Feline Musings for a Sunday Evening

It’s that time during your otherwise enjoyable Sunday evening when it hits you that the weekend is over and you’re trying desperately to hide from Monday but deep in your heart you know that it’s just going to come around no matter how hard you try to keep it at bay, it always does, and besides, your hiding spot has holes in it so no matter how quiet you are, Monday would see you anyway and then you remember that you’re a cat so who even cares about Mondays, and you breathe a sigh of relief cause being a cat is cool, and you decide you kinda like your new hiding spot despite the holes that give away your position and in fact, the holes make it interesting and at least you don’t have Monday to worry about cause, you know… you’re a cat. And cats are cool.

The Power of Comfort Food

So, having had a bit of a down day, I let myself indulge in one of my favorite foods: biscuits and gravy. Oh, not the kind my mother used to make… I don’t have her talent. But I have found, through trial and error, a sorta reasonable kind of okay facsimile using very specific store-bought brands. As a great man once said, “That’ll do, pig.  That’ll do.”

We’ve all been there. When you’re feeling down and less than ecstatic about a current life situation, there’s just something about consoling yourself with an entire tub of ice cream or a slice … okay, maybe several slices … no, wait, several varieties of chocolate cake.

Comfort foods offer a pick-me-up in bad situations. There’s something about even just smelling your favorite dish that brings you a sense of well-being. The aroma of warm cookies, cinnamon donuts, or fresh-baked bread – they’ll all do it. Right!? That’s what I’m talking about.

So why do our favorite comfort foods have such a profound impact on our mood? Well, there is a certain sentimental value in comfort food.

As it turns out, there’s a lot of psychology at play when we’re enjoying comfort food that’s “just like mom used to make.” Indeed, you could say the best chef on Earth is the person who cooked for you when you were a young child. And no, they didn’t just cook, they cooked with love. The most impressive 3-star Michelin chef will never beat your grandmother’s vegetable soup because in that soup is the deep love a professional chef can never have for you. Unless, that 3-star Michelin chef is in love with you … and well, can I just say, I wish!  Comfort food possesses an inherent and very powerful ability to transport us to simpler times (you know, before bills and job insecurity and the stresses of adult life). It transports us to a time when all we had to worry about was how many legs do caterpillars have and where do clouds come from.

Answers:  16 (usually) and …

Clouds forms as a result of air cooling to a temperature at which water vapor turns into liquid water. In turn, this is a result of air rising because the higher we go into the atmosphere, the colder the temperature becomes because during the day the sun heats it.

But where were we again? That’s right, the highs of food! Not clouds! I think most of us know and believe in that feeling of ummm … comfort … that comfort foods give us.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Well, actually, I wouldn’t say that my favorite comfort food is reminiscent of childhood necessarily. Hell, my parents couldn’t cook to save their lives!” First of all, I am so, so sorry. Secondly, hold your horses – there’s more to comfort foods than just who cooked them.

One important factor to consider when questioning our fairly unanimous love of comfort food, is simply the fat, sugar, and/or salt content in said comfort food. Though I’ve always considered it to be a sick, cosmic joke, our bodies LOVE those highly palatable foods that last a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips. Foods high in fat, sugar, and salt are particularly good at activating the brain’s reward system – producing pleasant feelings and reducing stress. Like I said, a sick, cosmic joke.

Was it too much to ask to be naturally addicted to celery and kale? Yeah, I know. Blech.

But the greatest tool in a comfort food’s arsenal of persuasion?

The. Void.

You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all had things go horribly horribly devastatingly awfully utterly embarrassingly wrong in our lives, and nothing fills the resulting crater-sized void in our hearts quite like comfort food. Having a bad day? Open a bag of chips. Going through a breakup? Order an extra-large four-cheese pizza and eat it in one sitting while watching The Notebook through a waterfall of tears. Is it an unhealthy coping mechanism? Absolutely. But does it work? Hell yeah.

At the end of the day, I feel like there are worse ways to cope than with the occasional dinner consisting of cheesecake and Cheez-Its. Key word being occasional. Should we all make a conscious effort to work through our problems so that we don’t feel the need to overindulge in unhealthy foods to cope with life? Yes. I’m sure we should.

At the same time, I also think that sometimes we should just be allowed to have our moment and enjoy some self-care in the form of a sorta reasonable kind of okay facsimile of Mom’s signature biscuits and gravy.

Hey, don’t judge me!

Water, Water Everywhere nor any Funnel Cake to Eat

Dearest Journal,

Do you remember the day I went to the waterpark? It was … interesting. As you know (because you’re my Journal and I’ve written in you before, so you know all my secrets of course) I’m a raging introvert with the patience of a gnat. That’s just who I am. Needless to say, the waterpark has always been the ultimate test of my resolve.

The place was so busy! But then, it always is. Therein lies my problem. Packs of people everywhere! I don’t like people, as a general rule. But then, I don’t have to tell you, do I Journal? I felt like I spent more time wading through people than wading through water. And to make it worse, there seemed to be so many wayward children with sticky hands roaming through the throngs of people like bored jackals because, guess what Journal?  Their parents weren’t watching them properly and were instead, sailing down the “lazy river,” and having unleashed their hell spawn upon the world, were casually sipping their strawberry smoothies while floating along on their blow-up flamingos, not a care in the world. Certainly no cares were had for their grubby-handed offspring.

As I was waiting to go down the main slide, I suddenly found myself asking: “Where the hell did this GOO on my leg come from!?” I searched the gang of jackals children milling about, but could not pinpoint the perpetrator. Oh, not to worry, I’m about to go down a waterslide, I thought. That’ll surely get this blackberry jelly (my sincere hope) off my leg, I told myself.

Nope. After going down the slide and getting back out of the water, it was still there.

Superglue jelly. What a novel concept.

What is this stuff anyway, I asked, some kind of resin? What kind of parent lets their gooey kid walk around unleashed with clumps of resin in their hands? I don’t need no myrrh and frankincense stuck to my leg! I went to the waterpark for a good time, not to have random who-knows-what stuck to my appendages. If I wanted that, I’d go swim at the beach and get a jellyfish stuck to my ankle. Or I’d swim in a leech-infested lake. I want to have fun and all, but, at least for me personally, that doesn’t involve having miscellaneous things involuntarily glued to my skin by children who aren’t even mine.

Going down the waterslide is an experience in itself. You walk all the way up these rickety little stairs to get to the top of the ride, all the time high on the scent of heavy-duty chlorine. And people are constantly packing in, waiting impatiently for the chance to spend a few seconds whizzing down a plastic tube.

Sometimes people whizz literally. No, really Journal, they do.

I got back to the food area after visiting the ladies’ room where I had finally chipped the jelly resin off my leg and was feeling a bit peckish after the extreme yoga moves required to pee without needing a subsequent round of heavy-duty antibiotics. Aha, funnel cake! My old friend! The very thing that makes coming to an amusement park worthwhile. I bought a piece and found a quiet spot to just sit down and relax for a moment, away from the throbbing maelstrom that was the rest of the park. Like I said, I’m an introvert. I have the patience of a gnat. And like a gnat, I need time to rest. All that flapping up and down the stairs and flailing down the waterslides — while trying to keep all of the important bits inside of a swimsuit, can exhaust an irritable shy little thing like me! But funnel cake would sustain me, revive me even. I mean, you know me and funnel cake, dear Journal.

So I sat down, and for a brief moment I rejoiced in being able to hear myself think for the first time in a good many hours (without my ears being clogged with water, without the chlorine forever desperate to punch me in the medulla oblongata, without goo on my legs, without people playing “Who can I get away with elbowing” on the waterslide stairs).

And then lo and behold! A bird, from out of nowhere, I couldn’t tell you which one, swooped down and stole my funnel cake right out of my hand!

I’d like to say I watched as the feathered beast flew away into the distance till it was nothing more than a little speck and that I reflected upon that moment as it went, but there was no time. In seconds, a throng of jackals children swamped the food area and I looked down at my leg once more to see it covered in peanut butter. Now why did I get rid of that mysterious jelly from earlier, I thought to myself. I could have had a sandwich!

Like a Rolling Stone

So, last week I went to the doctor and to paint you a picture, I’m standing there at this open-air front desk with absolutely no privacy in a waiting room as crowded as a 1980s U2 concert when the receptionist boisterously (read, loudly) asks me, “Why are you here?”

“What, like existentially you mean? Let me just whip out my copy of Jean-Paul Sartre for a moment: um … Nausea? Um … well, you see, I’m feeling the nausea of existence, of existing, I’m feeling an unbearable lightness of being in my upper abdomen … No, that’s not right. I remember now, even if you, dear receptionist, do not. I have a kidney stone. Yes. A kidney stone. Happy now, all you people listening in from the waiting room?”

At this point, I feel like turning around to them and with outstretched arms, boldly asking, “Are you not entertained?” Because you just know they’re listening. And now, someone’s nodding to their partner and saying, yep, guessed it!

You see, there’s not much to do in a waiting room, and yes, everyone plays that same game you play. The game of ‘keep yourself from falling asleep while waiting 500 hours for a doctor to show up,’ officially titled “What are they in for?” It works like this: observe people in the doctor’s waiting room and ask yourself, “What are they in for?”

Simple, right?

That tired looking young man with the hand in a kerchief who just walked in? Lost a fight with a rabid raccoon, no doubt. The young child playing with the toy tractor on the carpet? That’s an easy, and boring, one. He obviously has the plague with accompanying free-flowing mucous… which he’s now so generously sharing with everyone in the room because he doesn’t cover his mouth when he coughs (instead, choosing to aim it quite purposefully toward his waiting room neighbors) and the same hand he uses to wipe at his nose also touches every surface within a 10 foot radius. The elderly woman clutching her right knee while staring stoically at the opposite wall? Well, you’d think arthritis, but no, trampoline injury. Oh, you thought you were the only one who plays this game? Nope.

Sadly, in most medical offices, the staff take the fun out of this harmless entertainment by announcing to all and sundry exactly why a patient is there in the first place before the peanut gallery even has a chance to guess. Or else, they force the patient to divulge such information with little empathy for any embarrassment such an admission might cause.

What was that? Can you repeat that, sir?”

“I SAID, I CAN’T PEE STANDING ON MY HEAD ANYMORE!” 

I’d like to offer this open letter to medical receptionists everywhere.

Dear Receptionists: please, in future, understand that I’m a very private person by nature, and no, even in this day and age when everyone seems hellbent on informing everyone else of the exact flavor of icing adorning their morning cupcake, I do not want a crowd of people to know I have a kidney stone. Or a cold. Or a case of raging foot rash. Shouldn’t you already have that information written down somewhere? In the system? I mean, you’d think that the 20-question pop quiz I was given when I made the appointment over the phone would’ve sufficed. Not to mention, we’ve had the benefit of computers for a good forty years now. We’re not living in the age of Pong anymore. We’re living in the golden age of computers and databases and cloud-synced note-taking software and I would have thought it’s pretty easy, when I tell a receptionist over the phone that I want to see the doctor about my kidney stones, to therefore just make a note of “kidney stone.”  Or forget that, if that’s too hard, just write “kidney.”  That’s six letters for God’s sake. And when I get to the waiting room counter, I can just sing the chorus of Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone and you can put the puzzle pieces together.

But no, they want me to announce my exact condition to the world, as if I’ve suddenly been thrust into an intervention, and admitting my problem to a circle of total strangers is the first step. Hello, my name is Wendy. I have a kidney stone. Yes, it is a problem, Yes, I admit it. But I don’t want to tell others about it. Please. Is that so hard???

If the receptionist is doing triage to see if you take precedence over the next person in line, I have to ask why? You have a set appointment. Receptionists shouldn’t be doing triage. That should be done over the phone as well. It’s called streamlining the process, people. It’s called efficiency. It’s called organization. Not the world-famous best-selling author of a dozen minimalism and organization books, Marie Kondo, organization but … no, wait, hang on. Marie Kondo would be a marvelous help here.

Does this kidney stone give you joy?” she would ask.

And I would reply, “Why, no. No. It. Does. Not.

And she would say, “Then it’s high time you remove it from your life.”

Either way, that’s a vital conversation. But it can be done over the phone. Not in the waiting room. I’m not Bono. I’m not a dancing monkey. I have a medical problem. And I want it fixed without the eyes of the world watching.

If you do decide to forego any sense of privacy and give the receptionist all the gory details of your predicament, be prepared to say it all again, verbatim, to the nurse who takes you back. Because, guess what? They didn’t take notes either.

Finally, you get to the doctor, a man who looks suspiciously like U2’s The Edge and he asks, while looking at nonexistent notes, “What can I help you with today?”

And having repeated the story of your ailment 200 times by now, you explain, “I’m on the edge of insanity, doctor. Even Jean-Paul Sartre could not explain my existential nausea.”

And the doctor kindly admits you to the hospital where you get locked up in a nice padded cell, feeling more nauseous than ever, with Marie Kondo shaking her head at you because you still haven’t gotten rid of your kidney stone.

But hey, in the spirit of that aforementioned intervention, at least something got admitted, and that’s the main thing.

I’d just prefer it wasn’t me.

 

P.S. I made the kidney stone thing up.

Trolling Fate

While out and about yesterday, I found my soulmate. Well… not my soulmate exactly, rather, I found their vehicle. And no, I didn’t wait around to see who returned to the Jeep. That would just be creepy.

I know, I know, I threw my destiny right back in fate’s face. But, better alone than a creeper. Heyyyy, I bet there’s a country song in there somewhere.

 

It’s Raining Ramen

There’s something to be said for knowing how to do things yourself. You know, not just knowing how to sharpen your kitchen knives, catch a moose, house-train said moose, make the moose your friend … you know, as one does, but things like knowing how to iron a shirt, sew a button, change a fuse. Especially in this day and age, when everything is Googleable and we’re all carrying in our pockets these little crystal balls we call smart phones.

No longer do we need to memorize exactly how to house-train a moose. And if you find yourself one day lost in the middle of the woods in the night, starving, drenched in the rain, your feet squelching through the mud, and you do find a moose (no, really, bear with me here) you can whip out that trusty smart phone and ask it “How do I catch moose” and sure enough, you’ll find a YouTube video tutorial explaining the entire process. You can then ride the moose home. Provided that you’ve mastered the “make the moose your friend” step. That part is crucial.

That’s where technology might come in handy. Assuming of course, that you have a waterproof phone and battery and an actual moose.

As for deliberately getting lost? Hmmm … just don’t look at your phone. Easy-peasy, trust me.

Sometimes though, I wonder if we’ve gone too far in turning to YouTube for all our DIY needs. I mean, where do we draw the line?  You might have seen, for example, videos of people fixing things with Ramen noodles. Dry Ramen noodles, that is. Not cooked ones. That would just be gross, and I imagine, incredibly difficult. But seriously, repairs are being made with dry Ramen noodles. Tables, chairs, kitchen sinks, toilet bowls, you name it … apparently, it can all be fixed with Ramen noodles.

Yes, everything.

What kind of a spoiled, entitled society have we become where we actually use the things we’re supposed to eat to fix the things we now use to dispose of the things we eat? This is just getting silly, if you ask me.

Ramen noodles are meant to be eaten. Aren’t they? Right? I mean, I think we can all agree on that, yeah? At least that’s what I grew up believing. So what if they’re not good for you. They’re still a food product. Not a DIY repair-all tool.

Yet, here we are, browsing the interwebs, watching videos of people using noodles to fix everything, and it makes you wonder … how do the noodles feel about this? If I were a noodle, I’d be downright offended. Something dating back to China’s East Han Dynasty sometime between A.D. 25 and 220 deserves a bit more respect than ending up as part of your toilet.

My point is, are we just that bored? Are we really so desperate for novelty that we’ll actually use noodles for fixing tables and toilets? The answer is apparently a resounding “yes.”  Along with a shit ton of professional-grade solvents! Can’t imagine that’s good for us or the environment.

Seriously though. Noodles?

No, I don’t want green Ramen and ham.

And I don’t want Ramen noodle chairs either, Sam I Am.

What’s next? People will be asking you if you want your Ramen soup on a Ramen table in a Ramen bowl?

“And where’s the toilet?” you’ll ask. “Oh, the Ramen toilet?” they’ll reply. “Down the Ramen hall and on the Ramen right.”

You may as well be in a Ramen boat with a Ramen fox eating green eggs and ham (because of course, there’ll be no Ramen left to actually eat, everyone’s using it to fix things).

So how do you fix a table or a toilet without ramen noodles? Ahhh … therein lies the problem. You see, no one knows anymore. We’ve all been turning to YouTube for anything and everything for so long that we now just trust it blindly.

But listen, this where it backfires.

Have you heard of something called ants? What about roaches? Wasps? Weevils by any chance?  Before you go fixing everything around your house with Ramen noodles, just remember: there are plenty of creatures in the world that still like to eat Ramen noodles whether you’ve glued them onto your bathroom sink or not.

One day, you might just come home to find a moose in your bathroom eating your toilet bowl. And you haven’t even gotten to the YouTube video series “Make that Moose Your Friend” yet, so basically, you’re screwed.

No. It stops here, I tell you. Just eat your freakin’ Ramen noodles.

And call the plumber already. The toilet’s leaking.

Please.

Laborious Labor Day

Labor Day here in the U.S. is on Monday… but gluttons that we are, many Americans tend to start celebrating sometime late on Friday.  Keeping that in mind, I want to wish all of my U.S. followers a very happy, enjoyable, and peaceful Labor Day weekend.

Now with that said, I must confess that Labor Day is one of those holidays that has always confused me… mainly for its contradictory nature.

I mean on Mother’s Day, we celebrate mothers and gift them with the present of doing nothing all day (not that many mothers get away with actually using the gift).  Father’s Day is the same way. We encourage fathers to do “their own thing” on their special day. The effects of most holidays coincide with the original purpose behind said holiday.

But not so Labor Day.

“Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Now, one would think from this description that workers should have the day off to relax and reap the rewards of the labor they’ve given to their employers and to society as a whole. And indeed, many employees do in fact have the day off. However, many of the hardest working people do not. On this day of celebrating their contribution to the world as we know it and to the workforce in general, they are instead forced to work.

Retail workers bear the brunt, just as they do at Thanksgiving and Christmas, given all of the sales that crop up on Labor Day. But they’re by no means the only ones. Military, police officers, firemen, food service, paramedics, convenience store workers, gas station attendants, all manner of hospital employees… to name a few.  And yes, many of these good people are essential personnel and life is much better and much safer (for the rest of us) with them in their respective jobs, even on holidays, and God love them for it. Others not so much. Retail, food service, convenience stores, grocery stores… there’s no reason to not let these people enjoy a much deserved day off except… except… that it cuts into profit.

So when all is said and done, Labor Day has been turned into a perverse contradiction of its original meaning and rather than truly celebrating the worker, it has devolved into just another way to take advantage of those who cannot afford to lose their jobs by protesting a holiday shift.

Such is America.

click pic for origins of Labor Day (including quote above)