Social Distancing: Why I'm loving the Corona Virus

When I first heard about the Corona Virus some time in January, I had no idea it would turn out to be so serious. The name itself threw me off, after all, it was literally named after the friendliest beer. I mean, when you picture yourself soaking in the sun on some pristine beach in the Carribbean, you see yourself drinking a Corona, not a Schlenkeria (or some other German beer with way too many consonants). A few months down the line and here I am, barricaded in my house with my family, and yet, despite the gravity of the situation, there are many things I’m very thankful for about this pandemic. 

These days, I only venture out for groceries but when I’m there, if I feel a cough coming on, I panic and do everything to try to hold it in. And its not like holding in a fart, this is much tougher, especially as I’m allergic to dust and that’s pretty unavoidable. I’ve been in many awkward situations where my allergies get me death stares and eye ball judgement. Although it does wonders if you need to clear a path somewhere. Who needs to say ‘Excuse me’ when you can just cough. It’s almost like having a superpower.

I never thought I would see the day where coughing would raise more eyebrows and instill more fear than a weapon or good old fashioned indecent exposure. I think you could actually hold up a bank nowadays by just coughing your way to the safe and spitting sputum on the cashier clerks. I can see it now, a burglar enters a bank where everyone is wearing face masks, removes his and yells “All your money or I’ll sneeze!”

The social distancing aspect if by far the greatest bonus. For years and years I have been searching for an excuse to avoid some people like the plague, and lo and behold, the universe sends me an actual plague! There are a certain number of mouth-breathing, incessant talking, sewage breath folks that I’m delighted to never have to hug or mingle with again. It’s wonderful; now when I see these folks, I do my special “Corona Dance”; I throw my hands up in the air like I’m under arrest and I wiggle my ass backwards until said person blends into the horizon, singing “Sorry, have to be careful, I have asthma” as I disappear into the distance, forever. 

As Covid-19 began to really impact healthcare infrastructures and societies started shutting down, the gravity of this apocalypse hurtled at me with full force. In particular, the closing of schools was a shock to the system. I believe my exact words to my husband were “Shoot me in the ass because I’m sure that will hurt less”. Gone were the days of having my morning coffee after dropping my toddler at nursery by lazing on the couch and fantasizing about my pulitzer award. Now it was back to chug your coffee cold while you distract young demon with the theory of relativity, or a balloon. 

But as the first week passed, we both settled into the new reality and I am really loving the extra bonding time. Now we play, laugh and cry together and every day is a new opportunity to try and find new fun activities we can do at home and alone. Seriously, if anyone ever wanted to train their young ones to be successful serial killers, you won’t get another opportunity like this. 

There are many benefits to flattening the curve, and I’m not just referring to my shape. The planet is getting a much needed break from some fleas, families all over the globe are discovering that maybe they should have opted for condoms, and introvert alcoholics are finally venerated with a lifestyle most will condone. So take comfort and know that it’s ok; we’re all in this, alone. 

Falling from Grace: When Gravity wins


Toddlers fall. Drunk people fall. Even temperatures fall. But when you as a functioning, sober being with a sociably acceptable level of agility fall down, it’s an event. Forget the humiliation, its dealing with the damage as you age that makes the blow harder. We walk around with a false sense of confidence thinking we figured out life, and all it takes is one losing battle with gravity to realise that we are just bags of bones with occasionally malfunctioning brains.

As we age, we learn how to do more and more things in auto pilot mode. We drift off mentally when we drive, we have conversations with people in our head while we do chores, and we certainly don’t spend every step we take assessing distance, quantum mechanics and Newton’s 3 laws of motion. But just when you think you have mastered something to perfection, gravity gives you a rude awakening, reminding you that lulled brains can lead to bruised knees, elbows and egos.

I’m a 40 year old mama. I think by now I’ve experienced enough in the way of accidents, with a wide range consisting of car bumps and getting peed on. But taking a serious fall in the middle of the day, on a very crowded street in town, certainly threw me a curveball. After falling as elegantly as a drunk and dyslexic swan could possibly hope to, my first thought was literally “What? Is my body still doing these?!”

People gaped, no one helped (lucky me) and to save face, I tried to clamour up as quickly as possible. But of course, I’m injured, so I looked like I was auditioning for one of the zombies on The Walking Dead. So I shot up as quickly as I could manage and began “walking” when a searing pain in my knee basically crippled me dead in my tracks. When you fall down, the adrenaline or shock or embarrassment basically hide the full extent of your injuries. So you get up thinking all is well and that you can resume your normal walking duties when your body lets out several screams and you have to CSI your own blood to the source of the injuries. 

As the hours went on, the bruises revealed the anatomy of said fall. My knee had taken a good smashing and by nighttime looked about nine months pregnant. In addition to serious skin scrapes, my elbow and whole left side were badly bruised, making normal every day movement as challenging as Calculus.

Falling at 40 is not like falling at 4. It’s not only that you are carrying significantly more mass, it’s also that your body has been existing for much longer and has developed some wear and tear, with a much slower ability to recover. I remember my childhood was filled with spills and scraped knees, but I don’t recall missing any thrilling Duck-Duck-Goose games because I couldn’t bend a bruised knee anymore. It was a sad realisation knowing that my very young spirited brain now needed to recalibrate and align with its much more mature host.

The fall really made me realise how important it was to be in good physical standing, with my full spectrum of mobility available. Picking up my 13 kg toddler with only one good leg? Not fun. Trying to bend down to fetch the keys? As pleasant as a visit to the proctologist, with similar sound effects!

Unfortunately, these accidents are unavoidable. There is literally nothing you can do to stop such calamities other than hide in an idiot-proofed cave for the rest of your life. And even though it really hurts the bones and mind when gravity chooses you out of a whole street full of potential victims, the bright side is that you do get to appreciate what your body can do and make efforts to care for it better. Until the weekend comes. Then it’s just you versus your liver, but that’s another story.


Bigger is NOT Better

No, I’m not talking about men’s love muscles; although obviously anything under 3 inches should be donated to science. I’m talking about the widening sizes of female butts. I get that Kim K caused quite a stir with her transformation into some kind of ass monster, but now that I’m seeing this trend in daily life from normal women not married to Kanye, I’m more than a little creeped out.

I see them at the gym, at the mall, sometimes they block the moon, and many seem to have their own gravitational pull because I just can’t pull my eyes away. The obsession is maddening. If you type “how can I get a big” in Google, the first suggestion is “bigger bum?” The methods are sickening. You can either opt for the healthy route and squat yourself into a slow herniated death, which is fine because at least once you do croak, they can bury you face down for the world to marvel at your luscious cheeks. Or you can go the artificial route and stuff your derriere with anything from silicone, fat, or little children’s dreams.

Either way, there’s a fine line between socially passable and downright cracked (couldn’t resist)-out. If you suffer from ass cheeks that are as limp as a comatose patient’s handshake, then it wouldn’t hurt society if you snuck in a squat or two. However if you have a behind that prevents you from falling into toilets, then opting for an operation to enhance it to the size of a prize stallion’s ass is just demented. Sure, beauty is the eye of the beholder but this trend specifically sprang up because of some lame-o makeshift celebrities and its hurting people; specifically me and my eyes.

Butt implants, aside from being terrifying to human eyes (especially ones connected to functioning brains) do carry some health risks. Sure there are risks with any normal surgery but I’m sure very few run the horrendous notion of ending up with an infected asshole. Yes, see they cut near your glory hole so that there are no scars. Of course this leaves one of your most important orifices for relief at risk of malfunctioning, which could land you in a pile of shit.

It takes about 6 weeks to recover from butt augmentation. For 6 weeks, you should avoid sitting, or your cheeks could either harden or shift (how great would that be; having your ass fat right under your boobs?). The recovery sounds so painfully ridiculous that I’m amazed at its popularity. It’s like waking up to a world where suddenly it’s trending to pull out your own teeth while sober because the geriatric look is dope.

When you have to physically change your body with surgery to (not) fit in, then you have crossed the line from weak willed to blatantly psychotic. Congratulations on your new large ass. Here are your pills, your extra-large thongs, and a husband who will cheat on you with the first Rhinoceros he comes across.

 

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From ABC to OCD

Ah, the beautiful carefree spirit of children. They play, they swing, they run amok in all sorts of nooks and crannies. They kiss each other on the mouth, they start their meals with an aperitif of boogers and have absolutely no qualms with grabbing moving insects off the ground to cleanse their budding and innocent palates. Of course this doesn’t last. As we age, we put less and less things in our mouth (some of us, anyways). And invariably, many of us grow into less and less tolerant maniacs. So why does this transformation occur? Are we doomed to climb an upward slope with our placidity until we rot?

I was a messy, messy child. I was a messy, messy young adult. I’m still messy today, albeit less, but I have developed a touch of OCD in weird things and I can’t reconcile this with my character. For instance, if you come over and eat a cookie in my house without a plate, I will literally silently stare and try to memorize where each baked boulder lands, while I plot on disemboweling your loved ones. Then I will spend the rest of the evening with a fake smile, trying to count the nanoseconds till you leave and I can find said bubonic-plague-spreading morsels.

If I visit a public bathroom, I cannot touch the doorknob to leave. I need a tissue shielding me from the cold metal protrusion, from which I am sure I can visibly see creepy crawlies jumping up and down, touching themselves and yelling “Come on sugar! Bring your unsuspecting paw! I just want a ride baby!” Not ten years ago, this was absolutely no issue for me (the doorknobs, not the molesting bacteria, if I had known about those fuckers then, things would have been a whole lot different). Now, if the bathroom is out of tissues, I will literally wait till someone comes in to make my escape. How has this happened?

How did I go from someone who would share a beer with any sort of mammal to a person who cringes when someone takes a sip of my drink? There are very, very few people who I can tolerate sharing any body fluids with, and they include me. Is this a sign of insanity on the horizon? Is this one of many mental disorders that is fated to cloud my future days?

According to research, the shift towards intolerance in older age is linked to the epoch you grew up in as well as atrophy of certain parts of the brain. Additionally, some research shows that “intellectual curiosity tends to decline in old age”, which could support us becoming more and more closed off to certain behaviors. I take offense at that. Partly because I don’t want my intellectual curiosity to go down, and because I don’t agree. If I leave cookie crumbles to rue my house, it is not a sign of the degradation of my intellectual curiosity. Just because I’m not curious as to how many bugs will fester in my furniture doesn’t mean I am any less curious then I was in my 20s. I never once saw a child stuff a bug into its mouth, and while they sat there drooling with one twitching insect limb poking out did I think to myself “Oh what a wonderfully curious creature! Bless it!”

No, kids are stupid; they eat shit off the floor because they don’t know how to live without adult supervision. Many people are bums, and I don’t like cookie shit on my floors because I don’t want to host a free buffet for grimy guests. I like to think of my developing OCD as a glorious sign of my budding character, not a hindering consequence of my greying hair.

Ultimately, change is inevitable and it is a beautiful part of the life cycle. Even if it means you will invite less people over to your house. If you too are showing premature signs of Jack Nicholson levels of OCD, fear not, the road ahead is not all bad. You may end up with less friends but you can relish in the fact that you have less insects and disease in your life.

Also, there are just as many sources that say we become more mellow with age as there are that claim the opposite. The uptake from this is that: 1) we know research doesn’t count for shit and 2) your older days could really go either way.  I say embrace the tide, let the slobs cry over the corpses of their loved ones, let the bacteria keep longing for your skin, and do not go gentle into that good night!

 

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Better to Blow

Friends come in all sizes and shapes but one of the greatest ones to have is a blow-up doll. Whether you like the slutty kinds or not, these inflatable companions can fill in marvelously for where a lot of real people fall flat. They come in a great variety; blow up whales, dolphins, crabs, clowns, monsters, etc… . And now that summer is in full inferno mode, these water-resistant pals are even greater as you can drag one for support to any body of water.

Let’s face it; blow up toys are just as much fun in your one-digit years as they are in your nearing-mid-life-crises years. And it goes well beyond the act of blowing; take a look at some of the pluses of donning a bubble friend:

  • They never tell you what to do, put you down, or judge you (well sometimes they might judge you but at least they keep their nasty air-headed opinions to themselves).
  • You never have to worry about buying them drinks; they gladly take whatever is spilled their way, be it in the form of alcohol or other…liquids.
  • You can lean on them.
  • They will never pee in the pool; unlike those people that stay in the water for hours drinking beer.
  • You will finally have someone to talk to so people will think you are less insane.
  • They stay erect far longer than many people.
  • They are very sociable.
  • They don’t need to go to the bathroom so they can hold your bag/drink as you tinkle.
  • They will never give you an STD, although they may be responsible for some chaffing or scars.
  • If someone is boring you at a party, you can secretly deflate your doll and give it to the motor mouth to blow, basically shutting them up at least for a few moments.

Aside from the myriad of benefits, blow-up friends are also great conversation starters and ice breakers. I mean, think about it, how many times have you taken that one awkward friend to a party and had tons of people swarm you to touch him and tell you how cute your friend is? Exactly, never! However the minute you walk in with this bubble head on your arm people will flock to it like idiots to reality TV.

And aside from the cute ones, let’s not forget the world of good that the sex dolls have bestowed upon man. How many a girl’s orifice has been spared senseless pounding thanks to the eternally gaping silicone babes who have taken many for the team? So before you judge or say ‘ew’ at that voiceless femme, remember that she could be sparing  you a horrendous experience.

You don’t have to take it as far as this guy, but if you come across a toy that you see a potential future with, you should invest in that sucker and head out for the great adventure. Parties and events are certainly much more fun with this thing on your arm, and will nurture your precious inner child.  All in all, plastic friends can be valuable additions to social events, life and genital health. And in our crazy world today, this is one kind of blow up that won’t hurt anyone.

 

sarapeememe

Heel Thyself

Stilettos, pumps, platforms and “come penetrate me now” shoes. If you’ve ever had a flair for the feminine, then you’ve got one or a hundred of these babies lurking in your closet. Yet even though they look hot, one cannot negate the fact that many soles that don these instruments just don’t know how to maneuver in them. And if you can’t glide like a swan, then just leave the heels and do your back, and society, a favor.

There are more than a handful of fashion victims out there. I am always astounded by the sheer number of ladies who wear very high heels to work every day. I always thought that stilettos were only required if your office desk was, in fact, a pole or someone’s lap. Yet there are herds and herds of females that wear pointy devil shoes as part of their professional corporate attire.

The issue arises when those that don’t know how to walk in heels do so anyways. And there are many women who are completely unaware of what they look like. There are those that hunch forward, to try to avert the pressure on the ankles. The result is that they walk looking like they are about to charge you, kind of like a raging bull-ess. Then there are the femme fatales that allow their ankles to sway wildly while they try to resist gravity. Note to you ladies, the only things that should be swinging that much are the sexually adventurous folks out there.  And finally, there are the dames that insist on heels so uncomfortable that their faces are plastered with tears and grimaces akin to a birthing mother. These last set usually scuffle to the bathrooms for relief or just won’t get up at all.

If you look at the anatomy of the heel, it immediately becomes apparent that it was invented either by angry gay men or the Dark Lord himself. At least when they first made the scene, the heel had a little base to even out the impact on your poor feet, but as we can see today, fashion has diminished comfort to the point that some heels rest on atoms for support.

I used to wear heels before my disc. Months after my injury, I remember trying to wear a pair and as soon as that searing pain shot down the nerves of my leg, I kissed those babies good-bye and opted to rely instead on my big personality. However I do certainly understand the appeal, which is why I’m sharing a few tips for the height-addicted.

Tip number one: Keep your back straight. A great way to practice this is to walk around in the privacy of your own home and balance a book on your head. Once you can walk around swiftly without dropping the book, you are ready to take your strut to the general public.

Tip number two: your feet should always be parallel; not turned in nor out. If your feet don’t point straight ahead, not only do you look like you are being examined by a gynecologist while walking but you are also adding unnecessary tension to certain weak points, like your ankles.

Tip number three: start with smaller heels, or wedges. The wedge is my hero, it won’t hurt your back as much and you don’t have to worry about getting your heel stuck in sewage drain covers or ….

Tip number four: If you insist on wearing a pair when you go clubbing, sneak in a pair of foldable Scholl ballerinas in your bag. You’ll make your grand entrance, look astoundingly hot for the first few dances, then when everyone you’ve impressed has strapped on the booze goggles, you can enjoy the evening in the comfort of flats.

If you just can’t seem to manage any of these, keep the heels for turning on your lover in the safety and vicinity of the bedroom. You’ll still look hot with your legs in the air, and you can spare your spine and bones the pressure. Just make sure you don’t poke out his eye.

 

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The Science of Stupid

It’s one thing to believe in Santa when you are young. It’s quite another to grow into a sound adult who shares serious “Santa spotted in Brazil” posts on Facebook based on some asinine source. Day in and day out, I am simply astounded by the sheer amount of bull manure that is shared on social media and defended as fact. Unfortunately, not only has news reporting become sullied by sensationalism and outright deceit, but science is having her day in the pit as well thanks to those who perpetuate false claims.

At school, we were taught the difference between fact and fiction. But more important now is the difference between fact and opinion. The world has become inundated with self-proclaimed experts that spew out garbage with throngs of drones just accepting whatever shit comes their way. Just because you’ve experienced something doesn’t give you the right to suddenly claim to be an expert and start spreading your ignorance around. If that were the case, I would attach ‘tequila connoisseur’ to my name on all official documents, and roam the earth sucking up agave liquor from all the finest venues. Yet just because I consume industrial amounts doesn’t mean I get to be interviewed about the atomic differences between brands.

Study has become a greatly abused word today. Reporters and people hide behind the title to make outrageous claims that are too absurd for words. How is it possible that there are still people that don’t know the difference between satire, blogs and science reports? For a very succinct and hilarious explanation of the problem, please watch this awesome video by one of my heroes; John Oliver (Here). Essentially, it boils down to the fact that research studies sometimes have misleading or catchy headlines that get completely blown out of proportion by traditional media.

And it’s not like science isn’t sexy enough on its own. Ever watched ‘How the Universe works’ or Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole? That shit is literally so cool it hurts to understand.  The world around us is astounding, the way nature works on our planet and off it are simply beyond wonder. Do we really need to latch on to stupid claims about how smelling farts cures cancer? Or how the vibrational energy in my heart will soothe your throbbing hemorrhoids?

It’s one thing to want to believe, but it’s another to not only buy the lies but spread them as well. Sure, I would love to live in a world where instead of chemo all I had to do was sniff some butts to heal, but that’s not the way it works. If you are going to start defending a claim, please make sure it comes from a recognized scientific source, not a blog. When I was studying history in university, I remember one teacher constantly hammering us with “check your sources, check your sources, check your sources” over and over. This person needs to start a religion because there are bucket loads of morons that believe just about anything today.

If it seems like I’m coming off kinda mean, I’m not. There is a study that has actually honed down our Bullshit Receptivity Scale and how it relates to our intelligence. If you are in doubt that you may yourself be a victim of this, simply apply the scientific method to whatever you are in doubt of and you will be on your way. For example, let’s say my friend Jerome tells Cinderella “hey Cinderella, did you know that licking cows makes you lose weight?” Cinderella is excited, because who the fuck enjoys actual dieting? Cinderella goes to a farm, weighs herself, and then licks some cows. After a few of these sessions, she notices no change in her weight, however she has developed a fever. What does Cinderella conclude? That Jerome is an asshole.

Enough ignorance. Ignorance is at the root of all evil in our world today and we begin to change the universe by changing ourselves, and I don’t mean what you’re wearing, I mean from within. If you can search for porn on the internet, then you are capable of deciphering what’s fact from what’s drivel. Part of our definition as humans is that we have the intellectual capacity for critical thinking. If you don’t apply it, you might as well walk around with a bell around your neck, and a ‘beef’ stamp on your ass.

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Stand by your SO(B)

Relationships are special. Relationships are cursed. About all I can say with certainty after my life experience is that they are a delicate balance of giving in, looking the other way and sticking to your guns, literally, as in sometimes you need to threaten people with physical violence or they just don’t get it. Yet despite the hierarchy and anatomy of different types of relationships, one thing that I absolutely detest are people that put their SO (Significant Other) down in public.

I often see people put up with shit in their lives, be it from their work, their kids, or that vindictive slut karma that doesn’t seem to always live up to her word. Yet despite the crap we are dealt with, the one instance where we shouldn’t bend over and smile is when we are being put down by people we love. Life hands out enough humiliation, like that time you were speaking to someone and accidentally threw up on their face, or that time you thought you were alone in an alley and farted Mozart’s 5th symphony, only to hear the crushing giggles of an invisible audience.

Yet humiliation from a loved one is more painful than sodomy with a palm tree. There are several reasons for this. The first is that your Significant Other is significant because you love, respect and admire them, so technically they are coming from a point of authority. It’s like your mom announcing in front of your science club that the only white coat you were going to get as an adult was in the loony bin as you were dropped way too many times on your head as an infant. Another reason is the surprise element, like when you are out hunting deer and as you are crouching in the bush, an excited-nearly-extinct rhino spots your behind and decides to finally try out interspecies mating. It hurts from both ends; mentally and physically.

Not only does it hurt when you are involved, but it is also quite shitty to witness. Even if you are not close to either party, watching someone be humiliated by their SO(B) is as uncomfortable as watching your parents go at it. It’s awkward, its ugly and you would rather be miles and miles away, hunting the last unicorn in some dimension. Sure, sometimes, we lose our tempers and explode and say things we regret, yet these instances should be few and far between. Others however, thrive and exist on berating the partners they hold dear, with complete disregard to the audience. The fact that these assholes are even allowed to procreate is beyond me; I only wish it were socially acceptable to interfere and say something to their ugly faces.

Unfortunately though, you can’t interfere in someone else’s business. Unless they are physically smashing their partner’s teeth out, you kind of have to sit the abuse out. It’s sad but in every instance when you try to step in to stand up for a friend, it will always backfire and you will suddenly be the focus of the problem. Their dysfunctional relationship will survive way past your friendship, and years down the line they will be on some deserted beach, sipping Bacardi and talking about how they almost broke up that time because of that asshole one time; you.

If you are, unfortunately, in love or living with someone like this, and the sex is too good or you are just too lazy to seek an alternative life partner, I suggest the following to help Karma on its way:

  • Spit in their morning coffee. It’s a nice discrete way to send them on their day.
  • Hack into their bank account and treat yourself every month to a spa or nice day out
  • Give the brake pads on their car a little nip. Only do this though if you feel like you are ready to maybe start looking for the next Mr./Mrs. Wrong to ruin your life.

It’s a sad fact of life, but there are people who put up with demeaning partners because of low self-esteem. You can sugar coat it all you want, but glazed abuse is just as sickening as the non-glazed version. It is a form of bullying, that will probably be picked up by the children and perpetuated for generations to come. Ultimately, relationships should be a support system. Your SO should be the one raising you up, not crumpling you down to a wilted flower. And while it may be hard to step out of the madness, you need to remind yourself that life hands out enough shit, so you really don’t need to put up with someone else’s. And remember, abuse isn’t funny, unless it’s physical and happening to the abuser.  relationsheep

Chasing the Dragon

I’ve gone through my fair share of addictions in life, as many humans have. And having survived some pretty nasty afflictions, and even though I am in a much healthier state of mind and body, my current obsession is also fraught with peril. For those of you out there who run regularly, I’m sure you’ve nurtured injuries thanks to taking stupid or reckless decisions about how much to push yourselves.

I started running 2 years ago. I was a smoker, overweight and terribly out of shape; walking up a flight of steps felt like it could send me into a coma. However after running for a few weeks, the sheer rate of my improvement lured me into a sordid affair with my outdoor trails that soon surpassed my addiction to smoking on the couch while flirting with hot chicks (I’m talking about actual fried chickens here).

And of course, there’s that runner’s high. It’s an actual high, they’re not kidding folks, it’s like MDMA and heroin had a baby in your brain, and it’s free! Who the hell needs waiting on some dingy street corner to score when you can literally run away from your dealer and get an absolutely all-encompassing body high that feels like an extended skin orgasm? I’ve literally had moments of bliss while running that were so intense that I would close my eyes and make extremely weird noises that would scare pedestrians away; I’m sure I looked like I was possessed and running away from Satan, but I was really deep in the throes of mad nirvana.

Yet, as good as it is for you, there is an insanity tied to running. I first noticed it when I went to a race, where I was participating in the 10 k and there was also a 21 k going on. In the parking lot, I could just tell who the half-marathon runners were from looking at them. It wasn’t just their physique; they came in all sorts of sizes and shapes. They had a look about them, like they were out for the hunt, the chase, the kill. These maniacs meant business. Somewhere on their trail was the elusive dragon, and they were going to catch up with it, grab it, and skin the essence out of it while they molested it. And the longer the distances, the crazier the looks.

As great as the benefits of running are, and as great as the high is, the downside is that you will face many a moment when you shouldn’t run, but the kick in your legs will push you to do something stupid. I have done several stupid things in my running escapades. One was deciding to go for a little 6 k run after I had a slipped disk. My physiotherapist told me to wait a few months. When she said months I silently cursed her first born and assumed she meant days, seeing as she was Asian and probably struggled with the language. Needless to say, it took me 6 months to get back to my running regimen after that excursion. I was fine during the actual run itself, but the minute I stopped, I felt the muscles in my back grip around my spine like they were trying to claw some sense back into me.

Then yesterday there was a sand storm here in sunny Abu Dhabi. The air was thick with dust and grime. I fought with my hubby who didn’t want me to go, I was set on doing an hour and a half and after 30 minutes, he forced me back into my cage. This morning I woke up wheezing and coughing. For the last 8 hours, I have been continually coughing up like what seems like an ozone layer, along with a few stretches of sandy beach. I feel utterly terrible and now I won’t be able to run for a few days, till my lungs heal. I could run on a treadmill, but I always feel like an inmate when I have to work out indoors. And I hate running for kilometers watching my panting reflection in the glass and getting absolutely nowhere!

For now, I am stuck behind the window, like a punished dog, watching the dust thicken in the air, watching the dragon peeking at me from behind the clouds. I won’t be able to go out today, probably not for the next 3 days, but sooner or later, I’ll be back myself, to the hunt, to the trail, chasing those scales that turn me inside out.  running

Cooking ain’t so hot

(Dedicated to my Tetas)

It’s a widely accepted fact that cooking is a dying art. Many of us might have grown up with the women in the family always preparing rich traditional meals, however as adults we are neglecting this tradition. The only spreads I prepare are Excel-based. Time is the obvious culprit; with full time demanding jobs, many of us barely have time to shave our legs, let alone stuff vine leaves. Yet even when some of us attempt to reach out to this piece of our heritage, it ends in a toxic fiasco. Does cooking require special genetic talent or are we evolving into kitchen repellant creatures?

When I was young, my grandma would prepare glorious feasts of Lebanese wonders. Kids are not discerning when it comes to ingredients and I enjoyed many rich dishes that I would not have swallowed willingly had I known what they were. Things like cow tongue and sheep intestine stuffed with rice and meat. Of course I grew up and eventually found out, and after a few suicide attempts, I vowed to stay away from these dishes. Now that I’m older though, a tribal part of me wants to learn these recipes and not let the tradition die with me.

First let me differentiate between different kinds of kitchen work. By cooking, I don’t mean microwaving, adding water, or boiling carbs. If pressing a button was cooking, then you could claim to be a chef every time you rode the elevator. If heating water was cooking, then you could essentially claim that taking a shower was cooking up a storm. All the above are what I call ‘cooking-lite’.

When I say cooking, I mean real, onions-stabbing-your-eyes-till-they-bleed, peeling-meat-off-bone, stuffing-rice-in-animal-cavity-holes-cooking. When you’re done with real cooking, the kitchen needs a hazmat team and a priest. When you’re done with cooking-lite, it’s a “honey could you please wash that pot? I’m too tired from boiling water.”

I don’t mean to sound so aggressive, and I’m not angry at people that cook light, I cook light. I’m just insanely perplexed and envious of these put together women who can prepare complex dishes from my grandma’s era without looking like they were assaulted by rabid bats. These people can prepare 3 or 4 course meals and exit the kitchen with all their limbs intact, whereas I would probably leave said task with a singed eyebrow, an amputated finger, and possibly a zucchini up my ass. To add insult to injury, when you ask these humanoids about how they cook, they always snicker “oh cooking is easy”.

The other day I was making vegetable soup. Easy, right? I gathered the squash, pumpkin, carrots and potatoes on the table. It took me about 20 minutes to chop and peel those. Then I lightly fried an onion before dumping everything in with water and a vegetable broth cube. After simmering on low heat for about an hour, the dish was ready to be pureed. But then my inner idiot whispered “why don’t you add some chili? It will give it a real kick.” Of course I didn’t consult a source and improvised; I threw in a small spoonful of fresh hot chili. I might as well have dipped Satan’s asshole in it, because as I delightfully discovered 20 minutes later, after I had finished blending the life out of it, was that it was entirely inedible. Even my husband, who brushes his teeth with habanero chilies, took one bite and looked like he got smacked in the face by a Nigerian…spatula.

So after nearly two hours, I had to throw out what should have been a simple and straightforward dish. I was obviously missing that gene that allowed me to improvise in the kitchen. Moving on from improvising, I decided to follow a recipe to the tee. The dish: Musakhan. Something you need to know about cooking whole chickens: when you boil them, they sometimes fart in the water. I was alone at home when the first bubble escaped one of the corpses’ underside and I have to admit, I was gripped by terror thinking that it would suddenly come to life and do to me what I had done to it. You won’t find any mention of this in any cook book.

Another thing that illustrates my point: On the recipe it says “pull the meat”. Three little words, so clean and well defined. In reality, pulling the meat off the bones was a horrific experience. I felt like that asshole from Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There were chicken bits all over the place and the most disturbing part was pulling meat off the chicken’s ass. I wondered for a few minutes if we actually eat this. I was about to call a friend and ask, but I didn’t feel right saying “hey, when you pull the meat off a chicken, do you do the ass as well? Do we eat chicken ass?”

On the website, it said this dish would take 1.5 hours. In my kitchen, it took 5. Sure, it tasted amazing when it was done, and we struggled to stretch it for 2 meals as it was glorious, but once it was consumed, I was left feeling kind of drained at the daunting task of preparing it again.

Never trust a cook that says “Cooking is easy”. Doing calculus while drunk is easy. If they don’t walk you through it step by molecular step, they are hiding something. They probably made a pact with the devil, or have an army of midget sous-chefs hiding under the sink. I’m not saying cooking is impossible, just prepare yourself for emotional and physical scars that will outlast any dish you prepare.

 

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