Monday, July 29, 2013


My workplace seems to have a disproportionate number of people who just have no social awareness. I am by no means the person who comes skipping into the office greeting everyone with a smile and a cheery "Good morning to you!" I don't think you need to say hi to every person you happen to walk past. However, there are certain instances where polite society dictates that you acknowledge you are sharing a space with someone else. 

Take, for example, the employee break room. Ours is small. Two people will fill it to capacity. It is very awkward, therefore, when you're in there and someone sidles up behind you to rummage in the fridge and doesn't even acknowledge your presence. There's one particular offender who I am still not certain isn't mute. He just stares me down if we pass in the hallway, despite my carefully-crafted "I recognize that we work together, but don't worry, I'm not going to try to stop you from what you're doing and engage you in conversation" half-smile. So when I run into him in the break room and he pretends I'm not there, I like to ambush him with a sunny "Good morning!" but that just elicits more blank stares. 

But sometimes it isn't worth the battle. Sometimes I just stare back. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cooking for One, Part Three

If this week has taught me anything, it's that I am a terrible cook, I have no business in the kitchen, and I need to stop pretending that I do. I can't even roast a goddamned chicken. From here on out, I am only going to eat pre-prepared meals. It will probably knock ten years off my life, what with all the sodium and fat and processed this-and-that, but I figure with all the time I'll save by not cooking and not washing five thousand dishes every day, it will all balance out. 

I'm on day three of eating soggy, disgusting cauliflower, dry bean casserole, and rubbery chicken. On Sunday I was feeling all ambitious and decided to cook some dishes from some recipes I had been meaning to try. I think the first problem was that these recipes were all "healthy." If I had set out to make some sort of delicious carb-laden lasagna or fatty quiche, it probably wouldn't have ended in disaster. 

I ended up with about eight cups of extra broth for the beans (that the recipe now encourages me to turn into soup. Will the burden never end??), they took twice as long to cook as they were supposed to, and came out tasting like Thanksgiving (probably due to the sage), but not in a good way. Maybe if it were November, it would have been alright, but I don't want Thanksgiving in July. The cauliflower took three times as long to cook as it should have, and even though I absolutely roasted the pants off of it, it still came out soggy and undewhelming. I probably didn't use the right pan, or the right amount of oil, or whatever. And the chicken, well, let's just say this is probably the last time I will ever roast a whole chicken. I found that if I dump a bottle of barbecue sauce on each serving, it is palatable, so that will get me through the week and the Matterhorn of chicken meat I was left with, but it's just not worth the mess and effort. 

My entire Sunday afternoon and evening was monopolized by this folly. There were shallots to peel, cauliflower to chop, beans to soak, and it all amounted to a disgusting, soggy, bland culinary disaster that I will be suffering through for the rest of the week until it is all gone and I can stock my freezer with nothing but cheese enchiladas. And it took me two more days just to wash all the pots, pans, utensils and other implements necessary for such an endeavor. Just give me a microwave and a toaster oven. I'll be fine. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I spend a good deal of time navigating the cesspool that is the current state of this society. I take the bus to work (not for lack of private transportation, I have a car, I just choose to not give my employer upwards of $70 a month for the privilege of fighting for a parking space in a garage five blocks away from the office). I often venture out on foot to take care of errands at lunchtime. I run a few miles every day in my neighborhood. All of these activities put me in direct and miserable contact with too much humanity, and have made it so evident that society as a whole is on a swift decline. The gene pool is badly polluted, perhaps beyond repair. People simply have no manners or any regard for anyone other than themselves. I would like to return to a kinder, gentler time, when people wore hats and gloves, and spoke at a reasonable volume, and didn't take up more space than their immediate physical presence demanded. 

And with that preamble...

I would like to punch the following people in the face:

People on the bus who carry on conversations on their cell phones at full volume at 7:00 in the morning. Who are these people even talking to? I don't know anyone who wants to talk to me at 7:00am. Not even my mother, who has probably already watered the plants, read the paper, done yoga, and has a pie baking in the oven by that hour. 

People who put their bag on an empty bus seat, as though it were a person and requires that kind of prime real estate.

People who take the aisle seat when the other one is vacant, so you have to ask them to move so you can access the empty seat. Related: People in the aisle seat who just kind of shift their legs to the side when you've reached your stop, rather than standing up to give you the necessary room to make a graceful escape. This sends you scrambling across their lap, and probably "accidentally" hitting them in the head with your purse as you exit. 

People who put their feet on bus seats. Sure, there may be other available seats, but I might prefer that one, and now it is befouled by your disgusting sneakers. 

People out walking their dog and who stand on one side of the sidewalk and let the leash extend across the sidewalk while the dog sniffs around, forcing me into an unsolicited game of Chinese Jump Rope as I am jogging that way. 

People who park their car across a sidewalk, forcing me out into traffic to get around it while I am running. 

People who shove clipboards in my face demanding I support some cause, when I am just out minding my own business, maybe wanting a latte, and trying to get back to the office; and then offer a saccharine "Have a nice day!" when I don't give them what they want. And it's always a "Do you support women's/gay/children's/animal rights?" approach, leaving you with two choices. To either shamefully respond "no" just to get them to leave you alone, or to say "yes, but..." and then launch into some contrite explanation you shouldn't have to give about how you're on your way somewhere (of course you're on your way somewhere - who is out just roaming the streets looking for people holding clipboards) and just don't have the time to engage at the moment, but maybe next time and best of luck to you and thank you for your efforts!

People who come barreling down the sidewalk on their bike, expecting me, the pedestrian, to get out of their way. You get punched twice if there is a bike lane three feet away. 

People who drain the office water cooler and don't replace the bottle. You get punched twice if you are an able-bodied male. (Sorry, feminists, there are still some gender-related niceties that are worth holding on to.)

People who toss their cigarette butts into the street. These are people who probably don't otherwise litter, but somehow they have determined cigarettes to be exempt from the rules. Like they have magical evaporative powers that other trash does not. 

People who turn right the second the light turns green, cutting me off. Me, the pedestrian with the right-of-way who is clearly standing there waiting to cross the intersection.

And all of this can happen in one day. And it usually does. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cooking for One, Part Two

Pictured above is what I'll be eating for the rest of the week. I suppose I should have included a coin or something in the photo for scale, but suffice it to say, there's a lot of tabouli in that bowl. 

It all started on a recent trip to Hawaii. One of my traveling companions had decided to go vegan shortly before we left. We had a kitchen where we were staying, so we were planning to prepare some meals. We were discussing potential menus before the trip, and wanting to support his dietary choices, I enthusiastically offered "I'll make tabouli one night!" However, I wasn't sure if couscous was readily available in your average Hawaiian supermarket. Also, if you have been fortunate enough to travel to the Islands, Valued Reader, then you know the shock you experience the first time you set foot in a grocery store in Hawaii and look at the prices. So, I thought, it would make total sense to get some couscous before leaving and just pack a little bag of it in my luggage. So off to Trader Joe's I went. (See? Again with the Trader Joe's)

Anyway, we got to Hawaii and I made my tabouli and it was delicious (well, a little soggy to tell you the truth, but whatever), but I was left with some couscous at home when I returned. So today was the day to turn it into a salad. And the results are documented above. I spent the last hour chopping vegetables, just for one stupid salad. And you know what is a royal pain in the ass to deal with? Parsley. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

God Bless America

As an American, I should be looking forward to the July 4th holiday. And I am, because it means I don't have to go to work. But beyond that, I could do without it. Partly because I am not invited to any barbecues, so while you, Valued Reader, are enjoying your hamburgers and vegan sausages in the company of family and friends, I will probably be scrubbing my bathtub. But mostly I do not like the 4th because I do not like fireworks. I am already bracing myself for World War III which I suspect will hit my neighborhood sometime around 8:00 tomorrow night, and continue on well past midnight.

I have never cared for fireworks displays. Mostly because I have super sensitive hearing (despite partial hearing loss in one ear) and just the sound of a garbage truck rolling down the street is sometimes enough to set my nerves on edge. When I was a kid I was afraid to go to birthday parties because there would be balloons, and those balloons might pop. I like the pretty lights, but the noise negates the enjoyment. I also don't like the Ugly that the 4th brings out in so many people. It's suddenly ok for men to wear tank tops in public and everyone to guzzle Keystone Light and start shooting off their guns in the name of America. I don't like it. Also, as a child, I had a pretty debilitating phobia of fire. So combine the noise, the bad fashion, and the potential inferno, and it is not a holiday made for my enjoyment.

Another reason I resent fireworks is what it does to the crowd patterns at Disneyland. Every. Single. Night. If you don't already know, Valued Reader, I go to Disneyland a lot. And one thing that irritates me to no end is the fact that they have their fireworks extravaganza every day of the year. Never mind what all that pollution does to the environment. It pretty much shuts the park down from 8:00 - 10:30. People start building shantytowns on Main Street to stake their claim and if you're not on the side of the park that you want to be by 8:00, forget it. It infuriates me that the entire park becomes unnavigable and two entire lands completely shut down for the better part of the evening, just for a pyrotechnics display. Many a Disneyland visit has been cut short, just so I can get out of there before the madness and claustrophobia hits.

So, Valued Reader, enjoy your holiday. But don't be ridiculous. Guns aren't meant for celebration. Wildfires are for real. Drink something that doesn't come from a can. And men, for the love of God, put on a shirt.

Friday, June 28, 2013


There are a couple people in my office who really would do better just wrapping themselves in a haz-mat suit and living in a plastic bubble. I am reminded of this every time the toxic stench of Lysol wafts over to my desk and I am asphyxiated for the next hour until the smell dissipates. One particular perpetrator likes to spray it several times throughout the day, just to be safe, even though no people are ever in that area of the office. And this person genuinely likes the smell. I have heard remarks such as "mmmm... that smells so gooooood!!" after a particularly satisfying spraying rampage. Sometimes the sound of the aerosol can tips me off and gives me a fighting chance so I can evacuate the premises before I get hit with the worst of it. Sometimes I am not so lucky and it sneaks up on me like a cartoon cloud, dark and ominous, with little talon-like fingers reaching out to choke me. I am then sent running into the hallway, gasping for air.

What I don't get is that these people don't seem to recognize that they also go out into the world every day, interacting with society, exposing themselves to all manner of unknown threats, but they think that somehow if they keep a steady fog of Lysol around their cubicle, that will keep the germs at bay. If they maintain their own little sterile micro-climate, they won't be struck down by some deadly virus. And what I really don't understand is how they think that the constant inhalation of the toxic fumes is somehow a healthy choice. I'm all for keeping things sanitary, but it really is out of control. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cooking for one

There is nothing inherently interesting about my dinner (pictured above) except that it took me about two weeks to make it. A few weeks ago, I was down to nothing in the fridge but a jar of peanut butter and some ketchup. Inspired, I set off for Trader Joe's. (If any Trader Joe's executives are reading this, I'd like to point out that I have mentioned your fine establishment twice in as many posts. Perhaps it's time to talk sponsorship?) "I'm going to make tacos!" I thought to myself. "And I will also make this tasty pepper and tomato dish whose name I cannot pronounce!" The problem is, when you're cooking for one, and you make tacos, that really means you'll be eating tacos for the next week and a half. So I got all the taco ingredients, and only the non-perishable components of the pepper dish, knowing it would be at least a week before I could reasonably be expected to be able to eat anything that doesn't go on a tortilla. 

Tacos consumed, I was ready to move on to the pepper dish. The recipe is in one of those fancy-pants cookbooks with pretty pictures and each dish having a list of ingredients six inches long, half of which I have never heard of, much less keep stocked in my kitchen. Maybe you, Valued Reader, keep muscovado sugar and orange-flower water in your pantry. I do not. Still, I improvise and it always turns out fine. So yesterday I decided it was finally time. I stopped off at Trader Joe's (Hello?) on my way to a beach outing to pick up something for lunch and while I was there I grabbed some tomatoes, which I remembered I still needed for this recipe. On my way home from the beach I decided what would go really well with the dish would be a sourdough baguette. Stopped back at my neighborhood TJ's to collect that. Got home, got out the pan, reached for some olive oil and nearly screamed and threw the cookbook across the room in disbelief and frustration. There was about a teaspoon of olive oil left in the bottle. And I had no other oil to speak of. And you can't saute an onion and peppers without oil. At that point there was no way I was making a third trip to the store, so I heated up some leftover lasagna and called it a day. 

This project had dragged on so long all I wanted was to just cook the damn peppers and be done with it. So, even though I don't particularly enjoy making anything that requires much preparation on a weeknight, tonight it finally came together. Although I did end up having to MacGyver the recipe a little bit and add some barbecue sauce because it needed a little something more. I'm sure the creator of the recipe would recoil in horror if he knew something so pedestrian went into it. But the truth is, there are very few things that don't benefit from the addition of a little barbecue sauce.