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Jewfish Nirvana

Well, it’s official. I am no longer a vegetarian. I was getting tired of being hungry all the time and constantly feeling sick due to lack of adequate protein. Now, mind you, I have only reembraced fish and fowl. I haven’t consumed beef, pork, lamb, venison, elk, buffalo, etc. for nearly four years and have no plans to do so again. I am also quite pleased I don’t have to pay a ridiculous ransom for frozen veggie burgers and faux chicken patties ever again.

So, my mother invited me to the “Oy Vey Buffet” (from a previous piece); however, this was not on New York Deli night but, instead, on Saturday seafood night. Seafood?! What excellent timing.

There I was. Standing in the middle of the buffet in a sea of little round “active seniors” with fish in all directions as far as the eye could see. I was, like, literally, in the ocean. An ocean of old Jewish people (seriously, it smelled like denture cream, name-brand analgesic rub, schmaltz, and chutzpah). Okay, well, the fish was only in three directions and as far as my eyes could see because I hate wearing my glasses unless I truly need them. Regardless (not “irregardless” as a former supervisor used to utter ad nauseum, likely to make herself feel smarter), here I was—vegetarian non grata.

First stop, the cold snow crab legs. As my mother tried to balance what amounted to approximately 12 crabs on a salad plate before awkwardly schlepping her pyramidal conquest back to our table, I took a few claws before proceeding down the cold fish section of the salad bar—a salad bar that had been both my best friend and enemy over the past several months. Whitefish salad, gefilte fish, pickled herring, smoked salmon/lox (which is divine with a toasted everything bagel, sliced red onion, cream cheese, and capers), mussels on the half shell, and peel-and-eat shrimp. Yes, I know shellfish isn’t kosher, neither am I. Hush, I’m hungry.

As I skipped back to our table with my delightful appetizer—my stomach humming in joyful anticipation of what it was about to receive—I perused the other options for round two. Warm crab legs, cioppino, fried shrimp, baked salmon, tempura calamari, and Asian clams and salmon in black bean sauce.

Let me tell you, fish has never tasted so good. Never. Truly. At least I think so, as I inhaled it so quickly that I, honestly, don’t remember that first plate. Round two landed some clams, salmon, calamari, broccoli, and a few pieces of tofu (for old time’s sake) atop my plate; but, alas, nothing else looked as appetizing as the salad bar’s cold fish selection. I could actually taste it this time and, oh my goodness, I felt as though I were in heaven. In nirvana. In Jewfish nirvana.

We have since returned the past few Saturdays (and likely for the next several Saturdays as, remember, my mom gets free shit all the time). And every single time my meal consists primarily of cold Jewfish. And broccoli.

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Suite Dreams

Because my mom is old and hangs out an awful lot at the nearby casino where she plays her penny slot machines until, I swear, her eyes look like cherries, she is privy to certain, shall we say, perks. Although “perk” is probably not the best choice of words for a 70-something-year-old woman. I, almost being middle-aged and loath to admit it, do have the pleasure of using “perky” when describing myself, thanks to my aerodynamic surgically-lifted chestal area and gravity-defying derriere thanks to years of dancing and obsessively working out. Anyway, among these, um, benefits are free rooms. One per month. Pretty nifty, if you are into overnight staycations.

I did get a free room when I first got to Vegas because I was depressed and what’s the best cure for depression than a really nice hotel room for you to stay in alone because you’re single and haven’t made any friends yet. The bed was horribly hard, and I couldn’t sleep—even more so than my normal chronic insomnia—however, the oversized jetted tub was awesome. I took three baths that night and it took my skin three days to stop looking like a prune. But it was worth it.

Fast forward two months and I’m still depressed, so I figured it was time for another fun-filled night of marathon bathing alone in a hotel room.

Was I in for a surprise.

My little “room” turned out to be a two-bedroom penthouse suite. OK, maybe not penthouse in the true sense of the word, but it was on the sixth floor of a six-floor building and that was probably as penthouse as I am ever going to get.

I wondered if I could get the cash value for the suite and just stay in a regular room.

I decided to fight my miserly urge and live it up since I rarely get the opportunity to do so, as an underemployed freelance writer. So, as I drove my 19-year-old car to the valet and emerged with my San Diego Chargers duffel bag which I proudly gave to the bellhop, I put on my haughtiest airs and imagined myself a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist preparing for the first leg of my whirlwind international book-signing event. And who, indeed, was a question on Jeopardy! the previous night. Final Jeopardy! to boot.

After tipping the bellhop $2 to haul my “luggage” to my suite for the night, I locked the door and surveyed the premises. Let me tell you, this suite was larger than any house I have ever owned, and had nicer furniture. I was unpleasantly reminded of my paternal grandmother’s Beverly Hills condo with the furniture not intended for kids. I swear I sat on the floor every time I visited. Which was quite often, to my chagrin. I actually used to measure my growth not by marking up the door jamb for a “normal” measurement (because she probably would have made me sleep in the parking garage) but by the increasing size of my butt-print on the carpet.

There’s that digression thing again. Back to tonight’s episode of Natalie’s Not-So-Incredible Adventures: The Sixth Floor.

The master bathroom had a bidet. Now, I know what one is but have never used one. Did you know that you can wash the ceiling with one? Well, I am here to tell you that you can. Quite well, in fact. And the floors, because gravity.

Anyway, the beds were still hard (I tried them both), the tubs were still luxurious (especially the one with the “view” of the Las Vegas desert), and my skin continues to wrinkle with extended water exposure.

Of course, I had to milk this experience for everything that it was going to be worth, especially in the literary sense because unlike some of my daredevil friends who have tried and will try anything and everything and write about it, I am far too reserved and Virgo and boring to do so. Thus, my funny anecdotes are usually loosely based on quasi-actual-experiences-maybe-undertaken-by-me-but-usually-just-imagined (or possibly seen on the Maury Show).

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Why I Kant be a Poopy-Head: A Lesson in Ethical Deontology

(This excerpt is from my Corrections Today piece. Apparently the powers that be did not feel that this was relevant—or necessary—when they published my story. I, however, like it and wanted to share.)

As a deontological ethicist—and relatively devoid of any organized religious background or affiliation—I try to live my life according to Immanuel Kant’s (1724-1804) categorical imperative that is commonly cited in two (paraphrased) parts: act as though every act should become universal law; and never treat people as a means to an end. The first part is relatively easy. I want to call someone a poopy-head. Should I call him a poopy-head? Would this be the ethical thing to do? According to Kant, if I want to call someone a poopy-head then it should be alright if everyone calls whomever they want a poopy-head too (i.e. said action should become universal law). But since calling people poopy-heads is likely not to draw popular consensus then, no, it is not ethical. This is in sharp contrast to the utilitarianism view of ethics: that which brings about the greatest utility and happiness for the greatest number of people is the ethical decision. So in the poopy-head example, if I want to call someone a poopy-head and all of my friends think that this person is, indeed, a poopy-head, then it is the morally-correct decision to do so. Granted, calling others poopy-heads is a bit insignificant but it does, indeed, demonstrate the underlying point that one should always behave in a way that s/he would think it was copacetic if everyone behaved the same way. We are human beings. We have free will and the capacity for rational choice and those who specifically choose to act contrary to how he or she ought to act is cause for moral concern.

The second part of the categorical imperative is to never treat people as a means to an end. More simply, don’t use someone else for your own gain. While this may appear—at face value—to be a no-brainer, there are many poopy-heads who fail to grasp this simple concept including legislators who view “criminals” not as human beings worthy of respect and dignity but as commodities to be sold and traded, not unlike the abhorrent slavery of bygone days.

But who gets to define the parameters of morality? Those who make the laws, of course. The criminalization of the poor and increasingly harsher laws for relatively minor acts such as mere possession of drugs bypasses all rational morality. There is no regard for the branded “criminals” who are subject to oftentimes erroneous and increasingly unforgiving legislation that labels, punishes, and disenfranchises them for life. What about their utility or happiness as American citizens, especially those who have paid their debt to society and have become productive and law-abiding members? It is painfully evident that they increasingly don’t matter and this is wrong and part of the reason that the US is in the deteriorated shape it is today.

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The “Oy Vey[1]” Buffet

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a Jewish vegetarian? Of course not, because who does that?! What with delicacies like pickled herring, lox, brisket, pastrami, cabbage rolls, chopped liver and kreplach[2] (which sounds like some sort of diarrhea medication), what Jew in his or her right mind would give all of that up?

It actually wasn’t that difficult renouncing meat consumption entirely. After all, for the prior year I ate only fish, and the year before that just fish and fowl. I wanted to see if I could actually do it, and I discovered that I quite enjoyed the new recipes I found and the relatively lower cost of feeding myself. Except, of course, for name brand soy meat-like offerings such as fake chicken wings, meatless meatballs (which, in my book, were simply balls), porkless sweet and sour pork, and veggie burgers. Those things are EXPENSIVE!! (Yay for cheap tofu and beans!)

As I was saying, my new dietary routine was rather facile. Until my mother took me to “New York Deli Night” at her favorite casino’s buffet. I have been there quite often, and it was difficult enough trying to find dairy-free vegetarian fare on a “normal” night (except, of course, for “Steak Night”—another appreciated yet misguided suggestion on her part). But what made this night different from all other nights?[3] Hundreds of round little “active seniors” schlepping[4] plates piled high with the aforementioned delicacies back and forth, to and fro, here and there; dumping the less messy foods into empty plastic bags in their oversized purses like my Bubbe[5] used to do “for later”; and repeatedly asking me, “Is that all you’re going to eat?”

While carefully piercing my pickled beets with my fork so as to not stain my clothing, my gaze steadily drifted to the zaftig[6] Jewish woman sitting at the next table whose plate looked like a family platter from Katz’s Delicatessen. She noticed, and asked me, in a thick Brooklyn accent, why I was drooling on her lap. I explained the situation and asked if I could live vicariously through her clogged arteries, high cholesterol, and likely, subsequent heart attack.

That’s why I became a vegetarian. Health. And because of that horrible YouTube slaughterhouse video.

That evening, I enjoyed the most expensive salad and plate of broccoli in the history of Las Vegas. And a macaroon.

Oh, and in case you may be wondering why I didn’t partake of any matzo balls, two words: chicken broth.

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[1] Oy vey: the Jewish OMG

[2] Kreplach: a meat-filled dumpling; a Jewish potsticker.

[3] The Passover Seder “lead in” question to the four “real” questions.

[4] Schlep: to carry something

[5] Bubbe: grandmother

[6] Zaftig: full-figured

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Prison Beans, Posole, and Plagiarism

Since I have become a vegetarian, oh, just over ten months ago, I have avidly been seeking new and exciting recipes to try because, face it, one can only eat beans a few times per week. Unless, of course, one is in prison and is served beans EVERY meal EVERY day. Seriously, folks, no lie. I used to work in a prison in an unnamed southwestern state that shall remain anonymous to protect the innocent. Hell, it’s a prison; nobody is innocent. Perhaps it’s just anonymous southwestern state prisons in general because of the demographics. Or maybe only in privately-run prisons because of the excessive focus upon cost-effectiveness and the bottom line regardless of the fact that the entire inmate population has severe gas and Beano is not on the commissary list. (I always wondered about that one.) But I digress, as usual. Get used to it folks.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled article. Well, not exactly regularly scheduled because there was no rhyme or reason as to the time I am writing this. (If you really care it is currently 9:26 p.m. MST, or 21:26 hours if you are in the military or prison.) There’s that digression thing I mentioned. My apologies.

What was I talking about? Beans? Inmates? How ridiculous daylight savings time is? Oh yeah, food. Vegetarianism. And just for the record, fish is NOT a vegetable!! OMG, the people who say, “I’m a vegetarian. I just eat fish,” drive me CRAZY!!

So, I search Google almost daily looking for interesting vegetarian meals to make. But they have to be dairy-free because I am lactose intolerant. I guess I should have mentioned that earlier. Now I hear you thinking, wouldn’t that mean you are a vegan? Um, no. Vegans do not consume ANY animal products whatsoever. I eat eggs. I love eggs. And I can have aged cheese like parmesan which has very little lactose and doesn’t harm my tummy.* Thank goodness for almond/soy/cashew milk, sorbet, and veggie cheese which my mother is convinced has no nutritional value whatsoever.

OK, I’m back. Vegetarian, lactose-free meals. Just makes your mouth water, doesn’t it?

I have found myriad interesting dishes which have been surprisingly good. I particularly like the faux chicken salad curry chickpea salad with mashed chickpeas (or garbanzo beans as I used to call them). Other names for these fiber- and protein-rich bean-consistency legumes include Egyptian pea, cece/ceci, Kabuli chama, and Bengal gram. Yum! Into the chickpea mash I add beaucoup curry powder, coriander, slivered almonds (walnuts are good too), celery, onion, mayo, salt, pepper, garlic…whatever you like, really. Radishes are good. Granny Smith apples provide a little tart crunch. Seriously, anything smallish and crunchy. No, not M&Ms (although I really haven’t tried those. Who knows?)

What actually prompted me to write this little vignette was that one of my mother’s co-workers asked for the recipe. I told her she could just look it up online. She also asked for my roasted poblano and tomatillo posole recipe.[1] I was told that I should write a cookbook. I thought for a moment. I am a writer, after all. A wordsmith, an author, a grammar nerd. However, I am also an academic researcher and the most important rule when composing scholarly stuff is to not plagiarize.

The full definition of plagiarize is:

[as a] transitive verb:to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source

[as an] intransitive verb:to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source[2]

Now if I just cut and pasted from the Internet without crediting the source from where I “borrowed” this definition, I would be plagiarizing. I would be guilty of plagiarism. Welcome to the United States. A ‘z’ in the first word and an ‘ism’ in the second. Of course, me mum being a Brit has emphasized that the Queen prefers plagiarise. And probably emphasise. Whatever. You know what I mean.

By the way, the chickpea salad is rather monotone in its colour; however, it is not very labour-intensive and can be made in less than a fortnight. It is brilliant, really, very scrummy and you can share it with your mates. Even the wankers.

Oh bollocks, I got off-topic again. What’s bloody wrong with me? I am actually rather knackered so I will say, “Cheerio.”

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[1] This is actually Rachael Ray’s recipe. Thank you Rachael!! Available at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/poblano-posole.html

[2] Merriam-Webster. Available at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plagiarize

*My daughter who has been a vegetarian far longer than I has informed me that in order to be classified as true parmesan cheese,  rennet (the lining of a calf stomach) is used. Bye bye eggplant parmesan. I will now be making eggplant veggie cheese.

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What is…A Jeopardy! Story?[1]

The original Jeopardy! was created by Merv Griffin on 30 March 1964. On 10 September 1984 a daily syndicated version was launched, hosted by Alex Trebek and his mysteriously disappearing and reappearing mustache, and has been going even stronger ever since. Jeopardy! is the recipient of multiple daytime Emmy awards and the prestigious Peabody Award—being the only post-1960 game show to receive this accolade.  The daily syndicated show is currently in its 32nd season. And I am in my 32nd year of post-high schoolness.

I did have the opportunity back in 1987 when I was in Los Angeles to take the contestant test. Granted, I was only 21 at the time and did not know nearly as much useless trivia as I do now. Nevertheless, it was a fun experience and I never gave up on my dream to be on the show one day.

Fast forward 20 years later. Now, potential Jeopardy! contestants can take the test online. Which I have done. Every year. Since then.

Perhaps the one aspect about the online test I find most—well, actually there are two—is that, first of all, I am a veritable Einstein whilst watching the show from the comfort of my living room or bedroom or bathtub. I answer questions I have no Earthly recollection of learning. Sometimes, I have to admit, I surprise myself with my mastery of all things trivial.

However, second—and this is rather demoralizing—some of the test questions are almost impossible. Instead of “normal” categories such as Geography, Supreme Court Justices (one of my favorites), Chemical Elements, 1970s Music, and TV Show Theme Songs—or even slightly more obscure ones such as Potent Potables, Doctor Who Companions, or Oscar-Nominated Actors who Used to be Carpenters (Who is Harrison Ford, anyone?)—the contestant exam contains categories such as 13th Century Portuguese Poets, Rivers in Antarctica, and Alliterative French Experimental Theatre Sports Mascots Before and After Rhyme Time Crossword Clues X (OK, that last one was a bit over the top). Nevertheless, I do get rather perturbed when someone who actually passed the incomprehensible inconceivable intricate inquisition (how’s THAT for alliteration?) misses multiple questions—or even worse, final jeopardy—when I know the correct answer and should have been in his or her place.

Life is not fair. Get used to that, kids.

I have since added to my dream of being a contestant to include someday being a question on Jeopardy! (if you don’t believe me just check out my Facebook and Twitter bios). Of course, I would prefer being in a category such as Famous Authors, Notable Women, Nobel Prize Winners, or something otherwise positive. Not, say, for example, Notorious or Death Row Inmates although those who know me really well may say I am, indeed, better suited for the latter. I just think it would be cool to hear, “Who is Natalie Faulk?” Especially for Final Jeopardy!

_____________________________

[1] Thanks to my mother for furnishing the title.

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How to Get through Your Midlife Crisis. Or Not.

I just turned 49. I am officially in my late 40’s now. I will be 50 next year; ergo, I am as old as the Super Bowl. I don’t want to be 50; however, I suppose the alternative is not a desirable one. I have been in crisis mode since I turned 40 and my friends, family, kids, and acquaintances are telling me to get over it already.

Thankfully I don’t look, feel, or usually act my age yet that number persists; haunting my nightly reveries like a soon-to-be-incarcerated stalker. You know, the creepy type, not the, “Wow, he’s cute I hope he follows me home like a lost puppy,” kind that you would want to chain to your radiator to keep him from running away. Recent dreams have included breaking a hip, falling and being unable to get up, and losing my bottle of Geritol.

I’m not sure if this will actually help anyone—or even assist with my “getting over it”—but, if nothing else, I hope to make someone else laugh, cogitate at his or her own recollections or fears of midlifery, or, indeed, enable me to get over it.

Thus, without further ado, I present my top five current coping mechanisms. Please feel free to try any or all of these, particularly if you have some lapse of sanity.

I am currently looking for someplace where I can legally purchase a fake I.D. that makes me 34. If anyone can help, please message me on Facebook, send me a tweet, email me, text me, ring my doorbell, whatever. Actually, please disregard the whole doorbell comment.

Get your birthday tattooed in a semi-highly-visible area (I chose my collarbone) so that every time you look in the mirror you are reminded of your ever-increasing maturity. Or better yet (and I did this too), get it done in Roman numerals so you feel even older. When people ask about it I tell them it’s my prison number when I was interrogated by the Spanish Inquisition. Yes, I know I’m in the wrong country but someone has to give the Monty Python blokes the homage they deserve. Especially since nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Resort to stating your age in terms related to something you enjoy. For me, that is football (American football for all of my British relatives or potential foreigners who are actually reading this and think I mean soccer). Currently, I am third-and-nineteen; certainly not a preferable hurdle to overcome in the NFL but a play-action post pattern by a slot receiver against a Cover 2 defense with relatively weak safeties (not like the San Diego Chargers’ Eric Weddle who definitely deserved a contract extension) is most certainly doable. I’m not sure how I will say I am 50. Fourth-and-ten is usually a punt situation unless within field goal range. Third-and-twenty is just as bad as the aforementioned third-and-nineteen. Second-and-thirty is just downright horrible. Maybe I will just be forty-ten. Or, akin to my tattoo, simply L—for laxative.

As a single female, I have the increasing acceptance of becoming a cougar. “Becoming?” my friends ask in bewilderment to which I tell them to hush. My 20-year-old daughter fears that if I ever get married again our husbands will be the same age but since neither of us are engaged this is currently a non-issue. I’m not positive what the term is for a midlife-crisis-suffering-man. New convertible or Harley owner, I believe.

Find a good cause in which to participate. Dispensing good karma into the universe is always a satisfying experience. My new cause is feeding and watering the homeless feral cats that live under a vacant building near my local post office that have come to recognize my vehicle and voice and greet me daily by hissing and hiding under the mail delivery truck until the bowl is filled and I am gone. Except for the one orange tabby who actually lets me pet her and is likely riddled with disease which has necessitated my keeping a family-size bottle of hand sanitizer in the car.

There you go, folks. A brief glimpse into my waning sanity and hopefully a chortle or guffaw to make you feel better about your age, whatever that may be. I’m still in crisis mode.

*

How to Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich in 76 Easy Steps

  1. Locate the loaf of bread and pick it up. (For me, it is on top of the microwave.)
  1. Unwrap the little twisty thing to open the bag. Put the little twisty thing on the counter in plain sight so that it doesn’t get lost, thus forcing me to use a chip clip or ponytail holder to secure the bag.
  1. Dig through the loaf for two pieces of bread that aren’t squished, torn, moldy, or as hard as a rock due to the fact that I rarely eat bread and keep it atop the microwave well past its usefulness.
  1. Holding the bread in right hand (and being careful to not squish it), tear a paper towel off the roll sitting on the paper towel holder next to the sink with left hand.
  1. Lay the paper towel on the counter, being careful to not cover the little twisty thing.
  1. Place the two slices of bread on the paper towel, ensuring they are facing the same direction.
  1. Walk over to silverware drawer.
  1. Open drawer.
  1. Grasp and remove a butter knife.
  1. Close drawer because, if not, I will undoubtedly run into it on my way to the refrigerator, thus bruising my hip in the process.
  1. Place the knife on the counter next to the bread while keeping the little twisty thing in plain view.
  1. Walk over to the pantry.
  1. Open pantry door.
  1. Locate and grab the jar of peanut butter on the third shelf in between the tuna and salsa; preferably Skippy Natural Super Chunk.
  1. Close the pantry door.
  1. Walk back over to the counter and place the jar on the counter near the knife, bread, and little twisty thing but not too close to the little twisty thing (see #2).
  1. Walk over to the refrigerator, being grateful that the silverware drawer was closed earlier.
  1. Open the refrigerator.
  1. Locate the Smucker’s Sugar Free Apricot Preserves in the door next to the protein shakes.
  1. Pick up the jar of preserves.
  1. Close the refrigerator (lest I be accused of wasting electricity).
  1. Walk back over to the counter and place the jar down next to the aforementioned items.
  1. Open the peanut butter jar by twisting the lid using approximately five counterclockwise turns.
  1. Place the lid on the counter.
  1. Grasp the butter knife with left hand and scoop some peanut butter from the jar being held in right hand.
  1. Spread the peanut butter on the left slice of bread. This is very important to satisfy my OCD.
  1. Realize that this is not enough peanut butter and get another scoop.
  1. Spread the other scoop atop the previously spread peanut butter on the left slice.
  1. Still using left hand, briefly “wipe” the knife on the right slice of bread to remove remaining peanut butter residue on knife. (In reality, I lick it off before I put it in the preserves since I live alone but everyone else would probably say, “Ewwww”.)
  1. Place the knife on the right slice of bread because if some peanut butter residue remains it will adhere to the paper towel.
  1. Affix the peanut butter jar lid using approximately five clockwise turns, until secure.
  1. Walk over to the pantry.
  1. Open the pantry door.
  1. Place the peanut butter jar back in its position on the third shelf between the tuna and salsa.
  1. Close the pantry door.
  1. Walk back to the counter.
  1. Grasp the preserves jar in right hand.
  1. Using the left hand, unscrew the lid with approximately three counterclockwise turns (smaller lid requires less torque to remove.)
  1. Place the preserves jar lid on the counter.
  1. Pick up butter knife.
  1. Scoop out a small portion of preserves and spread on the right piece of bread, atop the residual peanut butter.
  1. Turn to the left and place knife in sink.
  1. Replace the lid on the jar of preserves using approximately three clockwise turns.
  1. Walk over to the refrigerator.
  1. Open the refrigerator.
  1. Place the preserves back into its assigned spot in the door next to the protein shakes.
  1. Close the refrigerator door.
  1. Walk back over to the counter.
  1. Carefully pick up the left piece of bread.
  1. Lay the left piece of bread atop the right piece, gooey sides together.
  1. Ensure that the edges match and there is no overlap to prevent peanut butter and jelly sticky fingers.
  1. Pick up the loaf of bread.
  1. Locate the little twisty thing.
  1. F***, I can’t find the little twisty thing.
  1. Lift up the sandwich and paper towel and look for the little twisty thing. Shit, where’d it go?
  1. Put the sandwich and paper towel back down on the counter.
  1. Scope the counter for the little twisty thing. Not there.
  1. Brush crumbs off the counter which accumulated when paper towel and sandwich were lifted to find the little twisty thing with one hand into the other hand.
  1. Turn to the sink and dump the accumulated crumbs into the sink.
  1. Brush hands together to ensure complete crumb removal.
  1. Notice the knife in the sink.
  1. Turn on the faucet to rinse the preserves—and the deposited crumbs which have stuck to the knife.
  1. Turn off the faucet.
  1. Open the dishwasher with right hand.
  1. Put the knife in the silverware section of the dishwasher, blade up to ensure thorough washing.
  1. Close the dishwasher.
  1. Turn and walk back to the counter to resume search for little twisty thing.
  1. Step on little twisty thing that had been hiding on the floor between the hard wood and the rug with bare foot.
  1. Yell, “Ow, f***!”
  1. Bend over and pick up little twisty thing.
  1. Resume walk to the counter.
  1. Pick up the loaf of bread.
  1. Twist the top of the bag and replace little twisty thing.
  1. Put the bread back on top of the microwave.
  1. Pick up the sandwich, being careful to not deposit more crumbs on the counter.
  1. Eat the sandwich, assuming that it isn’t already covered in ants or dust or whatnot because of the time taken to make it.

*Since I wrote this I have been exploring more creative ways to construct my sandwich; however, I continue to lose the little twisty thing.

*

On being a San Diego Chargers fan:

If you want a truly character-building experience, root for a mediocre professional sports team. Mind you, I didn’t say a losing team because then, at least, you get predictability. But with a mediocre team you are subjected to veritable roller coaster every season. Will they win? Will they lose? Why the hell did they lose THAT game? How the f*** did they pull that one off? If you’re not already psychologically and/or emotionally damaged—believe me, this will do it.

I became a Chargers fan by default. OK, maybe not default per se but more like subtle bribery. You see, I was an Oakland Raiders fan for years. Being originally from the Los Angeles area I remember watching the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders with my grandpa and just sort of gravitated to the Raiders. Probably because I wore a lot of dark colors during my teenage years to reflect my requisite angst but also because I liked pirates. But, you may say, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are pirates too. Yes, they are. Good point. However, back in the 1970s and 1980s the God-awful orange creamsicle Three-Musketeers pirate uniforms just didn’t do it for me. Even after moving to Denver when I was twelve, I remained a Raiders fan which—coupled with the fact that I was a nerd extraordinaire—was traumatic. However, once I married my first ex-husband, and moved to San Diego to be with him, he gifted me with Chargers’ season tickets.

The first year I proudly wore my silver and black to each home game, much to the chagrin of those among whom we sat; however, the more we attended games and the more I realized how much money we were investing in the team via tickets, memorabilia, and team apparel for hubby, I officially converted. Now, I don’t know how familiar you are with being “jumped out” of a gang but leaving Raider Nation is comparable from what I heard.

Not only did I survive but I embraced the Chargers wholeheartedly and continued to do so after my divorce. I maintained a Chargers blog for a few years. I wrote and continue to write Chargers articles for Sporting News, Bleacher Report, and Football Nation. I collect memorabilia—much of it autographed. My house looks like a 14-year-old boy’s room.

As a “sports writer”, however, my objectiveness is blatantly lacking. Not unlike my fantasy football draft process. If I don’t like a particular team (there are several) or a particular player, no matter how good he may be, I can’t bear to draft him. The same goes for my highly-opinionated articles which have drawn not-so-constructive criticism from my “fans.” But the point of my hours slaving in front of my computer doing research on NFL.com about players’ stats, histories, vertical reach, and favorite flavors of ice cream to write articles for which I’m not being paid is for exposure and to, hopefully, provide a humorous reprieve from the daily grind of life to my readers.

Check out my articles at Football Nation.

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Girl Scout Cookie Humor

Aaaaarrrrrggghhhhhh. Don’t even mention Thin Mints. I was a Girl Scout, many moons ago when cookies were $.50 per box. Yes, you heard right, $.50 per box. Now they are something crazy like $4.50 per box for what, 12 cookies? That’s about $.35 per cookie for a cookie the size of a quarter. Anyway, my British grandmother, who had a proclivity for “biscuits”, wanted her precious granddaughter to win the cookie challenge every year, so she would purchase enough boxes of Thin Mints and ONLY Thin Mints to propel me to the head of the troop.

Every time I would visit my grandparents, she offered Thin Mints. “Would you like a snack dear?”

“Um, yes please. Can I have an apple, or some spinach, or liver?” I cautiously queried.

“Oh honey, how about some Thin Mints and milk?” And I couldn’t say no–I wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings.

And so it began. Every year at “cookie time” (and there were two selling seasons per year) I would try not to say anything around my grandma; until, that is, she would phone me and say, “Honey, I saw Girl Scouts selling cookies at the grocery store today. Is your (heavy emphasis) troop selling them yet?” Gulp. “I’ll take 142 boxes of Thin Mints.”

I even wrote to the Girl Scouts of America, begging them to stop selling Thin Mints. Anything but Thin Mints, I pleaded. You don’t understand…. They would then tell me how successful Thin Mint sales were over the years, and I just wanted to scream, “Yes, because my grandma buys them ALL!!” My pleading and tears and juvenile diabetes did nothing to sway them. To this day, Thin Mints are still the most popular Girl Scout cookie around; and to this day, I shudder when it’s “cookie time.”

Four years later, after two years as a Brownie and two years as a Junior, I retired from girl scouting. And what was my pension? Thin Mints for the next 16 years because, did you know, if you freeze them they last FOREVER!

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A Comprehensive Guide of Automobile Buying Terminology for Women

Amortization – The breakdown of the vehicle’s purchase price into monthly payments intended to pay back both the principal and interest, although not necessarily in that order.

Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) – A system to prevent brakes from locking by exerting steady and standard pressure to the wheels. Similar to a Shiatsu massage.

Book Value – The value of the automobile to a particular market (i.e. wholesale, retail) as specified in a specific guide like the Kelley Blue Book or the Black Book (no, not that black book, unless someone has conducted several test drives and wishes to rate vehicles accordingly.)

Branded Title – A title with a specific condition stated like “actual mileage unknown,” “reconditioned” or “manufacturer buyback.” Similar to the mandatory registration of a sex offender.

Broker – A “matchmaker” who, for a ridiculous fee, brings both buyer and seller together. Basically, just another unnecessary cost.

CARFAX – A report available online (www.carfax.com) which allegedly details all of the potential problems with the vehicle; for example, flood or body damage, odometer discrepancies and whether the car has an Oedipal complex or commitment issues. This is especially useful for used cars and blind dates.

Certificate of Title – A legal document proving ownership of a vehicle, either by the registered owner and driver, lien holder, or parents of a spoiled 16-year old.

Certified used car – A used vehicle is “certified” when a mechanic who actually passed his “Mr. Goodwrench Car Master” weekend course does the pre-sale inspection.

Co-Signor – A third-party whose signature on the loan guarantees payment of the loan should the primary buyer default. Also, this person must really like the primary buyer or fear the buyer possesses some incriminating evidence about him to assume that degree of responsibility.

Collateral – A tangible item (in this case a vehicle) used to secure the loan. If payments are not made, see Repossession.

Collision Insurance – Insurance designed to take care of the vehicle should it be involved in a collision. Excludes ex-husbands.

Comprehensive Insurance – Insurance which covers property loss to the vehicle that is not collision-related; typically due to hail, theft, vandalism, or parking too close to the golf course’s driving range. Arson for hire is not included, so don’t even think about it. Besides, it is fairly easy to determine by competent fire investigators.

Credit Report – A comprehensive, detailed report illustrating one’s credit history to ascertain their risk of defaulting on the loan and to see if their parents taught them the value of money.

Dealer Holdback – The promised profit margin from the manufacturer to the dealer; therefore, if during the course of your haggling spiel the dealer won’t lower the price sufficiently, ask him if the price includes his holdback.

Dealer Invoice – The amount the dealer paid for the vehicle.  Assuming you can get the dealer to show you, then the actual inflation percentage can be ascertained and effectively negotiated.

Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) – A state-run governmental agency which registers vehicles and issues drivers licenses, characterized by extremely long lines and disgruntled governmental employees.

Destination Charge – The cost of the dealer to get the vehicle transported to the dealership.  It is safe to assume that foreign imports will have a considerably higher charge than vehicles manufactured in Detroit.

Down Payment – A sum of money used toward the purchase of the vehicle and not included into the loan, intended to lower the monthly payments; although if one has a down payment in the first place, money probably isn’t an issue. In which case, just pay cash for the dang car.

Duplicate Title – A copy of the original title should the original be lost, stolen, eaten by the dog, or turned into an origami swan or decorative snowflake by one’s seven year old.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) – An agreement between the lessor and the lessee which allows the lessor to remove the loan payment from the lessee’s bank account every month. Just be sure that the lessor isn’t Big Tony at Brighton Beach Independent Bank and Loan Shark Company.

Extended Warranty – Another tactic by the automotive industry to get you to pay more money to cover repairs which might need attention after the standard warranty expires.

Factory-to-Consumer Rebate – Similar to the dealer rebate, but for the customer. Think of it as a personal coupon, like one you might receive in a direct mail envelope.

Factory-to-Dealer Rebate – A discount by the vehicle’s manufacturer which the dealer can choose to pass on to the customer. Just ask them for a coupon; it’s the same thing. But chances are they will not double it.

Fair Market Value – The amount one would reasonably pay for the vehicle in a legitimate, non-coercive, and realistically non-hallucinogenic drug-induced situation.

Finance Charge – The “fee” to the loan company in exchange for the loan to purchase the vehicle; often twelve times the cost of the vehicle.

Fleet Vehicle – An automobile which was purchased in bulk from a Sam’s Club-like members only car warehouse.

Guaranteed Automobile Protection (GAP) – If a total insurance loss amounts to less than what the customer owes on the vehicle, this product pays the difference. Therefore, if you really dislike the car, make sure to find an elk on the side of the road early during the loan term.  Not only will you get the vehicle paid off, your family will be well-fed for at least six months and you’ll have a nice trophy for the family room.

Lease – Unlike a purchase, the customer has the vehicle for a period of time, gets sick of it, and then trades it for a newer one. Much like a midlife crisis male.

Lemon – A vehicle with a persistent problem much like my husband’s alcoholic uncle Elmer.

Lemon Check – An investigation into whether the vehicle is a load of garbage or whether it zests well and would effectively flavor a pie.

Liability Insurance – Protection for the policyholder which pays for damages to another in the case of an accident (excluding the previously-mentioned elk.)  This type of insurance typically equates to a down payment for the impending lawsuit by the other driver.

Limited Powertrain Warranty – A warranty for the “underpinnings” of the vehicle:  the drive shaft, axles, engine and transmission. But, being “limited” it basically will only repair your vehicle if a tornado transfers it to the Land of Oz.

Make – The manufacturer’s moniker like Ford, Pontiac, Ferrari, or Renault.

Model – The non-anorexic creative moniker attached to a vehicle; typically an animal or a city in Arizona.

MSRP – An acronym for the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.  Assume you shop at Bloomingdale’s. The MSRP is similar to the price tag at Bloomingdale’s when you could have gotten as good a product at, oh, Sears, for a better price.

No-haggle Pricing – In a perfect world, it would mean wearing a low-cut blouse with a few undone buttons and getting a really good deal while the salesman is distracted; however, in all actuality, it is a ploy utilized by car dealerships where the “lowest price” is already on the sticker and they hope you are gullible enough to believe it.

Odometer Rollback – This occurs when a dishonest dealer adjusts the mileage of the car so it appears to have less mileage. Kind of like Joan Rivers’ face.

Option Packages – Additional “necessities” not covered as standard equipment, like a lighted makeup mirror, CD/MP3 player with 6 speakers, additional drink holders for a Starbucks fix, gun rack, chauffeur, etc.

Private Party – Refers to the owner of a used car as a friend, family member, or other non-dealer type; however, nobody should buy a vehicle from a friend or family member under any circumstance in the first place.

Recall – A reactive “Oh %*#@” once the manufacturer finds a continuing problem which affects a large group of people.  A recall is issued to all vehicle owners just prior to firing the person who caused the problem.

Repossession – When an individual fails to pay for his/her vehicle, a Dog-the-Bounty-Hunter-type shows up at 3:00 a.m. and “steals” the vehicle to be returned to the dealer.  Some folks initially believe they are subject to an “Overhaulin” prank.

Regulation Z – A requirement of the Truth in Lending Act in which the lender must disclose all credit terms to the buyer. Too bad there is no Regulation Z prior to marriage.

Salvage – If a vehicle is damaged beyond repair or becomes a total loss to an insurance company it receives a salvage title and can be legally disassembled and sold for parts at an east Los Angeles chop shop; however, if the vehicle is salvaged the chop shop wouldn’t be interested in the first place.

Standard Equipment – The basic features necessary to drive the vehicle, like tires, steering wheel, seats, motor. No, a lighted make-up mirror does not qualify as standard.  See Options Package.

Sticker (or List) Price – The base price of the vehicle plus all extras conveniently attached to the vehicle for your viewing pleasure. This is not to be confused with the lesser price written on the windshield in lipstick.

Trade-In Value – The insignificant amount of money a dealer will give in exchange for the customer’s current car during the buying process of a new one.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) – A unique identifier for a vehicle, much like a fingerprint or credit card number.

Warranty – A guarantee by the manufacturer or dealer promising the vehicle will perform as specified or expected for a stated period of time. Most vehicle problems will commence the day after the warranty expires.

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