Fifty Shades of Drinking update

I know, I know, I promised another episode early in the new year and I have not delivered. I am terribly sorry about that. However, life has been pretty insane since coming up here to visit my mom, and a few days ago I was put on a run of antibiotics to clear out the infection my wisdom teeth — so I can’t have any alcohol till that’s over, which will be the 23rd or so.

I will get an episode up by the end of the month, I swear. (Or, like, a few minutes after midnight on the first of February.)

Thanks so much for your patience and understanding, y’all, and rest assured I have not abandoned the project. I want to continue to rip apart the books while getting sloshed as much as you want to watch me do it.

Confessions of a Coffee Snob: Decaf isn’t that bad

I am a coffee snob. I have been for ages. By coffee snob I don’t mean “I like these two specific coffees because they were agreed upon at the Annual Coffee Snob Convention.” I mean I like it a certain way that’s particular to me even if another coffee snob may think my tastes are horrible. Yet I agree with other coffee snobs when they say Tim Horton’s or Folgers is toxic waste, not coffee.

I prefer coffee that stands on its own. If you have to put milk or sugar (or both) into coffee to make it bearable, it’s not good coffee. It’s not necessarily bad or terrible coffee — it’s just not good. That doesn’t mean I drink my coffee black — I prefer sweetened coffee. If I’m making coffee at home, I’m adding honey or agave to it. But the coffee I buy to make at home can stand alone, sans milk or sugar. (That doesn’t mean all the coffee I have at home is like this; I’m currently in an economic state where most of the coffee I have was given to me by people who love me and, moreso, prefer dealing with me after I’ve had my morning coffee. None of it is bad coffee, but some of it doesn’t stand so well on its own.)

If I choose to go out for a coffee, I’m not looking for black coffee. I do not expect the coffee I get at a coffee shop to be coffee of my liking; my tastes are particular. Hence, when going out to a coffee shop, I get one of those flavoured drinks that most coffee snobs sneer isn’t coffee. Sorry to disappoint you, fellow snobs. It is. It’s a coffee-based drink and so long as it’s not Timmy’s or Folgers, it’s still coffee. It may not be great, good, or even bad coffee — it may be terrible. But it is coffee.

Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like flavoured drinks, especially holiday inspired ones. They’re a form of comfort food for me. Despite my lack of money I try to get a pumpkin spice latte each autumn, or it doesn’t feel like fall to me. Christmas has become my favourite time of year, because there are at least two special holiday drinks that I adore on the menu. There’s coffee in them — enough for me to taste, enough for me to get a shot of caffeine if that’s what I need. And it’s not bad coffee. (Lots of people complain that Starbucks coffee tastes burnt. I don’t complain, because I kind of like that burnt taste. It reminds me of Turkish coffee.)

I’ve been drinking coffee since I was a teenager, and I’ve been a snob about it since I worked as a barista. For many years, I was in complete agreement with my fellow snobs about decaf. Decaf isn’t even real coffee. Decaf is pointless. Decaf is disgusting. DEATH BEFORE DECAF. Friends of mine have even said they’d consider getting that as a tattoo.

I never considered it, and I’m really glad. Because three years ago, I ran a restaurant.

(Sort of. I was managing the restaurant but because of a lot of issues that were beyond my control, we never officially opened. So I did a lot of before-opening, behind-the-scenes work, hoping to get it set up so another person could take over my management at the end of the summer, when I left the small town to go back to school. Powell River is basically dead in the winter anyway. Regardless, it never happened.)

A page from my planner during the time I ran a cafe. Filled with copious notes.
Two pages from my planner during that time. It’s a lot of work.

Part of my job in the pre-opening stages was deciding on what coffee we would serve. (I should say, this wasn’t really a restaurant; it was a café, with plans of food, coffee, live entertainment, books, and vintage furniture…exactly my type of place.) First, we went around town and sampled the competition, to see what we were up against. It was not stiff. If you want a decent cup of coffee in Powell River, your only bet is Breakwater Books. They scored an 8 out of 10 on our rating scale. Starbucks was a close second, scoring a 6. All the other coffee places didn’t even make a 5.

So I wanted to go with Salt Spring Coffee. They were local, which was important to me, and they were no doubt far better quality than the coffees mainly available in town. Most cafés in Powell River go through the same supplier.

The person I chatted with at Salt Spring, Kevin Burk, was amazing, and it makes me sad that the café never got off the ground, because I would have loved to continue having a professional relationship with him. He sent me a box of sample coffee. Not just tiny bags — full bags of Salt Spring coffee, so I and my team could try them and decide if Salt Spring was the way we wanted to go.

Included in that, of course, was decaf, which we had to try. (The Peru single origin.) I had never had decaf in my life before; I was not looking forward to it. But I couldn’t make an informed decision without trying it, so I brewed up some in our French Press and gave it a whirl.

To my ultimate amazement, it was quite good. It reminded me of, again, Turkish coffee. It certainly wasn’t something I’d choose to drink on a regular basis, but this decaf led me to wonder from where all the ire had originally come.

Yes, caffeine is amazing, and surely I cannot live without it. Yet I wonder how much of my good mood after a cup of coffee is attributable to the caffeine itself, and how much is psychosomatic? Does coffee put me in a better mood because of the chemicals, or does it put me in a better mood because it’s a comfort food for me?

I think it’s a combination. I still drink decaf, after all. I have to, now. Before, when I was young and carefree and able to sleep anywhere, at the drop of a hat, I could drink eight cups of coffee and go to bed an hour later. (Not just in my teens, when caffeine apparently has different effects on your body, but in my early and mid-twenties, too.) Now, in my late twenties, if I have caffeine after noon I’m risking being up until 4 in the morning. If I drink decaf, I have a chance of actually sleeping. This is so important to a person with a as-of-yet-undiagnosed-but-definitely-real sleep disorder.

Most importantly, I’m still in a good mood after a cup of decaf.

I no longer agree with my fellow coffee snobs when they scream, pitchforks and torches in hand, DEATH BEFORE DECAF. Now my rallying cry is I’D REALLY RATHER PREFER REGULAR COFFEE BUT DECAF BEFORE ANOTHER SLEEPLESS NIGHT, PLEASE.

It may lead to my getting kicked out of the clubhouse but I won’t waver on this. Decaf tastes fine to me, and that’s okay. If it doesn’t taste fine to you, that’s okay too. My approval of decaf coffee does not, so far as I’m concerned, revoke my Coffee Snob membership card, and you can pry it from my cold-because-I-haven’t-slept-in-three-days fingers. Because the second I give into peer pressure, I’m just another conformist douche incapable of forming an independent opinion and sticking to it. And I’d rather not have that be the only definition of coffee snob.

How not to be a dick to your friend/loved one/relative with eating disorders

Content warning: disordered eating, fatphobia, misogynistic language, description of child abuse

Note: this is written based on my own personal experience with relatives, friends, loved ones, and my eating disorders. Other people may have different eating disorders and different experiences, and my post is in now way trying to speak for them. It’s just me venting about stuff that I go through every day.

My eating disorders are, for clarity, binge/emotional eating and anorexia. Eating is a complete MINEFIELD for me before we even factor in other people’s comments, reactions, etc, because I am constantly fighting a battle with myself about what food I “should” or “shouldn’t” eat. If I binge eat because I’m upset, I then spend several days starving myself because I’m full of self-loathing. But as I know stopping myself from eating is bad, I then force myself to eat, and feel horrible about it.

So here are the things that are said/done, quite often, either to or around me that DON’T HELP AT ALL.

Continue reading How not to be a dick to your friend/loved one/relative with eating disorders

Attack of the Zombie Bugs

I spent a good part of this weekend battling a bug infestation. It was, for lack of a better word, abso-frakking-lutely disgusting.

They’re apparently called Indian meal moths (I’m not sure if they’re from India or if Indian is supposed to be short for American Indian), and they come into your house via hippy food. Which I tend to eat a lot of. Apparently, so do they. They lay their eggs in grain-foods, and then disgusting larvae crawl out and nest in the corners of your house before eventually evolving to their final form, the fearless mini-moth.

They are pernicious and voracious.

I had to throw out most of my food. They were in the cupboards, the big pantry. Everywhere. I even found some in the bathroom. That didn’t make sense until I realized they were also in the pantry, which is right next to the bathroom. (I think the pantry is supposed to be a linen closet, but I had more food than linens, so.)

These bugs are the same bugs that infested my mom’s house a few weeks back. Actually, probably a lot longer than a few weeks back, but ‘a few weeks back’ is when I cleaned out the infestation. Apparently they traveled from her place to mine, via the Box-of-Food Car on the Volvo Train.

As soon as I realized what was going on, I looked into buying  a flamethrower. Turns out flamethrowers are a lot harder to get than the movies would have you believe, so I searched out other options. Also, I don’t think mom would appreciate coming home from Nicaragua to find the apartment building had burned to the ground in a “mysterious blaze”.

It soon became apparent that my only option was to clean. By hand. Like a Muggle.

And to find some way of killing the bugs that didn’t involve me actually touching them until they were good and dead. I was raised a Buddhist and I try to have respect for all living things, but there are limits to my compassion. Besides, it’s not like these guys are endangered. BELIEVE ME. There were a million+ in my apartment.

I spent hours cleaning out cupboard and pantry. I went through every piece of food, saving what was bug-free and throwing out what was not. These bugs are so horrible that I couldn’t even risk keeping a lot of stuff that looked like it might have been infestation-free — I had to get rid of it.

I ended up throwing out some of my tea. That was heartbreaking.

Once the pantry was empty, I searched for a way to slaughter the bugs in glorious conquest! I wanted to make a million widows in one day.

But, you know, I’m not a rich person. So I searched within myself my house for what I might already have that could murder insects. I found an innocuous-looking clear liquid that smells quite strongly. Vinegar. Wonderful vinegar, amazing vinegar — will your gifts upon mortals know no limits? You kill plants. You burn retinas. You must be like acid to insect bodies.

Vinegar in a spray bottle is possibly the greatest innovation to the lazy housekeeper. It cleans everyonething! Spray, wipe, done.

A mixture of vinegar and some water in a spray bottle will fix most cleaning woes in your house. Everything else can be solved with baking soda and Magic Erasers. Or fire. I never like ruling that one out completely.

I got to work spraying the bugs with my vinegar-water mix. On Sunday I sprayed so much vinegar into the now-empty pantry that I could barely breathe. I sneezed more times that day than my mom does in a day, and that’s a pretty amazing feat. When the vinegar hit the bugs they writhed and fell from their headlong flight out of hell. The larvae didn’t fall off the walls, but they writhed just the same. I thought my work was done.

On Monday I woke up early enough to get work done before I would have to start Thanksgiving dinner for Nate and myself. I had some coffee and sat down to work for several hours. At some point I decided to check and see if the bugs were still dead.

They weren’t.

Somehow they’d Lazarused their way back to the world of the living. I sprayed them again with vinegar, and this time they writhed and then shook it off like godsdamn zombies.

I now had zombie bugs in my apartment, and they were getting smarter.

Continue reading Attack of the Zombie Bugs

Living in a Horror Film

I cannot describe to you the panic I just had.

It was heart-attack inducing. I couldn’t breathe. Black spots covered my vision.

Ok, maybe I can describe it.

I’d gone to make some of my favourite tea — Yogi brand Green Tea Echinacea Plus — because it’s good for getting rid of colds, and I’ve got a tickle in my throat.

The tea box was full of bags of another type of tea.

I’m out of my favourite tea.

I had to make another type of tea that has echinacea in it. It’s not as good.

Add that to my closet exploding last night, and I’m starting to believe my Oma’s ghost is haunting me. And her WASP F/DP (Frieslander/Dutch-Protestant) spirit is pissed about what I’m doing in her old apartment: too much sex, not enough knitting.

Though she could have picked a better way of telling me than to make all my yarn fall down go boom. Or fucking with my tea; that shit is sacred, man, don’t do that.

Dammit. Now I have to exorcise my Oma. This is going to be awkward.

Probably a good thing we’re not actually living together…yet.

Boyfriend comes home from work, hungry and exhausted.

Me: I ate your Nibs.
Him: Fuck!
Me: And your chocolate.
Him: Fuck!
Me: And a box of your Kraft Dinner.
Him: …one of the good ones or one of the Tears and Poverty flavor?
Me: Sharp Cheddar.
Him: FUCK!

I haven’t told him about the Chewy Dipps bars or the cans of Coke. I’m hoping he won’t notice until after I go home tonight.

I am a waffle, and school has never ironed me

It’s not a perfect metaphor. I’m tired, okay.

I’ve been known to waffle about my education. I’ve done everything from Underwater Basket Weaving to Introduction to Finality; from Basic Lupine Urology to Pre-Law. (Yes, two of those are Community episode titles. Guess which ones.) When I finally decided on my BA, I thought I’d reached a point where I wouldn’t waffle anymore. Where I would know what I wanted to study and do it; therefore, choosing my MA should have been easy, right?

Wrong.

A few months ago I was dead-set on an MFA in Writing and Consciousness from CIIS. Just last month it was SFU‘s GLS program. Now I’m going for the same school’s MFA in Publishing.

I, of course, don’t have all the pre-reqs for this program, but I can get them done before it starts next fall. It’s not impossible. It just means I’m looking at going back to school as early as January, which is earlier than planned.

And an MFA in Publishing is, really, quite ideal for me. I run a publishing business and I plan on not only being a niche publisher but also publishing my own books for the foreseeable future. (Read: forever.)

Let’s hope someone’s left me in the iron long enough to become crispy and unyielding. Let me not waffle anymore! Let the liquid batter of waffling cease, and let me become cooked and warm.

I really will stretch this metaphor to death.

When did I become old?

I’m sitting at home eating dinner at a quarter to 11pm (which actually seems a reasonable time to eat dinner during summer; the sun just set) and wanting to go to the bar. Instead I’m eating salad. Salad of mixed baby greens and spinach with some bell peppers, and some of my Four Thieves’ Vinegar drizzled on top. (So, you know, not an “American Salad” that’s so covered in meat and thick dressing and croutons and cheese that it’s not really salad anymore, it’s a sandwich that tried to run away and was beaten for its transgression.) My drink is water (and some tea later). This whole meal is about 100 calories.

Mmmm, fibre.

Meanwhile I’ve got friends in Vegas drinking a bottle of $800 Cristal, and a friend in the UK who would gladly go to the bar with me if it weren’t for that damn geography. I’m 25; I’m supposed to be a hip jet-setter, going out with friends and traveling and hitting the bars and dancing my arse to pieces.

Instead I’m a shut-in. You know, being a shut-in means never having to wear pants, but killing means never having to say you’re sorry. Wait, no. That analogy got away from me.

My point is, I’m okay with being a shut-in, largely, because I prefer to be alone most of the time. But it’s becoming too much. I’m no longer the party animal I once was; hells I’m not even going out for coffee with friends as often as I used to.

This is what an injury can do to you. It can completely overturn your life to the point where you don’t recognize yourself when you look in the mirror anymore.

And yeah, I suppose a healthier lifestyle is, well, healthier, but it’s not that I’ve gone healthy but I still occasionally hit the bars or whatever. It’s that I’ve jumped from age 25 to age 95 in the past few months. Basic tasks exhaust me; I’m literally afraid of going out-of-doors; I shake my cane at kids and scream Damn youngsters, get off my lawn! when I’m at the mall.

I just got this new phone — the Samsung Galaxy Note. And it makes me feel so alive! This is the phone for my age, this is what I should be using while I’m out hitting the bars and dancing oh wait….

I just want to go to a bar so I have an embarrassing photo to take and upload drunkenly to Twitter. Let me be 25, oh gods of bodily health. Let this pain end.

PS: On the ‘being proactive’ front, I’m wrestling myself a physiotherapy appointment tomorrow. I’m not just bitching and whining to WordPress. I am trying.

PPS: I sort of can’t see because I spent all afternoon looking at a small screen. I may have an addiction.

Tales from the Fat Side: Coldstone’s Cold Shoulder

Mmmm Coldstone
A Coldstone’s by itself. (Photo credit: Michael D. Dunn)

Today a friend and I decided to go to Tim Horton’s for some Coldstone’s ice cream. I was really happy when Coldstone’s came up here from the States, as it had been a favourite of mine when I lived in Hawaii. The fact that it’s in Tim Horton’s means it’s easier to convince my boyfriend to go and get it, so win-win.

There are several Timmy-Coldstone’s in Vancouver and the GVRD, but only one in Nanaimo. (There’s also one in Duncan, which is a 100-km round trip. Not happening.) There are other, cheaper ice cream places in Nanaimo, any of which we could have gone to — but we wanted Coldstone’s. It’s special. And it was a really hot day. Also we make no apologies for wanting whatever the fuck we want and eating it too — in public, even.

Here is the point where I tell you something you already know: I’m fat. So is my friend. And while we are both feisty, fat, awesome individuals, we still struggle with self-esteem issues. Because we have spent our entire lives being told that we are inhuman, horrible disgusting blobs that should kill ourselves for allowing ourselves to be so fat and offensive to the eyes of society. How dare we breathe your air and take up all your space with our fat! How dare we have big bellies! How dare we eat ice cream or junkfood — this is, of course, no problem if you’re skinny and it’s all you eat, because obviously thinness is the only measure of health. No, because we are already fat we should eat nothing but salad and watercress and wear nothing but sackcloth and ashes.

So, let’s start from that. We’re fat, and we’re awesome people and we deserve to be treated like human beings. Regardless of our fatness or awesomeness. We’re human.

We’ve gone to this Coldstone’s before. Almost every time we go, we stand there for a long time before someone serves us.

Today we stood there for 10 minutes. There were several people walking around behind the counter, and it wasn’t terribly busy. Each person ignored us.

Continue reading Tales from the Fat Side: Coldstone’s Cold Shoulder

“Toffee”: the adventures of Deadbrain

In the class I’m taking — First Nations Studies 400: Applied Community Research Institute — we have a coffee hour in the first hour of class for our groups to discuss project outcomes, outputs, and inputs. The class is twice a week, 9am to 3pm, so we have that sort of time.

Today I slept in, because my body hates me, that’s why, and so didn’t arrive until coffee hour was over. It’s only the second day of class, so I missed our discussion of the introductions we would make after coffee hour (which I didn’t miss). After introductions, I went to fill my coffee cup cause damn was I tired. There were two Tim Hortons coffee boxes, one near-empty and one near-full, so I poured the remainder from one into my coffee mug and then filled it up with the other, fuller box.

And drank some delicious “toffee” — or a mix of tea and coffee.

I had completely missed the big signs on the chalkboard saying “TEA” and “COFFEE” with arrows pointing down.

Proving yet again that I am no where near human before caffeine has been inserted.

PS: Don’t try this combo of drinks. It’s disgusting. As this blog post will tell you.

PPS: I did end up getting a real coffee at break time, so I was human for the rest of class.