made tofu ricotta (process a pound of tofu, a few cloves of garlic, some olive oil, and oregano) and blended in some peas and lemon zest, as per Heidi Swanson's plump pea dumpling recipe.

This sounds like a lot of food, but I haven't had the appetite to eat a lot of any of it at a time. I just had a lot of the ingredients already (some already partially prepared) and felt the need to mix it up. The first day especially, I really had to force myself to eat, partly because you can't take penicillin or large doses of ibuprofen on an empty stomach, but also you need to keep the nutrients coming in order to heal. And you'll note that the above foods are a good mix of macro- and micronutrients.