Friends don’t let friends…

This is maggot cheese. It's supposed to look disgusting.

Who doesn’t love food?  It smells delicious, it tastes divine, and contrasting colors can make it appealing to the eyes.  One thing I know about food is that not every meal looks appealing.  There’s an art to “staging” food so that it looks appealing through the camera lens.  That’s why the burger on the picture rarely looks like the burger on your plate.  However, being on Twitter has taught me that with some chefs at the helm, NO amount of staging or photoshopping can salvage the aesthetic appeal (and possibly digestibility) of those meals.  Say it with me:  “Friends don’t let friends twitpic their struggle meals.”  Clearly though, some of your friends are lacking, or don’t have the guts to tell you your culinary efforts look like day old barf.  Here is where you have to be your own best friend.  Consider this a checklist to help you figure out if your food ought to be in pictures or Tartarus:

1.  You have a “specialty,” but people always ask you to bring the disposable cutlery

Typically hearing, “I’ll bring plates” to a potluck makes us all roll our eyes at your lazy behind. That’s because we’re saving that privilege for the cousin who’s always trying to bring coconut sprinkled chitterling loaf.  She’s always chomping at the bit to serve her weird concoctions, and no one will bite.  Do not take picture of that to save into your phone, much less to send it out to people

2.  Scraping was involved

You should be cooking with some sort of coated pot.  You can also coat the pan with a cooking spray, or something similar.  If your meal sticks to your cookware and refuses to budge and  you have to jackhammer it out of the plate, your kitchen and your life, don’t take a picture of that.

3.  This is your first time cooking

Practice makes perfect, and whatever you think you’re doing with the pots and pans, is probably disgusting.  Maybe not the most disgusting thing, but I’ll tell you a secret:  Every good chef/cook and to start somewhere.  People seem to enjoy my cooking, however, I had to relearn how to cook after I started a family.  My red beans and rice could have been used to spackle walls.  It takes a lot of patience to get recipes right.  Until then, put your camera away.

4.  You’ve got some weird “Only My Family Eats this” recipe

Nobody is checking for your yammallow.  We don’t want to eat it.  We con’t want pictures of it.

5.  They lie to you about potlucks.

You’re either not invited, or they are super insistent on you not even bringing cutlery, because they don’t want you to get any fancy ideas.  “Oh, I’ll just bring this M&M and frito pie just in case.”  No. NO. NO!  We actually want you to sit quietly and look pretty.

6.  You’ve ever partaken in a meal involving “Prison Spread”

If you have not, good for you.  Just know that if you’ve ever heated up ramen noodles in an old bread bag, with nondescript cheese, I have no interest in your cinematic visions for three ketchup packets and half a bag of funyuns.

If you fit into any of these categories, please for the love of humanity, heed my words and leave the pictures to the pros and just enjoy your meal

Melli Gras Aftermath

Never good with speeches

I turn 35 Thursday.  Saturday was my birthday party.  There are pictures around Twitter if you click on the #MelliGras hashtag.  I fully expected it to be a great party, because I have great friends, but it was better than I imagined.  I had old friends and new, and we all had a ball.  It’s a blessing to see people I met this year mingle with people I’ve known for 22 years and have a grand time.  That’s amazing.

I originally planned on doing a Seven Favorite Melli Gras Moments blog, but aside from the fact that I spent most of the night talking and dancing like your drunken Aunt Bunny (you know, the favorite one who’s been married four times and hands out condoms to the youngsters at the family reunion), I can’t pull out a favorite.  My friends win.  Melli Gras won.  I expect many more special moments in my life, and I expect to meet many more special people.  But I won’t make the mistake of trying to top this year’s party.  I just plan on surrounding myself with friends.  You really can’t go wrong with that.

A million thanks for being in my world.

“But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?”

“It isn’t easy, but I’ll try.”

I miss you, Mama.  In ways I can’t quantify.  Sometimes, you feel like my “big fish” story.  Your goodness almost seemed exaggerated.  You were always better than this world.  Not because you were perfect…far from it.  But where so many hide their flaws and frailties, you laid yours bare, and used them as tools for understanding other people.  I have yet to meet anyone with that level of compassion.

I started reading the summaries of your medical records this week.  One day, I’ll finish them, but I don’t think this will be the week for that.  You suffered so much.  I still fight being angry at God for what you went through.  No one deserves that type of suffering, and you least of all.  I don’t say this because you’re my mom.  I say this because you were good, kind and genuine in a world sorely lacking those qualities.  When I look at the best parts of myself, the parts which draw people to me, I know that’s you.  How did you manage to be there for everyone, and still manage to take care of us as well as you did?  I never once felt like you neglected us.  I remember walking into your hospital room, and seeing Chanelle curled up with you because you wanted to make sure she felt okay about seeing you that way.  You looked in the mirror and saw everyone who needed you before you saw yourself.

You worried about being a burden.  We would have preferred you to have good health, but caring for you was our privilege.  You had so much pride, and certain aspects of your care challenged that.  I hope that when I took care of you, I always treated you with dignity.  I promise, that’s what I tried to do.  It’s as though you forgot how you cared for me, when you were a new mother caring for me, a toddler in a body cast.  Rather than putting me in a wheelchair, I was “the little girl in the red wagon.”  Daddy told me that when I would come in for checkups, they were amazed at how clean you kept my cast.  If you could do all of that for me, I would have been crazy to not lovingly care for you.

Sometimes people get ill and pass away, and their loved ones see them as a shell of their former selves.  You were different, but you were always strong. Your heart is what made you who you were and that never wavered.  Your long distance friends were always a bit jarred when they saw how ill you were, because your voice and spirit always sounded strong and sure.  You held on until you felt I was at least strong enough to help the girls through it.  I remember the day they had to have told you that you were dying.  You called for Daddy, sounding upset.  I talked about what we would do when you got home, and you burst into tears.  I was never angry at you when you had to let go.  Knowing that you had to leave us must have been unbearable.  I just wasn’t ready.  Truthfully, I never would have been ready.

I look at my peers with mothers who still run their lives a bit and I laugh, because that would be us.  I can admit that.  It’s the nature of the mother/adult daughter relationship.  I imagine what our argument would have been like when I told you I was moving away (because you KNOW it would have been knock down-drag out).  I think about your excitement to come up here and decorate my place, because in the end, you’d want my place to be fly.

As sad as it is that you’re not here, I still feel lucky.  Some people go an entire lifetime without meeting a person like you, and I had you every day for almost 18 years.  It’s crazy, because I never did a thing to deserve you.  None of us did.  But, every soul you left behind misses you as keenly as if we just lost you yesterday.  I haven’t heard your voice in 20 years, but I can still hear it, clear as a bell in my head.

Seventeen years later, I’m still just that girl who wants her mom.  Seventeen years later, I’m still in awe of the person you were.  Thank you for being amazingly imperfect.  I miss you still.

All my love and gratitude,

Mel

Gimme Shelter

The outdoorsy life has never completely been for me.  A day at the park here, a day at the beach there, a nice walk – these are all things I can rock with.  “Roughing it,” though?  No gracias.  It has never seemed like my idea of a good time.  One might argue that I can’t speak on this, since I’ve never gone camping.  Well, I’ve never been hit by a car either, but I’ll bet it sucks.  But if you need further verification, I had one too many Strawberry Hills at the Lakefront once and had to pee near a tree.  I could live my entire life and not have to relive that.

Air conditioning.  Indoor plumbing (with hot showers).  Soft, comfy mattresses.  Satellite/Cable television.  Are these things available in tents?  Would I be in one of those tricked out Harry Potter tents?  Then, no.  I’m urbanized without apology.

Do you know that there are special rules for camping in “bear country?”  Bears have countries.  Do you know how large and territorial bears are? Bears are not in the business of stamping visas; at least not in a way you’d like.  You have to be cautious about scents of ANY kind.  So you’re answering nature’s call in the woods, you’re not having access to hot showers, and you can’t leave behind smells.  Is the fun at will call?  I’ve already got deer and chipmunks on my case.  I am not going to put my life further in jeopardy by getting mollywhopped by a bear because I needed an apple wine candy (read: Jolly Rancher) to soothe my nerves.  You know where I don’t have to worry about bears?  The mall.

On MomandDadCamping.com, there is a writeup with the title “How to Survive a Grizzly Attack.”  There are three scenarios: 1. If you just happen upon a bear, behave in the most punkass manner possible; 2. If you encroach on the bear’s space, flop to the ground and make sure it tires of kicking your ass; and 3. If it as a predatory attack you must first try to escape.  They suggested hiding in a car.  A 600 lb beast with paws the size of frying pans is chasing me, and my Hyundai Accent is what you suggest as protection.  Awesome.  You know what the suggestion is if that doesn’t work (which it won’t, because the bear is probably going to punch through the window and snatch you out)?  Fight.  A bear.  You want me to fight a bear.

Let’s play “Bear Fun Facts”:

  1. Bears are big as hell.
  2. Bears are fast as hell.
  3. Bears can climb trees.
  4. Bears can swim.
  5. It is imperative that I reiterate they can be 700 lbs, have paws like frying pans and sharp claws.

How about we just let them have their country?  The only reason I even read about surviving the grizzly attack is because, if the caca hits the fan and a grizzly rolls into Chipotle, I plan on living to gell the tale.  Of course, with all that barbacoa beef, what would a bear want with me?  Fleshy chubby me, who smells good and could keep a bear full for days…*crosses Chipotle off the list of places to visit*

Another thing: when did beds stop being awesome?  I’ve stayed in quaint hotels, with some of the most scenic views imaginable.  Nice places, with gorgeous mountain views, cocoa and danishes.  I was able to enjoy nature’s wonders without waking up to bugs in my butt.

And I really hate bugs (except butterflies, ladybugs, and roly polys – they’re awesome).  Bugs can get into anything.  Nothing on earth should be able to get EVERYWHERE.  Show me the sealiest seal, and there’s a bug waiting to grind its muddy boots on that seal’s cream, suede couch.  There are certain bugs that country folks call “no-see-ums,” because *drum roll* you can’t see them.  As luck would have it, those bugs are not also called “no-feel-ums.”  They’re some of the worst, they’re virtually invisible, and you don’t know they’re on you until you feel like you’ve been pinched in the arm.  The happen to LOVE the great outdoors.  I just imagine getting in my tent, and bugs are waiting for me, like a violent offender cell mate.  The type who says I can’t eat until they finish eating.  (Isn’t that how jail works?  I only watched Oz for two seasons.)

So, I’ll take a pass on camping.  For those of you who think that my stance will leave me unprepared for the zombie apocalypse, think again, butt munches.  Who do you think the zombies will take out first?  The kid on the fifth floor of a brick building, or the macho man in the tents who thinks he can fight a grizzly?  I’ve already survived this:

Suspension

Television is the land of make believe.  To accept that live is wrapped up in an hour or less requires us to employ what is called the “suspension of disbelief.”  You accept certain elements of the story as plausible, even though it would never happen in real life.  However, we all have limits.  When series of unfortunate events become too much, I can’t watch.

Witch leads us to my inordinate hatred for Spongebob’s hapless pal, Patrick Starr.  Patrick is so stupid, I want to punch him.  I could deal when he was simply none-too-bright.  The stupidity makes me wanna holler. I have actually watched Spongebob and said, out LOUD, “Ugh. THIS MF.”  Ridiculous.

I try to avoid Spongebob, and do breathing exercises when my kids insist on watching.  But until I really get my suspension under control, Patrick better not let me catch him in the street.

Weekends are made for Michelob

I’m not a party animal. What I do happen to be, however, is a good time enthusiast.  If you have a free day, why not leave that 9 to 5 up on the shelf, and give in to joy and merriment.  Today, I almost stayed in…because I’ve been having a good time.

Meh. I don’t know that I’ll be getting trashed, but there’s a 90s party with my name on it.

Namaste.