Supermarket Survivor

In these troubling times, our local grocers are making important efforts to protect shoppers as they leave their homes for essential items like milk and arugula. One of the best solutions that has been implemented is placing arrows throughout the store so shoppers can only travel in one direction because it is impossible to catch COVID-19 from behind—at least that’s what my boyfriend tells me.

This is Supermarket Survivor. There are way more than ten contestants competing for a chance to pay for their own groceries, risking endangering their families and entire communities, or worse being featured in a viral video showing them using gloves wrong. Here is the play-by-play of my last challenge at the local grocery store:

And we are off!

She enters the store looking confident and quickly moving through bakery and produce, defying all arrows as if she does not even know they are there. The looks from other shoppers seem to be no deterrent for this erratic shopper.

Where is she?

There she is emerging from wine at a fast clip! Into meats! Still going the wrong way, right over the arrows!

Wait, a fellow shopper stops her and is pointing at the arrows.

She laughs and then looks like she might cry. She touches her face.

She turns her cart around. Twice. She is still going the same way!

She gets to the actual aisles. She is not ready.

She is looking up at the signs. There is a large X on a red sheet of paper printed out. She edges forward hesitantly, then she turns at the last second and goes the correct way down the next aisle!

She appears to have given up on frozen breakfast foods, but she is following the arrows!

Next, she is forced to go up the dog food aisle to get to the back of the store.
She is moving at record speed, then comes out at the back in dairy and wants to turn onto the international foods aisle but she can’t! Denied! It is the same way as dog food.

She hesitates. Looks at the wine in her cart. Almost loses it.

Then in a move nobody expected she swings all the way out to health and beauty, the instant replay footage reveals her giving a thumbs up to the ladies at the pharmacy as she speeds past, and now she is back to the front of the store and makes a sharp turn onto international foods.

This is the Hillary we saw in the Thanksgiving rush of 2016—the agility and speed that got her to this level.

She dodges a dad with a list, grabs both burrito size and soft taco size tortillas and runs the rest of the aisle with ease.

Now she finds herself in the back of the store, but she is clearly ready to check out. This could be a costly mistake. She jockeys her cart quickly around the Entenmann’s table and makes a run down the empty party supply aisle and pulls in at record time exactly six feet behind the man on register six.

Then out of nowhere, a cashier motions to her pointing to an empty register, so she swerves left and runs the final leg up to the checkout.

THE CROWD GOES WILD!

 

Chasing the Carrot (With Ranch Dip)

My nephew recently bragged about eating 35 chicken wings at an all-you-can-eat wing event at his local Hooters. I argued that 35 wings is the meat equivalent of about one-half of a chicken breast, and I suggested that I could easily eat 35 wings. I only stop eating wings because I get bored or feel a sense of shame, not because I am too full. I believe that the act of eating the chicken wing, especially with the constant napkin use, the dipping in the blue cheese, and the sweating from the heat, burns at least enough calories to offset the wing itself, so the activity could probably sustain itself in perpetuity until I get hungry and need to actually accrue some calories, and that is why they created French fries.

I don’t eat to live—I eat to fill dark holes of despair in my soul, so it would really be a step up to eat for cash and prizes. I recently watched the Nathan’s annual hot dog eating contest, and I was confident I could be a top contender, but I would never actually enter because I do not want to be shown on national television shoving wieners into my mouth. Also they weigh you and then display your weight on the screen, which would make it much harder for me to argue that the camera added ten pounds and about 45 wieners.

Maybe an eating contest would be like my version of The Bachelor. If they ever did a season of The Bachelor for the over-thirties, I could probably win because I am a great girl, and my default attire is usually dressy-casual-pool party, and I put out. But they will never produce such a show because people over the age of 25 are gross. My best chance for going on national television and humiliating myself would be on a show about food. Maybe Woman Versus Food where I try to conquer all the eating contests that Adam Richman failed. When I watch his show from the comfort of my home, while starving because I had a side salad for dinner, I yell, “Come on, MAN! You only have 37 bites left. Grow a pair, ok?” That could be my tag line. I would say it as the credits roll, and I am shown puking in a parking lot.

I sometimes make smart choices about food, and I exercise with a crazed sort of passion that more closely resembles the way an alcoholic has to have a drink than the way a healthy sane person tries to make time for a jog, so I am not overweight, but I never get too cocky because I know that I am always one emotional breakdown and three large pizzas away from buying all new pants. I have never made any claims to having a sensible relationship with food. I have very few sensible relationships, so I am not going to waste one on hamburgers. I will always choose the wrong hamburger—one that is completely unrealistic or on someone else’s plate. Maybe even a turkey burger. Or a truck driver burger.

When I am planning my next meal, I don’t just open the fridge and pick something out—I stalk my food first, and then make a decision based on vanity and impracticality. Yes, there is the rest of that turkey sandwich, but all the bread and mayonnaise is sort of fattening, instead I think I will make some stir fry, which requires going to the store first, and then washing and chopping vegetables for an hour, and then usually involves me getting bored and drinking two beers, eating the rest of the sandwich, and an insanely large portion of stir fry, feeling guilty, and then crying myself to sleep. The next morning when I open the fridge and see the stir fry leftovers, I just feel remorseful and dirty.

If I am already only using 10% of my brain, I am using at least 4% of that to think about my next meal and 5% to analyze what I did wrong with my previous meal, so I am probably only using 1% for everything else at any given time. When I am actually eating, my “thinking about food” brain usage spikes to max capacity, especially if I am eating pizza, and I have to remember how to decipher a pie chart. With pepperoni. 25% of the chart represents the amount of the pie that I should reasonably eat (equal to the amount that I will tell people I ate), and then after that the pie is divided into a rainbow of tiny pie slivers that reflect various levels of emotional instability as I eat more and more pizza. Then at the end the entire pie chart disappears because I ate it.

close up

MILF

This is my son a few days after he was born. He did not weigh 60 pounds like I was expecting, actually he still doesn't.

This is my son a few days after he was born. He did not weigh 60 pounds like I was expecting, actually he still doesn’t.

This summer my kids will be seven and five. Even though it has been years, there are still days when I feel thankful that I am not pregnant, and then I chug a pot of coffee, shoot some tequila, put on my tightest pants, and hop on a roller coaster—just because I can. I know pregnancy is supposed to be a beautiful time, and I should have been grateful, but I felt more like I was serving a sentence. I love my children, I even like them; I just prefer them outside my body. My second pregnancy was easier to endure than the first because I had a toddler, and pregnancy made us sort of the same. We both liked to take long naps in the middle of the day, we were both constantly sober, we wore a similar style of elastic pant, and sometimes we even both peed on ourselves.

Now as my kids get older and parenting becomes increasingly challenging—babies are a breeze—I think back to my pregnant self, taking naps under the desk at my office, spending Saturdays on the couch watching Rock of Love marathons, and I think, what the hell was my problem? Maybe the actual pregnancy had nothing to do with my frustration. Maybe with the first pregnancy I was dealing with the loss of my independence, the acceptance of a great responsibility, and the disintegration of life as I knew it. Once my son was born, it all felt right and even worth it, but the nine months of stewing almost did me in.

The following is a reflection of a first-time, glowing (sweating, really, especially under the boobs) pregnant lady:

In my mind, growing another human life requires a lot of calories, and a large portion of those calories should be in cake-form and eaten in bed while watching reality television. My basic pregnancy diet theory was based on the idea that by not drinking alcohol, I would automatically be consuming fewer calories, so I could eat anything I want. This proved untrue pretty early in the pregnancy, as I could no longer fit into my regular clothes minutes after I peed on a stick. Once I realized I was not going to be one of those girls who looked like she just swallowed a basketball and that I would be more like one of those girls who looked like she swallowed an entire basketball team, I told my elastic waist pants to hold on tight because they were in for a wild ride.

I gained the full 25 pounds of recommended weight in the first six weeks. Other than the extreme gigantism, the pregnancy was going well. I was only sick for the first few months, and I felt pretty agile, like for instance if I dropped my piece of late night cake, I could easily roll off the bed and retrieve it. I read all the pregnancy books and subscribed to the weekly pregnancy email updates. (Your baby is now the size of a hamster! You are now the size of Australia!) I was inappropriately nonchalant about the labor process, and even once compared it to training for a sport, like a volleyball match, which might have been a valid comparison if during the match I accidentally swallowed the ball and then had to volley it over the net from my vagina.

I was so ready to be done with the pregnancy, to meet this baby that everyone had been talking about, that I was willing to go through any means necessary to get the job done. If the doctors told me that in order to get the baby out they were going to send a team of ninjas to my house to attack me, probably right in the middle of my favorite meal, I would have said, “Sign me up!”

Finally after eating my way through three seasons, my due date arrived. There it was circled on the calendar, the day that had been etched in my mind since my first doctor’s appointment 67 pounds ago. Seven days later, I checked into the hospital for an induction. I put on a backless gown—finally some room to breathe—and then settled in for some heavy breathing and gripping the sides of my rocking chair. I paid attention in labor class. I saw the videos. I knew what to do. I let the nurse know that I would not be getting the epidural, and she was polite enough not to laugh, but did suggest that if I changed my mind I should let her know as soon as possible. I had a killer mix CD, so I was sure I would be fine. A few hours later, as I rocked faster and faster with my husband staring at me from a nearby chair with blood coming from his eyes, I suggested he get the nurse and see what she could do. I was not against any measure, like euthanasia for instance.

Eventually, I got an epidural. Then about two hours later, one of the most exciting moments of my life happened: I gave birth to my son. He was perfect. He looked like a miniature version of my husband, which was a little weird, but adorable. I, however, did not look like a miniature version of anything. In some of the photos from the hospital I look like a really fat Sally Jesse Raphael, aided by the fact that while I was pregnant my vision got really blurry, and I had to get glasses to see my food.

Martha and Me

I could never have a blog without writing about Martha Stewart. First, it is important to say that I am a huge fan. I used to watch Martha Stewart Living in the 1990’s when I was in my early twenties, back when my kitchen was used more for mixing drinks and cleaning out ashtrays than it was for making chicken fricassee. Now, I have a house of my own, a couple of kids, a crafting closet, and a kitchen full of gourmet gadgets, but I watch the show more for entertainment than for anything remotely useful.  I just love watching her. Martha cooking with, or doing crafts side by side with, celebrities is first rate entertainment. Who doesn’t want to see Jessica Alba one-upped? When the celebrity says, as they always do, “yours looks so much better, Martha,” the average person would probably respond, “Oh, yours looks good, too.” But not Martha. She says things like “well, I have been doing this for a long time,” or “well, you need to be more careful.”

She is fucking Martha Stewart. Why the hell not? In all honesty, I have a lot of respect for her. It is impressive how she is able to continually reinvent herself while maintaining a consistent image. I mean, she has more than two-and-a-half million Twitter followers. The lady has been to federal prison and she still has the balls to look down on people for using Cool Whip. (Great moment of television when a baker topped a dessert with “whipped topping” and Martha reacted. The producers had to know that shit was going to happen, and they let it happen. Genius.)

Whenever I get my new issue of Martha Stewart Living, I am usually most excited about Martha’s calendar, which highlights programming events like her Today Show appearances and notes the days she will be doing yoga or meeting with her trainer. But the best parts of the calendar are the “gentle reminders” of things that need to be done around her homes/estates,  for example that Martha needs to “service the greenhouse boilers” on October 4th and “apply enzymatic cleaner to all drains for a healthy septic tank and sewer system” on October 5th (busy week!)

This month, however, although I was inspired by picturing Martha servicing the sewers, I was more intrigued by the four page spread about granddaughter Jude’s first birthday party. The best part, for me, is that the event seemed entirely inappropriate for children. The party was held at one of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants and featured beautiful white décor, clear balloons (maybe so nobody would notice them), and a menu that included, as its second course, asparagus with mesculum, enoki mushrooms, avocado, and black truffle vinaigrette. Surely, baby Jude’s favorite cooked vegetable salad.

I held the magazine spread up to my husband and asked him to “name this event.” He said, “wedding,” and then asked who the hot chick was. He was referring to Alexis, Jude’s mommy, who I agreed looked smoking in her beige satin dress. The article that accompanied the beautiful photographs was written by Martha and is part of her “Life and Wisdom: From Martha” feature in Living.  According to Martha, the guest list was compiled of “all the adults who had something to do with baby Jude in her first year” and included a group of artists and photographers. As for the overall atmosphere of the party, Martha says, “because the event was a lunch for grown-ups, we kept the celebratory aspects minimal but whimsical.”

Martha Stewart is a bad-ass.