Anything Lime


How romantic

“You look so incredibly beautiful,” he said to me as I paraded out of the bathroom dressed and done up for work. “You still take my breath away every time I look at you.”

I gathered my things – my purse, my bag of running clothes and my lunch he had made for me – and headed toward the door.

“I love you darling, have a good day,” he said.

“Love you too. Have a great day,” I said in reply.

“Oh, wait!” He said as I reached for my keys. “Here.”

He handed me a fiber bar.

“This will help you go.”


I repeat: DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THESE INSTRUCTIONS!

At the request of my holistic health coach, Amy White, I bought my first Kombucha drink. It’s an organic tea that comes from the natural fermentation (warning: may contain alcohol) of a mushroom. Alcohol? Shrooms? Hardly my style, though just the beginning.

I enlisted Amy’s help to get some tips for taking in foods I never knew existed. Enter: Kombucha.

Amy’s knowledge of both nutrition and the body makes her extremely helpful for, if nothing else, providing me with some kind of ammunition to fire at [insert random person here] who knows what’s best for me and has taken a deep interest in my eating habits since I stopped eating meat. And I knew I’d found the right nutritionist when I learned Amy’s age, because when a woman looks a couple decades younger than she actually is, you know she’s gotta be doing something right.

“Don’t shake it.” She told me, with a look on her face that was the most serious look I’d ever seen her make. “Really. It will explode.”

The bottle has the same warning on the label, bold-faced and prominently displayed. Probably because upon picking up the bottle and noticing the bottom-most quarter inch of the drink has gooey clumps floating around, it’s counter intuitive to not shake it. The human instinct is to stir up the bottom floaties and intersperse them throughout the bottle, perhaps mixing them out of sight and mind.

What is the proper way to drink Kombucha? Well, first, DON’T shake. When it comes to this drink – oh sensitive, sensitive Kombucha – the word “shake” is certainly relative. “Shake” can mean slowly and carefully pulling the bottle out of the fridge and tipping it ever so slightly. It can mean driving over small road bumps with the bottle resting gently in a grocery bag on the passenger seat. While these circumstances seem harmless enough, you must understand that Kombucha is a sensitive drink. A drink that, if it becomes upset, will not hesitate to violently splatter all over you leaving you with a lingering vinegar-esque aroma. And then probably hold a grudge about it.

What made me so drawn to try this drink wasn’t so much that my nutritionist recommended it, which was most certainly a deciding factor. It was because my nutritionist recommended it despite the hard work that went into drinking it, which sent a clear message that the frequently-performed twist-and-run maneuver was, with every bottle, totally worth it.

She jotted down the name of the brand (Synergy, in case you’re wondering) on our consult sheet. She looked over at me as though she were continuing her thought.

“Then..” she started. There’s MORE? It gets more complicated than not EVER tilting the bottles and learning how to dodge violently spraying liquid?

“Have you heard of Chia seeds?” I know what you’re thinking, and yes, she was talking about those Chia seeds.

“After you drink half, take a scoop of Chia seeds and pour them into the bottle.”

I nodded, my mind drifting toward trying to find an explanation as to why I have never in my life owned a Chia pet.

“It will be sort of like a volcano, which is why you have to wait until the liquid is halfway gone before pouring in the seeds. Put the lid back onto the bottle, and – listen, this is important – shake once.”

Wait, what?! Did you say SHAKE? How long have I been singing, “Ch-ch-ch Chia!”?

Hours later at Whole Foods I picked up six bottles – all different flavors. I’ve had two so far, and one sprayed out – Finicky citrus flavor. The second time I was successful and had a pleasant experience, which leaves me with a 50 percent success rate – hardly worth bragging about.

I’m happy I was introduced to this crazy drink because the health benefits far outweigh the hassle involved in the care and consuming of Kombucha: it’s laced with probiotics and enzymes, packed with vitamins, promotes digestion and a healthy immune system and it’s great for the hair and skin.

So far (meaning out of the two I’ve ever had) my favorite flavor is Passionberry, named for the drink’s equal parts passion and berry, which are then mixed with two parts awesome.


Destined for a life in seclusion

Last night my handsome darling offered to take me out to dinner as a way to pick me up from the long, exhausting and somewhat saddening day (see: workplace bullying) I had at work. He got it into his head that it would be a good idea for us to go to Applebee’s because of a current promotion: one appetizer and two entrees for $20. So we hop in the car, head out for a FANCY! meal, and arrive in good spirits and good conversation.

We’re waiting in line to check in with the hostess when we overhear the couple in front of us. “Two please,” the woman says. “Can I have a name?” the hostess asks. “Whitney,” she says.

To any normal person this isn’t a big deal. Yes, that is correct. To any normal person this isn’t a big deal.

For me, however, such a thing meant catastrophe. “Oh my God!” I said to Patrick. “What on earth name am I supposed to put down now?!” (Keep in mind the Spazz Factor has now reached near maximum.) “Hello,” the hostess greeted us, interrupting my frenzy. “How many?” “Two please,” I responded. “Non smoking.” She laughed a bit, then asked, “Are you guys from out of town?” “No, we live in Orlando,” we said. “Well,” she went on to explain, “In Florida, all restaurants have been non smoking for the last five years.” We laughed a little, by this time other members of the wait staff have entered the scene to look into the faces of the people who haven’t been to a Florida Applebee’s in five years. “We don’t get out much,” I said in a joking voice. Though I certainly wasn’t joking. “The name’s Patrick,” he chimed in. A rush of relief went over me. AND THAT IS WHY I’M MARRYING HIM.

We took a seat in the waiting area and fixed our eyes on a nearby TV. We were there about five minutes – watching and chatting – before we heard, “Hoyt, party of two” come from the hostess stand. I looked over at Whitney and Guest and was relieved that she was not, in fact, stealing my identity. The name belonged to a middle-aged couple wearing matching pairs of khaki shorts.

We ate a meal that was what we expected – worth $20 – and then finished it off with the best part of the day: dessert. When we go out Patrick usually vetoes dessert, but yesterday was different. Yesterday I was on the verge of a mental breakdown (see: Wednesday).

While at dinner we had a long discussion about the stressors in my life, and I filled my gut with molten chocolate cake (which is, of course, the greatest answer to all of life’s problems). And I went home feeling a little more ill, a little less stressed and a lot more thankful to be spending my life with someone so great. No wonder we never go out in public – we’ve got everything we could want in the comfort of our own home. Plus, we could have given ourselves diarrhea if we wanted it, no need to pay 20 dollars. Our time, we decided, is not best spent in public, but best spent at home together. Away from human civilization.

So in fifty years when kids ride their bikes past our house – a house no one is ever seen going into or coming out of – and throw things in our yard because we’ve become the neighborhood crazies who do crazy things; and when origin stories and urban legends start to trickle down the grapevine about us, all I ask is that you tape a nice little note to the brick you use to throw in a taunting manner through our living room window.


Yes, exactly like a fairy tale

While some are arguing that the name of ABC’s dramatic dating show “The Bachelor” be changed to “The Most Heartless Son of a bitch in America,” consider for a moment the circumstances of this show. Meeting the man of your dreams and forging a serious relationship on-camera while America watches along with the families of the 24 other woman your Prince Charming is simultaneously dating is not an ideal way to find a soulmate. I’m not sure it’s the ideal way to find a breakfast cereal. It’s not an accurate portrayal of how life goes. At least outside the land of Make Believe. And polygamy.

But take into account how, blame aside, Jason went with his heart. What? GASP! He made a mistake? AND admitted to it? WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO?! Isn’t a person allowed to change his mind? Isn’t there something to be said about his honesty no matter how ridiculously it all unfolded? And is he really the only one at fault here? Didn’t all parties involved understand what they were getting themselves into?

I, too, was completely enveloped in this dramatic season and went with him on all the twists and turns that were the rose ceremonies – dismissing each girl one by one, until there were only two remaining (which, on any other reality show, wouldn’t have been the last two standing). 

And when one got dumped, she whined like a baby only to reunite with her man six weeks later when he dumped his fiancee – still on national television – and she then whined like a baby. I know that this is, eh em, real and all, but hello? ISN’T THIS WHAT YOU SIGNED UP FOR? Can’t you just eat your drama sandwich and make peace with the fact that no, this is not in fact normal. No, this is not an ideal dating situation. And no, you might not be the person he’s looking for even if you are an adorable Canadian with personality to spare and legs to die for.

Apparently Jason and I have differing taste in chics.


Next stop: Milan

For the first time since hacking my hair off, I whipped out my curling iron two days ago and gave myself a quirky little style change. I was 20 minutes late to work because I wanted to get every last inch of my hair swirling like a ribbon dancer at a gay pride parade. I took a picture with my phone to document it because I knew that by the time I was halfway through my day at work, it would have fallen into a droopy, stick-straight  mess. Which would have proved that the 20 minutes I came late to work would have been for nothing (even though I choose to hit the snooze button five or 10 or 19 times and am late to work EVERY SINGLE MORNING!).

So glad I was wrong. Hours later my coworkers were still complimenting me on my bouncy, swingy locks that, let’s face it, I couldn’t be more proud of, and no one was more surprised than I was that they remained in tact.

Pulling out of the parking lot after the day was done, I realized I had left my phone in my desk, which is, living in these times, the equivalent of forgetting to put on your clothes, OR YOUR FACE. I executed a driving maneuver that I was too embarrassed to even tell Patrick about later that evening, mostly because the only reason I didn’t get into an accident was sheer luck. I pulled back into my work lot, hopped out of my car, shrugged off my coat and tossed it back into my car. It was about this time that my life started happening in slow motion as a gush of hot Florida wind came blowing toward my face. I did what any girl standing in front of a giant fan on the set of a movie who never got to live her dream as one day becoming a Victoria’s Secret model would do, I seized an opportunity. There I was, poised with my still intact curls blowing in the most perfect wind Mother Nature could ever conjure up, inspired to unleash my walk. I strutted through that parking lot with my lips pursed, my eyes fierce and my cheekbones looking as anorexic as I could make them appear. The asphalt was my runway. Poetic, almost. 

Though, this moment, however precious to me, meant nothing but annoyance for the drivers looking to rush away from work. The booming sound of a horn in my face yanked me violently back to reality. I jumped straight into the air, ignored the profanities seeping out of the driver’s side window and trotted toward the door of my building. A smile took shape on my face as I reached for the door handle.

It turns out I hadn’t left my phone at my desk. My trip back had been for nothing. My illegal and potentially homicidal driving had been for nothing. But my once-in-a-lifetime runway moment (yes, once-in-a-lifetime, I’m only 5’6″ people! Speaking optimistically, of course) was totally worth it. It’s not every day I can just let go and feel free and good and not care what other, apparently impatient drivers eager to leave their place of business think about me. I didn’t care about any of that. And it was awesome.


Overdue

Finally ditched the quaff that made me look like some boring teenager who spent her weekends re-shelving books at a library. Now I’m a grown up again. Except for the shirt, which belongs to a fourth grader.

img_44371


Everything but diapers

I’m five months away from celebrating an anniversary – a five-year anniversary marking the date I met Kya. This relationship is the longest relationship I’ve had with a creature that’s not blood-related to me, and it’s one that I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of. It’s a relationship that has in nearly every way, shape and form prepared me for motherhood.

What’s that? You don’t think so? I didn’t either, at first. In fact I hated when people would get dogs “as practice for parenthood.” Well, now I know differently.

I’ve dealt with all of it: bed wetting, toy stealing, wrestling matches during bathtime, fighting, pouting, sneaking treats when I’m not looking, the works. I’ve even heard people offer unsoliciticed advice about my dog-raising skills, such as, “You shouldn’t have your dog’s collar so tight, you’re going to strangle her.” Which, in my mind, is hardly different than going to the park and hearing an old woman say, “You really should put a hat on that baby.”

After having boarded Kya for a week while we were out of town planning our wedding (read about the trip on our engagement blog), she had a bright red, oozing eye. I recognized and diagnosed the problem right away, but scheduled an appointment with her vet just in case. Suspicion confirmed – conjunctivitis. It’s like having a kindergartener – I dropped off a perfectly clean, healthy dog and by the time I picked her up her fur was clumped and matted down by a drool mixture belonging to her and all of her new friends. Who knows what kind of snot-nosed brats were hanging around and infecting my dog. When I called to check in on her, they explained to me that she not only made a bunch of new friends, but she had gotten herself a boyfriend. And pink eye. I guess it could be worse – she could have gotten herself a boyfriend and chlamydia. We’re luckily not at that stage yet, but I guess this is preparation for the time I pick her up and she’s wearing a face full of makeup and a pink halter top I told her she absolutely couldn’t buy.

We got home that night and unpacked her things – toys, food, her blanket – and found an extra little surprise. It was a plush bear toy with shakers in all the limbs, and Kya went nuts for it as soon as I pulled it out of the bag. I tried to explain that she can’t steal a toy and keep it, so it had to be returned.

The kennel employees were surprised that such a maneuver was even possible for Kya, because the dogs are well supervised and are only allowed to have toys in their own respective rooms. Which means that sometime during the day when the dogs were all making a trip to the outdoor play area was Kya cunning enough to sneak into a neighboring room and do a bit of shopping.

I called ahead to the kennel to let them know I was coming to return the contraband, and when I got there I felt like I was doing the walk of shame – like a mother walking into the principal’s office at an elementary school after her kid just punched another kid. Then bit him. Then destroyed his art project made specially for his sweet, old grandmother.

They were kind and understanding about it, I was humiliated, Kya was bummed out that she lost her new favorite thing that she found all by herself. That is, until I got home from work and she slathered my face with kisses. Had she been a child of the human variety, she would have stormed off to her room, slamming the door behind her. Follow this with months of little to no interaction aside from muttering hateful things under her breath. Fast forward further to her adult life where she’d spend countless hours of therapy determining that all of her life’s problems stem from me and this very incident. Then she’d harbor endless amounts of resentment until I was old and decrepit, and she’d finally get her revenge by putting me in a home. And stealing my favorite sweater. Then she’d wag her back end on the way out and turn back only to scream, “IT WAS ONLY A FUCKING RATTLE BEAR, GOSH!”

So here’s to nearly five years with my best girl who has made me laugh more, play more and has shown me that unconditional love is the greatest thing you could ever give another soul. May all of the relationships in my life be this easy.


Where’s the beef? Somewhere else.

Nine months ago I stopped eating meat. I know I know, you want to know why. OF COURSE YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY. Everyone who hears me say, “No thanks, I don’t eat meat,” asks me why. Actually, it’s more along the lines of, “Is it, like, a new diet thing?” People ask. “Or is it, like, because you love animals or something?” Which seems weird because I wouldn’t ever think of asking a meat eater, “What, do you, like, hate animals or something!?” And I just want to be all, “IT’S BECAUSE YOU TOUCH YOURSELF AT NIGHT.” But instead I politely tell them that it is, in short, for health reasons, which I begin to regret as soon as I say it because then I have to listen to all of the reasons why it is not, in fact, a healthy life decision.

I wish I could accurately convey my level of annoyance with the general population’s sudden interest in the nutritional content of my meals. “So, um… how do you get your protein? I just can’t imagine you get enough protein.” Then that’s usually followed by some statistic that’s made up on the spot, “Ya know, 74 percent of all vegetarians don’t get enough protein.” Realizing that I’m still not flabbergasted by their argument, they throw one of these out there, “And they’re likely to not live as long. Like, maybe die in their forties.” It’s usually at about this point in the conversation when I roll my eyes and explain that – GASP! Meat isn’t the ONLY source of protein in this world. FANCY! “But what about iron?” They ask. “Are you sure you’re getting enough iron? I mean, it’s impossible to get enough iron. You’re probably going to be anemic now. Eighty two percent of all vegetarians become anemic.”

This is when I smile, thank them for their brilliance and anemically prance my protein-and-iron-deficient body back to my cubicle.

The answer to the question “why” began with my acupuncturist, who made some dietary recommendations when I began seeing her in January of last year. She told me that among other things, cutting out red meat could significantly improve my anxiety symptoms by changing the energy, qi, in my body (especially my liver). So I did. I focused on eating only lean poultry and fish occasionally.

Months after I had cut out red meat, I was out to dinner with my Grandma waiting eagerly for the slab of ribs that was moments away from covering my hands and face in barbecue sauce (this was considered cheating, but it was only the second time in four months, so I figured it was ok). To my dismay, I was horrified when the plate arrived. Instead of looking at them with wide eyes and a rumbling hungry belly, my stomach started flip flopping at the sight of them. There it was – a dead cow. On my plate. It was a cow who had a mom. Maybe a name. Maybe a calf or two.

“Go ahead, eat up!” Grandma said.

Oh. Dear. God.

When I took a bite, I tasted a farm. It was like running up to a wild animal and sucking my face onto the side of it like a fish on the side of an acquarium. I became completely aware of the way the gristle felt in my mouth. I was chewing on something that was once alive. “Grandma, I’m going to take these home. I’m just really not that hungry.”

I went the next few days avoiding the meat all together, eating potato dishes, pastas and filling up on fruits and salads. When I finally tried meat again, it was the confirmation I needed. It was a piece of meat in a frozen bag of Chicken Voila ™ that made me sick this time. And all I could think of for the rest of the night was poor, poor chicken!

Here I am, nine months later, getting all of my nutrients from plant foods and chocolates. I make a great effort to maintain a healthy eating regimen, and I’m quite proud of the current state of my health. I’m not bothered by the fact that most of the negative comments about going meatless stem from people’s own insecurities. What does bother me, however, is that they feel the need to say anything at all. No one would ever feel compelled to walk over to me if I sat at my desk and crammed chili dogs in my mouth every day. Never would anyone think to approach me and ask, “You eat like this? How do you get enough servings of vegetables? How are you monitoring your cardiovascular health with so little exercise? Even more, what about your cholesterol? YOUR CHOLESTEROL!”

No, it’s not until someone makes a positive change that people question and discourage that person. Do you HONESTLY care where I get my protein? No, you don’t. And honestly, when you tell me that “vegetarians are actually some of the most unhealthy people, surprisingly,” because you think you read it somewhere once, well, we both know you’re lying. And even if it were true, we’re living in a society where a good portion of the population is malnourished somehow, and most are overweight. A society where it’s perfectly acceptable to walk into a McDonald’s and order a double cheeseburger – extra cheese, extra mayo, no lettuce – without the bun, and yet when I dare remove meat from my diet people gasp at the absurdity. And then point out to me that when I’m pregnant I’ll be taking a huge risk by depriving my baby of essential nutrients. What they don’t know is that a baby with two chins for ears is JUST WHAT I’VE ALWAYS WANTED!

My point is it’s better to say nothing at all. Isn’t that what your mother always told you? If you don’t have anything nice to say, it must be because you’re acting defensively because you’re uncomfortable that YOU are not, in fact, living a healthier lifestyle so you’re making a choice to bring someone else down. Is that it? Are you feeling threatened by my positive life choices? Well, here, nuzzle into my bosom. AND LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.


For Scarface

I woke up this morning with puffy eyes and a gloomy mood. Yesterday I spent a portion of my day at Orange County Animal Services – a kill shelter in Orlando. Also known as the worst place in the universe, where life hardly makes sense and all that surrounds you is a sense of unfairness and cruelty.

I rarely go to OCAS, in fact I avoid it at all costs. I know what goes on there and try my best to work with rescue groups that pull dogs from such shelters to know that I’m doing a little bit to save them. What’s hard is actually seeing the dogs – looking at them in their cages and knowing that some of them won’t be there tomorrow.

A coworker of mine decided that she was finally ready to get a dog. She and her husband had been talking back and forth about it – he really wanting to get a pet and she being apprehensive. So when she asked a few of us to go with her to look at dogs, we were happy to go along.

Rewind to earlier that day, when I accidentally clicked on an e-mail I had purposely not looked at. It sat bold-faced in my inbox, just seconds away from the trash folder when I clicked on it instead of the facebook alert below it. Immediately I saw his face – a face that will stick with me for the rest of my life. But not because of the e-mail, the e-mail alerting me to the fact that he had only 24 hours left in this world. No, I’ll remember it forever because I recognized it when I saw him later that day. At the pound. Awaiting his fate.

His name is Scarface, which I don’t quite understand because he doesn’t have any scars on his body. In fact, he’s hardly got an adult fur coat, and it’s absolutely flawless. He’s just more than a year old and hasn’t been around long enough to get laugh lines let alone scars. What a short life for a dog.

When I saw him, my heart broke. I wanted to give him one last bit of affection so that he knew that there was goodness in this world. I wanted him to know that if only for a few moments, he was loved.

I held his paws in my hands under the door of his cage. I told him he was a good dog, and I told him not to be scared. I told him that none of this was his fault. He gave me kisses, and I kissed his forehead through the bars of the cage. I kissed him goodbye.

It was one of the saddest moments of my life, and it filled me with anger. Even more, it filled me with ambition. One day I will have the means to help dogs like Scarface instead of just feeling hopeless and kissing them goodbye.

I will never forget his face.


Clutch, Pronounced “Life Ruiner to the Fullest Extent”

Tuesday seemed like any other evening when I bolt out my office door like a wild banshee away from the prison that is my cubicle. I hopped in my car, turned on my jams and made my way out of the parking lot and into the 5:00 traffic rush. There I was, belting out words along with the radio while neighboring drivers peered into my windows. I ignored most of the strange looks people gave me, even the driver of a little blue BMW who stared unrelentingly while I sang “Womanizer” at him. Then pointed. Then nodded.

I turned onto Lee Road, a busy four-lane traffic jam, and shifted from second to third gear, then third to fourth. Enter fourth gear. Any day now, fourth. Where are you, fourth gear? I must have lost it somewhere between “Boy don’t try to front,” and “I got your crazy,” but there’s no way to say for sure.

I coasted into the median to get my revving, non-shifting car out of traffic. I immediately called Patrick, then Volkswagen, then a tow truck. Yes, I realize how backwards my judgement was. Forgive my inability to think clearly, I was at that very moment a tiny little spec in a large, fast game of Frogger.

Patrick arrived to help ease my frustration, and he was able to push my car onto a side street during a break in traffic (See? FROGGER!). The tow truck arrived about 20 minutes later, and the wait wasn’t too bad aside from having a full bladder (which I emptied in the restroom of a nearby vet’s office where I met the most peculiar-looking dog. His toe hairs were so long it made his feet look like he was wearing an old fashioned pair of boat shoes. He had a significant underbite which protruded from his curly black face, and he pranced around with happy, springy steps. Hello?Stop reading this tangent and get back to the story!).

We got to VW and they took good care of me. And by good care I mean they accepted my payment in the form of human organs. Now I won’t tell you where I got them, but let’s just say there’s a good chance I won’t ever have liver disease. Or children.

My new clutch feels foreign to me. It’s as though I have spent my whole life lifting boulders and now I’ve switched to lifting pebbles. Though instead of feeling relieved that my life has been made easier, I instead lift the lighter load with incredible amounts of force, sending the pebbles flying through the air and my car screeching through mid-day traffic. This analogy would have been much funnier if instead of boulders vs. pebbles I had used fat chics vs. babies. Just a thought.

Although I enjoyed my temporary chauffeur service, I’m thankful this is all over – at least for now. I got a list of necessary car repairs that need to be made within the next year. So it’s unlikely that I’ll have both of my kidneys by the time I get married.