J. Awkward Prufrock Learns to Cook!

Prepare for the most awkward cooking blog post ever, as, even though I vaguely planned this post, I did not take any pictures of my experiments. I never remember to take pictures of anything. I encourage you to use your imaginations as you accompany me on this culinary journey. I assure you none of them looked like their Pinterest pictures, if that helps.

Now, I have lived on my own before, but on those occasions, I was either kitchen-less or too afraid to really use the kitchen (because of the filth factor and because I live my life in fear). Also, I’m one of those people who is perfectly content to eat the same thing everyday and also perfectly content if that thing is a bag of frozen vegetables I can pop in the microwave.

But I live with my boyfriend now. And while he is a very smart man who has been feeding himself for years, my waspy ethnic origins are predominantly Irish and Italian, and thus I possess this unflappable stoicism that is only curbed by pictures of cute dogs and a need to feed others. It’s how I show I care. I’m also hoping that if I get good enough at cooking, he will be able to look past all the new neuroses he’s learning about now that we live together (Jillian, why do you keep all the closets open? Because someone might be in them. Obviously).

I love to eat, but I’m pretty health-conscious and like to keep things plant-based when I can. I also don’t really like the idea of handling meat (shut up, Freud). Now, the thing about cooking is it never looks or sounds that hard to do. And it isn’t, really, if you’re striving for edible, but boy does it take time. (Curses upon those Tasty videos that made it look like all cooking only takes 30 seconds!) Especially if you’re incredibly anal and insist on staring at everything the whole time to make sure it’s cooking the way it’s supposed to be…and yet, it still manages to be over or underdone at the end of it all.

So, here are some of the things I’ve made.

Day 1: Vegetarian French Dips
In this recipe, you use mushrooms instead of roast beef. It was pretty good and very easy to make. But this was the day I learned that even recipes labeled as “Healthy” on Pinterest can call for lots of olive oil and salt. Which makes me wonder, is anything really good for us?
Rating: 7.5/10
Recipe here: http://www.connoisseurusveg.com/vegan-french-dip-sandwiches

Day 2: Peach Mango Stir Fry
Ah, the joy of the stir fry! Proof that you can throw a bunch of things into a pan and it will probably come out alright. In this case, it was a bag of peppers and onions, a can of black beans, and peach/mango salsa. Added rice after. Above par, nutritious.
Rating: 8/10
Recipe: Whatever the hell is in your cabinets.

Day 3: Potato Mushroom Concoction
Peeling potatoes sucks.
Rating: 7/10
Recipe here: http://cooktoria.com/recipe/potatoes-with-mushrooms-2/

Day 4: Burgers and Black Bean Salad
I want to know why people think it’s so much better to cook on gas. Not only am I perpetually conscious of breathing when I’m around it, but it gets so hot! So fast! On this day, I thought I would give pan-frying burgers a try since we had some in the freezer and I know my boyfriend enjoys them. Bless his heart for eating these, which somehow managed to be burnt to a crisp on the outside and raw on the inside.
The black bean salad was fine. A bit vinegary. I also boiled him a hot dog. Amen to boiling hot dogs! I will boil hot dogs ‘til somebody stops me! What a low pressure meal.
Rating: 6.5/10
Recipe: Black bean salad consists of 1 can of black beans, peppers, onions, lime, corn, oil, balsamic vinegar, and the spices of your choice.

Day 5: Pasta and Broccoli
I’m not a terribly gifted person but I can usually get pasta right. And the more the kitchen smells like garlic, the harder people think you worked!
Rating: 8/10
Recipe: Pasta and broccoli and stuff.

Day 6: Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Pea Salad
After a few days of hearty eating (weekends are for pizza. It’s in the bible), I thought we could cleanse ourselves with some kale and other vegetables. But roasting vegetables takes a lot of time and the ability to walk away from the oven. I do not have that capability.
The dressing called for tahini, which is hella expensive, so I thought I would improvise by combining every condiment in the fridge: a concoction my boyfriend kindly described as, “a lot of really good flavors that maybe shouldn’t be together.” Womp womp.
Also, why is salad never filling? We broke out the Ben & Jerry’s an hour later!
Rating: 6/10
Recipe here: https://www.budgetbytes.com/2017/02/roasted-cauliflower-salad-lemon-tahini-dressing/

Day 7: Enchilada Orzo Casserole Thingy
Oh, if I could only shake the hands of Mr. Crockpot himself! Seriously, what ingenuity. This was definitely the best of all the attempts so far. And to think, all I did was dump some stuff into a pot in the morning and by 6, we had dinner. The crockpot gets my full endorsement. I will die so crockpots can live.
Rating: 8.5/10
Recipe here: http://damndelicious.net/2014/12/01/slow-cooker-enchilada-orzo/

Does anyone have some easy recipes they want to share with me? Does anyone want to help me get over my fear of cooking meat or my CO woes (I don’t think it’s good to keep testing the detector…)? I would love to hear from you!

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J. Awkward Prufrock and the Journey to Hogwarts

Harry Potter turned 20 this week! My how time flies. I’ll admit sometimes, even to this day, after school lets out for the summer, I find myself confused about why I still have to get up early and where my class schedule is.

Summer always fills me with that tremendous Harry Potter feeling, you know? That feeling of total wonder and excitement. I always make sure to re-read at least one of the books every summer, starting on July 31st: the date I spent every year, from ages 11-17, staring with unblinking alertness at the sky, waiting for my Hogwarts letter to come.

I was skeptical of Harry Potter at first. Even at age 7, I always found myself distrusting the majority. But I picked up the first book when I was around 10 or so, and after that, I totally understood the hype. Like millions of other kids, those books were my childhood.

However, there is one thing about the Harry Potter books that I simply cannot get behind. And that is the house system.

So, when students get to Hogwarts at age 11, they are sorted into four “houses” based on core personality traits.

To review:
You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart,
their daring nerve and chivalry set Gryffindor apart.

You might belong in Hufflepuff, where they are just and loyal,
those patient Hufflepuffs are true and unafraid of toil.

Or yet in wise, old Ravenclaw, if you’ve a ready mind,
where those of wit and learning will always find their kind.

Or perhaps in Slytherin, you’ll make your real friends.
Those cunning folks use any means to achieve their ends.

(Yes, I did type that from memory. And later today, I’ll have no idea where I put my car keys.)

You take classes with your house, you dorm with your house, you eat meals with your house, you sit with them at Quidditch games. Your house is your family. And you are pitted against other houses with a points system that, granted, promotes good study habits and behavior, but also promotes rivalry against those who are unlike you.

The history of this is supposedly the four Hogwarts founders couldn’t decide which types of students they would admit, so they decided they would take them all. But while they were there, they would ensure students would stick to their own kind.

How irresponsible!

So these students are supposed to spend some of their most formative years only hanging out with people who are like them? That seems like a really good way to stunt their brain growth. They say there wasn’t a witch or wizard who went bad who wasn’t in Slytherin. Gee! I wonder why! That’s never happened when you’ve put a bunch of capitalists in one room. With sorting comes judgment, marginalizing, fascism. Maybe that’s why Voldemort went bad. Because he never had to talk to a Hufflepuff.

Also, who’s to say a Gryffindor at age 11 is still going to be a Gryffindor at age 17? When I first took the Pottermore test at age 21, I was sorted into Gryffindor. I took it again about a year ago when I made a new account, and I was sorted into Hufflepuff. But I’m fundamentally a bookish introvert. Does that make me a Ravenclaw? I identify with all the houses. Every time someone has asked me about my Hogwarts house, I legitimately do not know the answer. Which can make me feel even more out of place than I already feel.

And I know, I know: people are always going to have their differences. Harry, Ron, and Hermione were hardly the same on many levels. And the hat takes your choice into account and yada yada. A recent Atlantic article just discussed a study being done about how people were more likely to get Pottermore-sorted into the house they wanted to be in. But is that self-awareness, self-aspiration, or a testament to the malleability of the quiz? Quizzes are easily manipulated. The hat, seemingly, not so much.

Plus, what if you get into your house and it’s awful and you don’t get along with your housemates? Are you allowed to transfer houses the way you’d be allowed to transfer roommates at a university?  How are you supposed to bond with a whole group of people based solely on the fact that you’re “brave”? It doesn’t even seem like you’d be able to transfer schools without running into the same issue, as Ilvermorny, for example, uses the same system. Though that could be your standard U.S./British thing.

Maybe it’s best I didn’t go to Hogwarts. This is a lot of social pressure. Imagine those poor wizard kids losing sleep over whether or not they will make it into their family house, forcing them to adopt unnecessary personality traits. Or maybe, with a family like the Weasleys, the hat just throws them into Gryffindor for the sake of not having to think about it too hard. What are the implications of that? What does it do to the system?

J.K. Rowling, I adore you. You are my queen. You gave me the most precious gift I’ve ever been given, and I truly believe my love for Harry Potter has helped define me as a fierce proponent of storytelling. But this system is potentially hazardous to the youth of this fictional wizarding world. You can take that feedback all the way to the bank!

Nasal Spray: An Awkward Addiction Story

I have a fairly high pain tolerance. I’m able to get through most instances of discomfort by simply telling myself that it’s not permanent. Either the pain will end or I will die. It works surprisingly well! I also don’t have an addictive personality, generally speaking. I am wildly turned off by the idea of being out of control of, well, anything. Let alone my own mind. So drugs and other such things never really appealed to me.

But the one thing, THE ONE THING, I have absolutely zero tolerance for is a stuffy nose. Ever since I was a little kid, a stuffy nose meant a lot of misery and absolutely no sleep. Even a little bit of congestion would spark the tossing and turning. I needed my nostrils to be absolutely clear.

I was 8-years-old the first time I had Afrin. I was going on a field trip to see the Secret Garden. My mom knew that I really liked theatre but that I would be really unhappy if I had a stuffy nose throughout the thing, so she gave me the good stuff. I remember it so well. The instant feeling of absolute, total relief. I sat on my Sun Bonnet Sue comforter, utterly obsessed with my new ability to breathe. In and out. In and out. How glorious! How exhilarating!

And how dangerous.

As a child, my parents were able to monitor my nasal spray use when I had a cold. It was essentially for sleeping or special events such as the one listed above. Otherwise, I had to tough it out. It meant 7-10 days of being the mouth-breather kid, but I was mostly okay with this.

Ay, but that’s the problem with youth. Who thought it was a responsible idea to let 18-year-olds out of the house? To unleash the monster within? One good cold in college set me back one year in smelling things.

The stuffy nose appeared. I thought I could control it. I thought, I’ll go to the store and get some nasal spray and I’ll just use it to sleep and everything will be fine. I didn’t and it wasn’t. I found myself in class thinking it would just be one time. Then one time turned into every time.

And the thing about nasal spray is that, if you use it more frequently than every 12 hours for no more than 3 days, it can actually cause the congestion to get worse, which causes you to need more nasal spray. It’s a vicious cycle. I became completely dependent upon it. Would have to have it in my pocket at all times. Would have to make friends drive me to the store to get more since I didn’t have a car. Once, I woke my friend up in the middle of the night because I realized I’d left it in his car and needed it to sleep.

I was pumping this stuff into my nose probably once every hour. If I let it wear off, it would feel like someone had flipped my over and poured cement up my nostrils. Then I would sit up at night, my heart beating fast, full of anxiety about the unhealthiness of it all. I visited doctor after doctor that winter for chest pains and palpitations, oblivious to the fact that I was worried about myself and the poison I was pumping into my body 12-15 times a day.

I think I could finally admit I had a problem when I stopped being able to smell or taste things. That’s probably the only way I could ever admit I have a problem with anything: if it comes between me and food.

And so I began my journey to recovery.

I started with doing my research. It turns out this is a fairly common problem. Which is on some level comforting and on some level frustrating because if I was going to be addicted to something, I at least wanted to be original. It was common enough for there to be a nasal spray weaning kit, which involved diluting nasal spray with saline every night until your nose adjusts accordingly. So simple! So ingenious! Yet, I mentioned already, even the teensiest bit of stuffiness won’t do.

Cue the hardest weeks of my life. There was no sleep. There was no happiness. Just lunches not tasted and a nose filled with despair. The best phase was when stuff just started coming out of my nose, like an elegant bidet. All I wanted to do was sneak into the bathroom when no one was looking, and shove more spray up there.

But a little voice told me that this isn’t permanent. That one day, either the stuffiness will end or I will die.

And so, my addiction subsided and one day my nose cleared up like the hand of God poking through the clouds.

I would like to note that I am not belittling or mocking addiction in any way. Addiction is a serious issue that we need to come together to combat as a society and find ways to help people who truly need help.

It’s just that…nasal spray addiction is such a J. Awkward Prufrock thing.

And now the cruel joke is that I have a thyroid problem and can’t take any decongestants or else it will contraindicate my medicine. Thanks a lot, Jesus.

 

I Put the Ports in Sports

My dear friend Andrew requested I take a stab at writing about sports.

I’m here to tell you I know nothing about them!

I think football has been explained to me at least 4 times now. In one ear and out the other. I’ve tried to learn because movies have taught me that if you’re not the manic pixie dream girl who somehow learned everything about life by dancing in the rain, then you’re the girl who swears a lot and loves whiskey and football and the guy realizes he’s been in love with you the whole time in act 3. But as much as I love whiskey, I can’t get behind football. Or soccer. Or golf. Or tennis. To me, there’s just nothing to care about. No protagonist to follow, no interesting motives to study. Two teams are there to win, and even if I wanted one team to win more than another team, I can’t get mad at the other team for doing what they’re supposed to do. I just can’t.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve met many people who, upon seeing me, automatically assumed I was athletic. I am not athletic. I like to exercise. And by “like,” I mean need a vice to combat my anxiety that is not drugs or alcohol. I am terrible at any form of movement that requires speed, agility, or coordination. The only form of movement I’m good at is the kind that’s objective is to keep moving…slowly. I would die immediately in the zombie apocalypse.

I had a note to get out of most activities in gym class (thanks to asthma and that time in kindergarten when we had to run laps and I started to vomit. However, like the little rule follower I was, I knew I was supposed to be running, not vomiting. So I kept running…and kept vomiting. All over that that wooden gym floor, my little gags echoing off the reverberant walls). If I didn’t have a note, I would wait on the line to play and then move to the back of the line every time I got to the front. If it was a team activity and I had no note, I would half-heartedly trot around the field with my hands out in front of me like I was ready to catch something (hopefully a taco).

One time I tried to turn basketball into dancing basketball, twirling away with the ball in my hand. The gym teacher yelled at me and told me there was no dancing in basketball. Which brings me to…

I did go through a phase where I really liked resident-funny-lady-of-the-time Rosie O’Donnell and from that sprung a totally healthy obsession with a little movie called A League of Their Own.

Even at age 9, I knew it was an important movie. Despite my undeveloped understanding of the true meanings and implications of the movie, I knew I felt inspired. I wanted to be just like those women.  And the most logical place I could think to start was with baseball.

I quickly learned that girls don’t play baseball. They play softball. Girls haven’t played baseball since the events of A League of Their Own. Why this is so, I cannot say. Either way, I signed up for the local (girls’) softball league.

I remember being incredibly nervous for my first practice. I’d never really played softball before. I’d never really tried to play a sport before. I had no idea what was in store.

The first thing I discovered was that I was extremely afraid of the ball.

It was huge and hard and flying at my face (no, she didn’t say that. Stop it). Why would I put myself in danger just to get someone else “out”? That seemed unnecessary and bad for their self-esteem. And so I would do my best to get as far from the ball as possible. This was, surprisingly, a point of contention with my teammates.

You’d think I could have made up for it by being good at hitting the ball. I was okay at this, because it was an action that got the ball away from my face. Plus, I got to wear that fetching head gear. But, as you may recall, speed is not a gift I was granted. It didn’t matter if I hit the ball to the corner of the field. It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d hit it out into the parking lot. Someone would have gone to collect it, gotten a smoothie, and then walked it over to first base before I even got there.

Maybe I had PTSD from all the vomit-running I did when I was younger, but I also seemed to be a bit afraid of running. I essentially did a brisk walk to the bases. As a walk, it was pretty speedy, but my knees didn’t want to shift into the running mode. They just locked.

For some reason, even though it made me miserable, I insisted on playing softball for multiple seasons. When I hit age 11, I ended up in “Major Little League,” which essentially meant I spent a lot of time on the bench. Maybe that’s why I stayed on. It was a nice block of time to sit and read a book a few times a week.

So I suppose, one could say I, Jillian Ports, put the “Ports” in “Sports”…because the integral “s” is still missing.

Hug Alternatives

I’m not much of a hugger. On top of the deep vulnerability issues that caused years of therapy, I don’t really come from a touchy-feely family. My brother and I tried hugging once and we vowed to never speak of it again…crap. Sorry, bro.

So, if you’re like me, and come into a moment where it might be socially appropriate to hug, but you’re all, “Hey now, that seems a little intimate. Like, I barely know you, grandma,” here is a list of alternatives that may or may not be just as uncomfortable, but they will get you out of a hug.

  • A nice pat on the shoulder. Of course, you don’t want to pat too hard so it may come across as more of an attention-getting tap, so make sure to pat three times on the shoulder if you want credit for your affectionate and well-meaning gesture.
  • A half-hug. Sure, it’s still kind of a hug, but way more bearable than a whole hug. If you can, try it while one of you is sitting down to add the teensiest bit of that panicked “Don’t touch their butt” feeling.
  • Grab their shoulders and kiss the air next to them. You create the illusion of endearment toward another human, but really you’re saving the earth by kissing the booboo in the ozone layer.
  • Exclamations and excuses. As soon as someone expresses their salutations, good news, or goodbyes, you immediately reply with an over-enthusiastic, “Hello!” “Congratulations!” or “See you!” And then book it to the other side of the room, where you simply must answer the phone that probably rang, address a digestive emergency, or suddenly be trapped under something heavy.
  • Become a miser. Then no one will want to hug you. I find this to be the easiest and most frequently used tactic.

Now, I know you must be thinking, “But Jillian, these all seem so awkward and complicated. Wouldn’t it be easier to just hug?” What can I say? I make life hard.

High Anxiety

For further confirmation of the fact that I am, indeed, an anxious person, please refer to any previous entry on this here blog. Thank you.

I’ve been seeing posts and articles all over the internet about anxiety, and I’m loving that anxiety is becoming a part of the conversational canon. Fellow anxious people are probably feeling less alone, and since anxious people are often anxious about whether or not they are alone in their anxiety, this is one thing to cross off the list.

Anxiety is a very natural thing. Anxiety is the reason your bloodlines are still running. The cavemen who didn’t worry about getting eaten were probably the ones who got eaten first. But now that we have evolved and we no longer have to worry about getting eaten (most of the time), our trusty human brains have found a myriad of other things to worry about, some of them reasonable, some of them not so much.

If I write about my own more reasonable anxieties, it will sadden and frighten me, so here are some of my not-so-much-es:

Most of you, I’m sure, are familiar with the Stop! Don’t Touch Me There videos that were shown to kids across the country every year, until we were old enough for the puberty video and then I guess they figured we had enough to worry about. The Stop! Don’t Touch Me There series was educational storytelling in its prime, alerting children of stranger danger and of the proper course of action if an adult touches you inappropriately.

I’ve always been a rule follower. My parents told me to stay away from fire, and so I did. A cop told my 5th grade class not to do drugs, and so I didn’t. I got no rise out of questioning authority and wasn’t overly interested in anything other than reading books and being left alone. So when I was told not to talk to strangers, well, I really took it seriously.

The problem was that the Stop! Don’t Touch Me There videos were not merely about stranger safety. They also highlighted how anyone in your life could hurt you. And thus I entered that incredibly awkward stage of youth where one assumes every adult one meets is a pedophile.

I wish I was kidding.

Suddenly, being left anywhere without one of my parents would put me in the full-on throes of a panic attack. One time, when I was 10, my friend’s mom left us in her minivan with the door cracked open (had I truly known about hot car deaths yet, this situation could have been way more complicated). I was extremely uncomfortable being left so accessible, so vulnerable to all the malicious, potential pedophiles that were nearby, but I was trying not to show it because, even at 10-years-old, a part of me knew I was crazy.

But then this man was coming toward us. He looked quite ordinary, but the videos taught me that didn’t mean shit. I screamed bloody murder as I slammed the door of the minivan shut. Of course, the man simply got into the car next to the one I was in and drove off on his merry way, but there is no way to prove that he didn’t have other malicious intentions and that my screams hadn’t saved us. My friend, of course, had never thought about these possibilities before. I wonder how she’s doing.

Incase you were wondering, yes, I am aware that this is the root of all of my trust issues and why I approach every relationship in my life with a grain of skepticism. Yes, I’m aware of that.

Later in life, I went to gym class one day. We had a substitute teacher who had a very specific style: aka scare the pleasant thoughts away forever. His lectures featured a broad range of topics, from carbon monoxide poisoning to your imminent death.

But there was one that had a particularly scarring effect on me. After all, I could always have electric appliances and keep the windows cracked. This lecture started with, “People are going back to their hotel rooms…and DYING!” And as he proceeded to terrify us with information about Deep Vein Thrombosis, the silent killer, I knew I had another Stop! Don’t Touch Me There crisis on my hands.

Enter the phase of my life when I was afraid to sit still.

I sat in the backs of movie theatres so I could pace, I would purposely shake my legs and feet to ensure blood was flowing. It got to the point where a boyfriend would have to turn to me after sitting for along while and say, “You don’t have a blood clot.” And I knew I didn’t…right? I knew that. I didn’t check myself into the hospital once because I was convinced I had one. No, that wasn’t me.

I can now confidently say I have sat on a 7-hour flight and only got up once. This was mostly due to the fact that I had a window seat and my fear of inconveniencing anyone for the sake of my anxiety trumps my actual anxieties these days…but still, what a triumph!

Can I confidently say that I can walk down the street, unafraid of getting touched or kidnapped by some dude? Well, unfortunately, I am a woman.

I think that a lot of this behavior is behind me, actually. While I still have anxiety about tons of things, I can combat it with rationality. Of course, last week, my boyfriend said we should go to Harry Potter World. And instead of my immediate thought being, “Yes! Yes! Whee! Squee!” My first thought was, “We can’t go to Orlando. We will be mauled by alligators.” And then I stayed up all night thinking about being mauled by alligators.

But the important thing is I will still go to Orlando, because it’s freaking Harry Potter World! I will just panic a little bit every time I see an alligator, or think about an alligator, or walk anywhere because snakes, or swim anywhere because eels, or fly anywhere because terrorists. I will still go, friends, and that is 50 points for Gryffindor!

The Top 5 Things I Want to Learn About in 2017

Welp, because of my last entry, I feel a need to comment on the GG revival (well, that, and I have feelings). As expected, Emily and Paris were beautiful, wild forces of nature. While I found faults in many aspects of the revival (as I do with anything; frankly I’m not sure if I’ve enjoyed a movie or TV show in years), those two characters made it worth it for me. However, (SPOILER!!!!) it ended with Rory writing a book about her life called Gilmore Girls, so I have to hate it forever now. This is one common storytelling trope I simply cannot get behind. Dear writers, why must all these writer characters have their masterpiece be the thing you wrote? That is not interesting. That is not poignant. That does not cause me to reflect on the circular nature of time. That is lame. And a bit narcissistic to say that the great work of this writer character’s life is your work. If you must write a writer, write a good writer; one who can think outside their own life story. Do not write a writer character with the hopes of seeing a better-looking version of yourself on the big screen one day and so you can further reassure your audience that your story is a GREAT STORY.

End rant.

The New Year is creeping up on us, and I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things I want to accomplish over the next 12 months. I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. I’m grateful for my new job (can’t turn my nose up at a steady pay check and health benefits) but it’s definitely been a pace adjustment. My last job was 24/7 with phone calls, emails, planning, reading, and stress. This new job is legitimately one I can leave at 5pm on the dot and not have to worry about until I come back the next day at 9am. All well and good. No complaints. It’s just not what I’m used to. It doesn’t present me with crazy challenges every day. There aren’t any fires to put out. And because of this, I feel like I’m not exercising my mind enough. I can feel my brain turning to mush.

The bad thing is I haven’t been using my spare time to challenge myself either. There’s been a lot of sitting around and watching TV and not enough of doing the things I promised myself I would do; the things I want to do.  I want to get more serious about writing. I want to read more and experience more. I want my life to be more than sitting on a couch, watching shows I’ve already seen and/or don’t really like that much, having fleeting thoughts about my mortality and making a mental note to get a life as soon as this episode is over.

I’m a pretty curious person with a lot of interests and a desire to learn as many things as my head can carry (probably in part so I can whip it out in conversation and continue to strive for the “insufferable know-it-all” status. I am disgustingly competitive. Repartee is my men’s locker room). I am often completely overwhelmed by the amount of things I’ll never know, the amount of things I will know, and the amount of things I probably did know and have forgotten.

I’ve recently realized that there are certain broad subjects that I really just know nothing, or very little, about, and as part of Operation Non-Mush Brain, I have decided these are the things I am going to learn about in 2017. If you know about these things, feel free to share in the comments, email me, or come to my house and we can drink champagne with our pinkies out and laugh at ignorance.

Geography

I don’t know where anything is. That’s the truth.

The first test I ever did poorly on was in the 4th grade. We had to memorize the location of every town on Long Island and write it into a map. I am not a visual person. I am miserable at the “find the differences in the picture” puzzles. So this test was my nightmare. And because I am a crazy perfectionist who spends a great deal of time trying to drive memories of imperfection out of her head by screaming profanities, the results did not sit well with me. I think maybe this resulted in an aversion to geography.

That, and I have no sense of direction. I have never gone somewhere for the first time without getting lost. I feel like I only recently got the hang of North, South, East, West.

I don’t know the names of mountain ranges, seas, capitals. Let alone where they are. It’s incredibly embarrassing when I go to trivia night.

So this will be the first thing I learn about. Where things are.

How Things Work

There are so many things I use throughout the day, but I have no effing clue how they do the things they do. Because I am a serial anthropomorphizer, I am often filled with guilt for not knowing and understanding these objects better. Like I’ve been driving my car for 3.5 years now, but I don’t really know him/her. I just use him/her (my car, Victor Victoria, is gender fluid). I intend to use this upcoming year to learn about the parts that make up the whole.

Finance

I have a bank account! Why does it have to be more complicated than that?! Heck, why does it have to be more complicated than a shoebox full of cash under your bed? We should all take a leaf out of my crazy, dead aunt’s book and hide our money in paper napkins.

Investments, stocks, bonds, the economy. Not exactly my forte. The only math class I had to take in college was called Survey of Mathematics, and we didn’t really do math in that class. We just thought about it. How to manage and move your money is probably useful information to have so I guess I should get on that.

Guitar

I have magnificent fantasies of me sitting around a campfire with all the friends I am going to make once I learn to play guitar, and I dazzle them with my amazing guitar skills. In this fantasy, my fingers move swiftly and seamlessly over the strings, and not at all like they normally have the dexterity and steadiness of an alcoholic leaning on a washing machine. Plus, my singing voice becomes inexplicably awesome. While many of these things are unachievable, I have had my guitar for over a year now and I could be/would like to be a lot better at it.

Self-Care

I don’t put myself first and I spend too much time assessing my happiness to actually let myself be happy. I let people take advantage of me because I want to be loved. I’m hard on myself. I beat myself up over things that happened a long time ago and that most other involved parties don’t even remember. I need to keep myself healthy, both physically and mentally. I need to eat well and exercise but not get upset with myself when my pants are a big tighter. I need to remind myself that there is no right way to do this, that bad things happen, that good things happen, that sometimes I will be right and sometimes I won’t be, and nobody else is expecting anything of me otherwise.