Monday, October 14, 2013

Why You Should Celebrate Today

I'm not good at taking breaks from work.  The thing is, I can't sit still without getting twitchy and restless, so I have to read or write to make it through.  Today, however, I had an idea.  Seeing as it's a holiday, I was going to celebrate it.

Technically speaking, it is Columbus Day, which is a day that I don't celebrate at all.  Most people probably don't even notice, unless they actually have a day off from work or school.  Some people probably remember learning the silly rhyme about 1492 or how Columbus proved that the world was round rather than flat.  Sadly, that little misconception is still being taught to children today.  Why?  Who knows.  Maybe it's just easier to teach kids to say Columbus instead of Eratosthenes.

I've detested Columbus Day and all that it stands for ever since the day I read on my own and realized that some of the lessons I had learned in school weren't exactly correct.  From that day forward, I decided I was going to have to learn "truth" on my own and do the best I could to help others find that truth, too.

As far as human rights go, I am part Native American, mostly Irish, and all female.  This means that my ancestors and I know what it means to be less than.  As an adult, I discovered that Native American friends of mine saw this as a day of mourning rather than celebration, so I decided to help protest its existence.  For the last several years, I've written Congress to suggest that we honor someone else.  There are many men and women who have done good deeds or influenced and inspired Americans to achieve their dreams, so we have a big list.  But speaking of great women, wouldn't it be nice to have a federal holiday dedicated to Amelia Earhart or Eleanor Roosevelt?

This year, I have no Congress to send my communications to, so I decided to make a photo album that I could keep until we have a government again.  Then I persuaded my friends at work to join in with me, and I am grateful that most of them said yes and even patiently listened to my history rant as I explained my reasoning.  During my breaks and lunch, I made up some posters, and then we snapped quick pictures on my phone.  (I'll have to post high-res pictures of the posters later so they can be read! We were laughing too hard during some of the shots.)

Why we don't like Columbus:

 Columbus Was a Gold Digger

 Columbus Hates Babies

 Columbus Ousted Pluto
Columbus Cancelled ACL

He got all the credit, when it really belongs to this guy:

(If you've never heard of Eratosthenes, I recommend starting by reading this blog: Yay, Science!)

And thanks to The Oatmeal, I was inspired to end the tradition of protesting Columbus Day by celebrating a wonderful man forgotten by history and never talked about in schools:  Bartolomé de Las Casas.  Celebrating was easy, and it involved a lot of hugs and laughing.  Each picture got a little crazier, but it all went along with the spirit of loving others and adding a little more light in a dark place.

It turns out even scientists know how to celebrate.  I'm sure our representatives will enjoy the photos once they decide to become our government again.

In the meantime, my final thought on why I despise misconceptions so much:  Children should never learn lies or a glossed over and glamorous "truth."  It would be a gross understatement to say simply that lies are wrong, but that's still an important point.  We all deserve to know what really happened in history, or we aren't really learning.  History will protect the future from repeating the same mistakes.  And who knows?  Maybe if generations of American children had learned some of the atrocities that led to the founding of our country, we could be farther along as a people and not even having to deal with fighting for rights and freedoms anymore.  It's just a thought.

Happy Bartolomé Day, everyone!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Of Monsters and Vegetables

A couple of years ago, I grew a narwhal in my stomach.  It wasn't the nice, gentle unicorn of the sea that we're all accustomed to, but rather a monster with the teeth of an angler fish, raptor claws, a body covered in cactus spines, and a spiked tail like a stegosaurus.  That is to say, it hurts.  After many disappointing trips to doctors and specialists, some of whom decided I was crazy, I chose to call this narwhal Firemonster just to give it a name.  Then I decided I was going to have to go to medical school if I wanted an answer.

I've since stumbled upon another possible solution, as I seem to be too lazy (and poor) to go to medical school at present.  I'm going to try the Whole 30 program.  If you've never heard of it, Google it and be sad for me.  (Or if you're too lazy for Google, just know I can't eat the foods that are worth eating for at least 30 days.  And, no alcohol.)  Perhaps I'm starting off a little pessimistic, but I don't believe this will turn into a permanent lifestyle.  It's really just an informative tool so that I can learn if something I'm eating is feeding the Firemonster and making me miserable.

There are a few things about the next 30 days that worry me a lot.  First of all, I'm a baker.  This means that I love sugar, and I love only going to about three different aisles in the grocery store.  I'm rubbish at making lists or planning things out, so the idea of having to plan all of the meals has me stressed to begin with.  I even did a practice run at the store and ended up wandering every aisle in frustration, wondering how real adults do this all the time.  Also, I seem to have forgotten what pineapples look like.

Yep, I'm screwed.

This is the part where I come running out of my apartment, waving my fingers in the air, and yelling, "I am not a cook!"  My baking skills are pretty top notch, and I would hope that they could be translated to other areas of the kitchen.  I intend to channel the culinary badassery of Julia Child, but in reality, I'll probably end up more like the Swedish Chef, flinging food and utensils around while muttering incomprehensibly.  

Hey kids, it's time for tangential storytelling!  Speaking of the Swedish Chef, I have to put the blame on him for my childhood disgust of vegetables.  Have you ever seen Muppet vegetables?  They look horrified, and who can blame them?  They were always about to be murdered.  My parents thought I was picky, but I was just in mourning.  Somehow, I hadn't yet associated meat with anything cuddly, and seeing a cow or chicken wandering around outside didn't jam that image into my brain like seeing a tomato with a face etched into a permanent scream.  If Toddler Me had the vocabulary and access to Wikipedia to know what a fruitarian was, she would have been totally into it.  

"Mom!  Someone killed the carrots!"

So here's my tip for all you parents out there:  stop anthropomorphizing food.  Bananas in pajamas aren't cute; they're incredibly creepy.  If you're having a difficult time getting your little one to eat their veggies at dinnertime, keep in mind that they could be grieving.  Only yesterday they learned how much Larry the Cucumber loves his lips, and now he's dead.  Yeah, that's not traumatizing at all. 

And now back to my original point.  I've been reading about the "carb flu" associated with giving up all of these foods.  Some people have horrible headaches, while others become very irritable and snap at the smallest provocation.  (I apologize in advance if I call your mother a hamster or throw an avocado at your face because it happens to be the only projectile I have within reach.  It's like the anti-Twinkie defense.)  Some people report having cravings so intense that they dream of them or even hallucinate eating forbidden foods.  Then they actually believe they have eaten it and feel guilty for breaking the rules.  Maybe if I take an Ambien, I can sleepwalk to the nearest 7-11 and hallucinate my way through a pint of Ben & Jerry's AND a winning Powerball!

All of the foods I have to give up are foods that I love in ways I can't even begin to describe.  I'm afraid that I can't even make it for 30 days without sugar or dairy or grains, and I'm wondering if it sounds even the least bit petty that I may consider life no longer with living if I discover an allergy to any one of those things.  With many friends and family taking out bets against me, I'm terrified that I'm going to fail at any moment, and I'll be found face down in a gallon of ice cream.  Or maybe I'll just completely lose it, and I'll be kicked out of HEB for causing a scene when someone complains about me for lovingly stroking all the wheels of Brie while bitter tears run down my cheeks, and the stock boy will try to pry the cheese from my fingers as I scream, "Why, God, why?" at the top of my lungs.   

I guess if this doesn't pan out, I can still go to medical school.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

That Time I Solved America's Problems in My Sleep

Last night, I had a dream about the future of America.  As dismal as that may sound, it actually turned out to be full of hope for the "someday" we might come to see as a people.  No, the dream wasn't as insightful or awe-inspiring as a certain dream of one Martin Luther King, Jr.  The man was unquestionably more enlightened than I will ever be.

He was also more black, which makes me sad.  I always thought I could have been a heck of a lot cooler if I were, too.  In fact, I remember back in kindergarten when we all had "share time" on the Alphabet Circle in the classroom.  I constantly had to fight a girl named Jessie to sit on the G, because I figured I had rights to it.  I tried to explain to the girl that Jessie doesn't even start with the letter G, so what the heck was she thinking, anyway?  It turns out that she didn't even know how to recognize letters or read at this point and just liked the shape, but I was never one to suffer fools gladly.  That G was mine, dangit.

For this particular share time, we were supposed to say what we wanted to be when we grew up.  Me?  I wanted to be valedictorian and a black Jewish Canadian.  (Imagine the phone call my parents got that day.)  While there's a story here, it's not the story I'm going to tell today.  I will say two things, though.  It's rather sad that I fell into the self-fulfilling prophecy of the child with a great potential and unattainable goals who would meet her greatest success in the glory days of high school.  There's a cliché I never wanted to become.  Also?  Even though I'm not really cool or the success everyone thought I should have been, at least I wasn't the girl next to me whose greatest ambition in life was to grow up to become a raccoon.  I guess both of our parents got to have awkward conversations with our teacher that day.

Thanks a lot, Captain Obvious.

I've done a lot of genealogical and genetic research to get a better idea of who I am and where I'm from, but sadly all of the records seem to indicate that I'm not even slightly black, Jewish, or Canadian.  That figures.

And now back to the original reason for this post, which probably nobody remembers because I'm a master at tangential storytelling.  The dream.  Right.

In the dream, I realized that the future of America hinged upon true change and scientific leadership.  (Believe me when I say that I'm not trying to be controversial or partisan at all, so just chill and go with it.)  I'm not talking about having a leader who is qualified to discuss reproductive rights or the future of NASA.  It was so much more than that.  It was clear in the dream that we were going to need to understand how to maintain our resources and make enormous changes in order to ensure our own survival.  We also needed to be led by a group of men and women who understood the gritty details of scientific ventures because, undoubtedly, the more advances that can be made in science and technology, the more ethical questions will arise and need to be discussed and debated for the benefit of all.

The drawback to this realization is that scholarly people don't always make the best leaders.  We are the socially awkward ones who seem to be lost in a world made up of our own thoughts.  We like to read and work out puzzles, and we wonder how to explain to our parents that we want to name our next dog Quark or how to correct our teachers when they tell us that Benjamin Franklin held onto a kite as it was struck by lightning or that diamonds are made from lumps of coal.  (Sheesh, people!)  And when we do get really excited about discoveries we've made, we find that sharing it with other people is difficult due to their lack of interest or comprehension.  It's depressing, really.

But this is where the "future" part of the dream really happened.  There already is a person who meets all of those qualifications but isn't really socially awkward or hard to understand.  In fact, this person has already earned the respect and adoration of millions of Americans.  Consider the following:   Bill Nye for President, 2016.  Think about it.  Here's a man who only wants to see people learn and to better the world in which we live.  He has always been compassionate for others.  I could see him solving the world's clean water problem while giving us a simplified example of two cups with a sock laid over them to show us how it works.  

Okay, maybe he is awkward, but only in an adorable, 11th Doctor sort of way.

Thanks to my insomnia, I always have the opportunity to think about things.  So, at about 2:30 this morning, I determined that Neil deGrasse Tyson would make an excellent running mate for our dear science guy.  (That's right, Neil, I still love you, even after the whole Pluto fiasco.  We all make mistakes, man.)  

While I can't commend this idea enough, I realize it may be just a pipe dream.  But think about how cool it would be if everyone read this and decided, "Hey, that sounds good.  Maybe we should try it."  And maybe Bill Nye would be on board, too.  Who wouldn't want to at least attempt to save the world while wearing a fabulous bow tie?  (If you read this, Bill, I majored in science and strive to remember that everyone I meet knows something I don't know yet, and it's all because of you.  Also, I would like to be best friends and/or your time-traveling companion.  You know, if you don't have any better offers.)

It could totally happen.

For those of you who were waiting for a weigh-in from my dad, of course I told him about the dream.  Here you go.

Me:  Just think about all the problems I could solve if I actually slept through a whole night!
Dad:  So, your insomnia is what's keeping you from solving the world's problems?
Me:  Exactly.
Dad:  What you're saying is, the NSA has figured out a way to make you have insomnia so that you don't discover how to save the bees or how to destroy Monsanto and GMOs or all of our other big issues?
Me:  Well, I was thinking of something akin to how God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world, but it's the same concept.  
Dad:  Hey, don't go dissing whiskey.  A lot of good things have happened because of that.  Maybe you should go take a nap.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Knee Deep

So, my knee clicks.  That's the word written on the medical report.  In reality, it's like a sharp snap that pulls my kneecap out and a bit to the right.  It happens every time I straighten or bend my knee, which is a lot.  Every once in a while, it locks and sends an intense jolt of pain through my leg that takes my breath away.  It's especially great when this happens while I'm sleeping.  The best part is that it's obvious and noticeable.  What I mean is, you can touch my leg and feel it happen, and if it's quiet enough, you can even hear it.  So, what the heck?  After having half a dozen or so medical professionals play around with my leg, I might as well let everyone else in on the weirdness, too.

To figure out what exactly was going on in there, I got to see an orthopedic surgeon and then get an MRI.  This doctor specializes in knees, particularly the left one.  (Had I known back in pre-med that I could have established a career as the "Left Ear Lobe Specialist," I might have stuck it out.)  The surgeon moved my knee around every which way, looked up at me, and said, "Well, you've got a neat party trick here."  Party trick.  Really.  I mean, I'm about as socially awkward as a person can be, but even I know that busting this thing out at a shindig is no way to get down.

After my MRI (see previous post), I knew what to expect from the doctor and waited for the explanation of all that was to come.  Unsurprisingly, he started out by asking me how my "party trick" was doing.

Me:  Well, it's actually a lot cooler than I knew.
Doctor:  How so?
Me:  You know how some people have joints that predict weather patterns?  Like, 'My elbow aches, so it's definitely going to snow today.'
Doctor:  Yeah, I guess...
Me:  Well, my knee can tell you where Jimmy Hoffa is, which is a hell of party trick if you ask me.  Who needs to know the weather in Austin?  Hot.  Every day.  I'd say the location of a notorious criminal is much more relevant.

Sadly, Hoffa's fat pad edema is in fact named after some boring doctor who isn't even related to Jimmy Hoffa (allegedly).  It's much the same as the Baker's Cyst, which has nothing to do with baking, even though that would have made total sense to me because I spend most of my free time doing stuff like this:

So, that was two major let-downs on the knee injury.  He asked if I had any other questions before he went into detail about my options.  Of course I did.

Me:  Well, the PA said that I have extra high-riding kneecaps and extended mobility.  Is that like a super power or something?  Like, maybe I can end world hunger with the extra knee work?
Doctor:'s not really a good thing.  I mean, it's not...the worst thing.  It's just not what we typically see in the average patient.
Me:  So what are you saying?  I belong in a freak show?  "Come see the girl with High-Riding Kneecaps! She's not normal!"
Doctor:  Okay, well, I wouldn't go that far.  It's just that there's a range of normal, and you're at the very high end of normal or perhaps even the low end of abnormal.
Me:  I don't believe anyone has ever described me so aptly in one sentence before.

Abby Normal.  I'm almost sure that was the name.
As we went over the options, he discussed the pros and cons of each choice.  Basically, the bottom line is that this clicking and aching is going to stay with me for the rest of my life, and there isn't really any good procedure for a permanent cure.  The doctor noted my frustration and said, "Hey, it isn't cancer, and you aren't going to die from it."  Well, those were two outcomes I never worried about.  Thanks for making me feel like a jerk for complaining.  I know it isn't cancer.  It isn't a lot of things, like starvation, or EF-5 tornadoes, or even the Zombie Apocalypse, but it is my knee.  And it is also quite unpleasant.

So I now have a non-life-threatening, "it's not cancer," snap crackle pop in my knee, and it can't even tell you where Jimmy Hoffa is.  This is the worst party trick EVER.  Thanks a lot, Suburban, thou lump of foul deformity!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

That Time My Knee Solved a Mystery

This week, the orthopedic surgeon's office called to tell me the results of my knee MRI had come in, and I needed to be seen as soon as possible.  I explained to the woman that my dog was having an emergency surgery and everything was kind of up in the air, so I had no idea when I'd be able to make the appointment.  Instead of the understanding reply I expected, the extremely huffy response I received was something along the lines of, "Well, I guess I can tell the doctor that, but you still have to come in if you want to get your results.  This is very serious."

I wanted to tell her that I was so overwhelmed I hadn't been very good at doing anything useful in the last week, including things like sleeping or eating regularly.  What I have been good at is crying, worrying, feeling insanely guilty, and cleaning obsessively.  (Obsessive cleaning means nit-picking my way through cabinets and drawers, item by item, for hours, when dishes may be left un-washed next to the sink.  It's less useful and more of a cleaning obfuscation.)  I couldn't explain any of this, though, because I knew she didn't have any compassion and because I was so far past my stress threshold that I was afraid anything I said would come out in a strangled half-sob, half-maniacal guffaw worthy of a Batman villain.

Actually, now that I think about it, if Ben Affleck can play Batman, I think I could make a pretty good villain.  So if any big, important movie casting directors are reading this, have your people contact my people.  I'd make a pretty good PenGwyn, seeing as I can bring my own personal flair to the name.  But, I probably can't be Catwoman because I'm allergic to cats.  Bummer, right?  Well, I'm sure we could still work something out.

And now, back to my point.

The next day, I got another phone call from the same woman.  She started out with, "Okay, so the doctor said I can read the report to you, but you're going to have to make an appointment if you want it explained."  Okay.  I get it.  I need to make an appointment. 

As soon as she said there were four points on the report, I knew I was going to have to write it all down.  This may seem less than helpful until you recall that Google's most important feature is allowing all of us to ensure we are actually dying of the worst possible diseases before we even step foot into a doctor's office.  Your knee hurts because of a car wreck?  Actually, no.  You have cancer AND ebola.  That's some pretty crap luck. (Obviously, I had a fun evening planned.)

To be extra considerate, the woman on the phone was spelling certain words for me to be sure I got them all down correctly, except I began to notice that she was spelling out normal words like l-a-t-e-r-a-l and skipping the medical terms, as if she thought I was some kind of idiot savant.  So you're going to spell out joint, but you're leaving popliteal up to me?  Gee.  Thanks.

And then she got to the part I couldn't understand at all.

Lady:  Number four is *mumbles* fat pad edema....
Me:  I didn't catch that word in front of fat pad.  Did you say Hoss, like Bonanza?
Lady:  No, *mumbles*
Me:  Okay, can we spell it out?  Hostas?
Lady:  Not essssessss, effffffs.
Me:  Oh, so Hoffa's fat pad?
Lady:  Yes.
Me:  I didn't know my knee had a fat pad.
Lady:  Well, I don't know what it means, either, so you're going to have to see the doctor.
Me:  It would be nice to know the hows and whys of the gangster's abode in my knee.  Who would have thought Jimmy Hoffa was in there all this time?
Lady:  That's why you're going to have to come in.

Clearly, she was done listening to me at that point.

And then I got some messages from my dad.

Dad:  What did the doctor's office say?
Me:  Well, there was some stuff about MCLs and cysts and unimportant stuff like that.  Oh, and I have a phat pad in my knee, and Jimmy Hoffa lives there.
Dad:  In other words, you didn't understand what they told you.
Me:  No, I wrote it all down.  Hoffa's fat pad edema.  I think it makes perfect sense.  Edema means swelling.  If you had a supposed-dead teamster hiding out in your fat pad, it would be swollen.  See?  I don't even need a doctor.  What I need is the FBI.
Dad:  Or maybe some sleep...?

I guess my dad could be right, but whenever I do get to go to the doctor, it would be nice if they could explain how a mob boss got into a fat pad when he died more than a decade before I was born.  Maybe Jimmy Hoffa is a Time Lord.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hold on to Your Potatoes!

Paper is a hot commodity at my house.  It just doesn't exist.  Well, of course, there are books.  I have books on every wall, on the floor, in my bed, on every horizontal surface... If I could stack books on the ceiling just to fit more of them in, I would.  But writing paper is so scarce that any time I chance upon a notebook, it's like finding the lost city of El Dorado.  

Except, I seem to have some sort of dementia when it comes to notebooks.  They're all filled up, by me, but I have no memory of the things I've written.  I'm talking NO memory.  Like, there are plenty of inside jokes that I don't even understand, and they were *my* jokes.

I'm the girl who hates lists and couldn't write one to save my own life (or make grocery shopping easier), yet I have scores of notebooks filled with lists and words and doodles I don't even remember making.  And, they're all ridiculous.  Things I Would Teach a Parrot to Say, Inappropriate Songs to Sing at My Funeral, numerous bucket lists, books to read, old words that should make a comeback, the countries of the world in alphabetical order....and it goes on and on.  (People who have sat next to me at meetings sometimes must have wondered why I have Azerbaijan in my notes, because they must have missed something.)

Today I found a notebook I don't even remember seeing, let alone writing in, but I found a list of things I should do with my life.  At the top of the list, I wrote "Know All the Things!"  and then crossed it out and wrote, "Damnit, Google." next to it.  At the bottom of the page was a list of pros and cons for becoming an archaeologist.

In case it's too hard to read, the pros say *My name is already Jones *I could find a good man, and *I hate Nazis.  The cons are *I don't have enough Asian friends *Maybe he wouldn't be a Time Lord, and *Sometimes it is snakes.  Apparently I decided the cons outweighed the pros in this case.

My favorite part is the fact that I believed having a kid that looks like Data from the Goonies follow me around yelling "Doctah Jones!" was more of a pro than finding Biblical artifacts.  

Okay, so it is a pretty good pro.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

If the Shoe Fits...

I was at what was to be my last appointment at the chiropractor when a woman walked in who commanded all the attention in the room.  Her heels clacked on the hard floor, and she talked on her cell phone, loudly, about what a horrible day she'd had.  And even though she was late for her appointment, she would go before me.

When she sat down, I snapped a quick picture at her unbelievable shoes.

Her shoes weren't the only unbelievable part of her get-up, though.  She was wearing an outfit of clothes that were a couple of sizes too small so as to accentuate her features.  I have to give it to her - the overall effect on her was much better than it would have been on me.  If I wore clothes like that, it would be less "Hey, look at my curves!" and more "Hey, it's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man!"  But I digress.

She went into her room, and the chiropractor attempted to tell her that she had significant spine and hip rotations that would need to be worked on.  And then he mentioned the shoes.

Doctor:  I'm not saying the shoes caused all of the problems, but they will add to it. 
Lady:  Yeah, but, my feet don't hurt.

This was the part where I wished he would have broken into a rendition of Dem Bones so that she could understand how her foot bone eventually connected to her hip bone and made it unhappy somehow.  Every sentence she said from that point on started with "Yeah, but..." and got louder and louder as she tried to defend her shoes and her lifestyle.

The rest of us just sat and waited, getting to hear it all.  As the door opened, the conversation had not ended.  Maybe I was feeling brave because this was my last appointment to see the chiropractor or any of these people, or maybe my eye-rolling muscles were feeling tired and over-worked. 

Doctor:  Whenever you wear heels, your body is tilted forward.  In heels this high, you walk like...
Me:  A Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Doctor:  I was going to say you walk like you're tilted on a ski slope.  All of your muscles are tight and eventually going to be damaged beyond repair.  Walking like a dinosaur isn't far off.

The girl shot me a prissy, murderous look, but I didn't care.  Everyone in the room felt the same way about her.  I just wanted to have my appointment and then go home forever.  I wouldn't be back, so I wouldn't have to worry about seeing anyone here again.  

But then...after my appointment, the doctor said he needed to see me again next week.  That figures.


Monday, July 22, 2013

A Sadist on my Back

I haven't written in a while.  In fact, I haven't done much of anything in a while.  I suppose the last few weeks I have suffered from some depression, caused by my accident and the fact that I haven't won the lottery yet.  In the time since the accident, I had held on to a lot of hope that I was healing, that life would have to get better, that everything would get better.  People keep telling me I'm so lucky, and so I tried to hold on to that.

Then I started having sharp pains in my back and chest like nothing I'd ever felt before.  The doctors knew something was wrong, because I usually list severe pain as a 4 or 5 on the scale, and I was calling this a 9.  Unfortunately, I attempted to Google "left shoulder blade pain."  Don't do it.  WebMD always says you have cancer, except this time.  This time it said dissecting aorta.  I wished it were cancer.  When I finally got to see my doctor, she took my shirt off and moved my arms around.  She said I was having muscle spasms.  Muscle spasms.

Somehow, the diagnosis seemed lacking.  When the pain got intense, my body would contort in such ways that my bra even unhooked on its own.  Try as I might, I haven't been able to re-create that particular move, but once I do, I'm going to market it.  I mean, this all has to be worth something.  I told the doctor I was going to call the muscle spasms Annie Wilkes, because that sounded more in line with what I was actually experiencing.  I would have been far less surprised to hear that a maniacal sadist had taken up residence in my trapezius and was ready with a sledge-hammer when I needed a good hobbling.

I am your number one fan.

Nothing has really helped the pain, so I've sort of retreated.  I haven't cooked or baked, even though I love doing those things.  I haven't really talked a lot to friends, yet I feel irrationally angry with some who haven't reached out to me.

Perhaps this too shall pass, and in the meantime I'll work on finding my funny again.  I tend to find it in margaritas, though I have to warn anyone who drinks with me that I'll probably explain things like the historical significance of des mouches or why the Royal Baby doesn't have a last name.

Speaking of the RB, I bought a commemorative cheese to celebrate the occasion.  That's right.  This child has a limited edition cheddar called Royal Addition.

Someday when I have kids, I'm going to give out cheese instead of birth announcements.

I had been waiting for over a week to try out my new cheese, and it was difficult to leave it untouched each time I opened the fridge.  Today, my dad called to tell me the good news, in case I was not online.

Dad:  You can open your cheese now.
Me:  Really?
Dad:  Yep! The British had a boy.
Me:  The whole nation had a baby?
Dad:  You know what I mean. I'm watching the whole limo thing. Everyone's excited, but not like jumping up and down or anything crazy. You know, they're British.
Me:  Well, yes. I think I want to be British myself.
Dad:  Not me. They live on an island. Scary stuff. Once global warming really takes off, there will be a lot more water and a lot less island.
Me:  Technically all land is surrounded by water, but I guess if I were insane I'd see your point. I've got to go eat my cheese now. Thanks for letting me know.
Dad:  Really, shouldn't you wait until you know the name of your Royal Cheese?

So, I guess congratulations are in order, even if I am waiting to try the commemorative cheddar.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

That Time I Almost Died of Sticker Shock

I went to HEB on my way to the Frio, and everything started out normal and boring.  Or, as normal as can be when you realize you've parked next to this:

Plant food = God's "chemo"

So anyway, I walked into the store to look into getting what I needed for my trip.  I'd been in this HEB before, but only ever with a friend who is one of those list people and had a plan for the whole week written neatly on a piece of paper.  I just knew I was going to starve if I didn't grab a couple of kind of thought out items.

I was making it through quite nicely, when I started to feel an itch on the back of my leg.  At first I thought it was just the new capri pants I was wearing.  It's just a weird seam thing, right?  As I turned into the next aisle, the itch was back, and I realized it wasn't just an itch.  It was a scraping, scratching feeling going across my thigh.  Moving.  It was a living itch.  I stopped in my tracks, trying to think of what to do.  Surely it was nothing.  It's always nothing, isn't it?

But then my brain remembered Grandma's story about the time she put on a dress as a little girl, and there were wasps in the "bosom" of it, which turned out to be pretty awful but then later doubled as a good tactic for keeping grandkids (or at least me) terrified and awake.  And then I thought about how we had to check all of our shoes and things left on the floor when we lived in Arizona because we had scorpions and other disgusting things in our house all the time.  My dad even tried to describe scorpions to my grandparents when they came for their first visit, saying it was some little armored thing that had a big stinger tail on it and lobster claws.  As we all stood around the kitchen listening to him describe it, Grandma suddenly said, "Uh, like that?"  And sure enough, one had scampered across the kitchen floor to stare at us as if to say, "What up, yo?"  until Grandma just reached out with her little vinyl flat and crunched it to pieces on the linoleum.

Grandma, as portrayed by Harry Hamlin

So now I was sure.  This wasn't just an itch, it was a poisonous creature.  Maybe it was a black widow, and I was going to die before I could even get to my car.  I mean, I was in the middle of the grocery store, and it wasn't like I could just reach into my pants and get the little beast out of there.  By now I had started sweating and trying to keep calm, thinking it would keep me alive longer if the horrid creature in my pants couldn't sense my ever rising panic.  What did I need again?  Oh, right.  Milk.  I started promising God and myself that I'd write lists from now on if I could just live through this experience.

The scratching was getting more insistent.  Forget snacks and whatever else I had planned for the rest of the week; I needed to get to the safety of my vehicle.  So, I went to the check out and tried to look as non-panicky as I could while asking for a bag of ice, but that probably just translated in an over-large, awkward smile as I had sweat rolling down my face.  I felt like someone in a hostage situation who has to secretly convey their plight to be rescued, but how do you do that when the terrorist is in your own pants?

I run to my car awkwardly, trying to not move my leg even though legs are required for things like running, and then leaving my groceries and ice in the backseat for a minute, because, well, getting this thing out of my pants is more pressing.  I have tinted windows on my car, but it's not like I drive a limo, so I have to do that fun contortion of trying to look like my arm isn't down my pants even though it's totally down my pants.  When I grab onto the first thing that isn't made of me or capri pant material, I grip it tightly enough to be sure it's dead on the way out, but then I realize that it's much too small to be a black widow.  What if it's a species undiscovered by science?  It would be just my luck to find something as yet unknown to science, but then die before I can report it, or, perhaps worse, have destroyed it completely.  Still, being cautious, I get the menacing little harbinger of death out of my pants and then throw it onto the passenger seat, in case it has the cockroach-like ability to not be dead even when it's dead.

Except, it's not dead.  It's not even alive.  It's a piece of paper.  I un-crumpled the little bits of stickiness.  Who knows?  Maybe the spider got away and left me a message that would make sense of the last 15 minutes of my life.  Instead, I find this.

Well, that was unexpected.

So, I guess that was somewhat of a let down, all things considered.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

That Time My Dad Diagnosed My Whole Life

One day not too many months ago, my dad called just to say hello.  This time, I was in quite a bad mood because my non-level oven had just ruined a lemon meringue pie I was making for a party.

Dad:  What's up?
Me:  I ruined a pie, so I'm mad.
Dad:  Didn't you ruin a cake last month?  You're supposed to be good at baking.
Me:  I did NOT ruin a cake.  My oven caught on fire.  I'm pretty sure oven fires are in the category of "not my fault" until such time as I intentionally set this piece-of-junk oven alight because it un-levels all of my cakes and sometimes decides to broil instead of bake.
Dad:  You're like a living episode of I Love Lucy.
Me:  Shut up. I'm hanging up on you.
Dad:  But everybody loved Lucy. It's a good thing. You just have a lot of mishaps, and it's funny.
Me:  I don't want to be stupid.
Dad:  Lucy's not stupid - she just had adventures that didn't turn out so great for her. For us, they were hilarious.
Me:  Fine, but I still like Ethel better.
Dad:  Oh, now she was stupid. Her best friend was Lucy, and that b**** was dangerous.

So this is how I came to be diagnosed with Lucy Ricardo Disease.  It all makes sense now.  Every time I have a somewhat dumb conversation with a stranger, or say the world's worst curse in front of a little old lady, or tell a police officer my whole life story until he decides not to give me a ticket, or become a witness to some silly adventure at the store, it's really just a symptom of my disease.  And while I can't see that this disease is terminal, at least in the dying sort of way, it does seem that the harder I try to do the right or nice thing, the more likely I am to set my fake nose on fire or be forced to eat a million pieces of chocolate.

Yeah, I took awkward photos ON PURPOSE.  What now?
I guess there's no point in trying to hide just how awkward I really am, but I figure being a little like Lucy Ricardo isn't the worst thing in the world.  After all, I could be Ethel.  

She makes a good point.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Happy Late Birthday, America!

I was supposed to write this post last week, as it was Independence Day, but I was going out of town, procrastinating on packing and getting ready, and then....well, let's just say there were some margaritas involved (because packing always works out better when there are margaritas involved).  So instead, this is a late Independence Day post, kind of like those late birthday cards you get from distant family members who can only remember that your birthday is sometime in February and that March is still kinda close.  Besides, if I had actually written this last week, I wouldn't have been able to add a bonus about this year.  So Happy Birthday, America, even if I am a little late.

For the last couple of years, I have gone to the Frio River to celebrate the 4th of July.  This means preparing for everything I'll need to eat and wear and do for a few days of complete laziness, so, naturally, I head to the grocery store for supplies.

Last year, I needed bottles of ginger ale but couldn't find any at the closest HEB.  So, I settled and went to Randall's, where I had to settle again and get Canada Dry.  As I went to the check out, a very young boy decided he needed some way to start an awkward conversation.

Checker (16 year old boy): Good old Canada Dry.
Me: Yep.
Checker: You know, I've got a friend in Canada that I met online. I know a lot about Canada, eh?
Me: That's...nice.
Checker: Like did you know yesterday was Canada Day?
Me: Yep.
Checker: We should totally have a US Day. Wouldn't that be awesome?
Me: Seriously?
Checker (mistaking my incredulity for interest): Yeah! All they do is drink beer and shoot off fireworks and.... oh. Wait.
Me: There it is. Thank goodness.

I left this conversation feeling kind of sad at the state of our education system, but it was really because that was not the first frightening conversation I had that day.

Earlier, at HEB:

Checker:  Do you think England has a July 4th?
Me:  I'm pretty sure every country has a July 4th.  It's on the calendar.
Checker:  You know what I mean.
Me:  Uh...nope.
Checker:  Like, do they celebrate it?
Me:  Well, if by celebrate you mean that they relish in the fact that they're no longer responsible for us or the dumb things we might do, then maybe.
Checker:  Oh, I just meant fireworks.
Me:  Well, then, no.

Every once in a while, I get to be part of the "dumb things" category, too.  This year, I was out on the Frio, enjoying that time and most of my phone and internet service didn't exist and that I could have mojitos and books all day long.  At our group dinner, one friend of mine told me I was being ironic.  When I asked why, she said, "What are you wearing?"  So I looked down, and then back up at her, and said, "Um, clean things?"  Then she asked what day it was.  It was July 4th.


So, does being accidentally ironic count?  The great part was that no one else had noticed until Katie brought it up, though I have been told that most people know I'm an anglophile and wouldn't think that to be outside of my normal behavior.  Later that evening, I texted my dad this picture to tell him I was a bad American.  His response was, "Why?  I'm wearing Old Glory underwear, so it all balances out."

So there it is, America.  Happy Late Birthday from a bunch of silly kids who haven't quite mastered the concept of independence or what, exactly, we're supposed to do with it.  I think I'll continue my normal celebration style, complete with mojitos and books.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

That Time I Destroyed Someone's Weekend

When I go to the HEB pharmacy, I usually see the same woman working at the counter.  I've noticed that she seems to have a hard time with people, but knowing that she gets yelled at or has to answer stupid questions all day long makes me feel for her.  (This is why I hide from people and believe I should stay locked in a room with books all day.)  She hardly smiles, so I make it a point to have a good conversation with her each time I go, even if all I can manage to get out is "Hello!" and "Did you cut your hair?  It's so cute!"  Maybe it's silly, but I just like the challenge of making this woman smile, just for a second.

But of course, me being me, I tend to have really great ideas and screw them up a lot.  I'm like a social klutz with an overabundance of good intentions and a lack of common sense.  Nobody ever thinks they'll be a Destroyer, but it seems to happen to me all the time, even though I use logic and pure scientific fact to point out that they're making a big deal of nothing.  For some reason, I still get surprised when this makes it worse.  (My dad refers to my klutziness as Lucy Ricardo Disease.)

At the end of February I was there for some allergy meds, because I'm allergic to Austin from December to April, and there wasn't even a line.  HEB was covered in notices about remembering to bring your own cloth bags beginning March 1st.  As the lady was putting the prescriptions into the little plastic zip bag they always used, she pointed to one of the notices.

Cashier:  Pretty soon we won't have plastic anymore, and we'll be saying, "Remember when we used to have plastic bags?"
Me:  Ha!  Just like, "Remember when Pluto was a planet?"

And then, unexpectedly, she started to freak out.

Cashier:  What? What happened to Pluto? Why isn't it a planet? Is it still there? Is it a star?
Me:  (trying to remain calm and matter-of-fact) It's fine. It's just been decided that Pluto doesn't meet the criteria to be considered a planet.
Cashier:  Who the hell gets to decide things like that? What if I decide that it is a planet again?
Me:  Well, scientists decided it. I wasn't too thrilled with the decision, either, at least for historical value.  Because, I'm from Kansas, and it's important to us.  I even have it on a shirt.  Believe me, I'll have words with Neil Degrasse Tyson if I meet him.  Like, "I liked Pluto; ergo, I do not like you."  Ha...ha?
Cashier:  It's just so sad. I thought we had nine planets.

Well, I had thought Pluto's tragic demise was old news, but I guess I don't get out enough.

Obviously, there were no smiles that day.

My thoughts, exactly.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

50 Shades of Gray Matter

This has been a week full of good and bad news.  The bad news is:  car wrecks suck, and they keep at it, even eight weeks later.  Who knew one Suburban could makes things so difficult?  So while I've dealt with more little tidbits of that unsolicited adventure, I haven't really felt like doing much of anything else, except being miserable.

The good news is:  I have officially been fitted for survival of the Zombie Apocalypse (proved the ZA comes with, or is perhaps caused by, some form of chemical warfare).
Respirators, now offering snazzy, fashionable colors for all your  toxic waste needs!
To be allowed to wear this fun monstrosity, I had to actually be fitted to make sure it sealed around my face, which just made me think of Face Huggers and how I really picked the wrong career for myself.  (Note the look of shock in my eyes as I realized I couldn't breathe.)

So, I filled out this long questionnaire and went back to the room for the fitting.  But, as it turns out, I was told I would have to wait for a doctor because I decided to be honest and check yes for "Asthma."  The doctor came back to ask why I had checked yes.  Well, um, because, asthma.

Doctor:  What are you going to be using this respirator for?
Me:  Well, as far as I know, just for dumping chemical waste.
Doctor:  Do you use other forms of masks or respirators for the rest of your work, like these over here?
Me:  No, just this one, and it won't be for every day.
Doctor:  Will you be using this respirator for anything else you can think of?
Me:  Maybe the Zombie Apocalypse.
Doctor:  Zombies?
Me:  I like to be prepared.  I think it's a good idea to have a Z-Day plan in place, because it could totally happen.
Doctor:  Zombies like reanimated dead people zombies?
Me:  Well, yeah.  I mean, I'm not gung-ho about it like some people.  I don't have a concrete bunker full of elephant guns.  That would be crazy.  I'm just saying I have a secret cabinet full of toilet paper, the ability to distill my own alcohol and perhaps synthesize ibuprofen, and I like to know where all my exits are.
Doctor:  Right. I'll have to think about this. Do you have any tactical plans for what to do once the zombies are here?
Me:  I'm part of an ark.  I'm pretty essential because of my aforementioned skills, but I think unfortunately it's going to come down to a game of Hide the Gwyn more than Fight the Zombies.
Doctor:  Why do you think that?
Me:  ....I thought it would be obvious.  Zombies are after brains.
Doctor:  Okay then, time to take a listen to those lungs.  I don't let anybody out of this room without listening to their lungs and looking in their ears.

I guess he has to get paid for something.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Life-Altering Decision

Okay, everybody, I've made a life-altering decision.  This is big, as usually I can’t even decide what to eat or which direction to take when walking my dog.  I've decided I need to be famous.  Yep.  That’s it. 

See, I've loved writing ever since I can remember.  I loved it so much that someone even bought me a typewriter for children, many years ago.  It was great, except I learned that I just liked the clicking noise of the buttons, and that didn't really make for good writing.  Somehow that typewriter disappeared rather quickly after all the paper I wasted.  When no one was around to demand my writing, I filled notebooks and napkins and every scrap piece of paper I could find, but when someone would say, “Okay, write something,” I would just stare at the paper in fear, like it was going to possess my soul.

The blank's so...pretty.

For some time, writing left my life.  I found that I had to work or pay bills or do other grown-up things that I’m really not qualified to do.  Even though I've been doing this for several years, I still think it’s all some big mistake.  Someone, somewhere, put my name on a list that said I was ready for the adult life, and they were wrong.  Yes, I go grocery shopping, but I don’t even know what grown-ups buy at the store.  I just go for bananas and baking ingredients.  Real dinner?  What’s that?  I do go to work every day, but I wake up every morning sad that I have to get dressed again, and so early.  I keep thinking there must be some better way to survive.
As much as I admire the great writers of the past, it seems that a lot of them had to be independently wealthy, starving artists, or supported by a rich patron.  My previous attempts at winning the lottery or finding a long lost wealthy relative have failed, so I have the options to starve or find myself a rich patron who thinks my writing is worth reading. Or, I could become famous.

"Rich patrons are the bomb, yo." ~Billy Shakes

So, I've been thinking.  I can write elaborate and beautiful dedications, witty and sarcastic remarks, or even wonderfully worded threats to bad neighbors.  But, if I had all the time in the world to write, I could do even more than that.  This is why I need to be famous.  In case you needed to see it in list form, I've made a list of pros and pros.

Pros (for me)
  • I could write all the time.
  • I wouldn't lose my mind doing the same thing day in and day out, only to worry about not being able to retire when I get old because of a crappy economy.
  • I could read books whenever I wanted!
  • My dog would be happier.
  • I wouldn't have to pretend how to be an adult anymore, but I would have time to learn how to get proper groceries.
  • I wouldn't have to get up and put on socks every day.  Heck, I could just not wear any regular clothes at all and stay in my pajamas all the time. (It’s really great for creativity, so I’m told.)

Pros (for you)
  • I could spend more time at HEB, hanging out with the weird people who seem to inspire my many adventures.
  • I could write all the time.
  • You would be keeping me from starving.
  • I could write for you.
  • You would have more funny stories to read, which would in turn make you a happier and less worried person.

See, I'm only concerned about you guys. If I become famous, I could do all these things and more.  Who knows?  Maybe I could start some sort of sock-less society where we could just wear flip-flops and drink margaritas all day long, because stress and socks are dumb. It would be great.  Also, just look at this dog.  Who wouldn't want him to be happy?  

In conclusion, somehow, I need to become famous.  I don't know very much about the whole process, except I think owning a small dog gives me an advantage.  But! You can share my blog on all of the social media, and maybe that would be a good way to start.  For my part, I'll even get a Twitter, which I had staunchly avoided until now because I believed the 140 character limit to be akin to a dropped phone call, and maybe a Facebook page.  Let's go crazy!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Games of Jones

I play a lot of games to make life brighter.  Sometimes these games are conscious choices, made a long time in advance, like the “This is what I love/this is what I hate” game.  I love songs that have silly lyrics, just to maintain the rhyme, like, “I really think you’re groovy. Let’s go out to a movie.”  I hate stepping in something wet when I’m wearing socks.  (Also? I hate wearing socks, in general, and I think I've just realized this might play a big part in that.) Sometimes the games are last-minute decisions, like, “If this handful of stuff I’m holding is exactly the right number of said stuff that I need for this thing, then I win!  However, if I have one piece of stuff too many or too few, then I double lose!”  There are other unintentional games, such as my (mostly) unexpected adventures at HEB.  And then, there’s a game I've played my whole life:  the game of happy.

The game of happy is closely related to what I love, but on a much bigger scale and more complex.  It isn't just about my favorite things; it’s about the ideal life in the perfect world, like having the library from Beauty and the Beast or a giant blanket fort instead of a bedroom.  I've been adding to the game as long as I can remember.  As a little girl, the happy was pretending that I was really English…or a hillbilly. I would speak in the accents so much that I couldn't stop, even when I wanted to, or was being yelled at by my parents when they stopped thinking it was funny.  To be fair, I also pretended that Mr. and Mrs. Howell were my parents, and they always thought I was funny.

"Lovey, she cracks me up!"

As I got older, the game got older, too.  I started adding details of things I could put in my life that would make me happy.  I had never really told that many people, because the game is different for everybody.  To win, only I have to be happy, and it doesn't matter how silly or dumb someone else thinks it is.  Some time ago, I was visiting with my doctor, who was sad that a trip to see a specialist hadn't come about with a perfect answer or cure that she was hoping for.  She was so concerned with how I was taking it, that I decided maybe the happy would help her, too. 

Doc:  What would make you happy?
Me:  Oh, that’s simple.
Doc:  You?  Simple?
Me:  Of course!  I have it all planned out.  Someday I’m going to live in England.  Up north, probably.  I’ll have a whole pack of corgis named for the Royal Family, and I’ll even get a gimpy one and name him Charles.  I’d like to have sheep, and at least two of them need to be the kind with the black faces.  I’ll name them Al Jolson and Gene Wilder.  Oh, and then an old Clydesdale, too.  I love them because they have big feet.  And, I’ll name him Dover so that I can always tell him to move his bloomin’ arse.
Doc:  O…kay.  Did you tell your dad about this?  What did he think about you moving to England and, uh…the rest?
Me:  Oh, he says it would be cool if I could train the sheep so that instead of bleating “Baaaah,” they go, “Maaaammy.” 
Doc:  I think I must be missing something here.
Me:  Probably a lot of somethings.

Be cool.  Shake it, but don't break it.

By now, I have hundreds of details in the game.  Some are as innocuous as having a field of sunflowers, while others are very intricate and would require a lot of planning, like having my own labyrinth.  I already have it designed with a mirror in the center, because a labyrinth is supposed to represent a reflection of self and meditating upon the center of your mind and soul.  In my labyrinth, you would notice anamorphic art that looks completely abstract from far away.  As you twist and turn your way to the center, the image stays abstract, until you get to the end.  Then, with the angle just right, you look into the mirror and see David Bowie.  It might be un-Christian of me, but I figure that there could be a lot worse than David Bowie hanging out in the innermost part of my soul.  

If you were curious, here's my dad's reaction to the David Bowie thing, after I was able to explain anamorphic art so that he didn't think I had just made it up or that I was talking about those Magic Eye illusion books that none of us could ever actually see.

Dad:  Would it be David-now-Bowie or David-iconic red hair-Bowie?
Me:  I was thinking David-spandex, codpiece, king of the goblins-Bowie.
Dad:  Why?  Oh, duh.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ballad of a Sick Day

I have to admit, after many hours of working on this post, I'm a little nervous.  Okay, so I'm a lot nervous.  It seems like one of those ideas you have right when you're falling asleep, and you think it's the greatest idea in the whole world, until you wake up.  My brain works like this constantly, but it won't let an idea die until I do, write, or make whatever it is my brain is so excited about.  It's just, this idea came with pictures.  They are meant to be unflattering, and they do a great job.  But they're of me!  Also, I'm not very great at playing pretend, and I find that I didn't have a lot of reasons to frown and look miserable while at Kristin's house.  In fact, I had a lot of reasons to giggle, including a precious three year old who kept yelling things like, "Gwyndolyn, where's the TARDIS?  Is the TARDIS hiding?"  Anyway, I'm going to stick with this and hope for a good outcome, even if it is a bit silly and unflattering.

Last week, I started to get sick with the worst sore throat I've had in over a year.  Seeing as I'm between doctors, I tried to call a local clinic to speak to a nurse and see about a walk-in appointment.

Receptionist:  Well, we can't let you speak to a nurse if you don't have a doctor here.
Me:  I don't have a doctor anywhere.  What I do have is scarlet fever.
Receptionist:  Oh my.
Me:  Well, it could be worse.  WebMD says it's throat cancer.
Receptionist:  I'm really sorry, but you have to have a doctor to talk to a nurse.
Me:  None of this makes sense.  What if I tell you my symptoms so that we can figure out who I need to see, or how I can get one of these appointments so that I can see a doctor?
Receptionist:  If you don't have a doctor, you can't just make an appointment.
Me:  But this is bad.  I'm hot then I'm cold.  Oh my gosh!
Receptionist:  What?
Me:  I'm a Katy Perry song.
Receptionist:  What?  Are you all right?

A big thank you to Kristin, who helped with the execution of this idea by taking all of the pictures and editing them.  She's the artist behind all of my creative thoughts.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

One Man's Trash is Another's....Best Friend?

I was just leaving HEB, thinking how nice it was to have a normal, boring trip.  I had even met up with a friend inside to have a nice conversation.  Could it be that nothing weird would happen on this grocery run?

Of course not!

As I got out the door, I noticed a man running up the parking lot, pushing a shopping cart in front of him.  He was running rather quickly, so I stopped moving, afraid that any direction I took would cause him to hit me when he got closer.  Instead, he ran smack into one of the trashcans that sits outside the front doors.  BANG!  The trashcan started to wobble, and the man began yelling.  “Sit!  Stay!  Damn it, stay!” 

All the while, I had moved quickly to push the trashcan so that it wouldn’t fall over, seeing as how his yells did little to combat all of Newton’s Laws of Motion.  As I stood there, he looked up at me and said, “You know, I don’t think this would make for a very good dog.”

I just shook my head, replied, “Of course not, because, it’s a trashcan,” and walked off toward my car.  I guess I’m just destined for adventure, even on the boring days.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A New Adventure

Not long after I moved to Austin, I realized I needed to know more than the fact that it has 80 zip codes, compared to the whopping ONE in the town where I grew up.  For one thing, I was going to need food at some point.  I was so overwhelmed, and lost, that I actually Googled grocery stores near my apartment.  The closest thing I had to my location was H. E. Butt Food.  I remember yelling out to my roommate that Texans were crazy.  Who goes to a store called Butt Food?  And I guess that’s why we know it only as HEB.  In any case, that is where I almost always do my shopping, and I guess that's why we're all here.

HEB and I have a very long, adventurous history.  If you’ve read all of my posts on Facebook, you’ll probably be bored seeing them all again, so I’m starting with one I’ve never written before.  (I have to be able to hook you somehow, right?) 

It seems like no matter how much I try to avoid an adventure or just think I’m “running in” for one quick item, something strange happens, but I still try to get through each trip unscathed.  One of my tactics is to use the self-checkout if at all possible.

I like to use the self-checkout for two reasons. 

Sometimes, I just can’t handle the dumb.  Sure, people say I have a lot of patience, but there are definitely times when I don’t suffer fools gladly.  Going through a regular checkout line is just an invitation for someone to ask me if people are colorblind like dogs are colorblind, if I knew that dog treats weren’t for people, or if rhubarb tastes red. 

More importantly, self-checkout makes me less self-conscious about the fact that I rarely buy anything that normal adults use for daily food consumption, and instead I’m just doing a quick run for 36 ounces of Baker’s chocolate, two pounds of butter, and a carton of heavy cream.  I don’t need to be on some list somewhere (Baker Today, Diabetic Tomorrow? I don’t know what it’s called, but I’m sure there’s a list.).  I don’t need judgment from the woman behind me who has only gluten-free, vegan items and a cart half-full of kale just because I haven’t figured out how to be an adult and only think of the grocery store as a place to stock up on my next baking adventure and green bananas.  And the last thing I need is to get to the front of the line and after the checker has scanned all of my items, have him look up at me slowly and say, “You bakin’ something?”  Because that’s when I can’t help but answer something along the lines of, “No, actually, I’ve discovered that chocolate chips in cream make a much more balanced breakfast than Cheerios in skim milk” and then go home feeling guilty for being unable to keep my cynical, sarcastic thoughts to myself.

Even with all this precaution, I’ve long suspected that HEB was keeping tabs on everything I was buying somehow.  As of today, all of my suspicions were confirmed when I hadn’t even finished checking out, and not one, but three of these babies printed in front of my very eyes.  

So, HEB, you win this round.  Or maybe…I win.