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.