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Archive for the ‘pretending to be a saint’ Category

NTKOG #114: The kind of health-obsessed model citizen who, when she wakes up half-dead from ingesting various toxins, immediately jumps out of bed to sweat. them. out.

I am: a Proustian aunt when it comes to hangovers. Just give me a nice bed and I’ll take it to it indefinitely, praying for death to come.

I am not: even amused by the idea that there exist people who prefer the gym to boozin’.

The Scene: Bleary-eyed in Brighton, the morning of February 15, reeking of chocolate fondue and sweating straight Merlot. I didn’t think I drank that much during Anglophile’s and my little V-Day voodoo sesh, but all the mental holes in our morning-after recap disproved that theory. (“How’d I get into my pajamas?” “You changed after you made us listen to Usher’s ‘Burn’ fifteen times.” “I hate that song. Oh jesus, tell me you didn’t let me text.”) After Anglophile scooted on her merry way, I was prepared to take to bed, spreading peanut butter on homemade bread with my fingers and mainlining equal parts water and Hugh Laurie. Instead, I remembered a killer blog entry by the lovely kk about how to kick hangovers in which she suggests hitting the gym after you hit the bottle. What did I have to lose?

After I’d arranged a gym date with Sister and actually exited the apartment, the list of things I had to lose became apparent: permanent use of my retinas; my balance; control of the nausea dragon wrapping its tail around my stomach. Ugh. And that was just from walking to the T station.

By the time I got to the gym, I’d have placed even odds on my vomiting on the elliptical. Set the timer for 30 minutes; for the first five, I cursed the gods; for the next five, cursed myself; the middle ten, cursed friggin’ kk, that ho; and then — everything stopped being so bad. Remains of the Day was on TV! Brookline water tastes awesome! I am alive and healthy and feeling moreso every minute! Hell, after the elliptical, I jumped on a treadmill next to Sister for the sheer fun of it for twenty minutes.

The whole walk to my Sister’s place afterwards, I sipped water and cooed over the success of the project (“I feel great! I feel awesome! Wanna go to the zoo and race some llamas?!”). For dinner, we made healthy choices instead of indulging in usual hangover atrocities (brie and roasted garlic sandwiches, anyone?). And then the foundation started to crack. Got a splitting headache and the only medication my sister had on hand was Tylenol PM. Popped two of them and started home. Unfortunately, the drowsy effects of the medication kicked in while I was still half a mile from home, my heart slowed down to 45 beats per month, and I literally stopped three or four times to consider taking a nap on someone else’s stoop.

By the time I returned from this miracle hangover cure, I was fit only to take to my bed, cursing the gods. It’s just the natural order, I guess.

The Verdict: There’s no denying that this felt significantly less pathetic than my usual program of eating junk food and lolling around miserably, but exercise is most definitely not a panacea. I mistook the endorphin high for significant improvement. Right the frig not! Turns out exercise is only meant to be supplemental to a strict regime of lolling, napping, and misery.

Also, a TMI word about dehydration? Apparently I’d severely underestimated either the sheer degree of dehydration inherent to a hangover or the prolificness of my sweating, but I realized about eight hours after the gym that I’d drank 70 oz. of water and hadn’t needed to pee. Thank you, body, for delighting and horrifying me.

TMI Thursday! Lilu! Archives! Lovely!! Lady took a polar bear plunge with some Hulk Hogan impersonators. Good frig! Hero of the day.Alzyby  

And for more NTKOG brilliance, do read this hilarious post

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NTKOG #113: The kind of deeply altruistic girl who floods the streets with her tears for orphans, kittens, orphaned kittens, etc., then writes checks to ballast her compassion.

I am: too broke to make more than one or two carefully considered contributions a year.

I am not: virtuous enough to make the sacrifices that would allow me to give more. Regret to inform, I’m more or less pulling a solid B+/A- in “being a basically good human being”.

The Scene: The little town square across the street from my work in the pouring rain last Wednesday. Weather forecasters had called for several inches of snow (never showed up) and we were all grimly excited about the blizzard; no greeting was complete without a “whew, it’s going to be a rough one”.

As I walked past, a Save The Children volunteer beckoned me near. His hair and beard were already plastered down to his face. I started my standard response: “I admire what you’re doing, but I’m just really broke,” and the guy smiled at me like I’d just bought his mom a new car.

“Don’t worry about it!” he grinned. “I don’t need money. Just thirty seconds of your time.” When you look at the words they seem banal, but his face was limpid and radiant — even as water flumed down the side of his nostrils he remained serene as a mountain, transparent and bottomless as a freshwater pool. Even his face moving to form words looked like nothing more than the wind rippling sweet meadow grasses. Real Pocahontas-style voodoo shit, is what I’m saying, and I knew immediately that he was deeply religious but one of those dudes who never brings it up unless you ask and doesn’t think you’re going to hell, not even if you have sex with robots and punch foreign dignitaries.

He gave me a lightning-round history of Save The Children, talked about their low corporate overhead, showed me pictures of some kids in the Congo, then checked his watch. Exactly thirty seconds.

“Dude,” I smiled at him. “I’ll bet people are awful to you sometimes, aren’t they? I always see people shouting, ‘Save the children? I want to eat the children!’ and stuff like that.”

“Oh, I love those people!” he grinned with genuine enthusiasm. “When they tell me they want to eat the children, I ask them to come over and swap recipes with me. When they tell me they hate the children, I say I’ll sell them a black market slave child! You just can’t take yourself too seriously. I love those people.”

I don’t know what happened but somehow, magically, my Visa was in my hands. As the man took my information, he told me about atrocities in the Congo and what the program’s money was doing. And, I dunno, a particle of dust must have wormed its way in or something, ’cause my eyes started to emit a transparent salty liquid.

After he handed me back my form and card, and had thanked me a few times, I took one last look at his drenched skin and clothes. Really sucks having to be out in this weather all day, I told him — and what about when the blizzard hits?

“Oh, we’re not supposed to be out here today. The company is closed. But I woke up excited this morning. I knew I had to come out here no matter how bad the weather was, just in case someone needed to hear what I had to say.”

Oh jesus. My eyes. They’re malfunctioning.

The Verdict: Made a one-time donation and have vowed to myself that if my temp job becomes permanent, I’ll set up a recurring monthly payment. Pretty psyched about the research I’ve done about this particular organization. That said, I take absolutely zero credit for pretending to be a good person on this one. This guy was a thinly disguised angel in Converse, and the next time I see him out there, I’m bringing him a cup of coffee to thank him for helping me keep my faith in people. And to warm him up ’cause, dude, it is cold out there to have a canvassing job.

This post too chipper for you? I know! Vom! Balance it out by checking out Secret Society of List Addicts and reading my list of phrases I would be perfectly okay never hearing again (and will punch you repeatedly if you say to me).

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NTKOG #111: The kind of thrifty, homey domesticator who eschews preservative-pumped store-bought bread for the fruit of her own kitchen.

I am: a woman living in the 21st century. You know, the one in which the phrase “best thing since sliced bread” is archaic because nobody bakes bread?!

I am not: sure I’ve even bought a loaf of bread since I moved here. I’m more of an English muffin person.

The Scene: My postage-stamp apartment, armed with a few ingredients  and a fantastically easy bread recipe from The Simple Dollar. Although the ingredients are all pantry staples, I had to run to the convenience store for milk and butter, ’cause I don’t keep any moo in the house. Dragged my goods up to the dude at the counter and whipped out my Visa.

Cashier: Ooh, sorry, your total is $3.89. We have a $5 credit card minimum.
TKOG: Bugger. Do y’all sell Nutella?
Cashier: Happy Valentine’s Day.

Love it, sir, and love you. Went home and after twenty minutes, the little cutie was rising. After I rolled it out for the second rising, decided to cinnamon swirl that motha up. My addition to the recipe: mixed two tablespoons each cinnamon and sugar; brush rolled dough liberally with moo juice; sprinkle with delicious. Let rise and bake as noted in recipe.

Also, note the copious amounts of chocolate and V-Day voodoo crap. Yeah. Read tomorrow's post.

Look how cute! Now imagine it slathered with Nutella and warm caramelized bananas! Now stop drooling on your keyboard.

The Verdict: Holy friggin’ gosh are you kidding me?! The whole shebang took less than half an hour of active time (plus two and a half hours of passive rising/baking time) and was some of the best bread I’ve ever eaten. For $4 and with pantry staples, I got enough supplies to make dozens of loaves. Which I’m totally doing the next time I have a free afternoon.

Also: whaling on the dough for ten minutes is the second most satisfying thing ever. Waking up hungover and inhaling a warm slice of this smeared with Nutella is the first most satisfying.

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WIN AN iPOD NANO! It’s red! Like a commie!

NTKOG #106: The kind of well-intentioned busybody who can’t see a stranger let out a lovelorn sigh without immediately demanding all the details then attempting to caulk his broken heart.

I am: completely ill at ease when expected to comfort someone face-to-face.

I am not: interested in your woes, Lonelyheart. Get a blog, then we’ll talk.

The Scene: The Trader Joe’s by Sister’s house, Saturday night around 8:30, in a state of serious disarray. I’ve spent the past few hours in a blue mood — that particular “my first high school boyfriend is fucking engaged, and here I am, unemployed and wearing pajamas on a Saturday night” mood, if you happen to know it. Gathered my few purchases in the entirely empty store, then headed to the check-out.

Before I could take my earbuds out, the check-out guy asked how I was — I’m well, thanks. You? — and as I’m taking my headphones out, he says what looks like, “I’m doing well,” but is just one syllable too many. Surely he couldn’t have said — I mean, don’t he know there’s a protocol? — it’s inconceivable that he might have answered–

“I could be better,” he repeated, to my involuntary look of uptight honorary-New-Englander feelings-inspired mortification. “No, I guess I should keep it professional.”

Um, yeah. You should. But instead of smiling weakly and praying for him to speed up the process, I asked him what was wrong.

Trader Joe’s Clerk: No, don’t worry about it, it doesn’t have to be your problem. I should have kept it professional.
TKOG: I mean, life sucks enough without having to lie about who you are forty hours a week.
TJC: I cheated on my girlfriend.

Yikes. The clerk, incidentally, was cute in that over-expressive-faced European way. He looked like the drummer from Green Day with shorter hair. His eyes were red-rimmed. To my horror, they started watering.

He went on to tell me how his girlfriend had gone out of town and his ex had come to visit, asked to stay with him. He’d told her she had to sleep on the couch, but somehow….

“She tricked me! She manipulated me!”

“Yeah, we’re like that sometimes, women.”

After his tale of woe, I asked if he loved the girlfriend (yes) and said that, in my humble opinion, I didn’t see how he could do much better than making sure she could see he loved her and trying to earn her trust back. He thanked me and relinquished the bag of groceries he’d been holding hostage during the few minutes of our chat. Then put on my Garth and headed back out into my home-bound Saturday night, braless, pajama-clad, a guru.

The Verdict: Please don’t talk to me about your emotional woes in real life. I do not like it. I like to read about it, gchat about it, even sometimes talk on the phone about it, but in real life I do not know where to put my eyes when you want me to look into your soul.

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Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a dang iPod. Also, check out today’s Secret Society of List Addicts list of totally insane things I do when you stupidly leave me alone in your room. (Then delete “ask TKOG over for weekend!” from your Google Calendar.)

NTKOG #104: The kind of placid, capable girl about the house who spurns pre-packaged this and processed that, opting to cook in grand old pioneer style.

I am: a typical busy/lazy broke early-20something.

I am not: Laura Ingalls Wilder. Pa would play a low, mournful tune on the fiddle if ever he witnessed my domestic laziness.

The Scene: The refrigerator box that I rather grandly call a kitchen in my Brighton studio. When I’m at home I eat fairly healthily: an almost entirely vegan diet (yogurt is the only moo product I keep in the house); low-fat this and low-sodium that (’cause I enjoy being able to fit into my bathtub). I’m generally okay about cooking two big meals a week and living off of the leftovers, with nutritional cracks filled in by whatever snack I’m currently obsessing over — usually some variation on the life-giving peanut butter.

Where my  basically sound food and financial strategy falls apart (I mean aside from random convenience store jaunts) is the amount of pre-made ingredients and snacks I rely on out of convenience slash “dude, you can make that?!” ignorance. Last week, inspired by your comments on my broke and hungry post, and heedless of the time and expense of the project, I set about to live a more home-made life.

btdubs, this is literally all of my counterspace.

After I was done chopping up the veggies, all the scraps went into homemade vegetable stock. Ma Ingalls is so proud she's probably knitting me mittens AS WE SPEAK.

Black Beans: Full disclosure: not only do I only eat beans made from a can, but I’ve sworn multiple times I couldn’t handle the pressure of the other way. Justice has been on my case about it for months, telling me that home-made beans are cheaper, tastier and no more difficult to cook. I assumed this was just her leftover un-American spirit.

A pound of uncooked black beans set me back $1.69 — same cost as a can of black beans if you’re silly enough to buy them not on sale. Set ’em in cold water in the base of my crockpot while I slept, then while I was at work, let them simmer in vegetable broth and a container of (deli-section) fresh salsa. Came home to some really delicious black beans that were promply mashed into like sixteen black bean and sweet potato burritos. Dude, let me tell you, when I made my next grocery stock-up, didn’t buy a single can of legumes. Home-made is cheaper, tastier and not a huge pain in the ass. Why didn’t someone tell me?!

Vegetable Broth: While peeling the potatoes, it occurred to me: no one composts out here, so is there something more clever to do with my veg scraps? Quick google search told me I should be saving ’em in my freezer, then churning out delicious homemade veggie stock. Once my bag was totally full, I surveyed the ragtag assortment of motley scraps, and filed this one away as a loser: sweet potato peels, onion, bitter eggplant peelings, a few apple cores, and some slightly past-prime tomatoes and bell peppers. Wrapped the refuse up tightly in cheesecloth and simmered it for two hours in a gallon of water — and can you imagine my surprise when the whole thing turned out so delicious that I actually ate a few ladlefuls straight?! Unlike store-bought vegetable broth, the smell of this won’t magically take you back to ninth grade bio.

Granola: Holy shit, people make that?! I’d always assumed granola was one of those things, like batteries, that you either had to buy or live without. Dude, screw you, granola lobby — I am no longer your pawn. I used Alton Brown’s recipe and was blown away by how fucking good it was. It’s a little on the spendy side (due to the price of maple syrup and the fact that I stupidly bought nuts at Whole Foods instead of Trader Joe’s), but everyone I fed this to raved about it. Plus, seeing simple, boring oats transform into golden clumps of lightly sweetened granola? Made me feel like a sorcerer on a terrible Voyage To Health Food ’70s cartoon. My favorite feeling.

Popcorn: Did you know you can make your own popcorn in a brown lunch bag? All you have to do is put in a quarter cup, fold the bag over a bit and staple it or close it with a bit of tape, then put the bag vertically in the microwave and nuke ’til the kernel pops slow down to two seconds apart. That is INSANE. I always imagined there was some kind of miracle air inside the bags or something, to justify the exorbitant taste.

The only problem with learning how easy and cheap it is to make popcorn: it may or may not lead to you blogging at 8am while finishing a bag of cardamom-sprinkled breakfast popcorn…

The Verdict: Whoa! Completely successful NTKOG! I was obviously expecting to Learn A Lesson, but I wasn’t expecting for every single instance of home cooking to be cheaper and easier than the pre-packaged crap. Plus, my sodium intake was insanely low, which makes my inner 50-year-old man happy (you know, the part of me that smokes cigars and sports a badass fedora).

As a result of this experiment, I want to start taking on another pre-packaged kitchen culprit every week or two and giving it a healthy make-over. Any suggestions for me to get started on, you brilliant foodies, you?

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NTKOG #100: The kind of self-appointed assistant deputy to public health who, when you sniffle within earshot, primly flicks you a tissue and lectures you on the dangers of backed-up nasal cavities.

I am: loath to reprimand strangers for sneezing on my neck, let alone snortin’ and snufflin’ in the privacy of their own noses.

I am not: like the total queen of hygiene, anyway. What?! Kleenex are good for a few uses if you’re desperate!

The Scene: The train, smack in the middle of cold season. All week the mellow music on my iPod has been accompanied by a sort of auditory slither — the juicy slurp of fifteen syncopated noses trying desperately to suck snot back out of view.

There’s kind of a little dance that goes along with it too, on the T. The cold-sufferer will stand there, looking pained, ’til a tiny glisten appears under one or both nostrils. First, a long discretionary snort back. A moment later, the snot starts sliming back down and two more hard sniffles in quick succession. Finally, the human mucous factory glances around, reaches up with one hand to pretend to adjust their glasses or scratch their forehead, then quickly rubs their palm across their nose, smearing a snailtrail of snot on their glove. Elegant, right?

More distracted by the sound than anything else, this week I carried a travel pack of Kleenex with me, determined to be a tissue-toting guardian angel for these noses in need. The first guy I approached was a middle-aged business man, wearing a sharp grey suit and slightly snotted leather gloves.

“Hey,” I  turned around and told him, “You want a Kleenex?” Dude looked surprised and a bit mortified, but smiled warmly and thanked me when I handed it to him. I nodded and turned quickly so I’d be out of his splash zone when the snot went flying, but — nothing.

When I turned back to face him, he was gingerly patting the tips of his nostrils with the unsoiled Kleenex. He crumpled it and shoved it in his pocket. Three seconds later: sniff. snort. herk.

DUDE, YOU HAVE A FUCKING KLEENEX! You can blow it now! You can blow it all over town!

Next girl I approached was a chick around my age, who had just discreetly wiped a semi-solid chunk of green snot onto the cover of her US Weekly as she raised it to turn the page.

“Kleenex?” “Thank you so much!” I watched out of the corner of my eye as she crumple the Kleenex, dabbed her nose with exquisite gentleness, then shoved the Kleenex in her purse. By the next stop, her dripping snot had rendered her upper lip as glossy as the picture of Brangelina she was drooling over.

A few similar experiences (“Thanks!” for nothing, apparently), and I was down to the last two Kleenex in my pack, with nary a cleared sinus cavity to my name. This time, there could be no mistakes. A grungy looking college guy, wearing a Thrice beanie and a military surplus blazer, sucked back on his snot like he was pulling off a bong.

“Dude, want a Kleenex?” I asked, smiling encouragingly. Then, so he wouldn’t feel embarrassed or alone in his infliction, I put the last Kleenex to my own nose and blew it thunderously. Dude glanced at me with grim curiosity, before putting his own Kleenex to his nose — and slowly dribbling air AROUND HIS SNOT! Dude friggin’ pretended to use the Kleenex rather than blowing his dang nose in public!

Of the nine Kleenex I gave away — to people who were having serious and visible problems with, oh, I dunno, getting snot all over their faces?! — not a single friggin’ person could get over the bodily-fluid embarrassment and just blow their stupid noses in public! These are, presumably, people who shower in locker rooms, use public restrooms. Hell, they probably even spit on the street. And you’re telling me that nose-blowing is the one do-not-cross line?!

The Verdict: A bally waste of Kleenex, I’ll tell you that much. Next time I’ll be saving them for myself.

I was beyond shocked by these results. In fact, shocked twice-over. First, dude, if a total stranger offers you a Kleenex, clearly this implies that you’re either making a serious sinus-related ruckus or are unsightly to behold. It’s like a stranger offering you gum. It’s practically impolite not to put the offering to use!

Second, and more importantly, dude, blowing your nose is just about the best thing you can do with your clothes on. I friggin’ love blowing my nose — don’t even try to front like you don’t like it too. I mean, I’m not talking about a runny nose or a stuffy nose, but, y’know, the mid-cold feeling of a nose that’s fully packed with boiling-hot mucous, then blowing it so hard that it makes you dumber. Such release!  Such a sense of accomplishment! I can scarcely look at someone suffering from allergies without sighing wistfully! And the idea of having such a juicy nose and a Kleenex in front of you and DENYING THAT OPPORTUNITY?! It’s like masturbating in a brothel.

People on the T, you continue to disappoint me.

Whoa, it’s my 100th post! And in lieu of doing something badass or celebrating, I chose to … reveal my weird nose-blowing fetish. ’cause apparently I’m that kind of girl. Also the kind of girl who totally TMIs you on this glorious TMI Thursday.

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TKOG #93: The kind of relentlessly frugal mistress of the house who can wine and dine the masses on a single blooming potato and spends nary a cent on her daily food budget.

I am: a busy/lazy urban 20something with no great affinity for scrubbing pots and pans.

I am not: even the mistress of a decent-sized apartment.

The Scene: My kitchen, surveying with distress my bare pantry shelves after I idiotically decided to embark upon this challenge. Fun fact: if you want to stretch your creative lady of the house muscles, you might want to consider going shopping first. To wit, my only foodstuffs: a few boxes of dry pasta; jars of peanut butter in every conceivable denomination of crunchitude; two pounds of frozen chicken drumsticks; the rest of a freezer full of flash-frozen spinach and kale; five pounds of onions and a few peppers; an apocalypse bunker’s worth of canned beans; various spices and condiments. And, of course, about sixty cans of Fresca, because I don’t care what my landlord says: the water in Brighton may be potent, but it sure as heck isn’t potable.

Ran this experiment over the course of a week back when I was full-time unemployed, and this much I’ll say for it: once you get tired of all the food you own, snacking to while away the long hours of unemployment becomes infinitely less appealing.

This much I’ll also say: dude, three meals a day is kind of a lot more food than you’d ever imagine. Especially if you aren’t brilliant enough to keep a bar of emergency chocolate around.

Spent an afternoon cooking up barbecue chicken drumsticks and a pot of the best damn vegan barbecue chili ever, and was on the verge of deciding, ‘dude, I am a total friggin’ culinary slash domestic genius!’ when the crazy went in. I don’t know if you’ve ever jolted awake at 2am to rifle through the pockets of seventeen pairs of jeans, praying for a stale old butterscotch candy but … uh, but neither have I? Ahem.

Also, life-saving technique: once you’re down to nothing but pasta and frozen vegetables, might I heartily recommend the world’s easiest peanut sauce (which is to Thai food as Kraft Easy Mac is to Italian): 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter; 1/4 cup hot hot hot water; 2 tbsp soy sauce; 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar; pinch of brown sugar. Whisk ’til it’s creamy and smooth. Dump liberally on everything you eat.

The Verdict: Dude, unfortch, I think it was the peanut sauce that did me in. Contrary to my broke-ass 20something nature, I’ve never been a huge pasta fan, but after I ran out of real food, I reverted to peanut noodles. Despite the fact that I’d cut sugar, pizza and anything fried out of my daily stats — to say nothing of the fact that I was so bored with my limited food options that I really wasn’t eating much — I managed to put on like five pounds over the course of the week that I have yet to shake.

That said, it was a good reminder to actually friggin’ cook every day, if for no other reason than to stop spending $7-12 daily on food of questionable nutritional value. I’m pretty proud of myself for living across the street from the best damn pizzeria in Boston and only violating my strict budget once (to stress-eat a Milky Way after the worst job interview ever).

Okay, though, spill, guys. What do y’all eat when the budget is lean? ’cause I’m saving up for a trip to Barcelona, and sadly see many, many more days of spend-free eating in my future…

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