Monthly Archives: February 2014

Holy Cow (How Milk Ruined My Life)

           First, a brief history of my relationship with dairy. When I was 10 my family relocated to Lake Charles, LA. Never heard of it? Yeah, you and the rest of the world. Anyway, we moved to a ranch style home planted conveniently across from, and sandwiched between, 3 cow fields. I’m sure you’re familiar with the smell of cows. And if not, go sit in your neighbor’s yard in the springtime as they mulch their garden. Your empathy for me will grow deeper than the part of the ocean where they found that creepy sharp toothed fish with the light bulb hanging from it’s head. Yeah-that deep. Now we move to the preteen years. In Illinois, where I relocated after the cows and fire ants started to drive my family the way of Norman Bates, the ice cream truck running through a subdivision is a daily occurrence. I always scrounged up all the money I could find (usually someone else’s) and rushed outside. After a few months of my happy childhood routine a teenager- they’re all rotten, every one- told me, “Ice cream men kidnap little girls. Why do you think they need such a big truck?” ‘Twas the bitter end to my childhood happiness. Not to mention sophomore year when I thought getting my license was a fancy way of saying I could get a milkshake any time I wanted. So you understand that dairy and I have had a tumultuous relationship to say the least. But I’m older, adult-like, I thought we could be mature about this and put the past behind us, let bygones be bygones, and other similar clichés. This is a cautionary tale to say, ‘Don’t forget the past or else it will ruin your appliances and ergo, your life.”

The beautiful bliss about being a full-time student without a job can be explained in two words: long weekends. So it has to be quite awful if by the middle of the vacation-like weekend the pieces of your brain are individually screaming out, “I would rather be doing a group project than this!” Now, to the root of the melodrama. On Sunday, I found myself in a troubling situation- once again. By now I should know that if there is an ordeal to be had in Chicago’s southeast suburbs it will find me. Anyway, I was eating dinner and watching Gilmore Girls with my dad (and by “watching with my dad” I mean I was trying to brainwash him into the fandom with me). He’s single handedly keeping the dairy industry thriving with the amount of milk he drinks with each meal. So he’s guzzling the milk content of the state of Wisconsin and Lorelai Gilmore says something characteristically funny and he erupts with laughter. Said laughter is so intense it travels down his neck, through his arm, and out his fingers and incidentally knocks over the milk silo. And so the epic begins.

When something catches fire in your immediate area, you suddenly become aware of how little sense you have. So when the infamous milk crept into the stove top in front of us we were a little cautious. But, c’mon, not that cautious because it’s just milk! (Mental note: remove phrases like ‘it’s just milk!’ from vocabulary) But no, nothing can ever just be anything in my household. Sure it was a little unusual when the stove knobs started to click. Yes maybe it was a tad odd for toxic smelling smoke to start billowing out of the same knobs. But Beevis and Butthead, (right now that’s me and my dad, for all intensive purposes) think they can solve problems like this with water and paper towels. I mean, I can’t think of any kitchen problem I’ve ever had that couldn’t be solved that way. It was not until a blast more akin to a firework went off from the devil knobs that we realized the answer to this did not lie in the omnipotent roll of Bounty on our counter. So we resolved to switch the breaker off. Simple enough, right? Well, when we finally flipped the right switch, it was also the wrong switch. By some cruel twist of fate, our refrigerator was controlled by the same switch. We gave up the stove but we could NOT sacrifice the fridge too.

We unplug the fridge and try to find an alternate outlet. Hurrah! We found one! Except wait, this is the Walker household and nothing is ever what it seems. Chocolate chip cookies are actually raisin cookies, Coca Cola is actually the zero calorie stuff, and the refrigerator has a vindictive alter ego. We plug her in and then we hear it. The buzzing sound of death. I only recognize the sound because it is the same sound our late fridge- may she rest in peace- made before passing on. So we do what any other typical living-the-American-dream family would do. We arm ourselves with the weapon of choice: hair dryer. Then the grueling task of blow drying our ice box commences. After much trial and error, and a few persuasive/pleading phrases from me (i.e. “Don’t walk into the light!”), we brought her back to consciousness.

The End. Oh wait, did I neglect to mention the other casualty? As I mentioned before, we were watching Gilmore Girls– on my MacBook Pro. Ah yes, the plot thickens. It was not until the next day that I realized Lorelai and Rory Gilmore were stuck. Not figuratively or emotionally- literally stuck in my computer DVD drive. After an embarrassing amount of YouTube fix-it-yourself videos and a borderline sexual harassment IM chat with James from Apple Tech Support, I reluctantly pried myself off of the couch to drive to the mall to visit the Apple Store. Some people have children, I have my MacBook. So I took off, extremely slowly due to the amount of snow falling, the lack of snow plows plowing, and my broken windshield wipers almost audibly saying, “I think I can, I think I can.” After passing all the cars in ditches and haphazardly parking closer to the mall than I ever had (apparently snowstorms deter people from going on shopping trips, even on President’s Day, who knew??), I stroll into the mall. Luckily, Jonathan from the Genius Bar knows everything and used his weird little foam tool to fix whatever do-hickey was amiss. For future personal reference: marry someone techy- they might wear Star Trek shirts to the movie theater, but you have free technical labor for life!

I may give up my unpaid job as a low-time blogger to write Aesop-esque fables. Except with the modern times in mind, I’ll use appliances as characters instead of animals. Hashtag twenty first century. Moral of the story: “There’s no use crying over spilled milk” is an idiotic phrase.

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Yoga Cat

When I walked into my Health Biology class last Friday I didn’t expect much more than the usual sit-and-pretend-I’m-paying-attention that I usually participate in from 9-9:50. Don’t be fooled by my pretentious capitalization of Biology, I’m not a science major. This is one of those classes where no one wants to be there and the teacher knows it. All the tests are take home, we have fill in note sheets. It’s more like a 6th grade English class except with less talking. Virtually no talking. Actually, besides the hunky silent-type athletic guy in the back of my class, I can’t confidently say I even know any of my classmates’ names. So anyway, when my professor said Friday would be spent as a “relaxation day” in Valerie-speak that means, “Sit in silence, think of food, leave class.” So thanks for the free points Professor So-and-So! You would think by now I would know how off my women’s intuition is. The last time I had a correct instinct about anything was when I called Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens breakup. And that was more the wishful-thinking-so-it-will-come-true kind of thing.

So now that it’s established that I’m delusional college student with no aptitude for predicting the future, let’s continue to explore the world of my idiocy. So I walk the overly long distance to the classroom above the fitness center. If I had any foresight at all I would have known that the proximity to the fitness center was a serious omen. I mean, I tend to mentally censor the word fitness from most sentences. Which come to think of it, the distances between classes may be so long as the school’s passive aggressive way to make us exercise. (And PAY for it. I PAY to walk approximately 10 minutes to every class. Oh, America)

So I enter this small-mirrored room. If you’ve ever entered a room with mirrored walls and feel anything like me, you can’t stand the repeated reflection of that heifer staring back at you. Mirrored rooms: destroying self-esteem and motivating private exercise since the beginning of time! I grab a purple yoga mat, which is about as thin as my nerves at this point. I sit down as the room starts to fill up and suddenly the lights go out. I am beginning to understand what it feels like in those cheap horror movies when you know something bad is going to happen but it’s too late to turn back now.

There are Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling and marimba and maraca music playing from who-knows-where. When my professor enters and places her mat in front of us I am immediately rethinking the stylish, albeit long, grey maxi skirt stretching to my ankles. There are 3 key regrets from this yogaxperience (how I will heretofore refer to the yoga debacle) I’ll start with the most awkward and excel to the most laughable. If the goal was to give me abs induced by laughter: achieved.

1. The Howling Cat

I am not including this solely because of the reference to cats. It’s a primary yoga pose. I call them poses because they are motions only doable by the women on America’s Next Top Model because they are the only ones with limbs long enough. With hands and feet planted on the ground and rear end directly facing the sky, you move your head up and toward the ceiling as slowly and agonizingly as possible. Never did I think my love of felines and my hatred of ridiculous exercise would be molded into one embarrassing activity. But there’s a first time for everything.

2. Put My Leg Where?

Contrary to the way I talk about it, I am relatively fit. I eat pretty well and am more flexible than the average Walmart employee. So when I’m in my floor length skirt and my professor says lift your left leg vertically above your head, I start to rethink my boycott of high school sports. It’s not until you are forced to put your leg above your head for a grade that you start to honestly assess your priorities. In that moment, my number one priority of becoming Brad and Angelina’s nanny was knocked down to number two with “get my leg to the floor as soon as possible” taking the first place.

3. Guided Imagery

I’m a speech person. I can always go for a delicately crafted guided imagery story. You are floating in outer space, you are sleeping in a field of daffodils, you are playing Monopoly and not being bored to death. That kind of thing. So anyway when we get to the actual relaxation part of this yogaxperience, I’m thinking, “Cool, we get to lay here and take a mini nap while listening to xylophones.” There I go again, thinking I have this keen sense of the future. Just when I start to get comfortable (as comfortable as one can be on one of those parchment paper mats) she does it. With the soothing voice of someone who’s participated in one too many Pilates classes, she starts her guided imagery. While lying on a hardwood floor where countless other bodies have lain, besides “There’s a rat in here!”, the last thing you want to hear is, “Now place your body in corpse position.” Since I’m fairly confident that most bodies in that position are actually dead, I immediately felt the opposite of relaxed. But when, to this room packed with corpse-like bodies hears the professor say, “You are lying on a beach. The sand beneath your back. You’re staring up at the sky and hearing the tide come in.” This does two things to me. First, instead of making me feel like I am in the Caribbean, it simply makes me wish I was in the Caribbean, making the floor feel harder and the practice more ridiculous. Second, makes me think that if I have to be a corpse, at least I’m a corpse with a nice tan.

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