THINGS I LOVED / HATED THIS WEEK #82

LOVE:

HyVee’s Asiago Cheese Bread:

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I love grocery stores. They have always been one of my favorite places. Even when I travel, I find grocery stores to be one of the highlights of my trip. I’m not kidding. Going to Marks & Spencer in London, or Monoprix in Paris, or even a tiny little shop in Cairo can tell you an awful lot about the culture of a place. But, this post isn’t about international food vendors, it’s about a MECCA of deliciousness in Des Moines. There, standing gloriously atop a hill is the world’s largest HyVee store. I didn’t know what to think of it before I stepped inside, but after visiting, my life was changed. CHANGED! They have aisles upon aisles upon aisles upon aisles upon aisles of everything. There’s a huge cheese counter and a buffet dedicated exclusively to hummus! Oh, reader, it is truly a wonderland. I’d still go to Whole Foods, though, if I were to choose because their salad bar is truly one of the wonders of the modern world. Anyway, this HyVee has a great bakery that sells artisan bread. I love to bake and I usually make my own, but it’s so nice to pick up a quality loaf of bread without having to do any work. They make this boule that is stuffed with asiago cheese and it is clearly from heaven. It is divine. It is the reason we are alive. I think I’m going to make egg salad sandwiches with it. I’m drooling at the thought.

Drawing:

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As I’ve written before on this series, I have a keen interest in the arts. My main interest is mocking them, of course. It’s delightful to hate on modern art. It’s such a bunch of drivel. I’m much fonder of Impressionism and other more traditional methods of drawing. Impressionism is really where my passion lies, though. And so, the other day was admirably sunny and I thought I should go out and draw a landscape. I grabbed my sketchpad and my colored pencils…and a cocktail…and headed out to my boardwalk to get to sketching. I had a great time until the wind came. It literally pushed my martini glass off my table. When it hit the wooden planks, the beautiful, delicate glassware, shattered into a hundred pieces. Oh, reader, there was such sadness in my heart. But, I carried on — I assumed that tragedy would make me a better artist — and I finished my quick Impressionistic sketch of the scene before me. I wasn’t thrilled, mainly because I have trouble rendering a lot of depth with colored pencils and so I wasn’t completely happy with the fields and especially the grass. Still, I was pleased with my beginnings and hope to get some real paints and canvases soon. I’m pretty proud of that building, though.

Audible:

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I have been reluctant to use Audible for ages, which is strange because I adore audiobooks. They’re great for entertainment when you’re out on a lengthy walk through the countryside and they also make cleaning a bit more fun. I used to get all my audiobooks from the library and then put them on my iPhone or iPod or whatever I had at the time. But now, I have a computer without a disc drive and that’s not exactly easy. I don’t miss disc drives, I literally only ever used it for audiobooks — maybe three times a year. I’d always known about Audible, they have a great advertising campaign, but I didn’t think I wanted to spend $15 a month on it. Then, I realized that I already spend $20 on Birchbox, $10 on Netflix, and another $10 on Spotify…so, why not? I’m glad I did. It’s rather nice to pick up a new audiobook each month to listen to your favorites again or to discover new material. I have been loving a series of lectures by Bob Brier. I told you about that a few weeks ago. It’s been delightful and I’ve learned a great deal. I have also downloaded a new recording of Dracula that is done in multiple voices. This delights me so much. My favorite audiobook of all time is an abridged edition of The Historian, which also makes use of multiple voice actors and it’s a true delight. I’m sad that I resisted this truly excellent service for such a long time, but I’m very happy to finally be a subscriber.

Dancing Lady Emoji:

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When emojis first became a thing, I was reluctant. I didn’t want to be one of those people who were irritatingly loading up their text messages. I wasn’t going to be one of those people who tried to send messages in that cryptic code. But then, I discovered the great wealth of options when I finally bought my iPhone. I started off with the usual — the smiling cats and the occasional camel. I’ve moved on past that now. I still use camels, of course, because why wouldn’t you? Now, though, now I use the dancing lady in a red dress. She is the perfect response to anything. Her carefree motions seem to express great delight when needed and yet seeing her sashay in response can also be read as a great bit of sarcasm. Other times seeing her arm thrown up can quite clearly tell the viewer, “I DON’T CARE. LOLZ YOLO.” The dancing lady is perfection. She is my spirit animal. I want to have her tattooed upon my person so that I can reference her all day. Do you have a signature emoji, reader? Is it the whale? The poodle? The skull? Maybe you should using the dancing lady; she will change your life.

Dry Shampoo:

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I have been meaning to buy dry shampoo for ages. Ages and ages and ages. My fashion role model, Karl Lagerfeld, never washes his hair with water and soap, he uses dry shampoo. He credits this product for his stunning white hair. For a long time, I’ve wanted white hair. When I’m old, I don’t want grey and I don’t want salt and pepper, I want white. Blinding white hair. It’s a goal for my distant future. I finally ordered a canister of the stuff on Amazon, which was free because I used my Discover Rewards, and I was rather amazed. You shake the can, spritz it into your hair, and let it sit for a bit. Then you brush it out and your hair is beautifully clean. It also has a lot of texture so that you don’t need to put much product in it to look fabulous. I’m a convert already. Get a bottle, my dear readers, it’ll change your life.

HATE:

Insatiable Donut Craving:

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I have always been fond of finely crafted pastries. I’d forever prefer a macaron or a tart to a snickerdoodle cookie. Why have a slice of boring cake when you can have mousse, you know? Lately, though, my tastes have become very pedestrian, and I am obsessed with donuts. I don’t think you can begin to understand the longing and unending desire I have for them. I rarely eat donuts, but they are all I think about right now. Seriously, reader, chocolate donuts and glazed donuts and every kind of donut are always on my mind. Right now I’m thinking about chocolate cake donuts with chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles. Oh my god, I’m going to die! I need all the donuts in the world in my mouth right now, but I live in the middle of the country and there are no donut shops! Why are there no donut shops! I could make my own, but that defeats the purpose. When you make your own food, you know everything that’s in them, so you have to feel guilty knowing that you just greedily chowed down on a half pound of butter. When you go to a shop and whimsically chose a donut, there’s no such guilt, there’s only joy. Bring me donuts, reader, before I just kill myself so the cravings stop.

Window Screens:

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I have a long and deep loathing for window screens. It all began in 2009, readers. That winter, I spent several months in Paris whilst I studied at the famed Cordon Bleu pastry school. The winter eases to spring much quicker in Europe than it does back home — we still have idiotic snowstorms in May. In Paris, though, it’s usually nice enough to don a light jacket in February and throw your windows open onto the medieval street. Oh, if you’ve never experienced, you’ll never know the thrill of looking down upon a narrow street where hundreds of generations have passed before you. Whenever I’m in Europe, I marvel at the fact that you can just open the window and completely expose yourself to the outside world. You aren’t attacked by a legion of flies or a swarm of mosquitos. Back home in Iowa, though, you can’t even take a walk in the summer without accidentally ingesting a dozen insects. It’s horrific. And so, I miss my clear Parisian windows. I hate looking outside now. All I see is the screen marring my view. I hate it. I HATE IT SO MUCH. I took them out of some of my windows, but that really wasn’t one of my greatest ideas. They’re back in now. AND I HATE THEM. There has to be another solution. A more lovely solution. Find me one, please.

Ryan Murphy Continuing To Spy On Me:

Well, readers, it’s that time of year again, time to see what the new season of American Horror Story is all about and then laughing as my ideas flash upon the screen. Last night’s premiere was not the usual, though. There were still many concepts and inspirations that clearly came from my writing research and my music collection. I can almost forgive the use of my main character, Margo, from my first unpublished novel, Terrible Miss Margo, in the show. Jessica Lange plays the faded entertainer, Elsa, with such style and grace and charm that I can’t help but applaud whenever she appears on the screen. But, I nearly lost my mind when Georgia Gibbs started to play in the scene with the lobster boy. I mean, are you serious?  There are probably like ten people who actively listen to Georgia Gibbs and I’m one of them. I found one of her old records in my grandmother’s basement and I loved the song, “Make Me Love You,” so much that I found a digital copy of her albums. I’ve written about her before on here. I can only assume that Ryan is a reader. If so, hey! I’m not even mad anymore, I just think we should probably be creative collaborators. Think of the magic we could create if we worked in tandem!

Yearly Arrival of Seasonal Affective Disorder:

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We’re on the Weight Gain stage if you’re curious.

Here we go again, that miserable time of year where I just want to curl up in my bed with a dozen cats around me and sleep until spring comes back with all its sweetness and joy. The older I get, the earlier this disease begins to claim me. If you have never suffered from seasonal depression, you are a lucky person, but you will be unable to empathize with me. Depression is a disease that can only be understood by experience, I’ve found. For the good half of the year, I wake up easily and I spend my day actively engaged in a multitude of things. I’ll walk until my legs fall off and spend hours in the garden. I will read mountains of books and write until my fingers are numb. I’ll rapidly lose weight even whilst consuming an inhumanly large number of calories. But not anymore. From now on until April, I’ll be suffering. It’s not a pain, really, but just a haze that encapsulates my brain. I call it a fog. It slows me down tremendously, both mentally and physically. The smallest things exhaust me and the thought of the things I need to do is enough to send me into a panic-induced nap. I’ve been eating a big meal when I get home from work and then going immediately to bed. My housework is a joke at the moment. I’m going to try and get some kind of medicine for this year because I will not be able to deal with it.

Rapidly Advancing Blindness:

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Reader, I am ancient. I am an old man. A blinding old man. I have very few things in this world that I am afraid of, but one of my genuine fears is going blind. I have been convinced for quite some time that this is eventually going to be my fate, and I think this is one of the reasons that I travel so much and attempt to see as much as I possibly can. I don’t want to spend all my life imagining what the pyramids look like or how it is to watch the sun sink into the Nile in Luxor. I want to have it logged away in my brain in case the worst ever happens. I have long been obsessed with trying to restore my eyesight, but this seems to be kind of a pseudoscience. Though I’ve given it much effort, my vision has never improved. Not even a little. It gets persistently worse. I have gone for about two years now with the glasses I currently have, but I can’t really see terribly well with them. I’m going to the eye doctor again soon to see just how my vision is rapidly deteriorating. I am craving laser surgery, and I think I will get it sometime soon. It won’t be until sometime next year, though. I can’t wait to wake up and just see the clock or see my cat snoring beside me or look out the window and see the leaves waving on tree branches. I can’t do any of that. I don’t remember ever being able to see. It’s sad.

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