Tuesday, October 27, 2009

An Old (Hiccup) Family (Hiccup) Remedy

One of my bloggy/Facebooky friends, Yellowdog Granny, posted on her Facebook status yesterday that she had the hiccups.

Right away, I thought, “Drink a glass of water with a pencil.”

What, you’ve never heard of that hiccup remedy?

Well, it’s just the most effective one there is!

What you do is take a pencil (or pen) and hold it lengthwise across the top of a glass of water…then drink the glass of water while making sure the pencil is under your nose the whole time.

It sounds weird, but it really does work. I think the pencil distracts you from breathing through your nose, so you drink the whole glass of water without stopping.

And in case you’re wondering (I’m sure you are; I know that this is the most fascinating topic ever), your finger will work in a pinch, if you don’t have a pen or pencil.

Anyway, so after I shared this old family remedy with Yellowdog Granny, I started to think:

Where the heck did that come from? Who was the first person to come up with this idea?

I can picture it now. (Cue flashback music.)

It’s the early 1920’s, and a bunch of guys are sitting around passing a reefer.

All of the sudden, one of them gets the hiccups really bad. He holds his breath for a few seconds, but then he starts to get paranoid that he might accidentally stop breathing for good. He lets the air out and hiccups again.

Then he tries to drink some water, but that doesn’t work. His friends try to scare the hiccups out of him, but that doesn’t work, either.

He starts to get really worried that he will have the hiccups forever.

Suddenly, he says, “I know! I’ll stick a pencil under my nose and drink some water!”

“Friend, that sounds like a bully idea!” says one of the other guys.

“Yes, a smashing idea!” says another.

And miraculously, it does work.

They are all surprised, and from then on, whenever anyone has the hiccups, they tell them about their “miracle hiccups cure.”

And somehow, eventually, somewhere down the line, one of my relatives finds out about it…and thus it becomes an old family remedy.

What? It could happen.

But of course, it didn’t. My curiosity about the hiccups remedy got the best of me, and I called my Mom to find out if she knew anything about where it came from.

“Oh, that’s from a long time ago,” she said. “I think I read it in “Woman’s Day” or one of those women’s magazines.”

She read it in a magazine? That’s it?

Hmm, sometimes stories are much more interesting in the imagination. Still, who was the first person to come up with that idea?

We may never know.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Target Rats

And yet another example of how important it is to use correct punctuation...

There are, indeed, no such things as "Target Rats."

I'm sorry for any confusion that my punctuation error caused among my blog buddies...although I'm guessing you may have been thinking of some very creative ideas for what "target rats" might be!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is This Anything?

Here have been the exciting events of the past few days of Miss Healthypants’ life:

--Taking an “alley walk” with Iwanski through many of Chicago’s back alleys.

--Seeing “Warning: Target Rats” signs in nearly every alley.

--Eating a gigantic plate of delectable grilled meats (and a side of garlic broccoli and carrots) at a Hawaiian restaurant.

--Being chased after by a maniac squirrel in Lincoln Park.

--Not being able to breathe through my nose.

--Having to stay home sick, and watching an insane amount of t.v. judge shows.

--Watching “Bewitched” for the first time in ten years.

--Writing this crappy list and presenting it to you as if it were a decent blog entry.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Obsessed with Obsessions

I am fascinated by strange behavior.

More specifically, I am extremely interested in people with anxiety and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).

Honestly, I suspect that everyone has a little OCD in them.

My husband, for example, is a bit of a germaphobe. For instance, after ordering in a restaurant (and his hands—God forbid—have touched the menu), he has to go wash his hands—and then if he uses the ketchup bottle on the table, he has to pick it up with a napkin. And his germaphobia is not just limited to public places. In our own kitchen, if a kitchen towel accidentally comes in contact with anything except for a clean dish, he immediately quarantines it and banishes it to the laundry basket along with the other “germy” items.

I myself have a strange little behavior that I’m a little embarrassed to admit here. As I walked down the street to work, every few minutes, I check to be sure my pants zipper is still up. When I told my friend Diane this, she said, “So what would happen if it was down?” Hmm, I had never thought about that… I guess it wouldn’t really be that big a deal, but still, I feel compelled to check it every few minutes. Don’t ask me why.

So when I heard that there was a new t.v. show about people with even stranger compulsions, I couldn’t wait to see it. The show is called “Obsessed,” and I’ve only seen a few of the episodes so far (I’m going to watch the rest of them online), but already I am hooked. I saw an episode about a guy who was an extreme hoarder, who couldn’t throw away anything that belonged to his dead mother—including her prescription medication. And then there was the germaphobe woman who scrubbed herself for so long and so hard in the shower, that she had been hospitalized twice for losing too much blood from her skin that she had scrubbed raw. Then there was the guy who was so obsessed with exercise (and preventing death) that he worked out something like ten times a day.

These people are crazy, I thought. And I loved not only hearing about their strange behaviors, but also about how their psychiatrists managed to help them.

Then I heard about this book called “Life In Rewind,” about a guy with severe obsessive compulsive disorder—so severe that he had shut himself in his basement and did not take a shower for two whole years. I had to read it.

At first, as I began reading it, it was just an interesting (if slightly sad) story about a guy who witnessed his beloved mother’s death at the age of eleven…and then developed the belief that if going forward in time moves him closer to death, reversing the action will take him—and his loved ones—away from death. Therefore, no matter what he did, he had to reverse that same action. For example, if he walked somewhere, he had to walk backwards the same exact way. He would even speak every sentence that he uttered, backwards. And that was only the beginning of his odd behaviors.

I was riveted by his story.

But the more that I read, the more that I realized something that I really had been missing the whole time I had been watching and reading stories about people with OCD: compassion.

For the first time, it really hit me how awful it must be to be someone with OCD. I found myself grieving for this man, and for his severe depression that resulted from his not being able to control these behaviors. It was indeed a very lonely life for him, and my mind was begging the story to take a positive turn.

And then, he began to get well, and I was so relieved. (I won’t tell you the details of how he got well, in case you want to read this fascinating book.)

But even though now he lives a pretty normal life, he still struggles with his OCD, day in and day out. It’s like this evil monster inside of him that tries to convince him that if he doesn’t do certain behaviors, people that he loves will die—and he has to figure out a way to ignore or even just slightly appease that voice.

It must be awful. I feel so much compassion for him.

And I thank God that the worst obsession I have is a compulsion to check my pants zipper every now and then.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cheese + Fried: How Could You Go Wrong?

The Great Frying Cheese Experiment of 2009 (i.e. two dudes and a chick sitting around eating fried cheese) was a success.

It turns out, I rather like fried cheese. This was not really a surprise to me, as I come from Wisconsin and love cheese almost as much as life itself. Fried cheese curds, a Wisconsin delicacy, have always been a favorite of mine.

But I was surprised at how very different this cheese was than fried cheese curds.

Frying cheese, to me, looks and even tastes a bit like French toast sticks—albeit with a bit of a mozzarella-type undertone. The package recommended serving it with jam or syrup on top, and what do you know, it was actually quite tasty that way. I particularly enjoyed it with strawberry jam…mmmmm…..

Here’s a pic of my good friend Jonathan fryin’ up the cheese in a little bit of olive oil.

Here’s a pic of the cheese being fried up—shortly before we almost burned it. (If you buy this stuff, be sure to only let it heat up on one side on medium heat for about a minute or so—it fries really quickly.)

And here’s Iwanski, enjoying a delicious stick of fried cheese with jam on top.

He says he thought the cheese was “just okay,” but pictures don’t lie. He obviously enjoyed it. Also, he is a huge goofball.

I would definitely recommend this frying cheese (the Trader Joe’s brand, anyway—I haven’t tried any other brand) to anyone who likes cheese.

And I would definitely buy it again sometime. But at 100 calories and 7 grams of fat for just one ounce of the stuff (and that’s even before you fry it), I have the feeling this will just be a once-in-a-while special treat.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Me

This week, a couple of my blog buddies have written about their pasts and “what if” they had taken a different path—what would their lives be like?

I think it’s the change in seasons—I’ve noticed that for some reason, fall seems to bring out the introspective side of people.

So of course, they both got me thinking, too—what if my life had taken a different path? Would I be a professional musician (trombonist) in a famous band, playing on some late-night t.v. show? Or would I be an elementary school teacher, living on a farm in some small town? (Wow, I would really hope for the former, over the latter!)

And then I started to think about what I thought life was all about ten, twenty, even thirty years ago.

Thirty years ago, I was just a wee little girl of almost seven years old. I was very shy and very sensitive, and I would cry at the drop of a hat, especially to certain songs (for some reason, “Silent Night” and “Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)” by Sue Thompson always put me in tears). But I was also a very happy child, riding bikes with my best friend Cari and pretending we were “Daisy 1” and “Daisy 2” from the Dukes of Hazzard (how creative, huh?), and playing down by “The Crick,” a little creek around the corner from our house.

I loved to write and dreamed about being a great writer someday. (My sister Sheri was a very talented artist, so I figured I would write the books, and she would illustrate them.) I also wanted to be a teacher and a nun, and I idolized the third-grade teacher, Sister Clarine. I thought I would grow up and be just like her, a nun living in a small town, teaching in a Catholic school—and of course, doing some writing on the side.

And in the blink of an eye it seems, ten years went by.

At the age of 17, I was excited that I’d be starting college soon. I wondered what life would be like for me in college, whether I could handle being away from home so much, would I make lots of friends, would I party a lot (um, yeah), would I get a chance to play the trombone in our college’s jazz band—but mostly, would I meet the man of my dreams? Oh, and yeah, I did think at least a little about my future career. I still wanted to be a teacher, so I had decided to major in Elementary Education…but what I mainly wanted to do (even at that age) was to get married and settle down. I thought I would live the rest of my life as an elementary school teacher, living somewhere in Wisconsin with my soulmate.

And even more quickly, the next ten years flew by…

Ten years ago, my soulmate and I had just moved to Chicago, and I was a brand new, starry-eyed city girl feeling excited--and admittedly, nervous--by the possibilities of living in a big city. How different would my life be, living in downtown Chicago? Would I be able to handle not having a car, and taking public transit everywhere? Would I be scared to go out by myself at night? Would I find a job that I liked?

I also had high hopes about how my life might really take off in the big city. Would I finally fulfill my dream of acting on stage?—would I be good at it?—would I be discovered and become a famous actor? Would we then have to move to L.A.? (Yes, I really thought this. Like I said, I was starry-eyed.)

And oh so suddenly, it is now ten years later, and I’m still married to the man of my dreams, loving city life (and not owning a car), and working in a job that I love. I did do some acting, but no, I did not make it big…yet! That would actually require working hard at being an actor, and I’m not so much into the working hard thing—at least, not when I’m not getting paid a dime for it. But who knows, maybe someday I will change my mind.

Who knows what the future will bring? It’s clear to me from looking back on the past 30 years of my life, that I’ve never really known what to expect. I could never have expected my life to turn out the way it is right now, and I think that’s the brilliance and magic of living.

If we knew what to expect, where would the excitement be? I think it would be awfully boring.

Looking back like this also reminds me of how quickly life moves on. While I was busy making plans for my future, where did the time go?

There have definitely been so many little happy moments in my life, and right now, I am vowing to try to really live every moment, and appreciate my life for what it really is—this moment. Right here and right now. I am profoundly grateful for it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I'm Gonna Fry It and Try It

Last night, my good friend Jonathan and I went to Trader Joe’s, our most favoritest grocery store on the planet.

One of the best parts about going to Trader Joe’s with Jonathan is that we love to hunt for the most unique, weirdest, or most appealing foods to try.

For example, last night I bought a container of little itty bitty tiny Thompson seedless white grapes—which ended up being the sweetest, most delicious grapes I’ve ever had. Seriously, one of my coworkers went nuts over them and grabbed a whole big stem of them to eat at her desk. Now, those are some good grapes.

I also bought a mouthwatering Honeycrisp apple—a to-die-for apple variety that is only on grocery store shelves for about a month, this time of year.

Of course, my taste-testing isn’t always quite that successful. A few months ago, I bought a container of kumquats (hmm…I guess I’m all about the fruit) that were so sour that I cringed whenever I tried to eat them. Luckily, I had a coworker who loved them, so I pawned them off on her.

I just love going through the aisles at Trader Joe’s with Jonathan, finding new, interesting foods like these to try.

But nothing could have prepared me for the temptation that this raised-in-Wisconsin girl was about to experience.

Last night, as we perused the cheese section, I spied this:

Oh my God. Frying Cheese. Could you get any more yummy/unhealthy sounding?

And for some reason, it really hit my funny bone. At $3.68 for a half-pound package, there was no way I was going to buy it (besides the fact that it’s not very healthypants at all), but it just made me laugh. Frying cheese, really? It just sounded mighty unhealthy.*

The very idea kept me giggling as we wandered through the rest of Trader Joe’s.

After we checked out and I bought at least ten more things than I had thought I would buy, we took our reusable shopping bags (we are such good little environmentalists, aren’t we?) and headed over to Jonathan’s to hang out for a bit before I returned home with my loot.

As we walked into his apartment and put our bags in the kitchen, Jonathan reached into his bag and pulled out—you guessed it—a package of frying cheese!

“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you bought that!” I laughed.

“It’s for you!” he said, smiling. (What a nice guy, huh?)

“Aww, really? Thanks, dude!” I grinned. “Now I get to try frying cheese!”

“I’ll tell you what,” I added. “Why don’t you come over and exercise with me tomorrow night, and then after we exercise, we’ll fry up some cheese?”

We both laughed.

Well, at least that way we wouldn’t have to feel guilty about eating it. Exercise negates cheese, right?

Anyway, so far today we haven’t exercised nor eaten fried cheese together…but I can’t wait.

For the cheese, I mean.

Exercise still sucks ass.

* Later on, I found out that it’s actually a Middle Eastern type of cheese—not just any old cheese that you can fry. But with the name alone, you can see why this cheese would appeal to Americans.