Your Diet is Killing Me

My morning did not start out so good on Sunday. I slept for a really long time and expected to just sit on the couch for about twelve hours watching TV shows on Amazon Prime, which I accidentally purchased a couple of days ago. It wasn’t until I started to make my morning coffee that I realized that it was going to be a bad day. When I opened the fridge to get the milk, I saw that it had an expiration date that had well passed. I’d actually been drinking it for a few days after it expired. It didn’t even taste bad. Also, I read an article that expiration dates on food products are picked rather conservatively, so a lot of people are throwing out good food before it goes bad. So yeah, I’m going to listen to that piece of advice, mostly because I’m lazy.

sourmilkBut this milk had some chunks floating in it so I figured it was time to say good-bye. That of course meant that I didn’t have anything to put in my coffee.

I walked into the bedroom where Sebastien was still sleeping and jumped on the bed next to him. “The milk is bad and I don’t have anything to put in my coffee,” I whined, kicking my feet on the bed to make sure he would wake up. He rolled over. “There’s soy milk in the fridge,” he said.

“But I can’t drink that. It makes me even gassier than dairy and you don’t want me stinking up the house all day.”

He was already snoring before I finished my plea. He’s so healthy now with his soy milk and limited desserts and calorie counting. It makes me sick. And the worst part is that he taught me all of my bad eating habits: dessert every night, ordering butter or lard-filled dishes at restaurants. I’ve developed such a sweet and meat tooth that there’s no stopping me now. I even eat like him when we first started dating, which means shoveling the food into my mouth without a care that there’s pasta sauce all over my cheeks and nose or that strands of spaghetti are dangling from my mouth to make me look like the bearded lady. I used to be the healthy one in the relationship, but I guess I’ve just decided it was time to let myself go.

A few years ago I did give Sebastien instructions to inform me when I was getting too fat by way of a post-it note. The note, which I composed, read: I love you Amy, but you’re getting too fat. Sebastien at first refused to do it. I reminded him that in this case he was only acting as the mailman so he was free of any consequences. I’m pretty sure he threw the note out anyway.

It’s just hard to eat like we once did. I’ll go to the grocery store and pick up cheese-filled fish or barbecue pork. When I get home Sebastien inspects the packages, usually mumbling something about high in cholesterol or a lot of fat. I guess some people change and grow and start eating healthy crap.

Although I do have to give him credit for bringing me desserts. For the most part, whenever I declare that I want carrot cake from Peacefood cafe at 9:30pm, Sebastien willingly puts on his coat and shoes and gets it for me. It’s happened so many times that the wait staff refer to him as “the guy who gets dessert for his wife.” So yeah, that’s pretty awesome.

These thoughts all popped into my head as I stood in the living room, half-dressed, to begrudgingly go out and get a new carton of milk for myself. I didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. I started stomping my feet like a little kid having a temper tantrum, while my cat, Siegfried, watched with indifference from his perch in the loft.

I caved. I dropped everything and grabbed the soy milk out of the fridge to pour into my coffee. It actually wasn’t bad and it was vanilla flavored so I was into that. I suddenly remembered my days of being a fake vegetarian and vegan. I did it mostly to find an identity in high school and to piss off my family, who had to make special meals for me because I professed to care about the animals. Of course, whenever no one was looking I’d grab chunks of meatloaf leftovers in the fridge or wolf down cold cuts.

I eventually admitted that I was not a vegetarian, although I do like soy products sometimes. It was nice to come out of the closet and embrace who I really am: a carnivore. I guess we all change, or make adjustments accordingly. Although it’s easy to slip back into our old habits, especially when it comes to eating right. Hey, maybe I can pretend to be a vegan again to really piss Sebastien off.


A Killer Tic

About a week ago my Level 1 improv class had a show. (Yeah!) It was our first time onstage together at The P.I.T. and we rocked it. It was a lot of fun. Getting up in front of a group of strangers to perform on the spot is not for the faint of heart though. It’s actually pretty damn scary and nerve-racking. However, some people such as myself get a thrill out of it.

One of our classmates had the show filmed and I watched it a few days later to relive the memories and see how it looked. During the second half of the show when my group went onstage, I watched myself listening to my peers as they stepped out in front of the crowd and told stories based off the word “pirate.” I was listening very intently to come up with a premise or an idea for a two-minute scene. I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t even realize it when I started to fidget with my wedding ring. But there I was, twisting and turning the ring around my finger in a trance-like state like Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings.

Ok, maybe it’s not exactly like that because the ring on my finger is not pure evil and it will not cause the destruction of the entire world. And, unfortunately, it does not make me invisible. Nevertheless, I have developed this uncontrollable urge to twist it around my finger whenever I am nervous or unsure of something. It’s not the first time that I’ve caught myself mindlessly fidgeting with the symbol of eternal love.
In all fairness it’s a relatively benign tic compared to some others I’ve heard of: body slamming, cheek biting, licking subway poles and windows. So I guess I can learn to live with my little habit.

While I came to terms with my own tic I was reminded of an episode of Murder She Wrote. At the end of the show when Jessica was revealing the killer to a group of frizzy-haired, power-pump wearing woman (this was the late 1980’s so that was the style) she mentioned that one of the suspects was always twisting his wedding ring around his finger to indicate that he was a newly wed. Don’t ask me what that had to do with the plot or how that helped find the killer because for the life of me I can’t remember (bonus points for any person who can identify which episode of Murder She Wrote I am referring to). However, that minor detail was of great importance in solving the case.

For the record, I have never killed anyone and don’t plan to in the future. But I suspect that if I do commit a crime, someone might try to use my nervous tic against me. Well the joke is on you J.B. Fletcher, because I’ve been twisting my ring for the past three years.

You can check out my class show here:

National Lampoon’s Japanese Vacation

Step 1: Book flight to Japan.

That was the easy part. Next we had to figure out what to do and where to go. I used to like planning trip itineraries, but Japan is just so foreign to me. All of my ideas were pretty vague: eat sushi, sunbathe with snow monkeys, hike. It was obvious that I was going to be of limited help on planning this one.

Then one day Sebastien emailed  me a spreadsheet with a list of cities to visit in Japan alongside columns with our names. He wanted me to rate the list of places from 1-10. He had already done so in a column conveniently titled, Seb. He said that once I input the numbers, excel was programmed to take those p values or whatever and spit out a score in a third column titled, Score.

Yes, admittedly that was  a method for planning this trip, but it seemed just as daunting as any other. I didn’t know how to gauge my level of interest in visiting the Peace Osaka museum, which documented the horrors of World War II, versus dining in the robot restaurant in Tokyo. I wanted to do all of those things and I didn’t want to rank these places like they were contestants on the Little Miss Florida Sunshine pageant circuit.

I was on g chat with my friend Jessica the day I received the email and started complaining to her about it. “I don’t want to give them numbers,” I typed out my whine. “Why can’t I just say I want to go here. (period)”

She suggested I mess with Sebastien by saying “let’s just play it by ear and see how we feel when we’re there!”

He didn’t write back.

When he asked me about it again that evening I finally caved and gave each location an arbitrary number. I still didn’t see the point of it, until now.

We are three weeks away from the trip and have only now started looking at hotels. Big mistake. It seems that every human being on the planet is trying to book a hotel in Kyoto right now to be there for the cherry blossoms festival. We’re supposed to be meeting friends there so yesterday we had a three person, two continent team desperately hunting for shelter in the city. The two hotels I suggested had reviews that included the words “sleazy” and “love motel.” My ideas were vetoed.

So I think from here on out I’m just going to do what I’m told and enjoy the trip. And maybe learn how to say dirty words in Japanese.


Reflections on Reflections

Our cat Siegfried recently discovered his own reflection in the dishwasher. We’ve had him for three years so I’m not quite sure what took him so long. He is a cat of course so some delay is excusable. But now that Sigs found his reflection, he’s obsessed with himself. The cat no longer reacts to food or cat treats or even pieces of dental floss dangled in front of his head. He never comes to me when I call him anymore, but I guess he never did that anyway. He did love greeting me at the door or running up to the window when I would get really excited because there was a pigeon on a tree in our backyard. But he doesn’t care about any of that now.  He is enthralled by himself and will sit in front of the dishwasher for hours, bobbing his head around, no doubt to check out his reflection in various angles.

SigssovainWhen I first noticed it a few weeks ago, I decided that the cat probably got it from Sebastien because of all the selfies on his phone.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as narcassistic as they come. But I don’t want other people to know. So I take selfies, admire them for a short period of time, and delete them.  If I get hit by a car, again, (it happened before the days of cellphones) imagine how they would eulogize me if they found a cellphone full of nothing but pictures that I took of myself.

“We are gathered here to mourn the passing of Amy, who to our knowledge and based off of her photos, never spent time with anyone but herself, sitting or standing in various poses around her apartment.”

I just delete them that way my conscience is clear. Taking selfies has become a part of society and there’s really nothing wrong with it, but I sometimes get embarrassed by my habits.

I used to hide other idiosyncrasies from Sebastien like picking my nose or watching re-runs of the same TV show over and over and over ad nauseam. For example, every season of The Office is available on Netflix streaming. So sometimes I would watch a bunch of the same episodes that I’d already seen hundreds of times before. Before Sebastien got home each night, I would sit in front of the TV starting and stopping some other random shows so that those shows would appear in the ‘recently viewed’ window on Netflix and he would have no clue that I spent my afternoon watching a show that I can recite word-for-word. It was tiring. I eventually had to get over it and come clean. And Sebastien’s fine with it.

Married life is all about accepting the other person for who they are. The longer the two of us stay together, the more we peel back another layer of the mask that we present to the world to reveal who we truly are, warts and all.  I just hope that the unravelling continues at a slow pace. Hpefully, by the time we know absolutely everything about the other person, we’ll have no choice but to accept it because we’ll be too old and too lazy to go looking for someone else.


I’ve had some pretty bizarre neighbors in the past: a young gangster who constantly fought with his girlfriend and would get scared when she threatened to call his mom, a French woman who always lamented that the gay guy who lived in the building was not in love with her, and a sensitive, doe-eyed drug dealer who lived with his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.

How times have changed.

Sebastien and I really lucked out with the neighbors we have today. They’re a family from North Carolina and they embody the phrase Southern hospitality. The husband, Mike, sometimes shovels the snow on the front steps for the entire building and every few weeks their daughter will knock on our door with cupcakes or whoopie pies or freshly baked bread. It’s a strange ritual that neither Sebastien or I am accustomed to, but of course we accept it. Because who wouldn’t accept free dessert? In return, I’ve attempted to bake some of my own neighborly treats. Save for a few minor mishaps (like accidentally baking the plastic handled scissors and using 2 cups of baking soda instead of 2 cups of flour) they enjoy the food I make.

We also get together for dinners and game nights and housesit one another’s pets when the other is out of town. We’ve gotten so close over the past couple of years that come time to renew our leases we plan on apartment hunting together. I know it’s unlikely that we will be able to find suitable apartments right next to one another in the city, but we have to find a way. This family is our only chance of becoming real adults. Sure we could read books on the subject or watch a bunch of Lifetime movies, but why do that when we’ve got the real deal living mere feet away–literally.

As Grown-ups In Training Sebastien and I are learning through trial and error. There was the time we all decided to get breakfast together and planned on meeting in the building hallway at 9:10. I cracked my eyes open at 9 that morning and shook Sebastien awake. “We have to go, we have to get ready,” I said. I couldn’t believe that we were failing our first big assignment and I was afraid that this family was going to give up on us, much like Sebastien’s and my grade school teachers did years ago.

I managed to get ready in 3 minutes, but Sebastien took his time. When the knock on the door came I knew it was too late. We were found out as just a bunch of hacks, wannabe adults. Tamy laughed it off and said that Mike was already in line at the restaurant. I jotted down a quick note about how adults show up early for things and then we headed out the door.

To make up for our blunder I decided to invite them over for dessert one night. I made a pumpkin pie from scratch and Sebastien came home with ice cream and whipped cream. We even had enough clean glasses to offer them water or tea or milk. Everything was going so well until Mike asked for a napkin. I wiped my ice cream covered mouth with my shirt sleeve and looked up at him, perplexed. Melted ice cream was dripping off of his plate and down his arm. He looked desperate and feared dripping on our already stained rug. “We don’t have any paper towels,” I said. “You want some toilet paper?”

Fortunately our teacher, I mean Tamy, ran downstairs and grabbed a roll of paper towels. At the end of the night when I was handing it back to her she told us to keep it. “You guys need it more than us,” she said.

We’re slow learners, but we’re getting there. Whenever the neighbors pop over they don’t have to worry about seeing my bras and underwear strewn about the apartment or week-old dishes rotting in the sink. We clean all that now. Or just hide it up in the loft and cover up the smell with air freshener.  So if anyone hears of 2 apartments for rent next to one another, please do let me know. Or I’m sure we would all get along in a really big apartment like the family in Full House.


I’ll be there for you

I was never much of a Friends fan. It was on one of the only TV stations we had access to when I was in rehab back in 2000, so I had seen a number of the episodes then. Other than that though, the show wasn’t for me. It was too cheerful and optimistic. Much like other cynics of my day, I preferred watching Seinfeld and South Park and mocking late-night infomercials.

But I found myself watching Friends last Saturday night in a hotel room in Philadelphia. I was there for the night to support a friend who was auditioning for The Voice. We had to be up by 6am Sunday to get in line at the convention center so we were in bed by 10. I took an Advil PM to help me get to sleep. As I lay there waiting for it to kick in, I became acutely aware of the pain in my lower back that had been bothering me for the past week and I started to worry that my kidney was failing. (There’s an even longer story there that started with webmd.) Perhaps I had taken too much Advil PM over the past few weeks to deal with said back pain, I wondered. Google confirmed my fears that the overuse of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs could lead to kidney problems. So it was off to the races.

Once the anxiety kicked in I started urinating like crazy. I went to the bathroom every 5 minutes. (Another symptom of kidney problems.) Then the fear started and I had images of an ambulance carrying me to the hospital and me imploring my friend to go on with her audition. “You can visit me in ICU after the surgery,” I imagined saying.

Before I dialed 9-1-1, I thought I’d check in with Sebastien, because I didn’t want him to be alarmed when he received the phone call from the hospital at 3am. I told him my symptoms and that I had acute kidney failure and was probably going to die that evening.

He’s taken calls like this from me before, usually when I’m afraid someone is going to try and kill me. Sometimes I’ll even ask him to call me when I’m out reporting a story just make sure that I’m alive if I am going to an unfamiliar place or interviewing a suspicious person. He has never once said no to making or taking these phone calls. And just like the other times, when I phoned Sebastien Saturday night, he very calmly and lovingly talked me through the anxiety. He suggested that since I wasn’t in any acute pain, I wait until morning to schedule a doctor’s appointment. “But I might be dead by then,” I said. He reminded me that my symptoms were mild. We talked for a few more minutes until what he was saying started to make sense. He suggested that I enjoy watching some TV since we don’t have that luxury at home. Whenever I’m on vacation I love nothing more than parking myself in front of the TV and watching re-runs of Full House or Saved By The Bell for hours and hours. So that’s what I did.

I hung up the phone, meditated for a few minutes, then turned on the TV. I clicked through a few channels before settling on an episode of Friends. The blonde girl was pregnant and always hungry and the other girl with the haircut that everyone liked in the 90s was desperate to get some guy to pay attention to her. It was so cheesy and predictable. And I laughed and laughed. It was exactly what I needed to calm down before bed. I guess sometimes cheesy things are good. [Cue sappy music like when Danny Tanner is moralizing to DJ] And it’s nice to know that I married a man who is there for me through my paranoia and anxiety. I bet if there were good words that rhymed with paranoia and anxiety, The Rembrandts would have sang that song instead.

A Temporary Tradition

We are not a traditional couple. So on Christmas Eve we ordered a pizza from Papa Johns and watched random movies and shows. Some had trees in them but I think that’s as close to Christmas as they came. We did however send out a holiday email to friends and family. And I hope that we are not expected to do this every year from now on. Because we won’t. The email was done completely on a whim. It started out as a joke, really. And there are only two conclusions that friends and family can get from the attached photo.

1. We are a wholesome, loving family

2. We are pretty twisted and get way too much pleasure out of mocking social norms

xmas_2013 (1)

Either way it works. Happy Holidays!

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