Please Pass the Salt

An open letter to restaurant owners who purposefully do not have salt and pepper on the table:

Just stop.

And by stop, I mean stop not putting salt and pepper on the table. Or to be more clear. Start putting salt and pepper on the table, right there next to the mood-light candle or trendy succulent as if it belonged there. Because it does. Belong there. (The salt and pepper, I mean. I couldn’t give a shit about the succulent.)

And look. I know. You take your food seriously. Your chef is a genius. An arteest. A culinary god. The food that comes out of his or her kitchen is a masterpiece. It is seasoned to perfection and does not require any enhancements. It’s meant to be enjoyed as is.

But here’s the thing. I like salt. Pepper too, but mostly salt. 

I even like salt on my chocolate.

And hey, maybe you’re right. Maybe I don’t need salt. I do try my food before salting it. But nine times out of ten (or more like ninety-nine times out of one hundred), I taste my food and think, Yum. That’s delicious. But you know what would make it even more delicious? A little salt.

And I don’t salt everything. I’m not a monster. I don’t salt my hamburger, but I do salt my fries. Even if they’re pre-salted. And if you serve fries at your restaurant and there is no salt on the table, why? WHY??? WTF is wrong with you? You’re the monster!

And if you don’t serve fries at your restaurant and there is no salt on your table, I still ask WTF is wrong with you?

Because here’s what’s going to happen: I get served my food. I take a bite. I realize it could use a little salt. Now I have to flag down my server. And that could take five minutes. So, I continue to eat my food, but just a little. I just pick at it really, because every bite I take I think about how much better it would taste with salt. And I start to become bitter. And by the time the server comes to the table to ask how everything is my mouth is not full because I am not eating. And when the server finally brings me my precious, my food has gone cold. Now my food is salty and delicious, but also a little bit congealed. And you don’t want that do you?

I’m willing to admit it’s not you, it’s me. I’m the one with the defect. But it’s not your job to fix me. Or my taste buds. Your job is to cook me dinner. My job is to eat it any way I damn well please. So let’s just agree to disagree on the whole “seasoned to perfection” thing. Except that I am the customer. Which makes me fucking right. So please, just go ahead and put the salt on the table already.

Crossing Paths

When my son was in elementary school I became friendly with a mom and we realized that we had some mutual friends when we were in college. And by mutual friends I mean that she married her college boyfriend, who was a good friend of a guy that I dated. In fact, we realized that we were at the same New Year’s Eve party in nineteen-eighty-something. (Eighty-seven maybe. I think. Doesn’t matter.) It was just funny to realize that we were at the same party and had no idea. We didn’t meet. Or if we did we didn’t remember, but what are the odds that our paths would cross again fifteen years later?

There’s a truck in my neighborhood I see all the time. I know it’s the same truck because it’s neon yellow with a huge Ford label on the front doors. It’s hard to miss. The person who owns it goes to my gym and is usually pulling up at 6:30 AM just as I’m leaving. (Yes, I’m leaving the gym at 6:30 AM because I am a crazy person who hates herself and gets up before the sun.)

Now that wouldn’t be unusual to see this truck most days when I leave the gym. We each have a routine. Mine is a 5:30 workout and his is a 6:30 workout. But I’ve seen this truck drive down the main street in my town. I’ve seen it parked at the elementary school down the street from my house. I’ve seen it parked in the complex where my mechanic is. It’s like this dude is stalking me. (Or maybe I’m stalking him.)

I’m sure you’ve seen this before too. Maybe there’s a car with a specialized license plate, or an unusual classic car, or Angelyne’s pink Corvette that drives by you and you think to yourself, “I’ve seen that car before.”

But it makes me wonder. How many cars do I cross paths with on a daily basis that I’m actually crossing paths with on a daily basis?

It was my birthday earlier this month. (Thank you – I said thank you, because I’m assuming you all said, “Happy Birthday” in you head as you read that. Anyway…) I had the day off work and decided to bring the book I’m reading to a restaurant and treat myself to a solo lunch (and a margarita).

As I was standing at the hostess stand waiting to be seated I looked at the woman standing next to me and thanks to the “People You May Know” feature on Facebook (you know, those pictures that pop up in your feed of friends of friends that they suggest you friend?) recognized her as my son’s girlfriend’s mother. (In his last semester of college my son met a girl he went to high school with but did not know in high school and they started dating – talk about crossing paths!) I introduced myself to her and told her how I recognized her. We chatted for a few minutes while she was waiting for her friend and talked about our kids and funny coincidences. (To intensify the serendipitousness of our meeting – she and her friend were meeting to celebrate their birthdays too.)

If she hadn’t popped up in my Facebook feed we would have been at that restaurant at the same time having no idea the other was there. It makes me think of a scene in a movie where you know two characters are in the same place at the same time, but they don’t know they’re in the same place at the same time.

And because I love a good cliché, it really is a small world. Especially when you live in a small town.

I suppose it’s not so unusual that two women who live in the suburbs of Los Angeles who both went to college in Los Angeles would discover that they were at the same party many years ago. Or that my routine would be similar to someone else’s in my neighborhood. Or that I would choose to celebrate my birthday at the same restaurant as my son’s girlfriend’s mother.

We all run into people we know all the time -at the market, at the movie theater, at happy hour- we stop and say hi and then go on with our day and think nothing about it except maybe, “That was nice, running into so-and-so.”

But think of the people we unknowingly, but repeatedly cross paths with – people we may know in the future or may never know. Maybe it’s someone who leaves your gym everyday just as you are pulling into the parking lot. Or someone at your office park who always parks one aisle over from you. Or the person who likes to go to Trader Joe’s on Sundays at 4:30 PM just like you, even though it’s the worst time to go to Trader Joe’s because they’re out of everything, and you’ll just have to make another trip on your way home from work on Monday.

When I think of all these people that I cross paths with, maybe only once, maybe countless times, and the people they cross paths with and the people they cross paths with – it makes me feel that we’re all connected. And that it really is a small world.

And I think that’s nice.

Some Things I Did Last Week

Last Monday I climbed these stairs.

Four times.

There are 377 of them. That’s 1508 steps. But I also climbed them four times the week before and every time we go we do a little bit more so I climbed 50 more. Plus if you really want a 100% accurate count (you do, don’t you?) there are two extra steps at the top before the fence cuts off the last flight that I climbed as well as sort of a bonus, so I climbed 1568 steps total.

And yet. My jeans are still tight.

Rude.

I talked to my son on the phone four different days (once twice in one day!) and texted with him every day. That is a new world record for us. When he went away to college he made it clear to us that he was an adult who was ready to lead his own life and certainly didn’t need his parents anymore. (Probably because we didn’t have any money.) He would call once a week (if we were lucky) for a perfunctory “check in” call that would last five to ten minutes.

But the last year of school, his calls sometimes came a little more often and were definitely more enjoyable. He actually seemed to like talking to us. He’d tell us funny stories or we’d discuss current events. Sometimes these calls would last for an hour.

This week he called to tell us about his new job, ask for advice, or just to tell us things that were happening. It made my sadness (mostly) go away.

I watched Dance Moms with my husband and daughter. God that show is a train wreck and I kind of hated myself for enjoying it so much because surely there are so many things I could have been doing that would have been more productive. But sometimes mindless fun is exactly what we need.

I spent Saturday with my best friend on Main Street in Ventura. We drank and ate and shopped and walked. The weather was beautiful and it was a perfect day.

I found this shirt in a thrift shop:

I texted my daughter: I think I have to buy it.

She texted back: I think the law is you have to buy it.

To which I responded: The Supreme Court has ruled yes.

I consciously practiced gratefulness every day. I kind of do this already, when I sit down to write about my happy moment for the day, but I took it to another level for a project I am participating in by focusing on a person that makes me happy (and stretching beyond my son, my daughter, my husband (hmmm… did I ever write my husband???) to a coworker I like to gossip with or the cashier at Trader Joe’s who is always so friendly), a place that makes me happy (you know, other than my bed) and something that gave me pleasure (a glass of wine, dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt, Dance Moms).

To throw a cliche (or perhaps a few) at you – the days are long, but the years are short. And it turns out that every day is not actually an adventure. But I’m trying to seek out the extraordinary in my ordinary days. Or at least the little bits that make me smile. Or the bits that are hard and terrible (because, I have to be honest, those stairs are pretty hard and terrible), but still so great because I did something hard and terrible and lived to tell about it.

I can’t stop even the most ordinary of days from slipping by so fast. But I can take the time to reflect on them.

What are some things that you did last week?

What’s Your Aha Moment?

Unedited ten minute writing prompt from my last writers’ group meeting. The prompt: Describe “that moment”. 

Oprah says you’ll have an “Aha moment.”

“What was your Aha Moment?” she asks. As if I’m supposed to know. But the truth is, I haven’t had one yet. It seems Oprah’s had a ton of Aha Moments, so who knows – maybe she stole mine.

“I made cauliflower mashed potatoes,” she says on TV. “Get them at your local supermarket.”

Oprah-Oh-that's-good-garlic-mashed-potatoes

But I searched my Vons high and low and I could not find those fucking cauliflower mashed potatoes anywhere. Maybe it’s because I’m a Trader Joe’s shopper.

So it seems not only can I not find my Aha Moment, I can’t even find Oprah’s Aha Moment even though it’s advertised on national television. During prime time.

There have been times I thought I’ve had an Aha Moment. AHA! That’s what I’m going to do. This or that or fill in the blank, but I’ve never done any of those things. I don’t even remember what any of them were because I didn’t do them. Aha meet blazy.* Blazy is the winner.

So that moment? I’m still waiting for it. Maybe I’ll find it one day in Vons next to Oprah’s cauliflower mashed potatoes.

 

*Blazy is a term my writing group came up with that means being blasé about your laziness.

My Perfect Week

During a perfect week I wash my hair on Sundays and Wednesdays so I only have to take the time to blow dry my hair once during the work week. Please don’t confuse this with I only shower on Sundays and Wednesdays. (I actually wouldn’t mind that, but my co-workers might.) That’s what shower caps are for. Yes, my hair is a disaster on Saturdays and spends all day in a frizzy mess of a ponytail. Or under a hat. But I’m a forty-nine year old suburbanite. We don’t go out most Saturday nights.

On a typical week something goes awry in my allowable-hair-dirtiness plan and I end up washing my hair twice during the work week making my hair look better, but also making me late(r than usual) to work.

On a perfect week I start my Sunday morning with a four mile run at 7:30 completed in forty-four minutes. (Hey, I just started running a year ago. And I’m old. And not racing anybody. So shut up about how slow I am!) Then I have coffee with my friends around a fire pit at Stonehaus. (Who yes, if you must know all finished before me. Even the ones who ran five miles.) I get up at five o’clock to write even on Sundays so I have plenty of time to pack some Greek yogurt (the delicious full-fat kind) and fruit or put some oatmeal and peanut butter in a thermos to take with me for breakfast after the run. (Yes, I take my own breakfast to a coffee house. Shhh! I’m on a budget!)

On a typical week I “sleep in” until six, waste time on Facebook, lose track of time and rush out the door at 7:26, with no time to make breakfast and making my friends wait in the cold for me to arrive so I can run behind them.

On a perfect week I clean my room on Sundays, do all my laundry, put it all away, and pick out my  outfits for the week including accessories.

lay-out-clothes-the-night-before-work

 

On a typical week I manage to do all my laundry, but don’f fold it until nine o’clock while we’re watching The Walking Dead, and put it in a laundry basket where it will remain (in the den) until Tuesday, okay Wednesday Friday. I kind of visualize in my head what I’ll wear that week (and still change 2-3 times each morning before putting the original outfit back on). My room remains a mess for another week.

During a perfect week I will go to Trader Joe’s and Costco on Sunday, plan my meals for the week, and not have to return to the store until the following Sunday.

On a typical week we will run out of milk on Tuesday morning. Wednesday night if I buy two. And that Tuesday or Wednesday milk-run will likely be the second time since my Sunday shopping trips that I have to run back to Trader Joe’s to pick up something I forgot. I will probably go a minimum of two more times until the following Sunday. (Sometimes those two times will happen on the same day.)

During a perfect week I will get my shopping done early so I have time to do some cooking for the week. I’ll cook some ground turkey and quinoa and roast some vegetables then chop them up small with my Pampered Chef food chopper and mix it all together. Then I’ll put the mixture into five containers, the turkey and quinoa weighed and measured for the appropriate protein to carb ratio (20g protein, 30g carbs), ready for grab-and-go lunches for the week. As I’m preparing my lunches I’ll also make a nice Sunday dinner, and put together some gringo enchiladas (only gringos use cream cheese and flour tortillas for enchiladas) or a meatloaf to pop into the oven one night during the week.

green-chile-enchiladas
Yes, I stole this photo from Pinterest. You can get the photo credit and recipe for these yummy enchiladas for gringos here.

On a typical week I don’t make it to the market until 4:00 when it’s overcrowded and they are out of at least one of the things I want the most. I get home much too late to make my turkey quinoa mash, but at least I managed to buy broccoli slaw and kale to mix together for salads that will be made in the morning instead of the night before, making me late(r) and  will surely get stuck in my teeth (which is awesome because I usually eat lunch at my desk). I also remember that gringo enchiladas are too fattening and that my kids hate meatloaf. (Even though, trust me, my meatloaf recipe, which is actually my Uncle John’s meatloaf recipe, is the bomb. I will have to post it one day.)

During a perfect week I will pop out of bed every morning at the first sound of my 5AM alarm, pour myself a cup of coffee that has already been brewed because it was set up the night before and I will write.

But y’all know I never have perfect weeks don’t you?

A Day in my Rockstar Life

I was reading my girl Mama Kat (as I tend to do) and was intrigued by a writing prompt link up she had last week. The prompt was to take a picture every hour to document your day.

Well, as you have probably guessed, my life is pretty glamorous. I was going to do a weekday “day in the life” post, but thought you might be too insanely jealous to look at this eight times on repeat.

reception-desk
Put this on repeat for 8 hours and like me, you’ll be living the dream!

I know, rockstar life right?

So I decided to document Sunday. I will be honest and admit that this past Sunday was a bit busier than most. I mean, it was Emmy night after all. So sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee, scroll down at all of the pretty cell phone pictures and try your hardest not to wish you were me…

6:00 Beep Beep Beep. That’s the sound of my alarm going off. Yes, at six. It usually goes off at 5:00 (yes, even on Sunday) because I feel unbalanced if I don’t get some “me time” in the morning, but I went to bed at midnight so I needed the extra hour of beauty sleep!

(Oh, and if you’re wondering why I went to be so late it’s because I already told you – I live the glamorous rockstar life – I was at a cross country meet 75 miles away where Chandler ran a race at 9:15 PM! See – I told you, you’d be jealous!)

mom-blogger-desk
Just me, my computer and creamy coffee – aaahhhh!

7:00 I took my dog Rocky for his morning walk to the park and basked in the beauty of Ladyface Mountain.

shepard-lab-mix
My cute and crazy dog.

Ladyface Mountain
Lovely Ladyface

8:00 I ran 4 miles with the run club at my gym. That’s right – 4 MILES! And I hated every single solitary step.

pink running shoes
I cannot tell you how many times I tried to take this photo so my ankles did not look fat. (I obviously failed!)

9:00 The only reason I run is so I can hang out and have coffee with my friends afterward. Although I don’t actually drink coffee as I’ve already caffeined up earlier and what kind of friends make you do something you hate three times a week? I should return the favor by posting their un-make-uped-sweaty-post-running pictures. But I won’t because I actually know how to treat people! We sat outside of Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf because we smelled bad and were afraid we might get kicked out. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

breakfast collage
I swear I brought the donuts home to my family (I had to buy them – they were just too cute) I did, however, inhale the Stonyfield yogurt!

10:00 I had to rush home to get Marley ready for church, a day at her friends, and then a Bat Mitzvah. But first I had to stop at Cost Plus. I mean, I have my priorities.

wine-sale
A girl’s gotta do what a girls gotta do!

11:00 I stretched while making a few phone calls, took a shower and gave in and washed my hair even though I really didn’t have enough time to dry it properly because I hadn’t washed it since Thursday (and have worked out twice since), obsessed about the inelasticity  of my skin as I looked in the mirror when I dried my hair, and started the weekend’s laundry.

laundry
Remember, I warned you how jealous you’d be of my rockstar life. So much fun and it isn’t even noon yet!

12:00 I rushed out the door to meet my mom at Costco. Because I was in a rush and didn’t want to make her wait I grabbed the first pair of shoes I saw, which were black even though I was wearing a brown belt. The shoes were flip flops, but still, I think the mismatch is only slightly less offensive than how I smelled at Coffee Bean two hours earlier.

costco-groceries
This should last about a week.

1:30 Got home, from Costco and heard the dryer going and panicked. On the one hand it was fantastic that Chandler does his own laundry, on the other it means he put my clothes in the dryer and my clothes don’t go in the dryer. (Well they do, but only for 10 minutes on low and then I hang them. And yes, I am aware that I am a freak. Thank you.) Fortunately he had just thrown them in, so melt down over teenage son being responsible was averted. I then ate some tuna salad while putting away groceries, realized running makes you really sore and rolled on the foam roller and then went into the bathroom and saw Dave brushing his teeth. It occurred to me that there was a chance I might have forgotten to brush my teeth in the morning. (Like a 99.9% chance.) So, it turns out mismatched accessories and breakfasting post-running/pre-showering are not my greatest offenses of the day.

meal-prep
Getting ready for some meal prep.

2:00 Put another load of laundry in the washer, hung a load outside to dry and then ran to Trader Joe’s for even more groceries.

Trader-Joes
My happy place.

3:00 I turned on the Emmy’s Red Carpet, but had to do some meal prep for the week and make a meal for a friend who just had surgery, so I cooked and took notes on fashion at the same time. Not happy about having my attention taken away from my beloved Red Carpet.

Sunday Meal Prep
Getting ready for the week.

4:00 More prepping. More cooking. More red carpet watching.

2013 Emmy Red Carpet Telecast
Yes, this really is our old school TV.

5:00 Sat down to fold laundry and watched beginning of Emmy’s while vegetables finished roasting. Then pressed record on the DVR and left to go to my mom’s house for dinner. (On Emmy night – I know!) Left the kitchen in a huge state of disaster to be dealt with when we returned.

messy kitchen
Yes, I actually walked out the door with my kitchen looking like this! (Notice laundry still hanging outside.)

6:00 Relaxed and had dinner with my family. It was lovely.

dinner al fresco
Dinner al fresco

7:30 When I was offered dessert for once I said yes. It tasted like heaven.

vanilla-ice-cream-with-hot-fudge
Yum!

8:00 Came home, cleaned disaster of a kitchen, and put away hanging laundry.

clean-dishes
To be put away tomorrow – don’t worry – I’ll sleep just fine with them right there! (I hope to put away the folded laundry in the den sometime before Tuesday.)

9:00 Kicked Dave and Chandler out of the den and sat down to finally watch the Emmy’s in peace. (Well, if peace means sitting on couch with laptop and typing away furiously while watching.)

10:00 Got distracted by a dress on a Target commercial I was trying to fast forward through and tried to look up dress on Target website. Struck out. Stupid Target – if you’re going to show a dress on a commercial please have it available for me to look at and not buy online!

Target.com
Just me, the Emmy’s and Target.com

10:45 Left the house to pick up Marley at Bat Mitzvah at 11:00 SHARP. (There was no school on Monday – staff development day.)  Dropped off Marley’s friend, came home and tumbled into bed next to sleeping husband for not nearly enough sleep.

car-dashboard
Time to get home and get to bed!

Woke up at 5:30 on Monday (again, slept in because I went to bed too late) and started rolling so I could do this for eight hours straight…

reception-desk

Now be honest – you are totally jealous of my rockstar life, right?

Why I Should Never Walk Out the Door Without my Cellphone

Modern life has made cellphones somewhat of a necessity. Any mother will tell you that they need for their children to have a phone so they can always know where they are. It’s also quite helpful with the arranging of after-school or after-sport pick-ups. Of course we grown-ups need our cellphones too. How else is our husband supposed to let us know we’re out of milk? (And more importantly how are we going tweet about the long line at the post office?) Unfortunately, much to my family and friends’ dismay I am sort of known for forgetting my cellphone. And it always seems to bite me in the ass. Just last week I was standing in line at the bank and saw Angelyne. I had the perfect shot of her to text to my friends (OMG – look who is at the bank!), though admittedly if I had had my phone I probably would have chickened out and not taken it. If you are scratching your head wondering who the LA phenomenon known as Angelyne is, Google Image her. Or just click here. I’ll wait here while you wash your eyes out. (I know, you can’t un-see that. So sorry.) Yes, she really does dress like that. And yes, she is elevendy. (My friend Tina brilliantly called Angelyne a cross between Debbie Harry and Phyllis Diller. Hot Damn, Tina is funny!) A couple of days later I was at Trader Joe’s and saw some dude wearing a light-colored Hawaiian-type shirt with dark yellow pineapples all over it and contrasting dark-colored shorts with light yellow pineapples. It looked like a grown-up version of Garanimals that had gone horribly wrong. I think he was being ironic? Or maybe he just had really bad taste. Either way, it would have been nice to snap a sneaky photo to snarkily text to my friends à la People of Wallmart style. So obviously I have to be more careful and stop leaving my house without my phone. Forget about my husband or kids needing to get a hold of me. Every time I leave my house without my phone I see something spectacular.

Hawaiian-shirt-shorts-combo
If only the pineapple outfit had been this “stylish!”

Photo credit: thefader.com