AM I A HIPSTER? (AND OTHER CONCERNS.)

I wear Ray-Ban Wayferer glasses, I’m big into finding new spots, I like craft things, I’ve had poutine more than once, and I totally think bacon on popcorn is the great new frontier. Pop up dinners? I’m in!

When I moved to Chicago, I moved to Wicker Park, and then to Pilsen. Guilty… and guilty by association too!

I’ve been going through each item of the “hipster definition” list, and I’m afraid I may be one. I appreciate art:

instagram pic aic

… and I downloaded the Snoop Dogg (pardon me Lion) app and thought it was hilarious. Laughed a good while.

billcosbydisdain

I’m sorry. I would like to apologize, formally, to everyone. I have come to terms with my reality. I won’t even offer up a defense – I am a hipster, and I’m OK with it.

The only thing that I feel deeply conflicted about is Liz Lemon not accepting me (but secretly, I think she would like me if we hung out.)

hipster nonsense

All you other people, don’t care. Do not care at all.

But even coming to terms with this hasn’t calmed down my neuroses. I’ve started to realize I am extremely neurotic, and it’s only getting worse with age. (The fact that I’m only realizing that now gives me more stress. The other day I found myself contemplating if I was destined to be a late bloomer for life.) I also started worrying about my Vitamin D intake. Should I be taking more? Is that a thing?

What I mean is, now that I’m well into my 30th year of life, have I really learned anything? Am I in any way smarter than say, when I was 25? I thought 30 would mean “you got your shit together.” You know, you’re an adult, and you do adult things. But since turning 30 I quit my job, moved in with my mom for the summer, and decided to move half-way across the planet for “new experiences.” Is that what adults do? Or have we altered the definition of adulthood?

And here is where I have arrived. Another year older, and I thought I had nothing to show for it. A new decade and not a clue about what I’m doing with my life. The main difference is, I don’t care. Or better, I don’t mind. I have no clue what these choices will bring. I can’t really tell, but if adulthood is knowing who you are, I definitely know who I’m not! I keep remembering a philosophy class from college (yes, that one that everyone remembers.) The professor said to describe a chair to someone who had never seen one. One by one students gave descriptions:

“It has 4 legs.”
“So does a horse.”

Not earth-shattering, but at 18, students

KKwhatevs

The exercise was just that. A way to chip away the preconceived notions of language and how we view our reality. At the time it was simple. A chair, the number 3, what’s more real? Like a really painful study of Magritte. But now in it’s most tangible way, if applied to adulthood, it can become a clear definition of what an adult is. Or better yet, isn’t. An adult is not someone who has a mortgage, is married, has a 401K, 2.5 kids, and a dog. (BTW – if I have a dog, am I closer to adulthood?)

An adult is someone who knows if he/she wants a mortgage, or to be married, or how to prepare for the future (or even if you want to prepare), if you want kids (some people should not be entrusted with minors), and if they want a dog!

I’m not defining the future by what I want to do, or where I want to be. So far, I know what I DON’T want, and where I DON’T want to be. I think that’s good enough.

Also, I think Tuesdays are the worst day. I’m writing this on a Tuesday. Tuesdays unlike Mondays don’t have the lingering residue of the weekend, and they are so far away from the next weekend. Wednesdays at least have the “hump day” marketing now. We’re seeing the cup of water week half full by Wednesday. Tuesdays are just boring. Uninspired. Sorry, Morrie. (This is a legitimate concern and thought ruminating in my brain.)

Your brain

brain

Your brain on critical thinking

brain ping pong

Other concern-musings from recent weeks:

  • Did my metabolism really shoot to zero at 30? If so, how do I lose weight/stay in shape? Do I need to work out more? I can’t work out more…
  • Does my dog think I’m abandoning her? Am I doing irreparable damage? Does that make me a bad person?
  • Could I have developed adult ADHD?
  • Am I just another Millennial statistic? AM I A MILLENNIAL?
  • Do I need to cut down my Facebook friends?
  • Am I watching too much reality TV?
  • Does “48 hours” count as reality TV? Am I watching too many crime-drama shows? Are they helping or glamorizing murder? Does that speak more to how our society operated or our creative collective?

My brain is fried, so cats.

funny-cat-gif

***

*I heard of a place that will serve toast all day, and I am genuinely excited to find this place and try their toast.

Advertisements

Dispatches from Dietland

Two weeks before my friend’s wedding (and a too-tight bridesmaid dress) I decided to go on an all-out diet. I am feeling emotions I didn’t know I had – I didn’t know existed! The roller coaster of emotions has really thrown me through a loop. I’m a week in, and now I’m starting to level out long enough to process emotions.

First, I was all in. ALL IN! LET’S DO THIS!!

hhlg

Then, I started to get real, and you have to say good bye to the good friends, the great company, you won’t be able to keep for the next few weeks.

Good bye, cheese.

Pretty-cry

Good bye, chocolate & baked goods.

lccry

And the hardest one of all… good bye, alcohol intake.

Homeland-Claire-Danes-Crying1

You turn to television for sweet relief… something to escape. And you realize how much advertisement is about food. All the food you vowed not to eat.

tv

Because that’s all you can do now… watch TV. It’s the only thing you have enough energy to do.

The Food Channel is forbidden! OH MY GOD WHY IS THE TRAVEL CHANNEL AIRING THEIR “FRIED HEAVEN” ROAD TRIP SHOWS? You start convincing yourself the world is out to get you.

Everyone hates you and they have a vendetta against you.

I SWEAR EVERYTHING SMELLS LIKE BACON.

Just as your energy reaches a new low, it’s time to eat a measured cup of cantaloupe melon. SUGAR RUSH!

paaaaaartykristenwiig

For 10 minutes straight, you start thinking ” I can totally do this, what was I bitching about, this is AMAZING.” And you believe yourself ,too! This is easy. This is real. You can do this! (You give yourself this pep talk several times a day.)

You also start realizing how many hours there are in the day. How many of them can you sleep? 3 out of the 5 stages of grief passed by, and it’s not even noon.

This is all an internal battle, a solitary struggle. But then there is family. Some of them are supportive, a sort of cheerleading section.

cheering_minions

You appreciate this bunch. You also question them. Did you really gain that much weight? (This can also be the lack of sugar in your system talking.)

There is another group of lovely family and friends that love you for who you are and therefore will not be impartial. They tend to say things like “you look great just the way you are,” and “you don’t need to diet!”

notappropriate

They are clearly lying liars! YOU STEPPED ON THE SCALE! YOU KNOW THE TRUTH! YOU PUT THAT DRESS ON!!

Oh no… here it comes… rage. Angers from my feminist side at my need to general society’s thin-obsession. DAMN PATRIARCHY! I DO ME!

angry

It’s already post meridian, and your crazy has reached new levels. You can’t be trusted with anything.

You. Must. Develop. A. Plan. Something to channel all frustrations. Cue “Eye of the Tiger.”

1) Lettuce! Add lettuce to everything!

omnomnmnom

lettuce

 

2) Turn off the television, start making collages, wash your hair, take the dog out for a walk – it’s summer. Walk around, see people outside enjoying the day, ugh, people enjoying things. They are grilling, there’s meat on a grill and it smells soooooooo good. You’d eat the charcoal just to have a taste of that delicious pig on a stick.  Pretty soon you’re delirious. IS SOMEONE FRYING SOMETHING? WHY DOES EVERYTHING GO BACK TO FOOD?!

punchface

You head back inside. It was too much, you weren’t ready. But just like that another day has passed. Sleep is the most fun. You can dream about food without eating it.

The days pretty much look the same. But then, weirdly, you start developing a rhythm. Yeah, gurl, you got this!

chuckcontrol

You start using the phrase “natures candy” un-ironically, about fruits. Who are you?! Who cares? You are halfway there, living on a prayer, and this time next week you’ll be eating, drinking, dancing, and all this will be a distant memory!

crazydancing

shove food

 

I WIN, DIET! I WIN!

 

Re: Templer

River Guide Swallowed by Hippo, Retells Harrowing Near-Death Experience: Counterpoint

Editorial Response by Hippolytus Mammalius

great-atmosphere-hippopotamus-baby-beautiful-164-1

I would like to clarify some things before this story of human spirit over beast gets out of control.

My name is Hippolytus, named after the Euripides tragedy, but my friends call me Hippo for short. I come from a good family, and my father was a professor of Hippopotamus Civic History at the Zambezi River University. I am gregarious by nature, and enjoy lively conversation – contrary to what Mr. Paul Templer may try to convey. To you, sir. How dare you perpetrate such vile and stereotypical diatribe about the nature of hippopotami?

Deadliest animal in Africa? May I remind you that humans are animals as well, and you have a very violent track record. Your deaths are recorded in the thousands. Maybe consider that the deaths attributed to my kind are self-defense.

The day you decided to enter my house I was enjoying a nice day off from work with my family. My children no bigger than 500lbs, just babies!, were trying to have a fun time with their father. Instead, the day turned into chaos when a biped decided he had the right to splash around, get mangled in my wife’s decorative algae, and destroy the playground.

Do you want to know harrowing? May I remind you that it was you who kicked ME in my tusks, I did the only thing an honorable gentleman is to do after such an infraction. To hear that your report names me as the “would-be murderer” and an “angry hippo” is hurtful and completely untrue. We are not litigious by nature, but I might have to reconsider given the recent slander to my character.

And there was no need to be petty. You recalled “a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs”? That was my wife’s cooking, and our favorite dish. You don’t see me going to your precious encased house and talking about your smells of disgusting gardenias and rotten children.

I found out recently that you make a living as a motivational speaker. May I suggest you motivate people to change their attitudes toward a group of lovely, though often misunderstood, quadruped mammals. We are large in size, and our hearts are equally large. I did let you live when I could have just as well finished you right then and there. Show me the same courtesy.

The writer is responding to the original post on May 8th, 2013 by Paul Templer.

***

Extra editorial note: This is a REALLY dated reference. #Iwillgetthehangofbloggingatsomepoint. Hashtags work in blogs, right?

Can I Touch Your Hair?

“Can I touch your hair?”

“No”, is what I should have said. Or “that’s weird.” Instead I stared blankly at her and said “sure!”

Maybe I should provide some context. I get this all the time, sometimes in different variations like “Funny, you don’t have an accent” or “both of your parents are Puerto Rican,” but they’re different questions asking the same thing.

This time it was asked by girl who walked into the bar where my friends and I were celebrating a successful Writing 6 show. She apparently knew someone at our table and joined us.

I don’t know how we got to this, but it’s one of my friend’s favorite party tricks, so I’m not surprised. He asked this girl to guess where I was from. Oh goodie, let’s pretend this will have a different outcome.

She stared at me, quite intently. I’m not sure what my face was saying, or if it was giving off any nationality vibes. And that’s when she squinted a little and said “Can I touch your hair?” What followed was probably the most awkward interaction I can imagine. I would have paid some serious money to see what my face looked like as I stretched over the long bar table over to her.

She squeezed the hair bun, and after what seemed like hours of her wheels turning as an exercise in futility, she shifted back in her bench and triumphantly announced:

“You’re Greek!”

My so-called friend smirked in delight. As if saying “HA! Once again you have been deceived!”

I politely corrected her, no – that would be Puerto Rican. I felt bad. She was so sure after her fact-based assumption. I can only imagine that comes from years of hair-texture research, it’s understandable that she was disappointed in my non-Greekness.

“Hmmm, interesting, you have Greek hair!”

Again, I should have said something, but I was stunned by the series of events. To be honest, I never really have a response for these things. I mean, what does it mean to look Puerto Rican? Or Greek for that matter? I forgot to wear my Puerto Rican flag.

I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that you couldn’t peg where I was from, or are somehow concerned that I don’t look like J.Lo, am not obsessed with spandex and lip liners.

Should I take off my nails, and my hair extensions? Should I wave my finger? Say something like “Ay esto se va a poner bien feo!” Does that make my Puerto Rican-ness more palatable and relatable? Should I be darker? Or lighter? Or have more product in my hair?

I’m being unfair. I can see your confusion. Your perception of me is not in my hair, but in how you perceive my hair should be. My perception of me is not so simple. I was raised in the island, but I am not the island. It is a part of who I am, but it is not the only defining factor of who I am.

But who knows… maybe I have it all wrong.

***

This was a story written for my “Tell Your Story” class. It’s all true – along with my deep thoughts on it.

The Reluctant Vegetarian

If you know me, you know I love bacon. Not just a little… if I were a pig I would have a hard time not eating myself.

My love affair with bacon was torrid at best, so, when 3 years ago I got sick  I had to end it abruptly and try to find a new happy place. However, like with many things in life, my issues did not start 3 years ago, but when I was a tween. Because tweens.

When I was 11 and starting my 7th grade year. Some of my friends and I decided that we wanted to go all Greenpeace and save all the little, furry creatures on the face of the Earth. While they all backed out the second our school cafeteria served “canoas” (delicious sweet plantain concoctions with ground beef, marinara, and cheese that look like a canoe) I tried to stay strong and had a grilled cheese. Then, I was told by both one of those friends AND my mother that I wouldn’t last more than a couple of months and that it was just a phase. Well, if they didn’t know then, they were about to find out. I am a very stubborn individual, to a fault, really. To my own fault.

Cut to 7 years after that. I’d had it. I wanted chicken BBQ, pulled pork, filet Mignon… bacon. So, I cut all ties with my vegetarian self and started eating meat. (It was slightly prompted by visits to nutritionists and an alarming low level of iron.) Just like that, I was eating animals again. I took the “it’s the circle of life” approach.

Yet again, life had other plans. A few years after my omnivore change I got very sick and had to enter a very strict diet. Slowly, I was able to start adding items to my diet. Much to my chagrin, animals are still not on the list of nutrients my stomach is allowing me to ingest. One nutritionist told me that it could be my own body rejecting it from the early developmental years in which I deprived myself of meat. Another nutritionist said these things happen and I may be able to eat it again. Either way, I have no one to blame… well, maybe I can blame my mom a little*… firstly, for telling me not to, and secondly, for indulging me and making me separate “vegetarian-friendly” meals.

(*not really, she’s an AMAZING woman!)

Now I spend my nights and days trolling the Inter-webs in the search for the perfect vegetarian recipe that will  not leave me hungry, have enough protein,  and doesn’t rely to heavily on cheese. Believe it or not, just becoming a vegetarian doesn’t mean automatic weight-loss. Well, not if you really enjoy cheese, and could easily substitute it for anything.

In this continued effort to expand my palate, I bought Brussels Sprouts, broke out the tofu, and tried to make something resembling a full meal out of it. While it may not make you jump out of your chair in excitement (I get it, a sirloin steak would put this to shame, you don’t have to be a jerk about it) it was enough to make me feel full, and it was quite “meaty” for lack of a better word.

Adulthood: coming to terms with our limitations, embracing them, and searching for options.

Brussel Sprouts – Cut in halves

Adding Tofu for protein, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and raw almonds.

The final (edible) product.

***

The More Things Change and the Writer’s Dilemma

I’m in a pensive mood today. Probably mostly due to the fact that I signed up for a 3-hr “Writers’ Date” class in which I’m forced to sit and think and write – and I’m in the middle of it now. I’m in the belly of the beast, the thick of things, deep in the jungle, and whatever other saying that is attributed to this situation.

I have no distraction, there’s no TV to turn on, no one to call, I could surf the interwebs, but I did pay for this “date” and my guilt won’t allow me to StumbleUpon for 3 hours, or Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest… NO, I must sit here and write. Which is the scariest thing you could tell a writer, just in case you didn’t know. Especially when there are so many things brewing in my mind right now. There’s so much that I want to talk about that the thought of starting to write it all down paralyzes me. It is a crippling fear to which I succumb every time. What if I start writing and never stop? What happens if the more I write the less satisfied I am, and the more I have to write? You could have a novel in your hands, people, with this blog entry alone. And it’s a very realistic fear that I will have to drop everything because once I start writing there’s no way to stop, no socializing, no reality other than the blank page that needs more words in it, and no cure.

So, after a few light entries and fun quips, I hope you will indulge me in a neurotic and introspective entry to assuage the writing demons that control my brain. You know, if you don’t feed them, the multiply – their the anti-gremlins, but equally creepy.

Changes

There are 2 main types of changes: those that we make, and those that others make which affect change in our lives. See how it all revolves around us? Because, what other type of change matters? One change we get to decide, we get to control. The second one is a little more scary; we can’t control it. (Please know that I am aware changes come from unexpected sources, and there are many more types of changes. But in very general terms whether we like the changes or not either WE make them, or external forces make them and we must change accordingly around them.)

I made a big change a year and a half ago. It was terrifying to move to Chicago on my own with no idea of whether or not I would land on my feet. But it was my decision, and whether I failed or got any kind of success it would still be a victory because I took a risk, I tried something new, and there is never shame in trying. Previously, I had chosen to move back home, I chose to quite my job, I chose to take classes, I chose what I wanted for breakfast, I chose, I chose, I chose. So, no matter what, I could always ask myself why something happened, and I knew the answer: I made it happen.

There is, however, that other type of change. When other people around us take their chances, make their destiny, and change. It inevitably changes us, for better or for worse, we are now different. Our reality is new, and for a control freak like yours truly, there is a level of hysteria that goes along with this. There is, deep in the bowels of my selfish inner child, an awful thought of how it will affect me. How will I have to change my expectations, my life, and my routine with this imposed change? That’s when I have to force reason to kick into high gear. This is where the id, ego, and super ego meet to duke it out. (I imagine the ego and super ego trying to duel while the id is just throwing rocks. The rock throwing can be pretty accurate; what the id lacks in reason it makes up with brute force.) I do try my hardest to quiet down that pesky, annoying, and petulant child. It isn’t very becoming of me, and it’s also not what I need to propel me forward. So, with reason winning most of those arguments (like a boss) I begin to come to terms with my new reality. Do I have to make any drastic changes? More often that not it’s truly not unsurmountable, it’s usually more of a convenience. I’ve gotten used to that person, or that landscape, or that routine. Now I have to develop an new one… a new relationship, a new visual or sensory image, and I have to work harder to create new habits for the new routine. But it doesn’t end me, it doesn’t defeat me, and with time it cements itself as my new reality, my new comfort zone, my new life.  Without knowing, one day I even start liking it more than my previous reality, and I may even start to forget how my previous life used to be.

It’s bittersweet how everything in life seems to be ephemeral – fleeting moments that we work our entire lives to recreate. Yet, if it weren’t we wouldn’t appreciate it, we wouldn’t know how! So, with changes comes the beauty of life, and the mystery of it. The more things change, the more real they become. Life becomes a working document, a constant work in process, an iterative process through which we recognize mistakes, realize dreams, improve and perfect, and ultimately learn everything in between.

***

I didn’t know how I could end that section without too much of a “kumbaya” moment, because that’s not really my intention. There’s no self-actualization, or any other new age mumbo-jumbo we tend to fall for when searching for explanations in moments of weakness.

I’m also not sure how to end this entry. See?! My worst fears come true! Now I want to start a rant on Mormon’s post-humous baptizing, or about people asking me for US government issued ID’s when I show them my Puerto Rican driver’s license, or the contraceptive debate featuring an all male cast, or working against female discrimination in the workforce, or the non-issue of gay marriage (seriously, HOW is that an issue in a SECULAR society?!), or public transportation, eco-design, recycling, hypocrisy…

I’ll stop myself now before I write ALL the blog postings for the following decade in one entry.

Thank you for paying attention to me, even if you skipped some sections because you can’t believe the post was this long. Now I’m trying to excuse my post! (Let’s call it a post-humous disclaimer. No? Too soon?) OK, let’s put this out of its misery.

Good bye for now.

Career Plan

1) Become a celebrity so that I can:

  • Publish a book (memoir, novel, ANYTHING)
  • Get paid at public engagements ($2,000 more than Toni Morrison – ALWAYS!)
  • Start a charity (also a tax write off, but shh, it’s for the children!)
  • Get a personal trainer so that I can say in interviews I never diet, and have good genes to thank!
  • Check myself into “rehabs” and get extended vacations
  • Get paid to go out
  • Be obnoxiously eco-friendly and say condescending comments about people who can’t afford to buy a $32,000 eco-friendly toilet
  • Fly via private plane everywhere (don’t worry, I’m buying off-setting carbon coupons! See how I stay eco-friendly?)
  • Find myself in a new religion, and then become a prophet of goodness to show the little people what I’ve learned in my enlightened state
2) Continue working in a job (and “be thankful I have it in this economy”), get somewhat paid, try to eat healthy, try to work out, find the little things that make me happy and repeat them to myself every morning (à la Stuart Smalley), read articles about how to be happy, bitch to my friends over drinks and food, and start all over again the next day.
Life Plan, Done!