Archive for "January, 2012"

What is the Point of Zip-Off Pants?

Fashion Jan 30, 2012 29 Comments

Yes, my mom wears them. And she is way cuter than they make her appear.

*On a side note: I am guest blogging today over at Laura Stanfill’s blog. I’d love it if you’d hop over and check it out. You’ll get to see pictures of my writing room. Yes, I took the pictures, but they’re still pretty good. *

So, What is the point of zip-off pants?

I have been to the jungle, I have trekked the Incan trail into Machu Picchu, and I’ve even been hiking twice. On each and every adventure I’ve seen plenty of people with those hideous pants that zip off into shorts. But, I’ve never been able to answer the question, What is the point?

Anyone who’s been to the jungle can tell you, the last thing you’ll ever want is a pair of shorts. Long pants, long sleeve shirts, bug spray, and a rain coat are all you need. And maybe some deodorant.

And up in the Andes Mountains? That’s right, no shorts there either. It may be sunny and bug free, but warm is something it’s not. Pack your knitted hat and two pairs of socks. Leave the shorts at home.

For some reason I saw Americans and other tourists all over South America wearing those god-awful pants. They were at the markets in the Mariscal and even on the escalators in the local mall. And I never once saw anybody zip them off into shorts.

Here is the truth. Those pants are not flattering on anybody. No matter how thin, or tall, or shapely a person is. They make everyone look dumpy and squat. They are the adult version of sagging skinny jeans. You look like you just crapped your pants.

Those pants cut you off at the thickest part of the thigh and have way too much room in the butt. You are so much better looking than that. If you do zip them off into shorts the heavy zipper drags the hem down while the fabric balloons out in all the wrong places. You look like you got trapped in a parachute and couldn’t find your way out.

And what do you do with bottom part of the pants when you zip them off? Once you misplace them, really what is the point?

I realize you may be traveling to more than one destination. If you’re going to the Galapagos, you will want shorts. But somewhere tropical with bugs and pants are the best call. Is it really that hard to pack two separate things?

Oh, come on, you know it’s not.

You could wear shorts that make your legs look fabulous and pants that accentuate all the right spots. Then when you look back at pictures you won’t have to do it alone. Or you can pay three times as much for those pants that make you look like a tall Umpah-Lumpah.

I know it’s not all about how we look. But why would you walk around looking bad on purpose? Those pants were not designed for a woman’s body. They don’t even look good on a man.

What do you think about those hideous pants? Do you have any clothes that you wear even though you know they aren’t flattering?

 

The Rat is Back!

Fitness Jan 27, 2012 27 Comments

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with exercise lately. After months of not going to the gym at all or going on and off, over exercising, and then not exercising at all, I finally found some balance. And I wrote about it here.

That balance has now brought me back around to my full, true self. At least when it comes to exercise.

I started out going three days a week and doing whatever I felt like at the gym. Some days were just cardio and some days I threw in weights and abs, too. It was difficult at first. I told myself I was tired after work and just needed to relax. I thought my body was telling me to go home and sit on the couch. I could read and exercise my brain instead.

But the more I stuck with those three days, the more my body’s messages became clear. My lower back let go of the tight spot and the Charlie horse in my calf went away. I wasn’t as tired after the gym as I had been on the way there. After a few weeks I slept better, woke up easier, and my whole body clicked into gear. How to say this politely? My digestive system worked like a dream and no more monthly cramps. My body really liked this regular exercise thing.

The more I went, the more I wanted to go. But not in that compulsive way I’ve had before.

I started lifting weights a little more regularly and planning out what I wanted to do. I remembered my way around the weight room and didn’t feel self conscious among all the burly men. I jumped on whatever cardio machines were open, tuned up my music, and moved.

I felt stronger, stretchier and more relaxed than when I was at home on the couch. My brain finally caught up to my body and remembered how much I loved going to the gym.

I used to call myself a gym rat. Not because I have big teeth or an unusual love of cheese. But because what I loved about the gym was the weight room and the cardio machines. I’m not too much of a class girl. They always sound good, but the schedule is never quite right for me. Plus, there was something about being trapped in a room with someone telling me what to do. Out in the open part of the gym I can move around when I want, how I want. And I can watch other people and learn.

I can read magazines and try new, fun workouts. I can watch the trainers and copy the latest exercise. I can listen to my music and dance a little in between sets. My body can move how it wants to. And my body loves to sweat.

I don’t have to run or pretend I like yoga. I can do what I want to do.

Now I’m excited about working out. And when I get home from the gym I have energy to make more than a quesadilla for dinner. I want to relax in a bath and read, instead of vegging out in front of the TV. It’s amazing how one healthy habit builds on to the next, without me even trying.

Yesterday, I had a great text-a-thon with one of my Bestie’s who moved away. She used to be a trainer and my workout buddy. We decided to text each other for motivation and inspiration. And to talk about new workout moves.

It feels so good to be back to myself. I feel whole and happy and proud. The rat is back. And yes, I do love cheese.

 

I Thought I Was The Fat One

Beauty Jan 25, 2012 33 Comments

That's me, the fatty in the middle.

I was a chunky kid, or so I thought. I grew up in the time before J.Lo and Beyonce hit it big. No one really looked at the Fly Girls as a body image role model. They were just background.

So, when I was with my school friends, it was hard for me to accept that I was thick. I used to dream of skinny thighs that didn’t even come close to each other and a flat butt that stayed inside jeans. Mine has always been round and, shall we say, meaty. Even as a kid I needed a belt to cinch in the waist over my derrière. I hope that’s French for butt.

Thankfully I have a family that loves me, accepts me, and always thought I was beautiful exactly as I am. In my family being thick wasn’t a bad thing. My dad and brother would tell me I didn’t need to run so much and they’d comment about how celebrities like Paris Hilton and Angelina Jolie looked like they needed to eat a burger.

But I always felt caught in between two worlds. The home world of my family where I was ok and the real world of everyone else. My friends always put down their own bodies, which were clearly smaller than mine. And their moms dieted and never had dessert. It was all about losing those last ten pounds.

I don’t remember ever having a scale in the house. But I do remember my step-mom pointing out someone and saying, “Oh, that poor woman, it must be rough to have a flat butt.” I’d laugh and say, “Yeah, I bet it hurts when she sits down.”

Then I went away to college and I didn’t see my family as often. I was surrounded by people who I thought were thin and beautiful. But, they all talked about being fat and not attractive enough. If they were fat, what did that make me?

So I went through college, and a few years after, being the fat friend. I was the one who couldn’t get her own date to the dance. Thank goodness for set-ups, right? Don’t get me wrong, my friends never told me I was fat or chubby, or even that I needed to work out. It was the assumption I made from the way they talked about themselves. I could see that they were thinner than me, so I figured I was a real fatty.

After enough time back home with my family, and living in Ecuador where I was called despampanante and caderona because being curvy and having hips is a good thing, I got my head back on straight. I could see that there is an epidemic of self hate in this country, especially when it comes to women and body image. Not to offend anyone, but I called it “White Girls’ Disease” because that’s where it usually runs rampant.

But I still couldn’t see that I had caught the disease. I thought I had really been obese in college and just lost all the weight. Sure, I started working out in grad school and became a runner for a while. Yeah, I lost some weight. Maybe ten whole pounds.

Then I took it too far and tried dieting. I portioned out mini meals and stuck to a plan six days a week, only to gorge on my off day. All I thought about was food and my next meal. I wasn’t fun to be around. Finally, a friend told me it was disgusting and I’d taken it too far. So I stopped.

I’m sure my body went up or down a little at the time, but not enough to make a big difference. I have never been a swimsuit model and I’m ok with that. I think I look better with a little meat on my bones. Actually, I think all women do. But that’s just my opinion.

The shocking thing was for me to look back at pictures and see who I really was. A picture of me at my heaviest didn’t look so good, that’s true. It was also taken close up from a bad angle and my hair was highlighter yellow. I thought I was enormous back then, even though I bought all my clothes at the regular store. Size ten isn’t actually plus size.

The problem was all in my head.

I saw myself as fat no matter what was actually staring back at me in the mirror. That’s how bad this epidemic is. It twists our image of ourselves so much that we become blind to the truth. I was beautiful. I am beautiful. A few pounds up or a few pounds down doesn’t really change that much. But until we undo the brainwashing that comes from the media, society, everywhere it seems, we can’t see how beautiful we really are.

You are beautiful.

And my brother is right, those celebrities could stand to eat a burger!

Have you ever thought you were heavier than you really are? Ever felt pressure to be a certain size? Look a certain way?

 

So You Think I’m a Bitch?

Lifestyle, Relationships Jan 23, 2012 25 Comments

What did you just call me?

Every year I get one of those something-a-day calendars. Last year it was all about Fashion. I learned a lot, like how Christian Louboutin’s came to be red on the bottom and the origin of the grunge look. This year I wanted something a little different, but still me.

My step-mom picked one out for me. It’s called Getting in Touch with your Inner Bitch.

At first I thought I should be offended. But she is always right in the end. I figured it would be funny. That’s pretty much the point of a something-a-day calendar: to smile the days away as you get closer to each vacation. Yeah, I sometimes forget to tear them off when it’s not a work day.

I brought the Inner Bitch calendar home and got her set up on my desk, ready for January 1st. Then I peeled off the cover page and read the first day. Turns out, it is not a funny calendar. But it’s also not what I expected from the title.

There are quotes by famous women and a few men, too. Lily Tomlin, Dr. King, and Maya Angelou. One of my favorites so far is by a woman named Wendy Wasserstein. No I don’t know who she is. But I know she was right when she said, “Don’t live down to expectations. Go out there and do something remarkable.”

Most of the days are short “lessons” about being a Bitch. Lessons about standing up for yourself, saying what’s on your mind, and not worrying so much about what other people think. All things I need to remember from time to time. Ok, maybe daily.

Does that mean being a Bitch really just means being a strong woman?

Among my friends, we’ve always used the word Bitch. And Biatch and Bizzo and Hooch. They didn’t have any bad connotation. Really, they meant someone that we loved. Maybe we were finding our own definition for the word. Maybe Bitch only has the power to hurt when it’s said by a man.

I remember the first time I was called Bitch by a guy. I can’t say man, because what real man calls a woman a Bitch in the first place? It was in college and I was at an outdoor concert with some friends. I had a backpack with me and hidden inside was something considered contraband. Yes, it was fruity wine coolers, but let’s just say it was potato chips because I might not have been twenty-one.

I had enough potato chips for me and the friends who came with me. We were sharing nicely, as friends usually do. Well, the guy next to us saw what we had and figured out I was the one with the goods. He said, not very politely, “Hey, let me get one of those.” I didn’t know him, he wasn’t even nice, and there were only enough for my group of friends. So, I shook my head and said, “Sorry.” I even used my sweet phone voice.

The guy looked right at me and called me “Bitch”, loud enough for everyone around to hear. The other people turned to stare like I’d keyed his car or boiled his rabbit. You know, something a Bitch would do.

That day I decided that Bitch just meant a woman who said no to a man.

But as I go through the daily tidbits I’m finding it’s something more. Getting in touch with my Inner Bitch means finding out who I really am, what I really like, and saying no when it’s not in my best interest. It means not being a doormat or doing everything I think I should do because I’m a woman. And it means standing up for what I know is right and saying what’s on my mind.

The more I get to know the Bitch inside me, the more I like myself.

Bitch is just the way our culture, society, what-have-you labels a woman who is strong. Look at Hilary Rodham Clinton, Oprah, and Margaret Thatcher. All of them have been called Bitches. All of them strong, powerful, and successful. Maybe it’s not so bad to be a Bitch.

What do you think about the B word? How does it feel to be called a Bitch? Do you ever use it yourself?

 

I Don’t Do Dumb and Boring

Relationships Jan 20, 2012 37 Comments

Can this guy really be hot?

There are good things and bad things about being single. When you’re single you get to decide what to watch on TV, you can leave the bathroom door open, and every hot guy who smiles at you across the room could be the next Friday night date.

The down side to being single is that everyone who isn’t single wants you to partner up already. And sometimes those coupled-up people can forget about a little thing called standards.

Oh, yeah, standards. Something that most of the now coupled-up people used to have when they were single. But once they’re married they forget all about them. They start trying to set you up with anyone who has a Y chromosome and a pulse. Not a good thing.

You end up “accidentally” running into your friend’s friend at happy hour. Then your friend runs to the bathroom like she has a bad case of dysentery and leaves you two to talk. A half an hour conversation about the intricacies of recycling and you’re practicing sleeping with your eyes open. What you really wanted was some girl time, not to have some super boring guy foisted on you like a charity case. You can call me picky or stuck up, but it’s game over for me when a guy doesn’t read or uses words he obviously doesn’t know the meaning of. No, curriclium is not a word.

That’s when you have to get real with your friends. Look them in the eyes and say, “I don’t do dumb and boring.”

Smart is sexy. Add passion to the mix and a guy is irresistible. A man who reads for enjoyment and loves what he does for a living? Hold me back. Dynamic, a friend of mine calls it. That’s what makes a man hot.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a physically beautiful man as much as the next woman. But a great face and an amazing body only go so far. When it comes to dating, relationships, and marriage, it’s the whole package that really counts.

I have friends who are married to average looking guys. No, not any of you. They’re friends you don’t know and will never meet. They live in Saskatchewan. Their husbands may not be the tallest, or the thinnest, or have the most hair. But they are some attractive guys. They’re intelligent and dynamic. You can have a great conversation with them about what’s going on in the world, and they’ll even recommend a book or two to read.

For me, it’s all about the eyes. Not a certain color or shape, but that spark you see in someone who has it going on. They make you laugh, they make you think, and those are the things that make you swoon.

Like my old-white-married-guy crush, for example. Yeah, that right, I have one. Don’t worry, it’s no one you know. Most women have the harmless old-married-guy crush. But you’d be surprised at mine. He wears glasses and is losing his hair, and don’t get me started on the clothes. Orthopedic looking tennis shoes and high waters every day. Yeah, I said it. The man is ready for a flood, and yet he’s still super-sexy.

How is that possible? He’s so smart it’s actually sexy. Not in an “I’m-better-than-you” way. But, the man reads research articles about his career. That passion for what he does is part of what makes him attractive. He knows what he is talking about. And when he talks about it his eyes light up. Super sparkly. To me, that’s the definition of dynamic. And it’s definitely hot.

I think of him when I’m sitting at a table staring at the wall behind the guy who is talking at me. “Infrastructure, economy, blah, blah, blah.” Being talked at is so not a turn on.

My standards go beyond has a job, a car, and all his teeth. I’d rather be out with friends or at home with a good book than on date number two with Mr. Bores-me-to-tears. Try to remember back before you were married to Mr. Perfect-for you. Would you have done dumb and boring?

I didn’t think so!

What do you find attractive in men? In friends? Have any dating horror stories to share?

No Soup for You! It’s a Protest.

Lifestyle Jan 17, 2012 20 Comments

Photo by sopastrike.com

You may have heard about the internet blackout happening tomorrow, January 18th, or you might not have. There is a lot going on right now that some of us, myself included, didn’t know too much about. But, I love a good protest as much as the next girl. I figured it might not be as important as the day we shut down public transportation on one of the major streets in Quito, Ecuador, because Marc Anthony cancelled his concert and refused to refund our money, but what the hell. It could be fun.

Turns out it is a big deal.

If you’re like me you hear the terms SOPA and PIPA and think that Kate Middleton’s little sister is having soup in Spain. But, it’s actually way bigger than that. And it effects you.

SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act and PIPA is the Protect Intellectual Property Act. If we just look at their titles, they sound all well and good. But when we take a little time and read about what they plan to do it is scary.

From what I have read both bills are heavily backed by the entertainment industry lobbyists as a way to protect Hollywood studios and other big businesses from people like us. People who might want to read a review and watch a clip before we decide to spend ten dollars on yet another Hollywood blockbuster. Or people who might want to sing their favorite Justin Bieber song on camera and post a video to their Facebook page.

Are we really that scary? Does the entertainment industry really need their own laws to protect them?

This video from fightforthefuture.org does a much better job of explaining than I can:

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

SOPA and PIPA are going before the House of Representative and Congress, respectively, on January 24th and it is very likely they will pass of we don’t do something to stop them.

So, what can we do about it?

Actually, there is quite a bit:

1. Send an email to congress telling them you oppose the bill.

2. Send an email to your representative. (And watch this great video)

3. Read about the bill.

4. Join the strike.

The choice is up to us. We can do nothing, and run the risk of losing our choice, our voice, our internet.

I already sent emails to congress and my representatives. Now I’m going to strike. I won’t be on the internet at all tomorrow. Not to read your Facebook status. Not to check this blog. I’m going dark.

What are you going to do?

 

Eat The Ice Cream Already!

Diet Jan 16, 2012 27 Comments

You know you want me!

We all have a food we crave on a regular basis. And I don’t mean something “healthy” like salad. Something we want and love, but feel bad about eating. For me it’s ice cream. Something cold, creamy, and chocolaty. Preferably with ribbons and chunks of some kind. Like Phish Food, Chocolate-chocolate chip, and Moose tracks. Yum.

I’ve learned how to eat ice cream in small portions. I use the little white ramekin dishes as my ice cream bowls. And I choose an ice cream that’s rich enough that I don’t ever go back for seconds. So, why do I feel guilty for eating it?

It’s not because it’s bad for me. Hello, dark chocolate is an anti-oxidant. And I eat natural ice cream with a short list of ingredients. No mono-unnutrisized-globbins for me. If I can’t pronounce it, I don’t eat it. That’s my healthy eating rule.

But sometimes I fall prey to media pressure. Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers commercials telling us we’re all fat and we should be eating egg white omelets and plain baked chicken. I look around and feel like Everyone else is eating healthy but me. I start to feel bad, guilty, ashamed. And Everyone seems to LOVE eating healthy. They’re like “bring on the celery and kale chips, so delish!”

I really hate Everyone.

And then there’s me. I love chocolate, so I must be bad. Then the punishment begins. I throw away the ice cream I have and refuse to buy any more. I pass the freezer section completely at the grocery store. Don’t want to run the risk. The rest of the food in my cart is pretty much the same as what I always buy. Veggies, a meat, some grains. The truth is, I am naturally a pretty healthy eater. I love spinach and broccoli and seasoning with spices. I don’t like fast food or pop.

But Everyone doesn’t eat ice cream. So I go home without.

For the first few days I’m ok. I eat my dinner and have fruit or tea afterward. But, by the time the weekend rolls around all I can think about is ice cream. I eat it in my dreams. I try to calm the craving with anything sweet I can find. Hot coco, honey on toast, and a banana covered in almond butter and chocolate syrup. I know I’ve hit rock bottom when I’m dipping the baking chocolate in sugar and gnawing on the big slab.

And that’s when it hits me. I’m stuffing myself with replacements when eating the ice cream would actually be better for me. A small serving of ice cream is much healthier than half a jar of almond butter and a brick of unsweetened chocolate.

When I let myself have what I’m really craving, I’m satisfied when it’s gone. I’m not rummaging through the kitchen like a drug addict looking for my next fix.

The funny thing is when I have ice cream in the house and I know I can eat it, I don’t always want it. When it’s in the freezer it’s not a compulsion, it’s just dessert. The way it should be.

And really, who wants to be just like Everyone? Everyone is kind of lame.

What food do you crave? Do you have a sweet tooth? Does it make you feel guilty?

 

He Should Take His Shirt Off

Men Jan 13, 2012 23 Comments

Just imagine him without it...

A friend and I went to see a movie a week ago. It was a Charlize Theron movie, Young Adult. I thought it would be fun because it was about a writer and the ads looked funny. It was the middle of the day on a weekday, so the theater was pretty empty. Or maybe the movie wasn’t that big of a hit.

We showed up on time because my friend loves the previews. They’re actually her favorite part. I know this because she tells me every time.

There were a few previews for cheesy movies we’d rather skip and a scary one they shouldn’t preview until late at night. Then came an ad for a movie based on a book by Nicholas Sparks. My friend looked at me and put her finger in her mouth. Gag me. Nicholas Sparks.

A familiar face came on the screen, covered in dirt and a little bit of facial hair. It couldn’t be the kid from High School Musical, he was like seventeen.

It was him. Zac Efron. My friend knew his name. Turns out the kid is now 24.

Most of the scenes in the preview had him without his shirt on. And one in only underwear. Boxer briefs, to be exact. He was completely ripped. Muscular arms, six pack abs. Then he turned around. “He even has a great butt,” my friend said out loud. Except she didn’t say butt. She said a**.

We decided it was definitely worth seeing, whatever it’s about.

Then came our movie. Charlize Theron is beautiful and played a woman with many issues, especially when it came to men. And there were no hot guys in the movie. Not one. Kind of a huge letdown after Zan Efron in underwear.

That got us talking about movies and hot guys in general. There seems to be something off in Hollywood. A woman has to be gorgeous to make it. I don’t think they even let mediocre looking women into the city limits, let alone cast them in movies. So why are there so many not-hot guys in those movies with them?

No Strings Attached was hilarious, but I would have paid extra for Ashton to keep all his clothes on. TV shows like Modern Family and the one where Jim Belushi was married to Courtni Thorne Smith. I mean, really? Josh Duhmel hasn’t been in anything in over a year, yet Seth Rogan is cast in everything. Where is the equality in that?

Men get to look at beautiful women everywhere. Even the woman selling kitty litter is a knock out. And we get the Oxyclean guy. I think it’s time for Hollywood to give us more to look at. There should be at least one hot guy in every movie and TV show. And he should take his shirt off. Regularly.

Who’s with me? Anyone else think it’s unfair?

 

I Don’t Actually Like Jeans

Fashion Jan 11, 2012 43 Comments

Jesse and me in the good ol' days.

For the last few months I have been trying to find balance in my life and I took it too far. I didn’t want to wear a face full of make-up, blow dry my hair straight, and dress professionally every day. Or at least that’s what I told myself. The truth is that I didn’t want to put more effort into my day job than I put into the rest of my life.

I didn’t want to become my job.

But it turned out that’s exactly what I was doing. I work in an environment where people don’t dress up. Any day of the week they could be going to a bar-be-que or to the office. Jeans, sweaters and tennis shoes are the norm. People sometimes step it up and put on khaki’s. Not exactly my style.

And that’s ok. Everyone has their own taste and way of dressing. The problem is I wasn’t sticking to mine. I felt the need to fit in and be one of the crowd. I just didn’t see it as a bad thing because the crowd wasn’t doing anything wrong. I wasn’t feeling the need to drink and drive or sniff the cleaners under the sink, like in some After School Special about peer pressure.

But I wasn’t being me.

Then I met my friend Jesse for a workout and coffee before the Rose Bowl game. Thank God she asked me about work. I told her that I wasn’t wearing make up to work. But that I was wearing jeans. And long sleeve t-shirts. She looked at me like I had three heads. “It sounds like you’re depressed.” She said. Then she suggested counseling.

I told her I wasn’t depressed. I still dressed how I wanted and wore make up on the weekends. I explained that I was trying to be more low maintenance. I wanted to be like everyone else.

She set her coffee down and looked me right in the eyes. “Who cares what everyone else is doing? What matters is you being you.”

Of course she was right. I like wearing make-up and I like dressing up. And I think rhinestones are perfectly acceptable on a weekday afternoon. The more bling the better. It’s who I really am. When I was younger it didn’t bother me if I was different. I would rather be over dressed than under dressed. Actually, I don’t believe you can be over-dressed. A ball gown at the movies, nothing wrong with that.

There was a weekend in college when a group of us went to visit a friend’s older brother at his school in Pullman, Washington. Pullman is a small town and apparently people dress casually there. My friends all knew this and planned ahead. They all put on jeans and flannel shirts. One even had a fleece sweatshirt. I put on my see-through black shirt with the red dragon on the front (with a black camisole underneath, of course) and realized I didn’t exactly fit in. I remember asking my friends why no one told me that people dressed funny in Washington. Someone said, “What, were you going to go out and buy a flannel shirt?” No, I wasn’t. And they knew that. I was perfectly happy the way I was. I didn’t care if I stood out at the party, because I was being myself.

What had happened to the girl?

Now I was trying to fit in and I was miserable. I’d see my reflection in the bathroom mirror at work and not recognize the person looking back. It definitely wasn’t me.

I looked at Jesse and said, “I don’t actually like jeans.”

“I know.” She said. “You never have.”

It’s funny how sometimes your friends can know you better than you know yourself. And they can see things that you can’t see.

I made a decision that day to start being myself again. To wear what I want to wear. When I got home from coffee I passed by the laundry room and saw the basket of clean clothes sitting on the dryer. On top was my newest pair of jeans. They were light denim straight leg jeans. There was nothing cute about them. I hated those jeans. I picked them up and put them in the Goodwill pile in my closet. I wasn’t going to wear them anymore. The same goes for those two brown sweaters that I look awful in. Neutrals are not my thing. Neither are sweaters.

Since that day I’ve been choosing what to wear based on what I like. It’s been nice pants, skirts, and tops with bright colors. And lots of jewelry. I like my bling. I even started experimenting with more “casual” make-up looks. And with gold eye shadow. I feel like myself again.

It turned out I didn’t need counseling, I just needed a little help from my friend.

Do you ever feel like the one who sticks out? How far have you gone to fit in?

 

Sometimes You Can Go Home Again

Food, Relationships Jan 09, 2012 16 Comments

My dad and step-mom in the kitchen. Yum!

There were a lot of things I loved as a kid because they were bad for me: Tang, Marshmallow stuff from a jar, fruit shaped cereal, and macaroni and cheese from a box. They were also the things my mother never let me have, so I had to enjoy them at friends’ houses.

When I moved away to college one of the first things I did was go on a bad food buying binge. I was an adult, I choose what I wanted to eat. I ate potato chips for breakfast and Coco Puffs for dinner. I drank Tang and Fanta instead of water and tried those sugary “International” instant coffees.

I was in heaven, for a while. Eventually, the cereal started to scratch the roof of my mouth and all the pop and Tang left me thirsty. I started to crave all the things I had been forced to eat as a kid. Broccoli, spinach, and baked chicken had never tasted so good.

Certain junk food was still good occasionally, like Cool Ranch Doritos and chocolate milk already mixed. But the majority of my food was the same relatively healthy stuff I’d grown up on. Yes, ice cream counts as healthy. It was a balance I liked.

At some point after college I saw a box of Kraft macaroni and cheese in the grocery store and remembered how delicious it had been when I was seven. So I bought the box, some butter, and even a little container of whole milk. I wasn’t going to mess around with nonfat. Not for mac and cheese.

If you’ve ever had boxed macaroni and cheese, I’m sure you can predict how it turned out. Not anywhere near as good as I’d remembered. In fact, it was really bad. Bland, mushy, and basically tasteless. I threw it out and had a salad instead.

My very favorite meal from childhood was Champagne Chicken. My dad made it a few times when I was growing up and it was delicious every time. At least as far as I could remember. I have a lot of childhood memories of my dad in the kitchen, cooking, singing loud and making a mess. His cooking always involved lots of pans, lots of sauces, and at least one secret ingredient. And usually Bob Dylan in the background.

As an adult I’ve noticed that my dad doesn’t cook as much as he used to. So I’ve been bugging him. He’d probably say nagging. About Champagne Chicken. He’s had many excuses. He doesn’t have the recipe. He doesn’t remember what’s in it. He wouldn’t know where to start.

I decided it would probably be like the mac and cheese, anyway. Better in my memory. So I stopped asking.

Then one Sunday I went over to my parents’ house for our usual Sunday night dinner. I recognized the smell as soon as I walked into the house. Champagne Chicken! My dad had made it as a surprise for me.

It turned out, it was even better than I remembered. Maybe because I could appreciate the champagne flavor as an adult. Or maybe because my dad took the time to make something just because I wanted it. All I know is that we had a great dinner that night and I learned that some things are even better the second time around.

Have you tried anything you loved as a child? Was it the same taste or experience? Or was it even better?