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

****Shameless plug.*****
Hey see that StumbleUpon button over there. Please press that. Also it would be cool if you could follow me. This may be the only opportunity I have at a job, but only if people read this stuff. Thanks lovers.
****Shameless plug over****

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.