Saturday, October 25, 2014

Just in case...

I'm scheduling this post just in case I am having too much fun to write anything tonight. My friends and I are meeting for 'Diva Night', our bi-monthly evening of reality TV watching, snacking and gossiping. On tonight's agenda: Project Runway finale and the latest America's Next Top Model.

Hopefully I will make it back in time to write something more substantial. But just in case, here's something to ponder:

Remember that MTV show 'Room Raiders'? It's that show where a guy or gal searches through the bedrooms of three potential suitors and chooses one of them to take on a date based solely on their cleanliness/fashion sense/choice of bedspread. Yeah, that show wasn't very good. It wasn't at the time, and looking back now, I stand by that assessment. Mainly because it was staged and because you didn't get to see the actual dates.

OK, bye!

Margaret

Friday, October 24, 2014

This is the life...

Andy and I are at the Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh. We swam in the pool, did deep breathing exercises in the steam room, burnt the bottoms of our feet in the sauna and ate some strawberries that were dressed up in melted chocolate "tuxedos". This is the life.

MAN, spas are just so wonderful. Why can't we be more like Scandinavia or Iceland, where saunas and steam rooms and plunge pools are the norm? Let's make it happen, America/Britain. Let's move spa treatments away from luxury and closer to necessity.

Think about it. A more spa-conscious culture would:

1) reduce road rage

2) eliminate scurvy (because of all those limes in the water pitcher)

3) give the terrycloth industry a much-needed boost

And that's just the beginning!

OK. Short post. Too relaxed to type. The end.





Much love to all my homies,

Margaret

Thursday, October 23, 2014

From the Archives, Edition 3

Yep, it's another 'From the Archives' post! Translation: I'm feeling lazy. But oh well. You're not picky.

 Enjoy this except from my old diary (which has about four entries total...again with the laziness):



Saturday 9th September 2008

Just got done @ the bagel shop, then went to the library to check my email & facebook (nothing new, surprise surprise), then to the gym (gotta lose 15lbs to get back to my high school weight...I feel so middle aged referring to it was that, harhar).

School is (knock on wood) going to be decently easy this semester. The real struggle is going to be saving money. It doesn't seem like it should be too difficult, but I keep finding different things that I just have to have. I want to do yoga 2 nights a week ($90) and get my middle ear cartilage pierced ($35) and get Marc Jacobs "Daisy" perfume. The piercing & perfume can wait - but I think I'll splurge for the yoga. 

Oh - btw, the reason I need to save money is so I can go live in Edinburgh next year. I want to do this Master's program about religion & journalism ethics. It looks really interesting - but it'll cost me. 

Tori and the Freds (Jamie & Julie Fredrickson) are visiting us in Spokane this weekend. They should be here around dinner time. Should be a fun time because all 3 of them are fun and low maintenance. 

I thought Cyprus would have changed me into a much more social person (all we did there was socialize — clubs, parties, sittin' around the school cafeteria), but I'm afraid I left my socializing desire on the island. The few times I've tried "going out" this semester I just wasn't feeling it. Partly, I don't really want to drink...also...I'm usually really tired from working early and nothing will compare to Cyprus, Ireland & Edinburgh.

My current interests/things in my life:

Books
Just read: Devil in the White City
Reading: Youth in Revolt
Will read next: The River Why

Foods
Oatmeal, Dannon strawberry lite 'n fit yogurt, cashew carrot ginger soup, wholewheat cinnamon raisin bagels, bananas

Clothes
Thin t-shirts found in sleepwear section of target, H&M zip-ups w/ droopy turtlenecks, "Internationals United" t-shirt I took from my friend Haitham in Cyprus, black Lucy yoga pants & zip-up

Make up
Bare Minerals foundation, Benefit eyeshadow & mascara, Dr.Pepper flavor chapstick

TV Shows
Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Gossip Girl, Weeds

Activities
Gym, library (blogging, surfin' the net), reading, TV, planning my future, hanging out in CM with Martha

Anyhoo, as soon as something interesting happens in my life this diary should get better. Frankly, it's pretty dern dull at the moment. I need a crush BAD. That's what diaries are for. We'll see...doubtful.

- M

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Renée-sance

Let's face it: faces matter.

Recognising and interpreting human faces is a vital part of our cognitive and social development. On the day we're born, we can pick out faces in a blurry sea of bright lights and foreign objects. By the time we're a month old, we can mimic the facial expressions of our parents.

Faces are so hard-wired into our brains that we often see them when they aren't there — in the clouds, on the exterior of houses, or on a slightly burnt grilled cheese. There's even an official name for the inability to recognise faces. It's called prosopagnosia or 'face blindness'. I'm sure you listened to the Radio Lab about it. 

Anyway, all of this is to say that there's a reason why Renée Zellweger's new, man-made face is FREAKING US ALL THE F OUT. We don't recognise her anymore! That unique, Bridget Jones face is gone FOREVER. There is no getting it back.

The old Zellweger.
Image by Siebbi via Wikimedia Commons

I've had a day to process it. I've read through the articles about whether "we" created the problem, whether it's even a problem at all, and if even the act of commenting on it makes us misogynistic arseholes. Maybe all of those conversations are worth having (except the last one, which I don't think holds up in this case). But I am not going to apologise for my initial reaction, which was a combination of:
  • Sadness (10%)
  • Horror (10%)
  • Puzzlement (10%)
  • Unease (70%)
Here's why:
  • Sadness — The idea that someone would dislike their face so much that they would rather be completely unrecognisable makes me sad. As someone who is obsessed with her own face and would stare at the mirror for hours as a child (making funny faces and practicing fake crying), I find the situation particularly troubling. When you're bored and lonely, your face is a loyal friend! The PhotoBooth tool on my computer can attest to that. 
  • Horror  — Plastic surgery is spooky. My brother Max actually called it years ago. I remember him saying, before the OC-housewife-look really took off, "Plastic surgery is terrifying. It really, really freaks me out." He was right then, and he's been proven even more right with Renée's big reveal.
  • Puzzlement — Is that really her? What did she get done? Are the eyes different? The nose? The chin? What exactly is going on?
  • Unease — My overriding emotion as I stared at the photos was unease. Maybe her artificial face gave me a bit of an 'uncanny valley' vibe, like I talked about yesterday. But I think I was mainly shaken by the fact that I wouldn't have known it was her if the headlines didn't tell me. That's unsettling. 
I'm still unsure of how I feel about all this, so I decided to ask Andy to chat it over with me in a short video blog. 

Fair weather fans, this is your exit. Sashay away. Go back to Facebook and scroll through a bottomless assortment of Upworthy links and engagement photos. True Madgespace fans, you stay. This is your chance to delve even deeper into the mind of a misunderstood genius.



Auf Wiedersehen,

Margaret

P.S. Andy says that it was actually Francis Bacon who said that quote about beauty (we talk about it in the video). He regrets the error.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Peas de résistance

Wow.

I just met Andy for a coffee before his 7-10:30pm lesson. He's been teaching nonstop since 9 o'clock this morning, and I've been shut in at home trying to cross things off my lengthy 'To Do' list (see yesterday's post for more info).

His fried brain + my lack of human interaction = weird, surreal experience

I talked a lot about how crazy it is that postal stamps are still a thing, and how I am surprised that counterfeit stamps aren't more common. He agreed and stared into the distance like a post-5150 Britney Spears.

It's hard to explain why the whole thing was so strange. Basically, it felt like we were both state-of-the-art Japanese robots, acting and speaking like humans but completely dead behind the eyes.

Have you seen that CGI Audrey Hepburn advert for Galaxy chocolate? Our coffee meeting had that same, 'uncanny valley' vibe.




OK, now for the pea chat

This post was originally going to be a persuasive piece on the merits of peas and my desire to reintroduce them to modern, American cuisine (similar to my defence of celery from yonks ago). 

Although they're more common in British cuisine ('mushy peas' is a traditional dish here...come on Brits, you're not doing your poor culinary reputation any favours with that one), I feel like our generation doesn't have the same relationship with peas as our parents' and grandparents' generations. They're just not as popular as they used to be, and that's a shame. Peas are actually really tasty. 

But that was what this post was going to be about. The more I thought about peas, the more I realised that I actually have a few different pea anecdotes worth sharing. 

Anecdote 1: The Family Green Pea
As of getting married a few years ago, my sister Anna's last name is now Gorohoff. According to her and my brother-in-law, Gorohoff means 'green pea' in Russian. Isn't that fun?

Full disclosure, Google translate tells me 'green pea' in Russian is this: зеленый горошек. Needless to say, I wasn't able to fact check the validity of their claim. 

Anecdote 2: "I eat my peas with honey"
When we were growing up, eating peas with honey was an important tradition in our household. It was a coming-of-age milestone that helped form us Kay kids into the upstanding citizens we are today. 

Here's how it went down. Around the age of six, my Mom would teach us to recite a poem, squirt some honey onto the flat side of a knife, balance some peas on top, and then slurp up the peas in a single lick. It was precarious to say the least. This is the poem:

I eat my peas with honey
I've done it all my life
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on my knife

The things I do for this blog...

Anecdote 3: Pass the peas, please
For a while, one of my Mom's favourite pranks was to serve peas and carrots for dinner that were—wait for it—not actually peas and carrots at all, but CANDY. Delicious pea-and-carrot-shaped candy! She had found the candy veggies at a novelty sweet shop in Seattle and knew instantly that it would be comedy gold. 

As the youngest child, not yet in school and thus her default partner in crime, I helped ol' Nadinski arrange the candy peas and carrots realistically on each plate next to some real mashed potatoes and fish sticks. I rang the cowbell (yes, we used a cowbell to signal dinnertime), put on my best poker face and waited anxiously for my siblings to dig in. 

OH the look on their faces when they ate their first bite of candy peas! If you had to narrow the abstract concept of 'humour' down to a single image, that would be it. You see, they thought they were going to be tasting real peas. They expected to eat the actual vegetable. But instead, they tasted a wonderful sugary treat! HAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHA

AHHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHA

BAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAH OHAHAHA

HOOOHEE HAHAHA

HAHAHA

HaHA

Aha

Ha

haha

ha

Love,
Margaret

P.S. Yes, I know. Renée Zellweger. We're all horrified. I need a day to process it. Expect full coverage in tomorrow's post.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Little things that keep me sane

Life is strange, and the fact that we get through most days without an existential crisis is actually pretty impressive. How do we do it? We build our days around the little things that make us happy.

Here are some little things that I try to work into my daily routine. Feel free to add them to your own routines — I am no hog.

  • Candles — I can't sing their praises enough. They're these small cylinders made of wax. A tiny piece of rope runs through the middle of them and pokes out the top. You light the rope and it burns slowly, creating a peaceful ambiance for hours. If you've never owned a candle before, I recommend you go buy one today!

  • Coffee — Much like Mr. G, I need a cup 'o joe before I start the day. But I also like to drink coffee when I don't need it. I love the taste, the warmth, the smell and the activity aspect of drinking high quality coffee (I love an activity). 

  • Downward Dog — Yoga is the best form of exercise. Why? Because afterward you feel like you've run a 10k AND had an hour's massage. It's fantastic. Unfortunately, I am too lazy and cheap to attend regular yoga classes. Instead, I just do 'Down Dog' for a while in my flat. It seems to do the job.

  • Podcasts — Andy makes fun of me because I take my iPod with me when I take out the garbage. It's only a 2-minute journey to the dumpster, but listening to a podcast makes it better! Recently, I've been enjoying the 'This American Life' spinoff, 'Serial' (Note: if you're interested in Serial, make sure to start with the first episode). 

  • Reality TV — If television is "chewing gum for the eyes", then reality television is...Starbucks' Tazo® Zen™ tea for the brain? Yes, I think that analogy works. Watching 'Geordie Shore', 'America's Next Top Model' and 'Real Housewives' is an ideal way to quiet the mind. 

  • 'To Do' lists — Confession time: I add things that I've already done to my 'To Do' lists just so I can cross them off and feel great about myself. Today I added 'Get haircut' to the list AFTER I returned from the salon and then immediately crossed it off.


I feel like I've written this exact blog post before. Am I running out of material already? This ain't good. Maybe I will start keeping a journal of my daily experiences/encounters/thoughts, like David Sedaris does. 

Something I've come to terms with at the ripe age of 28 is the fact that motivation levels always ebb and flow. Some days you're TCB-ing like Richard Branson, and other days you're writing long 'To Do' lists comprised only of tasks you've already completed. 

Feeling guilty about unproductive days just isn't productive. Instead, enjoy those days and know that your next burst of motivation is just around the corner. Remind yourself that, if you actually had a pressing deadline, you would get the work done. 

As B*Witched would say, c'est la vie!

Cheers,
Margaret

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