All Dressed Up and Here in the States

To meet with the food industry’s trend of limited edition edibles designed to torque off the consumers by giving us things that we like and then taking them away from us, Frito Lay decided to release a special version of Ruffles that is only available until December 7th.  Dubbed the #1 Flavor in Canada, they presented us with the All Dressed Chip.

All Dressed for what?  I am not sure.  If there are Canadians who can answer that question, I am open to hearing the answers.

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Now, in case we couldn’t figure out that this flavor (flavour) was popular in Canada by the description, Frito Lay was kind enough to not only put one maple leaf where the endorsement was, but they kindly placed a blown-up maple leaf in the background to add that visual je ne sais quoi, meaning “We don’t know what we are doing.” And if we Americans couldn’t figure out the Canadian theme after that, let’s look on the back.

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Nothing says Canada more than a bowl of chips stylishly placed next to a hockey stick on the ice and artistically out-of-focus players’ legs with the bag seam chopping the photo all up.  Nice touch.  I don’t know what could have made it better.  Perhaps Don Cherry in one of his loud suits holding the bowl of chips?  A quote from him telling us how these chips would have been the ones that old-time hockey players would have eaten after they whaled on each other, if they had their own teeth?

So it is all down to hockey and maple leaves, isn’t it?

Let me say, to Canada, I formally apologize for the packaging and the awful representation Frito Lay made of your nation.  It’s embarrassing.  Truly.

Nevertheless, I had to try these novel chips.  What I ate was pure joy in snack form.  This was an interesting reaction considering I normally would take sweet over savory any day.  But something reacted within me to eat the whole bag in one clip, and I am now compelled to buy and hoard.  Canada has crack too.

Touch my chips and die, asshole!   "Cat chewbacca" by Peter Heeling - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Touch my chips and die, asshole!     “Cat chewbacca” by Peter Heeling – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

However, I will say the picture on the package was misleading.  It implied that it was like a barbecue chip with vinegar and paprika.  But you couldn’t expect much from the package anyway because, well, look how the geniuses in marketing and advertising described Canada.

I can describe it well to you, the U.K readers.  Imagine getting a hit with the vinegar and then following up with notes of Marmite, smoke, onion, garlic, and paprika.  To the U.S. readers, Marmite is a yeast extract which comes in a jar that is usually spread on toast or some sort of bread product.  When we see different types of yeast extract over here, it is often used instead of MSG as a flavor enhancer.  All I can say to the Americans that if you like salt and vinegar chips, give these a go.

If I don’t buy them all up before you.

HISS!

From Illness to Disability

Four major episodes. Didn’t even include that rumble with post-partum depression. On and off meds. Currently on and have been on for God knows how long. Hours and hours of churning out my life’s story and picking apart how I approach life, marriage, and motherhood. Everything had to be optimized, improved, and honed. Still does. Maybe I could get to the point of standard neurotypical endurance. One nagging question left. Was afraid to ask my therapist. Knew I had to do it. Deep down the answer was there. Did I really need to go there? Took the leap anyway.

“Do you think I have a mental disability?”

She asked what I meant.

“I mean as far as it being an overarching entity affecting my day-to-day life.”

“Oh, yes, you do.”

Thunk.

Well, shit.

I knew she explained herself a bit more, but I was still digesting the “yes” part and keeping my cool while my internal “Oh, Fuck” alarm was going off. Then she offered to help with government benefits paperwork, if I wanted. My innards folded up on themselves even more, and my alarm level went up to “Red Alert Oh, Fucking Fuck” while I turned her down. I am fortunate enough to have The Boffin. While I love the intangible benefits about him the most, he is a very good provider.

Language is important when discussing medical issues. Even though I knew depression was something I had to manage the rest of my life, I always told myself that I had a mental illness. With the word “illness,” I hung on to that last bit of denial…that bit that said if I can just get the right mixture of meds, therapy, exercise, and diet, I can tame this bronco completely. If I am just “ill,” I can be “cured”.

But disability? No, no, no. That’s not right. I was fit for the military. I…I…I…could hold down jobs. I was never fired from anyplace for being a flake, even though after a year or two I was mentally planning office coups and working myself up into a lather every Sunday at the thought of starting the week over. It was just a matter of figuring out how to turn staplers into catapults.

However…

Is it normal to be forgiving of other people while setting unattainable standards for yourself?

How rational is it to find the thought of asking your husband for help, even for something as small as cleaning the cat box, excruciating?

What would life be like if every task on your list carried equal importance, and you did not know how to prioritize them? Should I go to the grocery store, or make appointments? I don’t know! I’ll just write for the next two hours while vacillate over such an arduous decision.  Forget about asking me what I want for dinner.

On top of that, what about constant ruminating and worrying about all of those things and a host of other issues while feeling like a big fat failure in life?

Welcome to my brain.

I have a mental disability. It’s no one’s fault. It just is.

And I am looking down the barrel of a neuropsych eval next month to find out what flavors of insanity I have.  I am even anxious about that.  I wonder if there is a “Messed Up” diagnosis in the DSM-V.

Bringing this part of my life out in the open is not about awareness or sympathy; it is about accountability to myself and my health. I need to find a different way to live because my emotional and mental energy are finite. I can’t make anyone who thinks all I need to do is eat a salad and take a walk understand, and I do not want to put in any more effort in trying. I can’t waste time on matters that do nothing but sap me. It is about streamlining my life to get rid of the things that are burdens and keeping the ones that are beneficial, so I can create as fulfilling and productive life as possible.

It’s time to clean house.

One Year Later…

Getting ready...
Getting ready…

It was around this time last year that I attended the Chicago Writers’ Conference without much of a clue of what I wanted except that I eventually I wanted to write and somehow make a living out of it eventually.

I walked into the kickoff party held in a packed “Irish” pub in the middle of The Loop.  People could hardly get through because of the conference organizers were doing early check-in of attendees.  The early arrivals got the primo spots on the small wooden tables and uncomfortable stools with laminated index cards as conversation starters.  I managed to overhear someone read a card about Hemingway being detrimental to the craft.  I didn’t think Star 80 was that bad.

But they could have been talking about Tolstoy for all I truly knew.  Flightlines with running F-15s were quieter than this place was.  I am not going to make that same mistake tonight.  There will be plenty of opportunity to drink at the Live Lit reading tomorrow.

Regarding the conference itself, I learned a lot, took a bunch of notes, and was left even more overwhelmed and baffled than when I started.  The writing and publishing world is a business in flux, to say the least.  Despite my complete lack of schmoozing skills and my anxiety about large social situations, I did manage to make some small talk with some hopefuls.  Imagine the shock when they asked me for business cards.

I had nothing to give them.

So I ended up going to an Office Depot that was shutting down, bought a pack, and wrote my details on them.  I was such a dork.

I learned from that too. There is a back to this.
I learned from that too. There is a back to this with more information.

It was time and money well spent because I was smacked with reality.  I could research for hours.  I could seek advice from a myriad of writers and editors.  I could read how-to books and articles.  I could get samples of putting the perfect pitch together.   I could catalog and index all sorts of information.  But that was not going to change one thing.

I was afraid.

I was afraid of putting my words out in public.

Until I could do that, everything else was pointless.  And it took going to this conference and some Come to Moses talks with The Boffin to make me dig down into the vulnerable gelatinous areas of my psyche.   You know, the part that tell you that you are woefully inadequate.

Starting small was key.

Hence, here I am on WordPress.

And where do I go from here?  Freelancing is still a good option, but I admit there are times when the old-fashioned route of conveniently dying and having The Sprog deal with my work is appealing.  Hey, it is a valid career path for writers.  They don’t have to worry about networking or promotion.

But for now, I am at the conference this year knowing I don’t have to make business cards with crayons.

Who Has More Intelligence?

The Boffin came running up the stairs, swung open the door to the guest room, and bellowed out the following question:

“Are you moving furniture?”

Me (knowing no one else was in there):  “Are you talking to the Roomba?”

The Boffin:  “You talk to Lola.”

Me:  “Point taken.”

The Boffin:  “Mine has more intelligence.”

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We had to keep a dead parsley plant in the house as a decoy to keep her away from the other plants. You be the judge.

An American Bake Off in England?

Well, there are rumors…

And I am only going to keep it to the level of rumor until there is a formal announcement because the exclusive came from The Sun of all places.  While The Sun forces you to pay to read their fine journalistic craftsmanship and look at women’s tits, the story has been reported in other places.

Apparently, there is talk of ABC creating a baking competition show in the style of The Great British Bake Off (GBBO), only ABC will ship a bunch of Americans over to England, stick them under the baking tent, and give Mary Berry the honor of judging them.

How do I put this delicately?  Hmm…

Now I am writing this as an American.  If this ABC gives this show the green light, it will suck at such a low level that we will long for the return of The New Leave It to Beaver.

First of all, there is Mary.  What is wonderful about Mary in GBBO is that she has been a fixture in British cookery for decades.  People know her, and she has the credibility.  The production company didn’t just cast her because they tipped back a few gin and tonics.  But knowing American television, the powers that be are either going to portray her as Mary Poppins or Cruella De Vil thanks to skillful editing.  (Don’t forget that Disney owns ABC.)  She is English, so she can’t be a complete person, you know.

Then there is the superfluous exercise of sending a bunch of Americans to invade England armed with Grandma’s Brown Betty recipe.  I am sure it will attract the Anglophile viewers who will get all misty-eyed over the London field trips and countryside coach tours on which the contestants will embark.   Gives a boost to the British tourism industry, I guess.  However, it will be yet another program that plays into the stereotype of how everything is “quaint” and “charming” in the U.K., and, once again, Americans do not really see just how complex the country truly is.

Of course, the casting agents are not going to choose anyone with any modicum of knowledge about the U.K. and any of its baking.  Where is the fun in that?  Embarrassment and disasters draw ratings.  The producers also want the people with the personalities that are going to clash to create the most drama and to be sure they fill their demographic quotas.  I would be spending most of the show rolling my eyes over how ill-informed these people are, if I can get past the first 15 minutes of the first episode.

“Hey! We’re a different bunch of Americans misidentifying this as London Bridge, even though Karen is using the same photo as last time she made this joke.” “Tower Bridge from Shad Thames” by © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons

And I can imagine the technical challenges. Oh, let’s have some fun and give the Americans some exotic British ingredients. Make a jam roly-poly and use this.

By Ardfern (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ardfern (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
“Um? What is this Aorta stuff? How do you say it? Sweat?”

But there could be an upside to this.  If the bakers are particularly, shall we say, misguided, we can have Mary set them straight.  Because they can’t do this style over substance Food Network/Duff Goldman/Cake Boss/Cupcake Wars business with the icing to the ceiling and explosives.  I am also talking about those who think it is OK to put Crisco in a buttercream and because they care about their rosettes being rigid more than the flavor.  It would be so worth it, if Mary just lost it after taking a bite, stepped out of character, and stated,

“This tastes like arse.”

Then I would take everything I just wrote all back.

Margaret Thatcher on the $10 Bill and the Bigger Picture

Source...all over the Internet
Source…all over the Internet

Since I make it a point not to watch the Republican debates for purposes of maintaining my blood pressure on an even level, when I saw a little blurb about Jeb! Bush suggest putting the late Baroness on the $10 bill, I thought it was a joke.    It wasn’t until The Boffin came home from work yesterday that he told it me that it really happened, but he did not want to discuss the point further because he felt an aneurysm coming on.

So I had to look it up and saw this write up from the Washington Post.  Here is what he actually said.

“I would go with Ronald Reagan’s partner, Margaret Thatcher. Probably illegal, but what the heck?”

Sounds like his brother’s attitude throughout his entire presidency.

So Jeb!, when put on the spot to make a snap decision, couldn’t think of a notable, accomplished woman from this country to be on the $10 bill.  But his gaffe wasn’t the only one.

Regarding the other candidates’ choices, to quote from the article, “Mike Huckabee chose his wife, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz went with Rosa Parks, Rand Paul picked Susan B. Anthony, Donald Trump his daughter, and Scott Walker opted for Clara Barton. Chris Christie picked Abigail Adams, John Kasich said Mother Teresa, and Ben Carson chose his mother. Carly Fiorina said she wouldn’t change the bill.”

Rubio, Cruz, Paul, Walker, and Christie (half the candidates) actually picked notable American women.  Fiorina copped out, probably afraid of making a choice that would have cast her as being “liberal” or “feminist”.  Kasich picked a worthy woman, but she wasn’t American.  Huckabee, Trump, and Carson chose their relatives.

When you think about it, as far as questions go, this one is pretty much works at an elementary school level.  How hard is it, really, to come up with a name of a woman who made a significant contribution to American History?    And only half of the male candidates could do it.

So either the Republican candidates who botched the question are either rock stupid when it comes to history, or they do not see how women factor beyond what they do for them.

If you can’t handle the easy stuff, how are you going to deal with Iran deals and domestic crises?