Monday, December 19, 2011

A (sort of) Apology to Minga's Poor, Traumatized Children

Poor Minga.

While reading my last post concerning her dead, frozen guinea pig, Minga's daughter walked up to see what she was giggling about. That's when Minga's daughter saw the picture of the guinea pig formerly known as Mumbo, and burst into wet, sobbing tears. Apparently the grief is still as fresh as Mumbo's flash-frozen body.

So I'm here to explain to Minga's traumatized children why I am so callous towards deceased family members.

You must understand that my family growing up held no kind of sentimentality towards pets. Perhaps this was because both of my parents grew up on farms, but me and my sister always understood that if the vet bill got too pricey our lovable ball of fur would soon be heading out to a "farm" in the "country."

Little Snickers was the first animal I remember getting the heave-ho (literally) out the back door. Snickers was a hamster with a surly demeanor. Looking back, I'm fairly certain he had PTSD from being daily menaced by our cat Sox. Sox would prowl around his cage, batting at the lid, even sleeping on top of it sometimes, in case Snickers ever got the urge to go for a midnight stroll.

Anyways, one day Snickers bit my sister and my mom chucked him into the backyard to fend for himself in the wild. She gave him a one day head start on Sox.

None of the pets I had growing up made it with us into old age. Sox was stolen (long story), Sox's daughter Saphire, grew to be so morbidly obese that she started wiping her rear on the carpet because she couldn't reach her hind quarters with her tongue.

It was at this point that my dad took her to the pound and pronounced her: "Dead kitty walking."

Our first dog Katie ran away. I'd like to believe that she ended up in a good home, but in that part of town, the odds are just as good that she ended up in some Vietnamese pho soup. Our second dog Charlie was protected from neuterment by my dad, who couldn't bear the thought of snipping off two critical pieces of Charlie's manhood. This resulted in a constant family evasion of the City of Denver, who charge $100 a year for fertile pets, in what my father derisively calls "the ball tax."

When Charlie went for a little solo jog through the neighborhood and got picked up by animal control, my parents decided they couldn't afford the back taxes on Charlie's balls. There were no more pets after that.

There is also an unwritten rule in my family that you can say or do anything, no matter how hurtful, as long as it is also funny. My sister exploited this fact to get out of spankings; my mom couldn't spank her and laugh at the same time. We learned early on that you can be wildly insensitive, but it's okay if it's funny (unless you call mom's casserole a craperole on Mother's Day, in which case you're in for a world of hurt).

Perhaps I need to give a few examples.  When I was in second or third grade I got six teeth pulled out.My mouth was emptier than Keanu Reeves's head.

The fact that I was sensitive about this issue did not stop my mother from telling me every evening: "Lauren, go brush your tooth."

The rule still persists. Just last week I was feeling kind of down about not having a job or much money. I had decided to make my boyfriend a Christmas gift instead of buying something, but felt like kind of a loser after he gave me a really nice present. My mom, instead of offering the standard "homemade gifts are more personal" or some other mom-ish cliche, ribbed me for a good five minutes about how my macaroni necklace was coming along. This teasing continued well after I shouted for her to go away and hopped in the bathtub to wallow. She heckled me from outside the door.

Her later apology was, "I'm sorry...but it was funny."

I've simply not been well-equipped to handle delicate issues with sensitivity. So to Minga's children, and anyone else I might embarrass in the future, all I have to say is:

I'm sorry but it was funny. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thank You Jesus For Mumbo

There are a few facts about me that provoke interesting reactions when people learn them for the first time.

Since I've been blogging regularly, people who are familiar with my writing tend to fall in one of two categories. They either want to be mentioned, no matter the potentially embarrassing context of the story, or they're terrified I'm going to make them look stupid.

I just spent an evening with a friend, (let's call her "Minga") who was absolutely paranoid that I was mentally recording her ever misstep for blogging material. To be fair, she did accidentally say a few hilarious things, like: "I have two party balls" and "I'm very familiar with women," but really I probably would have forgotten if she hadn't made such a big deal about it. I coach basketball, and it's not a real practice unless there's a good ball joke.

Grab the balls, take care of the ball, keep the balls below your waist... The permutations are endless. A silly remark won't get you blogged about.

Keeping a dead guinea pig in your freezer will.

A group of us were chilling in Minga's dining room, laughing, talking, the usual party-going stuff, when three of our friends walked in from the kitchen solemnly.

Bijou was in the front, holding a blue shoebox. Something was scribbled on the box in Sharpie and I tried to make it out as she announced:

"I have to show you guys something." A voice from behind her shouted,
"Wait! I have to get my camera."
"Hurry up!" Bijou said. Kish bounded to the front and clicked record as Bijou lifted the shoebox lid to reveal a dead guinea pig.

We laughed and screamed and asked why.

This was Mumbo, Minga's beloved family pet. Mumbo had died sometime during the summer and it just never seemed like the right time to bury him. So, he'd taken up residence in the freezer, right between the peas and frozen lemonade.

I touched Mumbo and he was chilled and ready to serve.

On the box Minga's daughter had written a little account of his life and exploits, ending with "Thank you Jesus for Mumbo."

I turned to Minga.
"You're going to blog about this, aren't you?" She asked.
"Oh, most definitely. Thank you Jesus for Mumbo." 

Monday, November 21, 2011

3 Cups of Pee

I've always been slightly critical of people who can't hold their liquid.

I don't mean liquor. I can get pleasantly buzzed and ready to sing ABBA medleys after one beer, and consider this a great talent. I mean liquids, as in the kind that come gushing out of you after you've had enough alcohol to consider ABBA medleys a good idea.

I have the ability to hold it through the unabridged editions of Lord of the Rings and consider it a lack of personal will when others are always getting up and tripping over my legs because nature has called with the frequency of an underquota telemarketer.

My steel bladder is the result of intensive training dating back to kindergarten. I was mortally afraid of the school bathroom stalls because someone, probably an overzealous PTA member, thought it would  be a great idea to make the stalls in the child bathroom child-sized. I'm not sure what I was more afraid of: someone looking over and seeing me do my business, or, being on the tall side even then, that I might inadvertently witness some little girl in my class taking a number two.

The thought of this was so traumatic that I refused to go in the school bathrooms and ended up wetting myself in the classroom. But, and this is important, no one could see my hoo-ha, so this was still less mortifying than the alternative.

Yes, I thought that having been in training all these years I was invincible to the common prodding of the bladder suffered by ordinary people, until last Wednesday when I nearly crashed my car to relieve the agony of an angry urethra.

I blame my boss, the editor-in-chief of a green magazine, who believes in saving the earth by never turning on the heat in the house where we work. At lunch I sipped own several cups of hot tea to try and regain some feeling in my extremities, then proceeded to drive the 30 minutes from Boulder to Denver. I had to pee as soon as I left the restaurant, but unwisely trusted my steely digestive system to remain dormant until I arrived home.

10 minutes on the road and I started getting bladder cramps. 15 minutes and my jeans were unzipped. 20 minutes and I was recounting the scene from Major Payne (where the Major says "You want me to show you a little trick to take your mind off that pain? then breaks the guy's finger) and biting my hands. I whipped into a parking spot in front of my house, too blinded by pain to notice that I parked illegally, and too in agony to care if I had, and then was faced with a dilemma.

I am a stubborn one-tripper. I take everything into the house in one trip. When unloading groceries I will saddle my arms with ten bags, tucking the laundry detergent and milk under my armpits, rather than come back outside for a second venture. My one-tripping policy is deeply rooted, even when I should clearly make exceptions. For instance when my bladder is seconds from explosion.

I reached down to grab my backpack and suddenly realized I couldn't lift it. Lifting the bag required ab muscles, which were currently busy spasming uncontrollably. I sat there a moment, paralyzed by indecision and a lack of core mobility. Leaving the backpack behind violated my one-trip conviction. I managed to roll slightly to the side and hooked my arm under the strap, then roll back upright.

I triumphantly got the bag and still had a few seconds before my ticking time-bomb of a bladder went off. Then I tried to get out of the van. Apparently exiting vehicles also requires the use of abdominal muscles. I was stuck. I did not have to time to think of the irony of making it all the way home only to wet myself in the car outside. I could only think.


I half-slid, half-rolled out of the car, slammed the door and sprinted in short, waddling steps to the house. I threw my bag, phone and keys to the ground, and raced to the bathroom, praying that no one was inside.

I sat down, half-crying from relief, as the 3 cups of tea turned to 3 cups of pee and thought to myself that I was sure glad no one could peek over the edge of a stall and see me now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sound Off: Nobel Prizes+Mother Teresa+Steve Jobs+Ginger the Prostitute

The Nobel Peace Prize was recently announced and I'm proud to say it was given to a humanitarian this year instead of a politician. When did we decide that it was okay to give prizes to politicians? The only prize I want to give a politician is a purple heart because this means they've been battle-wounded in some way and then I might be able to muster up some respect for them.

First we had Al Gore, who won a peace  prize for making a movie. What climate change has to do with peace I still haven't figured out. Then Obama won it for being black. To be fair he was the first black president, while Al Gore was the first to make a startling documentary. Oh wait...
I'm surprised Michael Moore wasn't this year's recipient.

I can only imagine that Mother Teresa, who recieved her award after thirty years of patching up the rotten limbs of lepers, is patiently waiting in Heaven to bitch slap Al Gore when he sanctimoniously arrives spouting off about global warming.

What happened to the days when the Nobel Peace Prize was about people who do good works in order to atone for some inner shame? Like Alfred Nobel, the founder of the prize, who established it to make up for the fact that he invented dynamite.

Mother Teresa must have murdered a prostitute before entering the convent. It's the only rational way to explain that level of self-sacrifice. Every time she was nauseated at the site of a few bloody stumps in place of a hands, she would have drawn on the guilt of strangling Ginger in that Motel 8, and powered through.

I can  only thank Jesus that the award cannot be given posthumously. Otherwise, Steve Jobs would almost certainly be given one for the invention of the iControlYourLife. Probably there are already crazed Apple fanatics using their petition-writing app to convince the award committee to bend the rules for the late virtual virtuoso.

Jobs is like the white Obama, except that he died before people had a chance to sour on him.  

So keep up the good work do-gooders and get your eye on the nobel prize. If the $1.5 million dollar cash prize doesn't tempt you, always remember: Jesus loves a winner.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sound Off: Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian is getting a divorce (surprise, surprise) after spending around 10 million dollars for the wedding, none of which she actually had to pay for, and earning 17 million by selling exclusive rights. Stunts like this are the reason Mexico City Officials are considering giving couples temporary two year marriage licences and making them reapply after this probationary period.

Personally, I think it should be the opposite. There should be two year minimum licences. Kim, if you can put up with a two-year cell phone contract then you can be married for that long. Maybe then people would reconsider wantonly getting hitched. I mean if Britney Spears hadn’t divorced Jason Alexander after 55 hours of marriage she could have avoided the humiliation of getting with Kevin Federline. And who wouldn’t have enjoyed two years of watching Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman argue over who looks better in a dress? Instead we only got 9 days. That’s just unacceptable.

I mean there are some obvious exceptions-cheating, abuse, attempting to name your children things like Apple or Couch or Blake, eating the last of the ice cream while your wife is PMSing. Actually no, that last one is not grounds for divorce, but a justifiable defense in the subsequent homicide trial.

Marriage isn’t something to take lightly people, unlike Mormonism and those commercials for Don'

Oh that reminds me of a joke I heard. What’s worse than getting a papercut?

The Holocaust.

You see what I did there? I was so offensive that I made the idea of mandatory two year marriages seem reasonable, which it is. I mean, I can understand why Kim’s husband wanted to flee faster than my dad ran from the room when I referred to my boobs as my lady-handles. It must have been quite a shock for Kris Humphries to realize Kim is actually an outer-space alien. Tina Fey claims Kim “was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes,” but I disagree. I think she’s what an alien race would perceive as the perfect woman by American standards: gorgeous, materialistic, and a reality tv star. Which, making her a reality tv persona was brilliant because any outlandish behavior can be blamed on sweeps week. They truly are the superior race.

To conclude this rant: Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us togever today.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Digital Danger Zone

About a week ago my boyfriend, Phil, and I went to Gamestop to bum around for a while. Phil is a gamer and likes to geek out over the latest games, and since I also enjoy playing we tooled around a bit until we stumbled across Fable 2 in the used section. Fable is a fantasy game where your character changes as you play. If you do mean things your character gets evil points and grows horns. If you're nice you get a halo. Etc. We played for a while that night, then about a week later Phil made a confession to me.

"I've been playing without you," he said.
"Oh ya? How's your character doing?" I asked.
"I made her look like you," he said. This aroused my curiousity.
"Show me." I said.

Phil booted up the game and beamed proudly.

"Isn't she awesome? Look at that sick axe I got you!" He said. I sat in stunned disbelief.
"Are you serious right now? That's the character who looks like me?"
"She's fat!"
"What? No she's not."
"She's three hundred pounds! She has cankles! Why would you make me fat?" I demanded.
"She's not fat. She's muscular. I had to upgrade your strength so you could beat the trolls."
"Haven't you ever heard of lean muscle? And why is she wearing that stupid hat? She looks like an obese pirate."
"What's wrong with the hat?"
"Nothing if I was the captain of the Flying Dutchman. I can't believe you did that to me."
"She's not fat. She's strong, like you."
"She has thunder thighs," I said.
"Well...the thighs that derby built," Phil said, poking me in the leg.
"Oh no you did not!"
"I'm just kidding."

I raced upstairs where some friends of ours were chatting.

"Phil made a game character of me and she's a fat pirate!" I shouted. Several people hustled down to weigh-in (pun win!). My friend Mij started laughing.

"She's huge!" she said. Phil took a long look at Helga The Gargantuan and finally admitted she was a bit rotund.
"I think she grew since last time I logged on," he protested.

"Mmmhmmm. Sure," I said. "She magically gained two hundred pounds." 
"Well maybe she needs them to swing that giant ax. Did you ever think of that? Would you rather be slaughtered by trolls?" 

Take a look at the picture and you tell me.
My Look-a-like

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Corporate Juice Pimps

I've been doing some temp work the past week for a family friend, and she mentioned to me her fear that I would blog about how it was the worst job ever. While filing for 8 hours is certainly tedious it's not the worst job I've ever had. I get to put my head phones in and not have to talk to anyone. It's practically heaven compared to some service jobs I've had. I worked at a country club where we'd get barraged with orders from socialites. They added it to their tab, which they accessed by giving us their name and one woman came in every day and without so much as a hello said:

"Fucarino. F. U." It took everything in my power not to say "F.U. too lady". She taunted me like that every single day.

But by far the worst job I ever had was for the corporate juice pimps of Jamba Juice. I worked at the Jamba Juice on campus and every day we had a line twenty people deep at any given time. About eight of us were crammed into a tiny space and given absurd instructions.

"Greet every customer" was one of our mandates. Ya. All eight of us. My manager expected eight people to say hello to every single customer out of the hundreds we saw each day. If I walked into a restaurant and eight people shouted hello at once I think I'd slowly back away and get the hello out of there.

On my first day, as I was furiously shoveling fruit into a blender and trying to learn the recipes, my manager Cody sauntered over and to do some real managerial inspiration type stuff.

"You are doing great, but...I need you to have more energy," Cody said.
"Excuse me?"
"You're not making that smoothie with enough energy. I need more."
"Um...Okay." I replied, a bit confused as to how I was supposed to accomplish this.
"I mean look at Justin. He just started here and he's already invented a song for when he makes a perfect smoothie."

Justin whipped around from his where he was cavorting at the pour station, gelled hair sticking out from beneath his black Jamba visor.

"I adapted an old slave spiritual I learned in my folk music class," he explained.
"Does anyone else see the irony in that?"
"JAAHAHAMMMBA!" Justin belted out the first line of a call and response.
"Then you all shout 'JUICE' in a kind of tribal chant." Justin said, his eyes glowing like a Razzamatazz with whey protein powder.
"Anybody at all?"
"That's great! I think we should all practice that," Cody said.
"Excuse me, I need to go stick my hand into this blender now."

The day I quit I went straight to Tribal Rites and got my eyebrow pierced in what I deemed my "Jamba Liberation Piercing" since any kind of tattoo, piercing, individuality, soul was forbidden there. To this day I can't drink a smoothie without hearing that haunting melody in the background.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sound Off: Pop Culture Trends I Despise

I'm about to say something wildly unpopular, something that flies in the face of convential wisdom and taste. Possibly I will be hunted down and stabbed to death with a spork, but the truth must be heard. Frozen yogurt is an abomination. It's inferior in every way to ice cream, and doesn't even brook comparison with gelato. Yet, frozen yogurt stands are multiplying at a rate more commonly  seen in apocalyptic flesh-eating viruses, spouting chipper little names and upscale cafeteria decor.

I don't understand the obsession people have with froyo. When I told my boyfriend I was going to write a rant berating the beloved charlatan treat he was more upset than the time I tricked him into going into a lesbian bar because they were playing a roller derby match I wanted to see.
"You can't bash froyo!" he cried. Why not? Because they charge exorbitant prices for a clearly inferior dessert? Tell me this: is there anyone out there who thinks frozen yogurt actually tastes better than ice cream and/or gelato? If you do then you probably also think fanny packs are a solid fashion choice (and not in an ironic way).

Then where's the appeal? Here are the two most common answers:

1). There are fewer calories. Big deal. It's a dessert. It's supposed to have calories and as a direct result: taste good. No fat, no taste. Froyo proves this point. You can't even put it in a cone, just a gaping maw of a cup that encourages over-consumption and racks up your price per ounce.

2). You can put on your own toppings. Toppings! Oh Joy! I can pay to put them on myself. Let's ignore the fact that argument one is now moot because you've piled up a heap of oreo chunks and gummi bears onto your yogurt in an effort to mask that sickly fake sugar taste.

Let's just focus on the most important issue regarding dessert: how it tastes. I'm sorry to tell you, but you are not Wolfgang Puck. You don't spend hours in the lab whipping up new flavor concoctions. If you did, you would have already recognized the fundamental absurdity of froyo and made yourself something palatable. Piling a mixture of incongruous toppings into several varieties of yogurt in a bowl is not going to result in a high-quality dessert experience. It's going to be a hot mess.

Speaking of a hot’s another trend I absolutely cannot wrap my mind around. What’s the appeal of Justin Bieber? Are women actually attracted to the Biebs? Because that’s essentially like having a crush on your little brother’s friend and probably qualifies you as a child predator. Chris Hanson is, as we speak, prowling around Justin Bieber fan club chat rooms reeling in pedofiles like big mouth bass.

Moreover, if a woman over the age of sixteen seriously finds Justin Bieber attractive then they are probably bisexual. Need proof? Check out the website That’s right. You are attracted to a lesbian. No judgements here. I’m just saying-check yourself. 

Okay so his music is catchy, but there are a lot of catching things that are unpleasant. Venereal disease for one. Bieber fever for two. I will admit that I was rocking out to his beard’s, ahem, girlfriend’s song Love You Like a Love Song, before I realized it was by Selena Gomez. That was upsetting.

Disney is excellent at pumping out sentimental drivel with mass appeal. Which reminds me of another popular thing I hate: Nicholas Sparks. If you want to write a bestseller just follow the Nicholas Sparks model:

a). Boy and Girl meet in some kind of dramatic fashion
b.) One of them is an outcast and the other is popular

c). One of them pursues the other, who is initially resistant although secretly attracted
d). Eventually they start seeing each other
e). Someone gets cancer and dies
f). It is sooooooooo sad 

g). The couple overcomes all the odds and conquers all the skeptics with their love
h). One or both of the main characters probably die here although this is optional

...and BOOM! Bestseller. Now that you’re a famous author you can be inspired by great actors like Miley Cyrus and write special parts just for her.

If I ever see a person eating froyo, listening to Justin Bieber, and reading a Nicholas Sparks novel I reserve the right to inflict as much bodily harm as possible before being tased by the po-po. Worth it.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Island Misadventures

WARNING: If you are squeamish about lady troubles you might want to just read through the archives and skip this one.

I'm going to hate myself for this later I thought standing in the empty stall of a public bathroom tucked in a half-abandoned strip mall between the Maddog saloon and a men's swim wear store called Over Easy Down Under that sold one too many speedos on one too many crotch mannequins to convince me it was just a men's wear store. I clutched my razor blade and took a deep breath.

This story really began a few days earlier. I was preparing for my trip to Hawaii and scouring the Cherry Creek mall looking for a bathing suit. Not an easy task in Colorado in October. I had a very specific idea of what I wanted. Board shorts and a bikini top. I didn't think that would be too hard to accommodate but I was wrong. The few places that still sold swimsuits were completely shortless. I figured I could find some in Hawaii.

Our first full day there sent my boyfriend and I trolling through the downtown streets of Waikiki looking for something that would work, but somehow everywhere we went we hit a dead end. Things were too expensive or too big or too small or too plain ugly.

On about our tenth store I was tired and since the prices were reasonable I was determined to make it work. Things seemed to be looking up when the sales woman said she'd sell me the tops and bottoms individually. Finally I was getting somewhere. I picked out a top, and after trying it on, I handed it to Phil who held it as far from his body as possible and waited patiently as I tried to find a pair of shorts that would fit the butt that derby built.

After trying on several pairs, the sales lady then informed me that the top I had chosen was one of approximately three in the store that she could not sell separately. When she offered to knock ten bucks off the price I caved. I waved goodbye to the dream of shorts and walked out with a nice regular bikini.

This presented a new challenge,however,that reared its ugly head as soon as Phil excitedly suggested we now head to the beach.

"I have some serious cosmetic maintenance to do down in the borderlands," I told him, "before we get anywhere near the beach."

This is mostly why I wanted shorts in the first place. Because while my Italian ancestors gave me excellent genes in the skin department, they also passed along the DNA which makes my hair grow at a speed and thickness that is rather alarming. I looked around and noticed a dinky little nail place and suggested we pop inside.

A formidable Chinese woman sat behind a station massacring a lady's cuticles. She stared at me without saying anything until I stammered out:

"How much for a bikini wax?"

She then asked me a question in a thick Chinese accent which I didn't make out and began shouting for me to look at the sign on the door. When I finally found the sign my eyes popped out. $40 and up! There's no way that was happening, especially since I would almost certainly be in the "And Up" category.

I scoffed and then we wandered into an ABC store and purchased a three pack of bic razors and a small can of barbasol. While lunching at Onos Philly Cheese Steak Hut, I calculated the odds of contracting meningitis from the bathroom of the dive. I'd put money on it in Vegas. Phil, who is on the short list for sainthood, suggested we go to the Starbucks next door. Perfect. They have individual bathrooms there. Except this one apparently. My query as to the location of the restroom resulted in the answer:

Across the street, up those green stairs and to the left.

And that's how I ended up in a deserted public bathroom, razor clutched in one hand and thinking to myself that I'd never felt more like a crack whore. The shaving process was difficult and unpleasant without water but by God I did not shame myself on the beach. When we finally made it to the water, Phil and I shared a touching moment reenacting the last scene from Titanic on Phil's boogie board. I'll never let go. Until the board shot out from under me and struck Phil in the jugular and while flailing he punched me in the left ovary.

You'd think I was done being awkward for the day but no. After walking along the beach we decided to meet Phil's brother for dinner. My bikini top still hadn't dried so we went back to the car so I could change. Phil waited outside while I switched out of my swimsuit top. After several minutes of patiently waiting he turned on the car alarm, I presume to alarm me, and to not so subtley ask what was ask taking so long.

Inside the car I was fighting an epic battle with the strings of my swimsuit which had gotten wrapped around my neck like the umbilical cord of a stillborn baby. I tried to do the old switcheroo where you put one bra on without removing the other, you know in case anyone is lurking about. Turns out this is not a great idea when there are multiple strings involved. I fought for a good five minutes to untangle it before giving myself up to the inevitable humiliation that seemed to characterize this day. I threw my shirt on and emerged from the car with mt bikini wrapped in a Gordion knot around my neck, and gruffly asked Phil to help me untangle it, while he smothered his choking laughter.

Next time I'll find one of those old fashioned suits that cover you all the way to the toes.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Prana and Pie

Read my guest blog on
Laura Hobb explores food, yoga, and the quest for the good life. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Awkward Times At The Yoga Studio

As a response to my last tirade about nudity (read here) my friend Mij, an avid yoga practitioner and instructor, informed me that there is such a thing as naked yoga. Naked yoga is exactly what it sounds like. Interestingly, repulsion was not my first reaction to this piece of news, rather it was curiousity.

As in: How does one practice naked yoga without extreme chaffing? There are many misadventures I foresee with naked yoga, but chaffing is at the top of the list. This problem would also be aggrevated by the fact that, well at least I and probably most people, would have to be involved in some extreme feats of shaving/waxing/threading/lasering/chemically burning and/or any combination of the above before getting into the studio.

Now I enjoy yoga, but that doesn't mean yoga isn't weird. It's gotten much more mainstream, but there are plenty of kooks out there and I've experienced my fair share. Like Yuki, the instructor of an aerial yoga class I took for several months. It's not fair to call Yuki kooky. She was actually an excellent instructor. Aerial or aero yoga is a practice that involves a lot of partner work. It's best to go with a friend because you'll be lifting and tossing people in the air.

At it's best it looks like this. That's actually a picture of Yuki on the bottom.

One day Yuki decided to get a bit creative during our class.  I always attended with my roommate, a 5'2'' petite asian girl named Miyoko. This created many a problem when Miyoko would base (that's what Yuki's doing) our moves, because it was a bit like an orange on a toothpick to borrow a phrase from Mike Meyers. Basically we were far too top-heavy.

On this fateful day Yuki split Miyoko and I up because all of the partners needed to be of equal size and strength. Turns out this meant I got matched with two dudes. Yuki then proceeded to show us the move we'd be working on. One partner got into a crab walk position...

...and the other partner did a headstand with their head tucked between the other person's legs. This is how I ended up with my head between a guys legs while he thigh-squeezed my neck for "support" and nearly suffocated me. In case you were wondering my eyes were FIRMLY SHUT the entire time.

It's hard to believe that this is not my worst yoga experience. That honor goes to Cynthia of the YMCA yoga hour. Cynthia, a skinny black woman with blond spiral curls and buggy eyes, gathered all of us in a circle before the stretching began. She began a long speech about how we should write LOVE on the bottom of our water bottles because water can feel the vibrations and ended with a lesson on the power of chanting.

"I want everyone to say their name, color, and purpose," Cynthia said. "Then the circle will chant it back to them. Our names have a marvelous power when people say them. Okay, I'll start. Cynthia. Radiant Gold. Unconditional Love."

Then we all chanted "Cynthia. Radiant Gold. Unconditional Love. Cynthia, Cynthia, Cynthia, Cynthia, Cynthia."

Note: I am not making this up or even embellishing. 

I think the worst part of yoga is when something is inadvertantly hilarious, but of course laughing is taboo. I already have a tendency to laugh at inappropriate times. For instance, one time, while I was riding an elevator with an older friend of my parents and a few other teenage girls, the family friend related the story of her aunt's untimely demise. It seems the aunt had pressed the button for the elevator and stepped inside when the doors opened. However no there was no elevator car and she fell down the empty shaft and died. In the silence of elevator my snicker was deafening.

"Lauren!" My sister hissed. I mumbled an apology which was accepted with an air of wounded dignity, but I still maintain YOU CANNOT TELL ME A STORY LIKE THAT WHILE WE'RE IN AN ELEVATOR!

Yoga  brings out the inappropriate laughter in me, even without Cynthia Radiant Gold. I forced myself to stare at the ground because if I made eye contact with a single other person I would have to escort myself from the class. Perhaps this would have been for the best. When it came around to my turn it was all I could do to stammer out: Lauren. Blue. Love?

After the chanting portion we moved into balancing our chakras. This involved placing our hand on the appropriate chakra and mimicking Cynthia's deep grunting noises. I proceeded, if awkwardly, until we came to the pelvic chakra. Cheeks burning, I placed my hand on the very topmost of what could still be considered my pelvis. Cynthia gave a loud, low grunt and I half-heartedly repeated wondering if this was legal as I was still a minor.

"Lower!" Cynthia shouted. I whimpered and lowered my hand an inch. Finally, Cynthia decided we ought to do a few poses and the class became something recognizable.

It was a long time before I returned to yoga, and my chakras have remained happily  imbalanced ever since.

Hilarious video courtesy of Mij:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Let's All Keep Our Clothes On

This morning I stumbled across an article on about a group of old men  who decided to pose naked in a calendar in an effort to raise much needed funds for their church (see link below). The first thought that ran through my mind was: "Again?" It seems like every year since "Calendar Girls" came out some group of senior citizens decides to get naked for a good cause.

One of these geritols who bare it all was quoted as saying: "I felt very comfortable. I removed my clothing, and it felt natural to me."

Well there's a shocker. Anybody who's ever been to a gym knows that old people feel no compunction about prancing around in the buff, parts flapping and swinging,  that once remained more or less stationary. I've been personally mortified in the ladies room.

Really? I can't unsee that you know.

 And from what I understand the men's room is even worse. At least women don't unabashedly blow dry their reproductive organs.

I've got a novel suggestion. What if we all just kept our clothes on? It used to be called modesty, but that seems like an old-fashioned concept, so let's call it emulating Annie Edison. This character from the NBC sitcom Community sums it up perfectly in an episode where the school puts on an STD fair in an effort to raise awareness among college students about how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

She says: "I like being repressed. I am totally comfortable being uncomfortable with my sexuality. And maybe, just maybe, if everyone were a little bit more like me, we wouldn't have to have an STD fair."

Amen to that. Another question: Who is buying these things? Either it's friends and family...

Hey kids, let's all look at this picture of grandpa hiding his business behind a trashcan lid! 

...or it's random strangers with a fetish for naked old people. I'm not sure which is more frightening.

I like walking around sans pants as much as anyone, but, and this is important, only in the privacy of my own home. So grandpa please, for the love, put on some suspenders so those trousers stay securely in place.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

What I Would Really Like to Say Part 1: Tell Me About a Time you Failed

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Job interviews are all about selling yourself, massaging the truth in your resume and interview questions to present yourself as the perfect candidate. We’ve already established that I’m pretty terrible at this. I’m too blunt and honest, self-detrimentally so, and it irritates me to play these mind games. In that spirit, I’ve decided to start a series on how I would actually answer interview questions if I could be totally honest.

Tell me about a time you failed.  

Well sir, let me answer that question with a question. Do you mean fail as in an experience in which I didn’t complete an assigned task or goal and learned a valuable lifelong lesson in the process OR do you mean FAIL in the common internet meme usage?

Because I have an excellent example for the second. Let me set the scene for you. It was a crisp September day and my mother, sister, and I decided to go for a bike ride. We were pedaling along, full of joie de vivre...

 ...when suddenly The Baity Instinct kicked in.

 Let me take a moment to explain The Baity Instinct. This is the spirit of fierce competitiveness that lies dormant in every member of the Baity family, waiting to be aroused by the slightest provocation.  It’s the spirit that incited my mother to march across the gym and ball out some parents complaining about the amount of play time I was getting in a first grade basketball game. As she so poignantly and loudly explained: the rule states that every kid has to play two quarters and we were not technically cheating by leaving our best player in for all four quarters. It’s the spirit that led my uncle to give the old Italian hello (read: the bird) to the entire student section of Kent Denver High School during a rowdy district championship game, and the same thing that causes my grandmother to cheat at every single board game, from Dominoes to Monopoly, and fall back on the old age excuse when caught. It’s as much a part of our makeup as dark hair and sarcasm.

This bright September day was not immune to the Baity Instinct. The bike ride started out pleasantly enough. We rode merrily along, chatting and enjoying the weather. Then someone started pedaling a little bit faster than the others. Of course the other two had to keep up, and not only that, we had to go even faster. Soon the three of us were in a full blown bike race down the Highline Canal trail.

My mom, firmly in the grip of the Baity Instinct, was in the lead with me close at her pedals and Laine pulling up the rear. It was at this point that I made a tactical error. I attempted a move outside the realm of my biking experience. I tried to pass my mom but ended up hitting her back tire with my front one. The result: I catapulted off my bike and ended up spread eagle on the trail, woozily staring at the sky. This wouldn't have been so bad, if Laine hadn’t been directly behind me. The next thing I saw was a bike tire at an uncomfortably close range. Two actually. Laine rode over my face with both tires.

Her story is a bit suspicious. She claims she had no time to think and instinctively swerved INTO MY FACE.

“That was the choice? Swerve into my face? Why wouldn’t you turn the other direction?“ I demanded.

She then proceeded to tell me I had been a jerk to her all day and she didn’t feel the least bit sorry. Like I said, suspicious. She didn’t even feel sorry when the emergency room nurse took one look at me and laughed because of the pronounced tire tread across my nose. I ended up with five stitches where Laine’s sprocket cut my head open and a nasty case of road rash. Laine didn’t even fall off her bike. I’m going to give her an EPIC WIN on this one.

So I think I nailed that question. What’s next?

A few more just for fun...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jobbing Part 3: Mental Preparation

Here we go again...
Mentally preparing for an interview: a stream of consciousness

Wake up. Shake the sleep out of my eyes. Look at my dog. She's not happy to be up this early. Neither am I. Where are my power underwear? I don't have a pair of power underwear. Let's add that to the job hunting checklist. Buy/Assign power underwear. These will have to work. Oh Lord I'm going to go down in flames! No you're not. Positive thinking! Let's repeat our mantra. I am better than the plasma donation center. I am better than the plasma donation center.

Right, okay. I'm not going to self-sabotage. (Looking in the mirror) Dear God! Why didn't I blow dry my hair last night? I'm definitely sabotaging myself. Ugh, Mom told me to dry it too. Now she's got another thing to say 'I told you so' about. It's okay. We'll use Laine's Chi (fancy, high-powered hair straightener). Believe in the Chi. Okay the hair now vaguely resembles something humanoid. I wonder if I can dip into Laine's makeup bag without her noticing. She gets unreasonably upset about me sharing all of her things. Better not risk it. She's wandering around and I don't know how much coffee she's had yet. I'll borrow Mom's.

Wow, when was the last time I put on mascara? I hope I don't stab myself in the eye. That's why I stopped wearing mascara. Too many eye stabbings. It doesn't even look like I'm wearing makeup. Maybe I'm doing this wrong. Or maybe my face absorbs makeup like a giant sponge. God knows my pores are big enough. Did I brush my teeth? Yes. No. I'll do it again. Where are all of my bras? How is it possible for every single regular bra to make a biblical-style exodus from the house? Why didn't I lay this out last night? Yep, this is definitely self-sabotage. I'm going down. Hard. Focus! Ok, there's one in Mom's drawer. Man these blazers are heavy. And sweaty. At least it's thick enough that he won't be able to see the sweat. Hopefully. I look like a kid playing dress up. This guy is going to see right through me. Come on! You got this! Remember confidence is sexy.

Holy crap look at my eyebrows! Mrs. Sasquatch would judge me for those. Will my eyebrows be too red if I pluck now? No, I can't go in there looking like Frida Kahlo, even if my eyebrows are splotchy.

Careful. Careful. Okay I'm ready.

Alright getting in the van. Nothing inspires confidence like the battered, cracked, big red van. Wow the back window is dirty. That's what I call a ghetto tint job. Hmmm I need to find a power jam to get psyched up. Bad Romance. Meh. Wait, oh ya, here we go.

I'm a creep. I'm a weirdo. What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here. 

True, but let's find something  more uplifting. Oooh I got the moves like Jagger. I'll make sure to mention that when he asks about my strengths. No, probably I'll only remember Laine’s suggestion for how to interview at a bank: "I have a long line of customers. They like to leave deposits in my vault and they always leave satisfied." That's definitely the only thing I'm going to remember.

I'm an hour early. Should I go to McDonalds? I only ate a handful of Frosted Miniwheats for breakfast. What was I thinking? I'll be picking those little wheat bits out of my teeth all day. No McDonalds. I'll smell like grease and that could have real gaseous repercussions. I'm already feeling the rumblings of a little anxiety gas. Should I hold it in or let it go now? What if it lingers? That would be disastrous.  Better play it safe.
What am I going to do for an hour? I guess I'll write. This pen is leaving my fingers blue. Brilliant. Whoops there goes the playing it safe plan. At least I have a half hour for it to dissapate. How early should I go in? I don't want to seem too desperate, but also don't want to seem like I don't care. Is ten minutes too early? Should I leave the car with ten minutes to spare or get inside ten minutes early. Oh God, here I go.

There is a long gap where I barely remember anything he asks. Then:

"What is your dream job? "

I hem and haw. It's not to be a bank teller. I can tell you that. I've been too vague. He asks again.

"Being a bestselling author."

Apparently this is the wrong answer. But it would have been too obvious if I'd said I want to be the CEO of the bank, right?

Blarg. This one is going down in flames too, but at least no one has asked me to relate a story about tomato sauce. Maybe I'm too honest. I blame my pastor parents for all those spankings. Although even my dad tells me to lie when I relate the experience later. Or be creative with the truth. I usually save that for blogging, but I guess I'll have to apply it in interviews from now on.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Hunt Part 2: Desperate Times

When I received my seventeenth copy of "Oh The Places You'll Go" upon graduating from college, one of the places Dr. Suess failed to mention was back to my parent's house. I am a stereotype. An out of work college grad living in my old room and selling my plasma as a means of financial support. I am the dregs of humanity, the swirly brown stuff at the bottom of society's teacup. I realized this while sitting for four hours in the waiting room at the plasma donation center, tucked between a handsy young couple of high school dropouts and a woman who looked like she'd murdered her dog and glued it to her head (I nicknamed them the Poodle and the Canoodles). Together we watched Gone In Sixty Seconds, The Mummy 3: Curse of the Dragon Emperor, and Gone In Sixty Seconds for a second time. One a side note: Transformers 2 has now been replaced by the Mummy 3 as the Number 1 worst movie I've ever seen. Although I feel like the Canoodles weren't really paying attention.

I clutched my copy of The Brothers Karamzov in a petulant attempt to retain some small shred of my dignity. However that was shattered when I asked the phlebotomist why they wore the clear plastic face shields.

“For blood splatters.”

Great. I really needed that image of my blood spraying this poor woman like a Jackson Pollack painting.
My friend Mij keeps me encouraged at moments like this. She was the one who instigated the plasma adventure and who remarks with good cheer on how we’re saving lives with our donation.  While I am morosely quoting Romeo and Juliet to myself “My poverty but not my will consents” she will happily chat and make friends with every one around us. She doesn't refer to our endeavors as “whoring out our blood cells” and I doubt she would see the irony in me watching The Biggest Loser. Although, I must say The Biggest Loser is an upgrade from my earlier days watching Millionaire Matchmaker. At least it’s inspirational, and provides me with a variety of opportunities for sarcasm. I’m sorry but you cannot say phrases like “I wish I was half the man he was” or “I had to jump over a lot of hurdles to get here” and not expect a snarky response.

Mij also probably would have managed more than polite disinterest in the bleary-eyed Radison doorman with his high-demand O negative blood. Especially as he questioned me:

"Didn't you go to college to figure out what you wanted to do?"

Well yes I did. And no I still have no idea. And yes, I am an English major and realize some of these sentences are technically incomplete, but bear with me for the sake of this lovely conversational rapport we‘re developing. I don't know what I want to do with my life. If I did I'd like to think I'd be well on my way to achieving it, because I'm an absolute bear when I get it into my head that I can do something. But I can't see the path. All I can see at this moment is my dog Roxie who has pulled her head under the blanket and is completely hidden underneath. I understand the sentiment. Most days I would like to do the same. However, I have an 8 a.m. appointment at the plasma center, so I have to get out of bed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Hunt

Job Hunting.

That phrase is such a misnomer. It conjures up images of stalking through the forest with a rifle, and blasting the doe-eyed little job, tossing its mangled little carcas on my back and reveling in the bloodlust . I'm sorry is that not what happens? I've never been hunting. Anyways it doesn't look anything like what I do. Everyday  I sit in Starbucks and send out endless resumes until my eyes are bleary and my fingers numb. I always sort of scorned the idea of going corporate, of working for the man, and then I experienced unemployment and now I can't give away enough resumes.

Employed people are very helpful when it comes to searching. Take my mother for instance. I've transcribed a recent conversation.

MOM: Lauren did you see that job link I sent you?
ME: The sewing one?
MOM: Ya didn't that look like a great opportunity? You could write for a sewing magazine.
ME: Mom, it says you need to know how to sew. I've got three half-knitted scarves up in the attic but that's it.
MOM: Oh, you could learn how to sew in an hour. Just apply.
ME: You have to be an EXPERIENCED sewer. What am I supposed to tell them? I always pick the thimble in Monopoly?

I'm not going to lie. The prospects have been so disheartening that I've been tempted to sell my eggs, if only the thought of several little half-children running around wasn't so frightening. And I'm not the only one. I pulled up my unemployed friend's computer to discover the following article "Selling your Health: Sperm, Eggs, Plasma, and Hair Booming". Instead of laughing we set up an appointmnet at a plasma donation center and I contemplated how much of my hair I could cut off and still remain a viable job candidate.

Of course some of this desperation was due to the fact that just the previous day I had been suckered into a job hunting scam. Apparently there are some unscrupulous companies that use job seekers as a means of free labor. The scam works like this: An advertising company posts a listing on a job board (in my case Careerbuilder) for a few immediate openings in their management training program. They bring in a bunch of people and when you get there they tell you it's a prescreening interview. The lobby is filled with a bunch of nervous-looking young graduates in their suits and skirts. They tell you they'll be selecting a few individuals out of the group for the next round of interviews which is a job shadow. You'll follow one of their upper level managers around so you can "understand the company from the ground level". Translation: you will be handing out fliers/coupons either in stores or sketchy neighborhoods and because it's an "interview" they don't have to pay you.

Fortunately my sister and best friend had also been duped in the past and warned me off before I went to the second interview, but that was after I plastered my facebook with the joyous news of my second interview, and didn't do much to allieve the anger or embarrassment.

The process of job hunting seems to be an inherently mortifying one, making a person intensely aware of their shortcomings. For another job I had to take a pre-interview assessment test that included 9 pages of math problems in a thirty minute period WITHOUT A CALCULATOR. Now perhaps they just wanted to see which goons would actually follow the instructions and fail miserably and who would take the iniative to cheat. As I stared at the screen in pure terror all I could think was, "They said this would never be applicable in real life. Dear God what's the formula finding the diameter? 2 pi times something. Is there a quadrangle in here? Why do I need to know this to work at Starbucks?"

Needless to say I didn't recieve a call back. I did however sweat off several pounds from anxiety which I promptly regained with Spaghettios and vodka. Just kidding, I can't afford the vodka.

Interviews have this way of making you feel like a complete moron. For instance in a phone interview I was asked if there were any times when I was unable to meet a customer's expectations and what did I do about it. I related an experienced when I was catering and couldn't provide something because it was against policy. A silence followed. Was there another situation where you were able to compromise with a customer? Well you just asked me to tell you about when I had to say no. So I told you a story about how I said no. If you wanted me to give you a motivational story about how it was against policy to give a customer some extra tomato sauce, but on my lunch break I went out to the garden, hand picked some tomatoes and whipped up a quick bisque then maybe you should change the phrasing of the question.

I really don't know how people remember so many examples from their work experiences. I remember the time the whole staff got busted for drinking out of the open wine bottles. I remember standing on my feet for 10 hours, sneaking appetizers off of trays, watching teens dance awkwardly at prom, getting covered in food particles after scraping a hundred plates, hauling linens up and down in a six story building, getting upset that smokers got extra breaks to feed their addiction. But do I remember a time when I had to multitask? I don't remember what you said five minutes ago. More to the point I don't remember what I said five minutes ago. Did I use the word motivationalize? Is that a thing?

Maybe I could describe my most impressive accomplishment in the last two months which was using all my letters in Scrabble for a 77 point score. Thank you "invokers".

And possibly worst: I don't have a solution. Blogs, like Disney movies, are supposed to have a nice tidy ending about the things you've learned and how everything made sense in the end. Like I got a better job after failing that  phone interview. But I didn't, and I haven't, and here we are back at square one. The only silver lining is a seemingly never ending supply of humiliating experiences to blog about. So hey, I'll keep you posted.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Project Predator: A Proposal to End Obesity in America

I once wrote a paper entitled “Ending the Squirrel Obesity Epidemic”. In this epic three page paper I detailed how squirrels had become obese, aggressive, entitled little creatures that had personally menaced me for a package of Oreos. These squirrels are not unlike today’s youth. Michelle Obama may be going on a crusade to acquaint our school systems with things such as gym class and fresh vegetables, but the reason those loathsome tree rats have grown to the size of fuzzy softballs is not because they lack miniature squirrel treadmills and don’t follow the ever-changing FDA food pyramid. It’s because we humans have driven off all of their natural predators and the only thing stopping them from raiding the trashcan in our mudroom is my broom-wielding mother. And while this does generally frighten the cheeky little devils they soon come sneaking back when she’s not around.

If the federal government started a program to reintroduce predators to the urban landscape we could effectively get rid of squirrels as well as the obesity plaguing America. Imagine if you walked out of a McDonald's, your breath reeking of half-digested animal flesh, oil and salt coating your fingers, and you were suddenly met by a pack of ravenous wolves. Next time you might choose to go next door to Mad Greens. If there was a next time. Doing pull-ups at the gym wouldn’t be such a chore if you regularly had to pull yourself into a tree to avoid coyotes. If a hive of angry wasps was released into an unsuspecting classroom I guarantee that the kid who dogged it on his timed mile would be the first one out the door. It’s simply a problem of motivation. The media has done a commendable job of encouraging exercise through the use of body image shame, but clearly it’s not enough. We need wild jungle cats.

Now before I hear all sorts of protests about how this proposal would favor the brawny over the brainy let me just say that nerds would have a primary function in this society. First, they would be smart enough not to go out vandalising things after dark, not only because they have no friends, but because they’re intelligent enough to realize that vampire bats are nocturnal. And who wouldn’t idolize the person who invented body armor for defense against genetically mutated killer apes? This project would not only provide motivation for the obese but actively cull the stupid from our midst.

Other benefits of the Project Predator Proposal to End Obesity in America:

Fashion Evolution:

Now the fatties wouldn’t always be the first to go. When a rabid grisly came charging at a group the hefty fellow would book right past the girl in six inch stiletto heels. I’ve always been against heels on the principle that one day, when a virus transforms humans into flesh-eating zombies, women in pumps will not be able to get away. I don’t plan to have my brains devoured and neither should any sensible woman. Project Predator will have the auxiliary effect of transforming women's footwear to be stylish and substantive.

Global Competitiveness:

If we want to remain the greatest nation on this planet then we need to be competitive in the global market. I’m sure the Chinese wouldn’t object to such an efficient training device as Project Predator. In fact I’m fairly certain there’s a secret government training facility that regularly releases sharks in the pool to improve Olympic swimming times. We’re already at a disadvantage to South Africa who has produced such citizens as Kerryn Munro. When a crocodile snatched up her baby daddy, she dove in after him and pulled her husband from the literal jaws of death even though she was five months pregnant. I ask you, how can we compete with people like that without introducing fresh water piranhas?

and finally...

World Peace:

It’s a well known fact that the perfect way to unite a group is to provide them with a common enemy. After all who cares if you’re a Crip or a Blood if tomorrow your face could be gnawed off by a raccoon that’s developed a taste for human? Enough said.