A quest to make sense of it all. Or a sense to make a quest of it all.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In Transit.

Sorry for the total lack of posting lately. Actually, I'm in the process of moving all this over to Wordpress and getting a side blog going. I've been talking about a food blog for months, and it's finally coming. It'll be entirely dedicated to applying clean eating to special diets and particular health concerns; allergies/sensitivities, diabetes, hypertension, hypo/hyperactive thyroid, anemia, etc. I'm not a doctor, so the information is not intended to "cure," per se. Just to give people struggling with these issues the best chance at treatment, as far as food can cover. I'll be posting specific menus designed for different needs, as well as recipes and narration of kitchen adventures.

Like making cheese without milk. WHICH REALLY HAPPENED.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Mostly, I want to watch Sister Act again.

Kidding. I haven't even seen a nun yet. Singing, flying, or otherwise. I am thinking more frequently about the wedding scene in The Sound of Music and hoping that's how all Catholics do it. Or at least like in The Godfather, so that I can be whirled around a dance floor in too much white satin while some Italian guy sings songs of a questionable nature.

I'm not likely to have the Jewish wedding from Fiddler on the Roof that I always kinda wanted, ok? Let a girl have her dreams. In my dreams, the ceremony is conducted in a giant cathedral, by a very composed priest. After everything's finalized, Groom stomps on a shotglass, the crowd of hundreds goes wild shouts "Mozel tov!,"
and Groom and I are lifted (in chairs!!) and carried outside to an oddly dusty reception area. That's when folks break it down. There will be hand-clapping and line dancing and dudes I don't even know who dance with bottles on their heads, because nothing quite conveys sheer joy like people dancing with bottles on their heads for you. *sigh*

Easy, killah! I'm not getting married anytime soon. I don't even know who Groom is. I could have just as easily been thinking about the interview I'll give to some bright young aspiring writer a couple decades from now, when I'm a seasoned novelist/dietician/midwife/homesteader. Or I could have been thinking, "Mallard...that's a weird word. Mallard. Maaaallard. Mallaaaard. Where did that word come from??"

This is just the kind of stuff I think about when I have a million other things to do and my brain just involuntarily checks out for a few minutes. It's the mental equivalent of sitting down on the curb to happily slurp an ice cream cone. Then a pigeon poos in it and I have to throw it away and get back to what I was doing. I shouldn't be eating dairy, anyway.

We can start with that. Now, I'm not admitting to an allergy (because food allergies are really just in your head, anyway). But, on a whim, I decided to cut back. Just to see what would happen. What happened: The skin I always just assumed was sensitive and ornery started inching toward pristine and airbrushed-looking. I've scientifically tested this a couple times by consuming a lot of dairy for a day and paying attention. Yep. Definitely a negative reaction. How I wanted it to not be true! But it is. Obviously, it doesn't cause me physical discomfort, but it does make my complexion rebel, and I'm enjoying not feeling chained to my makeup bag. Will I live without cheese now? Hell, no. I'm looking into low lactose/casien options, like goat's milk and sheep's milk, and this weekend I'm going to make a big batch of ghee (that's clarified butter; the process removes the casein and makes it ok for even sensitive-tummied engineers). I'm pretty proficient at making cheese at home now, so that's no biggie. The only thing I really miss is having a glass of milk when I feel snackish. Almond milk is super good (and substitutes great in most recipes), but it's just not the same with a cookie.

Grandma Charlie's returned home to California. It was really good having her here, though I know we werent very good entertainment. I had hoped to have more time to hang with her, knitting and kvetching, but those cool times were too infrequent and didn't last nearly long enough. It's hard to delve into juicy conversation when there's so much going on, there's always someone wandering through the room, and there's always some animal making noise. So Brett and I are starting to plan a trip out there for spring. I didn't get to see the rest of my Califolks at all this past year, and that sucks. So I'm going to remove myself from the distractions of home/work/classes, and go spend some real quality time with these people I love and don't make enough time for.

In the good news department, I AM OFFICIALLY A STUDENT AGAIN!!! Classes start January 4. Full time, on top of my full time job and RCIA (I had to quit the second job; it was just too much, especially with school coming up). I've never been so deliciously happy in anticipation of being exhausted. I was pretty disappointed at not being able to attend fall semester, but I was prepared for that. It's all together now and I feel like I've had time to get good and ready. After some hard thinking and some conversations with folks who are already in the journalism field, I've decided to go with nutrition/dietetics. I mean, c'mon. Nothing's going to shut off my writing and I don't have to have a degree to write successfully. But as for creating a stable career based on something I love, journalism isn't the best route...and I hesitate to force creativity for a paycheck. I love nutrition and holistic medicine as much as I love writing, and since that's something I can actually be trained in and rely on for steady productivity, that's the way I'm going.

And in the Good News department, I'm about 80% sure I'll be committing to the Catholic faith in the near future. Not because I think it's the only way, or even the preferred way, but because it's comfortable to me. I'm into it. It's a call I decided to answer and found myself having an unexpectedly friendly chat. I'd like to continue the dialouge.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Latching on.

So this morning I was scanning msn.com (a ritual I'm finding less and less use for, as the articles linked are rarely this interesting), and stumbled upon this. Basically, a lady in Michigan was awaiting her turn in court (for a boating ticket) when her 5-month old son got hungry and fussy. Sitting in the back of the courtroom, the lady discreetly began breastfeeding the baby. The judge called her to the front and embarassed her, and told her what she was doing was inappropriate.


This really bothered me. I did a little sniffing around and found that Michigan is one of five states that don't permit public breastfeeding. Wait, what? That's a thing? There are actually laws against feeding a hungry baby in public? Yes, there are. Apparently, a lot of people feel that b-feeding violates public indecency laws. Right now, the subject is being hotly debated all across the interwebs...because there are enough people who are offended by the sight of a breast as to create a debate. Even most of the people who are pro-titty hasten to add that breastfeeding should be done in a "discreet" manner, so as not to make passersby uncomfortable. That the mother should use a blanket to completely cover the activity, or turn her back, or even go to a public bathroom to feed her child.

Let me get this straight: you think a baby should have to have his meal under a blanket, where he can't breathe fresh air or see his mother, so that you don't have to see a breast being used for its primary and intended function.

That's effed up, America.

What is it about this that makes people uncomfortable? Is it the skin-flashing? Please. The baby's mouth covers the nipple, and his head obscures most of the breast from view. And that's if the mom has her whole milker out. Most of the time, that's not the case and there's just a sliver of skin exposed between buttons. You see more at the beach, or the pool. Or the mall. Or the grocery store. We don't bat an eyelash about walking past Victoria's Secret ads wherein a woman is depicted in a near-orgasmic state, back arched, head thrown back, bosoms spilling almost out of her bra. A particularly skimpy bikini might raise a couple eyebrows, but it won't cause a public outcry. Let's get to the meat of this issue, if you will. We know why people are made uncomfortable by public breastfeeding.

Because our culture has forgotten that that fetishized and sexualized part of a woman's body actually has a biological function, and folks don't want to be reminded of that. Dudes are way happier thinking of breasts as something pretty and distinctly girly to play with. Ok, they are. They are supposed to entice. Guys are supposed to see a nice rack and be interested, at least on the simplest of levels. It's a visual cue that immediately lights up the "knock her up!" part of his brain. I like to picture that part of his brain as looking a lot like this.

That doesn't mean guys are walking around actively looking for fertile ladies. It's been my experience that most of them get asthmatically freaked out at the idea of pregnancy. No, it just means that nature fixed things so that we would be attracted to each other based on obvious signs of virility and fertility.

The problem is that nobody wants to see a breast being used in any non-sexual capacity. We've gotten so far out of touch with our bodies and their functions that it makes us squirm to see something as natural as a baby nursing. We say, "That's private! Intimate! Out of our sight!" Well, it's not private. It's a meal. It's the healthiest meal for an infant. We don't freak out and tell moms and dads to take that nonsense elsewhere if they whip out a bottle, or a jar of Gerber's. Some of the naysayers claim that something being natural doesn't make it ok to do in front of everyone, and compare it to defecating in public. That's...too stupid a comparison for me to spend any time on, other than to shake my head. No, what's at the bottom of this, is that we've been brought up in a world where breasts are pretty, airbrushed accessories, with no purpose but to titillate. They're lifted up, pushed together, even cosmeticized with bronzers and sparklies, but they are, under no circumstance, to be actually utilized.

Preposterous. To all the above, I say: STFU...and grow up.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grace like rain.

Jesus was walking along one day, when He came upon a group of people surrounding a lady of ill repute. The crowd was preparing to stone her, so Jesus made His now-famous statement, "Let the person who has no sin cast the first stone."

The crowd was shamed and one by one began to turn away. Then, a lovely woman made her way through the crowd. Finally getting to the front, she tossed a pebble towards the woman.

Jesus looks over and says, "I really hate it when you do that, Mom."

So I'm about a month into RCIA classes. My head's all kinds of full with new ideas, some of which shed light on issues I've always had with certain religious doctrine, and some which make a tangled mess of drawers I thought were neatly organized and firmly shut. You know, the drawers where you keep the linens you will never, ever use and you get irritated when someone suggests that maybe they're not exactly the pattern you (kinda?) remember them to be. I was raised mostly in the South, by a from-the-cradle Baptist mother and born-again Assembly of God father. (They both now attend a Baptist church.) My grandma Charlie taught Sunday school at her Presbyterian church. My granny Cora? Also Baptist. I've attended all of these, plus Church of Christ, Pentecostal, and non-denominational churches over the years. It's safe to say I'm firmly ensconced in the very Protestant culture of the mid-South. Sometimes it's good for a chuckle. Sometimes it's good for scaring the daylights out of you. A lot of the time, it's good for making you just shake your head and think that whatever the Good News once was, it's been lost in squabbles over pianos and uncut hair...and in the actions of people who decorate their SUVs with fish stickers by day and flirt with your husband at the bar by night. I decided a long time ago that the only way I could hold onto the faith I so desperately wanted was by limiting my involvement with church, because all church had brought me was disappointment in the people around me. Church was a place I could go to sort of recharge my spiritual battery, get a little insight. But I never really felt at home, and the black and white rules didn't seem to work well with the fuzzy gray space that is human nature. But that is what's given; most Protestants believe that the Bible is the living, literal word of God and that everything in it must be taken as complete and whole, factual truth. But that's pretty hard to swallow. The earth is only a few thousand years old, despite all the evidence to the contrary? Jonah sat, undigested, in a plankton-eating whale for three days and walked away from it? These things were bothersome, but it was taught to me by preachers that not believing in every word as indisputable fact is tantamount to willful separation from God, or worse, blasphemy. I mean, people used to be put to death for blasphemy. Depending on where you are and how you do it, shunning for it still totally goes on. Talk about the message getting lost. Catholicism is a little easier on the THIS IS FACT preaching, understanding that a lot of the stories are metaphorical or that they are true without being fact. You can say it's raining cats and dogs outside and be telling the truth, but not talking in facts. There's a lot of the OT that should be taken as such. I've always felt that way, and having a church tell me that's not only not shameful but probably right feels a lot like leaning against the back of one's chair and taking a big, relieved breath, which is exactly what I did.

I started attending RCIA because I was curious about Catholicism and wanted to see how it actually compares to the Protestant teachings I was raised with. People around here have a lot to say about Catholics, and most of them have never set foot inside a Catholic church. I didn't want to get any information from them, because the general consensus is that Catholics are idolaters (as if anyone whose motorcycle or clothes or television or job is more important to them than their relationship with their creator isn't an idolater) at best and anti-Christ at worst. I wanted to get information straight from the horse's mouth. I knew the goal of RCIA is to convert, but I was ok with that, and decided to treat it as a sort of religious studies course, taken by a not entirely neutral/objective student. I have faith, after all, and I've known for some time that I'm craving more of it. So I decided to go and see what these folks had to say. Do they really worship Mary and the saints? Why do they cross themselves? What, exactly, is Purgatory? The function of the Pope...and how did he get that job? Why is confession necessary if you talked to God already? What's up with not using contraceptives? How much of what they do is Scripture-based?

I'm gaining the answers to those questions, slowly. It's been very informative so far, and I've enjoyed learning about the history of the Church and how Protestants grabbed this and that, left that, and ran for the hills. I'd say the split was silly, but I can't, when I think about how many people on both sides were murdered over it.

Extremism in any context is terrifying, and if you find that your religion is causing you to argue and hate...you've missed the boat, brah.

There's a sense of clarity settling in. I'm finding it easier to say "nah" to things and people that I know aren't good for me, and easier to reach out and be a little nicer. My energy lasts a little longer, my patience runs a little thicker. (I totally vent on twitter, though.) I've never been good at holding a grudge, and I find it impossible now. I don't think I'm angry anymore.

That doesn't mean everything's sunshine and kittens. What it does mean is that when I start to feel overwhelmed, I've learned to shut up and be still, and NOT try to fix it. If I'm quiet long enough, there's a little poke at my heart that tells me without words what to do...or to do nothing but maintain my trust that I, 28 year old Sarah Saint in Mississippi, actually don't have all the answers. I have a gift of very keen intuition, humbled by an utter lack of prophecy. I have no clue what's going to happen tomorrow, and what I hope for today might be disastrous for me or someone else if I actually get it. I shudder to think where I would be now had some of the previous years' hardest prayers been answered affirmatively. Probably dead. If not, certainly miserable. As it is now, I have more blessings than I can count, including full-time work and a roof over my head, and a family I can always count on. I feel closer to my creator, and my faith continues to grow. It just might decide to settle in a Catholic church, because it's surprisingly comfortable there. It might not. I think the truest truths hang out in the pretty, grassy areas between churches and temples. Where it's quiet.

Oh, sinners, let's go down
come on down, don't you wanna go down?
Oh, sinners, let's go down
down in the river to pray

What is certain is that I'm very much enjoying the nights Brett and I lounge on my couch, both of us reading from my RCIA books, his arm around me and his fingers idly playing with my hair. We read quietly, one of us pausing here and there to read aloud this or that, and then we discuss; frankly, thoughtfully, hilariously. We don't always agree. I'm still having a difficult time understanding why Mary and the saints would have to even take my texts now that they're in heaven, or how someone else's prayers can change your soul's status once you've died. I may never get it, but I'm trying to understand, at least conceptually if not with my heart.

What is also certain is that of all the things for me to be grateful for, grace is the biggest. It's a concept I've managed to grasp, and I'm not likely to start understanding it less. It's a gift I didn't earn and don't deserve. I think I'll name my first daughter Grace.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In which I get cozy with camels.

Because it's that time again! Tonight, Corinth remembers the casualties of the Battle & Siege, with the placing and lighting of 12,000 luminaries throughout downtown and the historic district. A lot of work goes into it, and it's Dad's baby, so if you're reading this before tonight, come show some support. The 43rd Mississippi Camel Corps will be at the Interpretive Center, so if you've ever wanted to pet a camel, now's your chance.

Seriously, this is a gorgeous event.

In other news: Amendment 26 got voted down!! Mississippi women are still allowed to make choices concerning their own reproductive organs!

My car has broken down. Tuition remains unpaid. These two factors collided, with the very distressing realization that in order to have my car fixed, I would have to forgo school next semester or get a loan, something I'm very reluctant about doing.

And then Brett stepped in. He's been in D.C. and Wisconsin for most of the past couple weeks, and we decided that was a good time to take a step back and really start considering things in terms of seriousness. It turned out to be very beneficial. We found out that we missed each other a lot more than we thought we would, and thought about each other more than we had anticipated. He nearly got tackled when he got home. And now he's assured me that my car is getting fixed and that I am absolutely continuing my education. And that I don't have to pay him back. I will, of course. But it's really nice that he offered to make a gift of it. That's too big a gift for me to accept, and I will cover as much of the costs as possible and then pay him back the remainder. But I'm floored by his generosity. It seems lately that I've been taking blow after blow (car stuff, old bills, etc.), and sometimes it's hard to stay chipper and smiling. I succeed most of the time. Knowing someone has my back is...beyond comforting. When he walked into my bar at The Mango's Young Professionals party, I just thought he was a nice guy with a great smile. I had no idea what a wonderful friend he would turn out to be.

And now we're going to go get my car fixed, and I'm going to make a hot meal to enjoy after we walk around downtown and look at the pretty luminaries.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The 26 issue.

A lot of my most surreal moments happen in the Kroger on Hwy 72, and I kinda blame the strangeness on that particular branch's insistence on playing the Embarassingly Likable Tunes of the 80's mix at such a noticeably loud volume. Maybe there's something about striding through the fluorescent-lit aisles, cantaloupes and paper towels balanced impudently in your arms, to the rising crescendo of Toto's "Africa" that brings out the misguided confidence inside. Folks get to thinking their opinions are wanted. I still bristle at the recent memory of a morbidly obese woman who had the tardacity to tell me that the cigarettes I was buying would kill me. I glanced at the sugary neon carnival of her cart and said nothing back, reasoning she'd probably be dead sooner than me anyway. I've had people comment on my reading material (I'll read an Us Weekly now and then. What of it?), vent their frustrations about food stamp abuse while the person in front checks out with an EBT card, and offer me some of their unpaid-for grapes to munch on while we wait. Hungry strangers can be weird.

I was standing in line to not buy cigarettes a few days ago, staring into space and genuinely enjoying the Yacht Rock flowing smoothly, so smoothly, into my ears (Rich Girl, by the incomparable Hall and Oates). I was aware of a conversation going on behind me, but had no idea what was being said. Don't you knoooow, don't you know, that it's wrong...to take what he's giving you, so far go-
"Miss? Would you like a flyer?" I was rudely pulled away from my revery. There was a trim, fiftyish woman trying to hand me something. I looked down and recoiled a bit. A flyer shouting "Yes on 26!" was being offered to me. I smiled politely and shook my head no. She blinked and said, "Amendment 26 is Mississippi's chance to be first at outlawing abortion." I just smiled again and said, as simply as possible, "I don't support 26." She then shuffled through the stack of angry-looking, multicolored papers in her arms and handed me a cute FAQ. She said, "You may want to have a look at some facts. It might change your mind about killing babies." Whoa.
"Ma'am. I've never killed a baby. I'm not going to kill a baby. I wouldn't even have a problem with 26 if it were just about abortion, but it's not. It's about birth control too. The only thing that needs to change about birth control is that it needs to be more available to anyone who wants it."
She giddily pointed at the FAQ. "It says right there that birth control won't change."

"I've read it. It says that it won't outlaw most forms of hormonal birth control. Which forms, exactly? The wording's unclear, and it calls for declaring personhood at fertilization, not conception. I know how birth control works, so I can't get behind that."

She rolled her eyes and walked away, shaking her head at my unreachableness. I moved up and purchased my items, while the clerk gave me the stankeye. Just to add to the sudden bad vibe, The Doobie Brothers came on. Ugh. "What a Fool Believes" has got to be one of the worst songs ever written.

This issue has been weighing heavily on me. My own feelings about reproductive rights have gotten increasingly more conservative as technology advances and shows me pictures and studies that make it impossible for me to say a 12 or 14-week fetus is not a baby (especially when it's heart has been beating since week 5), but just the makings of one. We keep seeing, earlier and earlier, that that's not the case. Admitting this to myself (and others) has been a very difficult process that's been several months in the making. So yeah. I'm undergoing a lot of changes where my feelings on abortion (and when abortion may still be acceptable) are concerned.

But Amendment 26 ain't just about abortion.

Straight from Mississippi's Secretary of State website : "Initiative #26 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to define the word “person” or “persons”, as those terms are used in Article III of the state constitution, to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof."

Now, I don't expect everyone in Mississippi to be an expert on reproduction and conception. But when we're putting these items on a ballot, it's pretty important to at least attempt to familiarize yourself with what the hell you're voting on. Note that this ballot language uses "fertilization." Not "conception." For those who didn't pay attention in eighth grade, or for whom eighth was a really long time ago :

Fertilization = sperm and egg get together and decide to hang

Conception= fertilized egg attaches to uterine lining= lady knocked up

So, we're not talking about conception. We're not talking about terminating a pregnancy. When we use the word "fertilization," in this context, we are saying that as soon as sperm and egg meet, the fertilized egg is a human being and needs to be protected by the law. Ok. Well, the difference is a matter of hours or maybe a couple of days, right? So what's the big deal? It's almost the same thing as conception.

Well, the big deal is in understanding how hormonal birth control works. Primarily, it prevents ovulation. In a nutshell, every month, an egg manages to get past the gates and run down the hallway, hoping to meet a new (male) friend: sperm. No ovulation means no pregnancy. But sometimes there's a fluke, and an egg goes rogue anyway, reminding us of Jurassic Park's Dr. Ian Malcom warning us that "life finds a way." But while the birth control has been allegedly preventing ovulation, it's also been thinning the lining on the uterine wall as a failsafe. If an egg happens to sneak out and get itself fertilized, it still has to attach to something before anything can happen. If it cannot attach to the lining, it simply gets flushed out with the rest of the riffraff. If it manages to latch on, that's conception. That's a pregnancy.
So an amendment that specifies every human from the moment of fertilization as a person...that's gonna suck. If we determine personhood as beginning at fertilization, that calls birth control into question.

Are you feeling me, Mississippi? Even the most adamantly pro-life types have got to see how that's problematic, and how this initiative, pushed by an organization that clearly says it does not advocate birth control, is deliberately vague. And even the most adamantly pro-life types have got to see how birth control, by preventing unwanted pregnancy, prevents abortion.

Guys...use your heads. If you want to make abortion illegal, push for an initiative that proposes that and only that. Don't support something that's insulting your intelligence by assuming you can't read and comprehend what you're tacking your name onto. This isn't about abortion. Seriously.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm going to need a couple minutes alone.

Because one of my favorite books in the whole wide world...one of the creepiest, most heartbreaking novels, narrated by one of the most multilayered, completely believable protagonists I've ever encountered, is being adapted for the small screen. That's right: this December, Mike Noonan and Sara Tidwell will bust into our living rooms. Bag of Bones. Mothertrucking BAG OF BONES, ya'll.

Fiction is often good. Stephen King's fiction is almost always good. This one is beautiful and haunting. I just hope A&E doesn't muck it up. I do question casting Pierce Brosnan, I guess because I picture Mike Noonan as more like Ron Livingston.

Or, honestly, like Engineer-Beta, whom you likely haven't met, but I assure you is an excellent actor (ok, and physically fits the part of the attractive everyman).

I totally agree with the casting of Sara Tidwell and Joanne Noonan.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And I haven't even seen Paranormal Activity 3 yet.

I don't even know where to start. I've been too busy to sit still lately, and when I have time to sit still, I generally want to spend that time curled up on the couch with E-2.0, flipping back and forth between Red Wings games and Ghost Adventures, pretending my phone doesn't exist. And while it feels pretty awesome at the time to do just that for entire weekends, we're both simply too energetic and if we don't get things accomplished, we feel bad. So we're navigating the deeper waters of Boo'd Upness, wherein we figure out how to hang together and take care of business. Laying around feels good and all, for a little while. But there comes a point, usually when you realize the legs of your sweatpants are hiked up on your calves and your back is sore from all the total inactivity, that it's just time to get up and clean out your car or answer correspondence or teach your dog commands in Spanish. Whatever.

In one sentence: a presentation about bats, a pumpkin-carving party, a trip to Florence, a friend's epic breakup, a friend's undeserved attack on Topix, bible study (Baptist), RCIA classes (Catholic...duhr), plans to read/blog the Purpose Driven Life with a longtime buddy (sorry, private blog, but I may talk about it here if something cool happens), a haunted house, a haunted hayride, family in North Carolina, political brouhaha in which I am painted as a Godless heathern, continued weight loss, and...cooking, cooking, cooking. Cooooooking.

I have a lot to say, but right now I have to make mashed potatoes to go with tonight's pot roast and plan what I'm going to make for a post-funeral repast on Friday. Grief makes people want soul food. (I'm not grieving. Sympathetic, but I didn't personally know the deceased. I'm there to provide moral support and collard greens to a friend.)

I'm tired. Tired and happy. Looking forward to this weekend, and the giant haunted house Lacefield and I will be going to. Too bad Brett can't make it, since he'll be in D.C. Pfft. Like anyone would rather be in D.C. than Killen, Alabama.

Also: now I know how to prepare bok choy.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Just sayin.'

Anyone who goes out for ginger ale and Pepto Bismol after you Regan MacNeil the dinner he just cooked for you, then rubs your back, pets your hair, and (fearlessly!) puts an arm around your uncontrollably shivering shoulders...

...definitely deserves a high-five. And difficult, wheat-free baked goods.

Stomach bugs suck. People who risk getting sick to make you feel better? They don't suck at all.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'ma make it funderstorm.

This is what's up. While I'm actually sitting still in front of a computer, with unstolen wi-fi.

1) You should go to the Rattlesnake Saloon because it's a lot of fun (and hello, it's in a cave). It's also awesome if the friend you go with used to work there and can get the hookup on free noms. I recommend the Duke burger, which is topped with bacon and fried jalapeno slices.
2) There is no reason for me to ever wear anything other than VS khaki miniskirts, textured tights, and tall Uggs. I'm henceforth pretending that pants don't exist. Bonus points for adding skinny scarves. Are they necessary? Heck, no! But I'm girly, and that's that. I accept that girlyness is a social construct. Ok. I enjoy it.
3) I lopped off my hair to remove the last of the old dark color. That brought it to a startlingly shorter length (just past shoulders), but it's worth it to me. Think Zooey Deschanel. (Please, please think Zooey Deschanel when you see me. Please.) Also got new glasses, just to complete the geek-chic. Also so that I can see.
4) The Lions are 5-0. Who ARE these guys? Meanwhile, the Packers blahblahblahblah...
5) Engineer 2.0 has somehow never seen Back to the Future, any of the Indiana Jones movies, Halloween, or Gremlins. Well, he hadn't seen Halloween until this past weekend. I set him straight on that Saturday night. But seriously...no Indiana? No Doc? Sad panda.
6) Last night, E-2.0 and I attended Alcorn County's Republican Party meeting, as Pappy was the guest speaker. He owned it. There were a few regular speakers. They didn't own it. There were refreshments, but between my intermittent food snobbery* and Brett's non-negotiable food allergies, we just glanced longingly at the buffet table and walked on. Actually, I was really looking forward to this, because I wanted to hear about the Amendment 26 issue that's got Mississippians in a tizzy. *deep breath* Ok. I left with a mouth full of blood from biting my tongue. People are entitled to their opinions, but having misinformation about reproductive rights floating around just ain't fly, and I'm kind of kicking myself for not standing up and saying so. This amendment has very broad, very dangerous implications, and a great deal of the propaganda surrounding it has been shamefully misleading. I'm not trying to change opinions on this. But if those opinions are based on intentionally deceptive rhetoric, anyone who knows better has an obligation to set the record straight, and I'm pretty sure a lot of the people who are supporting this legislative catastrophe are only doing so because they are unclear on key definitions. The group who is actually pushing this, Personhood USA, attempted it in Colorado first, where it didn't pass. They immediately targeted Mississippi, and I don't think they missed the fact that Mississippi has one of the five lowest rates of college graduates in the nation. The signs and flyers feature a giant picture of a fetus, and the wording deliberately misleads the reader to assume this is strictly an abortion issue. That's no accident. They're counting on Mississippi being too stupid to understand the difference between fertilization and conception, and so far, they're correct. Amendment 26 is rapidly gaining momentum because of this deception. It appeals to everyone who considers themselves pro-life, and it's become the favorite mission among people who believe women shouldn't even speak aloud in church unless it's in tongues. I don't think any of them are qualified to make decisions relating to my fallopian tubes. I'm sure I'll post more about this soon, as we get closer to November 8.
7) The Corinth Symphony Orchestra is pretty great. Booface (ooh, can't wait til he reads that) and I attended this past Saturday. It was way more impressive than we thought it would be. I've seen them a few times before, for Christmas and their annual concerts for July 4th, but this was...better. They kicked it off with some very familiar but always pretty Mozart (Serenade 13 in G, first movement). Sure, it's probably the first piece of music to be overplayed nearly to death, and you know it instantly when you hear it. But go ahead and give it another listen. It's a really gorgeous piece of music. Know how some Beatles and Zeppelin songs are so iconic and recognizable that you kinda forget how great they really are until you listen to one all the way through again? Then you're like, "Damn, this is good. This is really good." Same thing. Mozart was a rockstar before there were rockstars. He had better pieces (I can barely listen to the first movement of Symphony No. 25 without doing the ugly-cry, and his Requiem in D Minor will only fail to give you goosebumps if you're the deceased), but No. 13's pretty sweet, and it's pretty awesome that most people can hum the tune 224 years after it was written.

That's that. For now.

* See: Duke burger.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Memphis Reunions/Monkeys Riding Dogs

Pretty much everything since Thursday has been an overstuffed satchel of sweet.

Thursday night, Brett and I were supposed to leave Corinth around 6:15. He was *SHOCKER* running late from work, so I sat at his house while he sped through, Roadrunner style, and managed a shower and change of clothes in about 18 seconds. We left at about 6:35 and made it to Shiloh before 7:00. Don't ask how fast I was going. We made it just in time for Marcus's presentation about owls. He kicked it off with a clip from Bambi (the scene where the owl explains what "twitterpated" is). Awww. The presentation was really informative, and Marcus was funny and at-ease. I got a kick out of my overzealous companion, and got to stock up on chops-busting ammo when he yelled out the wrong answer to a question Marcus wasn't really asking the audience. (By the way, owls are forward-facing, and all owl eyes have pupils.) There was another couple there, and they were clearly not united in their desire to be there. The guy slumped in his seat and silently shook his head while his girlfriend asked questions like, "Do owls mate for life?" and "Well, what if the girl owl just gets fed up with the boy owl, can she leave him? What if the boy owl dies? Does she get another mate?" Then he asked a couple questions like, "Are owls endangered? I mean, can you shoot them? Can you eat them?" Great stuff. I kept feeling an elbow in my ribs and I had to look the other way to keep from busting out laughing. Afterward, we went to The Broken Spoke for a late dinner. I hadn't been there in awhile, and had almost forgotten how great the food is. It's a little pricey but definitely worth it, not just for the food, but for the atomsphere.

Friday, Brandon and Brett came over for Scrabble. Scrabble never happened. Instead, I made dinner and we all sat on the porch. Brandon entertained us with funny stories of the E.R. and I sat, watching. The guys I've dated have felt threatened by Brandon. Not in a romantic sense, but they've felt somewhat excluded, and sometimes jealous of the closeness. (One flat-out said he wouldn't "play second fiddle" and asked that I distance myself from my friend.) So I was interested to see how these two would interact. They've met briefly, but hadn't actually hung out. It went really well. They seemed to get along great, and I was relieved when Brett jumped into the nonstop banter and kept up. Later they both separately confirmed that they really like the other. I can't convey what a big deal this is. Sweeet.

(To any dude I may date, ever: Don't whine about competing with Brandon. If I'm spending time with you, there's something about you that I like. I hang with Brandon because he's hilarious. If you want to make me laugh like that, be that funny. It's not like some stupid competition, and it's not my fault if you're not as interesting as you thought you were. If you want my time, be worth my time. You don't just have a right to it upon meeting me. Knock my socks off and bring the funny.)

Saturday morning, I shamefully slunk out of town and toward Memphis as the Rotary Club's 5k commenced. About 300 people participated. I know, I was supposed to run it. BUT it happened to be the only weekend Lindsey and I have been able to work out for a visit. She's due in six weeks, and something tells me she's going to be a little busy after that, what with suddenly being a mom and all. The shame didn't last long, and I very happily pulled into LT's driveway. We had a lovely time, lunching at Slider Inn and kvetching and catching up. I couldn't stop looking at her belly. It's so amazing to me that my awesome friend is creating this awesome son who's about to be joining us out here in the daylight and oxygen. She had me touch one side of the belly and then the other, noting how one side was way harder because there's a human bottom/haunch on that side. Omigah. I don't have words for how trippy and stupefyingly cool that is. It was soooo good to see her again.

After I left Lindsey's, it was time to haul it home and get ready to meet up with Brett for the Tupelo fair. (He came in second place in the 5k, btw.)And what is so special about the Tupelo fair, you ask? Only this:

Yeah. Not a chance I could pass up something like that. We had a ridiculously good time, eating french fries, riding rattling death traps, and spending a truly embarassing amount of time in the petting zoo. I like cows, ok? I like their big cow eyes and their long cow eyelashes. If I have the opportunity to pet baby cows, I will grab that opportunity and hold onto it as long as I can. I have some moral objections to petting zoos, but I'm not a strong enough person to remind myself of those objections when someone asks me if I want to feed a goat, because I DO WANT TO FEED THE GOAT. So there was that. We rode the ferris wheel, which I believe to be the scariest ride on the planet. The other rides are too fast for the rider to really process fear beyond a fleeting, adrenaline-ish feeling. The ferris wheel? Nah. You've got a loooong time to think about how loooong the fall down would be. I was getting a little nervous up there at the top, looking down at the now-tiny cars and the now-tiny goats and marginially tinier freaky fat fair people (you know the ones). Luckily, Brett grabbed my hand and started singing the chorus to "Dancing on the Ceiling," so I was too busy being simultaneously impressed/horrified to be scared. We finished up at the fair, listened to Tool on the way home, went back to his house, and wrapped up the evening with a viewing of some disturbing Mr. T video from 1984.

Sunday, I cooked ribs and Indian food while the Lions beat the Cowboys. We watched tv in a near-comatose state of fullness and exhaustion. I thought about painting my nails. Didn't happen.

It was an exquisite weekend.

This is how people smile when they've just seen monkeys riding dogs:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Let them eat corn.

I bounded into work this morning, all chipper and stoked over having lost three pounds over the last week, one pound more than the two pounds I had projected in my plan to get the last of this nonsense off my body. Happily, I spooned my organic Greek yogurt into my bowl, mixed in a little stevia, sprinkled in a generous tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and sliced up a banana on top. I chatted with my coworkers as they prepared their breakfasts: peanut butter on whole grain toast; yogurt similar to mine; plain oatmeal doctored up with stevia, cinnamon, and apple. We ate, scanned the newspaper, got set up for the day.

Soon after we opened, one of our regulars wandered in. She approached the counter and got to chatting with one of the girls she's friends with. I went about pulling reports and such, and half-listened. She was talking about a doctor's appointment she had had last week, wherein she was told that it was imperative for her to lose weight because she was borderline diabetic with high blood pressure. The teller she was talking to said, "You need to talk to Sarah! She knows about losing weight!". The customer looked at me hopefully and I confirmed that I've lost about 80 lbs but that my way is very different from the way most people do it, and she might not like it. She said she'd do anything, and added that she had already switched to skim milk and turkey bacon. I asked her about how much sugar she takes in and she said, "Oh, not much! I only drink diet cokes!" Good grief. Where to start? This lady is really big. She's on a very limited budget, and she clearly has no concept of what healthy food is. It would be basically impossible to help her, right? Obviously she doesn't have the common sense to eat more vegetables and get some exercise.

WHOA. I mentally bitchslapped myself. Aren't I still arguably overweight? This past winter and into late spring, I got within seven pounds of my final goal and then fell into a vat of Cheez-Its and Coca-Cola and re-gained some weight, didn't I? Even though I knew better? And wasn't I once enormous and confused, wondering why I was eating sugar-free, fat-free, lite, low-fat, low-carb, no-carb, whatever, and not losing weight? I was immediately ashamed of myself. I smiled really big and told her that's a great start, and that I don't have it all quite right either, and how hard it can be to figure out what's actually good for you with brand name, doctor, and government entity telling us different things. She nodded and asked what she could do. I told her the best thing to do is read labels. Not the parts that are trying to catch her eye, like "low fat!" or "natural!" but the only part that matters: the ingredient list. If it has any kind of corn syrup or anything that isn't harvested, fished, slaughtered or milked, it shouldn't go in her mouth. I suggested she stop drinking any kind of cola for a week and see how she felt. And that's it. Baby steps. That's how I started. I didn't kick off my journey into clean-eating by reading comparative studies of CAFO beef vs grassfed beef, based on Omega-3, Omega-6, and CLA content. If anyone had suggested that, I probably never would have even tried. But no corn syrup? That, I could do. No dyes or obvious preservatives? Easy enough. I read a little more, and understood why eating a food in its whole form was better for you than anything that's been tampered with; whole milk is healthy food, skim milk is as nutritionally bankrupt as a Capri Sun. A little later, I started learning about the differences in grains and why a 120-calorie slice of whole grain bread is actually better for you than a 35-calorie slice of white made with "enriched" flour.

What didn't occur to me then, or for a long time, is how damn hard it could be to eat clean on a super-tight budget.

Now, I'm not a wealthy girl. But I've almost always been reasonably comfortable. I've never known real hunger or had serious doubt about how I would buy groceries, and for that I am hugely, truly grateful.

I started paying attention to other people's shopping carts. At the time, I worked at a financial institution inside a Wal-Mart, so this was an excellent place for observing what kind of people bought what foods, and specifically what people on the lower end of the payscale spectrum bought. It didn't take long for me to make a huge observation: the poorer people were mostly fat. The people who seemed to have more money were definitely fitter. That was a very uncomfortable realization, and it felt funny, like ill-fitting shoes. I thought about how throughout history, wealthy people leaned toward fat, while poor people were skinny. It was a pretty simple equation: If you have less money or have to actually work to produce your food, you're going to eat less. If you have the means to buy food and don't have to procure it for yourself, you're going to eat more. You also have more time on your hands. It's always been that way, even in times when it was fashionable for certain parts of the body to be small. The cinched, corseted waists that were so popular for centuries were always offset by padding to the hips, butt, and bosom, and in some eras cosmetic tricks were used to make the face and arms look even plumper, as this was a sign of wealth (and, more subconsciously, fertility). This look set one apart from the peasants, crackers, and laborers. This cannot be better illustrated than in the popular paintings of the Renaissance period, which depict women in the ideal state for the time. They is some big ol' girls. Curvy, with wide hips, soft tummies, thighs that met at the top, and long, wavy hair. A far cry from today's standard for ideal, which is basically a dead-eyed, androgynous, waifish thing with hollow cheeks, thighs with three inches of space between them, and ruts so deep between their ribs you could keep spare change in them. Some of them do have long, wavy hair. The only element these vastly different ideals have in common is that they both represent an image that's largely unnatainable for the socioeconomic majority of their eras.

Our models grow more emaciated as obesity rates skyrocket...and income levels plummet. That's...freaky. Isn't it?

Not when you consider what's actually making us fat, and it isn't just calories. A calorie, after all, is just a measurement of energy. Where your calories come from is more important than how many calories you take in. And the very sad fact is that it's getting more and more difficult not only for lower income families to distinguish between good calorie choices and bad calorie choices, it's getting more expensive. In some cases, it's not even about expense, it's about availability. What about the food deserts of inner cities, where there is no access to fresh produce but there is a McDonald's on every corner? Is it really reasonable to expect low-income people to drive or take the bus several miles to load up on foods they will have to haul home, wash, chop, and cook, when they can have a hot meal for a few dollars within walking distance? Probably not. Convenience and availabilty have hampered my own efforts many times in the past, even though I'm able-bodied, own a car, and live only a short distance from a semi-decent grocery store. Sometimes rather than go to the store and gather my breakfast necessities the night before, I'll sit on my tail and then grab a bagel from the coffee shop across the street in the morning. There's a degree of accountability in every bite we put in our mouths...but when we fail to educate and provide options to our less fortunate neighbors, there's more accountability on us than on them.

The fat-judgment has got to stop. A few decades ago, yeah, ok, maybe being fat meant you were lazy and too fond of sweets. In many, many cases, it still means that. It did in mine. I got little physical activity then and had an unfortunate addiction to fresh french bread. I had options, though, and chose to pick some better ones. There are a lot of people who don't have many options.

After that customer left, I asked a little about her and thought about her situation. Without going into too much detail here, I learned that she has physical ailments that prevent her from vigorous exercise. She has a sickly baby and no job, and limited transportation. She and her baby live entirely on government assistance. Because of my job, I know exactly how much or how little people can draw, based on several factors. I see who benefits from the system and who abuses it in ways that make you feel like punching them out into the parking lot. This lady is in a bad way, and I don't begrudge her a dime of the money she receives. It's not much. It's a fraction of what I make in a month, and I only have to support myself. I sat back, and the pieces all fell together. Her kind of obesity is the result of a skewed system. It's government created, government encouraged, and now that it's become an epidemic, the government wants everyone to have a part in paying for it. According to www.cdc.gov, about 33% of Americans are obese, or about 104,000,000-ish. About 50,000,000 Americans are uninsured. You know that bumper sticker, "AIDS: Nobody's fault, everybody's problem" ? Yeah, obesity is a lot like that. It's hitting hard, and the costs aren't just impacting the fatties anymore. It's hitting the poor and the uninsured the hardest, and someone will be forced to pick up the tab one way or another. That knowledge should get the attention of even the worst of the elite; if you can't bring yourself to care about the wellbeing of your fellow humans, maybe you can care about the blow to your wallet.

I don't mean to say that a person has no responsibility or accountability in their own supersizing. Anyone with a Doritos bag in his hand knows he can make a better choice. I mean to say it's probably not just their fault...especially if they're poor. Poor people eat what's cheap. The cheapest foods available are the ones made with corn products, soy products, and wheat...which are also the top three crops to recieve subsidy money. At least one of those three products is in pretty much every processed food, even stuff where it's totally not needed. Corn syrup is in crackers, salad dressings, canned soup, bread, sausage, deli meat and a million other things where there doesn't even need to be a sweetener, let alone one that's been shown to cause 48% more weight gain than table sugar (at least in rats...who, like us, are mammals and, like us, also dig Doritos). To me, these connections are beyond obvious. I'm not getting into what a mess subsidizing has made economically; that's another post entirely, but to deny that it's played no part in America's expanding thighs is just blind and silly. It's a pretty direct chain from growing massive amounts of corn, to artificially manufacturing a sweetener from it, to artificially lowering food prices on the products containing it, to the poorest people eating the most of it, to the poorest people getting fattest.

So, mix up the FDA *gag* telling everyone that corn syrup is no different from table sugar, a health care system that benefits best from keeping you just sick enough to keep coming back for more pills, and a decrease in availability of healthy food to begin with, and you've got a recipe for a lot of tankasses. Broke tankasses. And we/they need changes, to the ways we're educated about food and in the ways our food is produced and distributed. Not more judgment.

At least it's not like corn is also tied up in, say, fuel. That would just make this all seem so sinister.

Wait, what?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gearing up for the letdown.

Little fills me with as much dread and unhappiness as knowing what's coming in the year preceding a presidential election. I know I'll have disagreements with good friends and with family. I know I'll start to get a good feeling about a candidate, only to see that candidate get involved in the disgusting mudslinging. I know that the best things that candidate can say or believe in will be drowned out by blindly rabid supporters who cheer for misguided ideals simply because they think those ideals fall under "their" party heading.

I will feel shame when the bad apples make a stink for the whole barrel. Yeah, I'm talking to you, certain Fox/Google debate audience members. Shame, shame. On you.

I'll roll my eyes and bite my tongue when people who have no idea what they're talking about adamantly and hatefully voice opinions. That's their right. I'll gently correct when I can, and I'll gratefully accept correction from others if I'm wrong. If that correction comes in the form of yelling or condescension, it will have a harder time getting through. I've learned to try to "avoid loud and aggressive persons, as they are vexations to the spirit."*

It makes me sad when people preach humanity in one breath and spew hostility with the next. No one has figured out all the answers yet. Yelling your ideas and calling each other stupid and heartless does not make your ideas any more right.

I have a gut feeling that this is going to be the ugliest election season this country has seen in a very long time. It looks like the worst in people is already surfacing. I don't want to see what else is festering below that surface, but I'm going to. I'll have to watch people cheer/jeer as these jackals in expensive suits tell us what we should think and why we're ignorant/amoral if we don't agree. I'll have to accept that my reluctance to engage in confrontation will be misconstrued either as a lack of understanding of the issues or as a lack of conviction regarding those issues. I'll just have to sigh when otherwise smart people lump millions of individuals together as one of two groups and judge them all based on the actions of a few.

Sucks. I don't have all the answers. Neither do you. But I'm pretty confident that calling each other Nazis and celebrating in others' misfortune ain't getting it.

*Desiderata, Max Ehrmann

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Things I learned this weekend.

1) Calvin Johnson is pretty cool.
2) I can fit my whole fist in Brett's mouth.
3) Not everyone will let you try that.
4) Wheat-free cornbread is hideous but tastes good.
5) Mills are dangerous places to work and I'm happier not thinking too much about it.
6) Office Space is really funny (yup, finally watched it).
7) How to cook ribs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

That's it, I'm buying land and starting a farm.

A slow day, full of gossip and...stupid. I've no interest in jumping into discussions about people I don't know (and especially not the ones I do know). Keeping my head down and thinking my crazy thoughts? That I can do.

Most of the people who read this blog are pretty sharp, and like to stay fairly aware of what's going on in the world. So I'm sure you guys are aware of what's shakin' in Greece. Mane. I was hoping to take a vacation there next year. Poor Greece.
What's particularly alarming is that Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy are inching closer to defaulting as well. The combined $$ needed to bail them all out is more than Europe can swing in time for Christmas presents. That's the bitch of a "global community". At some point, it becomes everybody's responsibility to bail each other out, with the result being that everyone ends up broke. See how I just broke it all down? Because it's that simple ;)

I don't want to sound like one of those nutty alarmist/militia types (they're all in Michigan, anyway), but I'm getting more convinced that I should buy some land and get to plantin'. I really don't think the current system's going to last much longer. "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold." That's Yeats, in his poem, "The Second Coming". Fascinating piece. Another interesting line: "the falcon cannot hear the falconer." I'm no poet, but I dig words, and I think about those two lines with increasing frequency. Recessions and depressions are natural enough; even simple societies deal with rough times together. But I can't help but feel we're on the verge of huge disaster. Our monetary/food system is too complicated, too big, too interwoven, too based on too little. It's only gonna stretch so far before it snaps, and when it does, the falcon won't hear the falconer; the people most reliant on receiving instruction from the government will be running amok, directionless. As close to chaos as you could hope not to see. The scars of the Great Depression still run deep. Think about how bad that was; and that was nearly a hundred years ago, back when most people still had at least a rudimentary grasp on self-sufficiency. Rural people still knew how to make things grow, and how to raise animals for food. And they were still starving. Obviously, the dust bowl situation contributed to this; our land is still being terribly abused but it's still productive...even though most of it's being used to produce cow corn that humans can't even eat, and which cows shouldn't eat because they are ruminants. (Ugh. Stewardship, people. If you abuse the food source, don't bitch about recalls when *gasp* your food is tainted and makes you sick.) Subsidizing has crowded out the rural farmer and distorted the average American's perception of what food actually is and where it comes from. That's terrifying. When the collapse occurs, what happens to people who rely on government checks to buy factory food? It's not going to be pleasant to see what happens, but I'm getting surer that I'm going to. I feel a lot better knowing I can at least keep a garden. I'll feel much better when I have my own land to do it on, and once I know how to raise my own animals. And it doesn't have to be totally primitive; if you've got a well, you've got a power source. Waterwheels are basic and time-tested. It's not terribly difficult to build simple solar panels. I love my homemaking hobbies, but they're not just hobbies; there might come a day when it's imperative that I can sew, knit, put up/can food, and milk a goat (check, check, check, check). I can also churn butter and make simple cheese...which is necessary to my own survival and happiness. Life without cheese is a life I just can't bear to imagine.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I just know I'm tired of watching the buildup. Whether or not the collapse happens in my lifetime, I'm wanting less and less to be reliant on anyone but myself and my own family. It's not just a hobby to be interested in how nutrition directly effects health and knowing what foods and herbs cut a flu short, ease pain, lower blood pressure, slow bleeding, heal infections, give relief to a colicky baby, etc. When this society breaks down, our current concept of health care is going to blip out of existence, and it's gonna behoove women to know about having babies at home. We live in a culture where women are so out of tune with their bodies, they think they actually have to be in a hospital, hooked up to monitors and being poked at by strangers, instead of in their own homes with their families. To me, that's nuts. Women have only gotten used to birthing in hospitals in the last sixty years or so, and in that time, have grown reliant on Big Health's way of doing things. Here's some news: that baby's coming when it wants to, and it doesn't care where you are. If you know something about the process and prenatal/postpartum care (or have a midwife handy), you don't have to be in a hospital. I'm glad to see that the midwife trend is on the rise again; it makes more sense. There are babies in my future. They will be born at home.

Stupid humans. Complicating what doesn't need to be complicated. I'ma buy some sheep, ya'll. And figure out how the hell to turn their hair into shirts.*

*Not today.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Despite having seen The Descent, I'm game...

...to lower myself by rope into a cold, dark hole in the earth. As part of a group, preferably in a well-blazed system. Because I'm not shetarded.

Yup. E-2.0 and I are planning a camping adventure. Now, most of my camping experience has been pretty sedate. There's always some fishing, a little hiking. But mostly it's been sitting around the fire (which I can build, btw). Now, with the autumn air brisking me into friskiness, and a companion who actually doesn't want to sit on his ass 24/7 like a Newcastle-guzzling, plaid-upholstered land sloth, I'm getting to look into all the stuff I've been curious about. He's up for virtually anything (and, still, can be totally chill and mellow next to the fire at night), so I'm trying to find an area to fit our particular tastes. Must-haves include mountain biking trails (him), good running trails (us), and some kind of aquatic access (me). I like water, and I'm really happy when there's a good chance of voluntary submersion. Since it'll be fairly chilly, I doubt I'll jump in. Fishing/boating works just fine. I'm so excited about this trip. It feels awesome to be tapping into my boundless, border collie-like energy in a constructive way. I so rarely have the opportunity to herd sheep, and that energy can lead to some really bonehead moves if not given a proper outlet.

He likes the idea of the Smokies, but I'm hesitant at 1) the long drive, and 2) the overly kitschy, Gatlinburgish vibe.

I'm thinking more like Cedar Glades Park, which sounds like a hiker/runner/mountain biker's dream, and is only about four hours away. It's in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Did you catch that name? Hot Springs. Not just water, but magic water. Also warm water.

In other news, tomorrow I'll be teaming up with Brandon for the first time in a couple weeks. Depending on how I do at the race, we'll either be sulking at JT's Falafel over a plate of lamb, or celebrating at JT's Falafel over a plate of lamb. Sunday I'll be attending Mass and discussing RCIA classes with the priest, and then cooking up a storm. E-2.0 will be returning from his dudes-only camping/biking trip, and I've promised to have a big dinner ready. (It's not all kindness on my part; he's also changing my oil for me.)

About RCIA: no, I'm not converting to Catholicism (at this time). I'm wanting to learn more about Catholicism, and a Catholic church seems like a good place to do that. There's soooo much that I don't understand and have been conditioned against by Baptist/Church of Christ/Pentecostal culture. I just wanna hear another take on a subject close to my heart. Corralling oneself into a particular sect or denomination has always seemed to me like missing the forest for the trees. Or as my friend Mary says, "Some people get to Savannah through Michie, and some people get there through Pickwick. What matters is that you get to Savannah." Mary's a very smart lady. She also makes killer collard greens.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"The more I see, the less I know, the more I like to let it go"

Because so far there is nothing, nothing, better to run to than RHCP.

Monday, September 12, 2011

If I win this weekend's 5k, I'd better get a cooler trophy than that.

Kidding! A mini cotton bale is actually a pretty neat trophy. And I'm totally goofy with admiration. I can boast that my dawg won the Cotton Pickin' 5k! You can't.

I'm also increasingly trepidatious about my own 5k coming up this Saturday. Suddenly it's only a few days away, and I'm growing more confident by the hour...that I will embarrass myself. I mean, I have no illusions about winning or even placing. I'm just trying to gauge where I'm at and experience some healthy competition. A blessing: One of Brett's usually tied-up friends is available this weekend, so they'll be camping far away. Thank God. Not that I don't want his support (or competition) at the race, but this way if I totally suck, I can at least be alone to lick my wounds afterward. I'm not a bad runner, but I'm not a great runner yet. He can (and has) literally run circles around me. He recently participated (and finished) in the redonkulously brutal Tough Mudder event in Wisconsin. He does pull-ups with the ease with which I toss off your-mom jokes. I'm pretty sure he could break me in half if he took a notion to.* So yeah. A 5k isn't exactly a huge deal to him, whereas I've got knots in my stomach already. Can I run 3.1 miles? Sure. At my own pace, by myself (or with limited company), when I feel like it, with my iPod. Can I get out there and comfortably do it on command with a bunch of other people? We'll see. Oooh, I'm nervous.

This is just the first in a series. I've got another 5k October 1, November 24, and December 3-for sure. I may add more. Depending on how I do this weekend and Oct 1, I may attempt a 10k in Memphis Oct 16. This is all leading up to a half-marathon in February.

Why all this, though, when until recently I was content to coast on just-good-enough? Well, I've been pretty lackadaisical about my fitness. I eat more healthily than most of my peers, but I am not in my best shape, for sure. I'm not very strong at all, and I want to see/feel what it's like to be in top condition. I'm very much inspired by buddy Tamara, who will not be stopped from running for any reason, including pain. And of course I'm inspired by Brett. We share the same ideals concerning eating clean/organic, and he takes it a step further with the way he takes care of himself physically, and the results of that effort are stunning. (I don't say that in a fawning way; but when was the last time you saw a dude in Mississippi or Tennessee whose physique actually looks like a dude's is supposed to? People around here just don't push themselves like that.) It's really cool to be spending all this time with someone who actually encourages me to be the best I can be. So I'm steppin' up my game. I'm very curious to see what kind of healthier Sarah develops. Someone with more endorphins flowing through her system, for sure. Someone with a narrower waist, stronger legs...maybe even a backside, someday, after a lot of lunges. Probably not, though. I don't have much in the way of hips, and I'll likely never have much in the way of a tail that doesn't immediately identify me as 100% white-girl.

What I'm hoping for first is that the revamped me starts emerging as a non-smoker.

*Our arm wrestling is...sad. Well, my half of it. And he doesn't let me win. I guess I'm lucky he doesn't rip it out of the socket.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Selling spooks.

Recently while enjoying a day set aside for relaxing, I took a break from reading on the porch to come inside and watch TV. I had several episodes of Ghost Adventures, I Survived, and Celebrity Ghost Stories recorded. (Don't judge me.) I also had a few B-flicks from the Chiller channel, and I figured it was a good time to munch on some carrots and (homemade!) hummus and pay vague attention to one of the aforementioned features. What won? Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers, which currently enjoys a 2.7 rating (out of 10) over on imdb.com. I mean, I knew I wasn't sitting down to watch the horror movie that would change my life. But I thought I would at least be somewhat entertained. Nope. I found myself tooling around on my phone five minutes into the film. I played a few rounds of Word Mole, and finally beat my high score. After awhile, I looked up.

The heroine was in the shower, scratching bloody furrows down her face as the camera went up and down from the carnage to her bosoms, whose aureoles had been blurred just enough to leave the viewer uncertain on the question of piercings. Because (clearly) there was nothing interesting to look at, I hit the "info" button and scanned the blurb. The movie was released in 2006, one year after the exquisite The Exorcism of Emily Rose. "Ripping off on the popularity of that one," I thought without really thinking those words. I also recalled that Dominion:Prequel to The Exorcist came out in 2005. I wondered if Dominion might have been more popular if it had been released after Emily Rose. It seemed after that one, America had latched onto supernatural horror again. 2006 hosted a gaggle of ghost/possession movies... most of them not-so-great. Some bigger names signed onto horror movies, which doesn't usually happen. We saw Julia Stiles in The Omen remake. We saw Donald Sutherland and Sissy Spacek in An American Haunting (don't get me started; that movie makes me feel stabby and...cheated). We saw Nic Cage in The Wicker Man remake. A stream of low-budget exorcism/angry ghost movies spewed from Hollywood's sore throat. Just what the devil had happened? Why was this a theme that was suddenly so popular that stinkers like The Grudge 2 were making big money, when only a year before, a freaking prequel to The Exorcist, arguably the most well-known and influential horror movie of all time, had went largely ignored? Why the sudden hunger for demons and haunts? My mind wandered over to The Shining, which was released in 1980. I thought about Kubrick's pioneering of the Steadicam, and how he used it to make the viewer feel simultaneously watched and voyeuristic, and I thought about how the movie reflected well on the economic state of the time; Jack's difficulty in finding a good job not only because of his drinking problem but because it was a crappy time to find work in general. How there's nothing like a hotel full of spooks to take your mind off day-to-day things like paying unmanageable bills.


The Shining was released during a recession. Hmm. Emily Rose was released in late 2005 and didn't do so hot at the box office, but exploded into popularity later in DVD rentals...about the time the housing market started to slump and panicky homeowners started jumping on the foreclosure wagon. We've been in a pretty crappy place financially since then. And we keep shelling out money to see ghosts. Coincidence? No, I don't think so. I looked back at the major horror films to come out over the past several decades, movies that were popular with the American public. There is a very clear trend: not only do horror movies enjoy increased success during times of national economic shakiness, supernatural horror specifically trumps. Starting with Dracula in 1931. Smack in the middle of the Great Depression, this movie sold over 50,000 tickets within two days of its theatrical release. I thought, "Well maybe it's just any horror." No. A comparison of release dates/economic situations reveals that slashers are more popular in times of excess. Whoa. Pop culture always reflects the concerns and attitudes of the times, right? So does this mean that the high body count and one-dimensional characters of slasher films reflect attitudes of expendability when we're financially comfortable? And what is being reflected when we dig into our pockets to see ghosts? When we want to see good and evil duke it out over souls and sanity? I texted a friend about it. He said, "fear sells." Well, yeah. But I think there's a bigger picture here. I think that cinematic horror remains one of the best forms of escapism, and that when our national wallet is whimpering, we all feel the anxiety...and want to know that we're gonna get bailed out. We want to know that this situation that we're individually unable to fix, will get resolved by the higher-ups we've entrusted to handle these things. I think it's easy for that to translate into a film wherein relatable characters are suddenly the focus of more powerful beings on a different plane of existence. We're not expendable; we're very important, important enough to warrant the attention of outside intelligence. Something undefinable but definitely Bad is after us, but if there's a Bad, there has to be a Good that has our back, and Good will win...won't it? If we believe, that is. Unbelievers don't fare well in supernatural horror.

I mean, I'm spitballing here. I can't officially nail down why a certain type of a genre blows up the box office when we're strapped, or why a different type of the same genre does equally well when we're flush.

But I do know that we're all full of doubt and nervousness about our country's piggy-bank, and that Paranormal Activity 3, which I can almost guarantee will fiercely suck, is about to be released next month. And I can also almost guarantee that America is going to buy it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

That's the biggest leaf I've ever seen.

This weekend, I attended Catholic Mass for the first time that I can remember. I attended with a friend once, back in like sixth grade, but I don't recall much about it other than that it felt foreign and uncomfortable. This Sunday, it still felt foreign, but much more comfortable than I expected. The priest was out of town, so the service was handled by members of the congregation, with the result being somewhat awkward and messy. After the service, Catholic Friend and I skipped on over to First Baptist, where I usually attend. I think he was a little overwhelmed by the, uh, pomp and circumstance, as was I, which is why I usually only go on Wednesday evenings. I can do without all the singing and effects; I'm there for a lesson, not a Vegas floor show. Wednesday night bible study is my preferred night because there is zero showiness, zero singing, and all study. We sheepishly told each other not to judge based on these particular Sunday morning services, and that we'll give it another shot this week. We returned to his house for grilled steak (awesome) and scary-movie viewing that turned into kitchen-chatting that went on until we realized we were sitting in almost total darkness. So we lit a hurricane lamp and kept talking. The next day, we set out for BFE, Alabama, for the Labor Day festival at the Coon Dog Cemetery. He assured me that this was to rock my world.

He was incorrect. But it wasn't his fault. After making the very long drive down there, against my whining that, "It's cold! It's rainy! Let's just stay in!" we arrived at the cemetery to find that the festival had been cancelled due to the (cold, rainy) weather. I maturely resisted the urge to jump out of the car and swagger around yelling "What's up?" and "Who was right?" frat-boy style. Instead we took a sudden, unplanned mini-hike into the woods. We discovered a spring and the biggest leaves that have ever existed. Like, dinosaur-big leaves. This walk did not suck at all. We got pretty wet and pretty cold, but we also discovered a really beautiful spot high up on a hill, where we were somewhat protected from the rain but able to clearly see the sky with its low, fast-moving Tropical Storm Lee clouds. We hung out there for awhile until the elements forced us back to the car, where we jacked up the heat and headed back to Corinth for Mexican food and a viewing of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.

The movie...I'm still not sure if I really liked it. Apparently, Guillermo del Toro did not direct it. He co-wrote. Ummm...well, it didn't stun me. There were a couple of genuinely unnerving scenes that had this seasoned horror vet and her companion nearly grinding each others' hand-bones into dust, but they were more of the gross-out type than really-scary type. And I'm not sure why Katie Holmes was allowed to speak or move in front of a camera, ever. When you do finally see the monsters, they look like miniatrue cave trolls from Lord of the Rings. More piteous and humorous than scary.

The search continues. I guess I'm just going to have to write the story I want to see.

And speaking of writing, it's been happening. A lot of it. I've been working on several items, for myself (and this blog), and for my editor friend to take a gander at. I'm really nervous about this; letting a real professional of the field I want to break into take a look at pieces I've put real effort into is intimidating (what if they suck??). But I'm more curious than nervous, so I'm gonna go ahead and do it. Have to start somewhere, right?


As I approach two 5ks and begin training in earnest for my first half-marathon (13.1 miles), it's become more and more obvious that I really need to quit smoking. I've tried many, many times, and each time I've made it three or four days and then found myself charging, crazed and zombielike, into a gas station and demanding Marlboro Menthol Lights (in a box, please). Then it all starts again and I find myself smoking on the porch, staring at the lit end of the nasty thing in my hand, and wondering why the hell I'm doing this to myself.

Enough. It doesn't matter if I'm "ready" to quit. It doesn't matter if I still sometimes really enjoy it. It's just time. I've done this too long. It makes no sense to buy expensive moisturizer to keep my skin pretty if I'm inhaling something that's just going to make me age faster. It makes no sense to complete a long run and feel awesome, and then light up a cigarette on the way home and feel not-awesome. It makes no sense to wrinkle my nose as smokers walk by, and be offended at the smell, and then do the very thing that creates that funk.

Oh, and I do plan on living into old age and having my own family, so it's not really fair to cheat that family-to-be out of a healthy wife/mom just because....what? I'm weak? Pffft. I'm the stubbornest person you know. So I'm gonna turn that bulldog-like relentlessness on quitting this icky and dangerous habit. So there.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

This is how projects get built.

Me: We're not supposed to have our phones out at work, 'cause theoretically we can take pictures of the vault combinations or something.
Brett: But...every time I walk in there the vault is wide open.
Me: Not the important part.
Brett: We're not supposed to have our phones out at work, either. Theoretically someone could take pictures of our designs.
Me: Your designs?
Brett: My designs as well.
Me: The innovative young engineer becomes a victim of corporate thievery.
Brett: Ha! Something like that.
Me: You should have kept your old phone, then. I'm pretty sure it was manufactured before cameras were invented.
Brett: No, no. It had a camera. I just had to throw a little black cape over my head to use it, and have the subject sit still for an hour.
*giggles ensue*
Brett: I wonder how those things work.
Me: Cameras? Couldn't tell you. My first guess would have something to do with tiny gnomes.
Brett: I hope that's what it is.
*he leans back against the counter and rubs chin, thoughtfully*
Me: You look innovative right now.
Brett: How hard could it be?
Me: What, making a camera? Probably not very.
Brett: I mean the oooooold cameras, with the plate-film.
Me: So? That can be made, obviously. Someone did it with raw materials once, I'm sure it can still be done.
Brett: Right, it's not like people back in the 18-whatevers hitched up the buggy and went to Wal-Mart for film.
Me: Are you thinking...?
Brett: Yeah!
Me: Oh, this is gonna be so cool.
Brett: Let's do it.
Me: We're gonna build a camera! Yaaay!
Brett: Oh, I have something for you!
*reaches under cabinet, sets object on countertop with a proud flourish*
Me: ... coconut oil?
Brett: Yeah! It's clean. Non-hydrogenated. Cooks like butter, but no dairy, so you can keep cooking for me.
Me: I tell you I like daisies, and you get me oil.
Brett: Would you have preferred the flowers?
Me: Actually...no.
Brett: That's what I thought.

So, yeah. We're gonna make a camera. How? I have no idea yet. But it's going to be a lot of fun. Either ironically or just for documentation, pictures of the process will be taken and posted.

This is gonna be awesome.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Don't come back for me; don't come back at all.*

This past weekend, I came a little too close to letting someone from my past back into my life. It didn't happen, but it did trigger some thinking. He's a cool guy and all, in the way that we all have our good points. He's hilarious and has great taste in music (for the most part). But he's not good for me. I don't think he knows much about how to value other people, and I'm too old to be teaching old dogs that kind of new trick. It's kinda funny; I used to think of him as being so wise and mature. Nah. Just several years older and carefully selfish. No, while I enjoy chatting with him from time to time, his presence is not one I want frequently or for long stretches. I doubt he'll ever be really good for any woman, and I know he's not good for this one. So I'm really, really glad that we didn't end up hanging.

I'm learning more about value every day, and what it's like to be valued, slowly and surely and deservedly, based on my real merits and quirks rather than a catch-that-butterfly! feeling.

Wanna know something about sudden lightning? It's painful and unpredictable, and it's over before you know what the hell just happened. I'm getting to really dig the cloudless sky I'm looking at. You can do a lot with that kind of weather, and at the end of the day, you're still smiling.

P.S. Several topic-posts on the way.

* Every now and then, a pop song can kinda rule.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hot wings and b-horror make everything better. Backrubs help, too.

Ok, so The Help (movie) was actually pretty good. I really enjoyed it, and thought everyone did a great job. Was it trite? Naw. Saccharine? Not really. Were there a couple overbaked humorous parts? You betcha. Does the score let you know what your reaction is supposed to be, in case you can't figure how you feel? Oh, yeah. Did a couple scenes stray from the book to make characters more dynamic and to inject more of a "you go, girl!" vibe? Duh.

It's still better than most of the other stuff that's come out this summer.

Now I can't wait to see Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. Even if it's not scary (and that may be one of the lamest titles I've ever heard), I know Guillermo del Toro won't let me down on lush sets and dreamy cinematography. Usually the best horror works by not showing the monster, but he flips that in a way I'm really into. He always shows the monster, and the monster doesn't disappoint. Remember this guy?

The back pain has faded, thanks to a lot of inactivity performed mostly on the couch. E-2.0 has been very helpful, providing killer backrubs, hot wings, and humor. (This pampering, after putting in over 100 hours at work over the past week/weekend thanks to a machinery malfunction and a big project. Not many people are that cool.) Last night we watched a gem on the Chiller channel, entitled Death and Cremation. It's a heartwarming tale wherein a bullied teenager gets a job at a crematorium and finds that the owner (Brad Dourif) kills people who piss him off, burns them up, and keeps their ashes. It doesn't take long for the teenager to join in. It's campy and predictable, but it's also a lot of fun. There's a sweet, soft place in my heart for Brad Dourif, and it isn't just because he's the voice of Chucky in the Child's Play franchise. Before I was aware of that, I saw him in John Huston's brilliant 1979 adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood. He's really, really good. For a special treat, rent the unfortunately discontinued Deadwood and watch him as Doc Cochran. The guy gets typecasted so much, it's like seeing a dog walk on his hind legs to watch him play a not-creepy character.

And who doesn't wanna see a dog walk on his hind legs? That's amazing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Decision.

Awhile back, Lindsey posted some prompt-sentences for short stories and I called dibbs on this one. I forgot about it until last night.

Caitlin had kept her eyes closed for ten seconds, just like Dr. Smoltz had told her to, but when she opened them, it was still there, looking at her and not blinking.
Not that she expected her kindly therapist's advice for anxiety to work for this. Sometimes she stressed herself into small panic attacks, and she found that, usually, if she closed her eyes and took deep breaths for ten seconds, the panic would disappear and she could then set about rationally resolving a given issue.
But no amount of deep breathing was going to make that ring just disappear. Indeed, there it sat, on her dresser where Alfred had lain it and walked out when she was unable to say "yes".
She looked at it, dazed. A diamond flanked by two sapphires. She had to admit its beauty, but over the past few hours, it had begun to look froggish to her. Those sapphires looked like patient, wide-set eyes, silently wheedling for an answer. They stared at her, glittering and unblinking. Accusing? No. Just patient and expectant, like Alfred himself. He wouldn't force an answer from her, she knew. He would be sweet and supportive, through "whatever process you need to go through," he had said. And that was the biggest problem, wasn't it? What she couldn't explain, what had made her throat tighten up and refuse to cough out some kind of answer. His unflappable patience. He never got angry with her, never set his foot down. Here, he had presented her with a gorgeous engagement ring, a family heirloom. When she stalled and stammered, he just looked at her with that sweetness and nodded, asked her to think it over, and quietly left. If he had looked hurt, or slammed the door in anger, she probably would have gone after him and told him she'd marry him. But he didn't, so she didn't. Her reaction had been pure, classic Caitlin bull. And he hadn't called her out on it. Maybe he was at home now, banging things around and swearing at the cat, having genuine human emotions. But if he was, she didn't know it. And probably never would. Her eyes wandered over to the ring again and locked with the dark blue eyes already staring at her.

Taking another deep breath, she picked up her phone. Alfred deserved an answer.

Monday, August 22, 2011

There's a lotta holes in the desert.

My back hurts.

I mean, it hurts. Bad.

All I want to do is hang with Ben and Jerry.

While watching Youtube videos with names like "Giant centipede fights snake".

Or "best coyote attack ever".

(That one was pretty cool.)

*grumble, grumble*

Now I'm going to get on the couch. Maybe I'll face the back. I'll decide when I get there.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ever notice the background music in Fried Green Tomatoes? It does kinda make you hungry.

Tonight I'm joining forces with Rachel and Co. to go see The Help. I'm a little trepidatious about it. People are saying it's soooo good and touching, but when the general public says that, it usually amounts to trite and saccharine, which is pretty much what you can expect from a movie adaptation of a book that same general public has embraced.

I read it. It's aight.

See, the general public doesn't read much. That's fine; reading isn't for everyone. Periodically, a book comes out that's ok, but there's something maybe a little different about it that makes a few people say it's pretty good. Then someone like Oprah comes along and declares it, oh, enlightening or powerful or whatever. Then, it's an explosion and all these people who don't usually read are reading This Very Important Book and saying it's, like, one of the best books ever. Case in point, even comparing it to the incomparable To Kill A Mockingbird. Because people who don't regularly read for pleasure don't see the miles and miles between the layers, candor, and depth of TKAM and the too-safe-to-be-truly-provocative The Help.

I don't say that as a book snob, because I'm so not. (If anything, I'm a book slut; two covers and some pages between? Yeah, I'll hit it. You only live once, right?)I'm just sayin'. The same people who are going bananas about this book are the same people who went bananas about The Bridges Of Madison County a few years back. And they likely haven't read anything in between. If you've read five books for pleasure in your life and two of them are The Help and TKAM, well, you're going to compare the two and find them similar just because they both deal with race relations in the rural South. And they're both going to be AWESOME.

But, I read it, I did enjoy it for what it is (a tasty and largely forgettable snack consumed in between the somewhat heartier meals of Foucault and Melville), and now I'm going to go see the movie. Emma Stone usually charms my socks off, so there's that.


Also: dinner last night was wildly successful. I made flourless peanut butter cookies, and tried the chocolate cake recipe again, adding carob chips and milling the rice flour longer to refine it more. I decided to wait until Sunday to try the custards, because I want time to play with them and do a test batch. Maybe I'll get crazy and create a caramelized crust. Make creme brulee out of them.

E-2.0 went back for seconds, and took a plate home. Man, I'm good.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Can't we just get some ice cream? No. No, we can't.

Combining the regulations of a clean-eating diet with the regulations of a wheat-free, dairy-free diet is a lot like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without the border pieces. Yeah, it can be done, but not without some frustration.

Especially for desserts. This new beast basically amounts to clean-vegan, two words whose combination summons mental pictures of organic celery dipped in melted carob chips (or something) and listlessly eaten by pale, shaky-handed waifs who keep telling you how great they feel now that they live on compassion rather than meat.

Fortunately, it's not that dire. In fact, everything I've made has been delicious. The only "Weeelllll, I wouldn't ask for leftovers" I've received was in regard to last week's chocolate cake, which was, in fact, very tasty but had a peculiar, grainy texture. I'm told that this is because I didn't use xanthan gum with the rice flour. I'm still hesitant about xanthan gum, mainly because I don't trust ingredients that start with "x".

Tonight's menu:

Grilled Lime and Basil Pork Chops
Mushroom Risotto
Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Reduction
Baked Almond and Raisin Custard*

It's not that difficult. It's just that a lot of dairy-free recipes are a slap in the face to "clean". A lot of recipes are the same recipes we're all familiar with, only they use margarine instead of butter, or, worse, Tofutti products. For the uninitiated, Tofutti makes dairy replacement products (sour cream, cream cheese, etc.) that are soy-based and use hydrogenated fats (trans fats). That stuff all the fast-food restaurants have been under fire about because it's undeniably horrible for you? Yeah, that stuff. Clearly, I can't use a product that combines industrialized soy (because I don't want breast cancer) and hydrogenated fat (because I don't want heart disease) to replace wholesome, delicious, perishable butter. But-oh wait-I can't use dairy, either.**

It's cool. I can be into forced creativity.

*Using almond milk, of course, which is actually pretty awesome.
** Don't think for a nanosecond that my own eating habits are changing. Asking me to give up dairy is like asking me to give up oxygen. I ain't the one who's allergic, dammit. But for shared meals, I'm taking one for the team.

This is probably the first of many Elitist-Meets-Allergic posts to come.