Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Damn-if-I-don't-feel-healthier-already Loaf

Sometimes, you just need to detox. To do so, you will need:

2 cups bulgur
1 15-oz. can chick peas
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
a handful mushrooms
1 onion
2 or 3 cloves garlic
ketchup
soy sauce

Prepare bulgur by putting it in a pot with twice as much water, bringing to a boil, then simmering for 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed. In the meantime, chop up all the vegetables (including the garlic), then drain the chick peas and mash them up. Mix everything together along with a squirt of ketchup and a splash of soy sauce, then put it in a greased cake or bread pan. If you'll be really bent out of shape if this falls apart when you cut into it, you can crush up two tablespoons of flax seeds and mix with eight tablespoons of water, then add that too. (And then you can put on your Birkenstocks and go play guitar on a mountain.) But otherwise not necessary.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 Celsius for 45 mins or until brown on top. I swear I am not bullshitting you when I say this is delicious. I ate the whole damn thing myself and it was huge.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

All-Seasons Cold Remedy

I am not terribly good at a great many things; however, one thing at which I am consistently excellent is getting a cold in the spring, so I am a fan of this tasty cold remedy. Admittedly, this will probably not cure the common cold if that's what you've got, but it will at least make you feel like you're taking steps in the direction of curing it, which if you believe in the placebo effect may be all it takes.

You know what will cure the common cold? Actually blowing your nose instead of sniffling back all that nasty shit. And spitting into a tissue if you happen to get a drop of it in your throat. But that's a bit like telling you to eat healthy and exercise, isn't it?

Anyway you will need:

a few fresh mint leaves
a lemon
honey
water and a kettle

Boil the water in the kettle. While you're waiting for that to happen, put the mint leaves in a mug and squeeze the lemon into it. I squeezed both halves but if you're not a huge fan of the sour you can just do one. Then add a bit of honey to the mug. And I do mean a bit, super-sweet things are totally sickening. Once the water has boiled, fill the mug and let steep for a few minutes.

If it's spring and you don't have a cold but you're still dying to try this fantastic all-seasons cold remedy, then put this in the fridge and drink it iced. But make more of it.

Gute Besserung, as they say in these parts. I think.


P.S. I didn't have the right change for the Waschmaschine the other day so I went to the corner store to buy a drink. But they didn't have the right change either, which I only found out once they already thought I had committed to buying the drink, so I bought the stupid drink. Know how many other things this happened with before I got the change? A plant, a light bulb, and a book by Alice Munro translated into German. I can read that, right? Right?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The English Language

I think the English language is really great because it doesn't differentiate between things unnecessarily. It doesn't assign a grammatical gender to objects that have no biological gender. It doesn't create awkward situations by forcing you to decide whether your relationship with someone is formal or informal before you even say "nice to meet you." I mean sheesh, life is awkward enough without shit like that.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

I know it's a bit rich to review a movie that certain theatres around the world have shown every night for like 30 years, but since rich is what I intend to be when I grow up that's what I'm gonna do. Now, I think that the first half hour or so of this movie - basically until they finish singing "Time Warp" which is right after the super square couple Brad and Janet get to the castle - is pure comic genius. After "Time Warp" it goes downhill pretty fast by getting weirder and weirder without getting correspondingly funnier, so you're sort of just sitting there like "how am I supposed to react to this?"

That being said, I will readily admit that I have this fantasy version of myself in which I go to the farmer's market a lot, ride a bike everywhere in nice shoes, and am never home in the evenings because I'm playing Janet in a Broadway revival (or something) of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Friday, May 20, 2011

More About "Frustrated"

I was super excited yesterday to get some very interesting comments on some advice I gave to a reader, two of which said that they don't think the concept of an "emotionally unavailable assclown" or a person who is generally emotionally unavailable exists, and that a person's emotional availability will vary depending on how into a given person they are. I was going to just answer them in the comments section, but then decided I had a lot to say about it so it was worth its own post.

I obviously cannot sit here and tell you with 100 percent certainty that any given person who is acting like an assclown in one situation is going to act like an assclown consistently in his every interaction (I'm gonna just keep saying "he" for now but don't forget that Assclown Corp. is an equal opportunity employer). Also, it obviously does not actually matter whether someone would be like this to everyone or just to you because you should stay away from him either way.

However, I will tell you this: the vast majority of people you meet in life will not want to date you (no offense), and will also NOT be emotionally unavailable. The difference between this vast majority of people and an assclown is that the majority will not text you a thousand times a day, make sure you know all about the secret longings of their heart, be unable to keep their hands to themselves when they are talking to you, tell you they think it would be really fun to have sex with you, or otherwise seek to fill your world with false hope by engaging in boundary-crossing behaviour. Therefore, you are unlikely to get hung up on any of them.

A person who does the above-mentioned things who does not want a real relationship with you is doing so because he has low self-esteem and wants you to give him an ego stroke. The reason I say that he is emotionally unavailable to everyone is because people who have low self-esteem tend to only want people who don't want them. That is why, if you hang out with an assclown long enough, you will pretty much certainly hear that he is hung up over an ex (often an almost comedically long-ago ex) or some other person who doesn't want him. Now if this ex or whomever were to suddenly change her mind and want him badly, he would probably quickly realize he had overestimated his interest in her and move on to someone else who doesn't want him. This is because he is looking to justify what he already believes about himself, which is that he isn't good enough. So yes, he has the capacity to like someone a lot and want a relationship with her, provided only that she doesn't want him.

The thing is, you might as well believe me because otherwise, you may fall into the all-too-easy trap of thinking that you are not "good enough" for an assclown, when in fact he is the one who is not good enough for himself.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Super-Long Post Giving Dating Advice That I'm Unqualified to Give

To my extremely great astonishment, I received a rather interesting email the other day from one of you, and I have obtained permission from the sender to answer it on here. I've edited it only for length and to get rid of identifying details. Here it is:

Hey Jennie,


I read your blog and this may sound a bit funny but I just wanted to know what you thought about this situation I'm in, if you don't mind. I just thought you might have some interesting insight. There's this boy (right, so what else is new). I first met him a few months ago when we worked together and we became friends. I think he initiated the friendship, but since then the only consistent thing he's done is been flaky. That includes in texting, showing up, etc.


The thing is, although he is inconsistent, he actually does text me a lot, and I find that I get upset if I don't hear from him. He tends to overshare emotionally in a way that confuses me, and I go from thinking he likes me one day to being convinced that he is not interested the next. Then he admitted last night that he has been told off in the past for misleading female friends into thinking he's interested when he's not. So now I'm annoyed at myself for being conned, but I can't quite bring myself to leave it at that.


So... what to do? I mean, what do you think? He has said that he is still a little hurt over his last relationship. Does that change anything?


- Frustrated in Friend Zone (btw this name was her suggestion)

P.S. He just texted me twice in 20 minutes asking me about my day because I didn't text back.


So after I picked myself off the floor and reveled in like an entire evening of egomania, I wrote a response, which goes like this:

Dear Frus,

If you want to take my advice, please just know that I am pretty much the opposite of a dating expert. However, I will nonetheless of course be happy to tell you what I think about this situation, which I have been in many times myself. From your description of this guy's behaviour, I suspect that he is what the brilliant Natalie Lue of the blog Baggage Reclaim calls an "emotionally unavailable assclown." While Baggage Reclaim is directed at an audience of heterosexual women, anyone can actually be an EUA (that's emotionally unavailable assclown, remember). But I'll just say "he" when I'm talking about an EUA since the questioner is a heterosexual woman.

OK, now that we've got that PC bullshit covered, let me tell you exactly what an EUA is. He is a person who cannot commit either to being with you or to being without you so he tries to keep a foot in your life and a hold on your attention without ever giving you reason to believe he is interested in having a real relationship. You may rest assured that if he is being an EUA to you, he is not available to anyone. So please do not go using this as a reason to feel bad about yourself.

Now, you may be thinking "but he's just flirting with me, what's so big a deal about that?" I am in fact well aware of the societal messaging that says that flirting with someone in whom you have no sincere romantic interest is harmless, even if your flirting is extremely consistent, aggressive, or shameless. However, I will tell you that behaving in this way is the domain of an EUA. A person who is emotionally available will not do it.

In spite of this, however, I am personally not a believer in keeping your feelings inside when someone you like has been flirting with you, and I am also a believer in holding assclowns responsible for their behaviour, so I would advise you to make your feelings known. After all, you don't know for sure whether this guy is an assclown. It's just a hypothesis and you have to test it out.

So you don't have to be dramatic, just ask him if he wants to go for a coffee, and make sure it's just the two of you. You should do what you have to do to communicate what you mean by this, because I can tell you right now this guy has never taken a hint in his life. Just call it a date if you think he won't get it any other way. If you think that's too weird or something, then just say whatever you have to say so that he knows what you are feeling.

If he agrees to this, gets (for sure gets) your intentions, and is actually NOT an assclown, then he will help you take the next step, i.e. you won't have to keep nervously sticking your neck out. However, if he agrees to the coffee, seems to get it, but then makes it like you're just friends when you're out together and keeps texting you afterwards (likely), or if he gets all freaked out and says he didn't mean anything like that (possible), then you have your answer: this guy is a bona fide certifiable emotionally unavailable assclown.

If this is the case, then you are not to be in touch with him. The next time he shamelessly texts you or tries to get in touch with you, you must firmly tell him that you will not continue to be in flirtatious contact with him, and he will not be in a position to question you because he said no to your offer of a real relationship. With him not in touch with you, you will be in a position to move on. And if he continues to hassle you after you've done all this and told him to leave you alone, you will presumably see him for what he would be in that case, which is an immature idiot who doesn't respect people's boundaries. And you would just ignore him, and he would know why. But all of that is the most extreme case.

I know it sounds scary to just ask someone out or tell him that you're into him, but you should respect your own feelings so that you will have closure in this situation one way or the other. This is about putting YOU and your feelings and boundaries first. Allowing this guy to occupy so much space in your head when you are not in a relationship with him will erode your self-esteem very quickly. You must do what you have to do to avoid this outcome.

Oh, and btw, "being hurt over a last relationship" is one of the hallmarks of an EUA. Know this: it is very likely ONLY in his version of events that he was completely emotionally available in that relationship. If you get rid of him, Lord only knows the laughable things he may tell people about his inability to get over you. (That doesn't mean he has suddenly become available to you, obviously. You still need to stay away.)

Good luck with this situation and much xox,
Jennie

P.S. One more little thing: please don't go thinking "but I want to be in touch with him even if he doesn't want to date me!" I mean, do you really, for any reason other than continuing to feel validated in fantasizing about him? Be honest.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Aww

1) I try my best to live by the philosophy that the world would be a better place if we could all just be a little more open about our insecurities. However, I am usually not very successful at doing this because I've been noticing that most of the time, if I were to say something like "I kind of despise people who are better looking than me" or "I'm afraid I will be middle aged and single when Kate Middleton has already married a prince, like how unfair is that," the response I generally get is "Aww."

Aww? I mean jeez. Why don't you just say "Haha it sucks that you think that about yourself because I don't think that about myself!" Aww.


2) Do you ever feel like you hear the words "my ex" nonstop because everyone you know, including people who are like 19 years old, has had way more relationships than you? And that you never say anything like "Wow you've had so many relationships" because if you did they would probably say "Aww"?

Just out of idle curiosity, I mean.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Learning the German Language, Take Zwei

I've discovered that I get really outrageously excited when I manage to fool someone into thinking I can actually speak German, even if it's only rather briefly. For instance, the other day an elderly woman asked me (in German of course) "am I at the bus stop?" and I was able to delay my great feeling of euphoria at understanding what she said for long enough to enthusiastically say "Ja!" It was almost as good as getting a like on my facebook status which needs to happen frequently otherwise I can't sleep. Let's just hope she really was at the bus stop.

Anyway, this is actually a recipe post, FOOLED YOU! Because I think I told you before (right! over here) that I was reading a book called The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake which I have now finished and it's not that good but it did make me want to eat a lemon cake. Now one thing about Germany is that aside from being totally shit at speaking the language, I also hate all the food. I mean I don't hate the groceries that you buy at the supermarket, but I do hate sandwiches with butter on them, beer, disgusting greasy sausages that smell like a pig's very recent death, and schnitzel that is like as thick as my entire body, which means that 1) I am not very fun and 2) I am making a lot of things myself. So I made a lemon cake.

If you are a person from North America who has attempted to bake a cake in Europe or vise versa, you will be aware of the majority view that says you need a metric conversion chart and a Ph.D. in quantum physics to convert between grams and cups. And if you are a person from anywhere at all that has attempted to bake a cake in your own kitchen, you will be aware of the majority view that says you cannot approximate the quantities of ingredients in baking the way you can in cooking.

Well to both of these majority views: no, say I! I attempted to follow this recipe by a British celebrity cook person called Delia Smith so if you want to do it right you can try that one (although I didn't bother with the icing or the layers or any of that nonsense which I believe is for people who have someone to impress and are not just making a cake to eat by their lonesome selves). Here is what I did and it worked like a charm. You will need:

1 regular sized teacup full of flour
a spoonful of baking powder
a shit ton of butter (like a stick or two, depending on how big they are)
bit less sugar than flour (that would be 1 regular sized teacup full minus like a bit)
3 eggs
1 lemon

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or 170 degrees Celsius. Then melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave and let it cool. While you're waiting, zest the lemon into a big bowl (for detailed instructions see here), then cut it in half and squeeze both halves into the bowl too. Add all the other ingredients, including the butter once it's cool, and mix together with a spoon. Pour into a pretty small greased cake pan and pop it in the oven for like 20 minutes.

Now when I say this worked like a charm I mean it came out looking like this:


But it tasted nice, ok? What are you expecting from me anyway, airtight professionalism? Good, I didn't think so.

Learning the German Language, Take Eins

So far I've been organizing my posts on here into recipes, reviews, and philosophical musings, but I've decided I want to branch out from these into pointless stories too, so I've created a new category as of today. I hope you will enjoy reading these stories as much as I enjoy experiencing them. Which is a lot.

I haven't mentioned this on here before so some of you may not know, but being a hipster-in-denial, I can't just stay where I am so I am in Germany right now instead of Canada. In true hipster fashion, I signed up for a language course that is predominantly populated by new immigrants who don't speak English. My thinking at first was that this would be good for my hipster cred as well as for learning German since I would have to speak to my classmates somehow, but it turns out that learning German is impossible. If you don't believe me, I would suggest you try learning how to say even something simple like "excuse me can you please take your feet off the subway seat" which seems to be pretty much the only thing Germans say anyway.

What it turns out my language course is actually good for is indulging in what I have recently realized is my lifelong pastime of imagining what people whom I don't know very well and with whom I appear to have little in common have going on in their lives. For instance, do they mostly cook for themselves or do they mostly order takeout? If the former, do they complain about it and think it is a chore, or do they enjoy it in a sort of domesticated homebodyish way? Who would they call in case of an emergency? Are they profoundly emotionally connected to the people who are closest to them, or are they distant and withdrawn? Have they had mostly positive romantic experiences or mostly negative? Do they have high self-esteem? Good sex lives?

Then, and this is the most fun part, I can do sort of the reverse of this fantasy, which is imagining that they are asking themselves the same sorts of questions about me, and that they are coming up with answers that are very far from the truth which is that I am totally boring, a little bit anxious, frequently lonely, frequently tempted to shop.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Waste Land

Waste Land is a documentary about a guy who makes art out of garbage. I know this is a little dumb but I kind of wish the movie sucked so that I could say it's garbage too. However, the movie is pretty decent. Which I guess should delight me because that the movie isn't garbage is ironic, and we all know what the favourite thing of the hipster is.

The guy who makes art out of garbage is actually only the entryway into the real story, which is about the people whose job it is to sift through the garbage looking for recyclables in a gigantic landfill in Brazil. If there's anything hipsters and hipsters-in-denial like more than irony it's anything to do with downtrodden folks in foreign countries, so naturally I thought this was great.

Actually there was one woman named Isis Rodrigues, one of the ones who sifted through the garbage, who I really thought the whole movie should have been about because she was such a tragic figure. The guy doing the art tries to interview her to see what she's all about right near the beginning of the movie and she breaks down in tears and says that she's in love with a married truck driver. And then it turns out her life story is actually much more tragic than that, but I don't want to give the whole thing away. Anyway, I was super into this storyline because I'm a sucker for that kind of person, you know, who seems okay on the surface but probe even a little bit and all this sad stuff pours out.

I think this is out of theatres now so rent or Netflix it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hipster Salad with Cherry Balsamic Dressing

About 12 hours ago, in an attempt to branch out of my usual subject matter, I wrote a post about voting. I think my point was that we can't vote the developing world into having voting rights, just by casting uninformed votes. But I reread it just now and was promptly reminded of why I should never write about anything Important, because I really don't know what the fuck I am talking about. That and the fact that I got not a single comment in 12 full hours even though you guys usually give me at least one caused me to question my entire validity as a human being, which in turn caused me to delete that post. If ever I try to talk about anything so serious again, please just tell me to sod right off. We are back to the usual bs on this blog.

Remember when I told you that you don't like lettuce very much? Well, as you may know from experience, one way of solving or at least circumventing practically any problem is to throw money at it. This means that if you buy that scandalously expensive stuff that comes in a bag, says "organic" on it and looks like weeds, you may delude yourself into thinking you like lettuce much more rapidly than if you buy a head of lettuce that you have to tear into bits, will never finish, and will make your salad look like it comes from a sad 80s buffet and may just start to weep if it doesn't get to mate with the Russian dressing. I may just start to weep if I picture my supremely sorry self sitting alone in a room watching Wills and Kate get smilingly married one more time but I already told you about that.

As a hipster-in-denial, I consider it my duty to eat "salad" in place of "dinner" at least sometimes. I find this is a successful endeavor (by which I mean that I am usually not hungry in 30 minutes) provided that I eat a gigantic piece of cake immediately after the salad. And cherry balsamic dressing is rather tasty, so you might as well give this a try at least once.

You will need:

cherry jam (the good stuff. If it tastes like children's Tylenol it is not the good stuff.)
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper
garlic (as much as you like)
a bag of expensive greens
half a zucchini
half a yellow or orange pepper
an onion
a few cherry tomatoes (say like four)
grapes (do not leave these out, they are the best part)
protein of your choice (leftover meat or fish, beans if you're into those, whatev. Fresh mozzarella might be classy.)
cake (for dessert)

Put a bit of olive oil in a pan and press the garlic into it. Or chop up the garlic if you don't have a garlic press. I tell you that a lot.

Add the onion to the pan and cook a minute or two, then add the yellow pepper and zucchini. But chop all those three things up first. You knew that right? Cook until they're cooked which will take like five mins or so.

While those things are cooking, get out a nice big bowl and put a spoonful or two of cherry jam in the bottom. Then add a nice big splash of balsamic vinegar, a medium-sized splash of olive oil, and salt and pepper to the jam and whisk with a fork until combined. Put a big handful of greens in the bowl along with the halved cherry tomatoes and a handful or two of halved grapes. It can sit this way until you're ready to toss and eat your salad. Cool, huh?

If you're using any protein besides cheese, add it to the pan for the last minute or two of cooking. If your protein isn't pre-cooked, cook it first some other way and then do this. If it's cheese, add the cheese to the bowl with the greens, then add the cooked veggies when they're ready and toss the salad, spooning up the dressing from the bottom.

Don't forget the cake.

This bowl is bigger than it looks.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Half of Blue Valentine and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

1) At first I thought I'd better not review Blue Valentine on here because I fell asleep halfway through the thing. But then I remembered that I have a B.A. in English literature which means that I can form an elaborate thesis on the symbolism in a book I have never even opened, so I don't see why I shouldn't tell you that a movie I have seen a whole half of is boring, and that I don't ever want to look at Michelle Williams' gigantically bee stung lips again. Also, there is a supporting character in this movie named Bobby, which irked because is it just me or are there way more movie characters and the like named Bobby than there are people named Bobby in real life?

One more thing: something I read in the real reviews of Blue Valentine is that you only see the beginning and end of the main characters' failed relationship and not the middle, so you get no insight as to why it didn't succeed. From what I saw, I would say that's true. I know this is a bit like reading the Cliffs notes but I think we all know that sometimes reading the Cliffs notes is good enough.

2) I'm reading this actual book right now called The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender and I'm not sure what I think of it so far, but I did come across a sentence that I wanted to share with you. Remember how I was saying that ordinary things like signs and bits of pavement look heavy-hearted and morose when you're sad? Well, Aimee Bender says this:

"It can feel so lonely, to see strangers out in the day, shopping, on a day that is not a good one."

Yes, not just things but strangers too. Yes.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lemon Butter Pasta

I haven't posted any recipes on here in a while because I've been too damn lazy to cook anything, but this is really absurdly easy and if I can do it I'm sure you can too. You will need the following, which I'm sure you already have if you've bought groceries in the last two weeks or actually pretty much ever:

Pasta (whatever kind you like, however much you think you can eat)
Olive oil
Butter
A lemon
Garlic (however much you like)
Salt and pepper

Put a pot of water on to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Or just cook it according to the way you know how, I'm sure you're not a moron. While it's cooking, you're going to zest the lemon. I know this sounds like kind of a big deal but it's really not. Either get out a cheese grater, stick it over a bowl, and rub the lemon against the side with the smallest holes in it like this


or just peel the lemon with a veg peeler or knife and then cut it up into tiny little pieces. Sorry to be a nuisance but they really should be tiny or you'll get a mouthful of peel which is gross.

Now put a bit of olive oil in the pan and then add a sizable chunk of butter. Use more butter than oil but you do need the oil unless you seriously think you can cook this thing on crazily low heat, watch it like someone's paying you, and still not get pissed off when it burns and you have to do it again. Once the butter is melted, press the garlic into it (if you have a garlic press, if not just chop it up small and toss it in there) and cook until it smells nice, then add the lemon zest, a bit of salt and pepper, and cooked pasta (should be done by now), then stir. Cut the lemon that you zested in half and squeeze the juice from both halves into the pan and stir again. 

That's it. You're done. I'll admit that that pasta dish with just olive oil and garlic might be a little easier than this but while some may call that cuisine I personally would call it bullshit.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Children

Remember how I had that thing going for a while where I told you about things you thought you liked but you actually don't? Well just to remind you, I had lettuce, clubbing, and mingling to start with, and now I'm going to give you another one: children.

You may be one of the comparatively few people who actually admits they don't like children, in which case, I say good for you. Otherwise, you probably go 'round saying you think children are super cute, and you might even fool a few people if you're ever around a child because you're only going to be around it for two minutes. But you can't fool me. Try spending a whole day with one of these little spaz attacks and you will see how many utterly stupid questions you can tolerate before you just throw your hands up and say "You know what? I don't know why he doesn't like green eggs and ham, for chrissakes! And I know I have eaten two bags of chips today and your mom says that anyone who does that has bad eating habits but your mom can jolly well screw off. And no, I do not want to pretend to be the bad guy in some stupid game with your toys because that would only be fun for you."

But the kind of kid that makes you say those things isn't as bad as the kind of kid who obviously gets way too much positive feedback and who everyone calls "precocious." This is the kid who when the teacher in school says "how do you spell neighbour?" says "in England or America?" If you are more closely associated with a child like this than some other grownup who is also present, you will feel embarrassed every time the kid opens his mouth because he is a total pain in the ass to be around.

I think that even moms who swear up and down that they adore their kids may not really. Otherwise when you say you went to the movies last night why would they burst out with "Oh my God, I haven't been to the movies in 400 years because I have a kid."

But I'll admit that I still want kids myself because frankly, I'm a little concerned that nobody will give a shit about me when I'm old. I hope that's a good enough reason.