Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anything That Moves

Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food CultureAnything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture by Dana Goodyear

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like food.

I'm curious about non-traditional food - the things that usually make me cringe when cooking. I'm not exactly curious enough to fry them up and take a bite.

This book did that (and then some).

I admire those who don't have a gag reflex that kicks in before opening wide for a sample of innards or organs or things that slink and slither in their natural environment. I wish I could be more adventurous when dining out. When I go into a restaurant, I treat it like any other trip: I survey the surroundings to determine how dangerous it may be. I think of adventurous dining like skydiving in that there's a chance something could go terribly wrong. Eat blowfish and maybe die? Um, no. Really, thank you, but it's a firm no. With a smile.

I am so finicky, I will take a good look at the menu before I get there. I will send others to sample before me. And I might take a bite if I get in the door. I don't want a plate of something that looks like it came from a crime scene. I might not even want to smell it (seriously, I will dry heave at the table).

I'm glad I read this book because it made me think maybe I can face my foodie fears. I just need time. Booze will probably help, too.

View all my reviews

Monday, August 25, 2014

One Week Later

It's been one week since my surgery. I've been doing a LOT of this:
DOCTOR'S ORDERS! I'm not nearly that dressed up. I'm not wearing shoes. I'm not wearing makeup. It's like a vacation where you don't have energy to do much and you're under house arrest. SPOILER ALERT: I. Am. Bored.

I have been sore since surgery (not surprising since I had four incisions in my lower abdomen to remove my uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix). It feels a bit like I've had someone use me as a punching bag.

I have struggled with sleep. I forced myself to stop napping in hopes of being able to sleep at night. That hasn't helped. I started out getting 30-45 minutes every few hours, then was able to get 4-5 hours at a time. I'm hoping that's not the new normal as I have always loved sleep.

I am passing the days with TV, a book and my phone (Twitter and Facebook are keeping me up to speed on the people and things in my world, I have games to play). I also do a lot of sitting and closing my eyes, meditating a bit about what it will be like to not have any pain at all. It is quiet. It is nice. It is sometimes a bit boring.

There are a few things I'm learning:
  • Hysterectomy is a TERRIBLE word. I mean, it just implies hysterical. I wasn't (I don't think). I was in pain. I was sad about always being in pain. While I have some pain now, it's far less than I had before surgery. I want a new word for this procedure. How about "lady freedom surgery" or something like that? I'm open to suggestions.
  • Watching the news too often can make you super paranoid about surgery. I was glad that every single person who came into contact with me before I got to the operating room knew exactly why I was there. This reassured me the chance of going in for lady freedom surgery and coming out without a kidney was pretty low. When you know of a situation where a prescription was misread in the hospital and it killed a lady, you want to make sure the anesthesiologist has good handwriting (he did). He also matched my questions with more questions. Well done, sir. I don't know what he gave me, but I woke up thinking, "That wasn't so bad." And I touched things to make sure I wasn't a ghost. I didn't tell anyone that because I didn't want them to think I was HYSTERICAL. 
  • I might have a higher tolerance for pain. When I was in the hospital a few hours after surgery, the nurses said I needed to get up and walk around. I agreed, but it meant I needed someone to unhook me from all the things connected to the bed. I made one lap around the floor with a nurse, who then went to check on other patients telling me to go until I was tired, but not to walk the entire floor since she might not hear me if I needed help. OK? I made four laps before I decided I had enough. There wasn't anything to see and my room had cable. The nurses and my doctor were surprised at that walk and the few others I had made by noon the next day. Why didn't it hurt more to get up and move around? My only comparison was my gallbladder surgery. Maybe the difference is the incisions are lower and it's a little easier to get up? Maybe my arms are stronger to push me up from a reclining position? Or maybe I've just become so used to pain that I don't think it's that bad? I don't know.
  • Women don't talk about these things - AND WE SHOULD! Since I posted about my surgery, I have heard from women I know who have  had the surgery and who seem to be headed this way. Why is this something we feel like we can't talk to each other about? I know not all women have issues this severe. In fact, I know more women who seem to act like this monthly "gift" is no big deal instead of some sort of internal torture. While those lucky broads may not understand or even be able to sympathize (I have heard plenty of women say, "Just take some Midol and get over it!"), those of  us who have not been so lucky should really make a better effort to seek out one another. I am so grateful to those of you who have had this surgery and have shared details about your recovery and a little bit of hope for me that I, too, will soon be pain-free. I wish those of you who haven't made it to this step will continue seeking medical care and exploring your options. You deserve to live life without this hanging over you!
I don't think this surgery makes anyone less of a woman. If anything, it makes you the kind of woman who can function without looking at a calendar with a sense of doom knowing what awaits you. What is so terrible about that?

I know that my recovery has just begun. I know that I am willing myself to get better (without the hydrocodone) so that I can get back to driving a car and get out of the house. I want to get back to work not because I love work, but because it's a routine. DISCLAIMER: I am playing the lottery while I am out so if I win big, I will not return to my regular duties. For the first time this year, I feel like I can focus on things other than managing pain without a cranky face. It's not a single bit of phoniness. It's real.

Now if I could just work out that sleep thing...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Personal Reboot

I haven't felt well since the second week of January.

I have had headaches (which I have learned are actually migraines).

I have daily lower abdominal pain.

I have also had a few other symptoms that I will not mention here to protect the squeamish and to go beyond the TMI point.

I knew something was wrong. So did my doctor. I have had an MRI, blood work, ultrasounds. I have had a few different labels of my situation: menorrhagia is one of them. In June, I received a new diagnosis: endometriosis of the uterus.

Without getting too graphic, I will tell you that I have never had a good relationship with Aunt Flo (see how I spared you the gross parts? YOU'RE WELCOME). I just never thought that it would get to the point where I forgot what it was like to not have one day without pain.

During the early phases of my illness, I kept things to myself, choosing to try to power through at work silently. Some people noticed I was different. I told them how I felt and what I was going through. Others didn't ask and assumed I was just constantly in a bad mood. I have tried to make the conscious effort to put a smile on my face and take my tears and moments of feeling terrible to a place where no one could see me (sometimes my car, sometimes the ladies room). I have cried more this year than I probably did when I was a baby - though my mom may dispute that. I don't want people to feel sorry for me. I really don't want people to ask me how I feel. I feel bad every day. Who wants to hear that? I usually just say that I'm OK. In a way, it's true. I have known that I don't have some disease that is going to kill me. What I have is temporary.

I do want to thank my family and friends who have taken WAY too much time out of their days to ask how I'm feeling and suffer through my anger, frustration and sadness about feeling miserable for so long. I appreciate each one of you for knowing that there has been no short answer (nor has there been a different answer to the question, "How do you feel?" for months). I love you all for putting up with that. Soon, I hope to not feel like an elderly person rattling through the same old ailments.

My doctor told me no birth control pill was going to make me better. Thankfully, she presented me with two options: an IUD or a hysterectomy. Why am I thankful for that? Because the internet told me there were eight possible treatments for my condition. When I quizzed my doctor about all of them, she patiently explained why the other six would not work for me. She said what I was thinking, "Trying all of those things will just delay the inevitable. The only thing that will permanently make you feel better is to remove your uterus. It is the source of your problems."

In April, I tried the IUD. Holy mother of ridiculous pain! I didn't know it was possible for a doctor to tug on your uterus. My uterus liked sitting where it was. My body fought back. Once I talked it off the anatomical ledge, the IUD was implanted. Instantly, I had shooting pain. By shooting, I mean I felt like my uterus was firing off a cannon inside my body. Sometimes, I feel my organs pushing inside me. It's weird. It's like my lower abdomen is a prison and the cast of Orange Is The New Black is trying to break free. After one month, I told my doctor I had more pain than before. She said that wasn't right. She suggested the hysterectomy. I wanted to give it one more month. Nothing changed. I knew what I had to do. When I went back in June, I said I wanted to schedule surgery. But I had a few more questions:
  • How do you do it? Robotically. Four small incisions.
  • What are the complications? Other organs could go bad, the usual surgery risks (anesthesia, blood loss). But there's less blood loss with the robotic option, so yay?
  • What's being left? Most importantly, my ovaries. Since I have felt bad for so long, my doctor wants me to feel better. Taking my ovaries would immediately put me into menopause. I'M TOO YOUNG FOR THAT! So now I'll get a few years where I should feel better before my first hot flash.
  • What's the recovery? It could be as quick as two weeks or as long as six. My doctor thinks that since the uterus is the problem, removing it should make me feel better. She believes my recovery will really be from the little incisions in my belly. I know how much that kicked my ass when I had my gall bladder removed a few years ago. That first night at home was a challenge. I had to get up in the middle of the night and couldn't sit up to get out of bed like I usually would. I had a great idea to swing my legs out of bed thinking I could just slide out. Instead, I realized my short legs didn't reach the floor. I slid, alright. Then once I was able to get on my knees, I couldn't figure out how to get up. I wasn't alone. My mom was in the next room. Snoring. She never heard me call her. I'm looking into getting a foghorn to sound when I need help this time.
Please keep me in your thoughts. If you pray, please say a prayer for me. If you don't believe in that, just think of me as I head into the operating room. Send positive thoughts my way to help me recover without complications. Wish me luck as move on to what I hope will be the final stretch of a shitty year with a few moments of happiness.

Please don't ask me if I'm sure about this. I am.

Please don't tell me about people you know who have had terrible things go wrong after this surgery or about some Suzanne Somers-esque treatment that made a friend of a friend feel better. I have treated my health like I would a news story. I have researched. I have asked questions. I do not want to prolong this situation. I want to wipe the suckiness out of my life. This is how my doctor and I believe we can do that.

Please don't feel sorry for me. I thought my reproductive choices had been mine all these years. Now I know they're not. I'm OK with that. You should be, too. If at some point I decide I want to be a mother to someone who does not have fur and paws, I know that I don't have to carry a baby in my belly to do that.

Please stop asking people if they want children. Frankly, this is a rude thing to ask someone - especially if you don't know their personal situation. I have never liked being asked, "Don't you want a baby?" And when I say, "No," I get a "What's wrong with you?" reaction. I like kids. But I like me. I like sleep. I like that if I want to do something, I can. This is MY choice. It's none of your business why I don't have or want what you have. We're different. Since I will not be able to get pregnant, this question is even more intrusive. Yes, I am aware that I am putting this out there for anyone to see. But this is the only time I'm going to ask you not to ask this question. My answers from here on out will be, "I don't have a uterus. So Einstein, please tell me how I can get pregnant?" or "How many barbecue plates would you help me sell to hire a nanny and pay for college for the child you'd like me to adopt?" Snarky? Yes. Don't ask questions if you're not prepared for the answer.

I am optimistic. That's not who I usually am. After nearly seven months of daily, sometimes debilitating pain, I finally feel like I will be able to start and end each day being thankful that I'm having fewer moments of pain. At some point, I won't hurt. My smile will be real, not forced. I will want to be in the sunshine because it won't make my head feel like it's going to split into a million pieces. And I will once again have control of myself and my life. I look forward to that day. I don't know what my future holds, but I am certain there is a future. It will be good. It will be happy. And everyone better watch out. I won't be the old me. I'll be the new me. I can't wait to meet her! 

Friday, August 15, 2014

TV Marathon Coach

If I could have a job that wasn't super stressful, I'd charge people for my TV marathon coaching. As far as I know, it's not an actual job, but I am totally for hire. Since I don't expect people to actually pay me for these services, I'm going to provide some free coaching.

These are the 20 shows I fully recommend you set aside days or weeks of your life to watch. My main criteria: that these series didn't go on too long and that those series that ended answer most of the questions raised. These are not shows you can watch while doing other things. They will require your attention. Get to Facebooking with these shows on and you will probably miss a little detail that will make it hard for you to understand what happened. You've been warned.

NOTE: I'm putting them in order of the shows that are still on so you can get caught up in time for the next season.


Matthew McConaughey had the best year ever! Just when I thought his best work was "Dazed and Confused," he punches me in the brain with this show. And he punched HARD!

McConaughey and Woody Harrelson play detectives investigating bizarre murders in Louisiana. NOTE: This series will NOT make you want to take a road trip in Louisiana.

This series is creepy. It is mind-bending. It is practically impossible to figure out whodunit. And then when you know, it's still a "Whoa...what?!?!?" moment.

Season two is a whole different story with a whole different cast. Filming hasn't started yet, so there's time to absorb this. Just don't do it before bedtime if, like me, your brain takes the last thing you've seen and puts it into your dreams.

I don't naturally love science fiction, but this is just enough for me. The science (made clear VERY early on): the women who look identical but are completely different are clones. The hook: this is a straight-up thriller! Who is cloning them and why? That's answered by the end of the first season. Season two unleashes so many questions, that by the end of the season I was demanding season three start immediately!

Tatiana Maslany plays all the lady clones so well, it's hard to see them as anything other than different people. I just wish the awards show judges would give her some credit. She is incredible!


I'm not going out on a limb to say BBC America has some of the best television out there. This series was actually made for American TV, but I refuse to watch any bastardization of an excellent series.

This is a murder mystery show. The victim is a young boy. The suspects: pretty much every person who lives in the little town of Broadchurch. Seriously. Just when you think you know who did it, they put you on the trail of another person. This show is heartbreakingly good.


Oh, politics! I am fascinated by what happens in Washington (or doesn't happen depending on the day)! This seems to be the closest to being a fly on the wall I can get.

Kevin Spacey is absolutely creepy! It's a good thing he is the lead on this Netflix series because he steals every scene! I am torn between being disgusted and loving him, so I keep watching to see how I feel when it's all over. By the end of season two, I was shouting at the TV. Then I shouted at myself because I watched the whole series in a weekend. And I felt like I had nothing left.


Anytime I think I'm tough, I think about the fact that I'm not "prison tough."


While this has many funny moments, it should serve as a reminder that prison life is not fun. The main character, Piper, is caught up in a little crime called "drug trafficking." She winds up in a prison for women where she quickly learns there is no longer things like privacy or decent food. Sexual harassment is still a thing. Prison today is a lot like a violent version of the 1950s - sexist and rapey and there's no real complaint department but you can pass the time with hobbies and pretend like life gets better.

Since it's set in a prison (and loosely based on a true story), the cast will change from season to season. I have a few favorites who made it to season two, but I worry some of the others will not make it to season three. Like "House of Cards," I blew threw each of these seasons in a weekend. One of these days, I'll learn to pace myself. It's lonely outside of prison.


Don't let the talk of Bowe Bergdahl being like Nicholas Brody stop you from watching this.

The story of a U.S. Marine rescued after being held by terrorists being turned into a terrorist is fascinating! You will be annoyed by Claire Danes and her crazy eyes. You will be annoyed by Brody's daughter (so much so, you might find yourself wishing terrible things on her). But you will not stop watching Mandy Patinkin's Saul and his beard. I promise!

Season four starts soon, so get to watching this!



Do you need another reason to watch? Fine.

How about characters that leap off the screen and seem larger than the biggest television? Because you get that from this show.

The series is beginning its last season soon. Watch the previous seasons and get caught up or wait until the final season is complete and watch them all. You won't regret it.


That promo doesn't even scratch the surface of this comedy.

It is funny. It is real. It is uncomfortable. So, it's like life- if you know someone who can make you laugh but not because they're trying too hard (that's NEVER funny).


I never thought I would like a show about zombies. And I don't.

This show, while zombie-centric, is really about life and how we survive when we see the worst of times. Can we survive? Can we put the life we lived behind us and adapt to the life we have now? This looks like really tough times - death, oozing people, definite stink. This show makes the case for not having smell-evision.

It's also shown me that I would have an extremely tough time if there was a zombie invasion. It looks dirty. I don't do dirty.

But this show...the characters are SO good! FAIR WARNING: whether you love or hate a character, don't get too wrapped up on your feelings. There's a good chance he/she won't make it for long.


If the words IDRIS ELBA aren't enough to lure you to this brief series, I don't know why you're even reading this.

He is so good as a detective trying to do the right thing despite the obstacles that come his way!

Yes, it's a BBC America show. The best part about that: they don't let their shows go on forever. Ever episode is building to an ending. Binging this may keep you from having anxiety wondering what happens next. DO IT.


I don't know what cave you've been living in, but if you haven't heard of this show you need to stop trying to figure out who's president and drop everything for a few days to watch this series.

I first saw the trailer while watching another show on AMC. I thought the idea of a science teacher who starts making methamphetamine was a bit strange, but it wasn't enough to make me not check it out. Besides, it aired on Sunday (and at the time, NOTHING was happening on Sunday night).

Worth. Every. Second.

If you don't like this show, just unfriend me from every part of your life. We have nothing left to say to each other.


I remember the first time I saw Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction." I was so terrified of her that I didn't even want a pet bunny anymore. Ruined it.

As crazymeanangry as she was in that, she pulls it off in this series. Her champion lawyer with a young lawyer under her wing shows the nasty side of life - not even the legal world. You can hate lawyers but if you're in a bind, you need one. And this is the lawyer you want fighting for you, NOT against you.


I want to time travel to the 1960s for SO many reasons (cocktail hour is one of them)!

This show is like taking that trip, but without having to be sexually harassed.

Sure, Jon Hamm is handsome. While he plays the main character, there are a few others who will steal the spotlight. You are already watching commercials, you might as well see how they used to make 'em!

NOTE: You will want a cocktail while watching this show. Go ahead and pour one before you settle in to watch this.


Yes, this is a show that looks like it's about football. But once you get past that, you'll see it's a story about so much more.

There are five seasons of this. Even non-football fans will be rooting for these Dillon Panthers by the end.

Clear Eyes + Full Heart = Can't Lose.


Another crime-based drama - or so you think. Don't be quick to write this off as a police procedural. This is about all sides of real-life issues. The series first tackles the war on drugs, then human trafficking, corruption and by the end, it's deep into crumbling newspapers and terrible school systems.

And if you like excellent character acting, Michael K. Bell (also featured as Chalky on "Boardwalk Empire") is outstanding as Omar. This is the kind of show that could have continued well past its final season, but David Simon managed to wrap things up without letting the show feel like it overstayed its welcome. This show isn't always action packed, but neither is real life. That doesn't mean it's boring. It's like eavesdropping on things most people never know happens. Who wouldn't want to do that?


This was just a mini-series, but the word mini doesn't really work for this.

It's the true story of Easy Company, some paratroopers who landed on Normandy and didn't stop their mission until they reached Hitler's hiding spot. These boys become men before your eyes. If you watch the whole series (which includes a documentary with the real men describing their experience), they'll say they're not heroes. They were. They are. And every time I learn one of them has passed, it makes me sad. We are losing this generation. I have a great fear young people will have no idea what these men did for the world. I am so thankful Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg made this series. It is an incredible tribute to these men and their role in history.


This is just one scene from this series. There is a whole lot of walking and talking and single camera shots - so it's like being an observer of politics (and less dirty that "House of Cards").

Aaron Sorkin writes long monologues like no one else. When there are group scenes like the one I posted, everyone participates in some way. It is serious. It is funny. It is smart. It's also one of the reason I will NEVER work in politics. I like sleep. But I'm OK missing sleep to rewatch this series. It's THAT good. This is a show that could have kept going, but it ended on a good note. I'd still like to see  how the new president would have handled today's issues. Sorkin's "The Newsroom" kind of fills that void, but it's not enough for me.


If you watched that video, you can tell this series is violent and expletive heavy - just like you'd expect a mafia series to be.

While the tough guy theme is consistent throughout the show, these characters are also sensitive. They're not so tough that they aren't always watching over their backs for the law to come after them. And some of them get caught. Some of them get a little gang justice (well, a LOT of that happens).

You may find yourself wanting pasta while you watch this. Just let me know when you get to the end of the series. It's been seven years since the finale and I'm still not sure how I feel about that.


This is another David Simon crime show. It is every bit as good as "The Wire."

The show follows homicide detectives as they work their cases. Ever wondered what murder police do? This is pretty real. It's gritty. It's tense. It's sad.

Seriously. Some of these guys need a hug.

This series went on for six years. I could still watch this. I don't understand how all those "CSI" and "Law & Order" shows can keep going, but shows with excellent characters who evolve and have real issues end.

This series also has some excellent guests and plenty of "before they were famous" appearances.



This is a show that got a little, well, lost along the way. The network didn't give the creators a firm end date, so there is one season and a few episodes that were filler. But once the show knew when it was going to end, they did their best to tie up loose ends. It's why I debated whether to include this in my list.

There's a plane crash on an island and the whole series is filled with "Will they get off the island?" and "What the hell is happening on that island?" and "What IS that island?" themes.

By the time you get to the last season, most of those questions get answered. Get lost (no pun intended) in this, but don't over think it. You may cry at the finale. I did. Real tears.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Melons = Boobs

I speak enough slang to know MELONS are boobs. 

I wish I had seen the driver to know if they were real.

I also wish I could tell you they weren't moobs. Because there's a chance.