Blood From a Turnip

When we were in Bali last summer, every morning we were served such delicious fresh juice that my children kept hinting that I should get a juicer for my upcoming birthday. After a month of nagging hinting, I finally gave in and ordered a nice juicer (using reward points, of course, because I’m too cheap to pay full price for anything). I really like the fresh orange and apple juice that I’ve made, but I kept feeling like I should expand my repertoire a bit, mix it up, maybe even try juicing some vegetables.

I hesitated to branch out at first because I’m not into the whole juicing for health movement. I’d heard plenty of arguments in favor of it, but I just couldn’t buy into it.

1) “It’s good for you.” – If it doesn’t taste good, I’m not going to gag it down.
2) “It’s a good way to trick yourself (or kids) into eating vegetables.” – I like vegetables, especially when prepared well, and I want my kids to learn to like vegetables too.
3) “It can cure anything.” – I don’t buy it. I mean, I’m sure I could always use more vitamins, and that eating healthy vs. unhealthy foods will probably improve my well-being and overall health, but all the recipes which promise cures for everything from acne to high blood pressure to diabetes sound like wishful thinking to me.
4) “But the toxins!” – For some reason, I put as much stock in toxins as I do humors, phrenology and blood letting.

I wasn’t into juicing to lose weight either, not that I couldn’t stand to drop a few (dozen) pounds. For some reason, a juice cleanse sounds anything but clean. It conjures up images of making several quick trips to the restroom. No thank you.

My reasons for wanting to try different recipes with my juicer were pretty simple. I wanted to make use of this machine taking up space on my kitchen counter and I always like to find new things that taste good. Things that taste good make me happy. Things that don’t taste good bring me down. It’s that simple. Also, I went a little crazy buying produce at Trader Joe’s and was worried some of it would go bad if we didn’t get around to using it. So this week, I was even willing to try stuff that sounded gross, just in case I might actually like it.  I was surprised by many combinations I thought I would hate, and I was able to discover many new combinations I never would have tried on my own.

No Surprise Here

These combinations were all delightful, but I kind of suspected they would be. I loved them and my kids loved them.

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2 apples + 1 pear

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1 each pear, apple, banana, orange, bunch of grapes

Pleasant Surprises

I suspected these juices might taste good, but since some of the ingredients can be bitter on their own, I was worried. Turns out they were our favorites.

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2 apples, 2 pomegranates (with seeds)

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2 apples, 1 orange, 1 grapefruit

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2 oranges, 1 lime, 1 clementine, 2 stalks celery, 1 bunch kale, 1 inch ginger root

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2 oranges + 3 small sweet potatoes (or 1 medium)

Who Knew?

I was pretty sure I would be gagging these down, but they weren’t too bad. I might even try them again some time.

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2 apples, 1 carrot, 3 stalks celery

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2 apples, 1 bunch grapes, 1 bunch kale, 1/2 cucumber

No Thank You

I was able to drink these without gagging, but why would anyone want to?

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1 pear, 1 cucumber, 1 head Romaine lettuce

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2 carrots, 2 radishes, 15 grape tomatoes

Truly Offensive

I kept seeing juice recipes that included beets, so I felt it was my duty to at least try one of them. I regret that decision. The beet (dirt) taste never left my mouth and I kept feeling beet film on my teeth. So, so bad.

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3 carrots, 1 apple, 2 beets. Do not try this at home.

Although I didn’t enjoy all the hand-washing of the juicer I had to do this week, I am glad I took the time to explore all the options and experiment with new combinations. I’m pretty excited about this birthday gift, even if it did take me four months to getting around to using it properly.

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Video Killed the Radio Star

My husband and I don’t argue very often. A typical disagreement goes something like this:

Him: “You’re pretty.”
Me: “No I’m not.”
Him: “Yes you are, and I don’t like it when you question my taste.”

Aside from the proper pronunciation of “Boise”, the merits of stinky olives, and whether or not muffins need butter, one of the only other points of contention between us has been about MTV. He had it and watched and I didn’t. When this subject comes up, things can get pretty heated:

Him: “It’s just like that one music video by…”
Me: “I’ve never seen that.”
Him: “Yes you have. Everyone has. It’s the one that…”
Me: “I’ve never seen it. How many times do I need to remind you that we didn’t have MTV growing up?”

(Sorry you had to witness that. It can get super intense.)

In an effort to heal the rift between us, this week I tried to catch up a little bit on what I’ve missed. There’s no way to watch everything and it’s been a busy week, but I did put in some solid research hours watching 80’s music video after video after video.

The most boring to me were the videos where they literally just turn on a camera and sing at it. I’ll forgive this approach in Video Killed the Radio Star because it was the first video ever broadcast on MTV. Give them time, I thought, they’ll learn. But Every Breath You Take, Wanted, Dead or Alive, and Stray Cat Strut? All just as boring.

Some artists try to shake it up a bit by changing the background a little as they stand and sing, like Simple Minds and Simply Red.

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I’m curious about which came first – these two videos or I Spy books? Because one had to be inspired by the other.

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Then there was the dancing. It almost seems like Cyndi Lauper and the guy from Midnight Oil took Awkward Dance classes with Elaine, but I’d much rather watch awkward dancing than that 80’s sway that Rick Astley, Bruce Springsteen and Courtney Cox have going on. Watching that reminded me of junior high dances.

Speaking of Rick Astley, I feel I must speak out against the recent trend of high-waisted pants. Do we really need to live through that atrocity again? Every time I see someone wearing those, I feel like I’m at Bayside High with the cast of Saved By the Bell. Just Say No.

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Watching videos of songs I’ve only heard on the radio, I realized I had always heard the words wrong. It’s not the first time this has happened – I remember when I found out that Pebbles song was “Do you wanna ride in my Mercedes boy?”and not (what I considered to be the superior lyrics I had mistakenly heard), “Do you see the writing on the faded wall?” This week, I learned it’s actually, “Oh, oh, here she COME, she’s a maneater.” I always sang “comes” but watching Hall (or is it Oates?), I could see quite clearly that there is no s at the end of the word. Also, how did I never hear that part in Here Comes the Rain Again where she sings very clearly, “Here it comes again, hoo hah.” (at 3:48) I’ve probably heard that song a thousand times in the last 30 years. How did I miss the hoo hah?

It’s amazing what kind of memories were triggered this week. Since I’ve seen so few music videos, when I watched one I was familiar with, I could remember exactly where I was when I saw it. That Eurhythmics video I saw at a hotel in California, the Thriller video we watched at the neighbors’ house, and that Run DMC video that came out the same time we got our first Nintendo.

As I rewatched the few videos I have seen, I wondered why I never noticed certain things before. Why is that dude in the Fine Young Cannibals video wearing a pillow? Is it because he falls down a lot? And watching those Robert Palmer videos again, I’m really starting to wonder if those girls even know how to play those instruments at all. Could they be there just for decoration? And really, how did we not know about George Michael?

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Several videos reminded me of others I have seen. I’m pretty sure Whitney Houston hired some of those “Choreography” dancers from White Christmas for her How Will I Know?  video.

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The very lame video for Hungry Like the Wolf reminded me a lot of an equally lame Katy Perry video.

Simply Red’s If You Don’t Know Me By Now reminded me of David Brent’s If You Don’t Know Me By Now.

And Land Down Under reminded me of every dumb movie any of us ever made with our cousins when our uncle got the family’s first video camera. So bad, but cute. But really bad.

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Of course, there’s nothing quite as cute in a bad/sad way as the videos trying to be really transgressive. Since the production value during that time was always sketchy, these videos come off looking a bit like that one girl who suddenly started wearing black nail polish and lipstick in 8th grade trying to reinvent herself – just a poorly executed cry for attention. That’s how Eyes Without a Face and Like a Prayer came across to me. “Look at me! Aren’t I just the worst! Look! Look! I just did something naughty!” They both just made me laugh uncomfortably and ask, “What were they thinking?”

On the other hand, Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer is just as effective now as it was then at totally freaking me out. I probably think it’s cooler now than I did then.

Watching so many videos this week made me feel like I was watching teenagers work through their awkward stage. I’m not sure if it’s because the genre was new and they were just trying things out and deciding how to define themselves, or if I felt that way because this music was the soundtrack to my own awkward teenage years. I’m kind of glad my parents were strict about what we were allowed to watch. I have a feeling some of those videos would have really messed me up. And I was weird enough as it is.

 

This is My Fight Song

I don’t have nightmares often, but I can remember three dreams I had as a teenager (all involving celebrities, for some reason), which left me with feelings of anger or panic or fear. The least serious was a dream where a girl at my school stole my boyfriend Bobcat Goldthwait from me. (That’s right, Bobcat Goldthwait. Don’t know where that came from.)

In the second dream, I found out I had murdered Nell Carter from Gimme a Break. It sounds silly, and the dream did not start until after the fact so I don’t know how or why I did it, but I can still distinctly remember the feeling I had during the dream as I came to understand what I had done. I can remember that I woke up so upset, feeling like my skin was separated from my body, that I had to crawl in bed next to my mom just to calm down. It was a very real feeling of guilt and dread which, although I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t anyway, convinced me that killing someone is just not worth it.

It’s the third dream I’ve been thinking about a lot this week. I remember I was at some sleepover with friends when I had a nightmare about being chased by the KKK. Sally Field was in my dream, so it must have been triggered by watching Places in the Heart.) I woke up in a strange place, filled with fear, and when I told my friends about the dream, they all laughed at me. “Why would you be worried about the KKK? You’re blonde, blue-eyed and pasty white!” Then I felt sheepish about telling them and for having the dream in the first place. How silly of me to worry about the wrongs in the world that don’t affect me personally.

This week, as I’ve gone through several stages of grief about the election, I’ve had to think through what’s really making me upset. It’s not that my “team” lost. We’ve lost before and I’ve never felt this way. I don’t think of politics as sport anyway. It’s not that I’m a woman and really wanted a woman to be president. I’m willing to hold out for Elizabeth Warren in four years. It’s not even that I’m completely confused by half the country’s ability to look past the documented, recorded, tweeted evidence that this man should not represent us.

I realized that what makes me so sick is that the message spread throughout the election, the one that seemed to be such a hot button issue, is “We don’t want you here.” (Listen to this recent story from This American Life.) Whether to refugees, immigrants, people of color, or a whole list of other “others”, the vilifying and hatred and mocking and threats by our president-elect are not thrown at me directly (other than his comments about women or Mormons, of course), but I can’t let them go. I can’t shake them off just because I’m not the one being harassed or intimidatedAnd I can’t fool myself that it’s “not in my neighborhood,” because my sons come home from school with stories of kids who spout racial slurs, who speak up in class to say black people had less opportunity for education because they’re just stupid, and who think it’s funny to give each other the Nazi salute when they pass each other in the hall. It’s very much in my neighborhood, and this week I have had a constant stomach ache.

Meanwhile, I’ve appreciated the subtle or less subtle ways the LDS Church has tried to counteract this rhetoric. Immediately after Trump spoke of banning Muslims, the church issued a statement pushing back. As Trump supporters were chanting their hate, Elder Kearon gave a moving plea in General Conference for kindness and support of those seeking refuge, 

the church launched its I Was a Stranger Initiative,

and most recently, a series of videos on diversity and inclusion.

And I realize that many of my fellow church members (61% of them) probably voted for Trump for other reasons, and that many did it while holding their noses. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re not on board with his blatant racism and sexism, not to mention this garbage:

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I tend to avoid political conversations because I don’t like to bring conflict into friendships. My husband is much more vocal about it because he would probably go crazy if he had to keep quiet. But this week, I’ve been frustrated with a feeling of powerlessness. Other than speaking out occasionally and voting against this hate, what more could I do? And now, faced with the results of the election, and with a week of random people of color being harassed by those who feel emboldened by the results, I’ve really struggled.

My first reaction was to retreat from people, to separate myself from those around me. I try so hard, I thought, I know we’re surrounded by people who think differently than we do about many issues, but I’ve always tried to look past that to find common ground anyway. But now I’m tired of trying. I don’t have to be friendly. I don’t have to volunteer at the school or go to book club. I can detach. I tried my hardest for one whole day to follow through, but then I realized it just isn’t who I am, and I couldn’t do it.

Then I made the mistake of going on Facebook and reading about hate and intimidation going on in my own state followed by explanations and rationalizations of those acts and it was like a switch went off in my brain. I lost all restraint and let my anger flow freely in comment after comment. I felt bitey and I was giving in to those feelings, and it didn’t feel good. As much as I liked crafting the perfect comeback to someone I felt deserved it, it left me feeling crummy the rest of the day.

By Friday, I realized that I can’t do anything about the election results and I can’t go fight every ignorant bigot, but I can fight back by heaping more love on those being targeted. I looked at the giant pile of baby quilts I made in the last two weeks (originally just to get all that fabric out of my house, then to give me something more productive to do than fret about polls and electoral votes) and decided that instead of finding the most convenient place to donate them, I would do my homework and find a charity that assists those who are being targeted right now. I downloaded the Serve Refugees app, which lists immediate needs for local refugee organizations (it’s really cool – check it out). And I plan to fight back the only way I can. It’s probably only a tiny drop in a bucket, but I need as many drops as I can get right now. It’s the only way I can stay sane.

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This post is not an “everybody be nice” plea. Short of violence, I think people have the right to work through their feelings about this in their own time. I’m reminded of a time my toddler was angry and frustrated about something beyond his control. I figured he probably just needed a nap, so I took him through our ritual of saying goodnight to each of the pictures on the wall: “Goodnight, flowers. Goodnight, lute player, Goodnight, Oxford. Goodnight nuns.”

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My poor kid was so tired and angry that he shouted, “I want to PUNCH a NUN!” Since then, this phrase has become a part of our family lexicon, often confusing outsiders. I understand the feeling, and this week I have felt it. I have even thought “I want to punch a nun,” several times this week. So if you’re mad, as long as you’re not hurting anyone or destroying any property, go ahead and be mad. If you can’t understand why people might be mad, maybe take some time to try to understand. Just because I’ve found some way to channel my frustration, I’m not all the way there yet. In the mean time, I’m going work really hard to try to understand and love my neighbors, I’m going to do what I can to make my corner of the world more tolerant and inclusive, and I’m not going to stop speaking out just to avoid conflict, even if it makes people uncomfortable. I’ve decided I’m past caring about the sensitivities of safe people over the safety of threatened people.

Trick or Tweet

One of the first items on my big List of Stuff I Never Wanted to Try for this blog was Twitter. I couldn’t see the point of it and couldn’t imagine how anyone else could either. It’s been 2 ½ years since I made the List and I think I set up a Twitter account some time that first year (then forgot the password and didn’t go back to actually tweet anything).

Last November, I decided to finally figure Twitter out for real. My husband told me it would probably have to be a long-term experiment as I built up followers, so I was ready to be patient. I wrote my first tweet and immediately felt self-conscious about it. At least on Facebook I know if I say something dumb, my friends are usually nice enough not to call me out on it, and if they do, they usually do it nicely because they are my friends. Twitter seemed scary because it’s full of strangers. Also, I wasn’t sure how the whole thing worked. Are hashtags required? Does anyone even use them anymore?

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After dropping that epic tweet, I spent some time browsing. Who knew there were so many Onion articles? I usually saw them here or there if someone posted them on Facebook, but following The Onion on Twitter meant I had instant access to every new article that came out. (Yes, I realize I could just go to the website, but I’m too lazy for that.) I also got to vote on the New Yorker caption contest and scroll through drawings of celebrities standing on sandwiches, you know, enriching stuff like that.

For the past year, I’ve occasionally tweeted, usually about new blog posts or bad customer service. Most of my whopping 29 followers appear to be either my husband or people wanting me to follow them back because of some business or service they are promoting. If I’m bored, I’ll browse maybe once a week, but I’m still not sure I see the point of it all. I also feel like an 80-year-old on there because I can’t seem to figure out how to trace replies back to the original tweet. I know how it should work, but it feels like a whole lot of effort.

Every once in a while, during a week where I’m not sure what to write about, I’ll think, well, there’s always Twitter – have I invested enough time in it to finally write about it? Then I realize there’s nothing much to say. Nothing to say until now, that is…

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I’ve mentioned before that my son Fritz is a bit quirky, to say the least. Well, five weeks ago, as I was cleaning out his backpack, I found (after almost throwing it away) a funny thing he’d written for school: “For my Halloween costume I want to be Jim Gaffigan. He’s so funny he says that ranch dressing is made from Buttermilk and sadness. He says that according to his wife donuts are inappropriate for a trail mix.”

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I thought it was pretty funny, so I snapped a picture of it and tweeted it, tagging Jim Gaffigan(Is it called tagging on Twitter? Or @-ing? I don’t even know.) He liked my tweet, and about twenty of his followers did too. Fritz thought that was super cool.

Then Halloween night, I posted a picture of the finished costume, again tagging Jim Gaffigan, who then retweeted it.That was awfully nice of him. I really only tagged him because if a kid liked me enough to dress as me for Halloween, it would make me happy to see a picture of it, and because Fritz would love to hear that the Jim Gaffigan had seen his costume, but suddenly my ipad would not shut up. I was getting notifications of likes and retweets from all of Gaffigan’s followers nonstop. I had to turn off the Korean drama I was watching and shut down the notifications just to get some sleep. Within an hour there were already hundreds of likes. After 24 hours, there were over 950 likes and 73 retweets of Fritz’s costume. It was crazy. He was ecstatic.

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Unsurprisingly, the interest waned after 24 hours. The world moved on, and I realized that all this attention didn’t really change how I feel about Twitter. I like Facebook because it connects me to friends, especially those who live too far away to see in person. When I get likes on Facebook, I don’t look at the total number, but at each person on the list. I think about each person and get nice feelings about him/her (cheesy, I know, but true). I realized as I got notification after notification from strangers that the numbers don’t seem to mean a whole lot. As nice as it was to get words of encouragement from lots of strangers, I still think “friend” sounds and feels a lot more personal than “follower”.

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Also, all of the positive responses piled on so quickly, dozens at a time, in what felt like a whirlwind. It was exciting at first, but then I started to think about how it would have felt if it had gone the other way. What if the comments had been negative? There were so many thrown at me in such a short amount of time, the thought of being on the receiving end of a negative Twitter dogpile suddenly seemed much more real. No wonder some have decided to avoid the platform altogether.

Fritz has enjoyed the attention and I’m glad I have a reason to write about Twitter so I can finally cross it off my list. I’ll probably stick around because I follow some pretty funny people and enjoy reading it periodically, but I don’t think I’ll ever become a hardcore Twit. (Is that what they’re called? Because they totally should be.)