Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Back to School

This week some of my former students are starting college. I think that's supposed to make me feel old but I'm still a 12 year old at heart so I'm just jealous of them. In the spirit of going back to school, I wanted to write a post about some of the most cringe-worthy moments of my collegiate career to show freshmen that college isn't so scary. No matter how many times you make a complete fool of yourself, you will survive. So read about me being completely ridiculous, realize how awesome and relatively unscathed I am now and remember that what doesn't kill you makes you funnier.

Picture it. Junior year. I have recently been appointed to the 2015 Executive Board of the Carolina For the Kids Foundation. I'm scampering around campus with that I'm-important glow, preparing for another afternoon of subchair interviews. I'm with some friends in the CFTK office when they see their friend Hunter (name has not been changed, anonymity is for punks). My crazy friends who have known me for all of a week at this point, dare me to go give him a pickup line. How did they know I would do it? Like I said, they'd known me for a full week so they knew daring me was a sure thing. I politely walk up to poor Hunter who was just trying to study, bless his heart, and ask "On a scale of 1 to America, how free are you tonight?" wait for him to respond that he isn't that free because he has a test and then walk away. Once back in the office, I promptly friend him on my newly created Facebook and then send him an engagement request. Later that day, after several well wishes from our Facebook friends, the poor kid has his subchair interview with me and my friends who put me up to all of this. So we of course decide to make it a comfortable environment for him by decorating the interview room in honor of our love.

Yeah that's a dry erase save the date for our impending nuptials. In his interview I introduced myself as his fiance and asked the follow up question "You said you had a test tomorrow so you're not free tonight. Would you consider that communist China not free or North Korea not free or what?" That initial meeting aside, I assure you we went on to become great friends. 

Pics cause it happened.

Fast forward to the start of senior year. I had finally made friends, had a foolproof path to graduation, had my own CFTK committee...it really should have been my time. So explain this.
 
You're currently looking at a picture of me using a shirt pocket as a cup holder. 
This is a triple extra large shirt that I wore (wear) as a dress.
Sassy photo courtesy of Jean-Luc.

Next we have the time I fell down in the Pit during CRW. CRW stands for committee recruitment week. All week I was supposed to convince students to sign up to join my committee and essentially hang out slash work with me. I had one job. Instead the bricks tripped me up and I ended up on the ground, in the center of campus while probably hundreds of potential committee members looked on, drawn in by my charisma.

I stayed down longer than I'm proud of. 

The good news is that I then became this meme (again thanks to Jean-Luc) that I believe is widely used to recruit new students to UNC.

Despite the above incident, I did end up with a wonderful committee! I was obsessed with all of my committee members so I planned a committee bonding retreat, baked some snacks and invited them all to my house. Here's some pics of all the fun we had that night.

 Wow! Hope I made enough food!

Me and all my friends.
I had to eat all the cookies I made by myself. That's not exactly a complaint.

I'm starting to realize most of these involve Dance Marathon in some capacity. The next picture that makes me wonder how I have friends was taken after Theme Reveal, a party where we wear costumes to announce the theme for the upcoming year. Our theme was "dare to discover" so I dressed as a scuba diver. And then I refused to change when everyone else did because being a scuba diver is cool! If you saw me on Franklin Street that night, you're welcome.

I didn't actually try to drink my Dr. Pepper with lemon through the snorkel. 
But I seriously considered it.

I saved the best for last. Sophomore year I had a root canal. It went horribly wrong. I'm going to let the pictures speak for themselves. 
**NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. YOU CANNOT UNSEE THESE.**

You thought I was exaggerating didn't you?

I went to class like this. 
Not because I'm an excellent student but because I just don't care.


*I do feel it is important to mention that I was not actually embarrassed by any of these incidents. Momentarily stunned, briefly taken aback at my own ineptitude perhaps but never embarrassed. I believe it to be a wasted emotion. Kind of like all the other emotions.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Leaving Rio

Although I am not yet ready to accept that there will be life after Rio, deep down I know that at the end of this week all the athletes will go home and leave me more deflated than Brazil's economy. In order to ease the transition, I have come up with great post-retirement ideas for some of our favorite athletes even though I hope they never retire. I'm just trying to be a good sport.*

Gabby Douglas - Lipstick Mogul
Kylie's kits may have a choke hold on Calabasas, but Gabby's lips rocked Rio. (That was a really good sentence displaying both Kardashian knowledge and keen alliteration. No one would judge you if you read it again.) With her name recognition and perfect pout, I'm seeing an empire. Video tutorials, lipsticks, lip liners, Snapchat filters, a spread in Vogue, friendship with Taylor Swift. The sky is the limit. (That's also the name of a sky blue lipstick she will release late 2017.)

Michael Phelps - Cupping Spokesperson
He's already done more for this medical phenomenon than the 4 out of 5 doctors who recommend it. When Phelps returns from Rio he can spend plenty of time with his adorable son Boomer and bring home the bacon, eggs, pizzas and burgers needed to fuel the most decorated Olympian of all time by making a few promotional Instagram posts a month.

Aly Raisman & Simone Biles - Celebrity Hair Stylists
These 2 work so well together and after years of practice they are obviously experts at crafting buns that really stick it. If Aly & Simone were creating your top knot you would get to listen in on their banter and know that your updo can withhold a gold-medal-winning routine.

Katie Ledecky - Delivery Specialist
Stay with me here. When Amazon Prime isn't going to cut it and overnight delivery is unavailable, we send out Katie Ledecky. For a pretty penny she will swim your order to you in 60 minutes or less. Not home to sign for your package? No worries. Katie is used to waiting.

Marta Karolyi - Interrogation Specialist
Something about that woman...I just want to please her. I would give up any and all state secrets to have the light of her smile shining on me for the most glorious second of my life. If you can maintain your poker face while Marta glares at you then you've earned your freedom.

Nathan Adrian - Dental Model
To quote Louise Belcher, "he's the reason faces were invented" and his smile makes me wish I had already gotten the jaw surgery I so desperately need. If he ever moves to a country where nice teeth aren't a priority (not naming any names) (Britain) then he could always be an ab model. 

Laurie Hernandez - Reality Television Show
Laurie has so much personality and really didn't get enough screen time in Rio. For her E! series I envision a lot of family, friends and fleekness. Eyeliner/eyebrow vines? Beam for beginners? Fro-yo? Honestly, I would watch her read a magazine or grocery shop.

Leslie Jones - Leslie Jones
No changes necessary. I just want Leslie Jones to continue doing her for the rest of forever. I think we should send her to every international competition or maybe make her an ambassador. As long as her ambassador duties never infringe on the SNL season or her Twitter time. 

Ashton Eaton & Brianne Theisen-Eaton - Daytime Talk Show Hosts
These 2 are adorable and you know it. If their relationship can survive representing 2 different countries at the Olympics, it can survive anything. For this power couple, I'm thinking a Dr. Phil/Fear Factor hybrid. Couples will receive relationship advice after winning intense physical competitions. The working title is Tough Love. 

Kerri Walsh Jennings - Lifestyle Blog
I look at Kerri Walsh Jennings and I just think "Now there is a woman who always remembers to wash her hair. That's a woman who wakes up at 6, does some yoga on the beach, goes for a run and serves her kids an organic, nutritious, homemade breakfast by 8. A woman who somehow, inexplicably, never tracks sand in the house." and I know that she would have amazing advice on everything from dressing with permanent tan lines to building female friendships. 

Madison Kocian - Cirque du Soleil
As Team USA's uneven bars silver medalist, Madison could easily transition to performing with Cirque. As long as the performances leave her with plenty of time to make appearances on Laurie's show, this is a win/win. 

Megan Rapinoe - Soccer Camp Coordinator
Megan Rapinoe is adorable. Her happiness makes me happy. And that's huge considering I typically resent the good fortune of others. Schadenfreude aside, I want Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Meghan Klingenburg, Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Tobin Heath to play soccer forever but if they absolutely must retire, I want to be able to follow them around the country in a socially-acceptable manner. And if that means forcing my children into multiple soccer camps then that is a sacrifice I am willing to make. 

Chinese Gymnasts - High Schoolers
After Rio the Chinese women's gymnastics team has a bright future ahead as they begin their high school careers. That is all.

Did you read this post desperately hoping I would offer some much-needed advice on your potential life path? Do you feel jaded that at the moment I only offer career advice to Olympic athletes? Frankly that's a little sad but you can click this link to find your Olympic match based on age, height, weight and gender. My Olympic matches were Brazilian gymnast Flavia Saraiva, Australian swimmer Bronte Campbell and Israeli javelin thrower Marharyta Dorozhon. I'm not privy to the intricacies of how the BBC's Olympic-pairing algorithm works but I think this means that if you add their weights together it would equal mine.


*False. I've already sworn off the nations of Sweden & Brazil after soccer & volleyball defeats.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Winning Rio

I LOVE the Olympics.

I love America, I love sportsball, and once every 2 years (let's not forget the winter sports) two of my favorite pastimes come together - yelling that America is the best and watching us (or should I say US) prove it.

In my 23 years I have built up a ton of street cred as an America enthusiast along with an impressive arsenal of USA gear to compliment my obsession. I have a Team USA sweatsuit (as if I ever sweat), several red, white & blue shirts/tank tops/dresses/hats both with and without sequins, an America pillow pet, red, white & blue Nike dunks, 2 pairs of Ronald Reagan socks, and a USA Otterbox. I have been planning an American-themed wedding on the 4th of July for years! If anyone has any idea on where to find a good deal on a groom, let me know. I got my ears pierced 3 times so I could wear the Team USA colors. I (unfortunately only once) dyed my dog red, white & blue. I can't solve my Rubik's Cube but I can make it look like an American flag. My social media handle is redwhiteandrae, my favorite holiday is the 4th of July (it will really suck if any of you tries to hack me and is asked that as a security question) and I scheduled my summer vacations around the Olympic games. Some would even say that I "ate McDonald's 5 times this weekend" but I prefer to think of it as supporting the 31st Olympiad.

Now that we've established my reputation as an American fanatic and the world's worst pet owner, I want to share some of my Olympic watching experiences and encourage you to follow Team USA as they continue to dominate the games and make America proud.
  • I have cried over Jason Brown's Riverdance routine on several occasions. 
  • I love the amount of sass that Lilly King brought to the Olympic pool when she defeated an opponent who violated the integrity of the sport.
  • I still get ridiculously excited over the red, white & blue manicures/pedicures of Olympians.
  • It blessed my heart to watch swimmer Cody Miller get so jazzed about bringing home the bronze, he was way more excited than the guy who won gold. 
  • I will never understand how Olympic divers don't hit their heads on the diving boards or platforms.
  • I have no idea how it is humanly possible to do what beach volleyball players do considering the undignified amount of effort it takes me to get up from my beach chair and the ensuing struggle to walk to the shoreline,
  • I have convinced myself that if I were taller (or good at volleyball) I would be best friends with Foluke Akinradewo.
  • I admire all of the athletes who are risking exposure to Zika to represent their countries. Athletes like Hope Solo who are booed merely for expressing concern and taking precautions but continue to play their A game.
  • Once every 2 years I become an expert on soccer, gymnastics, swimming, figure skating and skiing jargon. 
  • The Final Five's makeup looks better after hours of competing and waiting and kicking butt than my makeup 5 seconds after application.
  • I will never forget being in a restaurant when the music stopped and we all cheered together as we watched Michael Phelps take back the gold in the 200m butterfly from Chad le Jerk. (It happened less than 24 hours ago but I feel confident that I will never forget it.)
  • The tweets, videos and commentary of Leslie Jones is the cookie on the pizza of the Rio games. (You know, like the icing on the cake. An amazing thing on top of an already wonderful thing.)
  • I can't get over the grace and calmness with which Simone Biles performs even as everyone is hailing her as the greatest gymnast the world has ever seen. Meanwhile I get nervous when someone is counting on me to go halfsies on a BOGO deal.
  • Sunday I was so proud to watch Katie Ledecky set a new Olympic record in the 400 meter freestyle preliminary like it was no big deal because for her it really isn't.
  • I was just as proud a bit later when cyclist Mara Abbott, who had led the last 15 kilometers by a considerable amount, was overcome to finish 4th in the women's road race. She didn't storm off the course or throw her bike at the contestants who medalled as some people I know would have. Me. I'm talking about myself. (JOKING. I could never lift a bike high enough to throw it.) 
  •  I have accepted that I will never be capable of looking beautiful and strong and confident while representing my country and my sport at the highest level the way the ladies of the Olympics do.
  • I have partially accepted that I will probably never marry an Olympic swimmer but for someone so below average I take it surprisingly personally that no Olympian has asked for my hand yet.
In case I haven't fully articulated my fixation, I invite you on a photo journey.
 
Watching the Olympics with my America pillow pet, Ronald.
 I want to say he's supposed to be a puppy?
Idk, I bought the stars & stripes, not the species.
 
Breaking it down as Uncle Sam.

We want YOU to sign up to be a dancer. Because America.  

This picture is actually worth 100,000 words.

Guess which one I am? 
I also had a gymnast Barbie who came with a matching outfit and uneven bars.
Nothing says gold medal quite like a USA windbreaker.

I have red, white and blue cat ears. That's normal.

My roommate's cat, Fin, loves to nap on the America blanket my aunt made me.

In my natural habitat. 
If they ever make a doll of me, well that would be really creepy but it would look like this.

My dunks, designed with love by Jean-Luc. 
Someone once asked if they were supposed to be Spider-Man-themed. 
They obviously didn't know me very well.

 Me, Chelsea and our pal Freedom. 
He's the USA baseball mascot and his name is really Freedom I didn't even make that up.

I dyed Happy with Kool-aid. 
He took one for the team.
Team USA.


But here's the thing - I don't care about the medal count. Well I do because I have a medal counter bookmarked on my laptop and phone and a chalkboard that I update every 2 hours in my living room. But even if we don't win a single medal (spoiler alert, at time of publication we already have 28), I still live in the greatest country on the planet. In an election as heated as 2016's it's easy to get caught up in the things that are broken in our country. The Olympics serve to remind us, and the world, what we do right. Our athletes have the freedom to choose to represent other nations at the games. We welcome competitors from other countries to Team USA. Several foreign Olympains train on US soil. Our citizens can make Ledecky with the good hair memes and get #PhelpsFace trending on an uncensored Internet. America is the freest nation on earth. And there is nothing more golden than that.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

CaroWINing

If you're considering a trip to Carowinds in the near future, this post breaks down some of the rides and that may have been a poor choice of words. 

Fury 325
Also known as the world's tallest and fastest gigacoaster. The 5th tallest coaster in the world. I was terrified of this ride but once I realized that the climb up wasn't completely vertical I felt pretty confident. There were a ton of lifts and drops, from the front cars you can't even see the tracks below you, the ride transverses both North and South Carolina and reaches speeds of 95mph. This might be the best roller coaster I've ever been on. We rode it 3 times in a row, really capitalizing on the locker situation since we had to pay $2 to lock up all miscellaneous belongings  for an hour. But the real story here is what happened on our 2nd ride. About halfway through, Brendan pointed out to me that some object was flying by our heads. About 3 seconds later the girl behind us yelled "I caught it!" and was holding an afro pick. That's not a typo. It was an afro pick. That could have gone horribly wrong, I can imagine the metal prongs sinking into my face or ruining my updo. Let me just say, if you knowingly keep an afro pick in your hair on one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world...you're a jerk. I was hoping to find a shirt saying "I rode Fury 325 and all I got was this stupid afro pick." in the ride's gift shop but no such luck.

Plants vs. Zombies
I picked team zombie naturally because I hate vegetables - a type of plant - and from my history with houseplants I thought I would be good at killing them. I wasn't. I am definitely video game deficient due to growing up outside. The only video games I've really played are Jeopardy! for the Wii and NBA 2K which I always lose at because I can't figure out how to pass the ball or play defense. Sure it works when I'm playing as Kobe Bryant but it does not help improve my gaming abilities. I ended up with a score of around 4,000 pity points and team plant won. I ate salad for dinner to feel superior.

Carolina Cyclone
We did NOT ride the Carolina Cyclone after Evan told us that once his harness somehow unfastened and he had to hold it over himself. Despite being part of an elite online community of amusement park enthusiasts, Evan had told no one about the incident so I am making it public knowledge here. I mean I'm sure it's fine now, but I wouldn't let my little brother ride it. Well not my littlest brother. My other brother can ride it who cares.

Dodg'ems
Bumper cars. Not really my thing since I dedicate so much mental space to avoiding hitting other vehicles. I also don't trust the electricity situation. Why are there constantly sparks at the top of the poles connected to the cars? How does exposure to dangerous electrical outputs make this a fun ride? My complaint with this ride was the kids running it. At 23 I feel I am old enough to self-righteously call high schoolers kids. They flirted hardcore. So if you're reading this, lovebirds, he/she is totally into you. Go for it. But maybe not at work because I had to spend 6 minutes listening to you guys batting your eyelashes in front of a dozen empty cars waiting to be bumped. 

Nighthawk
A "flying" coaster, the Nighthawk takes some time to load because riders are strapped into chairs that then recline so you ride on your back and stomach. If you're not used to rides that force your center of gravity to strain against semi-lax restraints forcing you to get a better look at the ground you just know you're about to be hurtling towards then the Nighthawk is probably not for you. A friend who will remain unnamed cried.

Intimidator
A ride based on the legendary Dale Earnhardt, may he rest in peace. Kari noted that from high up on the first hill of this ride, the lesser Carolina looks like a real dump. But to be fair, it looks like a dump from sea level too. I think that the best part of this ride is that thanks to the NASCAR theme, in the loading area riders are told they have 5 seconds to find their seats and that really sped up the whole process. On this ride I noticed that my lap bar never seemed to go down as far as everyone else's. This was either senseless paranoia or the result of a lifetime addiction to bread that has wreaked havoc on my thighs. When I pointed this out to Brendan he assured me I was crazy by saying "the bar must be broken". Wrong move. I urged him to correct that statement. "You need to decide what you want to cater to here. My vanity or my sanity."

Carolina Goldrusher 
A very chill roller coaster - I could have snapchatted the entire ride - the real story here is what happened while we were sitting outside. We noticed an abandoned cell phone was ringing and answered it since Brendan understood it was probably someone looking for the phone. I directed the caller to the roller coaster with specific instructions such as "near a bathroom" and "in front of that bush" and Kari remembered what the people sitting there looked like. She told us to look for a blonde woman but we all heard blind woman so we spent the next 5 minutes scanning the area for a woman with a walking stick or seeing eye dog. Did I mention we're idiots?

Windseeker
The outline of Charlotte looked so tiny from this high swing ride. It's an experience that makes you really appreciate the amusement people must feel when they hear the phrase "biggest city in North Carolina". The woman working this ride definitely had too much power. She got very sassy with my group for walking under the railings. I get that you're supposed to follow the intended path but these rails leading to the ride were ambitiously long. Maybe if I'd been playing Pokemon Go at the time I would have been motivated to walk the extra 10 yards but I came here for rides not Rattatas. This is Carowinds not Disney's Magic Kingdom. 30 feet of waiting area for a swing ride is excessive.

Southern Star
A pirate ship-style ride made entertaining by the woman behind us. The overhead harness almost knocked my breath out and once I recovered I realized that the lap bar was also almost painfully tight. This is not a complaint. I WANT tight harnesses on rides that go upside down. Now the woman behind us, when the ship first started swinging back and forth, seemed comforted, saying "this isn't bad, this is not bad" over an over again to what I hope was herself but may have been a fellow rider. Once the ship got closer and closer to 180 degrees, her slightly scared mantra turned into a screamed "THIS IS BAD! THIS IS BAD!" and did not stop until we were stationary again. I would love to ride every attraction with her but I understood it was only fair to share her commentary with the other attendees. 


A final point of interest - the last time I was at Carowinds the park was mainly in North Carolina. Now it seems more is in South Carolina. I'm no cartographer but it appears we have ceded some territory to the Palmetto state and they got Cinnabon in the process. Just something to think about. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Streaming

Today is a White Girl Wednesday first. I'm giving advice on something I actually have experience with. Television! For many people who are still in school, have no friends or refuse to grow up, summer means an abundance of free time. Now there are a lot of equally worthwhile ways to fill said free time. Volunteering. Interning. Working a part time job. Reading. Pursuing hobbies. Crafting. Eating. Watching television. Today's post will focus on the latter. If you're like me (God help you), you probably find yourself running out of shows to binge-watch. Should you rewatch Parks and Rec for the fifth time or risk spending upwards of 20 minutes watching the pilot episode of a show you just can't get into? I'm here to help. I realize that Netflix and Hulu and whatever other streaming services all the cool kids are using these days offer you suggestions based on what you watch. So why should you take my direction instead of theirs? Because my friends, we are in the midst of a man vs. machines battle, nay a war, and we can't let them win. Help me prove that my random guesses are way better than some computer-generated algorithm or prepare to be ruled by your silicon and wire overlords.

If you like Friends...
Try Happy Endings
3 seasons available on Hulu
Casey Wilson is just phenomenal, but if you need more convincing keep reading. This series features 3 men and 3 women, among them a set of siblings and a couple. Sound familiar? You'll quickly recognize Penny as a perpetually single Phoebe type, Jane as the type A Monica replacement and Alex as runaway bride Rachel. Max is the sloppy, unemployed Joey of the gang, banker bro Brad is the Chandler and Dave is a slightly better Ross. It's set in Chicago but I think we can forgive and try very hard to forget that.

If you like Absolutely Fabulous...
Try Difficult People
1+ seasons available on Hulu
This Amy Poehler-produced Hulu series follows best friends who think they are, well, absolutely fabulous. Aspiring celebrities Julie and Billy want to make it in comedy but are held back by some pretty glaring personality flaws that neither seems to notice. Add in Julie's unorthodox therapist mother and bow-tie wearing boyfriend for further culture clashes. Laugh as these 2 yell obscenities, fan the flames of their inflated egos and find acceptance in New Jersey of all places. Julie and Billy are the BFFs we all think we are when we're at our funniest. If you ever ended up on the same bus as me and Taylor in Chapel Hill, you know the hilarious-dynamic-duo-bit well.

If you like Coneheads...
Try Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
2 seasons available on Netflix
Quick warning, the theme song of this show is impossibly catchy. If you think you can handle it, you will follow the story of Kimmy Schmidt, recent kidnap-survivor adjusting to life in 2016. She lived underground in a bunker for 15 years and now finds herself navigating New York City while weirdly afraid of velcro. Kimmy's friend Titus is struggling to make it as an actor, her landlady is fighting a losing battle with gentrification, her crush is in a sham marriage and her boss is the always perfect Jane Krakowski. My one critique is not enough Carol Kane but to be fair I say that about everything. Just this morning I thought my Mini-Wheats could use more Carol Kane. You'll be shouting "I'm not really here!" when you finish all 26 episodes.

If you like Fantasy...
Try Game of Thrones
6 seasons available on HBO GO
If you want to watch this series with any integrity hopefully you haven't been on Twitter, Buzzfeed, Reddit or Tumblr for the past 5 years. There are a ton of dynamic characters with just as many plot lines to follow and the fandom is well-established making GOT perfect for all the kids who grew up waiting in line for Harry Potter books. Watch the first season and figure out what house you will pledge your fealty to, what you would name your direwolf and which Lannister you hate the most. Also good luck picking your GOT crush, mine died in season 1.

If you like Everybody Loves Raymond/any DCOM starring sisters...
Try Arrested Development
4 seasons available on Netflix
This series proves that the rule of less is more does not apply to family dysfunction. The "riches to rags" theme sees members of the Bluth family so out of touch they don't know the price of a banana or the sound a chicken makes (look it up on YouTube). Follow a family so crazy that it includes an incompetent magician, jailed patriarch, boy in love with his cousin and a grown man who constantly wears blue jean cutoffs.

If you like Real Housewives...
Try Little Women: LA/NY/Atlanta
4+ seasons (LA), 1+ seasons (NY)  & 1+ seasons (Atlanta) available on the Lifetime app/website.*
At least they would be available if my roommate's Apple TV would load it instead of spending 15 minutes "accessing Lifetime" before inevitably failing yet again. I'm warning you Apple, I will destroy you like I destroyed Shari and her berries.
But I digress. This show is so full of drama. Literally every episode has the same format. It starts with everyone timidly reconnecting after the last fracas, one girl claims another girl is jealous of her career/love life, one girl talks behind someone's back, and the next huge brawl breaks out. I can't pick a favorite character because they're all pretty equally awesome and annoying.

If you like The Discovery Channel...
Try Wildest Islands
2 seasons available on Netflix
This nature documentary series explores, you guessed it...islands! Each island has a theme. The premiere episode takes viewers to Zanzibar: Land of Giants to visit with coconut crabs, whale sharks and coral reefs. There is one episode on Canada but I can look past it. Bonus points to all the men who watch this and are reminded that in nature it's always the males trying to capture the attention of the females. I don't want to spoil anything but one bird species has a mating ritual where the males build nests and the lady birds get to pick the nests they want. Picture a world where instead of pretending to like baseball, claiming to be related to Elvis, accidentally kidnapping a dog or whatever crazy thing you've done to impress a guy, the guys near you all invite you to their houses and you get to keep whichever you like best. The house and the guy! Now we're talking.


*Post-publication it was brought to my attention that Lifetime is garbage. It won't load on the Apple TV and the website refuses to recognize that I am signed in with an authorized cable provider. Therefore the Lifetime website alternates between informing me that I am signed in and refusing to play the videos until I have signed in. So save yourselves an afternoon of frustration and don't watch Lifetime, just start on Parks and Rec again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Can't Spell Diet Without Die

Let me just start off by saying that my idea of a diet is ordering my chicken grilled instead of fried and then rewarding myself on my restraint with a piece of chocolate cake for dessert, whipped cream on the side because no one said this would be easy. So this isn't going to be one of those posts that claims eggplant is actually delicious and homemade sweet potato fries could rival McDonald's. I'm not that girl.

But it has been brought to my attention lately (by my little cousin who said my arms felt like Play-Doh) that perhaps I should consider a diet, or as the kids are calling it these days, "a lifestyle change". Basically instead of spending a week or 2 with SlimFast shakes I need to expand my palate to include vegetables and lean proteins and food without red dye as the top ingredient. I am what most would call a picky eater. If you wouldn't serve it in a kids' meal pre-Michelle Obama, I probably won't eat it. That has to change because it's really unhealthy and I'm running out of room to store all my happy meal toys, the construction of which has seriously declined since the late '90s.

I needed a nonrestrictive way to eat better. First there was Weight Watchers. I have an online membership so instead of going to meetings and being weighed and held accountable for my food choices I log into an app once or twice a week to decide between Doritos and Cheetos. The app is super cool in that it has a bar code scanner so instead of searching food items you can just scan the bar code and it will tell you the points, serving size all that good stuff. This results in me running (okay, walking) around the grocery store scanning items on my phone as people are probably thinking I'm registering for the weirdest shower ever.

My first 8 hours of Weight Watchers were great. Then I woke up. Upon my awakening I discovered that what I thought was a healthy, wholesome breakfast was a whopping 9 POINTS! The problem with Weight Watchers is that there's just so much math. There's all the adding points when you eat ANOTHER cookie, subtracting points when you get a sandwich without honey mustard because you're going to need those 2 points for half a piece of gum later, multiplying when you sit down with a bag of chips and 20 minutes later realize you've had 4 servings. And Brendan moved back to stupid Boston so who is going to do the math for me? (I'm a female. Are we even allowed to do math? I hope the NSA isn't reading this.) Every food has a point value and you get a certain amount of points each day. It's kind of like Blackjack. You want to use all of your points without being too far over or under. And I was never good at Blackjack.

So I tried something else, a Weight Watchers adjacent technique called Simply Filling. It's pretty straightforward. There's a sheet of paper with foods you can eat in different categories. The list even goes so far as to explicitly state foods that are not included. This paper actually lists that french fries do not count as a vegetable. That felt pointed. Beyond the list you get so many points for any foods you eat that are not included. Much to my dismay this paper does not look like when your teacher tells you that you can make a cheat sheet for your test as long as it fits on one paper. It more closely resembles a grocery list written by my meticulously thrifty mother. Bare necessities.

As I looked through the list I thought "I can do this! I eat cereal, I can do lean meats, I've made my peace with whole grains.". But when I took the list to the grocery store I realized it was all a lie. According to the list, you can eat cereals with no more than 1 gram of sugar and no fruits or nuts. According to Walmart, THOSE CEREALS DON'T EXIST. Apparently it's like a national law tantamount to thou shalt not spear a bald eagle. Picture, if you will, a Venn diagram of sorts. In one circle are cereals with less than 1 gram of sugar. In the other circle are cereals with no fruits or nuts. The circles do not intersect. At all.

But I wasn't going to give up yet. Until I looked more closely at the list and discovered a litany of issues. According to Simply Filling, avocados are not a power food. What next? Guacamole doesn't count as a serving of vegetables? You're only allowed to have certain foods once a day AND you're supposed to still adhere to whatever food pyramid recommendations the USDA is handing down. I was trying to escape math and here it is popping up again like a cold sore.

So alas, my search continues. I'll research other options with my laptop and a box of Apple Jacks (10 grams of sugar) and report back.


P.S. Happy late birthday Kelly! I hope you enjoyed a cookie cake with walnuts.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

First World (Summer) Problems

You're super thirsty and hope that the ice in your cup has melted into some chilled water but you realize you have a Yeti rambler so the ice doesn't melt.

You get sand in your Rubik's cube. (Just me?)

You're at the beach and someone asks you to go in the ocean even though you're clearly wearing your "laying out to tan" bathing suit and not your "conquering fierce waves without a wardrobe malfunction" bathing suit.

You change outfits multiple times a day due to excessive sweat.

You buy a new bathing suit every time you go to Target from April - August.

You know the beach is really rough on your mani/pedis but you can't stay away.

You think summer maxi dresses are cute butwhat is the appropriate climate for them? They're sleeveless at the top and drowning you in fabric at the bottom.

Your outfits revolve around tan lines.

You constantly have to find hobbies other than keeping up with the Kardashians when summer storms knock out your cable.

You're squinting in EVERY picture taken outside.

You just HAVE to buy a cute coverup because you wouldn't want to get sunscreen on your nice clothes but it's ridiculously expensive considering it's not a real outfit (at least that's what my mother keeps insisting).

You want to see all the summer blockbusters but have to carry a jacket because theaters are cold.

You end up parking further away from your destination to be in the shade.

You wear expensive perfume that no one can smell because you're wearing so much bug spray.

You can't see your phone/tablet screen in the sun.

You want to have some beach photoshoots but the ocean/light doesn't always (ever) cooperate.

Your phone gets too hot to use.

You don't understand the concept of "cute beach waves" because as soon as the ocean humidity hits your strands all you get is "tangled beach mess".

You buy cute winter clothes on sale but it's too hot to wear them now.

You do car rides with the windows down AND the AC on. Now that's luxury.

You get sunscreen in your eyes.

You hate wearing flip flops at the beach because they flick sand on your legs but you don't want to burn your feet on hot sand. It's a lose/lose.

You love enjoying ice cream on the beach but it melts so fast.

You sweat off your $40 foundation in mere minutes.

Your fave sunglasses are aviators with metal frames and if you leave them in the sun they will literally burn you.

You need a dozen tries to get the perfect fireworks pic.