Lunacy in Iced Coffee

The picture I had of my afternoon entailed me sitting by the river outside my apartment with an iced coffee and writing in the sunlight. Yet, as is the case with many things in life, things did not turn out the way I had imagined. The detail of the delicious iced coffee was key to my complete fulfillment but somehow, here I am instead with a room temperature, watered down, auburn imposter. How I reached this point is a sad tale of a young woman who is so terrified of confrontation or the idea of “bothering” others that she lives with endless ruined cups of coffee. So how did it happen? Quality iced coffee is so easy to obtain; or is it? Let me walk through it.

As a true New Englander I went to good ol’ Dunkin Donuts.  I appreciate a place like this because Starbucks intimidates me and I always feel like I don't belong (even though I think technically as a beverage drinking, laptop toting writer with a secret love for Josh Groban, I am their target customer). The venue choice was not my mistake but rather the decision to use the drive through because, as I learned today, you should be looking your barista in the eye when she makes your beverage. Intimidation is necessary to keep them in line.

Let me first be a little fair to the worker under scrutiny. I should say that my coffee order is obnoxious and it is possible it makes me a van driving soccer mom; minus the van, the kids, overpriced loafers and a taste for boxed wine. My preference is “a medium, iced, half caff, black, with three Splenda”. Trust me when I say it sounds as stupid to me as it does to you, but I have my reasons. I am sensitive to caffeine as it gives me migraines when consumed in normal to large amounts. Because of this I need a mixture of half regular and half decaf mixed together. I realize I could avoid the caffeine altogether but I like the hop it adds to my step and ordering pure decaf would make me a ninny. **NOTE: I am aware the using the word “sensitive” rather than “allergic” makes me suspect and an asshole.

As for inserting the word “black” into the order rather than just an omission of the words “cream” or “milk”, apparently Dunkin Donuts customers are not habitually black coffee drinkers. If you don’t specify they will in fact add cream or at least ask you (as though you just hit a puppy) “wait, you don’t want cream?!”  Forget the rest of the order for the moment: I take issue with this alone. To me, this is the equivalent of a restaurant adding vodka to all orange juice orders because so many people are drinkers. Sure, a lot of people would be psyched about surprise day drinking, but when asking for OJ one should be able to assume they are getting just that. What if they served that screwdriver to a recovering alcoholic or a lightweight who has to drive home? What if the coffee shop that this great country “runs on” served cream to someone who is lactose intolerant? Giving someone the poops at the start of a workday is as unforgiveable as giving a vegetarian some bacon on their veggie burger. Sure, we all know it tastes better and that bacon is a key ingredient for awesome on everything, but let them eat their crappy patty however they choose. If I order coffee, I want coffee, and the addition of cream is a separate request.

But getting back to how this order got lost in translation; the Dunkin Donuts worker was beyond baffled by the concept of half regular/half decaf IN THE SAME CUP. How could this be? It would mean that she would have to stop pouring sooner, put down one type of coffee, pick up the other and finish the rest of the pour with it. Mind boggling, I know. Quantum Physics and Liquid Mixing were her two weak subjects in school and she thought she could get away with a life of never having to use either; I really threw a wrench into that plan. I had to actually explain the concept to her in steps because “it means half regular and half decaf” didn’t get the message through. “Just fill the cup half way with regular and then pour the decaf in the other half”…those words came out of my mouth today; seriously. Are there not enough hipsters ordering trendy things like half caff to help me spread the word? Maybe they are all in the cafés with nonsensical names so I am on my own at a major chain.

In the explaining of such lofty concepts, the rest of my drink order was lost. When I drove up to the window I was handed a LARGE, HOT, half caff, black with NO SPLENDA. Can I get a round of applause for this girl for getting it kind of half right? Maybe I will send her an award certificate for her accomplishments. Corporate should be paying me for the useful and intensive training I provide. She has now mastered the subtle art of half caff and this winner actually had a pride-filled grin on her face when handing me my order.

Here is the moment when my biggest downfall occurs though; I thanked her and drove away.

I took the drink from her, realized it was wrong, put it in my cupholder, paid for it, thanked her and left. All the while in my mind I was thinking, “This is NOT what I ordered but I don’t want to bother her.” BOTHER HER?! It would have taken her mere seconds to put the drink in a cup with ice and some splenda but I actually thought, “Well, I have those things at home, I will fix it so she doesn’t have to.” I think on some level this makes me nice, but barely. Mostly it makes me an idiot and a doormat with bad hot coffee on a hot day.

When I get home I go through a series of other unfortunate events all due to my inability to advocate for myself:

1.     The glass: Too small. It is a Newbury Comics glass I got in college for getting suckered into signing up for their useless email list. Why this glass in particular? Because my dishwasher is still broken after the maintenance man came and thought he fixed it but OOPS, didn’t. I haven’t called him again because I don’t want to hurt his feelings in telling him he didn’t actually accomplish anything the last time.

2.     The ice: Smells funky because the ice maker in my freezer needs a new filter and in the meantime I am left to choose whether my drinks are warm or smell/taste like hamster. Why isn’t it fixed? Because that would entail calling the maintenance man, and we already know how complex and emotional my relationship is with him.

I filled the glass with ice, poured hot coffee over said ice thus instantly melting the ice and watering down the coffee. Then, distracted by my mission to fix this, I drank the unsweetened version of this sludge in slow excruciating sips to make room for the fact that the genius in the pink and orange work polo had given me a large (which also means I was charged more money).

Thankfully there were no snags with the Splenda, but by the time I added it all was lost and it wouldn’t even mix in. It just sank sadly to the bottom like a metaphor of all my hopes and dreams.

I clearly have issues, but they sure do keep life interesting.

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Everyone Else Is Doing It, Why Can't I?

I'm so jealous of the people I see out running at all times of the day. Many of the runners I talk to speak of how much they love it and how cathartic it is for them. I very recently decided I really wanted to be one of these people so I took up the sport myself three days a week, but I'm having some issues. For example, every Monday I walk from Cambridge to the North End of Boston for an improv class. I wouldn't say that I am moving particularly slow but I'm certainly not in a brightly colored waterproof track suit swinging my arms for momentum either. I walk at a steady and easy pace and usually by the time I reach the the bridge that is the halfway mark on my route I'm sweating like an overworked landscaper on the worst day in Central America. No really it's fine... I love showing up to class with pit stains, it was the first impression I was hoping to give off.

I'm going off track here now because I get all riled up when talking about sweating. If I may get personal and over share a bit, I will admit that I use clinical strength deodorant and I have been known to visit a bathroom multiple times just to dab at my pits with scratchy brown paper towels. There is no way to make any of this cute as a girl. While I appreciate Dove and Secret's attempts to brand an ever increasing number of scents in the clinical category, cucumber melon still seems to be the only one I can find in stock. I'm sorry but who the hell came up with cucumber melon as a scent for my armpits? I smell like a salad bar. That stupid scent became popular when I was in middle school and I remember all the girls I thought were cool had cucumber melon scented soaps and body mists; now it is like the scent equivalent of the Comic Sans Font; overused and incredibly tacky (when you see a professional sending emails in Comic Sans you know they probably have their original AOL account from 1992, type one letter at a time with their nose an inch from the keyboard and spent twenty minutes going through every font option until they found one that made them feel "fun" or "hip"). Cucumber melon is something I am forced into if I want the heavy hitters antiperspirant but I resent it and I think it's discrimination. Clammy girls want and deserve to smell like flowers sometimes too you know.

When discussing this moisture malfunction with my mother she said she was pretty sure that a tolerance to heat could be built up. Makes perfect sense right? People who move to parts of the world with extreme climates are usually used to it and their bodies adapt. I briefly thought of just trying to spend more time outside of my central air enjoying the warm weather and then realized, in that moment, as I was thinking this, that I had a sweatstache, extreme pit stains and I was even panting a little. Cute right?

Forget it. If this is how I am outside in the summer when I'm just strolling, imagine if I chose to actually exert myself in this oppressive season? I wouldn't be one of those hot sporty chicks with a ponytail swinging behind her as she holds her head high and confidently glides forward. That girl just barely glistens with enough sweat to be taken seriously by fellow runners but not so much that she couldn't dab it off and run straight to a trendy social event. I run at 6am just to get temperatures below 70 and I come home with my ponytail drooping as if it's giving up on life, my face dripping like my pores have suddenly burst into tears of agony and a complexion so red I could easily bust through a wall screaming "oh yeahhhh" and people could buy that I was the High C fruit punch mascot.

I don't run into many people that early (one other rare benefit to running at such an obscene hour), but the people I do pass on the path I always smile at as if to say, "we are both running and probably both hate it, thus we are connected". I'm just trying to become a part of the inner runners circle, but I'm noticing that during my warm up walk and the first few minutes of the run people smile back; as time goes on I get less and less eye contact and even the occasional look of pity and disgust. Then as I get back to my apartment building and I reach for the door handle I catch my reflection in the glass pane and realize I look like a furby. Awesome. Glad I chose to start this f!@#$%* sport, it's the best.

Maybe next I'll try stunt pogo; it's a real thing... I actually looked up a list of extreme sports and this was the one that seemed as frustrating and useless as running. Stupid.

A Journey Through Irresponsibility

Oh Target... I try to avoid you. I try to buy just one thing. You seduce me with your big red logo and wide, brightly lit aisles and I don't know how to resist your reasonably low prices. On the average trip to Target I go to buy one key item, we will call this "the bait". When I walk in I immediately see the clothing, they placed it at the entrance just for me, because I always have an occasion for a new outfit... or six. A cotton sundress for 19.99?!?! YES PLEASE! How about a pencil skirt for 14.99? Sign me up. Oh look, leggings for 7.99 a pair; well that just means I must buy one in every color. If this doesn't make complete sense to you, then you do not make complete sense to me and I reject your opinions. These are deals that would just be silly to pass up; I always need more leggings.

Suddenly in my mind I hear, "Samantha, move away from the clothing."

As I back away to make my escape I stumble and get lost in the most dangerous section of all-- the shoes. I know I have over 100 pairs, but those flats are a shade of brown I don't have covered in my collection, and those pumps would match anything so that is a versatile buy. Now I'm just being smart because I will only pay $20 and I'll wear them with everything, I swear. Summer is coming up so I should definitely play it safe and buy some trendy sandals, I wouldn't want to risk wearing last years gladiators and find out that this year the style is bohemian. Once you miss one trend it's just a short hop, skip and a jump before you are in mom jeans, a Disney sweatshirt with no hood and old plastic platform sandals from 1993.

There is that voice again, "Do you really need those shoes? You don't." Maybe if I walk away and distract myself with another item I'll forget all about the shoes in the basket. Good plan.

Hooray, the baby section! I don't have any kids so I won't buy anything from any of those aisles. Gosh I'm responsible, look at me, skipping a whole department. I should reward myself when I get to the DVDs.

But first, a quick stop at the pet supplies. It would be greedy and selfish to only buy for myself so I should really buy a few chew toys for my dog Piper. Also, I can't buy for one pet and not the other, it creates jealousy and resentment so I have to get something filled with catnip to soothe Pooter's craziness.

Things get a little dicey in the home goods department. Now, I know my apartment is nice and I seem to have all the things I need, but wouldn't my bathroom just feel so much brighter if I replaced my toothbrush holder? Once I find one that I like I have to buy the whole set (that's a law right?!). I obviously need a new duvet for my comforter because the orange one with leaves on it says "fall" to me and it's spring now. I should just plan ahead a little and get one for the next two seasons, summer really creeps up on you so fast. Do I need a new laundry basket? Yes. Always yes. I have found that if I keep buying new ones than I never have to empty the ones that are filled with clean laundry from a month ago, this has proven to be a bit inconvenient when looking for a specific outfit but makes folding a thing of the past! I'll get one in black and one in white for today, the blue one will be my treat for the next visit.

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DVDs, oh no. You are so close to owning every Pixar film and once you do you can watch a marathon in the order they were released. It will be a beautiful learning experience about the progression of a brilliant creative team finding success with wholesome, smart, well made movies in a cynical world. What an inspiration. I will also get that new action movie with Jason Statham because he's just sexy.

Geez, have I really been in here for almost two hours? This place is like reverse Narnia where time doesn't move at the same pace as the outside world and when you leave your day is suddenly gone. I had better just swing through the home and beauty aisles and get out of here.

Two nail polishes, a curling iron (my hair is naturally curly but the box says it will make it even CURLIER), 5000 Ibuprofen, a pink toothbrush, after shower mousse and a humidifier shaped like a penguin later I am weary but I have made it to the register. Target is smart (yes I will refer to it as an entity); have you ever noticed that there is never a long line? I always think I've hit the jackpot by finding the lonely worker who has no one to ring up, not noticing that everyone else seems to be getting through quickly as well. There is always as many registers open as there are customers in line, this way you don't have time to stand and analyze your cart. Before I can pull than extra DVD out (I was weak, I grabbed a romantic comedy from the teaser aisles near the cashiers) and put it back Target snatches it up, runs it over that evil red scanner and traps it in a red and white plastic prison with convenient carrying handles. All hope is gone. I've officially lost the battle.

Once home I am delirious and tired. The piles of bags end up on the floor in the entryway to my apartment and have to lay down for a nap. It is possible that some of my purchases, including my "much needed" bait item will not even make it out of the bag for a week or more. I must have really needed it huh?

Things Found In My Backseat

This evening I was going to see Avenue Q with some friends and we decided to carpool as the theatre was about 45 minutes away. When I reached the pickup point I realized to my dismay that my backseat was a mess so I jumped out of my car and started frantically shoving everything into my trunk (which was just recently cleaned, so there goes that). While clawing at piles of stuff on the floor I realized that I had a rather odd collection of things accumulated: Not one, but two unpaid parking tickets- I am not technically to blame for this... once the ticket makes it into the backseat there is really no hope of me remembering that it is there and I can no longer be held responsible. Also, the no overnight parking rule in Providence has nailed me dozens of times over the years and I feel I have paid the city enough, so let's pretend it isn't paid because I'm standing up for myself and I'm passionate about a political cause (rather than the alternative, which is just that I'm a ninny). I should also mention for the sake of my mother who is likely to call me after reading this, yes I will pay those tickets first thing Monday and yes I know that was a not-so-good life choice. I can just hear her now in her disappointed voice, "I'm not upset, it really doesn't effect me, I just worry and I think you should pay them". I love how much she cares and how much she is still willing to parent even though I should be an adult by now, she has the patience of a saint.

Four or five giant wads of tissue paper- I have no idea... really. I found it strange that there was that large a quantity of it and yet I have no recollection of what it was all from.

Miss Congeniality on DVD- Well this is just smart. You never know when the urge to see Sandra Bullock as an FBI agent/struggling pageant queen is going to strike, so it's wise to always have it on hand for those emergencies. It is now in my trunk, so if we are hanging out anytime soon and you want to watch it, I'm ready.

A heavy brown paper bag- This one is bad news because it was clearly my lunch bag one day for work, but I have been using a lunch tote for a couple months now, if that is any indicator of it's age. I opened it and briefly saw that there was a container in there... that will be a fun surprise to open at a later date (check out that blog post in a month or so, when I clean out my trunk).

A studded costume cigarette holder- ... that I only used once... at a party I went to... in late October. The dumbest thing about that is that I don't even smoke.

An unopened bag of fake cotton snow- I had bought it to use as a possible makeshift white screen for a projected slideshow at a charity event and then a better idea happened, thus dooming the fake snow to my backseat for five months. This bag actually made it onto the ledge under the back window a month or so ago and has been obstructing part of my rear view ever since... yes mom, I have moved it and yes I know that isn't safe. I'm sorry.

It all worked out for the best though because when my friends got into the backseat after I moved all the stuff and they told me what a nice car I had. It's amazing what shifting stuff around can accomplish, this is why my closet is just a giant mountain of shoes and clothes, but hey, at least they aren't out where guests can see-- I'm tidy!

Busted

What is it about being in the car that makes us feel at ease about what should be private behaviors? I've already discussed the shocking number of people who I have witnessed picking their nose behind the wheel (although they would all deny it), but even I am guilty of far more than the occasional nasal cleaning. The worst thing I was ever caught doing while driving was about 8 years ago I was in a play and I was driving to rehearsal from work. Please understand that I had a long commute from one locale to the next and very little time to change... also there was traffic, making me even later for rehearsal. So I suppose the next part is obvious, girl in traffic decides to change, girl in traffic strips down to almost nothing, idiot girl in traffic forgets that the cars around her are still capable of moving, you get it. I attempted to gain some privacy by pulling all the way into the left lane so there was only cars on one side of me, then I stopped my car in the bumper to bumper, strategically between two cars in the row next to me. Of course nobody was moving while I was taking off items, but rest assured as soon as I was fully revealed (I can't recall now why my bra ever came off) the lane next to me inched forward just enough so that there was a car directly next to me.

The young gentleman in the neighboring car looked bored and irritated by the holdup. He casually glanced at the car to his left, probably just because the range of things to look at while sitting still was minimal. The first time he turned his head he clearly didn't register what was going on a mere eight feet away from him because he went right back to looking forward... then as though I could see the gears in his head turning as he realized what he had seen he whipped his head back towards me, looking embarrassed. What could he do? He didn't seem like a pervert, but if you see a topless female in her car stopped on the highway next to you, what are you going to do, look away as a courtesy? I would never ask for a stranger to do me any such favors and I deserved to be seen considering the location of my makeshift dressing room.

I didn't even have tinted windows... oh jeez, I hope if I ever have children that they aren't girls, because as teenagers, we (as a gender) are not always the smartest.

Anyways, so after I had a moment of sheer terror that I had been seen I realized that this guy was enjoying the show, and as I said before, not in a skeezy way. He smiled the type of smile that said, "Wow, this is awkward for both of us" (because it was) and so I did the only thing I could think to do, after the instinctive covering of myself, I waved and smiled back.

I called my father later that day and recounted the events to him and his response was, "Well, at least you made his day, that must have been quite a sight during traffic!" and although this wasn't the response I was expecting from my normally strict and somewhat protective father, he was probably right. At the very least that guy now has something to write about in his blog.

More on Burritos

I can always talk more about burritos because I love them and I think at this point I'm eating them 3-5 times a week, which for any one type of food is excessive. In my previous post about the art burrito crafting I left one one type of worker who I encountered the other day. This type is about as rare as they come and if we were on a safari of Chipotle employees in the wild, this would be the big moment where everyone got out their cameras and shoved to see. The Overzealous People Pleaser

This worker will strike up conversation immediately because they are looking to make their work day go by a little faster. In the case of the guy I met the other day, he had a heavy hand with rice and beans and was about to skimp on my chicken and pico when I politely asked if I could just have a little more, this was his big chance. Now he had an opportunity to keep me talking to him longer and show me how we were now best friends by filling my delicious mexican dinner with more chicken and pico than any one burrito can handle. Once he arrived at the extras portion of the line (salsa, sour cream, lettuce, cilantro, etc.) he stated, "I don't use this stuff on my burritos so I have no idea about portions"... that would have been very clear even if he had not warned me. He then proceeded to douse the pile of rice, beans and chicken with an obscene quantity of each item (including a handful of fresh chopped cilantro, which he oddly treated like lettuce) and by the time we had reached the end of the line and I looked at what he had to now roll up into a tortilla and it felt like a challenge that we were in together. I gave a half-laugh and commented that it looked like it might not make it into its final burrito form and he assured me that I shouldn't give up hope.

He clearly wanted to impress, and to his credit he almost even ended up with something that I might have been able to eat as a wrap is intended to be eaten, but not quite. While he managed to roll everything into the warm tortilla, if I had tried to pick it up at any time after that it would have been a catastrophe. I don't recall if it was my idea or his to put the final product in a to-go bowl so I could just eat it with a knife and fork, but it all worked out in the end.

The bad part of this story occurs once the burrito is home... I want to say I tried to stop myself from eating it all, because I did try,I just wasn't successful. On weight watchers I count my burrito for a set number of points no matter what the size (which is exactly why I have an inappropriate meltdown if they skimp). I was like a puppy who just broke into the treat cabinet and I gorged myself. See, when you are constantly watching your proportions you are never able to realize that super-full bloated feeling that hurts so good and this was an opportunity I wasn't going to miss. I must say, when you put a truck load of every ingredient, it all comes together quite beautifully. It was delicious and I still managed to lose weight this week, so I guess that means it was actually only 15 points... I hope I get that guy again next time.

The Dreaded SSS: Part II

So can you believe that this morning while enjoying my breakfast at my favorite diner a couple came in and sat beside each other in their booth? Did they not read my previous rant? If they are still choosing to display SSS behavior because they hadn't read my post about it yet, that is just irresponsible. Clearly, if your actions are irritating me, you should stop them. I managed to snap a photo of the infraction as evidence.

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I think the guy in this photo may have noticed me doing something funny with my phone, but whatever. I might be photographing strangers so I can later make fun of them on my blog read by my mom, but you are the creepy one, so you can't be upset.

What is particularly interesting about this couple is that they sat beside each other when they arrived and remained that way while they ordered, then when their food came, the girl moved to the other side of the booth... I don't know which one of the two made that decision, but I certainly wouldn't want to be in that conversation. "Hey darling, I love sitting this close to you but now that the food is here maybe I/you should move." Awkward.

If I believed that they had an actual system worked out where they had found a balance between remaining close and affectionate and still maintaining the appropriate amount of space while eating I could condone this, but I'm not buying it. How did the other person feel when their partner asked them to please move because the food was there? Clearly this now sends the message, "Hey, you're great until my meal arrives, and then I really need some space to focus on that... go away." If I were the one who had suggested SSS in the first place I would assume that the other person had never wanted it and feel uncomfortable that they had said yes when clearly they wanted me on the opposite side of the table (but I'm a cuckoo clock so I shouldn't project on this). I think it is worse that they started next to each other and then didn't commit to spending the entire meal this way; not that it doesn't make sense to cuddle a little and then separate for eating, but things are never that simple.

The lesson here? If you are doing something that irritates me, stick with it because your changing of the behavior mid-behavior irritates me more than the original infraction. I don't understand it and I can't wrap my head around it so it must be bad. Plus, this couple's rational decision making when the food came almost ruined my post idea for the day and I don't like it one bit. Thank goodness I can think on my toes and roll with the punches.

The Dreaded SSS

I consider myself a very affectionate person and I have always participated in public displays of affection that I'm sure made the cynics of the world squirm. Yet, even though I crave romance and I'm always rooting for love there is one thing I can just never get on board with— couples who sit on the same side of the table at restaurants. As I see it, you are out together so you can talk and interact, but isn't that made harder by being side by side? Personally, I want to be able to see the person I'm with straight on; there can always be flirting with feet under the table if you are feeling starved for contact. The impression I get from these couples is that they are in their own little world and they don't care if they are making others uncomfortable. Can they really not wait until they are home to be next to each other? Maybe they have abandonment issues.

The worst is when you are out on a date and the guy is a same-side-sitter (SSS as I will now call them) and I have to be rude to him within the first two minutes of our evening to tell him to please move. This isn't to say that I don't try to be polite about it, I might make some cute excuse like, "I just love looking into your eyes" but in reality, my mind is saying "Since you have revealed yourself to be an SSS this will be our only date, so let's not get too attached." I'm sorry, is this making me sound cynical? I swear I'm not, but there is something alarming about the neediness of it all that makes me feel like this guy is going to be the same one who calls me for the next ten years after our one unsuccessful date.

How uncomfortable would you be if you went to lunch with a co-worker or friend and they sat in the booth next to you, leaving the other side empty? It would be unheard of, and not simply because the relationship doesn't call for that kind of proximity but also because it is odd to have to turn all the way to the side to talk. I get uncomfortable when I go out to meet a group and accidentally end up sitting two on a side before the others have arrived, and that is only temporary. I just don't want anyone to think for even a second that I'm an SSS, so I might get up to use the bathroom or "stretch my legs" while I wait for the remainder of my party. Maybe now I'm sounding too paranoid and a little insane, but some of you must understand, right?SSS Meme

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Things I Don't Need In Bulk

I should say upfront that I adore BJ's Wholesale Club, I love a bargain and I love being able to get the foods that I want in large quantities so I never run out. Yet, while browsing the aisles recently I was struck by certain items that I felt were a little insane to buy in bulk. Maybe I don't mean that the items themselves are insane... I should rather say that the people who buy such items are pigeon poo crazy (it's my new alternative to bat $#!t crazy, I'm trying to swear less). Here is what I have compiled as a list of ridiculous bulk products and my reasons why you don't need this much:

1 Gallon of Extra Heavy Mayonnaise- The thought of this makes me want to gag a little; how much potato salad could you be making? Also, I've heard of labeling variations of products to say when things are lighter or less fattening, but this new idea of specifically stating that something is "extra heavy" is beyond disturbing. I can respect someone who loves mayo, who wants to buy the regular full fat variety, (some people just aren't into Miracle Whip) but this is just irresponsible. Why not just spread some lard onto your sandwich next time?

New and improved recipe for pasta salad, now made with clotted cream!

6 Pounds of Starlight Mints- I have a small amount of appreciation for this one because my Grandfather was the last living man on earth who loved these, but I can't just let it go because of that. These are the mints that you grab at the Podiatrists office and toss into your bag just in case you need a mint on the fly. The only issue here is that every time you are digging through your giant purse and you catch sight of it, you aren't in the mood for it. This is probably due to the fact that they are not very good. Don't get me wrong, they aren't bad either... they just are. They don't really cure bad breath as a mint is meant to so you will inevitably throw it away when you decide to clean out your bag. It's outer wrapper is covered in crumbs and lint and the mint inside is melted to the plastic. Still, the next time you see a bowl full you will grab a new one to carry around for the next 3 months.

2.5 Pounds of Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella & 4.4 Pounds of Instant Nonfat Dry Milk- I don't know what all that means, but by the time I finished reading the labels I had lost interest and no longer cared. Any food that has that many adjectives in front of it is automatically gross; moreover, if it is claiming to be a dairy product, I have my doubts.

3 Pounds of Reese's Puffs Cereal- I don't personally know your kids, but I do know that I don't think they will ever need this much sugar. Ever. If you are the parent who is feeding these to your child so often that you want to buy them in this quantity, I don't mean to sound judgmental, but I'm judging you. I guess it's alright with you so long as it is their school teachers who deal with their sugar rush during the day.

4 Pounds of Frozen Whole Kernel Corn- Maybe I'm being unfair here, I mean nowadays there are so few foods with corn in them, so this could be an easy way to get more into our diet...

600 Plastic Knives- Do plastic knives even work? I really need 600 of something that barely serves a purpose? I feel like any party I'm at where there are plastic knives available, I always grab one and then can't find seating to be able to use it or I give up sawing back and forth and just rip bits out of my food. If I'm eating something soft like cake I can just cut with my nifty plastic fork and if it's steak I want to dice up, I don't think plastic is the answer. So what is it good for; mid-range sturdiness? What items does that encompass? A plastic knife is like the Easy Bake Oven of cutlery, that warm light bulb really gives more the illusion of cooking something, but I wouldn't trust it with any raw egg products.

6 Pounds of Crisco- With this much you can try to use it as a substitute for the Extra Heavy Mayonnaise when trying to be healthier (the packaging does say "All Vegetable Shortening" and if it has the word vegetable on it, it must be good for you).

116 Ounces of B&M Baked Beans- Well they do claim to be "New England's Finest" so who would ever want less? Just be sure to also buy the super sized bottle of Beano for dessert.

On the flip side of things I have to point out that there were a few products that I wish came in a larger quantity:

1 Gallon of Frank's Red Hot- I buy milk in gallons and as much as I love a tall glass of cold milk, I always need more Frank's in my kitchen than milk. I think it is possible though that no amount of this delicious red sauce would ever be enough.

16 Ounces of Capers- Like Frank's, these are good on everything; think of them as tiny green balls of wonderful. If I can get 6 pounds of a candy that nobody will ever want to eat why can the caper companies not provide me with the same size option?

64 Ounces of Autocrat Coffee Syrup- As a Rhode Islander I am proud to say that coffee milk is our official state drink (in 1993 it just barely beat out Del's Lemonade) and I know quite a few people who would make short work of that bottle. I have 2.5 pounds of strange faux dairy products but only 64 ounces of liquid awesome? Something is off.

The Perils of Public Restrooms

Whenever I use public restrooms I notice my anxiety is heightened and not for the reasons you might think. I'm not a germaphobe and I don't care how many tushies have touched the seat, rather my issue is with other people hearing me while I go. I think we all feel this way to some degree and it can make the ladies room take a lot longer than originally intended. There are a few scenarios, the first being just pee. Two women are in separate stalls and both have to pee, yet for some reason neither one wants to be the first to start the stream. You both sit there waiting for the trickling to start from the adjacent stall and it is silent. It's not like pee is embarrassing, but somehow that silence is paralyzing and it makes it impossible to go. The best trick is to wait for someone to wash their hands, then start to pee as the water runs. This can be tricky because you need to have the ability to stop mid pee when the water shuts off (although I hear that is a good exercise to keep your bladder muscles strong). I can't speak for everyone else, but my reasoning is that I'm always afraid one of those trapped air farts is going to slip out once I start.

Farting in a public restroom for others to hear makes you a prisoner to the stall. You can't leave until everyone who heard the fart has washed up and left, so nobody can ever match a face to the noise. Even worse is when you are feeling gassy after your lunch burrito and you know you're going to have a lot stored up, so you have to sit there strategically releasing them one at a time as people leave the bathroom. This can go on and on.

Then there is diarrhea; the noises that that will create are not at all matched to the smell it creates. Once you are guilty of stinking up a public restroom there is no easy way out. I have often pulled a "Wow, smells bad in here... woof, I'm glad I only had to pee so I can get out of here fast", which is the equivalent of blaming a pet for your farts, everyone knows it was you. I will even admit publicly that I have skipped washing my hands in an emergency so I could make my escape and hide.

I don't understand though why this all plagues me so much, there are stalls for a reason; so people can't see you. But why then don't the stalls go all the way to the floor? The mere fact that others can distinguish me by my shoes is enough to make this whole experience intimidating. Maybe what I should do is bring a spare pair of shoes in my purse and change before I leave so I can not be identified... or maybe I'm over thinking this.

Several people I know claim that they avoid all this by never going number two in a public place. Well that's all well and good, but I am not lucky enough to be able to choose when I have to go. You're not better than me.

 

Conserving Water is Stressful

I own a five minute shower timer that sticks to my bathroom wall. I am pretty sure it is making my showers longer. Who can take a five minute shower? I know it's possible, but are these people really clean? In five minutes, when I don't dilly-dally at all, I can shampoo once (and I do love a good lather rinse and repeat), condition, speed wash my face with apricot scrub and clean just my torso. So if I were to do this daily I would have stinky hairy legs and underarms, sort of clean hair and some kind of scarring on my face from the rigorous scrubbing with the exfoliant.

I recently tried the approach of  making it a ten minute shower timer and I just rotate the hourglass halfway through. The problem with this solution is that the technology on this thing is caveman equivalent and so you have to watch it like a hawk. I spend more time watching the sand fall than I do actually washing myself; it's quite distracting because if I turn away there is no indicator telling me it's done and I always miss it. At times when I'm rushing I finish in around eight minutes; at that point, because I'm crazy, I don't want to get out before the timer runs out because as I see it, the timer is telling me I have two more minutes, so I should use them.

Shower Timer
Shower Timer

I bought it because it claimed that it was eco-friendly, money saving and made my day more efficient. So far it has lived up to none of these promises. It's made of plastic and came packaged in plastic, making it not eco-friendly. I obviously didn't save money because it cost me money to buy it in the first place and I'm sure I haven't earned that back in my water bills. Finally, the only thing it's done to my day is make it more stressful because now I can't even enjoy a shower without those grains of sand mocking me from their plastic prison and reminding me that time marches on and I have places to be.

If I throw it away that would be even more wasteful... alright timer, you win this round.

Culinary Perfection

Thanks to some friends of mine, I have recently gotten into utilizing hot sauce for my food. Turns out it is pretty much delicious on anything, and more than that, it makes everything taste better. I have bought all kinds of interesting hot sauces from the different markets I go to and they each have a distinct flavor profile, so it's like a whole new party in my mouth each time I try one. It kind of feels like meeting a new friend who is really interesting and spunky and who also happens to make my food a lot more awesome. But I have to take a moment here to recognize an old friend, one who has always been good to me and who was always the life of the party before I became more adventurous...

Frank's Red Hot
Frank's Red Hot

Frank's Red Hot is a hot sauce masterpiece. It isn't actually that hot, but the heat it does add is invigorating alongside it's cayenne-ey goodness. The bottle reads, "The Perfect blend of flavor & heat", never has marketing and advertising gotten something so right.

Now, I won't pretend that I'm as seasoned with hot sauce as my friends are (pun intended), as they have a much higher tolerance for intense heat and they have been at this longer; but I've been eating Frank's for years. It was there for me before I knew what else was out there. Even now, it is still the largest bottle of hot sauce in my collection, because it is one of the only ones I want to just smother my food in until I'm basically just eating Frank's, with a side of sandwich.

I can always tell when someone has used this dreamy red sauce in a recipe because it makes everything taste like Frank's, one of the greatest things your food could taste like.

The sauce was created in the early 1900's by Jacob Frank and Adam Estilette when Mr. Frank contracted Mr. Estilette's Pepper Farm and the two spent several years creating a consummate blend of vinegar, garlic and cayenne peppers. Shall I repeat those ingredients? Vinegar... also used to make pickles and salad dressing, so we know that is a key ingredient for deliciousness. Then garlic, enough said. Frank's was then used in 1935 as the primary ingredient in the first buffalo wing sauce at a bar in New York, thus changing football parties and late night college snacking forever.

I am feeling particularly inspired now because I recently tried Frank's on my Subway breakfast sandwich. I always get a ton of veggies with spicy mustard and vinaigrette dressing, but the other day I was stopped in my tracks when I looked behind the glass and saw, with the other condiment options, a generic bottle that read "hot sauce". I knew I wanted to try it but when I asked the sandwich artist to add some and he responded, "Ok, you want some Frank's too?" my heart skipped a beat. I would have wanted that hot sauce regardless of what type it was. When I got to my car with my breakfast, knowing that I was about to eat some Frank's, I was temped to call everyone I knew to share the news. I felt joy because I knew it was going to be amazing, yet silly because I hadn't thought of it myself sooner.

Let me tell you, the sauce that is created when the Frank's mixes with the spicy mustard and vinaigrette dressing is what I now call "awesome sauce". It drips from the back end of my sandwich as I eat and at the end I am rewarded with putting the plate right up to my face and licking every drop of it off. Don't judge me, I'm classy.

By All Means... Make Us Lazier

While walking through the Warwick Mall the other day I came across this upsetting sign:

Image
Image

 Really!?!

Seriously? Are we, as a country, really in any position to be deterring people from exercising? This takes it to a whole new level; forget exercising, we are now telling people to not even move for everyday activities. Next step, "ATTENTION WALKERS: DO NOT Window shop. Walking is only permitted when you go somewhere to purchase" because all that meandering around the mall might make people uppity and energized.

Now I know that this sign isn't geared towards anyone other than the blue hairs who do laps at the mall to get in shape, but what is our problem with them? They usually get up with the sun and go before anyone else is there. They are utilizing a public space in a way that improves their health, energy levels and mood. If we stop them aren't we risking a world filled with unhealthy, needy, grumpy old people who no longer choose to contribute to society? Won't that risk raising insurance premiums or mess up medicare and fill up the hospitals? (I'm really asking because I don't know much about this stuff, but I've heard). Let's face it, the mall is an ideal place for them to work out, it's warm and large and visually captivating, I would save a ton on  a gym membership if I could get into that. Plus, it gets people window shopping for hours and they will likely return later to shop. Now that I'm thinking about it, these people are fitness role models and they boost the economy.

I wonder who came up with the idea for this sign, who approved it, designed it with the mall logo and had it professionally printed to fit in that stand? Real effort went into this message, which says to me there was a heated discussion behind it. What? Were the thousands of ladies in track suits clogging up the stairs trying to get those extra calories burned? I can picture paying customers having to shove through mobs of fit seniors and stumbling into the stores all bedraggled and out of breath. It's a war out there.

I decided to walk around the sign and take the damn stairs because I'll admit, my intention all along when I approached them was to get a little bonus cardio. If not for that sign I would have recklessly messed with the mall policy and I might have even used the stairs to go back down... I did my best to appear to be lackadaisical on my way up so as not to get in trouble.

I Should Have Taken the Stairs

Today, while shopping at the mall I came across a devastating sight... the escalators were stopped. In my normal goings on for the average day I try to take the stairs. I often force myself to get in that extra little bit of cardio so I can later justify sitting on my ass, watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Sometimes I even impress myself and jog up the stairs, on those days I can squeeze in the extra time for the spunky housewives of New Jersey. I just want to make it clear here that I have no aversion to stairs; stairs are something I can commit to.

So this rant isn't about me just being lazy. I don't want to be in the same category as the people who see the escalator out of order and just circle the first floor. My anger towards the stopped escalator has a justified, two pronged explanation:

1.If I wasn't expecting to have to exercise, springing it on me isn't fair. Now I want to be on the second floor because I was just thinking of all the stores I would visit there and this wrench in the plan is a real downer. If I had chosen on my own to take the stairs in the first place I could feel proud of that, I would start to convince myself that I was on a healthy path. It might even feel so good to make the responsible choice that I would be inspired to make more healthy choices. But now you've even taken that from me; I am reminded that I chose to be lazy and even that didn't work.

As punishment for my lackadaisical attitude I now face the second problem...

2. Those stairs are really long and they just feel more difficult to climb. I don't know anything about stair measurements but I am sure that those escalator steps are a lot wider and longer. The natural stride you can achieve jogging up a normal stairwell is unattainable on those metal planks. Plus, is it just me or is it a little scary to think about the stairs starting back up while you're on them? Not dangerous, but startling maybe? Either way, I feel a little anxiety anticipating it while ascending.

Then I get to the top and the stores I had dreamed would have the perfect dress have a shoddy selection. This leaves me feeling slothful because of my original irresponsible choice and disappointed because the lesson wasn't even worth it in the end. An escalator really only has one thing it needs to do; if it fails at that, what else does it have?

Flossing

Up until recently, I flossed my teeth four days a year; the two days before each of my biannual dentist appointments. Something in my head always went off 48 hours before the appointment, it's like an alarm goes off, "Oh crap, if I don't floss a lot today Dr. Page is going to know I haven't been flossing." It instills a fear in me similar to the feeling you get when your parents catch you stealing stuffed animals from your sister (don't judge me, they liked me better, they told me). Come the day of the appointment while my dentist chisels away at plaque, he get's that look on his face. It's amazing I can see a look even with half of his face covered by his mask, but I think what I see is disappointment in his eyes. Then comes the dreaded gum disease conversation...

Dr. Page: Samantha, have you been flossing regularly?

(He knows damn well I haven't been, don't corner me while I'm vulnerable in your chair.)

Me: ::gurgled:: unh uhh.

Dr. Page: I can't stress enough that if you want to still have teeth when you're older you need to be flossing daily.

(That's just manipulative.)

Me: ::spitting up:: ooh kah

Dr. Page: Yeah, it's such a shame because you have such healthy teeth, but you are ruining your gums.

(What? You didn't think tooth loss was motivation enough?)

Dr. Page: Gingivitis is very hard to reverse.

(I've seen the ad with the blue Listerine rushing full speed into someones mouth, I know not to mess around with The Gum Disease Gingivitis, that announcer sounds serious.)

After the cleaning he grabs his bag of goodies to give me and then opens a special extra drawer filled with sample floss. While putting an excessive amount in my bad he throws in, "Remember what I said, if you want those teeth, floss floss floss."

Oh, ok. Good thing you reminded me, I would have forgotten.

Needless to say, on my most recent visit I finally caved. I floss now like some kind of "adult".

The Wendy's Diet

I was watching TV the other day when I forgot to fast forward and accidentally watched a commercial. Maybe it's a good thing I did because I haven't been keeping up with world news and I hadn't yet heard that the burger on the 99 cent menu at Wendy's now has more beef! I observed the elated consumers in the ad and realized that they were all skinny and athletic, so I figure this means I can quit this crazy Weight Watchers stuff that is so regimented and go on a Wendy's diet. I'm sure this will work. There was plenty of proof in the commercial, and advertisers can't, by law, lie. Right? There were a lot of very happy young people sitting in the fast food haven itself and they were all attractive, thin and laughing.Then they showed me a kid doing tricks on his bike with his value meal in hand; I'm just in awe, that's talent. Then they flashed to three kids in soccer gear passing around the communal bag of food, which tells me their mom knows to feed her kids power food after the big game. Some white guy wearing a tie was also eating it, that's the clincher. White guys in ties always make smart choices.

I also can't ignore that I am now getting more bang for my buck. I saw something recently in another reputable ad for a diet plan with shakes that said if you eat too little you will gain weight. Apparently the scientists over at the Wendy's lab saw this and decided to take immediate action. Their concern for their customers is really impressive, they knew we needed more beef to fight obesity.

The only problem with this plan is that I saw another Wendy's commercial a few months back starring Wendy herself... and for some reason this diet plan wasn't working out for her. Poor Wendy.

(SEE AD BELOW)

Walmart

I have a serious problem with Walmart. I don't think my problem is similar to why many people really hate the chain, my issue is less with the giant corporation eating up tiny businesses (although that does upset me) and more with the people I am forced into contact with when I'm there. I avoid Walmart at all costs, but there are these awesome stain glass lightbulbs that I have only ever seen there so when one of them goes out in my apartment I have to brave the store. I should begin by saying that, in general I take issue with people who wear pajamas out in public. I don't care if you are just running to the store... the rest of us have to put on clothes and go out into society, so should you. Think of it as a jumping off point to being less lazy in general. Today you put on jeans to go outside. Tomorrow, a matching top (and by matching I do NOT mean a denim shirt, goodness). The day after that, a comb might even touch your hair.

I think it points to how lazy our society is becoming; can you even picture someone from the 1940's wearing pajamas in public? It would have been unheard of, but today when I show up with an actual coordinated outfit (::GASP::) I get treated like I'm making everyone else look bad. As though I wanted to outdo the other people shopping that day. Trust me when I say, all I want is to not see you in an oversized Tweety Bird shirt with plaid flannel bottoms and old crusty slippers. Also, you are at Walmart, where I know hair dye is disgustingly inexpensive... invest in yourself people. Splurge for the kind with the applicator if you are feeling really fancy.

Why do all of the people who assault me with their ugly end up at Walmart? When I go to Target I don't run into this problem. There might be a few, but a few I can handle. I have a built in ability to ignore up to 3 bad outfits at a time, any more than that and I'm forced to take notice. On the worst of all my trips to this mega-store I saw (all within about 10 minutes):

  • A large woman in a floral muumuu— Don't tell me that because of your weight there is nothing nice to wear. I know plenty of fabulous plus sized people who dress nicely, so unless you are willing to hunt down and get rid of all of them, I will continue to hold you to a standard. Don't they sell clothes at Walmart? Oh look, you are already there, that was easy!
  • A husband and wife with matching mullets, both wearing Harley Davidson t-shirts— I don't ride a Harley, but it seems to me like you could probably ride one and be cool without wearing a t-shirt to match. You don't see me riding around in my Jetta with a Volkswagon shirt on; being cool on a Harley is about more than just making every aspect of your life Harley Davidson themed. Also, let's not skip over the fact that I don't even know what hairdresser I could go to for that cut, but I'm even more amazed that you found one that would cater to men and women looking to rock the look.
  • A family of little people pushing themselves around with the whole family loaded up into the main part of their carriage. Don't get me wrong, this on it's own is nothing I would even really notice, but after the muumuu and the mullets, midgets just seemed like overkill. Note, I do not condone the use of the word midget, but for the sake of alliteration I caved.
I had to get out. I left Walmart that day without my bulbs.