Wednesday, November 6, 2013

So Long, Abortion War



I'm leaving the pro-life movement.

I'm not gonna stop being pro-life. Truth is truth, man. I still believe it. I just no longer believe that my role on this earth is to try to convince people to not have abortions.

Trying to convince people abortion is bad makes me feel like shit. And it always did.

Here's the thing: I was put on this earth to be an entertainer. To make people laugh and shit. I know that's why I'm here. I always knew that.

But what happened was I never really tried to pursue that destiny. I didn't even try to try. I gave up before I even began, out of fear, laziness, and low self-esteem.

Then, by accident, I started getting recognition for my pro-life writing, and it filled the void where I wasn't getting recognition for doing what I was supposed to do.

The truth is, every time I went to a pro-life event I felt like a fraud. Not because I don't believe abortion is wrong and should be illegal - totally believe that - but because my role in life is not to make abortion illegal. It just isn't.

I am not a marcher. I am not a joiner. I am not a person who tells other people what to do. I was never comfortable with that role. I became somewhat well-known because I'm an outsider, because I didn't fit with the movement, and people felt it and found it interesting. "Hey, cool, she's not one of us, but she's writing for us!"

It's been almost four years since I started writing for Live Action and the simple truth is I've said everything I could say, much of it twelve times.

If I kept writing all the time, if I took the speaking engagement I was offered, if I went to D.C. and marched, it would all be a lie. I'd be doing it for the money and the recognition and to party with nice people. That's hard to say but it's the damn truth.

I'm not a marcher. While I march, all I want to do is go somewhere and have a drink. I don't think about aborted babies while I march. I think about how when I'm done I get to have beer and cheeseburgers with people and best of all, make them laugh.

I am an actor, and I've been playing a role. The fact that I meant a lot of it at the time doesn't change that.

I am happy when I am working as an actor and comic. I am happy when I am doing plays and gigs, auditioning and rehearsing, writing and performing comedy. Those have been the happiest times in my life, and even though I'm a washed-up 34-year-old, I'm going to finally pursue that with all I've got. In the immortal words of Ron Swanson: "Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing."

I have no illusions about getting world-famous. I just want to do what I love. For the first time, I'm going to whole-ass it.

It is frankly not fair to the pro-life movement for me to be involved in it. It's not because the movement isn't worthy. It's because I'm not worthy. Thinking about pro-life stuff, doing pro-life stuff... none of it makes me happy.

I think what happened to me was I used to be way over on the left, and then I went way over on the right, and then at some point recently while going through a lot of personal/mental/emotional upheaval and deep deep dark dark soul-searching, I realized the question isn't really left or right, but free or not free.

I have come to firmly believe in living and let live.

I still believe - don't get me wrong - even the smallest government in the most freedom-loving land should protect all people of all ages from getting legally killed for no reason. But I don't think government should do much else.

I just look at the government we have and the world we live in, and I know even if we make abortion illegal we will not have actually solved the problem of abortion, or solved 1/100th of the problems we need to solve.

It's kind of hopeless, is what I'm saying. At this point there has to be a revolution or zombie apocalypse or total economic collapse or a civil war or something. I mean, shit is going to have to really really suck and people are going to die before we ever turn this shit around and become a truly free country. If it's even possible.

So everything sucks, and instead of being upset about it, I'm just gonna try to be happy.

Maybe I'm a total dick for not spending what's left of my life trying to save individual babies from individual abortions. Maybe I'm utterly wrong for wanting to spend my life trying to be happy. Maybe that makes me a selfish asshole. I'm willing to accept that.

The fact is, everything in my being tells me I am not an activist. I have no interest trying to convince people abortion is wrong. That's why I always hated arguing about it. It feels false to me. It's a role I'm sick of playing.

I had to change myself. I had to be somebody different. I had to censor myself online all the time. I did all this so "the real me" wouldn't compromise my political and pro-life career/persona. That shit is fucked up. And I'm tired of it. Tired of trying to keep the Kristens separate. I'm done with it.

I'm so sorry if this makes you think I suck.

How did I write all those convincing articles? It was easy, actually. I'm a writer. It's one of the things I do. I believed something, and I wrote it down.

Why did I write them? Because what I was saying was true. I think so, anyway. I would be delighted if someone read it and changed her mind. But do I need that? No. I never did. I always found it frustrating and annoying to be a pro-life writer. It always felt like I was going against the grain of who I was. I mainly kept doing it because I got paid, and because people told me I was good at it and should keep doing it.

I'm being brutally honest because who I am is all I have. I'm broke, fat, and infertile, but at least I have the truth.

I may pop up from time to time and write something if I get pissed off enough. I will probably do some stuff with New Wave Feminists, if they'll have me, because they are the future of the pro-life movement and if anything is going to save this cause from crazy people with dead baby signs, it's people like Destiny.

But for the most part, I have to leave this chapter behind. I've wanted to do it for a while, and something kept stopping me. But now I absolutely know in my heart the time is right. I have to move on and be who I am, for good or ill.

I have met some incredibly great people. If I were going to be an activist, it would definitely be with you guys. I hope you'll all stay friends with me. And I don't just mean the bad-ass movers and shakers like Lila and David and Kate, but also the people I recognized as kindred spirits.

I mean people like Dave, who made my trip to D.C. 76% cooler, and whose beard won the Dance On Injustice.

People like Lisa, the most wicked sick chick I know.

People like Gwenyth, who looks like a beautiful girl in a 1970s Kotex ad.

People like Jewels, who is maybe an actual saint.

And of course Destiny, who just is good at shit in every way and deserves to be a world-famous pro-life leader who's on FOX News every day because she's fucking incredible.

People like y'all - who really fucking mean it, yet are super fucking cool - you are going to save this movement if anyone can.

If I could leave you with any advice, which you should probably disregard because it's coming from me, be bold and outspoken not just to the "others" but to your own people. Don't take any shit. Don't be bullied by all the assholes who use their legitimate concern for defenseless children as an excuse to act like total dicks. Refuse to be associated with the crazies. Be yourselves. You are the future of pro-life.

Because you exist, I know this cause is in good hands.

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Big Fat Freakin' Personality

I'll comment on this later. It's 4:14 in the morning. But I am gonna put this here and look into it further later.


ENFP - "Journalist". Uncanny sense of the motivations of others. Life is an exciting drama. 8.1% of total population.
Take Free Jung Personality Test
personality tests by similarminds.com


Enneagram Test Results
Type 1 Perfectionism |||||||||| 40%
Type 2 Helpfulness |||||||||||| 50%
Type 3 Image Focus |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Type 4 Individualism |||||||||||||||| 70%
Type 5 Intellectualism |||||||||||||| 53%
Type 6 Security Focus |||||||||||||| 60%
Type 7 Adventurousness |||||||||||||||| 70%
Type 8 Aggressiveness |||||||||||||||| 66%
Type 9 Calmness |||||||||| 40%
Your main type is 3
Your variant is sexual
Take Free Enneagram Word Personality Test
Personality Test by SimilarMinds.com

I took the advanced 131 question Enneagram test and got these results:


Enneagram Test Results
Type 1 Perfectionism |||||| 24%
Type 2 Helpfulness |||||||||| 40%
Type 3 Image Focus |||||||||||||||||| 78%
Type 4 Individualism |||||||||||||||||| 72%
Type 5 Intellectualism |||||| 30%
Type 6 Security Focus |||||||||||| 50%
Type 7 Adventurousness |||||||||||||||| 70%
Type 8 Aggressiveness |||||||||||||||| 70%
Type 9 Calmness |||||||||| 36%
Your main type is 3
Your variant is sexual
Take Free Advanced Enneagram Personality Test
Personality Test by SimilarMinds.com

I just retook the Advanced test and got the below. I wanted to see how much difference a day made. And apparently it made a difference.


Enneagram Test Results
Type 1 Perfectionism |||||||||| 32%
Type 2 Helpfulness |||||||||| 38%
Type 3 Image Focus |||||||||||||||||| 74%
Type 4 Individualism |||||||||||||||| 70%
Type 5 Intellectualism |||||||||| 38%
Type 6 Security Focus |||||||||||| 46%
Type 7 Adventurousness |||||||||||||||| 62%
Type 8 Aggressiveness |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Type 9 Calmness |||||||||||| 42%
Your main type is 8
Your variant is sexual
Take Free Advanced Enneagram Personality Test
Personality Test by SimilarMinds.com

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Epiphany, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Love My Body


"Write hard and clear about what hurts." - Ernest Hemingway

I saw those words the other day on Pinterest and I stopped and stared at them.

Because these words were on Pinterest, they were written in a super cool font and superimposed over an image of an Instagram-filtered beach or something. I sat there and stared at them and thought, "I don't do that enough."

Then I pinned it and forgot about it.

Two days later an epiphany changed my life. It is still happening now. You are witnessing it.

What happened was this: a photo of a woman with a smokin'-hot body named Maria Kang posing with her three young children and the words "What's Your Excuse?" went viral on the Internet, and not all the response was positive. Incredibly bad-ass blogger Matt Walsh wrote a less-than-bad-ass post about this, calling out all the "haters" and "trolls" who responded negatively to the photo.

My friend Destiny won blogging when she wrote an open letter to Matt Walsh that described her own struggle with negative body image. When I read Destiny's post - much of which I could have written about myself, verbatim - I thought about the Hemingway quote. I realized God was doing that thing where he points me in a direction. But I resisted.

I was not ready to write this yet.

That night, I decided to look up some yoga moves, since I've been wanting to try it again. I was searching Pinterest for some good beginner yoga sites, and I kept seeing all these very bendy, skinny women. So I searched "fat yoga," just for the hell of it. And I started seeing results from all these boards with names like "Body Positivity, "Body Love," and "Fat Acceptance."

I spent the next three hours browsing. I saw photos of fat women in body-conscious clothing looking like they really enjoyed wearing body-conscious clothing. I saw photos of fat women in beautiful dresses with gorgeous tattoos and incredible makeup and exquisite hair. Most of the women were bigger than me - much bigger. They did not seem to give much of a crap.

I saw articles written by physicians about why being fat does not necessarily mean you are unhealthy and might die any minute, and that skinny people are just as likely to be unhealthy as fat people.

I was introduced to the radical idea that maybe I should just eat well and exercise to be healthy now. That maybe - just maybe - becoming thin should not be the ultimate goal of my existence, as it has been for almost as long as I can remember.

Like I said, I am smack-dab in the middle of having a life-changing epiphany, and since I am a writer, I am going to write about it. I am going to follow Papa Hemingway's advice and "write hard and clear about what hurts." It does hurt. But I'm going to say it anyway.

Here goes:

1. I take off my glasses before I walk down the hallway so I don't accidentally see myself in the bathroom mirror. I also take off my glasses before I go into the bathroom and undress to take a shower. I do not want to see myself naked.

2. The first time I remember thinking I was fat, I was eight years old. I was not fat, but I weighed more than the other girls. I've always been thick and muscular and, yes, bigger-boned than many females. ("Big-boned" is a classic punch-line cop-out, but guess what? It's also an actual thing.) My head is big. My feet and hands are big. My face is huge. It's just how I'm made.


3. When I was nine, I had a swimsuit with the belly cut out. They were all the rage in the 80s. One day, while wearing my swimsuit, I said to my mom, "I'm fat." I wanted her to say, "You absolutely are not." (I wasn't.) Instead she glanced at me and said, "You could stand to lose a few pounds." I remember it like it was yesterday. It is one of my clearest childhood memories.

4. Blaming my mother would be blaming the victim. She was tiny all her life until her third pregnancy with my twin brothers. She thinks maybe it's the tubal ligation that changed her hormones forever, but whatever it was, she never got her pre-twins body back. I was eight when they were born and my mother's negative body image began. It persists to this day. I remember her drinking Slim Fast every morning. (I would try the Slim Fast diet, too, at age twelve.)

To this day, my mother talks about how fat and gross she is all the time. Everyone else - including me - thinks she is beautiful.

5. I was going to write about how my mom, all my life, is always dieting, and has only ever seemed vibrant and happy during the brief periods when she has starved and striven herself down to a lower weight. It never lasts, and it probably never will, because dieting statistically does not work over the long term. But as I was writing that I realized I could say exactly the same thing about myself.

6. I was a very active person well into high school. I did dance and drill team. As a kid I swam a lot, rode my bike, and played softball. I was never thin. I was always bigger than the other girls. I didn't eat anything my skinny brothers didn't eat. I was just built differently, or less tolerant of carbohydrates, or something. I didn't know that then. I was mystified by my "fatness." I thought I was doing everything right.

7. I remember being twelve years old and wondering why boys didn't like me. I thought maybe it was because I was huge and gross. When I look back at photos of me in middle school, I realize they were more likely terrified of me than disgusted. I looked seventeen. I was a size 8 or so, wearing a C-cup bra, with dance-sculpted legs, and thick brown hair to my middle back. I had no idea I was beautiful, but I was. I really was.


8. When I was fifteen, I was a little slice of hell. Unhappy and rebellious, I asked to go stay with my dad in Austin for the summer. When I was eight, my dad had disappeared without a trace, returning out of the blue when I was thirteen. Did this have an effect on my self-esteem? You best believe. But I was determined to have a relationship with him, and I was mad at my mom because, well, she was my mom, so off to Austin I went.

Even though I was still bigger than the av-er-idge bear, I was figuring out my own personal style as far as hair, clothes, and makeup went, and it helped me feel a little better about myself. Then one day my stepmother and I were talking about my plans for returning home and starting school and whatnot, and she asked me, out of the blue, "What about your weight?"



I didn't know what to say. It was such a vague question. I remember saying, "What about it?" I don't recall the rest of the conversation, but I do recall being devastated. Once again, someone who should have been telling me I was beautiful had decided to do exactly the opposite. Probably because someone - or everyone - had done it to her.

9. By the time I was about twenty I had been on at least twenty diets. Again, I look at pictures of me then and think, "Wow. I was beautiful." Did I know it then? Apparently not. I went to the library at my college and did research on weight loss. (This was before the Internet existed as we know it today.) Somehow I stumbled across information about the fat-burning effects of cocaine. So I decided to try it.

I remember going out with friends one night, coked up, and ordering a salad which I could not bring myself to eat. I felt victorious, looking at my food and not wanting it. But soon I found I also couldn't sit still, or think, or relax. I had to leave my friends inside, go outside and pace up and down the sidewalk. Luckily for me, I found the effects of cocaine unpleasant and I didn't do it for long.

10 I have so many stories like this. So many diets, some unhealthy, some less so. I can tell you about the yoga videos, the Legs of Steel videos, walking the four-mile hiking trail in the 100-degree heat of summer. I can tell you about Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, Metabolife, Herbalife, ephedra, the grapefruit diet, the cabbage soup diet, veganism, raw veganism, low-carb and zero-carb. I can tell you about "inspiration boards:" poster boards covered in pictures of thin women I cut out of magazines. I can tell you about my "diet journals," and the countless time I sat and did math for hours, figuring out how much I needed to eat and work out to be this many pounds by this particular date.

For the record: veganism made me fatter. Also: PETA sucks ass.

I can tell you about how when my husband calls me beautiful, I feel embarrassed. I can tell you that I am guilty of talking shit about people who are fatter than me, for the reprehensible and shameful and awful reason that it makes me feel better about myself, in a small and mean and horrible way.

But I think you get the idea. Since I was a young teenager, I have thought about how fat I am literally almost constantly.

That is not an exaggeration: literally almost constantly.

11. I have health anxiety. It's basically extreme hypochondria. And it has occurred to me just now, during this epiphany, in a "Eureka!" sort of way, that maybe one of the reasons I am afraid I'm going to die all the time is that TV and magazines and Pinterest and everything else are constantly telling me that since I'm fat, I could drop dead any minute.

Is that true? Actually, no. But it sure does sell shit. It sells shit, and it has ruined my brain.

I didn't know I was unhealthy until the people who sell shit convinced me I was.

12. You know what? I'm done. Maria Kang, good for you. But I'm done. What's my excuse? My excuse is I have tried all my life to look like you, and apparently it's not going to happen. Maybe it's because I'm not good enough, or I haven't tried hard enough or suffered enough.

Or maybe it's because everybody is different. There's a crazy thought! Could it be that not every human woman is supposed to look like Maria Kang?

13. Maybe I should eat well and exercise because it's healthy, not because I hate myself. In fact: maybe I can be healthy and even beautiful even if I never lose a single, solitary pound.

15. I have let my self-loathing stop me from doing so many things I wanted to do. I let it end my acting and comedy career before it began, because I didn't want to be "the fat girl." I was facing an industry in which women like Melissa McCarthy are seen as brave just for daring to be in a movie, because they are fat. In Hollywood, it is literally a coup for Melissa even to exist. I was too ashamed to face that.

But seriously: how cute and funny is she?

I am one-half of a sketch comedy duo, and the other half, my hetero lifemate, is thin and gorgeous. Again, I let shame stop me from pursuing that wholeheartedly. I decided I would rather be no one than be "the fat one."

Well, not anymore.

I am claiming, owning, and celebrating who I am and what I look like, right now, in this very moment. I am pledging to love myself exactly as I am.

16. I don't have a daughter, but I hope to one day. And I pledge, right now, to not do to her what my mother - out of her own pain and ignorance - did to me. She didn't mean to. I know that. And it wasn't just her. It was being abandoned by one of my parents. And it was the entire world. It was almost every commercial, almost every page in a magazine, or image on the TV screen. Even the well-meaning barrage of diet and exercise propaganda that is hurled at our faces every hour of every day by every branch of the media and every other pin on Pinterest - it all sends the same message:

You are not good enough. You look the way you do because you are lazy and gluttonous. You haven't tried hard enough yet. You will not be fulfilled and your life will not be happy until you look like this.

I may not be able to keep my future daughter from all of these messages, but I can sure as hell counter with the one I am now pledging to impart to myself, every day:

You are beautiful exactly as you are. You are good enough exactly as you are. You can be healthy exactly as you are. You can be happy exactly as you are.




I am more than a "before" photo, I am more than a "success story waiting to happen," and there is not a "thin person inside me trying to get out." There is just me. Take it or leave it.

I have decided to stop talking down to myself, stop hating on myself, and stop obsessing over every bite of food I take. I have spent at least 3/4 of my waking life thinking bad thoughts about my body, and friends, I. am. done.

I deserve better, and so do you. So join me in saying "enough" to a world that says we aren't.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm Calling Bullshit On Your Clown Phobia


It is my personal opinion that about 9 out of 10 people who claim to be afraid of clowns are totally full of shit.

This is just my opinion. Don't quote me your psychology textbook. There's some stuff the shrinks haven't gotten to yet. But one day my theory that 90% of clown phobics are not really phobic will be proven true, along with my theory that owning more than three cats is a sign of mental illness.

I'm sure some people have legitimate coulraphobia. (That's what it's called. Science.) But 9/10ths of you are saying you're afraid of clowns because you want attention for your adorable, quirky phobia.

"I'm afraid of clowns! Isn't that just kind of weird and cool? That I'm afraid of clowns?"

No. No, it's not.

Look, masks are inherently scary. I get it. In fact, "reputable" online knowledge source Wikipedia tells us:
According to a psychology professor at California State University, Northridge, young children are "very reactive to a familiar body type with an unfamiliar face".


Hell, yes, they are. But grown-up people know a clown is a person with makeup on. There is no reason to be afraid of that, and most people aren't. They just like saying they are.

Like I said, masks are creepy. Masks - and I'm counting heavy makeup as a mask - hide something. That's suspicious. But adults are capable of knowing a clown is a clown. You may find them vaguely off-putting, but you are not afraid of them. Stop saying you are.

John Wayne Gacy, I blame you for a lot of this.

Aw, I can't stay mad at you.
John Wayne Gacy is not scary because of his shitty clown makeup. He's scary because he murdered people and hid them in a crawl space.

A lot of people are fake coulraphobics because of the Gacy Effect. They point to extremely - often intentionally - evil-looking clowns (like the photos above, and of course, Pennywise from Stephen King's IT) as reasons to be afraid of clowns. Of course an evil clown is scary. It's scary because clowns are inherently innocent. They're there to fall on their butts and drop shit to make you laugh. When you give them bloody fangs and weird, smeary eyes and a hatchet, of course that's creepy.

Don't point to intentionally creepy clown makeup and say that's why clowns are scary. That's scary because it's meant to be scary, not because it's a clown.

My hetero lifemate, Melodee Lenz, was a clown for Ringling Brothers Circus. This is what she looked like in costume.


How adorable is that shit? Kids loved her. Now she works as a "clown doctor" in a children's hospital. She makes kids with serious and terminal illnesses happy. Virtually all of the children love their clown doctors, but of course some of the nurses and parents like to make comments about how they're "creeped out" by clowns, because that's quirky and adorable.

Whoever you are, you know deep down whether you are honestly afraid of clowns or making it up to seem interesting. Guess what? It's not interesting. It's tired. If you're truly afraid of clowns, you might even keep that a secret. Because it's a dumb thing to be afraid of. Flying? Okay. Planes go really high in the sky and occasionally crash to earth with the fire and the screaming. Snakes? Sure. They have big-ass fangs and sometimes they bite you and poison you and you die.

But clowns are people with makeup on. You're afraid of makeup. That's dumb. Try to get that shit fixed.

And if you're just pretending to be afraid of clowns, stop doing that. It's fucking stupid.

Chicken Soup For The Lazy, Good-Fer-Nuthin' Soul

 This is an actual recipe for chicken soup. Sort of. So if you're here looking for wisdom, you'll be disappointed. Probably.

Before you start, you should maybe get yourself into the state I am usually in: extreme physical boredom combined with mental exhaustion. It might help to look for a job for about a year and not find one. Feel really poor and worthless for several months. Have some not-that-serious-but-still-horrifying health issues during that time. It will help if you have a semi-crippling untreated anxiety disorder.



Start to wonder if your life will ever amount to anything. Become lazier than you've ever been in your life. Sort of hate yourself for it, but feel so much apathy and ennui that you can't bring yourself to do anything about it.

Done?

Great! Now you can begin!

Step 1: Go to Wal-Mart with your husband. Have the idea to make chicken soup as he's parking the truck, because it's easy and cheap. Ask him what goes in chicken soup, and put that shit in the cart. Also get a chicken. That part is important.

It may improve the quality and flavor of your chicken soup if you buy one of those fancy, cage-free, unvaccinated chickens that did Pilates every day and got weekly massages and learned philosophy from a Cambodian monk. Those chickens are about $1.50 more, so put it in the cart when your husband isn't looking because who wants to have that argument again.


This is a Google image search result for "philosophical chicken."

Step 2: Go home and watch "The Walking Dead" while eating leftover pork chops. (You may be one of those people who can't eat while watching zombies get their gelatinous heads stomped on. That would make you a big pussy.)

After the show's over, write an article and apply for some jobs. Then realize at about midnight that you should probably find a chicken soup recipe. Hit up Pinterest, and three minutes later decide you've found the winning recipe because it is quite possibly the easiest one you have ever seen.

Only slightly less easy than my husband's favorite recipe, "Place donuts on plate."

Step 3: Take your chicken out of the fridge. It will probably be wrapped in a little plastic chicken suit, unless you killed your own chicken out in the yard, in which case you go, girl. But you probably have a grocery store chicken, so take something sharp and pierce the plastic and make a grossed-out face as the grody chicken water pours out into the sink.

Someone thoughtfully placed the chicken's internal organs in a plastic bag and shoved them up its ass. Throw that shit away. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels inside and out for some reason, and put some sea salt and black pepper on that bitch.

I wasn't calling you a bitch, Pepper, calm down.

Step 4: Put the chicken in a slow cooker turned on low and cover it most of the way with water. Now take two cloves of garlic, pierce them with your sharp-ass fingernails so the garlic juice can get out, and throw them ho'z in there. Also same bay leaves, and maybe a spoonful of Better Than Broth, even though it's beef flavor, because meat is meat.

Step 5: Stay up until 5:00 in the morning. Not because you want to, but because you don't get enough exercise and your brain never calms down. Do some Internet and writing. Become convinced Satan himself invented Candy Crush Saga. Semi-watch two episodes of "30 Rock" and three episodes of "Frasier" while trying to reorganize the scenes in your novel, but give up because your right bottom eyelid is twitching from allergies or a brain tumor and every time it twitches your vision moves just the tiniest bit and you're about ready to poke your own eyeball out.

Go to bed at 4:52 a.m., and accidentally wake your husband up somehow, even though he's usually a deep sleeper, and listen to him make annoyed noises and get up to pee while you drift off to sleep.

Step 6: Wake up at 11:18 a.m. with dry eyes and mouth from the Zyrtec you took last night. Drink two glasses of water. Take your medicine. Now it's noon, and you're ready to do more shit with your soup.

So get a big-ass spoon and take the lid off your crock pot. The top of your chicken will probably still be above the water, and you'll think, "This doesn't look like chicken soup." Have faith, my child. Stir the chicken. It will fall completely to pieces, and you will now have a bubbling, delicious-smelling cauldron of shredded chickeny goodness.

This is a Google image search result for "chickeny goodness."

Step 7: Obtain a knife and chop your vegetables. Use the kind of vegetables you like. I don't know your life. I used three carrots, six celeries, one potato and half a big yellow onion. I chopped them into big pieces, because I am lazy, but I'm just going to call the soup Rustic, so it's fine.

If you wanna carb it up and make it a little thicker and heartier, add 1/2 cup of rice to that bad boy.

Now put in some spices. A word on spices: on my 24th birthday, a drunk chef was hitting on me at a bar, and he told me a little secret. The secret was: when you cook, just put all the spices in there. Just throw 'em all in. I didn't know if Drunk Horny Chef was joking or not, but I tried it, and I got excellent results.

My over-analytical mind won't let me throw all the spices in there, but I do throw a lot of spices in there. And it always works. Oh, and I also put in some grated fresh ginger. Because ginger is fuckin' delicious, y'all. And curry powder! It's the best.

I also added another spoonful of Better Than Broth. Because I go hard.

Step 8: Let your soup cook for another 6 to 8 hours. Then use some tongs or a spoon - or your hand, if you're Wolverine - to scoop out the bones. They'll be easy to find because everything else in the cooker is soft.

Now add some more sea salt to taste. It always needs more salt.

Then put it in a bowl and eat it. It will be thick and ricey, almost like a stew, and also chickeny and salty and hearty and hot and delicious. And while it took 18 to 20 hours to cook, almost all of that 18 to 20 hours was spent sleeping and watching TV. So it's the perfect soup for the lazy.

It's also cheap as hell. And makes a LOT of food so you won't have to cook again for a couple days.

You can go to the Nourished Kitchen website if you want and read the recipe that inspired my recipe, or you can just read mine below if, like me, the word "nourish" makes you want to punch yourself in the face.


UPDATE: After eating two giant bowls of this stuff, here are some things I should mention.

1. It is not really soup. It's more like... stuff. My husband and I can't figure out what to call it. Ghoulash? Stew? I put 3/4 cup of rice in mine, so if you want a more soupy soup, skip or cut back on the rice and corn starch. If you like your soup more like stuff than soup - which is to say, thick and hearty - stick to the recipe.

2. There are tiny bones all throughout this shit. It's kind of annoying, but worth it because it's so good. I wouldn't feed this to small children. But this is chicken soup for lazy people, so of course it has bones in it. If you want to be less lazy, debone the chicken first (sucker) or spend lots of money on boneless chicken (bigger sucker). You get the benefits of bone broth when you eat this, which is super good for you.

3. This is great for people with no teeth. It's soft and mushy.

Rustic Chicken Soup Stuff

Ingredients:

(Pretty much all the ingredients are optional, besides the chicken.)

1 whole chicken, philosophical or regular
1/2 c. rice
1 potato
6 ribs celery
3 carrots
1/2 yellow onion
1 tumor-size knob ginger
2 cloves garlic
2 spoonfuls Better Than Broth
1/2 tsp. corn starch
Salt, pepper, sage, curry powder, and other spices to taste

Directions:

Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.
Put the chicken, enough water to mostly cover the chicken, 1 spoonful of the broth, the bay leaves and garlic in your slow cooker.
Cook on low for 12 hours.
Stir and add remaining ingredients.
Cook on low 6-8 more hours.
Scoop out the bones.
Season to taste.
Eat.

Monday, September 30, 2013

This One's For The Gays


A piece I wrote recently for the New Wave Feminists blog explains why homosexuals should be pro-life.

Dear Gay People,

If you know anything about me, you probably know that I am Catholic. I am a conservative libertarian. I am pro-life. I love the Constitution and Jesus and guns and all that stuff.

I also love you, gay people. I don't know why all you gay people are gay. If God wanted me to know, maybe He would have told me. Perhaps God put all of us different types of people on earth as some sort of crazy test to see if we can really do that whole "love thy neighbor" thing. Who knows?

I'm fine if someone doesn't want their kids around gay people - that's a parent's prerogative. I'm fine if someone doesn't like gay people. That's a personal decision. We shouldn't be forced to participate in something we don't believe in, but neither can we deny free will and individual liberty.

Keep reading here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The ABCs of Autumn

 
 
Remember when you were a kid and October would roll around? You'd just be starting to really feel the weariness of the school year set in, when all the sudden you'd walk into your Social Studies class and see a beautiful sight: a rolling TV stand in front of the chalkboard.
 
The teacher would seem unusually relaxed. There would be no dreaded stack of worksheets on the desk, but something else: a plastic jack-o-lantern with a black handle. 
 
You'd feel a little tingle, thinking: there's candy in there. (All children have candar.)
 
Everyone would sit on the floor, the lights would go out, the candy would get passed around, and a Halloween movie, like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, would enthrall you.
 
That's the day you knew the holiday season was unofficially starting. From now on there would be cool weather at recess, and extra little something - a delicious combination of festivity and laziness - in every class, lasting all the way up to the Christmas break.
 
As you get older, it gets harder to conjure up that feeling. But when I woke up today, two things were happening:
 
1. There was a "South Park" marathon on Comedy Central. In anticipation of the new season beginning this Wednesday, the station decided to bless my life with literally an entire day of Cartman & co.
 
God loves me.
 
2. The other thing happening when I woke up? Gorgeous weather. It's not exactly cool out, but it's almost there.
 
These two signs of fall- new "South Park" and good weather - inspired me to inspire you with the Chronicles of Radness ABCs of Autumn.

 

A is for Ass

Mine is about to get bigger. I am committed to a zero carb diet, but I fully admit I will cheat on the following days: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. I know it's only four days, but every gram of carb will become a gram of ass. Mark my words.

B is for Broke

Even if I'm not broke in the fall, I feel broke when I contemplate coming up with Christmas gifts for all 433 of my friends and relatives. It would be so helpful if I didn't love people and want to give them things.


C is for Cartman

Speaking of sociopaths, like I said, the new season of "South Park" premieres this Wednesday! There is once again a reason to turn on the TV. (Besides "Friends" and "Orphan Black" reruns.)

D is for Dipshits

This is my favorite time of year, but my how the stores and malls and everywhere else become clogged with assholes. November is when they really start to crawl out of the woodwork, but it won't be until mid-December that people start shanking each other in Bed Bath & Beyond over the last electric foot spa.

E is for Eating

I've said goodbye to carbs, but this time of year I become obsessed with all the shit I can't eat. Having recently read all the Harry Potter books, I am now obsessed not only with existing foodstuffs, but imaginary ones: how fucking good does a pumpkin pasty sound?


F is for Fall Fashion

Finally. Finally. Leggings, tights, scarves, sweaters, cardigans, knee socks, boots, hats... After spending months schlepping around in the lightest knits you can find, layering is finally back in your vocab.

So it's time to head on over to Pinterest and feel that feeling I call "pinspiration," which is a combination of soaring creative inspiration and abject despair. All those outfits I totally appreciate and deserve cost more than my truck and are intended for people who land in a very different body fat category.


G is for Guns

Fall is the best shooting weather. Don't be a sissy. Strap up and get your bang-bang on.

H is for Home

The best part of the holidays is seeing family, but the worst part is figuring out how to divide a very small amount of time between Mom, Dad, and in-laws, who in an apparent effort to make everything complicated, insist on living in three different states.

I used to have this dream that everybody I love would live on the same street. Better yet, all together in a giant house with various wings and whatnot. Oh, and a room made of trampolines. And a heated pool with a glass dome for a ceiling.

Not everything works out like you imagine.



I is for It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Those classic Peanuts cartoons are still hilarious and poignant, and the story of the Great Pumpkin is one of the best. If you were to put on some knee-high orange-and-black-striped socks, curl up on the couch with a blanket, and drink a pumpkin spice latte while watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, you might achieve nirvana.

J is for Jackets

Outerwear, baby. Bust it on out.

My goal is to find and afford an authentic vintage black leather motorcycle jacket. So if you wanna buy me one... You just go ahead and feel free.

K is for Keeping Warm

Fireplaces, hot chocolate and cider, cozy clothes, coffee... All the various methods of staying warm are most of what make fall so magical for those of us who live in places with really hot summers.

It really is like a magic trick when those first cool days show up. "How is it possible that I'm turning off the A/C in my truck?" I thought to myself today. That first time I turn the heater on... It's a beautiful moment every year.


L is for Lattes

Breve lattes, to be exact. If you've never had a latte or cappuccino made with half-and-half instead of milk, go directly to your friendly neighborhood coffee shop and ask for one. You can thank me later. Then put on an adorable fall outfit and have someone take a photo of you with your to-go cup and put it on Pinterest, because apparently that is required by law now.


M is for Martha Stewart Living

Does anybody else want to murder Martha Stewart while she sleeps? Here is what happens in your brain when you look through an issue of Martha Stewart Living:

1. Wow, look at how gorgeous this pumpkin-related project looks. And it's so easy! I'll just turn down the corner of this page...
2. Wait, this project looks cool, too. Ooh, and these party decorations... I should have a party... This recipe would be perfect to make if I just had coriander seeds...
3. *Bzzztzzztzfjfhghfjfh OVERLOAD OVERLOAD OVERLOAD*
4. FUCK IT.


N is for The Nightmare Before Christmas

The truth is, I always get bored like an hour into this movie and quit watching, but the imagery is perfection, and Jack Skellington's voice is like buttah.

O is for October

Quite simply the best month of the year: it's just turning cool outside, so it feels like it'll be years before you're tired of jacket weather. There are Halloween decorations everywhere, and you realize Hobby Lobby wants every penny of your paycheck. You have all the glorious anticipation of the holidays and none of the disappointment... yet.

Oh, and my wedding anniversary! Speaking of which...

 

P is for Pumpkins

As you already know if you attended or have seen photos of my wedding, such as the one above, pumpkins are pretty much my favorite.


Q is for Quidditch

At some point between now and Christmas, do yourself a favor and have a Harry Potter movie marathon. Better yet, read all the books. I did this at age 33, and it was a fantastic idea.

All the stories start at the beginning of the school year - i.e., the fall - and most of the films include a gloriously festive Christmas celebration. When you add all the pumpkin-related goodies and butterbeer, not to mention the magic, you have the perfect fall and winter entertainment.

R is for Recipes

For every major holiday I swear I'm going to make some incredible recipe from scratch. How do you think that turns out? If you guessed "hahaha yeah right," you are correct.


S is for Sleepy Hollow

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, that is! Bare branches against a big white moon, pumpkin patches, and spooky music? Yes please. Unfortunately, that classic cartoon is hard to find unless you want a $50 VHS tape. While I'm not a huge fan of the Tim Burton version from 1999, starring Johnny Depp and his cheekbone hollows, it's pretty satisfying on a cold October night.

T is for Trick or Treating

My friend Brooklyn and I used to go trick or treating together when we were in elementary school. Her mom would leave the door to the mini-van open and just roll from block to block, and the whole big group of us would hop out and back in repeatedly. (Brooke's mom would also take us out in that same mini-van to wrap houses with toilet paper, but that's another post.)

There is very little in life more magical than being a kid on Halloween, dressed up like Elvira Mistress of the Dark and trick-or-treating with your friends. As an adult, it seems like Halloween never quite lives up to the hype, and I know deep down it's because a 34-year-old trick-or-treating is frowned upon.

U is for Up Yours, January

January is the worst month of the year. It means the holidays are over. It means the cold weather will stop feeling refreshing and start feeling like Seasonal Affective Disorder. But it's not January yet! It's autumn! Rejoice!


V is for Viggo

'Tis the season for curling up with some fam or your best mates and watching The Lord of the Rings. If you've never seen the extended versions, do it. Want one good reason? Aragorn sings. Yeah. You're welcome.



W is for Winter Is Coming

As the Starks so simply and eloquently tell us, winter is right around the corner. In my part of the world, that means blessedly cool (and occasionally even cold) weather, and all the badassery and beauty that is Christmas.

X is for X- ray

October is the only month of the year you can walk around in X-ray clothing without looking like you listened to too much Nine Inch Nails as a teenager. Enjoy it while you can.

Also - if you're pregnant in October and don't wear the maternity skeleton shirt, I don't want to know you.

Y is for Yams

Cut up some yams and boil them with the skin still on. Mash them up. Mix in real butter, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar. Put a big pile in a bowl. Now crumble some goat cheese or feta over the top. If you want, add grape halves and chopped pecans. Then drizzle with honey. You owe me money for this.



Z is for Zombies

I know, I know. You're sick of zombies. So am I. But they're a part of our culture now, and 'tis the season to be undead. Embrace the zed word and watch at least one zombie-related movie or TV show this year.


Here's wishing you an autumn literally crammed full of radness!

What's your favorite letter of the Chronicles of Radness ABCs of Autumn? What would you add?

Friday, September 20, 2013

That Time I Got Drunk and Met Viggo Mortensen



This is a story about how I took advantage of a mentally challenged person in order to meet a celebrity. But it's not nearly as bad as it sounds.

Probably.

Many years ago, I went to a community college and worked for their journalism department. I wrote all kinds of stuff, but my opinion columns are what made me well-known. I even got fan mail from professors. Most of my columns were about how George W. Bush was an asshole, or something along those lines.

Anyway, for a while I was the editor of the Arts & Entertainment section, and during that time, I had a writer whom I'll call Jimmy. Jimmy had once been a professional film critic for a well-known local magazine, but a car wreck had left him with a brain injury that ended his career.

Jimmy was in his 30s or so, but he functioned like a child. His dad would drop him off at school every day and pick him up in the afternoon. He walked with a slow, shuffling step, hands clenched at his sides, and spoke with an inappropriately loud voice. I still remember him yelling, "HI, KRISTEN!"

And, God help me, I would cringe. Because Jimmy still loved movies and he loved writing and he wanted to write movie reviews. As the A&E editor, Jimmy's attempts at reviewing movies became my problem.

I have a heart, and I appreciated that this man had once been, by all accounts, one hell of a writer. I felt like he deserved all the respect and help I could give him, but I also had the responsibility to put quality content in my section of the paper. I swear I did my best to work with the broken and incoherent "stories" he submitted, but most of them were simply not publishable without being completely rewritten.

Here's some heart-warming shit, though: Jimmy's old friends and connections still retained a lot of affection for him, and despite the tragic end to his career, they kept him on their mailing lists, so he got emails and media kits and invitations and press releases and passes none of us got. This dude was connected.

He still went to a lot of screenings and other functions, shuffling along with his red backpack, everyone clapping him on the back and saying, "Hey Jimmy!" and feeling fucking horrible inside.

Now, around this time, the third movie in the Lord of the Rings franchise was not long out, and it was common knowledge around the newsroom that I was a total freak for those films. So one day I walked into the newsroom and I heard Jimmy's voice: "HI, KRISTEN!"

"Hi, Jimmy," I said.

"VIGGO'S COMING."

That stopped me in my tracks. "What?" I said.

"VIGGO MORTENSEN IS COMING TO TOWN FOR AN INTERVIEW FOR HIS NEW MOVIE."

"Holy shit, Jimmy," I said. "Jimmy. You have to get me into that interview."

"OKAY, KRISTEN," he said. He was a real sweetheart.

"Jimmy, listen to me. I need to be at that interview."

"OKAY, KRISTEN," he said.

So Jimmy forwarded me an e-mail, but he also RSVPed for the event himself. That led to a situation where I was told that only a certain number of college journalists were allowed to the group interview, and since Jimmy was already on the list for our school, he couldn't let me in.

So I gently explained to the dude - who was really snooty and appropriately named Todd - that Jimmy was not able to adequately report for us, so I would need to be there. I tried to make myself sound kind but professional, just a dispassionate journalist trying to make sure the story got covered.

Todd never responded.

So I did what intrepid reporters have done from time immemorial: I decided to go anyway. Because fuck the man.

But you should probably know I had little to no interest in reporting, and all kinds of interest in basking in the presence of Viggo, because I was borderline in love with him.

I made it my business, in the weeks between being e-snubbed by Todd and the day of the interview, learning every single solitary thing about Viggo Mortensen that I didn't already know, from his fluency in Spanish to his dislike of bathing to his poetry and painting and beyond. I knew he had a son with his ex-wife Exene Cervenka, the lead singer of the punk-rock band, X. (I even started listening to their music and remain a huge fan.) I knew he spent much of his childhood in Argentina. I knew he was Danish and spoke Danish. I knew he was super bad-ass at his stunts as Aragorn and was an accomplished swordsman and horseman. I knew, I knew, I knew. All kinds of shit.

I also knew he was a liberal like me. He had links on his website to groups like Code Pink. He loved Cindy Sheehan and Dennis Kucinich and Noam Chomsky.

Since we were meant to be, I wanted him to know it. I bought Noam Chomsky's new book, Hegemony or Survival: America's Quest for Global Empire, and read (almost) all of it. I was going to be prepared.

***
 
The day of the interview arrived. The purpose of the media round-table was to promote Viggo's new movie, Hidalgo, and it was to take place at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas.

I almost didn't go, because I was in no way invited or technically allowed. But the part of me that has shame was defeated by the part of me that says "Hey, you know what? Fuck it." So I went.

I came up with this plan. The plan went like this: I would show up at the hotel, and then I would... be... at the hotel. And that was about it.

My roommate Michaela drove me because the clutch was out on my old Altima. She and I went into the bar for drinks beforehand. I needed the liquid courage. As we entered the lobby of the luxurious hotel, me clutching my thrift-store bag and my copy of Chomsky's book, we felt incredibly poor. I was standing on a rug that cost more than me, in frayed corduroys, with a nose piercing.

"We don't belong here," I whispered.

As we made our way to the empty bar for $12 cocktails, Michaela and I decided that if anyone asked who we were, we would pretend to be the daughters of a wealthy businessman who dressed shabbily to express disdain for our massive inheritance.

That's how unused to the whole culture of wealth we were: we didn't realize that as long as you act like you belong, no one is going to bug you in a fancy hotel. It's part of what you're paying for.

As we drank martinis, we pretended to discuss our imaginary daddy's birthday present, a mini-humidor for his office. We also systematically ate an entire bowl of complementary nuts. We were hungry, and this shit was dee-lux. They had Brazil nuts!

Then it was time for me to go upstairs and face my destiny. Michaela left to pick up her daughter from school, promising to collect me in a couple hours. Which meant if I got kicked out of the interview by Todd - a very real possibility - I would just have to go back downstairs and drink by myself, which is something I'm even better at than journalism.

So I headed upstairs, belly sloshing with Planter's Deluxe Mix and gin. As I ascended, I realized the fashionably voluminous wool scarf I was wearing, and which was essential to my ensemble, was conspiring with the alcohol in my bloodstream to raise my body temperature to about 108 degrees. But I couldn't take it off. It was part of the awesomeness I wanted Viggo to understand about me.

By the time I got to the press room, I knew I was kinda drunk. I saw a room full of round tables with white tablecloths, and journalists milling around eating finger foods. Jimmy was sitting with some of his old friends. ("HI, KRISTEN!" "Hi, Jimmy.") There was his trusty backpack, and a shopping bag full of Lord of the Rings toys which he was going to ask Viggo to sign.

I stumbled over to the complimentary spread, ignored the cheese cubes and Clif bars, and grabbed myself a bottle of cold water. My body temp was approaching 114 degrees and I was sweating like a lumberjack.

I found a seat and got my little notebook and voice recorder out. Then I realized: there was no tape in my recorder. I was so concerned about bringing the right book and presenting the right image that I forgot to be a fucking journalist. But it was okay, because gin.

I remember literally shrugging and sitting back in my chair. This made some of the other journalists realize I was probably cool, and pretty soon some guy with tattoos and a baseball cap who wrote for a major newspaper was talking to me about something or other.

About this time, Todd came into the room. I had never seen him, but I knew it was him. He was wearing a nice suit - I could tell it was nice because he looked like he knew it was nice - and carrying a clipboard. He looked like someone had put something uncomfortable in his ass a long time ago, and he had just learned to deal with it. I sat there sweating and staring at him, gulping my water, as he looked at each person in the room and checked something off on his clipboard.

Someone came up behind him and said something, and he abruptly left the room. He had never looked at me. I breathed.

Several interminable minutes later, as I attempted to have a conversation while pretending not to be a perspiring drunk person, Todd came back into the room and apologized for the delay. He said it was time for the interview, and would we please follow him. I got up and joined the herd filing past Todd into hallway, as he busily looked at us and ticked things off on the clipboard again.

I was almost past him when he saw me. I had been doing my best to become invisible, trying to tuck my face into my huge wool scarf, which had become so hot it was like wearing a lava flow around my neck.

But Todd's beady little eyes had fixed on me.

"What's your name?" he snapped.

I stopped walking abruptly and almost fell down. I turned to Todd, choosing to ignore the fact that I had almost just fallen to the floor, and told him my first name, which is not the name I go by. Why did I do that? I don't know. It seemed like it might be a neat trick. Because gin.

Todd consulted his list. "I don't have you on here," he lisped menacingly, still sneering at me.

"I might be on there as Kristen," I said.

He looked at the clipboard again, then asked, "Who are you with?"

I told him. His eyes narrowed. He sneered at me again, or more accurately, he never stopped sneering.

"Oh," he said. That "oh" said everything. He knew who I was. He knew I had not been approved. He knew why I wasn't on the list.

I watched the knowledge dawn on him: I was crashing his interview.

At that moment I was ready to run Todd down to get into that room. I was going to present myself before the one they call Viggo if it meant I had to chew Todd's jugular out of his neck with my bare human teeth.

My drunk mind tried to assert its will silently on Todd's consciousness. I'm pretty sure there was visible sweat on my face, and my eyes were probably blazing as I thought "YOU'RE LETTING ME IN THAT ROOM, TODD."

Todd sighed tragically. Maybe he was afraid of the crazy redhead with the facial piercing and the enormous scarf who was sweating freely and glaring at him. Maybe he was just tired. He seemed tired. So he said, "If there's enough room..."

I managed to smile and nod somewhat professionally, then turned and followed everyone else in, hoping against hope. The room was small and narrow, with a window at the opposite end, filled almost completely by a large, rectangular, handsome conference table and about twelve chairs. I went in and sat down in a seat at the far end. I looked around. Everyone had a seat, and one chair at the end of the table was empty. It was the throne of Gondor, waiting for its King.

I looked at Todd. He looked at me. His lips pursed. Then he looked around the room, nodded, said, "Viggo will be just a moment," and shut the door.

I was in.

***


What happens next is this:

Viggo Mortensen walks into the room. I am struck by how small he is. He is not a big, strapping dude: under six feet tall and somewhat wiry. His straight, fine, sandy hair is longish and almost sweeps the collar of his red Hidalgo T-shirt in the back. He has 5 o'clock shadow. His eyes are a piercing grey-turquoise, visible from across the room. He wears jeans. He is barefoot and carries a little wooden ball with a silver pipe sticking out of it.

Because I've done my Viggo homework, I know this is a device they use in Argentina for drinking tea for some fucking reason. One of the first things Viggo says, in fact, is a little joke about having his super rad Argentine tea ball scrutinized at airports, and it does indeed look like a primitive hand grenade or a homemade bong.

The overall impression is of a strikingly handsome hippie in his early 40s, who knows he is terribly good-looking and feels a little apologetic about it.

First thing's first: Viggo says hello, sits down, and invites everyone to pass up their voice recorders, which he carefully arranges in a semi-circle around himself in an adorable manner.

I try to make myself invisible during all this. I have decided not to pass forward my worthless, tape-less recorder, because if Viggo notices I have no tape, he might helpfully point this out, and then I will have to pretend like I didn't know, and then pretend to search for a tape... You get the idea. It could be super awful. So I just disappear behind my scarf and ready my pen above my notebook. Luckily, no one notices.

Most of the interview consists of Viggo talking and three middle-aged fat ladies from suburban newspapers, who are sitting right across from me, giggling their heads off.

I don't remember a lot of what he says. He is talking about Hidalgo, and seriously who cares? I do what all the other women in the room are doing: I stare at him. He has a mellow, slightly high voice. Todd had told us right before he let Viggo in the room that Viggo liked to talk, and there would not be time for us all to ask a question. Todd did not lie: Viggo likes to talk. And everybody is totally cool with listening.

He talks a lot about the horses on Hidalgo and Lord of the Rings. He talks about shooting in the desert and dealing with sand. He talks about how he likes that Disney made a movie about a white guy who goes to the Middle East not to go to war, but just to compete in a race. Blah blah blah.

I just stare at him. Occasionally he inadvertently makes eye contact with me, and it's like being pierced with a turquoise laser beam. Every once in a while, I find a way to casually touch my copy of Chomsky's book, which is sitting prominently on the table in front of me, to draw attention to it.

After about 30 minutes, Todd comes in and declares the interview over. This is the part where we all get to line up for autographs. Jimmy, who is sitting right next to Viggo - I'm telling you, the guy was connected - waits to go last, clutching his shopping bag full of Aragorn figurines still in their pristine boxes.

I line up behind the giggling fat ladies and wait patiently, appearing unconcerned, even slightly bored. I watch him sign each of their photos: "Best wishes, (Name). Viggo."

Now here's something you should know about me: I have been around celebrities a few times, and I always play it totally cool. Not because I am cool, but out of pride. I refuse to admit I am not on their level. I could run into Robert DeNiro at Target, and I'd probably behave as if he should want my autograph. My pride will not let me admit I am anyone's fan.

So when I get up to Viggo, standing as close to him as you are to your computer, and he says, "What's your name?" I do not say "My name is Kristen, and I absolutely loved you as Aragorn, and my favorite painting of yours is the one called 'Selva,' and I love your poetry and I love that you had to go buy a TV so your family could watch you on the Oscars. I understand you in a way others don't. Take me with you to your home in Topanga Canyon. I love you."

Instead I say, "Kristen."

He says, "How do you spell that?"

I spell it.

And as he is writing, something magical happens: he sees my Noam Chomsky book. (It helped that I was holding it down and facing towards him in a very unnatural way so he would see it.)

I see him see it. He does a double take. He looks up at my face. I give him a pleasant, cool half-smile, raising my eyebrows as if to say, "Yes? You wanted something?"

God, I am cool. Also: gin.

"That's a good book," he says, nodding at the book.

"It really is," I say coolly. "I'm enjoying it."

He nods, and looks back down at his half-finished autograph. It says, so far, "Best wishes, Kristen." His Sharpie hovers over the black and white photo of himself riding a horse, and then he writes: "(Heart), Viggo."

I still have it. As far as I know, I'm the only one that day who got a heart. And all I had to do was embrace the beliefs of Noam Chomsky.

I thank him. We make eye contact. He gives me a little half-smile, and the one I return him is the most radiant-yet-dismissive "You don't know what you're missing but, hey, your loss" smile I can muster, as I turn and walk away.

I am triumphant.

Because I write fast, I have enough verbatim quotes to fill out a story. Voice recorder, shmoice shmecorder.

But most importantly: I got into that fucking room. I imposed my will upon the universe. I overcame

I met Viggo.

***


Ten years later, I have come to find that being "in love" with people you don't actually know is overrated, and my days of celebrity crushes are over. I am married to an actual dude who is as different from Viggo Mortensen as night is from day, and holy shit am I happy about it.

You see, my worldview was destined to diverge from Viggo's. It would have ended badly, with me screaming that Cindy Sheehan and Dennis Kucinich are fucktards, and that Noam Chomsky is at least 80% full of shit, and him writing mean poetry about Sarah Palin just to spite me. It wouldn't have worked.

But I still have a lot of affection for Viggo. I heard later that he sat and patiently signed all of Jimmy's toys. That'll bring a tear to your eye. And of course, I still admire him as an actor and artist.

But most of all, I'll never forget the day Viggo Mortensen gave me his heart.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Trip to Wal-Mart, As Told By Jennifer Lawrence GIFs

I had to go to Wal-Mart the other day, and it was bad, you guys. It was so bad.

See what happened was, I married this guy with a lot of stuff.

I'm not 100% sure what all the stuff is. There are a lot of crates and tubs and duffel bags. I know most of it is military and gun-related, because my husband is a member of a white nationalist militia.


Kidding, kidding. Calm down. He's in the Army.

Anyway, he has tons and tons of shit, and while I'm not one of those vicious controlling bitches who wants to erase all traces of her husband's personality from the home, our apartment has become more storage space than living space. It's seriously time for some of this stuff to GTFO.

Rather than rent a storage space, Husbo and I went to his parents' house in a nearby small town, where they keep, behind their house, brooding menacingly in a copse of trees, The Shed.

The Shed is fucking horrible. Every once in a while, when you're in The Shed, you get a "Look at this stuff / Isn't it neat?" moment. Occasionally I see something and I'm like OMG PLEASE LET ME KEEP THIS. (By which I mean sell it for a shitload of money on Etsy.)


But mostly when you're in the shed you just sneeze and wish there were a Dumpster within throwing distance.

Being a Southern couple in their 60s, my in-laws are not tub-and-crate people. They're "Put it in The Shed" people. Shit got thrown in The Shed for ten or fifteen years and promptly forgotten about.

Husbo inherited his pack-rat tendencies from his mother and his organizational tendencies from somewhere else. My mother-in-law is the nicest person in the world, but throwing shit away is not one of her life skills, and neither is Appropriate Storage Solutions, so after about five minutes in The Shed, as a person who loves throwing shit away and hates clutter, I start to hulk out.


My husband is an only child. There is no sibling to guilt trip into helping. So he rolled up his sleeves and started cleaning out The Shed, so he can refill it with all the shit I want out of our apartment.

Not long into the cleaning adventure, Husbo reached the layer between the stuff and the floor, which is comprised of a dazzling array of roach crap. So he asked me to go to Wal-Mart for Raid.

When I realized I got to leave the 127-degree shit-packed Shed while still being somehow useful, inside I felt like this.


But I played it cool. "Sure, babe, I'll run to Wal-Mart for ya."


This is where our adventure begins. And because the adventure involves me, it starts with getting lost.

Here is a fun fact about me: I cannot remember how to get places. I'm a good driver, but when it comes to sense of direction, I'm just... I'm lost.


I have driven from my in-laws' to Wal-Mart more times than I can count (yeah, I just admitted that) but my husband takes some fancy-pants back way every time, and if relied upon to recall it at gunpoint I would just have to shrug and get shot.


The town is small and semi-rural so the iPhone navigation system is useless. I was on my own. But eventually, after about ten minutes, I found the Wal-Mart, which was a mile and a half away.

I'm great.

So I go in, and I'm looking for Raid. That's what Husbo wants. Raid roach killer. Sounds easy enough.


I go to where they keep the paper plates and garbage bags and shit, since that seems about right. On the way there, I grab some turlet paper and milk, since we need those things.

I don't see the Raid, so I ask a Helpful Wal-Mart Employee where the Raid is. She directs me to the Lawn & Garden section, which is at literally the opposite end of the store. I am at one far, far, remote corner, and the Raid is supposedly at exactly the other. So I'm like


But I trek over there with my turlet paper and milk and I look around. For a long time. They have all kinds of bug-killing shit, but no Raid. And I need fucking Raid.

So I walk around for about five more minutes. I find everything but a Helpful Wal-Mart Employee. And then I spot one, and it's like I'm a bird-watcher who finally spotted a lump-footed bungler or whatever the fuck. So I get to her and I'm like yo where's the Raid and she's like it's over there by the paper plates and I'm like I was just back there. All the fucking way back there.


So she says, "Follow me." And we have one of those awkward, silent employee-following experiences. I hate those.

It was around this time that I realized something. I needed to poop.

See, I am on a zero carb diet, and it's really great and wonderful and it works and it's super healthy, but sometimes I go to CVS and buy a bag of sugar-free chocolate-covered toffee. Why? BECAUSE SATAN EXISTS, okay? I'm fucking sorry. But they're so delicious I can't stop myself.


The problem with this sugar-free chocolate-covered toffee is it has a profound laxative effect. First you get a feeling in your stomach like a new and exciting creature has moved into it and is growling at you. Then you poop in a manner that should be prohibited by law.


Once you rid your body of it, you're like, "Never again." But then a few days later, you realize:


So I'm following this girl to the Raid, and I start to feel Russell Stover's Revenge coming on. Strong. But I have to get the Raid. And get out of Wal-Mart. Because I am not a dude. I'm certainly not a military dude. I can't just shit in a public restroom stall like it's no big deal.

So we get back to the cleaning section, where I had originally been, and the Helpful Wal-Mart Employee takes me EXACTLY ONE AISLE FROM WHERE I STARTED and points to the Raid.

I grab four cans of unscented roach killer and start hauling ass to the registers. Because about now, I'm starting to have that feeling, you know what I'm talking, where a turlet is literally all you can think about. Just getting to a turlet. Nothing else matters. Shame is gone. The sugar-free chocolate-covered toffee has taken over, and now life is different.

 
On the way to the register - and I swear I am not making this up - the original Helpful Wal-Mart Employee, the one who sent me to the Lawn & Garden section in the first place, sees me practically sprinting past her and says, "Did you find it okay?" And I'm like
 

But not really. THERE'S NO TIME. I just nod and keep sprinting.
 
The woman in front of me in line is buying ALL the things, and she is having trouble paying with a combination of an EBT card and a debit card. Brandi behind the register is throwing major attitude every which-a-way.
 
 
And I am dying. The world is about to end in my pants.
 
It's finally my turn. As I'm swiping the card, I'm asking Brandi if there is a bathroom.
 
"There's one right behind you, by the deli. It's only one stall because the big one in the back is broken."
 
And I'm like
 
 
Because I'm thinking a one-person bathroom where you lock the door and everyone has to wait outside while you unload. I grab my stuff, I run over there, I swing the door open... and I see that it is not at all a one-person bathroom, but one STALL with about four people standing just outside it waiting to pee.
 
 
I drive the mile and a half back to The Shed in a sort of agony. I give Husbo his Raid, and I briefly consider going inside to use the bathroom. But four adults live in that house and share one bathroom. I just... I don't think even this Level IV Shitmergency is enough to kill that kind of shame.
 
I look at my husband with real pain in my eyes. And he goes, "The candy?" And I go, "Baby, YES." And he goes, "Just go home. I'm gonna be a while anyway." And I'm like
 
 
I no longer even really care if he stores all his man-goods in our apartment. I mean, I do, but I'm being cool about it. Because a dude that rad, who lets you off the hook cleaning The Shed so you can go home and poop in comfort... he's a keeper.
 
And about that candy? This is the honest-to-God truth: I'm eating it RIGHT. NOW.