Can someone please tell me when it's ok to eat spinach again? Since this whole E. coli thing started, I've wanted nothing more to sautee a whole mess of spinach in some garlic and olive oil and chow down. Just like everything else in life, tell me I can't have it, and I want it. (Have you met my inner arbiter1? She's six, and very, very, very stubborn.)
And yes, I know, cooking the spinach is supposed to stave off the problem, but I prefer my produce to be non-threatening in both its raw and cooked forms. I'm odd that way.
Well, lots of ways.
Links. And let's all be glad for the weekend:
- Funny Farm: It seems to be some crazy, word-association style puzzle game. I'm about half-way through. The answer eludes me. (Stupid eluding answer. I knew I should have learned to plow!) - [DY]
- When She Passes Each One She Passes Goes "Ahhh": In fact, they go "ahhh" 46 times. Man, I love this song. I can't explain why. - [MF]
- Dude. Trip - E: Fantasy Girl. Actually, I feel that way when my alarm goes off in the morning, sometimes. - [BT]
- All Sorts of Good Comic Stuff: Pirate juice from Bunny, Marmaduke Made Funny? (is that possible?) -[BB], and Cat and Girl uses stuff, after making my week with a sandwich villanelle.
- Drat: My fear that I am not white and nerdy enough has been justified: -(MF)
How White and Nerdy Are You?
- The Bad: I downloaded the latest version of iTunes, and now my tracks all sound like they're having stuttering problems. Apparently, I'm not the only user suffering from this extraordinarily frustrating issue, but it doesn't make me any happier about it. If anyone knows of a fix, or a setting I can change to allieviate this, I'd appreciate it. Sarcasmo sans tunes is a very sad Sarcasmo indeed. Grrr.
- The Good: Thank goodness Aaron Sorkin has returned to television.
- The Awesome: Creator of MacGyver challenges you to create a solution to a MacGyver-like scenario. Although surely if the prize is a measly sweatshirt, it should be a Phoenix Foundation sweatshirt, rather than a Make sweatshirt.
- Monday Morning Quiz: Much like Weird Al's new video, this week's quiz makes me feel like I'm not quite geeky enough.
- True It May Seem Like a Stretch: Ben Folds covers Such Great Heights with unusual percussion instruments. It's a kooky and fun rendition, but I still prefer the cover Iron and Wine did that appeared on the Garden State soundtrack.-[K]
- Stuff You've Probably Seen Already, But Which is Still Awesome-tastic: The 10 Most Influential Online Flash Shorts. (But where's All Your Base?) -[PCLLD]
- Is Latin The Zombie of All Languages?: The EU is talking about brining it back from the dead. [M] And in case they do, here's the first thing people learn in any language - how to swear with it. [k]
- One, Two, The Real Estate Tax Collector is Coming for You: Realtor.com is listing the house from Nightmare on Elm Street. My favorite part is that they use the phrase "With some work this could be your Family Dream Home," without any irony whatsoever. What they fail to mention, however, is whether or not the house is across the street from a cute guy who looks like Johnny Depp. (Don't they know location is everything?) -[FG]
Lastly, don't forget: it's Banned Book Week. So go get some dangerous ideas from books.
Well, although I tripped and twisted my ankle on my way to my lesson I survived both my lesson and the "party," and no one was seriously injured due to my "dancing." Mind you, I did almost take out one of the instructors - a former champanion skate dancer - when my feet slid out from under me because my shoes are a little big (and I'm uncoordinated) - but hey - one of the other instructors also told me that I have "good rhythm," so at least I have that.
And sore feet. But, a couple of times, I was actually dancing and not just trying to dance, and that was pretty cool too.
- My Favorite Figure in American History: Finally has a blog. And about time too. All Hail Emperor Norton. - [CT]
- Like Rock's Up Sisyphus's Mountain, So Are the Days of Our Lives: How much do I want this watch? The answer is "a lot." - [C]
- This Viral Means Halloween is Soon, Hooray!: Find the horror movie titles hidden in this M&M painting. Technically speaking, I wouldn't clasify all the films I've found so far (I'm at 34 now, in about 18 minutes - thankfully you can save the game and come back to it at will without losing your progress), but the artwork is gorgeous and many of the titles are quite clever. -[TMiNETV]
- Hooray for Smutty Double Entendre: Rowan Atkinson says many dirty things, which you should not listen to at work without headphones.
- Do I Need Calling Cards? No? How About Photo Calling Cards?: I have business cards for my real job. (and which I never give out anyway)but, I've always wanted ones for my real life as well - one's that said "Sarcasmo: Gadabout and Gal About Town" or "Sarcasmo: Reader, Writer, Can't Stand 'rithmatic" or something along those lines...but then it occured that just by having calling cards to hand out, I would be saying something along the lines of "Sarcasmo: A Prentious Ass," so I shelved the idea. But now there are these really cute and inexpensive cards from Moo, which utilize photos from your Flickr stream to create personalized mini-cards, and the need to have them is rearing it's head again. But how would I pick the pictures? (Or should I just get them all with this comic book picture of me, which I made through the magic of photo editing filters and a monochormatic Halloween costume? Because I really am rather fond of this picture.) -[PB]
Tripping Over the Lights Is Fantastic (Or: This Post Has Lots of Footnotes, Which is Not Only Irritating, But Thematically Appropriate)
Before you read this post, I would like you to do me a favor and put your coffee, soda, water, or any other beverage you may currently be consuming, as I don't want to be responsible for any damage to your monitor that might result from you doing a spit take when you read the following sentence:
I've been taking ballroom dance lessons1.
My decision to take the lessons was both quite sudden, and a very long time coming. I love dancing2, and I've secretly wanted to learn to waltz for ages (decades even) - but it had never seen an practicality in it, since, barring my own coronation3, the likelihood of my going to a ball at which waltzing would be appropriate is slim to none. And, there is also the issue of my being a stalwart tomboy who only gives up her blue jeans, bare feet and/or sneakers under duress, and who is about as graceful as a hippopotamus on rollerskates.4 And then one night, while watching an episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, watching a couple take dancing lessons and thinking about how I have friends who go swing dancing and salsa dancing and how it would be nice to have a hobby that didn't involve my sitting on my backside, I decide to investigate dance lessons.
I did briefly considered Pole Dancing, which is taught by a local studio (and which is said to be a good work out), but after reading that platform shoes with 5 inch heels were involved (ha ha ha ha ha ha - yeah, right), I instead signed myself up for a "Free Evaluation6" at a local dance school.
Oh, sorry, Academy.
When I went in to fill out the questionnaire before my eval, I was struck the almost Stepford-like friendliness of the institution. All the instructors take the time to introduce themselves to all the students, and then all of the students to one another. The receptionist takes great care to seem happy to see everyone who comes in the door. There is easy familiarity, and friendly banter all around. This not only creates a relaxed, friendly, safe atmosphere where one can feel comfortable to make mistakes, but, I'm sure, also allows the teachers to mock us by name when they lock the doors at night7.
school Academy tailors its program to the individual; it's one of those places that will teach you a specific dance for your wedding, or just how to do the Merengue, or will train you up for competition if you have a yen for wearing frilly outfits on stage; all depending on your goals. My only specific goal was to "learn how to dance." So, when I got to the section where I needed to indicate the dances I wanted to learn, I just checked off all the boxes. Well, except for one.
When the receptionist handed my form to the instructor, she said, "Sarcasmo wants to learn everything except the Fox Trot."
"It's not that I don't want to learn the Fox Trot," I clarified, "it's just that I have no idea what it is. Really, I might as well learn everything, since I know how to do nothing."8
Little did I know that the mysterious Fox Trot would be my undoing.
The evaluation went much as I expected - I scored fairly poorly at everything, except "Rhythm" - which apparently meant that when I did misstep, I was able to recovery quickly10. Still, I enjoyed it enough that, once I recovered from my mini-stroke at the tuition, I committed myself to ten private sessions11 Really, I had more or less decided I was going to sign up before I got there,12,but the fact that the instructor warned me that he has a tendency to sing along with the music made me pretty confident that we would get along just fine. My plan was that after the ten initial sessions, I would likely stop formal training, and instead resort to going to clubs around town that had Salsa and Merengue and Tango nights, and would further refine my new found knowledge there13.
And then, during our second session, my instructor told me, "Tonight, we're going to learn the Fox Trot." to which I responded, "I still don't know what that is."
And then he showed me. And I kid you not, I fell in love.
I can't explain what it is about the Fox Trot that captured me the way it did. Maybe it's because it's a grand dance that sweeps from one end of the room to the other (not to mention a particularly snooty dance, insomuch as the partners look away from one another), that while I was doing it, I could imagine a room full of excellently appointed people moving in time, and for those two plus minutes I felt elegant (despite the fact that I was anything but). All I know was when the music stopped, I had the sinking realization I was going to stick with the lessons past the initial ten sessions.
The fact that I discovered a quick step Fox Trot called Red Hot Mamma in my iTunes library that made me feel like I was dancing14 with Bertie Wooster when I tried it at home after class, or that it's the appropriate dance for the Sinatra, Bobby Darin and Vic Damone 16just drove the point home all the more17.
Now, I'll be honest with you, I wasn't planning on blogging about my dance classes mostly because I'm still in the throes of it being very new and exciting, and new things I'm excited about tend to make me babble incoherently19, and I know that no one really cares if I can dance unless something dreadfully embarrassing (and ergo, tremendously amusing20) should happen to me as a result. So why blog about it now? Well, I'm in a bit of a state because I'm convinced that something tremendously embarrassing (and potentially life threatening) is going to happen as a result of this hobby...tonight.
See, it breaks down like this. At lesson three, my instructor and I talked about my goals 21, and I more or less
condemned informally committed myself to taking two more years of lessons. It was also at this point that I confessed to really enjoying the Fox Trot, a fact find unfortunate, because outside of my lessons, I don't forsee having a chance to do it unless I start picking up men at the local senior centers.
Which is when my instructor said that this was the week for me to start coming to the school's parties. The so-called "parties," (aside from being a way for the school to squeeze an additional $10 a week from the students), is an event which takes place in the lounge23 wherein students are encouraged to gather and practice their dances...with people other than their instructor.
I am in no way prepared for dancing with other people. I mean, I realize I can't dance with my instructor indefinitely, but this bird is still clinging desperately to the nest. When I dance at home (please see previous note about practicing), I dance the hell out of steps. I move to the Rhythm dances with great flair24, and my waltz is full of a dream-like elegance, complete with dramatic rise and fall. What my instructor fails to understand, however, is that I have lived my entire life under a curse: when other people are about, my right foot is magically transformed into a secondary left foot, which is why I spend my lessons going: "Damn. Sorry. Sorry. Oh...sorry. " and hearing "Good recovery." However, I'm paying my (poor, poor) instructor to be good natured about it when I step on his toes or make some other faux pas 25 during the lesson26 - but these other students have no such financial factor to stop them being offended.27 At the last lesson, my instructor attempted to impart unto me a modified "for Dummies" style Salsa turn, and I can't even do that without falling over. And they're going to loose me onto a crowd of coordinated people? It just doesn't seem right. In fact, it seems downright irresponsible.
If I had time, I would go out and get a t-shirt screened before the party tonight that says, "Sorry in advance about your toes." Since there is no time for that, I can only hope my instructor will provide me with a placard to hang around my neck which reads: "Caution: 'Dancer' is a danger to self / others."
Should I not post over the next few days, feel free to assume that I as a result of tonight's booty-shaking shenanigans, I am either hospitalized, or have been incarcerated for reckless endangerment.
I wonder how hard it is to practice the Cha-cha with a cast on?
1 And for the record, no, I don't watch Dancing With the Stars; in fact I've never seen it Really, my Celebrity Duets fascination is bad reality tv addiction enough.
2 For the purposes of this post, I shall be defining "dance" and / or "dancing" in a number of ways - in this case, I mean "to jump up and down, waving various body parts in a spastic fashion that may or may not be complimentary to the music currently playing and/or a danger to those around me."
3The result either of Prince William sweeping me off my feet and/or the world getting off it's collective duff and finally naming me world leader
4 This colorful image is not my own. It was, however, said to me (and about me) by a fellow5 when we were both about 14 years old. It always stuck with me, not because I particularly valued his opinion, but because it pretty much summed up about how graceful I felt, and how graceless I still feel. Which is why I laugh anytime I hear my name and the word "poise" used in the same sentence. I can (and have) tripped over air. I stumble so often that I've actually become very adept at regaining my balance from odd positions in order to stop myself from hitting the ground. I do this so well that my ex used to swear my center of gravity is in my pinky finger. Can you picture a hippopotamus on roller skates trying to waltz? Because I can - and it's not a pretty picture. And let's not forget the fact that I am not only graceless, but rather tall for a girl, heavy and awkward (The World, My Body Issues; My Body Issues, the World. Play nice with each other. Oh - and while we're on body issues - if you ever want to become desperately aware of how wide your hips are, trying practicing the Rumba or Merengue in front of a full length mirror. )- not lithe and petit and light on my feet the way dancers should be. If anything, I'm the anti-ballroom dancer. Me + the Waltz would (according to the laws of physics in my mind) cause a cataclysmic disaster, and possibly the end of the world.
5As an addendum, I should add that I once spied said fella as an adult, and he looked like the world had knocked his faux cool and youthful bravado right out of him. This did not make me feel any more graceful or elegant, but it did give me a certain ungracious pleasure. Just call me "Princess Graceless."
6 Fully expecting that the evaluation would end with someone smiling at me broadly while simultaneously asking me to empty my bank account. Which was not far from the truth.
7 Which is not to say that they do, I'm just saying they could. I certainly would in their place.
8 This is not, strictly speaking true, as I took one year of "Jazz" dancing as a kid, which makes me qualified to do "Jazz fingers," "Jazz hands" and to hope for the rest of my life that no one uncovers those photos of me in the orange, fringed flapper-esque costume.
9 Incidentally, I inquired of my instructor as to why this was called "Jazz" dancing since I had never once seen it done to Jazz music (except maybe by Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, and may I add that I really hate it that the Gap is using that sequence in their new commercials?), and he explained that "Jazz" is what modern dance became when Jazz became popular.
10 A trend which continues, incidentally. The compliment I have gotten most often from my instructor during subsequent lessons has been "Good recovery." I attribute this to my years of not quite falling over.
11Which is how I generally make all my life decisions - all at once and without sufficient information.
12 Which means rather than a class, I'm having one-on-one instruction. This seemed like a good idea at the time, although I now realize this means not having anyone to hide behind in class when I screw up.
13 And then, you know, maybe take that pole dancing class after all. You know, for good measure.
14And by "dance" here, I mean "practice the one or two steps of each dance I know" and by "practice" I mean "mostly try not to fall over in time to the music."
15 Practicing the Fox Trot in especially funny in my apartment, because generally speaking I've only been able to create a free dance space of 3' x 3' in my living room - that is, if you can manage to dance your way around the easy chair. The Fox Trot, as I mentioned, moves from one end of the ballroom to the other. I have sort of managed to create a vaguely straight pathway between my kitchen and bedroom to practice - but even still, that only allows me to take about for complete steps (each step being 1 - 2- 3 -4). And not only does one not look at their partner when they do this dance, they don't really look exactly where they're going either, which means that when I do those four steps - backwards, I am likely to do one or all of the following: bump into the wall, catch my foot on a chair, smash into my bedroom door. However, as I get to do all this to Bobby Darrin's La Mer, I don't mind the bruising so much.
16 Every time I hear Little Girl I want to break out into dance, which is troublesome when I'm in public. At least now if I can't resist the urge, I will at have the small comfort of knowing I've broken out into an appropriate dance in the middle of a crowded city street.
17 There have actually been two major side benefits to the lessons - one is that I am learning the appropriate dances for the strange stuff I have in my music collection. For example, even though Voltaire's Headless Waltz is far too fast for me to practice to without inflicting permanent damage, I've discovered his Dead Girls is good for practicing the Cha-Cha.(That's right - they might make me strap on high heels and stand up straight18, extend my shoulders for an elegant turn and maybe even wear a dress, but they're never going to make a classy lady of me.) The other is the exercise I get from practicing every day. I have muscles. I know this, because they are currently very, very angry with me.
18 Actually, the standing up straight is proving to be more painful than the creak of long atrophied muscles. I'll think I'm ramrod straight, only to have my teacher say, "Shoulders back, chest up, cheekbones over collar bones. Now breathe." The last part is always a surprise, because I generally assume that I am breathing 99% of the time. Only when I stand this way and I try to breathe and it hurts. My guess is that, because I'm a tall girl who wants to be petit, I've spent my whole life slouching a little bit, and my posture has subsequently grown so bad that my organs have all collapsed upon one another, forming one, giant, all-inclusive organ. And now they're protesting that I'm trying to separate out the lungs. On the other hand, it hurt my back when I started to slouch while sitting at the bus stop yesterday - so either I'm making posture progress, or I'm just doomed to be sore no matter what position I sit or stand in from here on in.
19 To which anyone whose had the (in)opportunity to chat with me in person can easily attest. Them: "Did you hear about the coup in Thailand." Me: "Yeah. It's so surreal to think that military coups like that take place in this day in age. It's odd. You know what else is odd? The Cha-Cha and Mambo start on the 2 instead of the 1. It makes no sense. Everything should start on 1. F-in' Cha Cha." Them: "I'm sorry, I have to go now." I mean, look at the length of this post - it's already about 10 times the length I originally intended. Hell, some of the footnotes are longer than I intended for the post to be.
20 For why do I do anything, but to debasement myself for your amusement?
21 The way I figure it - I'm not looking to dance like Ginger Rogers, but I'd like to be able to do more than fake it convincingly at Aunt Myrtle's wedding22
22 For the record, I don't have an Aunt Myrtle.
23 Thankfully outfitted with a bar.
24 I find the rhythm dances are the most fun to dance to, but the smooth dances (like the waltz) are far more satisfying. I blame Disney.
25 Like nearly taking a button off his shirt last lesson. No, I have no idea how.
26 Well, that and to teach me how to dance.
27 Not to mention the grave peril my own toes face should I be off with a student whose skill level is equal to my own. Quel horreurs!
A very happy birthday to Raving Tree Hugger (aka Sarcas-Dad)!!!!!
Now turn off the computer, grab Winky Tree-Hugger and go outside and enjoy the surf and sand!
Seriously. The Internet will be here when you get back.
I trust I need not tell any of you scallywags what day it be.
And t'honor it, I plan to wear a
* Mind you, I won't actually wear the
- Monday Morning Quiz: Here (as per usual)
- I'm Not Sure Why I Love These Home Owner Fantasy Films: But I always have. I think it's their "Look at technology! It will make your life shiny and spotless and perfect" world view. It's not that I buy it, but I do like it. (Although even if it were true, you wouldn't see me vaccumming in pearls and heels and swirling skirts. Well, frankly, you wouldn't see me vacuuming OR in pearls or heels or swirling skirts.) - [BB]
- What's Your Monkey Name?: Mine is Winky Tree-hugger. - [GB]
- In Case It Weren't Already Pretentious Enough for You: This blog sums up the New Yorker each week in haiku. (I can't help but notice, however, a distinct lack of the haikus about the New Yorker cartoons.) -[BC]
- Cthulu Babies: You know, like Muppet Babies, only full of hideous evil. -[N]
Two things before the linkage:
- Meet me! Well, not really. I mean, it is really me, but clicking on the link won't magically zap you to my current location and allow you to introduce yourself to me formally before we sit down for a getting-to-know-you-chat over coffee. However, Shiny Media is running a Meet the Bloggers series, and lo and behold, it's my turn. If you read the little Q&A, try not to be overwhelmed by the banality of my existence. (Of course, since you read my blog, you should be more than well-versed in my banality already.)
- I am proud - proud I say - to report that I made it through a Thursday evening without falling prey to TV trainwreck that is Celebrity Duets. I'd like to tell you that this breakthrough came because I've acquired self-control while simultaneously developing a more refined cultural sense. Fact of the matter is, however, that it is Fringe season here in Philly, and not even the promise of cutie Hal Sparks and his earnest vocals was enough to keep me home when there was a puppet version of the Rocky Horror Show to be seen. That's right. Cultured and classy - that's how I roll. (Don't you just love the le-gi-ta-mate thee-ay-ter?)
And so, the links:
- For You Lovers of Lists (You Know Who You Are): Get a t-shirt printed with your own personal Top 5; that way you can incite arguments withtout even opening your mouth. - [AJ]
- No Home Can Be Complete Without One: Naturally, I mean a $4,000 remote control crawling zombie. - [BR]
- Grr. Stupid Dot: Hulk smash this game! Well, ok, probably not; but simple as it may be, it requires a steady hand and a whole mess of patience. And I'm just a plain whole mess. - [WW]
- Finally, A Film About Something Really Important: Dance Dance Revolution. -[CCR]
- And Now for Something Completely Serious: Minature Earth, because sometimes it's important to be reminded just how good we have it. -[thanks, Debbie!]
(1) I stopped in a local drug store to pick up some tissues, because my allergies have finally reached the stage where my ever-attractive constant sniffling wasn't going to cut it anymore. As I waiting in line, Carole King's You Got a Friend came on the overhead speakers. Now personally, I have a tendency to sing along to store speakers (I dance to them too sometimes), although I try to be unobtrusive about it. What was odd in this case, was that the gentleman in front of me in line was singing along in a very obvious way, and then a woman turned around from one of the aisles and got in line behind me, and she was also singing, quite loudly.
So there we were, all singing You've Got a Friend in line in the Rite Aid. I kept waiting for that moment when we'd stop singing individually and the whole store began singing together, but the musical in my mind never quite materialised.
Following my Carole King moment, I was sitting underground, reading 1984 and waiting for a train, when I saw the most beautiful pigeon I've ever seen in my life. Instead of the usual dirt grey, the bird was a combination of snowy white and downy brown, and it had the most wonderfully mauve feet. I don't usually pay much attention to pigeons, but this one had the bearing of not being a pigeon at all; as though it were peacock disguised as a pigeon in order to see how the common birds lived.
Also - it amused me no end that it was waiting for the train. I love when birds take the train. It's as though mankind has finally passed along the gift of sloth to the animal kingdom.
Sorry, folks, no Monday morning link dump today. I did, in fact, prepare one, but the desktop blogging program, in part of a string or irritating PC problems sent it into the ether never to return (although I did, at least, manage to get the quiz up).
And as the technical difficulties are plaguing me, I spent last night backing things up to a long-needed external harddrive. This has taken a good deal of weight off my mind, computer wise, as it means now if the PC is getting ready to give-up the ghost, at least I won't need to re-rip my entire CD collection a 3rd time. Of course, this meant that for the duration I wasn't able to surf the internet, watch tv, blog, play Guitar Hero or watch movies, as my PC is the central hub for all of my electronic entertainment. So naturally, I did what anyone would do in that situation - I rearranged my living room furniture.
I should note that I didn't even think that rearranging the furniture was a good idea while I was doing it; unfortunately there's some weird hiccup in my DNA that requires that every so often I rearrange my furniture spontaneously, late at night, and without emptying the bookcases of their books first. In this way I succeed in not only making my back sore, but also in stirring up loads of dust, and revealing parts of my floor that haven't seen daylight, a broom nor a mop in ages. Lovely.
I have a terrible confession: last night I watched Celebrity Duets, in it's entirety, again. (And Hal Sparks is still cute as hell.) I did, however, refrain from calling in to vote, and I think that should count for something.
- This Song is Wrong, Bad, Not Safe for Work, Disgusting and Vulgar. Also, Funny: And a bit of an ear worm to boot. Attack of the Clonefucker. Yes, you read that right. [BB]
- Twisted Snow Globes: You know I want one. -[Bb]
- Get Everyone Across the River: This little IQ test/flash game is a variation on the get the fox and the chicken across the river riddle, only it features a particularly dysfunctional family and, for no reason I can understand, a criminal element. - [N]
- "The Shadow knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. Because Batman told him.": And other random facts about Batman. [LMG]
- Random Oddities:
- Black holes - Well, yes, that would be a bad day for the solar system indeed. Nice to know that death by errant black hole is a "looming possibility," scientifically speaking. (And how long, do you think, before we declare an idealogical war against these?) - [SOW]
- No more strippers for dead Chinese farmers: Um...wow.
- Every Now and Then Airline Passengers Fall Apart: Bonnie Tyler - the new scourge of the skies? - [C]
Over the past several months, I've been trying to eat in a manner more befitting a human adult and less befitting a hyperactive teenager with a petulant pechant for eshewing planned healthy home cooked meals in favor of something pre-made and full of salty, fatty, cheesey goodness. (This is not so much a weight loss thing as it is an "I'd like to bypass bypass surgery in my 40s, thanksverymuch" thing.) This has meant facing up to the fact that although I am strangely obsessed with food and cooking blogs, I don't really enjoy cooking; so I've stopped planning elaborate menus and have started planning things that I can cook and or prepare well in advance. Basically, once a week I spend about an hour doing chopping, and then throwing a variety of last week's chopped left overs in a pot with some whole grain rice or wheat pasta. It's not an exciting culinary life, but it's a functional one. And it means that when I'm in a rush, it's actual faster to throw together something at home than it is to wait in line to pick something up on the run.
And it's not as though I've stopped treating myself to take out now and again. It's just less often.
The biggest shift in my diet has been actively increasing my vegetable intake, while simultaneouly decreasing my meat intake. The decrease in meat isn't for political or ethical reasons; my love for meat-based foods like Chicken Wings and Roast Beef simply won't allow for vegetarianism (although the fact that they're voluntarily injecting viruses into meat AND giving some meat byproducts unnecessary faces has made me consider the option more seriously) - but rather a recognition of the fact that fruits and vegetables provide necessary nutriets that tasty staples like cheese and chocolate simply don't offer. In theory, I'll be using vegetables to fill the space in my stomach that larger portions of meat previously filled. I'm not sure why I would do that rather than filling said space with chocolate and cheese - although it does seem to be working so far. (So, shh, don't tell, I seem to have myself fooled.)
Previously, vegetables were something I thought to include at dinner (one meat + 1 starch + 1 vegetable - just like in Home Ec), and if one happened to co-mingle with my lunch or breakfast (wilted iceberg on a deli-bought tuna sandwich counts, right?), then yay, bonus! Now I make sure both my lunch and dinner include vegetables, preferably more than one, in the interest of nutritional variety. (This means that at least one meal a day usually consists of a chopped salad approximately the size of a small child, so I can get loads of veggies in at once without too much fuss). As for breakfast....well...if some strawberries or bannans leap out at me at the produce market, I might throw them into my cereal in the morning.
I sometimes find asparagus unexpectedly ends up in my produce basket as well, but that's much less likely to end up in my cereal. I suppose I could do an omlete with it or some such, but quite frankly, I don't like eating breakfast. I hate being bothered with it; I just do it because it's good for you. If someone could find some way to make coffee a fruit or vegetable, I'd be forever grateful. They made ketchup a vegetable, I don't see why coffee would be such a great leap. It comes from a bean - surely it should count as a legume? Really, if someone could push this through, my personal health benefits would be amazing.
I wouldn't sleep any better, but while I was up late at night, vibrating, I could spend my nervous energy being proud that I well exceeded my recommended daily allowance of fruit and veg. In fact, I could probably spend that time creating a 3-D representation of the food pyramid made entirely from used coffee filters, coffee grounds, and a pile of Starbucks cups.
Last night, as I was assembling a salad the size of your head from all my pre-chopped bits of things, I was worrying about the lack of omega 3 fatty acids in my diet. This has been my latest food-related quandry: I don't eat enough fish, I have a difficult time getting excited about eating fish, and I'm petrified about preparing it as the most elaborate fish dishes I've ever attempted involved the intervention of either Mrs. Pauls or Bisquick (which seems to counteract the whole mission of eating in less-unhealthy way). This may be a regional thing, because fish should be fresh, and I wouldn't eat a thing that came out of any of the nearby rivers if you paid me. I'd sooner eat Blinky.
As I was pondering this quandry, it struck me as entirely ridiculous that I would be standing there, worrying about omega fatty 3 acids. Not he fact that I was concerned about my cardiovascular health - but that I even know what omega fatty 3 acids are, and that I need them. Mankind has survived for centuries without the benefit of food pyramids, vitamin supplements, and the culinary wonder/sex symbol that is Alton Brown. People ate what was availble in their areas, relying on the changing of the seasons and the ebb and flow of nature to provide them with the necessary variety in their diets, and lifestyles that required manual labor to keep the food stuffs available and prevelant to maintain their cardiovascular health. Nowadays, we're so spoiled by international shipping, pre-packaged foods, door-to-door delivery and tomatoes available all year long, that we have had to create artifical venues, pills and powders in order to get exercise and nutrition necessary for survival that our ancestors used to get merely by trying to survive.
Mind you, I recognize what a luxury it is to worry about not having enough omega 3 acids to eat; it means I don't have any real troubles - like worrying about having nothing to eat at all. And I'm certainly not advocating giving up electronic refrigeration, Trader Joe's Simmer Sauces or a cushy desk job in favor of the grueling work of a home farm (although more power to you if you do - I'm far too lazy. Farmers get up WAY too early, and begin working before the sun, whereas I don't actually begin to exist until after 2 cups of coffee and the passing of noon. If you see me before than, it's merely a shade wandering through the blurry light of morning). I just find our cultural obsession with what we eat ridiculously sad and funny. Culturally speaking, we can be quite absurd.
Think I'm wrong? Consider the fact that there's a reality TV show on about personal trainers. Everytime it comes on, I imagine people watching it while lounging on their sofas, eyes glazed and possibly snacking.
I have also decided, that in the interest of a more fit culture, one of you mad geniuses should invent a computer keyboard that provides isometric tension, so at least all the time we spend whiling away on the Internet won't go to waste. (If typing were exercise, I'd be in awesome shape and have fingers of steel to boot.) If you could work said functionality into a tv remote too, all the better.
Also, I'm serious about that coffee as a fruit thing. Someone get on that. Please.