Dip

March 16th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Food | Soapbox | Whining - (0 Comments)

In which I don’t understand.

Why do store-bought dips suck?

I bought a huge container of artichoke-jalapeno dip last weekend, and while it isn’t exactly inedible, it’s really not good.

You can safely buy salsa — well, many of them, at least — and those sort of 70’s-style chip dips (like French onion or whatever), and a few bean or cheese dips, from, like, Tostitos.

But guacamole? Awful. Creamy spinach or artichoke dips? Bad. I’ve never bought a hummus that wasn’t mediocre at best, and bitter at worst.

Which is so weird, because it seems like pre-made dips would be really easy to get right. Especially hummus! Or spinach and/or artichoke dip, or guacamole!

In which I rather complain a little.

It’s 29F outside. I cracked the windows while I tidied did the dishes and made the bed, and it can’t be over 73F in here, but I’m overheating! Very hot water just used to be very hot water; these days it’s like I’m being tortured and my hands turn red and swell up! Just doing the damned dishes!

Then there’s the times I’m suddenly freezing and need a blanket, though nothing’s changed in the past half hour. Temperature regulation: I barely seem to do it anymore! How weird is that!

I will probably die this summer. It’s impossible to keep this apartment much under 80F even with blackout curtains, because the building is made of brick and both windows face south and have no awnings. The entire external wall just radiates heat all fucking day long all summer long, and the AC unit verges on useless. Last year I was miserable. I don’t know what I’ll do this year. Sit in the bathtub in the dark with ice cubes, I suppose. Or spend all day every day in an air conditioned coffee shop at five bucks an hour.

And I’ve been on a diet for, what, two months now? No pizza, no pasta, no lattes. I’d kill for a bowl of black beans and brown rice, let alone a nuked tray of cheesy, creamy, carbolicous Stouffer’s® mac & cheese! I’ve had maybe six pieces of bread, and all of it was 100% whole grain! I’m being good! Where are the results!

Breakfast

I keep refried beans, which used to be a staple of my diet, as a treat. (I know I said that in my last post, but OMG seriously. Fucking beans.)

I’m living on omelets, vegetables, cheese, hard boiled eggs, tofu, and miso. Shredded cabbage really doesn’t substitute for hashed browns, no matter how hard you try to pretend it does, and spaghetti squash gets old real quick, even drowning in cream sauce or marinara and cheese. I’m completely bored of Boca burger lettuce wraps and mugs of broth.

Lunch

All this deprivation and I should be getting results, no? No. I’ve lost a couple inches off my waist, and my ankles don’t bloat as much during The Curse. That’s about it. My fat feels ever-so-slightly less firm, maybe. I see no visual evidence of success, and while I do feel better, I’d like to also look better if I could, please!

Last time I did low carb (well, as low carb as one can as a vegetarian), the inches fell off. Now, my physiology has decided this fatness bullshit is my set point, and I get the feeling I will never not have jowls again. I can barely stand to see myself reflected in anything.

And I’m not eating any sugar! Once a week I let myself sweeten my coffee with Equal. I’ll have a 5 oz. glass of Crystal Light, for fuck’s sake, if I’m craving a soda or fruit juice, and even then I usually dilute it with unsweetened iced tea. I had some sugar-free jello a couple weeks ago. You try eating under 40g of carbs as a vegetarian. It’s ridiculous. (And honestly, at this point, I’m not even really a vegetarian for moral reasons: I just cannot eat flesh. My jaw won’t do it. My stomach won’t do it. I’m just as likely to eat your face as I am a cow.)

They really aren’t kidding about it getting harder to lose weight as one ages. It’s not harder, though, it’s impossible! Gah!

In which I’m dieting.

Tired (again) of being fat and miserable. Dieting (again) in an effort to be less fat and less miserable.

As a vegetarian, I find it very difficult to do really low-carb, so I’m doing a combination of “as few carbs as possible” and calorie restriction.

Eating a lot of eggs, tofu, Boca burgers, olives, and nuts.

Diet jello or Crystal Light when I’m desperate for a “treat.”

CURRENT STATUS: Desperate for a bowl of fettuccine Alfredo. Or mac ‘n’ cheese. Seriously. WANT. So, so bad.

I’m in my third week. I’ve lost a few inches off my waist, have more energy, and feel better overall. My nighttime teeth-grinding and snoring seem to be reducing. I’m meditating daily and ticking off the boxes on my housewifery list with much less struggle. My laundry is done. My mood is much improved (although being off the phones at work while I’m on the 90-day chat pilot also helps).

But I’m still fat. My current hip measurement is forty-three inches, which is insane for a person with a 30″ inseam.

Being fat is miserable. Fatigue, bloating, back pain, low energy, and a pervasive feeling of dis-ease and discomfort.

But beans are a huge part of my usual diet, and I’m missing them. (I had half a cup of refried beans yesterday, but they’re high in carbs, and so are rationed. I miss them.)

Tofu is so boring. OMFG. I fry it in ghee with spices, and put it in broth or eat it with sriracha mayo for dip, but it’s so boring.

Fried tofu

One gets bored of eggs. And you can only eat a single can of tuna per week if you don’t want to over-mercury yourself… so getting enough protein is hard when you’re a lacto-ovo pescatarian-who-is-really-mostly-vegetarian.

But seriously: a huge plate of creamy, gooey noooooodles, with garlic French bread?! And a lovely, light salad? Am I right?!

Or a broccoli-cheddar pot pie with lots of gravy, or a baguette with brie!

Gah!

Oh, well. No refined carbs for me. I guess it’s more omelets.

Feta omelet

Hating holidays is juvenile

February 14th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox - (0 Comments)

In which I lecture. (Because fuck it, I pay the hosting fees here AND I CAN.)

You hate holidays. I get it.

You’re woke and clever and can’t be taken in by money-making corporate holidays. You’re totally too smart to fall for any of this shit.

So you reject the few celebrations your culture observes, and deliberately alienate yourself from one of the easiest ways to feel connected with other human beings.

You trot out childish tropes about how giving someone flowers is only meaningful if it happens randomly, rather than on a specific date. You blow off eating celebratory meals with your family. You can’t be bothered to make it to a friend’s birthday party. You think Christmas is too commercial and that decorating as an expression of celebration is tacky.

Well, guess what: you misunderstand human nature to a fantastic degree. Celebration has existed in every human culture ever. We need to celebrate. We’re hard-wired to celebrate.

Are holidays perfect, ideal, without flaw, impossible to improve? No, of course they’re not. Nothing humanity does is perfect, and we all know this. Stop being a twat.

Buy her some fucking flowers. It’ll make you both happy.

Current status

February 5th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Admissions | Domestic Goddess | Food - (0 Comments)

In which it’s Superb Owl Sunday, and I’m not even sure who’s playing!

It’s 1:24 in the afternoon and I’ve already downed this:

Bloody Mary

(It’s a brilliant bloody mary with lots of pickle juice.)

And this:

Tostada

(A mostly-homemade bean tostada of excellent excellence.)

Life is a wonderful — and delicious and tipsy — thing!

I’M AWARE OF MY TONGUE!

January 17th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Health - (0 Comments)

In which I even googled it.

My tongue feels slightly too large for my mouth. My bite feels like it’s off. My mouth seems to be watering more than usual, but it’s hard to tell because normally I don’t notice how much I’m salivating.

But today I’m super-aware of it.

And it’s driving me nuts! It’s been this way all day today, and some of yesterday, and a few days last week, and I want it to stop!

I think I bit it last night in my sleep. (I have a new teeth-grinding thing I do in my sleep now, according to the hygienist I saw a couple of months ago and my subsequent self-observation. It’s dumb. Sleeping me just grinds the shit out of my teeth. What the fuck, sleeping me? Sometimes I make my own jaw muscles sore. Which is probably contributing to this tongue awareness problem I’m having.)

Since I suffer from neither thyroid problems or allergies and my anxiety is reasonably under control, I’ll just chalk it up to the new teeth-grinding thing and more of the joyful fun that is aging while female.

On the incoming POTUS

January 15th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox - (0 Comments)

In which I make political commentary.

I try to do my research. Even if I really, really don’t want to.

I’ve read several long-form think pieces about this man’s upcoming presidency. And the weird thing is that they exist: there are persons, educated persons, DC insiders, who are writing long-form think pieces about this man’s upcoming presidency as if he were just another incoming POTUS, and not the shrieking shitshow that he is.

It’s mind blowing. They talk about his indications of future policy, as if he had ANY policy. They talk about his cabinet choices as if the choices were made by a person who had any motherfucking idea of what he was doing.

Conclusion: there will be enough press behaving as if he weren’t a rolling goddamned disaster that he’ll be able to get all the attention he wants without ever having to acknowledge the massive preponderance of press calling him a moron.

It’s fucking insane, basically.

Vaccine safety deniers are weird, man.

January 14th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox - (0 Comments)

In which Facebook gets far too much of my good material, so I’m cross-posting some here as well.

My original post, on Trump’s appointments, and specifically about his meeting with Kennedy:

Now we’ve got anti-vaxxers, climate change denialists, a rich bitch who has a weird hatred for schools. Absolute opposite of ‘brain trust.’

It received several responses. In one, somebody (from Fairfield, naturally) tried to call me out, as it were, on labeling Kennedy (who still believes in the thoroughly-debunked Thimerosol-autism theory, fer Chrissake) as anti-vax, because nowadays they call themselves “pro-vaccine safety.”

My response:

My interest in “debating” so-called “vaccine safety” with anti-vaxxers is zero, because one cannot have meaningful exchanges with conspiracy theorists. But what the hell, once more into the breach!

Your posts are just like every other anti-vaxxer’s posts. I never claimed to be an expert. I never claimed to be an expert. I tell you three times: I never claimed to be an expert. I claimed to accept the consensus of current scientific knowledge, which tells us that vaccines are reasonably safe and effective and do not cause autism.

And no, there are not “plenty of experts who disagree”: there are a few persons (every single one making money off of their anti-vax fame in some way or another) and a few papers that have been (or will be) retracted, upon which your movement bases all of its provably and measurably harmful views.

In the real world, the preponderance of evidence and the majority of experts all say the same thing: vaccines are safe and effective and do not cause autism. Vaccines are safer than cars by orders of magnitude, and yet none of you are lobbying to have cars banned.

As for being invested emotionally: I don’t sell any product or service that claims to help the so-called victims of vaccines or persons with autism. As they say: follow the money. You’re the one with a horse in the race.

I’ve read your site. You claim that the glorified hammocks you manufacture and sell are nearly panacea. Your idea of “research” that “proves” that motion while sleeping has any measurable, non-placebo, non-subjective effects on any condition is weak, and utilized specifically to earn yourself income.

Your beds are cool, absolutely, but there is no proof they’re medicine. Implying otherwise makes you no better than the charlatans who sell chelation therapy or chemical castration to the parents of autistic children! (Therapies that are effectively abuse, I must add, as there is no evidence the theories behind them are at all relevant or sound.)

A big round bed is far less abusive to an individual than chemical castration, clearly, but you’re still at least attempting to accept money from people on false pretenses. You may have anecdotal stories from mums who say the beds eased symptoms; I have anecdotal stories from people who swear that Rescue Remedy cures their panic attacks. These claims don’t mean that Rescue Remedy isn’t just water, which it is, or that the results aren’t placebo, which they are. Placebo is profoundly powerful. As is the mind.

And as far as Kennedy: I mean, come on. Thimerosol! That horse has been dead for a decade now. Autism continued to happen after it was removed from vaccines. Ergo Thimerosol is not implicated in autism.

Finally, experts agree that the phrase “pro-vaccine safety,” in the mouths of persons who do not work in applicable fields, equals being anti-vax. Your movement thinks it sounds more reasonable and less crack-pot (now that so many people frown upon being “anti-vaccine”) to be “pro-vaccine safety.” But if you’re merely a layperson, the distinction is merely a semantic ruse and nothing more.

My only interest in the anti-vax movement is this: kids are getting sick and dying again. Diseases that were under control are resurfacing in the general population. I myself am aging, and will one day wake up as a member of a vulnerable population.

And if I die from something PREVENTABLE because of the ignorant, fact-denying, anti-vax hysteria of persons like yourself, I’m going to be seriously pissed off.

I won’t be reading any replies, because there’s no point in engaging. But damn, just… damn. Climate change is real, vaccines are safe and effective, Big Pharma not only bilks us all out of billions but also keeps countless persons alive every single day, and humans have walked on the moon!

Perspective: January 13th

January 13th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Introspection | Life - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a retrospective.

Ten years ago today, I lived in Fairfield, IA, freeloading off of an ex-boyfriend and his girlfriend by staying in their extra bedroom after having made myself homeless by leaving my husband a couple months before. (Well, technically, my ex-boyfriend and I were both freeloading off her, really, since it was her house and I don’t think either of us paid her rent regularly. I did pay sometimes, but not enough, although I did a lot of cooking while I lived there, and some cleaning, too, so hopefully that helped her out some.)

Not specifically from January 13th, but here’s some food I made a decade ago, as proof:

Golden Lentil Soup

She later became my ex-husband’s girlfriend, and I think she may have moved into my old farmhouse with him (I think so because she bought a building in Batavia), and for all I know they’re still together. They were still together as recently as a year ago, from what I can glean from Facebook, and more power to them.

Ten years ago today I was supposed to go bowling for her birthday, but I blew it off because it was cold out and I was probably doing coke. (And eleven years ago today, according to my blog, my ex-husband made me leave her birthday bowling early and go home, because he always did shit like that.)

Ten years ago today I was unemployed, uncertain, and had been unsettled and afraid for years. My marriage had failed to feel safe in any way: financially, emotionally, physically, or sexually. I’d tried so hard, but when I’d left the autumn before, that house was a standing wreck with holes in the walls, I’d had half a dozen miscarriages, and I was in collections several times over.

Five years ago today, I lived in Walla Walla in my grandmother’s attic, and had a gig in the Tri-cities at a biker bar with my band, for which I was probably paid a hundred bucks, and at which I wore a sweater and most likely got drunk.

I was single again, having broken up with a guy I’d dated from work, and pretty much over relationshipping altogether. More trouble that they were worth, relationships were, and always some guy crying at the end, baffled that I didn’t want to put up with his shit forever.

I was ready to be single for the rest of my life, and absolutely comfortable with it. I had a bicycle, an easy job, a bento hobby, and a band that played festivals.

Coyote Kings w/Mush

Today, I live in Minneapolis with a wonderful person who makes me feel safe and cared for, and who laughs at my jokes… when he feels like it. (Which is to say if he doesn’t laugh, it’s not because he doesn’t get it. He gets my jokes.)

Today I woke up cuddling with my beloved and smooched him off to work. I’ve done a mess of dishes, ordered groceries, and made white bean soup in the electric pressure cooker (it smells wonderful).

I’m old and fat. I will definitely get older, and based on how hard it is to lose weight now that I’m 48, will either stay fat or get fatter.

And so it goes.

I don’t know that I’m any more stable now, by certain metrics, than I was five or ten years ago; I’m still poor and depending on someone else for shelter. I haven’t paid rent since the last time I handed my ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend money for letting me stay in her spare room. I’m freeloader as fuck.

I was having trouble finding work then, and it never really got much better. I’ve had jobs since, and I have one now, of course, but I’ve turned out to not be much of an earner. And my jobs have been, for the most part, pretty low-quality.

With the exception of LISCO, I’ve rarely liked working anywhere — one works for money, not fun — and I imagine I liked working there for a variety of reasons (like youth and enthusiasm and the chance to get paid to learn stuff) that I’d have gotten over eventually, had my ex-husband not managed to get me laid off through a combination of asking me to work part-time so I could focus on cleaning up after him, and then having me take an extended LOA to help him “sell roofs” in Indianapolis.

Most of my life’s contributions so far have been of the unpaid variety, like housewifery, so-called “emotional labor” (which, now that I’m in a decent relationship, I can see really means “picking the wrong partner and expecting then to make sense to you when your basic expectations are fundamentally different”), knitting things, writing things, situational comedy, and music (which, while a great hobby, was never enough to live on).

Money just has no interest in me, and yet I manage to be wealthier than a whole portion of humanity. It blows my mind. I mean, it’s not like I could buy a yacht, but indoor plumbing and HVAC and grocery delivery and I have so many clothes I can’t even guesstimate how many outfits I own.

Another form of wealth is that in my current life, I never, ever have to nag my partner. For anything. Ever. (Except the blender.) [Inside joke.] He does what he says he’ll do. If I need anything, I just ask and he does his best, which for the past three years has always been enough if not far more than.

It’s really easy to be with someone whose fundamental expectations of how a relationship should be line up with yours. I used to believe that bullshit about how “relationships are hard work,” but now I think that’s only true if you’re in one that sucks. My ex-husband and I had radically different expectations of marriage, and that’s why it failed. I would never for a moment allow anyone to think I didn’t put in the hard work, because I worked my ass off. He probably did too, in his ways. But no amount of “work” can turn you into fundamentally different people.

It turns out that good relationship is easy, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. There’s hard work still, but it’s between each of us and life in general, not between each of us and the relationship itself. We don’t have to “work” to take care of one another, it just happens spontaneously. Even if I were still less domestic, even if I were still interested in pursuing a career, this relationship would work. It’s not the details, it’s the expectations.

The only thing that could make my life better than it is right now would be for us to move back to Walla Walla. I miss my family, and I’ve been too lazy to make new friends here. (Well, not just lazy. The weather’s awful a great deal of the time; I think I’m aging out of just going to bars until I meet random people and befriending them; sometimes I spend months on end feeling exhausted and inward because of perimenopause.)

Plus I already have friends! Tons of friends. They just all happen to not be anywhere near where I am right now, which is, as you can imagine, pretty awkward. But hey, what can you do when the love of your life wants to live in Minnesota for now. Just wait it out!

“Gut-churning sanctimony.”

January 11th, 2017 | Posted by Mush in Soapbox - (2 Comments)

In which I’m a vegetarian, but not an idiot.

Click on the image below for a really great #longread about zoo animal management, that really makes you wonder how anybody can get so fucking freaked out and upset about professionals doing their jobs.

Professionals. Experts. People who know way more than you do about managing animals. (It’s especially, uh, poignant, when considering that these same “protesters” probably had factory-slaughtered dead animal on their plate at their most recent meal.)
 
zoo

Go read it. They take animals they were going to cull anyway, and turn them into science lectures. It’s fucking great, is what it is, rather than hiding the facts of life to placate a ridiculously emotional populace.

…. … .. . .. … ….
Back now? Good. Great read, wasn’t it? Real reporting. Balanced and neutral. Loved it.

Well, if you care, which you shouldn’t, here’s my hippie, vegetarian, pacifist rant:

Billions of perfectly healthy, viable animals are killed every year to fill plates. And how many death threats does that generate? A few, I’m sure, but nothing like Harambe, or that dentist and his lion, or this giraffe.
 
Everything dies, people. Everything. I put my dog down after she’d had a few dozen heart attacks to save her more suffering; this zoo put down an extra male — and then used him for education and lion food — to save him being savaged by other male giraffes and for the ultimate genetic diversity of the herd.

Like most of us, he was neither special nor rare. The zoo declined to rehome him because the outcry was fucking absurd and they refused to buckle… and to avoid “what Holst likes to call the ‘Disneyfication’ of nature.” I applaud.

“An editorial in the Los Angeles Times argued that Copenhagen had broken an “inviolate if unwritten contract” prohibiting the killing of zoo animals.”

What the fuck? One, the LA Times knows shit about zoo management, and two, there’s no such ‘contract;’ anybody managing animals at an expert level culls. And if you’re, say, a backyard chicken-keeper who is too squeamish to cull, well, nature culls for you. Usually after the animal has suffered more than it would have had you manned up and killed it. I once let a terminally savaged duck die slowly under a tree, bleeding and broken and in horrific condition after a dog attack, because I was too much of a pussy to put her out of her misery. I still regret it.
 
“Denmark’s largest pig slaughterhouse is open to the public, and a hundred and fifty visitors tour it each day.” I can’t even imagine what would happen if some American city kids were bused to a slaughterhouse for an educational field day; the press would probably explode! CHILDREN EXPOSED TO REALITY, the headline would read. SOME ATROCIOUS ASSHOLE SHOWED THEM WHERE THEIR FOOD COMES FROM. COMPLETELY HYSTERICAL FILM AT ELEVEN.
 
American zoos freqently “send surplus animals to roadside zoos,” where the level of care is unknown. Is that really better than just culling them? Sometimes, sure. Others? Fuck no. Caring well for animals, especially exotic animals, requires expertise. Merely thinking you love them is not expertise.

America’s folksy model is symbolized by Jack Hanna, the former director of the Columbus Zoo. He noted that he’d made six hundred television shows about wild animals and had never shown a kill. “There’s enough going on in the world — I don’t need to have a family with children sitting watching a lion take an animal apart.”

How is this anything but bullshit? Animals kill and eat other animals. Humans kill and eat animals. This is a fact. Pretending otherwise is weird.
 
And this little gem:

Tom Stalf, Hanna’s successor at Columbus, suggested to me that the children who viewed the autopsy at the Copenhagen Zoo “might be horrified but unaware of it.” He said that they might realize their distress only in middle age.

The fuck? They eat chicken nuggets for lunch, and seeing an animal autopsy will cripple them for life? If it does, we’ve utterly failed to teach them rationality.

I was disgusted at frog dissection in school; I’m still squeamish handling the meat I cook for others because I see it as body parts rather than food; I’ve turned away from kill scenes in animal shows. But I know that my feelings don’t alter the reality, which is that animals die and others eat them. I also know that humane animal handlers cull. (My aunt, who is the softest of softies, will have her vet come out to put down a horse in terminal distress, because that’s what ranchers do. It makes her cry, but she does it anyway. Because she’s not a cunt.)

We have a touring museum show that is nothing but human bodies. If you see that, will you be “distressed” for life because you find reality unpalatable?
 

“Asked several times if culling occurs in American zoos, Rob Vernon, a spokesman for AZA, said, variously, “No,” “Yes,” and “That’s a good question.” He made the candid observation that his own discomfort reflected the industry’s discomfort.” 

American zoos do cull. They’d be remiss if they didn’t. And yet, in American zoos, the preferred term for culling is “humane euthanization.”

Because we’re pussies, apparently, in spite of our Wild West ancestors.
 
I mean, shit, human beings in multiple enclaves world-wide are fighting for the right to euthanize themselves. Everything dies. Killing an unnecessary animal, or a food animal, or a suffering pet: it’s unbeautiful, yes, but it’s a fact of life.

Pretending otherwise is ridiculous.