Category Archives: Newness of Things

The Lamest Reason for Going Vegetarian

The more I cook for myself, the more I realize I’m going to be a vegetarian one day.

It’s not because I’m some sort of champion of animal rights–though I do love animals and would hate for them to befall any sort of cruelty.

It’s not because I feel like “animals are people too.”

It’s not because I have some sort of ethical opposition to killing things for food.

It’s not that I dislike the taste of cooked meat.

No, it’s raw meat I have issues with.

I hate looking at it, I hate smelling it, and most of all, I hate touching it.  Blegh.

I hate cooking because cooking generally means “cooking with meat.”  

Or, it used to.  Last weekend I made a vegetarian lasagna.  I was convinced it would be terrible–after all, the meat-eating populace would have you believe that all vegetarian food is sub-par to the meaty deliciousness of tradition.

I was pleasantly surprised when my zucchini and mushroom dish was every bit as good as traditional lasagna.  Even more so at the unabashed joy I felt while making it.  I’ve never been so happy cooking before.  And all this just because I didn’t have to handle raw beef.

So I’m pretty sure that I’m going to go (mostly) vegetarian the second I start living on my own.

But I’ll never be able to officially be in the club because my reason for joining up sucks.  I’m pretty sure hardcore vegetarians would think I was a poseur.

What an XBOX Taught Me About Life

I recently caved and bought an Xbox.  It was a glorious, very frustrating day of my life.  Glorious, because that was the day I purchased Skyrim.  Frustrating, because everything that could have gone wrong, did.

I’d been thinking about getting an Xbox for a while.  And by “a while” I  really mean over three years.  Ever since I played at a friend’s house, I knew that I wanted one.  But I never had the money and I always justified it, saying that I was “a Nintendo person” and that I didn’t need an Xbox because I had Zelda–what more could you possibly want?

Now that I have a steady job, I have more money floating around.  It’s weird because I can actually get some of the things that I want instead of just having what other people (aka: family) gave me.  I don’t have to wait for Christmas to get a new pair of shoes.  I can go buy them myself, right this second if I want to!

It’s kind of liberating, but also kind of terrifying.

I’ve started being really afraid of spending money because once it’s gone, there’s no getting it back–so if something bad happens that requires money to fix I’d be in serious trouble.  So I wasn’t going to spend any money at all when I took a friend to a nearby gamer-type store.

Nope.  No money at all–but then I was suddenly distracted by my 3-year-long unrealized wants.  I decided I was getting an Xbox.  Finally.

Against my better judgment, I went up to the counter and asked for the one I wanted.  I knew that as soon as the words were out of my mouth there was no going back.

I stood there patiently, waiting for the Xbox I knew would be mine soon.

Patiently….patiently……a little less patiently……

I stood there for over an hour while I waited for them to ring me up.   First bad thing that happened: check.

Enthusiasm slightly dampened (but not extinguished!), I carted the package of wonder to my humble abode, where I opened it gleefully to find….

Not what I ordered.  This is not what I ordered!  Did I make a mistake?  Did they make a mistake?  Someone definitely made a mistake.  This is not the newest model, I specifically wanted the newest model–surely this can’t be right.

So I took it back to the store.

They said it was fine.  That the box said it was the right product so it must be right.  That they had others in the back but they’d be just like the one I already had–would I like the special limited edition crackerjack-filled shiny $400 one coming out half a year from now?  It’s a special editionnnnnn.

Now, I was not familiar with this particular game store.  But I was familiar with another one just like it someplace else.  So I called them.  Turns out I was right.  I decided to turn in my new/old Xbox and go visit the other store to make things right.  The only thing was that I wouldn’t make it to the store before they closed for the night.  I would have to wait until the next day.

So I wound up sitting at home, Xbox-less, staring at a very expensive paperweight the game I had purchased that day.  I had been so excited, but I was so very sad at that moment.

The next day I got my Xbox, and I realized that the console was more dear to me because of the hardship I went through to get it.

What’s more, I knew that I really wanted it–this wasn’t a flighty desire that was going to fly out the window.  No, this had been thought about, dreamed about, and planned for.  And yes, maybe it is silly that I value a game console.  There are loads of other things I could have bought that are more useful.

But isn’t it worth something that the value of a thing increases based on the hardship that occurred while getting it?

We live in a society filled with technology.  Kids have iPads, iPhones, Xboxes, all the cool gadgets–and they’re getting them at younger and younger ages.   They will never treasure these things if they are just handed to them.

I don’t treasure the things that I’ve had given to me.  But I do treasure the things I’ve fought for, paid for with my own hard-earned money.   I often don’t realize how much I value these things because I invest so much time into them–it’s too broad of a scale for me to wrap my mind around it.

Itook an Xbox and a havoc-filled day to show me that the best things in life come with a truckload of difficulty attached.  I’m pretty sure this is my favorite life-lesson to date.  The reward’s pretty sweet–hours and hours of Skyrim.

Blogger’s note:  Thank you guys for putting up with me while I ran around doing stuff the past two Fridays.   I’m going to try a new strategy tomorrow in regards to blog posting, so maybe there won’t be any more mishaps.  At least in regard to my posting late because I have Friday plans.

A very special thank you to “Orangeantelope” for his help last week!  Mayo milkshakes will get their own special post next week. (If I set a deadline, I’m more likely to do it.  So a deadline has been set.)

Beach Day

Fourth of July in NC is rather unusual.

You see, it’s against state law to set off the really cool sky explosions unless you’ve got the proper permits.  All fireworks sold here are lame little things that stay firmly attached to the ground.  They are not very exciting, and have a very low chance of misfiring and causing harm to any nearby viewers.

If this was done to curb the enthusiastic redneck hicks from setting fire to their own appendages, then it failed spectacularly.  It is county tradition to make the forty minute drive to South Carolina and purchase the biggest, most NC-illegal fireworks the stores sell, smuggle them across the state line, then set them off in the backyard and pray that the cops choose not to care.

Because my family tends to be more law-abiding than most when it comes to fireworks–mostly due to Dad’s unwillingness to drive all the way to SC to illegally import banned goods–we get all the boring fireworks.  The only time we see good ones is if we travel to White Lake, where some organization has purchased the proper permits to create colorful explosions in the sky.

Other than firework shenanigans, our Fourth is pretty tame.  Usually.

But this Fourth of July, my family received a surprise invitation to visit a beach house off the coast of North Carolina.

We left the night before, there being enough spare bedrooms in the beach house to fit a small army within it’s walls.

I, saintlike, offered to drive the family’s dilapidated van to the beach house.  Everyone was grateful, until they realized that the only reason I’d offered was because I get carsick in the backseat.

We got there (the younger kids bickering to themselves the entire way, as was proper), and bee-lined for the beach even though it was nearly dark outside.

Except….there was no beach.

Sign, dune, ocean. No beach.

Sign, dune, ocean. No beach.

Even more disheartening was the scary black stick flotsam that slammed into my feet with every wave.   I kept imagining it was jellyfish strings, just waiting to sting me into oblivion.

Then, to make matters worse, I was attacked.  Attacked by a crab.  To be fair, I probably almost stepped on him because he came flying out of that sand like it was on fire.  Scared me to death.  I thought it was a frog at first, because we have lots of those at my house.  But nope.  A pale, beige crab.

Am Crab. Fear me!

He was afraid of me, being a giant and all, so he stood really still like I wouldn’t be able to see him. I saw him. And then gave him his own photoshoot.

It occurs to me that while I find spiders revolting, disgusting, and terrifying, I think crabs are completely adorable.  Let’s see–how many legs does the crab have? I’m counting eight.  Not counting the pincers, which totally don’t count because they’re not legs.  They’re battle claws.  Crabs are basically the spiders of the sea.   And I still think they’re cute.

After his photoshoot, the crab scuttled hastily off into the sea.  And I went inside.  Because I wasn’t going to stay out there in the dark with crabs exploding out of the sand.  I then proceeded to play online Halo with my cousins until two thirty in the morning and suffer a near-sleepless night of my kid sister (with whom I was sharing a bed) needing to  wake me up every so often to make sure I knew that she needed things. Like Tylenol.  And to let me know that the sun was up.  And that she thought she saw an ant on the covers.

I finally admitted defeat and got up and went downstairs to mingle with other early-ish risers who were chipper. They brightly asked me how my night was.

And then I wanted to roundhouse kick everyone and run screaming into the ocean.  But I didn’t.  I drank my coffee and suddenly the world was better.  And much less stabby.

Eventually, we all went out to the beach.  It had decided to become a proper beach while we slept, and there was a good hundred yards or so of gently sloping wet sand.  I was excited about it, decided that the beach wasn’t so bad after all, and immediately forgave it for disappointing me the night before.

I was so happy about the beach that I forgot to take any pictures of it.

Instead, I spent my day out in the waves, being buffeted by salt water and wind.  I also helped build a kick-ass sand castle.  My cousins are very enterprising.

I was so busy enjoying my day that I almost didn’t take any more pictures at all.  But when Chip showed up, I couldn’t help myself.

Chip is a very, very cute bird.

I named him Chip because that’s what his chirps sounded like. “Chip, chip!”

Chip was a tiny little songbird who couldn’t really fly in the strong ocean winds.  He tried his best, mind you, but he always kind of looked like he was just being blown about.  It was kind of sad to watch him try to fly.  We wondered how he got there, since he was so obviously unsuited to beach living.

We didn’t really get to wonder very long because Chip distracted us by being amazing.

He flew over and landed on my brother’s knee.  Like it was nothing.  “Oh, hello there, I’m just going to be a wild bird sitting on your knee.”  We marveled at this for a while.  I sat down.  Then he hopped over to my knee.  I fed him bits of crumbled cracker.

And then he flew up and landed in my hand.

I’m not kidding, guys.  In that moment, I was a fairy-tale princess, charming all the wildlife animals by my pure heart alone, singing soprano in the forest.

When I was a girl, I always wanted to have a wild bird land on my hand like they do in the movies.  I had long given that dream up, counting it as childhood foolishness and wishful thinking.  On July 4th, 2012, my childhood dream came true.

Of course I have pictures:

This happened. This REALLY happened.

That’s my hand. That’s a BIRD on my HAND.

Chip took turns chirping at each of us, and he sat in the hands of three other people.  He seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself.

He eventually flew out into the parking lot behind the house and into some guy’s van. I’m not sure what happened to him after that, but I’m pretty sure the guy wasn’t happy to have a bird in his van.  Maybe he would have felt differently if he knew that Chip was a magical bird out of a fairy-tale.

My family eventually dispersed back into the house for dinner, and we never saw Chip again during our time at the beach.

That night we watched all our beach neighbors shoot off their illegal fireworks from SC into the air before we left for home.  But even though the fireworks were nice, my favorite part of the trip will always be Chip, and his magical childhood-dream-fulfilling-abilities.

Someone’s a Special Snowflake.

I just checked my stats and some poor soul has been checking my blog nearly every day for the past week.  This is made worse by the fact that I haven’t posted in a very long time, so there was really no reason for them to check my blog every day in the first place except that maybe they really wanted something new to be there.

And now I feel horribly guilty because they probably thought I was murdered or institutionalized or forced into life as a hermit.

Okay, so maybe they didn’t think that.  But I still feel guilty.

I’ve been thinking about adopting a regular update schedule.  To cut down on my own self-imposed guilt at not posting regularly, and to also give people a reason to actually read my blog.  This whole haphazard posting style is probably not very conductive to gaining and maintaining an audience.

So what I’m going to do is start trying my best to get a post out on Fridays.

Eventually there may be a theme to my posts (I’ve also been thinking about starting a weekly “Hatefully Addicted” column), but for right now I’m just going to focus on a simple deadline, once a week.

If I miss a week, I’ll let you guys pick a punishment for me (kind of like what the vlogbrothers do), and I’ll take pictures of me doing whatever it is you’ve made me do.  Just be reasonable, please.  Don’t ask me to fly to the rainforest and cuddle with snakes, go on fear factor, or drink bleach.  Please.  I don’t care how well that anaconda can cuddle.  I’m not ready to die.

I’m pretty sure this post doesn’t have a topic.

I was going to post some long winded explanation of where I’ve been these past weeks, but then I realized that it really doesn’t matter where I’ve been because nobody has really missed me.

I’m not saying that to be self-pitying or anything.   I just don’t have enough of a following to be missed.  It’s all good guys.  Because  I’m totally okay with only having two followers.  And I will never really abandon you.  Promise.

I have been working on my New Year’s Resolution, though.  You know, the one about reading 25 new books?  It will probably go down in history as the only resolution I could ever keep.  I think I’m going to make this resolution every year, because it exposes me to so much stuff.  I’m serious, guys.  I’m reading authors I never knew existed and loving every second of it.  I may even pick up a horror novel this year and then take up insomnia as a hobby because I’ll be too afraid of my own shadow to ever sleep again.

See?  Best resolution ever.

Right now  I’m halfway through Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, an autobiography of sorts.  STOP.  STOP IT RIGHT NOW.   I know I said “autobiography.”  But that doesn’t mean you get to tune out.  Listen, I hate autobiographies.  With a passion.  But this one is different.

This one is written by the same wonderfully broken person who writes The Bloggess, a ridiculously popular blog.  Go ahead.  Click the link.  Sample her work.

Now tell me: Does she seem like a boring person to you?

While reading her book, I have laughed so hard I cried.  Twice.  And I’m only halfway though.

I’ve been telling everyone about the book.  Everyone.  Except for people who are sensitive about cursing (Jenny is a very colorful individual).  I don’t tell them anything because I’m afraid they’ll go out and read the book and then judge me for liking it so much.

This morning I was telling my co-worker/supervisor all about it, and I lost her at the dreaded b-word.  You know, that same word that made you tune out a few seconds ago.  I probably don’t even have your attention now.  But that’s fine, because it just means that you don’t deserve to read such an awesome book.

Anyway, I was telling her about the book and she completely lost focus.  She couldn’t understand why I was so excited about reading a biography.  She asked why she should care about someone else’s life.   I faltered, my smile fading.  In a small voice I said, “but, it’s funny.  She’s a satire writer.  She makes fun of her own life to make people smile.”

I got a blank stare in return.

And that’s when I realized.  My co-worker wasn’t in the club.  She couldn’t possibly understand why I was so excited about this, because she had never been a misfit.

Misfits are a special type of people who are slightly different from the rest of society.  We don’t fit in well, because we think outside of the box–and sometimes we like some really strange things, or have really bizarre life circumstances.  Jenny Lawson has given us an excuse to come together to form some sort of tribe–centered on her knack for getting in hilarious situations.

My favorite writers and storytellers are all people who, after having been lonely for years, find themselves suddenly surrounded by people who celebrate all the differences that distanced others.

The reason that I love their work so much is because it gives me so much hope that humanity can be made of awesomesauce.   It also gives me hope for myself. Hope that one day, I’ll get to do something I love while being surrounded by people who love me.

How I Inadvertently Gained Job Experience

I’m gaining job experience as we speak.  This is ridiculously wonderful.

I found out today that many publishing companies and other literary places like that consider blogging to be a form of job experience.  My world has been rocked.

This means I have years of experience.  Sure, most of it is crap, and it’s spread out over a few blogs, but still!  There has to be some gems in here somewhere.  Maybe not diamonds, though.  Something cheap, but still sparkly enough to attract some sort of attention.  Maybe agates or quartz or something.  Cubic Zirconium.

Anyway, I’m seriously considering applying for some stay-at-home writing or copy-editing jobs.  It would be part-time, something easily doable in tandem with my full time gig.  And it would be in my major to boot.

I mean…I love my job, but I don’t want to be a secretary forever.

I’m just really excited that something I’ve already been doing counts in “the real world.”  Here I was thinking I was just goofing off on the internet and I’ve actually been somewhat productive.

Now if only I can get my novel-reading hobby to count as experience, I’ll be set.  “Applicants must have read over two hundred books in their lifetimes.”

Somehow, I don’t think they’ll go for that.

And Then I Was Lucky to be Alive

I’ve been trying to write this post for over two months now.  But every time I try, I just…stop writing.  So this is what post traumatic stress is.  Huh.

I’m going to try again.  Deep breath.  Here we go.

In a previous post, I mentioned that March was a rough month for me.  But it didn’t start out that way.

I had been working my new job for about a month, and it was going well.  So well, in fact, that I had decided to adopt a puppy like I had wanted to do for years and years.  I had gone to the shelter on a Friday and picked out a completely adorable pup and was told I could pick him up in a week.

I spent the first half of that week fretting over my new puppy, wondering if he was scared in the shelter, frustrated that I couldn’t just go get him right then.

The following Tuesday I was coming home from work, just like always.  I had my iPod playing over my stereo.  “Call on Me” by Eric Prydz.  (If you’re going to google that song, don’t look at the music video.  Trust me.  It’s not something you want to see unless you’re a hormone-riddled teenage boy.)

I have a habit when I drive.  I tend to drift close to the white line when a car goes by me in the opposite direction.  I live in the country, and our roads are tiny.  There’s not much room, and if I had a dollar for every car that’s passed me with a tire across the center line I’d be a rich woman.  I took physics in high school.  We learned about the laws of motion.  That, coupled with photos of head-on collisions, makes me understandably nervous about incoming cars.

So I was driving along, listening to my music, when a car went by.  I drifted close to the white line, like usual.  Unlike usual, that section of road had no extra asphalt stretching past the white line.  So when I hugged the line, my right tires fell of the road entirely and onto the shoulder.

Going off the road isn’t that big of a deal, usually.  You slow down, you edge back onto the road as gently as possible, no harm no foul.

Except there were mailboxes a few yards ahead.

If I could have a do-over, I’d just breeze by the mailboxes.  There was probably enough room for my car to squeeze by with it’s tires on the shoulder. But I, in the panicked state you get when you’re doing something slightly dangerous, decided that, even though I’d only been coasting and slowing down for a few feet, I had to get back on the road right then.

Which, once again, usually isn’t a problem.  I was only going about forty-five miles an hour.  I’ve successfully gotten back on the road at that speed before. But, unfortunately, the shoulder was a few inches lower than the road.  Four inches, to be more precise.  The state had dug out the weeds encroaching upon the asphalt a couple of years prior, and the road had never leveled out like it was supposed to.

So when I went to move back onto the road, my car did a little hop as the tires hit the “curb” of the road.   I think the hop jarred my hands or something, because the next thing I knew I was in the other lane, headed for the other shoulder.

They say that it’s important not to panic in these situations, that over-correction causes accidents.  I panicked.  I couldn’t help it.  This sort of thing doesn’t happen to me.  I’m a good driver.  I only speed five miles above the speed limit.  I stop at stop signs.  I drive carefully.

So when everything went to hell, I over-corrected.  I was afraid I’d hit a car head-on if I stayed in the wrong lane. I twisted the steering wheel, trying to maneuver my unruly car back into the right lane.  So then, naturally, I was fish-tailing.  Once you start fish-tailing, it’s really hard to regain control of your vehicle.  Ask me how I know.

After weaving around the road a bit, I saw the right-side shoulder out of the corner of my eye.  I decided that it would be best if I got off the road, especially since there was a nice big yard for me to roll into.  The idea was that I could sort of coast or fish-tail to a stop in the yard.  That the shoulder and yard would save me.  So I let the car go off the road–it was headed that direction anyway.

That’s when I learned that the shoulder is not your friend, ever.

Not a foot into the shoulder, my front right tire dug into the ground sufficiently enough to flip my car.

...this is sad.

See? Not your friend.

It felt like a roller coaster loop.  Except instead of being thrilled, I was terrified.  It’s strange how similar those two emotions are.  My car came to a stop on its roof.  I only flipped once, since I wasn’t going very fast.  I wound up hanging from my seat belt, feet dangling towards my shattered windshield.

My first thought was that the seat belt hurt, and I reached up to unbuckle it.  Up, because the floor had suddenly switched places with the roof.  When I finally found the buckle and pressed it, I flipped in mid-air over my seat belt, landing on my knees.  Remember the shattered windshield floor?  Yeah, that was still there.  I missed it by a quarter of an inch.  My right knee hit the plastic separating the windshield and the door window.  My left knee hit the driver’s side armrest.

My next thought was that I had to turn off the car, because it was bound to explode.  That’s what my panicked self thought happened after a wreck.  That’s what always happens in movies.  So I frantically fumbled for the keys, found them, and turned the car off.  But I wasn’t able to get the keys out, and I couldn’t figure out why. (Until later, when I realized the car was still in drive while it was upside down.)

Then I decided I needed to get out of the car, but the door wouldn’t open.  But I found that if I butt-bumped the door, it would inch open a bit.  So I rammed the door a few times until I could crawl carefully out of my car.  Then I sat in the dirt and trembled for a few seconds before a good Samaritan nurse lady came and got me.

When you’ve just been in an accident, people don’t arrive.  They appear out of thin air like guardian angels.  I swear, I blinked and five people were there.  The nurse-lady was the first on the scene, wearing lime green scrubs, a phone to her ear (911), asking me if I was okay.  The second was a stocky African-American man, head shaved bald, a concerned expression and a hand out to help me to my feet.  He half carried me to the third arrival–a short blond lady with a golf cart whose yard I had just wrecked into.  She let me sit in her golf cart and mumble half-formed thoughts and words until medical personnel arrived.

There were others, but I don’t remember their faces.  I had my spot on the golf cart, I wasn’t in pain (yet), and I was pretty much set.  My only requests were for my bag (which was laying on the roof towards the back of the car), and for someone to call my mom.  (This is a really big ouchie, mom.  I don’t think a band-aid will cover it this time.)

Everything became a blur of faces and the repeated question of if I was okay.  Nobody believed me when I said I was fine, that I didn’t think  I was hurt that badly.  The fire trucks showed up first, then the ambulance.  I let the EMTs check me out, and they took me into the back of the ambulance.  It could have also doubled as a freezer, it was so cold back there.  I tried not to think about how many people had died where I was sitting.

Right about then is when my dad showed up.  Mom had called him, and he’d booked it to get there.  I’d been doing pretty well emotionally.  Holding in the flood of fear and tears.   Staying calm and stable.  When Dad showed up, my fragile control withered.  Suddenly I was crying and clutching my father’s hand, choking through the questions the EMT’s were asking me to make sure I wasn’t messed up in the head from the crash.

When we got out of the ambulance (no, I don’t want to go to the hospital, I feel fine, I swear), mom was there.  More crying and hugging ensued.

The good Samaritan strangers had left one by one, with my thanks.  The fire trucks and the ambulance had gone.  The cops showed up and did something with a wheel on a stick, then decided not to write me a ticket.  (Thank you, officers.) One of the officers stayed with us while we waited for the tow truck. Everyone we knew that worked in Lumberton stopped at the wreck and talked to us.  It got to where I was embarrassed, frustrated, achy (Hello, pain! There you are.  I wish you’d just stayed away. Where’s the pain meds?), slightly depressed,  and wanted the whole thing to just be over already.

Finally, the tow truck showed up.  They loaded my broken, battered car onto the truck and hauled it home.  We’d been home all of thirty seconds when my pastor showed up.  Apparently I’d been big news around the county that day.  Nothing travels faster than Southern small-town gossip.  My pastor was very supportive, told me how fortunate we were, that cars were replaceable.  He said all the right things, gave us hugs, then left us to deal with the situation.

As for me?  I called work, got the next day off, and slept for sixteen hours.

We did go and get the puppy later that week.  And I did manage to buy myself a new car.  Sort of.  I’ll be paying it off for the next five years.  That debt will go well with my student loan debt.

Car!

At least the new car is pretty. Runs good too. Vroom vroom!