The Year of Chicken Noodle Soup


Thus far my main prediction for 2013 is that I am going to eat a lot of chicken noodle soup.

In that sense, 2013 will not be so very different from the last month of 2012, during which time I also ate many a bowl of chicken noodle soup. I’ve always enjoyed chicken noodle soup, sure, but lately it’s suddenly one my favorite foods and the only thing I ever want to eat.

You could say chicken noodle soup is the new microwave burritos.

Meanwhile, I am unable to predict much else beyond noodle soup; I am nonetheless hoping that some additional, slightly-more-exciting-than-chicken-noodle-soup-consumption things will happen to me in the coming year.

Some burning questions I have about 2013 include:

  • Will I complete Couch to 5K and finally become a runner? (Yes!  No!  Yes!  No!  This one could go either way!)
  • Will my neighbor ever find Butchy once and for all? (I don’t think so!)
  • Will I be forced to move against my will because the apartment I live in gets sold? (Maybe?!)
  • Will I find myself a future-husband, as so many of those around me (including my little sister!!!) have been doing lately? (Only if he’ll get up early and make me quiches, I have decided!)
  • Will I finally save enough money to take my trip to France? (Let’s talk about that in 2014!)
  • Will I get a summer job? (I better or else!)
  • Will I finally write that novel I’ve been saying I’m going to write? (YES or maybe that other novel, but definitely one of them!)

I genuinely like the New Year.  Even though intellectually I know that nothing really changes all that much just because a new year starts, I always feel like it might and I like that feeling.

Welcome 2013, and bring on the chicken noodle soup please.

16+ cups of homemade broth ready for the freezer, 2013!

16+ cups of homemade broth are ready for the freezer, 2013!


outstanding in that capacity


So earlier tonight I found myself sitting alone in the dark in my apartment, eating chocolate cake and watching The Breakfast Club on DVD.

Writing it out like that, it occurs to me that some people might interpret that situation as sad or lame or lonely sounding.  But to be clear about things, I am sharing this with you because it was awesome.  So transcendentally awesome that I felt the need to write about it, even though I don’t have much to say beyond what I have already said.

Except to add that Judd Nelson is very attractive for someone with such large nostrils, is he not? Also I just found this drawing at an ETSY shop while searching for pictures of him, and I love it, wonky eyes and all:

Other (unrelated) things I wanted to share with you:

– Here is the link to Ina Garten’s Tabbouleh recipe.  It is delicious and quick and healthy and did I mention delicious?  I make it and I mix in a little feta cheese and put it on my salad instead of salad dressing.  This tabbouleh is an important part of my life these days; it is phenomenal.

– This video is beautiful (as are his previous videos, too).  We are all just people, man!  Cry cry cry.


– Ever have a vanilla steamer?  It is just steamed milk and vanilla syrup.  You should try one, unless you think you wouldn’t enjoy drinking pure happiness in a cup.  Is it a little too sweet and also totally bad for you?  Yes but I just do not care on a crispy fall night when I happen to pass by a Starbuck.

– I like my job, guys.  I like kids so very much, even (or maybe even especially) when they go on about protecting their library books from swooping eagles.  Seriously, swooping eagles absconding with library books in their talons is not exactly the number one problem plaguing students in the library today (uncapped water bottles in the backpack probably is) but one kid thought that scenario up and shared it, and then his classmates just ran with it.  Adorbs.

So many good things going on in my life lately, I could probably go on and on.  I’ll stop, though, because shit is about to get real at Shermer High and I need to give John Bender my full attention.

Body Heart Head Tater-tots


This is what is for dinner tonight:

chicky cutlet; roasted Brussels sprouts

My Body is all: YES! lean protein and vegetables!  Just what I am craving!

My Heart’s all: WHAT? lean protein and vegetables?!?  But where are the tater tots?!?!

Well, they’re in the freezer, Heart, because last night I listened to you and all we had for dinner was tots with hot sauce and sour cream plus two frozen waffles and two graham crackers.  That simply will not do.

Body, I could tell that the meal of tots-waffles-grahams was not your idea of a good time.  You missed having some protein, so for the rest of the evening we were sort of listless and lightheaded and we tossed and turned when we went to bed.  I am trying to remedy that sitch, Body, with this sensible but still pretty tasty (though not tots-level tasty) dinner.

Of course, my Head is all: quit talking to yourself and eat your damn dinner, weirdo.

My Head has a wisdom that my Heart and Body sometimes lack.

Then again, my Head just sanctioned a screening of The Notebook on a night when my Heart is feeling all maudlin about its state of affairs, so it’s kind of an idiot too.

Noah Calhoun, you get me.

P.S. Tater Tots is a tag I have used on this blog already.  Tater Tots.  Deep stuff, this.

Good Stuff: My Health


Although my rampant hypochondria may suggest otherwise, I am generally an incredibly healthy person.

Plus the truth is that my hypochondria has decreased by many-folds since I was a teenager; none of the diseases I had convinced myself I had ever actually manifested and even I could not continue to suspect that I had a weak constitution when I never actually ever got sick.

As an adult I do continue to spout ideas for diseases that I likely have with every little symptom I get but that really comes more out of habit than any real sense of concern.

Of course, when I found the tick on me in April, my several-days long obsessive WebMDing of Lyme Disease was legit.

But then again of course, I never got Lyme Disease.

With the notable exception of my first year of teaching (two sinus infections, strep throat and a truly heinous norovirus) I rarely get sick as an adult.  I get about a cold a year, and sometimes at the tail end of a cold or when I have a really exciting trip coming up, I’ll get a barky cough that won’t go away.  It will be my only symptom, usually and I am so used to it that it barely phases me.  Plus, since I always get these coughs before and during exciting trips, the taste of Halls Cherry Menthol cough drops reminds me of All-Eastern Orchestra in Pittsburgh, Disney World, Disney Land, Scotland, &c. in the very best of ways.

Anyway, today I feel kind of crappy.  Symptoms are a headache and a body ache and the occasional bout of dizziness, plus also my body is reacting poorly to shifts in temperature. Intense shivers at the grocery store, the sweats when I am outside.

Part of me -the old hypochondriac part – believes that I have West Nile Virus.  This is because I got two big mosquito bites the other day and my mom said, “Be really careful about getting mosquito bites.  All the mosquito diseases are rampant this summer” which is an insane thing for my mother to say to me.  She’s usually smarter about not suggesting diseases to me and my sisters, because she knows how we are.

But most of me believes that this is just a mild Megabug from the Megabus, and it will pass in no time.

I am sure one day my health will not be as good as it is.  Bad Shit, you know?  But for now, my health is Good Stuff and I celebrate it.

Also, to make myself feel better I had breakfast for dinner.  Eggos, Tater Tots, Bacon…only the best meal ever.  Even though I encountered serious First World Problem on my way to brinner:

two whole blocks away, no less!

And finally, all this thinking about how lucky I am to have good health has had this scene running through my head:

So brilliant, I think I will eat another Eggo and watch The Princess Bride now.

Cheese Monster made me do it.


This happened last night, 10:00PM:

To clarify: I did NOT eat the Floor Refresher Spray

It was only a minor set-back, in terms of pulling myself together food-wise.  In the past three days I have gotten myself back on the right track.  I have eaten many fruits and quite a few vegetables and virtually nothing with added sugar.

That last has been particularly hard since I am coming down off a trip to my Grandma’s, where apart from having had 24/7 access to chips, ice cream and soda, I basically mainlined Starbursts for 48 hours straight.  It is just what you do at Grandma’s, but suddenly stopping the steady stream of Starburst sugar sent my system staggering.

(p.s. I just won a gold medal for alliteration!)

So although I was basically tweaking on processed sugar and jumping out of my skin looking for another hit, I avoided temptation and I think it’s mostly out of my system.

I’ve had but the one quesadilla incident that I consider a failure.

Of course, it wasn’t ME who made the quesadilla, it was my Cheese Monster.  Of the Cheese Monster, Ze Frank says:

And when I get that feeling in my stomach, you know the feeling when all of a sudden you get a ball of energy and it shoots down into your legs and up into your arms and it tells you to get up and stand up and go to the refrigerator and get a cheese sandwich: that’s my cheese monster talking and my cheese monster will never be satisfied by cheddar, only the cheese of accomplishment.

Ze Frank is like my new guru: I listen to what he says and I think about it.  He takes mundane topics and speaks about them with humor and insight.  He has crazy eyes that I absolutely love and thanks to him, I have a name to give the thing inside me that drives me to get up and eat some cheese, which is a thing I do a lot, and that name is Cheese Monster and it’s brilliant.

Of course, my Cheese Monster is still craving cheddar (and feta, manchego, wensleydale, provolone, &c.) rather than accomplishment.  At least it has a name now, so I can work on redirecting it.

Ze Frank also just just just put up THIS video about having high cholesterol in which he talks to an unnamed inner-version of himself that I believe to be HIS Cheese Monster.  This video SPEAKS TO MY SOUL:

I am very bad at fighting that inner voice, but I do want to live a longer and healthier life and my Cheese Monster has been out of control lately.

It is something to think about, and to work on.  I am very good at thinking about things, it’s just the working on them that I need to work on. I’m working on it though.

More areas of my life in which I am pulling myself back together to follow!

Semi-wise, semi-regular


I’ve decided this should be Pull Yourself Together! Week.

The “Yourself” referring, naturally, to me.

You may have noticed that I spend a lot of time telling amusing/appalling anecdotes about eating junk food and being absurdly lazy.  While those are true stories, the truer truth is that most of the time I have my shit together.

Let’s not carried away: even at my best I am not someone you would show in a motivational setting as a shining beacon of How You Should Live.  But I am, for the most part, a productive and functioning member of society, who makes semi-wise life choices on a semi-regular basis.

Except for times when I do not.

Times like when I eat 12 ice cream sandwiches in a week, I forgo exercising regularly, I snooze my alarm clock too much, I forget to charge my electric toothbrush, I stop answering emails, I don’t change my sheets at particularly appropriate intervals, I watch entire seasons of television in unacceptably small windows of time, I abandon any and all creative projects, I fail to nurture my interpersonal relationships, I shower less often than you would like, I go out in public in holey t-shirts and flip-flops.

Other things, probably too, but I think you get the point.

The problem is that many of the things on that list that make me feel like my life has fallen apart in August start out as real treats in June/July:

Snooze that alarm clock for an hour and a half because you don’t really have anywhere to go and your new bedroom is absurdly pleasant for early-morning snoozing?


Eat whatever you want because you have no regular schedule and it is summer, dammit?

Sounds like a plan.

Stop showering, wearing make-up and putting any effort into your clothes because you never go anywhere where you may see people?

Why the heck not!?

Start Battlestar Galactica over again at the beginning because you finally finished and now you MISS IT?

Best frakkin’ idea I’ve ever heard of.

And so on.

As these things begin to pile up, though, they stop being relaxing and fun.  Suddenly I take a look at my life and wonder where it all went.

So with three weeks left in summer, I figure it’s about time I started pulling myself together, lest I show up for the first day of school two hours late, wearing a dirty Ron Weasley t-shirt and toting naught but a bag of Cheetos for lunch.

If you knew the version of me I have become right now, that very scenario would seem dangerously close to realistic.

Updates to follow this week on my success at sorting out the biggest areas needing my attention: food, exercise, sleep schedule, general productivity….


Pressing Questions About the Future


Two things inspired this week’s theme, which is Conversations With My Younger Self.

1. I read this young adult book called The Future of Us.  It was about two teenagers in 1996 who log onto AOL for the first time and are magically made privy to their 32-year-old Facebook profiles.  I mostly enjoyed the book for its 1996 references; can I get a hand up if you ever danced your last slow dance at a middle school dance to “End of the Road” by BoyzIIMen?  I bet you did!!!

2. This video, which is entirely brilliant.  I wish this guy had been my BFF when we were twelve and also still now:

So since I read that book/watched that video, I have been imagining conversations with my imaginary 17-year-old self (who is, I guess, not exactly imaginary but you know…) on all topics from dating to my job to where I live to how I live.

This is my favorite faux-conversation I’ve had, and one which I genuinely believe 17-year-old me would have brought up very early on in our exchange.

To preface this conversation, you need to know that in the year 2000 for about five weeks Burger King had this special called the X-treme Double Cheese Burger.  Described in a press release I just found online as “monstrously huge and obscenely loaded with cheese,” the X-treme Double Cheeseburger featured, “1/2 pound of juicy, flame-broiled beef; two slices of Monterey Jack cheese; two slices of Cheddar; and a zesty cheese sauce topped with tomatoes, pickles and onions on a sesame seed bun.” I am just now learning it contained over a thousand calories and about 60% of those calories came from fat.

I ate like three X-treme Double Cheeseburgers a week for the duration of their existence, is something you need to know before this starts.  Yeah.


The conversation goes something like this:

17-Year-Old-Me: Does Burger King ever bring back the X-treme Double Cheeseburger?

Me: Nope, pretty sure not.

17-Year-Old-Me: Man, that sucks!

Me: I guess.

17-Year-Old-Me: You “guess”?!?!  X-treme Double Cheeseburgers were, like, SO delicious!  I miss them.  I miss them SO MUCH.

Me: Wow, you really do don’t you?  They were pretty disgusting and really bad for you, you know.

17-Year-Old-Me: Whatever.  At least Burger King still sells jalepeno poppers.

Me: Well, they actually discontinued those too. That’ll happen soon – like within the next year or so.

17-Year-Old-Me: WHAT!?!?!  How could they?  Jalepeno poppers are the BEST THING EVER!

Me: It seems bad now, I know, but I have some encouraging news.

17-Year-Old-Me: Yeah?

Me: You don’t eat fast food any more.

17-Year-Old-Me: What does that mean?

Me: You quit going to fast food restaurants.

17-Year-Old-Me: I don’t understand.

Me: You haven’t had fast food more than a small handful of times in the past two years, and even then you only have fries and milkshakes, never meat.

17-Year-Old-Me: But….why?

Me: Well, you try pretty hard to eat healthy and you don’t believe in eating meat that comes from unethical sources.

17-Year-Old-Me: …..

Me: You know, like, factory farms.  Meat that’s not raised in humane and sustainable conditions.  You try to only eat meat of known provenance, because you believe it is better for the world that way.

17-Year-Old-Me: But….but…Burger King is delicious.  So is McDonald’s.

Me: Yeah, and in about a year you’ll discover how delicious Taco Bell is, too.  But it doesn’t matter, because you have PRINCIPLES now.

17-Year-Old-Me: That sounds pretty stupid.  I want to eat X-treme Double Cheeseburgers and I will always want to eat X-treme Double Cheeseburgers.

Me: And I’m telling you, you will not.  You will someday come to realize that living a way that is commensurate with your values is more important to you than chicken nuggets and other fast food.  You believe that the factory farm system is evil and you are always talking to people about your decision to eat ethically produced meats whenever possible to try to convince them to join the fight!

17-Year-Old-Me: You sound like a huge asshole;  I like chicken nuggets.

Me: Well, I think you sound like an asshole.  Don’t you care where your food comes from?  Some things are more impor-


aaaand scene.

Jalapeno poppers were so APPETIZING. How could BK ever discontinue them? Also no pictures of the Xtreme Double Cheeseburger seem to exist. Tragic.