Tuesday, December 31, 2013

All I Wanted For Christmas Did Not Include A Food Allergy

Gluten Free Bread Basket?
           Food allergies are becoming more and more common. Mostly, people seem to have gluten and nut allergies. Of course, it’s the allergic person’s responsibility to make sure they don’t eat anything that might send them to the hospital, but for the most part these affected people can go to a restaurant, ask for a gluten-free menu, and everyone calls it a day. Occasionally it is not so simple.
            I have developed a late in life allergy to nightshade vegetables. What I thought was a minor tomato allergy – some blisters on my face the next day if I had some pizza, has become a full on expunge that shit back up from whence it came and out of my body emergency situation. I was lucky enough to discover this on Christmas Eve when I thought to myself, “No one’s going to see me for a few days. If I’m going to go ahead and have A meatball (Meatballs are Christmas Eve fare every year. I look forward to them more than putting up Christmas lights), I might as well have 5 meatballs in sauce and 2 or 3 pieces of lasagna.” I had so missed lasagna. Those thoughts I had to myself were the wrong choice.
            On its own, a no-tomato policy wouldn’t be too alarming to a server at a restaurant. Combining it with some others could lead to a bit of exasperation. I went for dinner the other night with my closest friends B, D, and D’s fiancée. The waitress came to the table and she was asked for a gluten-free menu and a vegetarian menu – no problem! When she returned she asked if there were any allergies at the table. Oh boy. Queue D, “I am allergic to gluten, dairy, and soy.” The waitress’s face drooped a bit with concern. That’s a lot of allergies. She then looked to B, who had the vegetarian menu, and was informed of B’s milk allergy. Whoa Nelly. She looked at me and hey now, “I can’t have tomatoes, peppers, or paprika.” We all chimed in to ease her pain, “Don’t worry though! None of us will die or anything. No anaphylactic shock or anything. We’ll just get really sick.” I’m sure she was thinking the sentiment that we shared when she walked away, “Oooh she drew the short straw tonight!” Fiancée has no sympathy, “Whatever, it’s her job. We’re paying her. She can deal.”
            “Can I bring you some bread?”
            “Well, I can eat bread. And fiancée can eat bread.”
            “We have gluten free bread! I can bring that too.”
            Regular bread arrived, I was going to eat it. I love bread. I think if I had a gluten allergy, I might just suffer. It came with some pesto. Again, no problems for me or fiancée! B looks at the bread – “Is that cheese on the top?”
            “Um, yes. Definitely cheese.” B is disappointed that she will be waiting for the gluten free bread. B does NOT like eating gluten free ANYTHING. 
The gluten free bread showed up on the table and didn’t look so bad. It did
have some sort of flavoring on the top though, oil or butter? We weren’t sure. “Waitress, waitress! Does this have butter on it?” Fiancée tasted it and assured that there was no butter on it, but we needed to be sure.
            “Uh, I don’t know. I’ll go find out.” She returned shortly after to let us know that the bread was basically hypoallergenic. B was dipping her bread in the pesto and was quickly interrupted. “Don’t eat that though!!! There’s cheese in it!”
            The questions about the menu began. “Can we eat the fried calamari? It’s on your gluten free menu.”
            “All of our fried things are fried in soybean oil.”
            “Oh. Okay. So I guess I can’t eat any of the fried things.” Poor D.
            B has the vegetarian menu, but still can’t eat any of it. “Sooooo, I don’t eat fish, pork, or red meat. I would normally get something on the vegetarian menu, but everything on it has cheese in it. And I can’t eat cheese.” Exasperation had set in at this point. The waitress disappeared and sent back her manager. The poor dear. We were really making it hard on her. The manager was great. We eventually were able to all find things to eat and as far as everyone was concerned, all problems had been solved.

            Now, fiancée, while having no food allergies, is diabetic. D is used to this. B is a nurse, so she is not phased by any medical procedures. And I get B12 shots once a month, so I’m not bothered by people with needles either. So, when fiancée takes out his insulin to dose himself before the meal, it wasn’t a big deal. Our poor exasperated waitress, however, was bringing us a second round of drinks and happened to get to the table while fiancée was sitting there with a needle sticking out of his arm and alcohol wipes on the table. I don’t think she’s going to forget us. For a very long time.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

It's Fashion Friday!: I'm Losing This War And It's Just Not Right.

            Why, why, why? Kick me while I’m down, why don’t you? Why is the world doing this to me? Have you seen the commercials on TV for the “slim+tone legging?”

1.      How are these any different than tights?
2.     Why couldn’t you call them tights so that there was no risk of people like me having to see these substituted for pants?
3.     If your ass is that freakin’ lumpy, you shouldn’t be wearing bottoms that tight. Go ahead. Call me an asshole. At least I practice what I preach – you won’t see ME walking around in public without pants on, no matter how many (and it's a lot!) squats and lunges I do at the gym. (Well, unless I’m at a swimming pool… but come on now).

On that note, I’m going to go pretzel myself in a 95-degree room, and hopefully sweat out the memory of this whole nightmare.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It Might Still Be Dark Out, But It Won't Last. Merry Christmas.

There's a reason I light everything up
this time of year….
Christmas is almost here and I still have not seen two of my favorite Christmas movies on TV – Elf and Holiday In Handcuffs. This is not to say these are my only favorites. I also love National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, White Christmas, and who can forget The Night They Saved Christmas with Charlie’s Angel Jaclyn Smith? I did yesterday, however, watch The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari – the original 1919 German silent horror film. It was pretty weird and awesome. I’m just not feeling super Christmasy. Today I found myself wanting to listen to Mos Def’s The New Danger (specifically the track where he’s yelling “F@#$ you- Pay me!”). Sadly, I do not have that album on my phone.
            The barrage of emails from every retailer on earth has been pretty irritating. “Buy this.” “Get this.” “Perfect gift!” “We’ll even give you free overnight shipping.” “Oh it’s too late to ship? Buy a gift card!!!!!” How about no? Nothing about what they’re trying to sell me sounds joy inducing, not to mention my delete finger is getting tired and I’m starting to want to throw the computer out the window. I only bought presents for the wee folk in my life – ages almost-2, 5, and 7. I get to watch the older girls open their presents; it's sure to be a delight. Cora (5) is QUITE opinionated, so it’s possible that she may not like her present. And if she doesn’t, she WILL tell me, and probably what she would like instead. And that would also make me smile, because she’s just a treasure and a serious giggler. I think I know my little girlfriends pretty well though, so we’ll be all set.
            The holidays are a difficult time of year for a lot of us for a variety of reasons. There’s so much shit and baggage we’ve accumulated. People stop being nice. It becomes all about getting stuff, when we should probably just be chucking stuff. It’s hard to not get sucked down the pit of gloom. I find Facebook to be a potential pit of gloom and mass complaint, whining, outdoing, or just plain old narcissism. So, I deactivated my account. Tomorrow, I’m going to go skating at lunchtime. Not much quiets my mind like that amazing slicing sound of the blades hitting the surface and gliding through. It helps me find a center of contentment.
            If you are finding yourself, like me, a little less than joyous, I encourage you to do something that takes your mind off of the crap. And if you are too far gone to be able to think of that something (I sometimes forget about the ice rink, so I get it), then perhaps turn your thoughts to the wee ones. The ones who haven’t accumulated the baggage yet or who may have had tough things happen in their lives, but still know that there are things they can do that are fun and might make them laugh. Envisioning the sheer joy and love my little friends so often show me does wonders to remind me that there is still lightness in the world. And if not my little friends, then my dog, who plays fetch with himself. And, I'm not going to lie - sometimes (okay, a lot of times) crass things also make me laugh (see THE GROWN-ASS WOMAN’S GUIDE TO: WHEN IT’S TIME TO SWITCH TO WATER, which also conveniently serves as my gentle nudge to you that getting wasted will not make you feel better in the long run).

            Wishing you peace and light this Christmas week and into the New Year. And when all hope is lost, just remember that the sunlight is coming back. It shines brightly every day no matter what, no matter what anyone says, just because. We can do it too.               

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How Much Would You Pay To Learn to Doodle?

           Last week was a terrible week. It was the kind of week that leaves a grown person (me) wanting someone to put a box of crayons and a coloring book (No Disney princesses please) in front of me. And even after that the person might find themselves having the kind of meltdown that lends itself to speaking in escalating volume, “Will someone just bring me a F#@$ing JUICEBOX?!”, alas, no one brought me a juice box. I did, however, go to Barnes & Noble looking for a coloring book. A grown-up kind of coloring book – kind of like the Biology Coloring Book where you get to color in mitochondria and lysosomes. (All right I’m a big weirdo. You KNOW that already). I found nothing amidst all of the “Buy me as a Christmas present,” crap books the booksellers are pushing this time of year.
            The reason I thought I might find a good coloring book without having to search too much was that I remembered seeing a book several months ago that was literally (note correct use of the word literally), a doodling book. And as I thought more about that book while searching for the coloring book in the middle of trying to turn the meltdown back into something solid, I became more and more irritated by the idea that SOMEONE had COPYRIGHTED DOODLING. This isn’t new. There are lots of books out there called Doodle books. And people are regularly trying to copyright things that are neither new nor their own. These Doodle books are not the problem. It’s all out there in the open in a book called Doodle Book or Scribble Book. The particular book that got under my skin is called “The Art of Zentangle.
            According to the description on Amazon:
            “Zentangle® is a meditative process of creating art, wherein simple shapes and lines combine to make a complicated and interesting final piece of artwork. The focus of Zentangle is on the process of creation, rather than the end result. The beauty of Zentangle is that there is no right way or wrong way. If you can draw a line and a circle (perfectly or not), you can Zentangle. Zentangle is an art concept that is engaging, approachable, and fun enough for someone who has never picked up any art tools or created a piece of art, yet is still meditative, productive, and creative enough for an advanced artist to enjoy...”

            I’m sorry. They (Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, supposed “creators”) just took “doodling,” and trademarked it with a name that sounds hip and revolutionary because it has referenced “Zen.” Since “zendoodling” would be too obvious, they changed “doodle” to “tangle” to make it seem like they had created something different. How stupid do they think people are? Clearly, very stupid. There are many “Zentangle” books. You can become a “certified Zentangle teacher.”
            Have people lost SO much of their innate creativity that they need books and teachers to tell them how to take a pen and swirl it around on a piece of paper? Hell, I do that when I’m on the phone with people I don’t want to talk to (doctors’ offices, phone companies, etc.. not friends). Kids used to do this all over their notebooks when they were not paying attention in their classes.  
A few disclaimers about the seminar...
         On the Zentangle website they actually compare learning Zentangle to learning yoga. As someone who practices Ashtanga yoga, I scoff at this comparison. Comparing a lifestyle change with doodling? Come on! Okay, the big question – HOW MUCH does it cost to become one of these “CZT’s” (that’s Certified Zentangle Teacher for us plebes)? Are you ready for this? REALLY ready? Without lodging (it’s a four day seminar at a hotel) it will cost $1495. !!!!!!!!!!! They have a Youtube channel. I refuse to watch any of their videos. It’s just crap. So, there you have it. For almost $1500 you can learn to teach people how to doodle. But more importantly, you’re learning a practice – like yoga,
“We view the Zentangle Method and art form as a lifeskill practice. That is why we recommend attending workshops with a CZT on an ongoing basis.”  So, you had better be ready to keep shelling out the money. God forbid you forget how to squiggle a line on an envelope.


Friday, December 6, 2013

It's Fashion Friday!: Fendi Buggies and Prada Racing

           I know Fendi had some really horrible contributions to my compilation of precious pelts wasted in grotesque garments. And I must qualify what is about to come with the statement that I still think these things are ridiculous. HOWEVER, what is better than a fashion house that doesn’t take itself seriously? Well, honestly, a lot of things. Regardless of that, I enjoy films. I really enjoy short films. I extra really enjoy short silly films made by high-end fashion designers just for the hell of it. Fendi has made a fantastic little film to advertise their new “Buggie” collection.

            The whole collection is about whimsy. It’s mostly little fur handbag charms in made to look like little monsters. They all have names, of course. I like Lucifur - I think he looks like a squirrel. There are a couple of wallets and handbags with rage-filled owl like glances. And it wouldn’t be complete without one of their iconic Peekaboo bags, my favorite piece, with a monster’s face on the inside. The whole lot of accessories is excessive, garish, and fantastic. I’m a little bit late to the party in my post (this holiday capsule collection was released in November), out of pure laziness. Sorry! I don’t even want to know how expensive all of these pieces are. I can’t afford them. Most of you probably can’t afford them. So what does it matter?  
           While we're at it with the weird Italian fashion short films, Prada had another one made: Castello Cavalcanti. This is a Wes Anderson/Jason Schwartzman collaboration. And it's just odd. JUST ODD. Apparently it was inspired by a scene in Amarcord. If you are unfamiliar with that gem, it is a fantastic Fellini film that every film enthusiast should enjoy.