Monday, February 27, 2012

A Day Late and a Story Short.

Or rather, three weeks late, a short story.

Alex, you won the contest and as promised, I wrote you a short story. I hope you like that I mention your name a lot.

Here you go:

I once had the opportunity to meet a very well-known and beloved spokesperson on a beach in Fiji. It was a chance meeting, like something made for the movies. But what started out innocently soon gave way to a torrid love affair that lasted six days/five nights. With the combination of the local food, high thread count hotel linens, exotic beach drinks, and the air of mystery that surrounds all spokespeople, something happened in those six days that I have never told another living soul.

But I shouldn't be writing about myself right now.
I should mention someone named Alex.

Alex was born in the early 1970's but has a baby face that still requires him to show ID when buying light beer. He eats two large meals a day and even if he doesn't want it, he likes restaurants to offer bread. He routinely browses the selection at Redbox machines but never rents anything. Before getting out of bed in the morning, he lays perfectly still with his arms at his sides and convinces himself that he could be a successful luge competitor. "It's just lying there. I could do that."

At one point in his life, Alex thought of becoming an attorney. But the idea of having a closet full of striped button-down shirts worried him. Always at the dry cleaners. Always unwrapping his wardrobe from plastic. Taking anything out of plastic coverings annoyed him. That's why he never rented from the Redbox.

Alex works as a fact-checker for an online political magazine. He starts most of his sentences with, "I was reading an article..." He stretches a little before making a point. He likes hats.

Things happen to Alex in the same way things happen to all of us. He tells a good joke every so often and remembering how people laughed makes him smile. He finds a new band before his friends and tells them to check it out. They end up forever associating that band with him. He meets a girl who makes everything more interesting and sometimes watches her put on her makeup when they're getting ready to go out. He's happy in a way that doesn't require him to think about his happiness.

Sometimes Alex starts a sentence with the intent to voice an unsaid thought.
Straightening his back a little by rolling his shoulders, he instead mentions something he has recently read.

Friday, February 24, 2012


So, this exists.
I saw a commercial that said something about pancakes inside of a waffle cone, so naturally, I googled it.


This entire meal is called a Pipsqueak Breakfast and has something to do with The Lorax and IHOP's attempt to plant 3 million trees. (Psst, IHOP-- stop using paper placemats. There's your trees.) The meal is described as scrambled eggs with creamed spinach-- served with a ham quarter and a Rooty Tooty Bar-Ba-Looty Blueberry Cone Cake.

Note: If you were able to read that last bit without going back and saying it again out loud, you have more self-control than is necessary.

Note 2: I have not stopped saying ham quarter since reading this five minutes ago.
-Can I borrow a ham quarter for the meter?
-Just gonna grab a roll of ham quarters for laundry.
-Q: Why didn't the pigs tape the barnyard recital?
A: They didn't have a hamquarter.

That last one is a stretch.

But my main area of interest here is the pancake stuffed in a cone. I'm a huge fan of self-contained foods. Falafel wraps? Sign me up. Burritos? My great love. Ice cream cones? Obviously. When I saw the commercial I wondered how no one had ever thought to stuff breakfast inside of a delicious and crunchy waffle cone before. More specifically, I wondered how I had never thought of it.

Pancakes or waffles is such a common breakfast tossup. Why not have both? And why not eat them both out of a cone? Why the green eggs and ham aren't also shoved in the cone, I'll never know. IHOP really missed the boat on that one. It would be like Lady Gaga's version of pigs in a blanket. She'd call it, "Chicks n' oinks in a Snuggie Spaceship." And she'd wear it on her face for an hour before eating it.

But I digress.

The slogan IHOP is using for these meals is, "Have a Lorax meal today, Hooray!" But again, I think they missed the mark. The slogan should obviously read, "I can't wait to get totally drunk and order that pancake cone."

And on that note, a flashback:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Well, Yum.

I popped into a little beauty supply store to buy some shampoo and the two ladies working there were deep in conversation, hovering over a list. They looked up at me and said, "We'll be right with you" before looking back to their list.

-OK, don't forget to order the 7-layer cake. You have that, right?
-Yes, I ordered it. The 7-layer cake, cotton candy, the pomegranates, I have all that.
-How about the sangria?
-Yeah, I have sangria and margaritas.

Standing at the counter waiting for one of them to ring me up, I said, "Sounds like a fun party!"

Neither one responded, so I decided to say it again. "Sounds like you're planning quite the party!"

Taking off her reading glasses and slowly making her way to the counter, one of the women flatly replied, "We're ordering lip gloss."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Death And Taxes.

After literally just filing my income taxes, I stepped out onto the street and was nearly run over by a car.

How To Embarrass Yourself In Public.

This is part one of a 6,382-part series.

Yesterday I went to a new place to get a haircut. It was a quiet little salon with really chill stylists who talked in soothing tones about homeopathic remedies. I had to fight the urge to laugh when a discussion about homemade sponges went on longer than I would have preferred.

-Just put oatmeal in a sock, it's wonderful.
-Take an old sock and just put the oatmeal in there.

But having a professional shampoo your hair will relax just about anyone, so by the time I was finished, I was feeling mellow and calm, and to be honest, kind of craving some hot oats.

My backpack was on the floor near one of the sofas in the waiting area, so I grabbed it and made my way to the counter to pay. Just as I was throwing it over my shoulder, I saw something out of the corner of my eye trailing at my feet and then it seemed to jump onto me along with my bag.

For readers who know me, take one guess as to what I thought it was.

A cat. Obviously.

For readers who don't know me, it's important to know that I'm afraid of cats and have a history of them following me. Anything you need to know about this topic can be found here.

So as I saw this thing leaping onto me, I yelped like a little baby girl in the highest pitch I can reach, "THIS DOESN'T BELONG TO ME!"

Every person in the tiny calm salon stopped what they were doing and turned to look at me. The music even seemed to stop.
I took a deep breath and composed myself.
I slowly turned my head and looked to the floor only to stare at the children's scarf that had caught on my bag.
It hung from my shoulder strap down to my feet like a limp boiled noodle.
I licked my lips, nodded my head, and slowly untangled the scarf before placing it back on the waiting room sofa.

When I returned to the counter, bright red, I sheepishly said, "I thought it was a cat."

I paid and left.
I won't be back.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012


Read an interesting article in the NYT about mindful eating; thinking more about the food you're eating while you're eating it in an attempt to practice gratitude and moderation.

I'm always onboard when I hear about stuff like this. Serving food is the fastest way to grow disgusted with how people eat. Servers have a unique experience in their workplace in that they not only have to ignore how gross their clients are, they have to pretend that their behavior is perfectly acceptable. Maybe strippers have this experience as well. So when someone yells at you with a mouth full of food asking for another Coke, not only are you forced to check your natural reaction to dry-heave, you're actually preconditioned to smile. An overly enthusiastic, "Of course!" always means, "Thanks for not waiting to chew! I would have been sorry to miss your request for a ninth refill, you beast."

I'm guilty of this too, don't get me wrong. When I get a burrito, I grab a corner seat and face the wall. It's not pretty. If I'm unsure about a new cereal's ability to remain crunchy in the milk, I'll finish the bowl faster than you can say cerealously. And a sleeve of Thin Mints is the actual serving size for Thin Mints. I once heard someone say they could only eat two thin mints before getting full and I never talked to that person again. Why am I going to waste my time on a liar?

But gratitude and moderation are good things to practice. So after reading the article, I put it to use. I decided to start small, just with a snack, and by using stream of consciousness, attention to detail, and small slices, it took me seven minutes to eat a banana.

Here's what I found out by taking seven minutes to eat a banana:
1) That gross eating a banana noise is only heightened when you try to get in 25 chews per bite.
2) You can't really chew a slice of banana 25 times. After one bite it's the same sensation as chewing yogurt. You start to think to yourself, "Why am I still doing this? I'm not even chewing at this point. I'm just moving my tongue to the roof of my mouth. Is this what it will feel like when I don't have teeth? Why won't you have teeth? Maybe I'll live so long they'll all fall out. You'll live that long and yet there will be no advancements in dentistry?! Finish this banana and go floss immediately."
3) You become mildly self-conscious that you're talking to yourself.
4) No you don't. You talk to yourself all the time. Eating alone only makes you talk to yourself more.
5) You discover that the marks in the inner banana peel made by the knife grow darker with time. You decide that if you were ever kidnapped in the jungle, you would leave notes for your rescuers using this technique. When you're eventually found, you'll be praised for your ingenuity and also have incredibly healthy potassium levels. A win-win.

Mindful eating was an interesting experience, but if you're going to try it with soup, better make it gazpacho.

Monday, February 06, 2012


The winner of the blurb contest vote is Alex! Mer, Dana, and Bridget, thanks for playing but you didn't even vote for your own suggestions!

Alex, let me know who to make the book out to and get ready for the best short story you've ever read abut yourself. Or at least get ready to read a short story about yourself.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

They're Little Footballs!

I'll be live tweeting (all tweeting is live, right?) throughout the Super Bowl because beer and snacks make me chatty. In an effort to avoid annoying people, I'm just going to type whenever I have a random comment instead of saying it out loud.

You can follow me here:

Go sports!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Blurb Contest Vote!

The blurb contest went about as well as I anticipated. (Thank you both for playing.) And I realize holding a vote on a Friday is the worst day of the week for people to see this, but what can you do?

If unfamiliar with the contest, I asked people to come up with random blurbs for Open-Eyed Sneeze that were as good as Maurice Sendak's blurbs for Steven Colbert's fake book.

So without further ado, here are the entries. Please vote for your fave so I can send the winner a prize. Thanks!

1) "Realizing my online college diploma was printed on the back of a grocery store paper bag really put me down in the dumps...until I discovered this wonderful book!"

2) "Reading Open-Eyed Sneeze made my head hurt less than trying to complete a Sudoku puzzle."

3) "If the summary of Open-Eyed Sneeze had not mentioned "Full House" I would have loved to have read the novel and would have gotten a kick thinking up a catchy blurb. Instead, I've been busy watching every season of the ABC hit on Netflix."

4) "Reading this hilarious account of post college life was a fantastic break from applying to jobs on the same website cops use to entrap middle aged sex addicts."

5) "The shoe-loving baby monkey of your dreams"

6) "Adorable little girl saves mother's life via pizza slap to the face."

Those last two were random headlines someone thought could fit as blurbs.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Thoughts From Jury Duty.

Jury duty is like a hospital's waiting area but with slightly less coughing. The quality of the magazines provided is similar, you're surrounded by a pretty interesting cross-section of people, there are sandwiches in a vending machine, and the basic idea is to sit tight because it's going to be awhile.

I showed up to jury duty early yesterday, hoping to make a buddy so I would have someone to talk to throughout my long day. When the guy I was sitting next to didn't say "bless you" after I sneezed, I figured I wouldn't waste my banter on him. A woman sitting across from me looked familiar so I told her so, but she quickly dismissed it by saying she didn't recognize me. I gave up. I decided to lone wolf it through my day at the courthouse.

After filling out surveys and hearing a speech about what we were doing there, a video was played for the large room of potential jurors to watch. The opening closed caption sound effect read [Thunder. Lightning.] followed by a scene of people dressed like druid warriors chasing each other through the woods.

I took a deep breath and got up to use the restroom. While I was slightly interested to see how the filmmakers would segue from this opening scene to a modern day jury of our peers, I just couldn't do it.

By the time I came back from the restroom, Ed Bradley and Diane Sawyer were discussing the history of juries. I noticed that most people in the room were watching the video while breathing through their mouths. As I looked to the screen, I decided that this experience would be 300 times more enjoyable if I had a free donut to eat. (Note to local governments: Consider this.)

A man sitting a few tables away from me was reading a Glenn Beck book. Was he serious or just trying to get out of being selected?

Diane Sawyer explained the roles of the people in a courtroom. The shot of the court reporter was particularly hilarious; just banging on the little typewriter as fast as he could. He was clearly an actor, not a court reporter, and wasn't even trying to pretend that he knew how to type. I imagined him saying, "La La La!" as he quickly hit the keys.

A scene in the video showing the attorneys included a sidebar. I imagined myself on a jury during a sidebar exclaiming, "Need I remind you, Your Honor, secrets don't make friends. They break them." And then the entire courtroom would cheer. And the guy sitting next to me would say, "bless you" even though I hadn't sneezed.

Another closed caption read [Banging the gavel].
It could have also read [Hanging a picture] or [Someone's at the door].

The video also included juror testimonials:
-When I received my summons I said, "Why me?"
-My heart sank when I found out I had to come here.
-Jury duty is a pain in the you know what.

I wished all of these people had been played by the druid characters.

Diane Sawyer reminded us of the importance of jury duty and said, "You're not just sitting around."

Seven hours later, after just sitting around, we were dismissed.