Friday, November 27, 2015

Online Harassment

I'm not really that fond of people who just use news stories as their posts because I think it's sort of a cop out but this was something I honestly found really interesting. http://www.buzzfeed.com/rossalynwarren/a-woman-collected-the-online-harassment-shes-received-in-the

And rather than recapping it I'll just put in my two cents about it. Yes, I think when you willingly put yourself on a public platform you have to expect a certain amount of...trolling and idiocy.  No, I don't think it's fair that there's a disgustingly high proportion of individuals who feel its their right to sexually objectify you and because they are on the internet think that you should therefore brush it off/ignore it/grow a thicker skin/get a sense of humor.  It's easy to say any of those things but it's quite another to DO it.

Last time I checked no one grew a thick skin overnight.  And last time I checked even though there's a lot more education about "internet safety" now no one has definitively given a proper pep talk to young people about what awaits them once they make, say their first online dating account.  Two words. Dick Pictures. As an adult, I think it's humorous that there are people who still believe that's a good way to hook up with a heterosexual female.  As a parent I'd be completely insane with anger to know that one day my daughter will find herself on tinder face to face with a disgusting penis picture.  It's not a "what if" situation, it's an inevitability.

Another whole layer to the proverbial onion is the ethnic fetishism.  The woman in the article happens to be Asian and while I'm not petite and typical in my Asian-ness I understand.  It's just another whole level to the online aggression.  Do people feel safer being cruel towards a race they perceive to be submissive and demure?  I'm older and therefore more weathered and ready to start yelling at people whom I disagree with but when you're building up your idea of self worth and appreciation you're also dealing with a lot of gross dudes turning you into their own version of fetish porn.  It's an odd thing to think about and that's why it's so easy for men to grossly overgeneralize that women are crazy.  Yeah, sometimes we are crazy and it's because it's a very odd burden to bear that if you post a picture of yourself that you feel good about that no less than a dozen perverts will start commenting vile things about you.  We want to be accepted and loved and deemed beautiful but we don't want to be alerted by every over-sharing weirdo that they're jerking it to our profile picture.  It's easy to feel torn about how to approach social media and the people who are on it when it provides such an odd mixture of emotions. I've never been on okcupid or tinder but from the stories I hear its pretty rampant with grossness.  Also Aziz told me in "Modern Romance" and as published book writer now I can only assume he had to spend some time on the platforms in order to discuss them so his publisher wouldn't be mad he made up stuff like that guy Oprah raked over the coals.

In combination with this a young lady whom I suppose had a high following on instagram and youtube, Essenia Oneill suddenly came out and quit all those platforms stating it's all fake, that she was fake, that the images were forced, set up, sponsored and overly sexual given that she was underage at the time she started her instagram account.  This is hardly a surprise given the unusual frequency of these "models" all giving props to the same teeth whitening systems, detox tea and waist trainers however I am sad that she was a teenager trying to live up to the Kim Kardashian model of fame because she perceived that a high number of likes and followers and subscribers meant she was loved and accepted.  I'm sad her parents never felt any desire to intervene and perhaps give her some structure and advice about all the cleavage and skin she was showing at 15, especially once sponsor money came into the picture.  Perhaps the money that was rolling in made them turn a blind eye since she even landed a legitimate modeling contract from all that instagram fame but hopefully now that she's quit cold turkey from those platforms she'll take some time to actually evaluate herself and her life instead of being made to feel like a puppet.  I know her story is not new or exciting but it's interesting that she's gone back and re-captioned all of her formerly cool pictures with their true circumstances like I starved myself all morning and yelled at my sister to take pictures of me until I got it just right. We took at least 100 pictures. And I wore this dress because it was given to me in exchange for money. I literally never wore it again. It's weird how they're not required to disclose when they're sponsored on instagram.  Surely they will be forced to in the not so far future when so many individuals have made it their source of income.

If the numbers are correct, young people are pulling away from social platforms like facebook more and turning to phone apps where they can choose their audience of peers. Of course, even in that case it's not really confidential but nonetheless there is a feeling that it is not a permanent reflection of you to shared with your great Aunt Beatrice.  The average age of active facebook users in North America (if a simple google search can be believed) is 40.5 years of age.  I just can't get into Snapchat and other such platforms but I'm increasingly aware that's the next horizon. Whatever the next thing is will probably be a phone app and my kids will probably master it before I do.  I just hope what they see is something they're emotionally ready to comprehend.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Own your inner slut

Slut-shaming.  Younger-me is so guilty of this, but I have to give myself a little slack because younger me was also rather ignorant of the real world because I was very very very sheltered.  It's easy to judge women even when you are one and you should know better than to cut down your own people but we're all guilty of it and now that I have a little more life experience a little more perspective and just time I get it.  I really, REALLY get it.

In the news more recently there was a Toronto policeman who stated there would be less rapes if women dressed less provocatively. 17 year old me would have probably said, sure that makes sense.  But the problem is that I spent so much time being told by my well intentioned parents that boys are disgusting sex driven beings that instead of placing the blame on their nature we place it on the victims of rape instead and that's a flawed system.  Blaming the victim once she is made a victim doesn't change the rapist.  It doesn't change whatever mechanisms are in place that have created this misogynistic view that a woman is merely the sum of her overall appearance.

And yes I'm glad my parents were honest with their opinions because I was incredibly scared of men/potential rapists for a long time...so it worked! But it builds a system of self-blame. It's my fault because I left my room.  It's my fault because I wore a shirt instead of a gigantic shapeless parka.  It's my fault because I have a vagina and the world is out to get me and that's possibly the most ridiculous world to have to live in.  I live in America where supposedly I have freedom but I was so brainwashed into feeling everything bad was my own fault and had I exerted more caution that I would have been fine.

While I don't see the value in walking around with your genitals shaking around (you will definitely regret that choice once gravity really sets in) the fact is that we're a society that is quick to label any female a slut.  You don't even necessarily have to have had sex to be branded a slut.  Acting a certain way, dressing a certain way, talking to a man who is not your boyfriend, dating people...all of this can result in other women and men labeling you a slut in order to not only judge you but bring you down a few pegs.  Sure we're bombarded with oversexed models gyrating all over Rap stars in every music video and ingenues greased up with Italian dressing on the cover of Maxim but God forbid real women in real life actually exhibit any normal sexuality or they will be labeled all kinds of terrible names.  In case you don't believe me, name one male celebrity that is regularly decried for being a slut.  Oh right, there are none.  Don Juan? Playas? Even the terms for men who are a little hyper-sexual aren't incredibly negative. They lean a little more on a half jesting tease rather than a full on insulting term.

I am not saying all men are rapists any more than I am saying all women are sluts.  It's bad to make sweeping statements but it's merely to prove the point that I've probably been referred to as a slut or a bitch or a whore 1,000 times more than any man has ever been called a rapist.  How does it feel? Pretty terrible, right? It's horrible.

And really, what's wrong with a woman having and exhibiting her sexuality?  Men do it and they're called "playas" and are generally applauded by their peers for their skills with the ladies.

Did you read "The Duff"?  (I know, I have the weirdest reading list.) It's a teen book but given all the teenage sex in it I probably would not gift it to your niece for her birthday unless you want to have some slightly miffed parents calling you later.  Basically the overall themes are about how these teens labeled each other.  The Duff being an acronym for designated ugly fat friend which the story jumps off from.  Duff is a dirty word in the book much like slut or whore but it's just a word that is used to bring this girl down.  Before the word existed she was fine and she was happy within the confines of the life she was living and the friends that she had.  Once the word is brought to the forefront of her attention then things spiral out of control because it begins to eat at her sense of self-value and she (like a normal teenager) lashes out and behaves in a less than Marsha Brady-ideal-sweet girl way.  I don't want to ruin the book should you choose to read it but I'll warn that the movie is an entirely different creature than the book so I'd recommend the book just because it's a whole other beast.  It's a pretty fair assessment of high school in this day and age.

So back to the original point, due to this Toronto cop's statement there have been a rash of Slut Walks, seeking to "take back" the term slut and stop the cycle of victim shaming.  I don't really understand the taking back of the term part because it seems kind of extreme to call one's self a slut but I am happy to see that we're seeking to empower victims, empower women and shine a light on the fact that women should not have to be sorry for wanting to be themselves and dress the way they want and say things they want and sleep with whom they want to.  A person who chooses to have sex before marriage has every bit the same right to consent as any other individual.  I don't even have the perspective of being a mother to daughters but if I did I'd be furious about anyone slut shaming my kids.  A little bit of cleavage doesn't mean you're asking to be assaulted.  I know there's no true male counterpart to this but, I guess those guys who squeeze into those tiny speedos know people will be looking at their junk but I doubt anyone would label them all flagrant overly sexual deviants.

Again, I live in North America so no one wears speedos unless they're competing at an Olympic trial. The only guys who ever wear speedos in public tend to be flagrantly European or just old enough to not care what any of us think of them.  I find it doubtful young guys are talking smack about that 55 year old Greek gentleman with the glistening ebony chest hair.  Perhaps these perceptions are different from other corners of the globe.  It's all so relative, right?  I am so used to how our Puritan roots have created this kind of odd mixture of liberal freedom love side by side with severe Christian morals that sometimes other societies surprise me.  If you have time to grab a quick read, I'd recommend Aziz Ansari's "Modern Romance" because it's got a few chapters on Argentina, Japan and France in addition to the obvious USA that are truly interesting.  I thought it would be a humor book but it was truly an interesting sociological research based work about what it means to be a young person looking for romance in the modern world we live in right now with the twitter and instagram and facebook and prevalence of text message over voice calls and how they shape our relationships and our perceptions of other people.  It's truly a good read even if you are not single.  Like how bad spelling makes us immediately judge someone when in fact they could have just gotten a new phone and not mastered all those pesky auto corrects yet.  We have so many ways to communicate but because of it we're more apt to make snap judgement that aren't really based on anything.  We discard the idea of knowing people because their profile picture is lame or they insist on taking so many pictures of food.  We even judge people when their pictures are TOO nice or their posts are TOO perfect because we all perceive them as fake and trying too hard.  There's no way of winning.

When I was in college, yes there was Facebook; I didn't live in the stone ages but the worst thing we had was AIM Instant messenger and you could just log off of that thing and then not have to deal with the weird away messages that were cryptic song lyrics that might be about you.

Let's wrap it up, this is getting lengthy.  Love yourself! Love others! Respect your body but whatever you do with it is your own business.  I totally respect and admire people who fully embrace who they are without being apologetic and without hiding behind layers of false pretenses.  If you want to party, go party.  If you want to curl up with a book and a couple cats? Go for it. We all find fulfillment in different ways.  Don't let other people's perceptions of you box you in to a category they made up for you.  You're more than just a single diminutive insult.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Like that time I wiped my butt

Internet, I cut my hair.

Lacking a twitter or an instagram you probably had no idea and probably didn't care. I typically don't care when other people go to the barber or shave or eat food or wipe their bottoms or have a cold either. Actually I especially don't care when people have colds. I would prefer you keep even the notion of illness far far away.

I mention it because it's my 2nd time donating hair and THIS time I was prepared. In case you aren't the photographic memory type I donated about 6 years ago.  (And yes, I went from a short 'do all the way to long again in that short a span of time.) I had all my stuff ready. I had a rubber band on my wrist ready for the ponytail making so I could shove that hair in the plastic zip bag I had ready so it wouldn't get yucky or wet. I also even had the mailing envelope ready with the address to mail it to already on the front.  I felt well prepared to give up my hair and happy that there would be no dilly dallying!  As a mom of two who can't even go to CVS without conferring with my schedule I need things to be ready in order for them to go off without a hitch.

Oh right...pictures. That's all anyone cares about right?  We're a "too long, didn't read it" society now.

It's not anything I'm scared of since I have had short hair before and it neither makes me any more or less feminine to have a few feet of hair hanging off my scalp. To be honest all I ever did with my long hair was pull it back into a bun or braid it back from my face so it'd stop being in my way and my baby would stop using it as a teething toy.  I wasn't LOVING my hair as a device of beauty and someone else most certainly would.  It was an easy choice to let it get as long as I could bear and give it away.  There's a point where I do LOVE long hair and I feel like I'm rocking out Victoria's Secret style waves and clearly owning the world like a boss but like, 2 inches past that point and I feel like it's a rats nest and there's no way a comb will ever go through it and whoa is it ever looking witchy.  It's a super small window of enjoyment for me.  I guess it doesn't help that by the time it got to that point I had a teething child and he kept on chewing on my braid. Seriously. I doubt that helps one's hair grow in healthy. By the time it was long enough to provide a good 9 inches to wig people my hair was down to the small of my back. I don't have the small delicately feminine features necessary for a pixie so I tolerated my hair almost falling down to my posterior before the madness kicked in and I needed it cut.  My face is okay, I like it fine but it just doesn't have that delicateness where a pixie looks charming. This is not a complaint, it's merely an acknowledgement.

Some friends have noted what a kind gesture it is.  Since my hair grows out of my head for FREE I think saying I'm generous is a bit of a stretch. Mother Theresa I am not.  I merely have a good batch of genes for hair growing and the luck of having healthy enough undyed tresses that wig people can do something with it. If left unchecked with more conservative trims I could probably grow all that hair back in 4-5 years.  I probably will try and continue the trend of growing and donating until I find large patches of gray hair I can't stand seeing...but even then who knows? I might love my gray hair.  I love all kinds of random things other people don't like so you can't ever rule it out.

No one will ever notice if I forget to wear eyeliner but chop off my hair?  Everyone I've run into recently can't stop telling me about it.  Yes, I know, I'm the one who decided to get it cut. I think it's nice they care of course but there's not much chit chat I have about hair other than I decided to do this and once I make up my mind there's no turning back.  I am surprisingly terrible at small talk, especially about myself so the conversation ends right in it's tracks.  I should make flash cards for myself to keep it from veering right into "Thanks...(silence) Okay, bye."

I have resisted shorter hair in great deal to the fact that I didn't want to get pigeon holed into "mom hair" that is functional and unstylish.  But the reality is that super long hair that isn't kept up just ends up looking flat and lifeless and greasy anyhow.  No one ever looked at a woman with a messy ponytail and said "yes! That is what I have been looking for! I need to know what you did to get that look." You deserve to look good and feel positively about your appearance.  You spend tons of time and money on the kids and you deserve to not look like the greasy ill-dressed babysitter following behind them.  Obviously if the bill collectors are banging down the door, keep your priorities in check but I think it's easy to fall into the trap of not having enough time and energy to care about yourself because you've been so busy taking of others.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The one about eyebrows

Random beauty nugget

Latisse applied to one's eyebrows will help sparse eyebrows grow back in after years of overplucking in the 90's.

Is your mind as blown as mine?!

I was not allowed to overpluck my eyebrows by my mother (who was in charge of such complicated things for teenage me who was too confused and inexperienced to be trusted with such tasks) plus the caterpillars that grew on my face were painful enough to manage without the agony of ripping several hundred more hairs into those surprised rainbows that Kate Moss made so popular.  However, many people in my generation are left with sparse eyebrows because eventually your follicles rebel and stop growing back.

I was a super hairy teenager.  I look back and wonder what the big deal was since I spend all of five seconds maintaining my eyebrows now but at the time I spent a long time taking deep breathes trying to manage the excruciating pain of those hairs being ripped out and my eyes watering in agony. Truly it felt like torture.  Plus I have dark hair so hair is incredibly obvious.  If I had blonde hair I don't think I'd have ever plucked my brows or cared about my non-visible mustache.

One of the funny things about eyebrows or hair in general is that it's a feature we can control. A facial feature we can CONTROL.  You can't control your nose size or lip shape or eye color but your brows can be pruned like a hedge into whatever you deem desirable.  Some people relish in the control and go OCD on their eyebrows until there's hardly anything left.  Unless you have fine delicate features on a small well proportioned face you need eyebrows to anchor your face and create structure.

I'm team full eyebrows all the way. Plus how else will people know you're surprised or annoyed or confused if you don't have full eyebrows to knit?


Monday, July 20, 2015

Can it Cover this Girl and Outlast this life?

Dudes...did you know I'm not a big makeup wearer?  I've tried at various points in my life to snazzy up with a little lipstick and a little powder but I am about 95% of the time completely without any true foundation type makeup because a.) makeup takes time and I'd rather be sleeping b.) it feels weird for people who don't wear makeup everyday to suddenly wear makeup.  I do like buying makeup at the drugstore oddly enough. I like looking at beautiful packaging and I especially love a nice tube of lipstick. Nothing perks me up like a new lippy.  Not lip gloss, not lip stain, not lip balm...just old fashioned stick to your teeth lipstick. I love it.

However now that I'm getting older I admit that I need a little advantage in my court. Those long nights have caught up to me comforting my fussy younger child (my elder child was a dream so for all of you thinking about number two just remember that. I preemptively curse you just as I was also preemptively cursed. Now the cycle is complete). I look...tired.  Not that I have cystic acne to cover or malasma discoloration or rosacea or anything. I imagine things like that have a significantly more difficult time being covered up and god bless you if you fight that every day.  I love watching youtube videos of those folks putting on makeup because it's truly astounding how they transform. I think it's great. I know a lot of grumpy comments think it's "witchcraft" and trickery but those people are literally trolls who probably wish they could ever get anyone to love their disgusting selves.  And they aren't disgusting because of their skin they're disgusting because their personalities literally ooze bile.  At least those makeup girls on youtube are reaching out to the global community and sharing how they deal with the hand they've been given and giving 13 year old girls who've never put on concealer a chance at feeling good.

With all that ranting done I will admit I'm not a makeup person and I probably put my makeup on all wrong but I'm not pretending to be a pro makeup artist, okay? You've been warned. 

I did however receive a voxbox from Influenster.com and in it I received a ton of cool goodies that are right up my alley.  I do not get paid by them, I did not pay for these products, I do not get paid for my review, I don't get anything period actually I am very poor like that...but I got some free product and in my particular case that's great.  I love trying new things because it's a great thing to talk about and I love talking about new topics.  My brain has atrophied upon having children and all I talk about are my kids.  So I received the product for free but opinions are my own and in no way impacted by the fact I received this product from Influenster.  FTC don't come after me.  

My first makeup product that I bought with my own money was a Covergirl product.  I can't remember what it was but it was a thicker foundation in a compact with a sponge applicator and the color was terrible and it made any of my zits appear way more obvious. My teenage makeup skills were awesome.  Oh and the color was strange because even though it was as close as I could get to my actual skin color it had a weird pinky undertone that just didn't work with my Southeast Asian skin. It is clearly a Caucasian person's playing field when you buy product. Since then I've pretty much avoided any product similar to that paste like texture and I haven't looked back.  I received a Covergirl Outlast Stay Luminous foundation in Buff Beige and to be fair, I tried it a few times.  I think my first opinions about makeup are almost always wrong because either I didn't apply it right or I didn't realize I was missing a step.  I am straight up a mess when it comes to new stuff like that.  

Anyway, this comes in a really nice sturdy glass pump container so you don't contaminate the whole product with your greasy bacteria skin (teenage self, I'm looking right at you!).  Just one pump and you've got product and the rest of it is perfectly encased for later.  I love that. If you have acne or just generally get grossed out hygiene issues or if by some chance you have friends with the same color skin as you this is perfect.  Or if you're a mom with any kids at all you know eventually they're going to be hijacking your stuff so it's good to have it contained before you find beige finger painting on your bathroom wall.

It's a "luminous" labeled product so I expected it to be kind of "glowy" for lack of a better term. That can either mean shiny or glittery.  In this particular case it's a light to medium coverage so your skin still shows through and it has a sort of light sheen but not really shimmering like a highlighter product would be.  It's not super shiny though...kind of semi-matte if we're talking wall paint analogies.  It's like...two steps away from being a fully matte product but not there yet.  I like that it doesn't feel too mask like and heavy but it was definitely THERE.  I didn't get the feeling it sank in and felt naturally part of my skin at any point.  Just sat on the surface. 

This is also labeled an "outlast" product so how did it last?  It's certainly not waterproof as shown by the time I started crying cutting onions and needed to splash some water on my face to cut down the burning.  I would not suggest wearing this baby to the beach. It's lighter coverage is generally nice and "breezy" to take a phrase right from the Covergirl cannon but I found it didn't last a full day on my skin type. If you have drier skin than I do it'll probably fare much better for you. I have normal skin that leans oily during the summer months and I absolutely cannot use this without powdering it down to set everything in place.  Fully matte products just tend to have better lasting ability and since this wasn't a fully matte product it just didn't want to last all day. 

Conclusions? It was okay. It far exceeded my teenage experiences with the more basic Covergirl products of the 90's and the packaging is top notch as far as I'm concerned.  I prefer some spf in my product just because piling on product over product over product can feel heavy and gross during the summer months and lead to disgusting break outs.  I liked that the coloring wasn't too pink toned and there was no obnoxious smell from the product as I kind of remember the other basic covergirl powders and foundations tended to have. It may be a better product for me to touch back on come cooler weather.  This little baby is packaged in a 1 oz glass vial with built in pump and retails for about $9.99 at your local pharmacy. I think the price is a tad steep for what you get so wait for a sale and use a coupon. It's not a revolutionary product you need to run and get ASAP right at this moment. They do have a ton of colors to choose from though so I think you'll probably have a good shot at finding a match for you unlike teenage me. 

If you would like to join influenster as well you can use my referral link or you can obviously open up a new browser and sign up that way. Again, no monies for me either way.  I will be following up with a general review of my entire voxbox so you can live vicariously through me! Yay! 

On a side note I also received a Covergirl Outlast Longwear Lipcolor. It's a matte lipstick and it's just one tube. The older Covergirl Outlast Lipcolor has a two-tube system and I actually do like that one. It hangs on ALL day no problem short of eating a pile of greasy chicken wings your lipstick is staying on.  The colors I got were kind of shimmery so I took a hiatus from using it because I felt really..I dunno, 80s retro.  This is a one tube, traditional lipstick with a matte finish and it does last a long time because as previously stated matte products just generally last a long time.  It does oddly enough wipe off, so don't try kissing someone right after application but as it wears off it does so evenly and I don't end up with a highly pigmented upper lip and no pigment at all on my lower lip (which totally happens) so that's pretty nice.  I guess the way it stains your lips just has a more even wear.  I got a really bright pink which I probably wouldn't have chosen for myself but it's nice to branch out.  I do actually like it now that it has been foisted on me and think the pink is perfect for that fresh spring time dewy look that they're probably trying to popularize.  However you must have exfoliated lips before using this product or it cakes up in your creases and looks very odd.  Smooth lips are a must and while my lips didn't feel chapped after using it I didn't find it to be very moisturizing so slap on some conditioning lip balm overnight or your lips will feel way too dry using this everyday.  For about $6.99 a tube I feel a little disappointed by it's lack of outlastability but it's better than just "plain" lipstick with no staying power at all.

UPDATE: Upon using the foundation a bit longer I found a zit. I guess I forgot how easily my skin would flair up with this kind of product (my usual product actually amazingly does not cause me to ever break out) so this will have to sit it out for the summer. I can't deal with pimples. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Until now, I always got by on my own

Being a mom is interesting. Aside from the poop and boogers and vomit and strange objects scattered throughout my house the mere act of being takes a good amount of adjustment. For me in particular I am a loner. I like being alone. I like being with my thoughts. I am a classic textbook boring introvert.  I'm not shy, I'm not timid, I just like being alone because being alone is comforting and relaxing and recharging and I don't have to worry about being judged for saying the wrong thing, wearing the wrong thing, or being "too much" of whatever is not desirable to others.

But when you're a mother you are never alone.  I have kids hanging off me from the moment I wake up until the moment I can finally allow my head to hit my pillow.  When my children are at my parents house I worry about them being fed garbage for 3 hours and then having to talk them down from their sugar induced insanity.  When I am at work I worry about if my husband remembered to pack our son's library book in his bag so he can take a new one out with the rest of his class.  I never get the chance to truly be alone with myself and my thoughts and selfishly recharge because they are always with me.

I know, it sounds like a 'woe is me' jag, but it's not. I went in mentally prepared but it was still hard and I don't think there's any shame in admitting it.  I like being alone and cooking alone or cleaning alone or shopping alone or peeing alone because it's kind of zen to just do a task quietly and reflectively.  I don't often get any of those moments to myself anymore. My two year old literally asks to sit down on my lap when I'm in the bathroom. It's strange to have pretty much every last bit of my privacy taken away as though I am a prisoner in my own life.  To complain about it or just point it out means I'm acknowledging it and acknowledging it means I don't cast it away in a corner as a shameful thing. I often wish I was an extrovert thinking parenting may be a lot easier. If you feel energized by people then tiny energizer bunny children running underfoot is probably a great time, right?

I take my online privacy very seriously because I have no real life privacy and I haven't been posting because sometimes the things I'm thinking end up sounding very preachy or personal and you don't own me and I don't owe you anything of myself.  I voluntarily share because I think it's part of the human condition.  I think it's important to express our shared humanity rather than sharing trash about celebrities or bashing one another anonymously on forums or voyeuristically looking at pictures of a friend of a friend on facebook and feeling as though you have any right to know anything about them.  You don't. You don't have a right to judge your cousin's husband's old college roommate because you don't really know them or their backstory.  It's all fake anyway.  All the smiley pictures and happy posts accumulate into a story that isn't entirely real.  Sure parts of it are but there are huge parts deleted out WaterGate style. 

Did you read/watch "Gone Girl"?  I read it and was really intrigued by the "he said/she said" dynamic that the story had. Because each person's story was self-serving and thus, in the end you had to readjust your perception of what the truth was because obviously they both lied.  I don't know how successfully that played out movie-wise but in the book Nick literally drops a bombshell and then asks the reader if we hate him for keeping it a secret for so long.  And that's how I feel about social media. What is left unsaid is the truth and what is said can very well be a lie because the person is so afraid of being judged as a bad person.  I feel manipulated by it and thus disgusted.  I'll never really "know" what's going on in my friends lives if I depend on just what they post because it's nothing. It's the fluffy good nice things that ever get posted.  Not that I need to roll around in people's misfortunes but life is more than smiling happy photoshopped thigh gaps and meaningless memes that get reposted over and over again. I am too lazy to add filters or photoshop out zits so you'll be happy to know it's all naturale. That cellulite? It's mine. I earned it. 

On a total side note I devoured "Gone Girl" in a few days so I had to go back to a few excerpts to really absorb them.  Sometimes when I do something too quickly I miss the nuances so by the second run through I caught a lot more of the scattered "clues" to what was real versus fake.  I'm not really much of a mystery/thriller reader but I think the husband wife dynamic kept me interested because obviously I'm in a romantic pairing and the things that are closest to us tend to keep us more invested.  Amy Dunne's "Cool Girl" diatribe in particular is amazing.  Sure she's no role model but I think everyone can take something away from that little gem of dating and relationship knowledge because it's pretty spot on.  She's a smart powerful female character so I think she really wins it for me because I somehow manage to both despise her and admire her perseverance.  Maybe that's just me? I like someone who "owns" her crazy. Read the book, it's weird but a page turner.

My husband was not satisfied by the story, but the male character gets put through the ringer and there seemingly is nothing resolved except that we can imagine him being put through it again and again in different ways.  Again, the things closest to us tend to dictate how we feel about the story so that lack of resolution really made him uncomfortable.  I found that since it was a character driven story anyway that the ending was not the point but the tango between personalities that was the true star of the story.  In reality the struggle between two strong personalities never really has an ending, right? It's just an ongoing thing. Anyway, I probably should just join a book club if I'm going to be ranting but the thought of forcing my way through a horrible book because 10 other women like it makes me kind of annoyed.  I guess living in an on-demand generation I prefer to just do the things I want and fast forward through the muck. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Yo, Veggies!

Saint Patrick's Day means something distinct to Irish Americans and anyone on a college campus where green beer is fun, but to me?  It means Kim Chi making time due to the deep discounts on cabbage.  Normal Kim Chi has Napa Cabbage but I actually prefer common white cabbage because it's much crunchier as it sits and ferments.  I like normal Kim Chi too but after a few months hanging around the back of my fridge it's so wilted there's no crunch left.  Mind you, it's still totally fine and edible as is the magical nature of Kim Chi, a food which hard core Koreans would dig holes in their backyard, throw their jars of Kim Chi into said holes and allow to ferment out where it wouldn't have to stink up their house. The only problem with making it involves cutting it up so it's a good chop stick consuming size because I am kind of unfocused now that I have two ankle biters running wild in my kitchen.  Today I tripped on a dump truck in the kitchen and almost died. Plus I'm the only person in my house who likes it so this is pretty much the one time of year I ever need to make it.  It takes all the rest of the year to make a dent in all of it since it is by all accords a very pungent food item and like with a lot of things, the first week or so that I have it available all I want to do is eat it but things calm down significantly thereafter.  Kim Chi is not a social food either since the smell is so offputting to so many people I can't bring it to work and therefore I can only consume it at home alone in a situation where my kids and husband have something else to consume. The first week is the best though. I think the raw garlic still has the right level of bite to it and it adds a fun dimension of heat that is not fiery but definitely resonates on your palate.

There are tons of blogs about being frugal and hunting for bargains and there are tons of cooking focused sites.  I am not one of them.  I have broken down and created a pinterest account and some of the recipes on there are disgusting sounding. So far I think it's junk. I truly enjoy reading cook books and recipes and once I jumped on the pinterest wagon a lot of it basically involves putting a really beautiful picture along with a sort of tossed together recipe that doesn't have the right balance to be good.  I have made...maybe two pinterest found recipes.  They were meh, nothing to write home about.  Far blander than I had anticipated from the long comments sections lauding how great it looked.  I guess none of those people actually prepared it. It's more about looks than any substance so I try not to get my hopes up. There's a reason #pinterestfail is such a popular trend. I will stick to just reading hundreds of pages of recipes until I find one that sounds good. Allrecipes.com is pretty good, but vast with tons of comments and reviews which I find really helpful in tweeking a recipe to my own personal taste and if I happen to want some more comfort type foods I go to thepioneerwoman.com.  I have a few others I frequent depending on if I want Vietnamese food or Korean food or to break out my crock pot and simmer something for 8 hours.  There are nuances to each kind of style of cooking so I prefer to treat them that way. e.g. I don't throw terikayi chicken in the crock pot because it's not a slow cooking food item. I know you can do it, but it seems unnatural to as it doesn't need to be rendered soft and mushy.

To touch back on produce, what's with the crazy love for zucchini?  Cauliflower I understand because it's so bland it can pretend to be a myriad of other things but zucchini always tastes like zucchini unless you bake it into a loaf cake and then it tastes like sweet.  I tried the whole zucchini noodle thing but it let off so much liquid once cooked it wasn't super appealing.  Perhaps next time salt it and allow to sweat? It's better really under cooked so it retains more texture but then it tastes like raw zucchini and in no way resembles a noodle. I suppose if you're celiac and have a good reason to avoid gluten then sure, go for the zoodles but everybody else? Be happy and dig in to some real pasta.  And maybe take a probiotic regularly to help your gut flora and aid whatever digestive issues you're having if eating "normal" foods is regularly causing you distress. 

On a side note, real sauerkraut is also fermented like my good friend kim chi.  Unfortunately if you get the canned stuff it's been canned and thus heat treated to the point where all the live cultures are gone. If you can find the barrel cured stuff at, say a local deli then you can be happily filled with healthy gut flora promoting wonder. Also that kombucha tea stuff?  It's fermented tea! By all means, guzzle that down if you're a tea fan and are not disgusted by the cost of buying bottled tea. 

I was reading an article that is now saying "by all means, feed your kid peanuts early" which is funny because with my first kid it was such a huge deal to avoid all allergen inducing things until he was like...a year old.  I'm not a Doctor, I just play one on the interwebs so I won't bother telling you things because you'll find 89 other websites to tell you the opposite thing if that's what you want to hear...but go with the flow.  Humans have lived a long time and our bodies have worked for a long time and you can point your fingers at GMOs or bacteria or Obama but we're all going to die one day.  Back in the past you would die from cholera at 30 and you certainly couldn't point your finger at GMOs and pesticides.  Now we live until 120 and complain about every damned little pain.  You know what dead cholera guy would say? "Shut up, at least thou art alive. When I was dying they put leeches on me. Twas a bad time, yo."  (Cholera guy would be trying to talk modern so obviously he'd be trying extra hard to fit in. I think this is the world's greatest representation of that.)

The article was saying third world countries who totally don't care what we're doing in the modern world feed their babies whatever they damned well feel like because the other option is their kids dying of hunger and the ones that fed their kids peanut snacks as part of their cultural norm had like 0.05% (that's totally made up) peanut allergy kids versus here in America where like 20% (also totally made up) of all kids have some kind of peanut allergy.  At least that's what it feels like if you happen to have a child of school age. Only first world people have to worry about our kids dying from a legume.  (Contrary to popular opinion peanuts are not really nuts and that is not made up.)

I think it's interesting what other cultures do.  We all live in the same world and approach it so differently.  I feel like a permanent outsider in the world I live in so I muse at great length about both sides of the fence.  I grew up in suburbia but I didn't have a typical white family upbringing and I probably asked the dumbest questions of my "normal" friends who had normal lives. Like what is "stroganoff"? Is it like a sauce or is it a method of cooking? And what's that thing covering the tea pot? Oh...a cozy? What's that supposed to do?  What's that wood thing with a hole in it for? To portion out spaghetti.  I asked all these things when I was a teenager.  I truly had no exposure to any of those elements of life until I was practically grown and who else could I ask?  My parents didn't have any idea either. It's adorable that I often introduce them to food like sushi and Indian curry because they never bothered to try it previously. To this day like 90% of what my parents eat is Vietnamese food because that's what they ate in Vietnam and that's what their bellies enjoy.

Conversely school friends that identified as Irish never lamented about the lack of amazing authentic Irish food.  If you were white you pretty much ate American food, whatever your definition of that is. Island people miss their native foods.  I've never met someone Jamaican who didn't lecture me about their favorite Beef Patty place. Latino people miss their native foods. Asian people miss their native foods. Italian Americans even 3, 4 or 5 generations removed will dish you out a mean Italian feast. A few Polish friends would talk about making pierogis from hand for special occasions but for the most part had few complaints about being "Americanized".  And never did they sadly lament any other food being unavailable or not-as-good as the motherland. Pierogis are pretty much the only thing that Eastern European cohorts have ever expressed great longing towards.  No one has ever gone on and on about the beauty of borscht even though I thought that was like, Russia's claim to fame food item.  I guess not?  All those Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons must have brainwashed me.

Also really interesting is the advent of all these fad diets about eating like a caveman and eating like a French woman.  You know who eats the exact opposite of all those diets? Asian people. We LOVE carbs. I can't go no-carbs happily.  I did try for a short spell until my dietician said that's not the point of diabetic friendly eating. Dieticians must hate fad diets so bad.  Basically I was lectured that carbs=energy and your body needs energy to function efficiently.  It's not healthy to fully eliminate your body's source of energy but to choose whole grains and long lasting carbs and to consume them at regular intervals over the whole day instead of say binging on a bag of chips and passing out on the couch since your body will store up that unused energy as fat. Eating just enough carbs to create energy without creating fat was key. Three meals three snacks over the course of the day. No deviation. If you don't eat enough carbs yes your body will have no other choice but to burn other stuff, such as fat and yes you will lose weight but you're not going to feel that great as you dry out off of carbs and you're very likely to binge out later when no one's looking and gain all that lost weight back because you didn't really do anything to change your metabolism if you just sat around eating piles of bacon. I don't even really like bacon but I agree, total elimination is just a short term solution.  And who decided cave men had the right idea as far as dieting goes? I didn't think they were known for their rocking beach bodies with hard abs. Or their super long life spans. Seriously? What was going on for them that was so great? Being chased by wild animals out in nature? I guess that's good cardio but that has nothing to do with their eating habits. 

I think the only thing I didn't appreciate from my dietician lectures was they didn't seem to differentiate between how to count carbs differently.  I could eat half a cup of ice cream before bed as a snack or I could have like 2 graham crackers.  Somehow the graham crackers seemed like a more healthy choice over the sugar and fat laden ice cream but they had the same number of acceptable carbs.That's insane right?  My body agreed and every time I tried to have the ice cream I burned too many ketones and got lectured and eventually dodged my return visits to the dietician since I was fine.  I wasn't going to binge out and have a 15lb baby and I felt as though I were being treated as though I were a child for no reason at all.  Perhaps my Asian features confused them into thinking I was a teenager (it has happened before).  In any case, if you read the side of a package a carb is a carb.  There's nothing to differentiate it's glycemic index on there and thus reading the side of the carton is kind of useless.  I don't think it's all a conspiracy so Americans stay fat and dumb, but I do get annoyed that after eating food since the dawn of man we have to make it so overly complicated.

When I was growing up we had the food pyramid and everyone was freaked out about movie popcorn having coconut or palm oil in it because it was super saturated fats. Now we realize it's the "good fat" versus the "bad" fat all along and we could have just been happy with our coconut and palm oil. In fact now we pay a ton of money for coconut oil like it's tropical gold.  It's kind of funny how we flip flop every few years. At least Americans do.  I don't see Japanese people running out to buy random fancy oils and making sushi out of cauliflower but they're like the healthiest people in the world so they probably don't care what all the rest of us idiots do because they already have it figured out. Why mess with a good thing? I doubt those skinny wine soaked Parisian women are eating gluten free baguettes right now. It's just us fat Americans messing up our diets every few years and we're the ones who are fat after trying too many fad diets. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Ramen Soup

One of my new fascinations is ramen.  I know I'm like 10 years late on this since I'm so far removed from college but I never really needed to eat ramen as an undergrad.  Between my meal plan, sandwiches and salads-to-go and the mountain of snacks I hoarded under my bed, eating ramen seemed silly.  Why even bother? I'm talking things imported from Japan and Korea and Indonesia.  I've paid $3 for one packet of ramen and I'll tell you right now...I'd do it again.  It was so good. Normally I don't eat ramen.  Like...at all because it's obviously not health food, but my husband is not much for cooking and if I get sick I have to make my own sick-people-soup.  I clearly cannot be trusted to cook a good meal if I'm dribbling germs all over so ramen is usually my first choice followed by crock pot cooking and chinese take out.  But ramen is nice and soupy and hot and fast.

My current case (and yes, I buy it by the case because it's cheaper and easier to transport than a dozen loose square bricks) is Nongshim brand.  It's a number one best seller on amazon and is becoming a lot easier to find in the ethnic aisle of a very large diverse mega mart and warehouse store like BJs. I know a lot of friends enjoy the MaMa brand but I feel like it's kind of greasy if you add all of the packets they provide. I like fat, but even I have to draw the line at that kind of mouthfeel to a soup plus a Nongshim square is huge. It's the HungryMan frozen meal of ramen and easily fills me to the brim. 

I really do enjoy fat, which is sort of an unpopular opinion. I like the skin on my chicken. I like the skin on my fish.  I like the fat to stay ON my pork chops and steaks as they grill.  You'd think I'd be 500lbs but everyone needs fat. Good fats are fine.  I don't sit around eating sacks of potato chips and I hate Pringles. I have a soft spot for weird flavored things but after the novelty wears off I usually forgo junk food.  I hate frying food if I can possibly avoid it because cleaning oil is nasty. I can't stand ranch dressing anywhere near a salad. I don't like plain sour cream. My choice of fats are not typical.  I like cheese but I don't think a single slice of cheese adds anything significant to my sandwiches 80% of the time so I just leave it off. I'm Asian so...we don't have many creamy foods or dairy laden entrees. It's just not part of my normal.

I'm healthy but not at all healthy.  I think it's just moderation.  You have to live, right? So I think having a ramen once a month is fine. I'm kind of happier about ramen since you still have to cook it and it therefore feels a little "fresh" by comparison to...I dunno, a can of Chef Boyardee which has taken on a kind of gelatinous feeling no matter how much you heat it. 

In case you didn't know, ramen goes bad so don't try hoarding it.  The process of making it quick to rehydrate involves deep frying the noodles and the oil will go rancid with time.  If they dehydrated the noodles it would be more like typical Italian pasta and would take a good amount more time to cook. I had a ramen a month ago that had a total of five different seasoning packets in it. It was amazing.  You can always add more stuff to your bland ramen but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a quick lazy meal.  If I wanted to doctor it up with garlic and ginger and sauces then I would have just made a true normal meal with normal fresh ingredients.

True real fresh ramen is a labor of love that takes hours of broth simmering. I've attempted it, trust me. It's really good of course and if you like Pho it's kind of a different take on that.  I've had Pho since I can recall eating food so soupy noodley things are normal which is kind of odd since it's 120 degrees with 99% humidity in SouthEast Asia and you'd think the last thing they'd want to eat is a big heaping bowl of hot soup but I think it's a pretty economical way of consuming beef (which typical pho is made of) since you get a lot of flavor out of what little you can get.