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We’re All Going to Die

February 4, 2016

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Recently, things have been quite strange in my little corner of the world. Rad, but strange.

On January 9th, my awesome boyfriend asked me to marry him. The proposal was simple and cool — he did it in front of our pets, all four of them — and gave me a ring from a local thrift shop. And don’t think he’s cheap — that’s what I wanted. My request was for him to purchase a ring that was once owned by a bad-ass bitch who lived a life I could envy. And from the look of this ring, I’d say he did well.

After the proposal, I placed my aunt’s deceased mother’s wedding ring on top of the ring he gave me because 1. I love my aunt and want to honor her mother, 2. the ring Paul gave me was too big (sorry, Paul), 3. I love pre-owned jewelry. Why? Well, that’s complicated… I’ve always been intrigued by death, and for good reason…

When I was three years old, I “died” in surgery. I vomited in my anesthesia mask and, basically, choked on my own puke.

Hot!

The only reason I’m still here is because someone in the room heard me gurgle.

My physical recovery from the experience went well, but the mental one was complicated. For months my parents had to help me through night terrors, etc. I eventually worked my way through that trauma and lived a pretty normal life.

Many people may think my interest in death comes from that experience. Hardly. It’s the other things I’ve gone through; the traumas, deaths, sexual assaults, suicides, relationships, loves, life, personal experiences, illnesses, that have fed the connection I have with people who are no longer here.

Everyone turns to something, or someone, when they are trying to figure out life and death. While, yes, I did go to church as a child and do continue to hold some religious beliefs, I tend to lean toward a more spiritual belief system. Don’t ask me to explain it because it’s complicated and only works for me. But the basic gist of it is this: while other people go to church to talk to their god, I go into nature and visit the cemetery. These are the places I feel most at home because they are physical and remind me that I am mortal, and could die, like, now, so I may as well do the best with what I have.

Cemeteries and nature are equally sad and beautiful, and that’s why I want to have my wedding ceremony in a cemetery — which is, technically, in nature — so I could be in my church and celebrate my life, and my love’s life while we both have it.

Now, I understand that there are quite a few people who think my “cemetery wedding” idea seems disrespectful to the dead. To each their own — I certainly would never try to tell someone their opinion or feelings are wrong. We all experience life and death in different ways.

But I can’t help that I think cemeteries are awesome and the ultimate place to celebrate life. Now, I’m not saying that people should be dancing on graves all willy-nilly, but if, say, a couple does want to get married in a quiet manner at a cemetery, in an area that has no graves, why not let these people go for it?

After all, the cemetery residents would enjoy the show and perhaps get a bit of existential joy from the happy tears shed.

Image via Adrian Scottow

It’s Fall: Pumpkin Beer Chili and Banana Bread (Recipes)

August 24, 2015

This weekend has been ovaries-out amazing. It’s the first weekend that I’ve technically had off (freelancer translation: I am short on assignments and need to find some new clients) since the epic second move of the year. While the weekend was incredibly chill, it also was cool. Like, not “oh, cool, there’s free beer,” but chilly temperature cool.

Overnight temperatures in Kansas are slowly beginning to descend into the upper 50s. And while the daytime temps aren’t exactly cold, it didn’t get over 80 on Sunday. That cool morning breeze had me craving chili and banana bread.

So, of course I pulled out the crock-pot (and called Paul over — he’s the banana bread master) to make dinner.

Pumpkin chili

The chili — I’ll call it “Holy Hell, I Love Pumpkin” Chili — contained the following:

  • Two cans of garbanzo beans
  • A can of black beans
  • Half a cup of spinach
  • A cup of kale
  • A can of pumpkin
  • A can of lentil soup
  • A can of pumpkin beer
  • Tomato paste
  • A can of tomatoes
  • Chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, and pepper to taste

I cooked the concoction on the pot’s high setting for four hours.

Banana bread

The banana bread recipe came from Food.com. The only replacements: we subbed applesauce for the oil, and soy milk for the milk — we also added a dash of cloves and cinnamon.

Halloween wine glass

All in all, it was a damn good meal. And! I washed it all down with some box wine in the snazzy glass Paul bought me over the weekend — I can’t wait until Halloween, people.

Do you have any favorite fall recipes? If so, share ’em.

Witches Don’t Cry

August 20, 2015

Bell, Book, and Candle, Kim Novak

Autumn weather is here… for a day, at least.

August is balls hot here is Kansas, and I am ready to be done with it. I hate heat, dislike summer, and just want to cover my body up and start the chili cooking, bread baking, hibernation process, thank you very much. Why am I so psyched about this weather? BECAUSE THE NEW HOUSE I MOVED INTO IS SO NICE IN COOL WEATHER.

Home with Halloween decorations.

In this place, I actually: 1. Get sunlight 2. Don’t have a landlord that comes by unannounced 3. Have windows that provide air flow.

It’s pretty great, really, and it makes working from home so much more enjoyable. Also: It’s close to downtown! That makes going out for drinks, food, and other Lawrence, Kan. downtown festivals much easier.

So, as I mentioned last time, I’m trying to compile 10 Halloween costume ideas before the first day of fall. Since last here, I’ve thought of one more costume…

Kim Novak in “Bell, Book, and Candle”

I’ve cut and bleached my hair (for fashion reasons, not costume reasons), so, I could easily pull off the cool, cold witch Novak plays in this classic film.

If you haven’t seen the film, here’s one of my favorite scenes.

Have any of you thought up any Halloween costumes since I last wrote?

It’s Halloween Season

July 25, 2015

Many people think Christmas starts in mid-October. Others think that Valentine’s Day should be celebrated all February. And then there are folks who start preparing for Halloween in August. Well, I take it one step further and start in July.

While I’ve yet to start pulling out my Halloween decorations (I don’t have many in storage, but those will start going up in August after I move), I began planning my 2015 costume after July 4th — like any good American.

The following are my top 3 ideas so far. I hope to have at least 7 more before mid-September — when things get real.

~

Blue-Velvet

Woman Dancing on Car in “Blue Velvet

So, to achieve this look, I’ll just need a cheap blonde wig (unless my hair has grown out a bit by then), a pink skirt, and some iron on letters that spell out “In Dreams.” I believe I have the shoes already (but will have to check). So, all that leaves is some makeup and some solid dance moves. I’m sure no one will know who I am, but to me, that’s not the mark of a bad costume — it’s a sign that too few people have seen “Blue Velvet.”

whywolfWhywolf

My second idea is the Whywolf from “Adventure Time.” That will call for an over-sized coat, wolf ears, tiny glasses, and a pipe that blows bubbles — that last item makes me happier than I care to admit.

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Peachfuzz

Third idea is Peachfuzz from “Creep.” This will require a killer wolf mask and a slick track suit, but I think I’m up for the challenge.

~

I’ll keep you updated on my ideas. But in the meantime, I want to know what you die-hard Halloween lovers are planning for this year. Do you have a costume idea already? How are you going to decorate your house? I’m thinking about going full-on Lynch and doing a recreation of the “Blue Velvet” yard (severed ear and all).

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Now I Know Why Everyone in ‘Troll II’ Hated Eggs (aka Pay Attention to Egg Labels)

June 22, 2015
Mary is judging your egg-buying choices.

Mary is judging your egg-buying choices.

So, you thought you were doing a good thing for the environment, your body, and all your feathered friends by buying eggs that are free-range, cage-free, or vegetarian. Well, just like that emoji-filled text you received from your on-again, off-again fling, egg carton labels also are filled with confusing wording and not-so-clear-cut labels.

What’s an egg-loving, conscious consumer to do? The journey to enjoying a homemade, guilt-free omelet isn’t difficult to embark on, but it is wrought with a lot of research. And since no one has time to do hours of research to figure out what each egg carton label actually means, here’s an uber-quick breakdown of what to look for when you’re shopping for eggs at the market..

What Eggs Should I Buy?

Organic eggs and eggs that feature the Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) labels are, by far, the best.

The Animal Welfare Approved label ensures that hens are treated with the utmost respect and fed well. According to the AWA, the group develops its standards by addressing aspects “of each species’ life-cycle needs from birth to death.” One farm that proudly touts the AWA label is California-based Long Dream Farm.

While the USDA Organic label is totally a boffo label, egg buyers still need to do some research to discover just how “good” the farm the egg’s come from is. According to Organic Authority, the USDA only regulates the hens’ feed and doesn’t really give a flip about their cages. Also: Some certified-organic egg producers still practice debeaking and forced molting. To make certain you’re supporting a farm that truly treats its hens well, check out Cornucopia’s website and consult its organic egg scorecard.

Now, another great option is to simply hoof it down to your local farmers’ market. While many locally produced eggs don’t necessarily have a label, any egg-lover can read about the farm’s egg producing policies by perusing a farm’s website, or buy chatting up the farmer who is selling the eggs.

Questionable Egg Labels

While the pastured label isn’t a terrible label for carton eggs to be adorned with (pasture raised means chickens can graze outside, and that the eggs are, typically, sourced locally — farms aren’t, however required to feed chickens organic feed), the following labels are pretty much worthless:

  • Natural: Natural means nothing. It isn’t a regulatory term, and it requires farms do nothing except produce and sell eggs.
  • United Egg Producers Certified: The Better Business Bureau cracked down on this label due to false advertising claims. The Humane Society reported that in late 2006, “UEP paid a $100,000 fine to settle false advertising claims by 16 state attorney general offices and the Washington, D.C., attorney general.”
  • Free Range: Yes, these chickens have access to the outdoors! But the amount of access? Totally not regulated.
  • Certified Humane: The standards of this label are really unclear, which basically means, they are totally worthless. According to Organic Authority, “the certification does prohibit cages, antibiotics and hormones, it does not ensure outdoor access for chickens and still allows for debeaking, which is typically done without anesthetics.”
  • Cage-Free: These chicks don’t reside in cages, but they also aren’t guaranteed a fresh, clean place to live, and are not guaranteed a life outdoors. Also, many of these hens are fed GMOS, and may be treated with antibiotics or hormones.
  • Vegetarian Eggs: This is probably the most misleading term out there, as chickens are naturally omnivores. Ignore this label unless it comes with an organic label, too. And even then, do your research to find out how these chicks are actually treated on the farm.

So, now that you’re up to date on egg regulations and terminology, you can wow your health conscious date this weekend with your knowledge, and surprise your date with an organic, AWA egg omelette the morning after.

Source: My lovely employers at Organic Authority

Image: schizoform

Making Kool-Aid Out of a Shit Sandwich

June 15, 2015

I’m sure they do you dirty bastard.

Summer has just about arrived in Lawrence, Kan. and it’s every bit as magical as I remember it years ago…

OK, it’s not magical, really. Thus far, Paul and I’s summer has consisted of the following non-magical, totally mundane, and massively irritating events:

– A terrible move where the moving company overcharged us for bad work.

– A raw sewage flood in the basement.

– A scrambled attempt to find a new home to move into, as our current home became an obvious temporary option.

– Job lost under weird circumstances.

This was basically my reaction after all the above stuff happened.

But all in all, Lawrence is still the somewhat magical and alluringly laid-back city it was when I first arrived here almost seven years ago. Except now, Lawrence is far more enjoyable because I’m no longer busting my ass to get to class on time. I’m just busting my ass to make sure all my clients are happy.

Bad happenings aside, Paul and I are happy we’re here because we’re 1. living together (he’s the best roommate ever), and 2. things have to get better. For real.

And because he and I are banking on our positive attitudes to propel us out of bummerville, I’ve spent time thinking of awesome, cheap things to do that are summer specific. Because if anything can buoy a sour mood, it’s summertime fun.

1. 70s sitcoms and Kool-Aid

Nothing is better than crashing on the couch and watching hours of “The Brady Bunch” while sipping grape, cherry, or lime Kool-Aid. And luckily, because Hulu exists, and I’m an adult and can drink a sugary beverage when I want, I can take part in this bad-ass summertime activity all the time. (For real, I work from home.) While I do plan on legit Kool-Aiding it up this summer, most weekends I’ll probably sub the empty calorie concoction with some club soda, sliced fruit, and vodka — because I’m a responsible adult.

2. Read trash

As a kid, I read Goosebumps all summer long. And as an adult, I plan on finally finishing the Motley Cru book I just found hiding in my grandmother’s car. (No, grandma wasn’t a Cru groupie, I misplaced it last year after my Arizona road trip.) I’m pretty sure my eyes will devour every disgusting inch (dirty) of that book in a few days, so I’d appreciate any other trashy book suggestions.

3. Start a project

In the past, every project I’ve started from June through Aug. was a success. I’m a superstitious person. so I plan on really diving into the few projects I want to succeed in the coming years now. And while I realize that real businesses are much harder to “make” succeed than, say, learning how to apply liquid eyeliner and lipstick, I still have that “can do” attitude that 16-year-old girl had who murdered those makeup tricks many years ago.

4. Watch a ton of horror

Alright. This one horror website started a series called “how to get into horror.” When I first read that headline, I yelled a few fuck-shits and thought “why does one have to learn how to get into horror?!” And then I realized that most younger people don’t have access to the killer VHS selection I picked through when I was a young, curious, soon-to-be-avid horror fan. Every summer, I’d walk down to the local video store and pick three videos a week to rent based on their covers. Then, after a stop at the Quick-Mart to buy three Clearly Canadians and a bag full of Fun Dip, Now and Later, and Starburst, I walked home and got my horror education. This summer, I will further my education in horror (it’s a continuing education, after all), and watch horror films on my streaming services (while also hitting up Liberty Hall), all while eating my current movie snack — tofu fries covered in Sriracha and kale, all chased with a goblet of high-alcohol Rose.

How are all your summer plans turning out? Have any god-awful things happened to you lately? I love terrible stories, so please share. Also: I’m curious — how many people reenact their childhood summer activities? Am I the only loser who does this?

Image: Jamie

How Horror Helped Me Grieve and Made Me the Tough Broad I am Today

October 10, 2014
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Pretty proud of this one. My horror origin story, if you will.

HORROR MOVIES UNCUT

Horror movies are great. No, I think everyone who frequents this site thinks horror movies are spectacular. Amazing! We’re all over the moon about horror.

All horror fans have come to love the spooky genre for various reasons. I came to love horror films because they grossed me out as much as they cracked me up. And all those movies reminded me that being alive isn’t so bad. Bad stuff happens, people. (But at least you’re not the one with a knife through your left eyeball.) Through the years, though, my appreciation for scary movies has grown deeper and has helped me get through all that life crap.

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