Thursday, December 16, 2010

the saga of the flying gerbils, part I

I wrote this story for my friend E.'s mother after various discussions of Fox News conspiracies, mutated sci-fi house pets, and the heinousness of Monday mornings somehow culminated in the invention of flying gerbils whose sole purpose was to torment humanity.

The Saga of the Flying Gerbils
Part I : The Discovery

She gave them Mountain Dew.

At least that was Jenny Wilson's defense, and it was the only thing she could think to say when the scientist and the reporter started questioning her the day after her gerbils started flying.

"I didn't know it was bad for them," she insisted.

The reporter, a short, balding man in a striped, v-neck t-shirt that didn't quite cover his plume of gray chest hair, nervously rubbed his hands together as he looked around her living room.

The only pictures on the walls were of her mother, who had died unexpectedly last summer after choking on a walnut, and her gerbils, Pinky and Fluffy. Last Christmas her brother had given her Photoshop for her computer, and this gave Pinky and Fluffy the ability to travel, not only geographically but also through time and space. In one photograph, they frolicked along the rings of Saturn. In another, they darted between the feet of a gunfighter in the wild west.

"So you live alone, then," the reporter said, his gray eyes searching her face the same way they had her room. "And you're how old?"

"I don't understand why that matters," she said. "My gerbils are missing."

"And this is the house you grew up in?"

Jenny didn't answer. Instead she stared at the jagged edges of the shattered pane of glass where Pinky and Fluffy had escaped. She tried to think of ways she might have accidentally broken it, of ways she might have been careless. The truth, that they had literally flown out the window, was still too impossible for her to accept.

"We need to know exactly what you've been giving them," said the scientist, shuffling through the wood chips in the bottom of their cage. "We need to know how much and how often."

"I told you, I gave them Mountain Dew," Jenny said, becoming frustrated.

"Can you think of anything else?" the scientist asked. He pulled a plastic bag out of the deep pocket of his coat and saved a few wood chips. "What did you feed them?"

"What did you feed them," Jenny said mockingly. "I fed them the same things I eat, and you don't see me flying out the window."

"And what do you eat?" he asked.

"Normal stuff," she said. "Two Taco Bell tacos with cheese, sour cream, and tomatos, three times a day. Three square meals, see?"

The reporter scribbled furiously into his notebook.

"I see," said the scientist, who leaned over and whispered something to the reporter, who nodded. "Thank you very much, Miss Wilson. We'll be in touch."

The scientist and the reporter hurried out of Jenny's house, ignoring her pleas: "What about my gerbils? Aren't you people supposed to be finding them?"

The moment they were out the door, the reporter was on the phone to Fox News: "We have a problem on our hands," he said. "Yes, the flying gerbils, that's right. And they could be dangerous.

Monday, December 13, 2010

depressed? zoloft can help...

...but heed this warning: once you start, you can never, ever stop taking it ever again.

Friday, December 10, 2010

day 54: i ate some fud

Carnivores love to dig in to vegetarians' fake "meat." And by "dig in" of course I mean "make horrible fun of." 

And I get it; after all, trading chorizo for a soy-based substitute is kind of like trading cigarettes for nicotine patches or Budweiser for O'Doul's. In other words, what's the fucking point? Why settle for a weak-ass imitation of the original?

the mothefucking reuben sandwich, bitches

But here's the deal: oftentimes, vegetarians aren't against the consumption of meat; they are against the corporate farms that mistreat the animals from whom the meat comes. For example, I really love the taste of pork chops, but I cannot abide allowing hormone-pumped pigs to wallow in their own feces in cramped quarters for the sake of penny-pinching mass production, especially because pigs are likely more intelligent than my cats (sorry Lee and Fifi). 

I also love, love, love a good reuben sandwich. I've enjoyed reubens in my mom's kitchen (with my grandmother's homemade sour kraut), at Browne's Irish Marketplace down the street from my apartment, and most notoriously at Katz Deli in New York City, where the sandwich was literally the size of my head. 

And because I quit eating meat in March, I was excited to discover a vegan version of the reuben at a bar in Seattle when I visited in August. And I must say -- goddamn, it was pretty fucking good. Though I'm sure it didn't hurt that the consumption of the sandwich was preceded by a shot of habanero tequila, but whatever.

Despite the occasional bacon cravings, vegetarianism has worked out quite well for me. Granted, I still eat fish, eggs and cheese, drink milk, and enjoy the crap out of the pasture-raised beef my parents get from their neighbors. I doubt I will ever be able to take the next step and embrace veganism. 

But I understand what would drive one to abandon all animal-based food sources, and when the all-vegan restaurant Fud (pretend there's an umlaut over the "u") opened in KC this summer, I was excited to try it.

Unfortunately I must confess that though it's down the street from my boyfriend's apartment, I still haven't been there. This week, however, I did go to the new Nature's Own Health Market that replaced Wild Oats on 43rd and Main, and in their cooler I randomly discovered delicious-sounding vegan sandwiches constructed by Fud, including -- what else -- my beloved reuben.

I snatched it up, reluctantly paid the $8 that would prohibit these sandwiches from becoming a realistic daily or even weekly lunch option and banish them to "special treat or when you're really hungover" land, and went home to scarf it down.

Almost immediately I became privy to a weird fact: Fud's "corned beef" (ingredients printed prominently on the label) is remarkably similar in texture, appearance and taste to the real deal. It was, surprisingly, fucking delicious. And though I suspect some serious food science was involved with the color, texture and taste, as long as it was ethically and healthfully done, I'm cool with that.

But (and with fake "meat," there's always a "but") it will never compare to the insane orgasmic mouth party of the mound of juicy corned beef I chowed down over a year ago in NYC. But then again, does that really matter? 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

day 53: i woke up at - instead of stayed up until - 5 a.m.

A year ago I seriously thought walking to 7-Eleven for coffee constituted sufficient exercise, so I think I've earned the right to brag: last week I went to spin class at 6 a.m.

When I posted a Facebook update announcing my witching-hour workout, my old drinking buddy Joe Jay responded with the following: "Wow! The only spinning I remember at 6 a.m. was when our heads were still spinning from all those Jager shots the night before!"

Broadway at 5:30 a.m.

And yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

Despite all those old adages touting the virtues of morning - some crap about being healthy and rich, some other crap about worms - I have always found mornings to be offensive in the extreme. In addition to starting petitions to elminate Sundays and to destroy the sun to make mid-August more pleasant, my friend E. and I have also attempted to garner support for starting the day at 11 a.m.

Unfortuantely we have been continually thwarted by a rogue group of maniacs known as "morning people." These mushy-brained psychopaths are easily identifiable by their ability to smile before coffee, their insistence that "the day is half over" at 2 p.m., and the irritating, self-satisfied spring in their step when they've gotten a lot of shit done before noon.

The day I went to spin class I woke up at 5 a.m. groaning and cursing, and I arrived at the gym to discover a packed parking lot. Here they were: morning people. A lot of them. I shuffled inside half-dazed to discover people jogging on treadmills, lifting weights in front of the mirror, and doing crunches. As though this kind of behavior at this hour was normal. My brain flooded with "what the fuck," and I retreated to the bathroom to give myself a pep talk.

Eventually I tiptoed out and selected a stationary bike, and the next hour passed as though I was underwater or in a dream, or maybe a dream taking place underwater. Despite almost puking or passing out at least twice, somehow I managed to survive running, jumping, and skipping from one end of the gym to the other in between frantic bouts of pedaling on my bike. Then I went home, took a shower, passed out, and was late for work.

But, bonus: I ate and ate and ate all afternoon, and I didn't feel the least bit guilty about it.