I am too “old” to “wedding”

Dear Self,

I am only just now able to stare at this screen long enough to write to you. After all, you and I have spent the last 36-48 hours hissing at sunlight or wearing sunglass inside the house. We’re not douchy. Just really hungover, self. I don’t know if you knew that. You probably assumed we were dying. Allow me, the more reasonable of our halves, to reassure you that we are not dying, just really, really dumb.

Just in case you thought that, just maybe, wearing your sunglasses inside the house was even a little bit cool yesterday, allow me to enlighten you:

 

Perception

Wonka 2

Reality

Wonka 1

Get it?

It would seem that we are entirely too old to do silly things like mix more than one type of alcohol in one evening or walk around barefoot. You f*cked up both of those things, self. Rookie mistakes. I thought you were better than that. I was wrong.

We both know that you are too old to party like you used to. For that matter, you are too old to “wedding” like you used to.

Before you start protesting that we’re not that old, I’m going to stop you. You’re right. We’re not actually that old. That said, we live the life of a quiet, stable octogenarian. We spend our evenings sipping Sauvignon Blanc and cross-stitching. We go on walks after dinner to aid with digestion. We fantasize – yes, literally fantasize – about going to bed before 10 o’clock and not having to put on pants in the morning. Truly, if we could get away with wearing a muumuu everyday, we would. You know we would.

We are best suited to Saturday evenings spent in Snuggies, eating fine cheeses, and watching Netflix.

Let’s face it. We are not a cute drunk anymore. Long gone are the days when we could giggle and half-whisper, “I’m so buzzed right now!” and it pass as silly and adorable and fun. I repeat: GONE.

Now, we corner people and drunkenly slur about the importance of proper pronoun usage when discussing or dealing with gender. We’re not wrong, self. We’re not wrong at all. But nobody wants to talk about masculine entitlement at a wedding. NOBODY.

Except us, apparently.

First of all, what is it with us cornering people and then dragging the mood way, way down? “Hi! Nice to see you! Are you having fun? Isn’t this such a great party? Filled with lighthearted revelry and joy? Let me talk to you about armored cavalry units in Vietnam! Did you read that article about the puppy born without his front legs and how sad he was until his family built him a little cart and now he’s only a little bit sad about not being able to jump on the couch but how they’re also building him a ramp so he won’t be sad at all anymore?”

Stop it. Just stop it.

Secondly, why can’t we ever remember that wine and weddings don’t ever mix? We have been to no less than 12 weddings in the last year. The ones at which we drank all the wine never led to good mornings the next day. Rather, they led to headaches, nausea, and threats of divorce.

We cannot afford for Carter to divorce us, self. We successfully deluded a man into thinking we are charming once. We won’t be so lucky again. Also, you remember what it was like to date. We don’t want to be out there again, self.

The rules are changing, self. When we were in college, the rules were simple:

1. Don’t die.

2. Get some nice dude you know to walk you home.

3. Don’t invite him in.

4. Eat a fistful of animal crackers and drink a big bottle of water before you go to sleep. (Because rule #1)

 

Now, however, the rules are long and many. And, after this weekend’s escapades, growing, apparently.

1. Drink more water than you drink anything else.

2. Wear close-toed shoes if you’re going to mainline all the wine. After all, if we’ve learned anything in life it is that door jams are not our friends. Neither are stairs. Or decorative armchairs. We should have listened, self. Then we might not be in this fabulously attractive boot from the doctor because we destroyed our pinkie toe.

3. Drink water more than you drink anything else. This is non-negotiable.

4. Eat the damned granola bar you brought. You have a gluten allergy. You won’t be able to eat the wedding cake. You might not be able to eat 50% of the dinner. That said, apparently, you will be drinking all the wine.  EAT THE LUNA BAR.

5. Pick a liquid and stick to it. If you’re going to be all naughty-feeling and drink bourbon, stick to bourbon. Do not think that your body is capable of withstanding a switch from bourbon to wine. It isn’t. You will regret it. For 3 days.

6. Did I mention water? Drinking it? Drinking lots of it? You forgot about it Saturday, self. I feel the need to drive it home.

7. You are and always will be terrible at The Wobble. Just come to terms with this. You can still do it, just stop making that ridiculous dance-y face.

8. You may or may not be responsible for your spouse now. Take turns being the responsible party. If it’s your night to turn into a shriveled mass of booze-soaked self-loathing, then your SO needs to stay competent and capable of the responsibility that is you. And vice versa. Communicate this arrangement early on. Stick to the plan. Or else you will end up as the one ordering pizza at 3am because you are only slightly more responsible, a task which you are just barely capable of completing. You will trip, you will break your toe, you will curse the day you got married and the marriage of the people who brought you to this lowly state tonight. And in the morning, you will both stare at each other and, with one eye squinted open, play “nose goes” for who has to go to the grocery store. Just because you’re stupid, drunkpants, doesn’t mean you don’t need groceries. We’re  f*cking adults, self.

I hope you’re happy with yourself, self. I tried to tell you that we should stick to the bourbon. I tried to warn you about putting wine down the hatch. I even tried to show you that we cannot, in fact, be taught how to “Dougie.” Look me in the mirror-eyes when I say this to you, self – you will never “Dougie.” Let the dream die.

And while we’re on this subject, stop making “Thriller” arms during The Wobble. Allow me to remind you:

 

Perception

Reality

Pull yourself together and bid a responsible farewell to your headstrong youthful stupidity. And say hello to fiber, probiotics, and the worst hangovers you have ever known to date. Let’s avoid that last one in the future, self? Shall we?

Sincerely,

Me

P.S. This is why we stay away from the animals after drinking.


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A Visit with the Ghost of Awkwardness Past

I was talking to a friend the other day. The conversation turned to our favorited books-turned-movies and, therefore, about some of our favorite actors-as-novel-character-hotties. You know, Tom Hardy as Heathcliff:

[Source] Really, Tom Hardy? With the smoldering stare ? Stop it. Just stop. *faints*


I mean, I realize that with Hardy-boy Heathcliff, you have to be able to get over what a deranged f*ckhead his character is, but I think that I have proven that this is no problem for me. Smolder, Hardy, smolder! The list also included Edwardian babe #1:

[source] Mr. Darcy #1. Colin Firth is the ultimate Darcy, but in a chaste, wholesome sort of way. To quote my friend, “Firth’s Darcy is the man I want to make me Mrs. Darcy…..”

  And Edwardian babe#2:

[source] “…..and, well, I just want MacFayden’s Darcy to make me Naughty Lizzie.” Right you are, my friend. Why yes, Lady Catherine, I SHALL pollute the shades of Pemberly thusly!

The Darcy Twins are hard to compete with, but my friend and I agreed that our first and, perhaps, forever leading-man-as-literary-hottie love will always be Christian Bale as Laurie in Little Women.

  What a sweet face. Except when he’s pouting, which, I’ve learned as an adult, he does for approximately 47.8% of the movie:

You’re welcome for all of this book-to-movie eye candy. That, however, isn’t really the point.

What was most interesting about this conversation was the moment where we both confessed to watching Little Women every single day after school for a year.

Every.Damn.Day.

For me, it became a grounding moment, an almost meditative action. No matter how terrible school was or how I’d been teased or bullied, I could come home and watch the March girls grow up. It was a perfect movie. I would argue it still is a perfect movie for adolescent girls and beyond. I wanted to be a Jo, even though I often felt like an Amy. This makes sense because, while I thought myself such the adult, I was actually 11 and, therefore, a giant pain in the ass.

  Little Women taught me about death:

  It taught me about the importance of following your own star:

  And it taught me that, somedays, your milkshake just isn’t bringing the boys to the yard and that that’s okay.

More than anything, however, I think it taught me that everything’s going to be okay in the end. For me, the message of Little Women was, “You’ll get there, girlfriend. Promise.”

Once I entered the tumultuous cesspool that is the seventh grade, however, Little Women wasn’t meeting me where I was anymore. Thus began my love affair with the dark siren that is Andrew Lloyd Weber.

I stole my grandparents’ VHS copy of CATS and watched that every day after school for a year. I was hormonally chubby and had acne, braces, and a haircut that can only be described as “of the criminally insane.”

Skimbleshanks mocked me with his plucky optimism and grooming. And while the Rum Tum Tugger caused many a stirring, I sort of hated him because I knew that, if I ever encountered him, he would politely sign my autograph and then go make out with Jenny and Dots. Those sluts.

But Grizabella? That bitch got me. Where the year before, the March girls and their unfailing optimism had bolstered me, in the darkness of seventh grade, “Grizabella let me lick my wounds bitterly in the dark alley of my soul.” (Note: Twelve-year-old me wrote that exact line angstily in a college rule notebook and I included it here for your reading pleasure. I have no shame anymore.) As such, I sang “Memory” in the shower every day.

I had lots of feelings in Middle School. Like you do.

This, my friends, is the ultimate bullshit of adolescence. In my twelve-year-old head, Grizabella and I were kindred spirits. “No one wanted to dance with me at the mixer this weekend, Grizabella. I bet no one wants to dance with you either because you’re a dirty, mangy alley cat.”

As an adult, my relationship with the Griz has changed. Now that I have had a small taste of the harsher truths of abandonment, loss, rejection, fear, and self loathing, I have a greater respect for her as a character. I also have a great desire to go back in time and backhand myself, screaming, “It’s not that bad, bitch! Just wait! You think missing Xenon: Girl of the 21st Century tonight was bad? JUST WAIT! You think you get Grizabella? You don’t get her! You don’t know her pain!” And then I’d slap me again because, as we all know, I am nothing if not measured and rational.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about younger me. This trip down memory lane, while EXTREMELY embarrassing, was a good one. After all, my new favorite mantra is, “How can one expect to become old and wise if they have not first been young and stupid?” (Tori Murden McClure)

So here’s what I’ve learned about younger me:

1. I was a bajillion years old even at twelve.

2. I was hardly the only one to have gone through a prolonged Ugly Ducking phase. (And, yes, Mom and Dad, that’s what it was. Your protests that I’ve “always been beautiful” are in vain. And yet, I love you so much for always thinking I was beautiful, even when I didn’t.)

3. At some point in everyone’s life (yea, dudes too), we will be Amy, Beth, Jo, or Meg. I’m in a Meg phase now. I’m not a huge fan, I’ll admit it, because Meg bores me with her stability and calm, but that’s what my life and its inhabitants need right now and so Meg shall I remain for a while longer. I feel a Jo phase coming on though.

4. A weird childhood and adolescence is the recipe for a vibrant adulthood, I think. Some of the most incredible adults I know were tragically weird in their youth. They’re still total weirdos,but it’s an evolved, comfortable, self-assured weirdness and I’m so thankful for them and all their moxy.

5. Sometimes you just need to revisit your old wounds. In revisiting our old wounds, we also remember our old balms. I’m going to watch Little Women tonight. I’ll cry like a baby for approximately 87.4% of it. When Beth dies, I’ll have to pause it, hug the dog, and sob for a little while. Then I’ll hit play again and watch as life goes on.

Because it most assuredly does.

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Proof that I have matured….

So, I was at the grocery this morning. I am aware that nearly all of my recent posts have involved the grocery in some form or another, but that’s where I’m at in life.

Anyway, I was unloading bags from my cart and loading cold items into coolers because, yes, I am just that Type A. A young man in an old Bronco sped down the parking lot aisle. He was blaring some godawful screamer “rock” music as loud as those speakers could possibly go. Base turned up high. Windows rolled all the way down.

I was visibly annoyed, of this I have no doubt, and I knew what he’d be wearing before he even got out of the car.

Combat boots.

Ripped Jeans.

No visible eyes due to full-on hair shag.

Wallet chain.

 

I thought to myself, “Ugh. Youths.”

 

Or, alternately,

Then, all of a sudden, it hit me.

Adult me wants to give that young man a haircut and teach him something about good music.

Teenage me would have actively tried to make out with him.

Take that, every high school teacher who said I’d never grow up.

Pickled Onions Recipe

Pickled-onions-cover.jpg

It would seem that I am hell-bent to make this blog the place to go for recipes that you can’t make for a first or second date. Indeed, all of my recipes seem to be laden with garlic, peppered with onions, or soaked in bourbon.

Okay, so maybe the bourbon-soaked recipes would be okay if you’re looking for a little liquid courage on that first date. I tend to get really nervous on first dates and, when provided with liquid courage, tend to spill the beans on any number of topics which include but are not limited to my reproductive system, my obsession with Alan Rickman, or what happens when you feed me wheat. Yea. If’ you’re at all like first-date-me, maybe you should stick to tea.

If, however, you are comfortably settled into a relationship (i.e. they’ve seen you pee), then you can make pickled onions and eat them like my husband likes to – right out of the jar. The romantic relationship is, of course, not required. Make them for your best friend, your roommate, your landlord, your mom, your urologist, your neighbor. I’m not your boss. Although you could also make them for your boss.

Or, and here’s a novel idea, just make them for yourself. Label those jars as your property and eat them in front of your whole house, loudly refusing to share. Cackling maniacally is mandatory.

Pickled-onions-1.jpgThese are super easy to make, largely because we’re not messing with any of that canning business. These are what my grandma used to call “refrigerator pickles.” I’m sure that, if you have the knowhow or inclination, you could can these. I have neither of those things, however. Besides, I would probably give myself botulism.

And not in the super fun, “make your face an immovable mask” sort of way.

All you need are red onions, sugar, salt, white vinegar, and whole peppercorns. Away we go!

In a large pot, bring 8-12 cups of water to a boil. This really isn’t precise, so don’t worry about it.

While that’s heating up, slice your onion(s). My husband likes them really thinly sliced, but you may want beefier onion pieces. Go to, friends.

Put the onion pieces in a strainer and pour the boiling water over them evenly. This makes the onions less sharp tasting. Don’t ask me how. It just does.

While those are cooling, grab your clean mason jar(s). For this recipe, I sliced two large onions, which filled three 14 oz. mason jars.

Into each jar, pour 3/4 cup of white vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, and precisely 5 peppercorns (6 if you’re feeling ballsy). Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Once your onions are cool, you can begin to cram them into the jars. I fill them to the part where the jar begins to narrow. There’s a balance between packing the jar just right and overpacking it. You’ll know it when you see it. I think.

If there are onions not covered by the vinegar, add more vinegar to fill the deficit.

Isn’t that a gorgeous sight? Don’t you just want to wear that color all the time? Look again!

Screw the lids on tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours before eating. Prepare to be amazed by the transformation.

Okay. So maybe that’s the color I want to wear all the time. Here’s another, just for the sake of thorough photography:

And again, because I am nothing if not incredibly thorough:

We like to eat them on salads, more than anything. They are also dynamite on tacos (any kind), nachos (any kind), or, if you’re like my husband, right out of the jar.

They should be good in the fridge for a week or so, if they last that long. I like to make a few jars and give them to people. After all, what’s a cheaper gift than onions? Nothing. That’s what.

But you can tell yourself (and it’s true), they’re fancy onions.

Yea. Now go forth and make these, the Elaine Benes’s of pickled things.

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“Your baby is so, so, so….. what a nice outfit!”

Departing from my usual Senior Day tradition, I went to the grocery this morning. Next to the frozen peas I saw the ugliest baby I have ever seen in my entire life. I mean, the sweet child required a double take to make sure that he was, in fact, a baby human. Bafflingly, the woman pushing him in the buggy was, without a doubt, the most beautiful woman I have ever seen… in this part of the country.

Before you mothers or other sensitive souls jump all over my case for this, let’s get something straight.

I’m sure the baby has a wonderful personality.

I kid, I kid. Nowhere in that little anecdote did I say that I was a peach, especially not this morning. I was wearing my early-morning grocery uniform of yoga pants and a long-sleeved tee. Normal enough, you might say, but it wasn’t until I looked in my rearview while backing out of my parking space to come home that I noticed that I had toothpaste foam dried to the side of my cheek.

And all over the front of my shirt.

It’s fine. I have no room to judge.

Though this child looked frighteningly like, well, the baby from Dinosaurs, I am certain beyond the pale that this baby will grow up to be a studmuffin of the highest order, complete with a full head of hair and all of his natural teeth, both well into adulthood.

My mama read The Ugly Duckling to me. I know how this works.

There does seem to be a pattern, however. I was an adorable baby. I can say it. It’s science. But then I went through what averaged out to be a 16 year-long awkward phase wherein I vacillated between looking like a tiny, tiny Rosie O’Donnell or the goth version of a character from Fraggle Rock. I came out of it, I suppose, but Carter didn’t know what I looked like throughout my childhood until we were married.

Hook ’em. Reel ’em in. Throw ’em in the live well from which there is no escape. Then show them the pictures of you looking like, well, like this:

Yea, call me the Dowager Lady Shawn Hunter, Teen Heartthrob. As a matter of fact, put that on my business cards. (“But I’m a girl! I’m a girl! So what if I have a bowl cut and like plaid! I need love, too!”)

I’m over it. I promise. Well, I’m trying to be. The T-Boz haircut, on the other hand? *shudder*

We take for granted, however, that all babies will be adorable, simply because they are babies. You can blame the kittens and puppies of the world for screwing them over like this. No, really – they’ve screwed up the curve.

The ugly baby is a real thing. Even in the celebrity biodome, ugly babies can be found. This story about Emily Blunt (wife of “Jim, from The Office,” as my husband knows him) made me laugh out loud at the same time it made me thankful that I speak Southern.

“I remember when we were in the recovery room … and this nurse came in – her name was Mabel, another great old lady name. She had this fantastic, crazy weave and she said, ‘Damn, your baby is so cute!’ And I went, ‘Oh, thank you,” Blunt, 31, recalls.

“She went, ‘Damn, she’s awesome, she’s so cute.’ And I went, ‘Mabel, I think you say that to everyone,’ and she went, ‘No, I don’t … when I know a baby’s ugly, I say, “You had a baby!”‘ I was like, ‘Those poor parents must know.’” [People Magazine]

“You had a baby!”

That right there, friends, is why I’m so glad to be fluent in Southern. For instance, if I have an ugly baby and someone says, “How precious!,” I’m gonna slap them right in the mouth, blaming the hormones all the way.

The same holds true for the following: “What an adorable little outfit!”,  “Have you figured out who it looks more like?”, “What a face!”, and, of course, “You had a baby!”

Slaps. Slaps for all of them.

I may or may not have gone home and immediately told my mother that I saw the ugliest baby in the world at the store. I also may or may not have told my husband, sister, and best friend about it, too. But I did save a bird’s nest and promised God I’d do more volunteering. Because Karma. (I’m honest, not stupid.)

But I would never, ever, ever breathe a word about it to that sweet mama. Tact matters, my friends. I am a lady, after all.

Though I am not, it seems, enough of a lady to refrain from writing about this on this blog. In case you or the Karma Police come after me, however, let me remind you that I predicted that this child’s ugly babyhood is just a phase and that he will grow up to be a modern Robert Redford while I, for my sins, will likely grow a fantastic mustache.

My mama read the Ugly Duckling to me. I know how it ended:

And then, the ugly duckling grew into a beautiful, majestic swan. She moved to Quebec with a handsome Canadian Goose and, together, they ruled the city’s largest pond with grace and fairness all their days.

As for the ducks who taunted the ugly ducking, they grew embarrassing amounts of lady facial hair and, despite their best efforts to make lemons into lemonade, were denied entry into the county fair’s fantastic mustache competition.

And that, sweet children, is why you should never bully.