Arnold Palmers:


I started drinking Diet Coke a couple years ago because, as we’ve discussed a number of times, the fashion elite drink it exclusively, and Karl Lagerfeld literally drinks nothing else. This is probably one of his majestically hyperbolic statements, but it’s Karl…one never knows. In an effort to get my health back under control — we will discuss that at length later in this post — I gave it up. It wasn’t a struggle really. I did miss my Jack and Diet Cokes, but I’m tapering my alcohol consumption, too, so, whatever. I do enjoy something though beyond water, and I can’t chug champagne all day the way I want — which is a huge injustice — so I’ve been on the hunt for a guilt-free beverage to call my own. I finally found it in the Arnold Palmer. It’s so refreshing! I bought the cans for a while, but I hated the calories and the cans. I really do try to be ecologically conscious. I wasn’t ready to give my AP’s up, yet, so I was ecstatic when I found the powdered drink mix. It tasted exactly like the readymade variety. What a thrill! It still had five calories a pouch, though, and that was too much for me. I’m on a calorie kick again, I need to get myself in order. These past two months of weird health have made me balloon. Then I stumbled on the squeezable water enhancers. It’s the best yet. No calories, the flavor is absolutely perfect, and I can fill my water bottles up with Arnold Palmer’s on a whim. Plus, the price is hella right. I’m obsessed, and I feel so blessed. Get your asses to the grocery store, reader. You will be thanking me.

Sesame Oil:

Sack of sesame seeds and glass bottle of oil on mat

My newest obsession is sesame oil. I have had a little bottle of that delightful, heavenly nectar sitting in my cupboard for probably a year. I had no use for it. What was I going to put it on? I have recently been trying to clean out the cans and bottles and wrappers that I have had for seemingly decades and trying things out. I’ve tossed out several bags of beans that would fail to be saved by any amount of soaking, I’ve gotten rid of vinegars that seemed to have fermented far past what I thought was possible, I trashed minuscule bits of pasta that had dried into rocks that look like rigatoni. I feel better about all that, and I feel especially glad to have found the bottle of sesame oil. I put it on top of an avocado and put that on top of a tabbouleh salad. I was amazed at the depth of flavor that the teaspoon of oil added to the dish. It was truly transformative. Since then, I have been drizzling sesame oil on top of everything. My favorite, of late, was on top of some avocado rolls that I made at home. They weren’t too hard to make, either, which was a shock, and with some practice, I’m sure I’ll get better at it. Regardless of how they looked — and they looked quite nice — they tasted fabulous. They tasted even better with sesame oil on top. I’ve since bought two bottles. I’m going through it like water. Get thee to the Asian grocery aisle, reader, and feast on sesame oil with me. It costs next to nothing and adds so much to your cooking. I haven’t heated it up at all, though, so I’m not sure how that would taste. Right out of the bottle, though, that is bliss.

Feeling of Hair After Trim:


Only a little filter, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ that’s Hollywood for you.

I have known for some time that I need to do something with my hair. I love the length of it, cascading like a mermaid over my shoulders. I feel elegant. But, the hair at the end of my hair is hella dead. I don’t know what happened to it, but it’s a different color, dry as straw, and just gross. So, I decided that I needed to get it lopped off. I wasn’t sure to what degree, though, so I had to do a lot of soul searching. Reader, you don’t know the lengths I went to when I had to decide on my new style. I meditated for hours — that could have been part of depression, but more on that later! — and envisioned myself with a number of hairstyles. I decided on my next five during that meditation, but I also realized, while deeply connected to the cosmos and the Universe, that I was not entirely ready to be a short haired person. I really like having long hair. I truly do. I always have. I don’t know why I only grew it out once before in high school. Oh, those were strange days, reader. I shan’t burden you with an image of what I looked like back then. You wouldn’t recognize me. I don’t. I’m a new person. Cells regenerate every seven years or something, you know? You aren’t who you were, and who you are now isn’t who you will be. Or, maybe that’s a bunch of hooey that I latched onto while zoning out? Anyway, I decided it was time for a trim and I wanted to finally recreate the image that has been haunting me since the day I saw it in 2014. Prepare yourself:


I have never really gotten over that. I have been in a state of malaise not looking exactly like Harry did in that image ever since. You know those people that pay huge sums of money to look like Kim Kardashian or a Ken doll? That’s how I feel about this picture. I like my face for the most part, so I’m never going to get surgery to look like Harry. I just want to look more like myself, so I need a brow bone shaving, surgically implanted contacts, a bit of Botox, and maybe a bit of cheekbone work. But…where am I going with this? My hair. That’s right. So, I printed off that picture, I hopped in the car, and I took myself to lunch while I contemplated different salons. Eventually, while sipping a second glass of champagne at the Wine Experience (a heavenly place) I decided on Aveda, which was in the mall and more classy than Regis or Great Clips. The staff was all very nice, and after a massage and a very thorough shampooing, inches and inches of my dead hair were littering the ground as I worriedly sipped on hazelnut coffee. They didn’t really do much with my hair after it was cut, which I was fine with. Haircuts always look awful in the salon, I think. So, trembling in terror and regret of what I had just done, I drove home, sipping on an iced mint tea. I looked in the mirror in terror. It didn’t look great. But, after a few days of washing with my LUSH shampoo bar and using my products and my routine, I think it looks pretty damn nice now. And, it is so soft. That’s what this whole post was about, I just remembered. It’s still not like the picture above, but I may have to accept that it never will be. (I’m not ready for that yet. I’ll keep trying.)

Blank Park Zoo:


I have, for the longest time, said that I hate zoos. I don’t hate the animals or anything. I LOVE THEM. Working with large cats is one of my goals in life. I can think of nothing more delightful than tossing a gigantic ball at a lion and hoping it didn’t maul me. If I died in a lion attack, though, I’d be grateful. What a story! I just never liked slowly marching from one exhibit to the next, fighting off hoards of children who’d much rather be at the water park. Anyway, Jessica and I have grown obsessed with an account on Instagram called Black Jaguar White Lion, which is a big cat rescue and rehabilitation center in Mexico. The man who runs the foundation yells, “AIIIIE, PAPI. GUAPO GUAPO!” at the lions and tigers and other cats that he has there. The videos are addicting and we send like a dozen of them to each other every day.

We yell, “AIE GUAPO,” at our cats, who don’t seem to understand exactly what’s happening, but that’s all right, we’re still having a fun time. I have been absolutely desperate to see lions ever since watching the videos, but there’s never been an opportune moment to go to the zoo here in Des Moines. Finally, we had the chance, and reader, I was left in a state of shock. The Blank Park Zoo is amazingly fun. I have no memory of it being as delightful as it is. Perhaps that’s because we always tended to go to zoos in groups and not do any of the side excursions, like train rides or giraffe feelings. This time, though, Jessica and I decided to treat ourselves something fierce. We bought the all access ticket, which didn’t cost much, and allowed us to feed several kinds of animals, to ride camels, to take train rides, to get up close to an ostrich and so much more. It was a bomb ass time. For me, I was slightly disappointed that the lions weren’t very active, but to be honest, I wouldn’t be either if I were a lion. It was warm that day. The highlight was, surprisingly not the camel ride, which was an effing delight — they’re so clean here in America. In Egypt, the camels were quite flea bitten and decidedly moody. The Des Moines camels are beautifully groomed and don’t even warble in that way that camels do. If you are unfamiliar with this peculiar noise, do watch this video:

The highlight, which I meant to discuss a bit earlier, was the ostrich pen! Those giant birds are so sassy with their weird reptile legs and fluffy wings and spindly necks and giant eyes. They bob along, seeming to float. I love them. Jessica and I got to feed them some very nice romaine lettuce attached to a tong. It was an effing delight. Y’all gotta get to the zoo. I’m telling you, it’s one of the best afternoons I’ve had in a long time.


Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis:


The disease that has been ailing me has finally been confirmed. It finally has a name. I knew what it was the day I woke up with a weird leg, but it took two months to get everything sorted. I just took my first dose of medication this morning, which kind of wraps up all the mystery in a sort of lame finale. I’m going to be writing more about the whole process soon, but I just wanted to get this little bit out. It’s so annoying to have something go wrong with your body for no apparent reason. And, with multiple sclerosis, there is no reason for anything. (Maybe there is and that’s something we will learn about in the future, but that seems to be a few years down the road.) It seems unfair and dumb, but that’s kind of what life is. It’s just what you make out of it, I suppose, and I, much like Beyoncé’s mother-in-law, have always had the glad ability to turn lemons into lemonade. So, I have lesions in my brain, I have ocular neuritis, and I have a single solitary lesion in my spinal cord. So stupid. The form of Multiple Sclerosis that I have is a very early stage of Relapse Remitting MS. It could get worse in the future, or absolutely nothing could happen. There is no real way of knowing what will happen. I could go ten years just fine and then wake up one day with my leg paralyzed. It’s just ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. That’s the thing that irritates me the most. So, I’m glad I’m on the medication I’m on. We will discuss the insanity of that little pill in a longer post that I’m drafting now. I’ll probably post that in the next week or two before I leave for my summer holidays in Europe and Africa (and Asia for a few hours!) These pills reduce the number of white blood cells circulating in my bloodstream, which should help reduce the number of white blood cells that have gone AWOL and decided to feast on the myelin in my brain. (Isn’t that just the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard?) So, in theory, I should never get worse. I really won’t get better until they find a cure, but I’m better than I was when this shit started. So, for that I’m ever thankful. And I’m approved for this medicine until 2039, and by then I assume that they will have figured this thing out. Fingers crossed. Chin up and all that.

7 responses to “THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #149

  1. Hi Ben
    I cannot remember how I first stumbled across your blog, but from memory I subscribed in 2014.
    Fortunately it was prior to a trip to London, Paris and Côte d’Azur in early ’15 – your blogs on travelling were terrifically on point and I have been reading along ever since.
    It’s cliche for people to only reach out when something shitty happens, but often that’s what it takes (aren’t humans terrible).
    I am sitting by Sydney harbour treating myself to a steak and wine in my lunch break (birthday week) and reading about your MS diagnosis has shocked me.
    I really appreciate your blog. Whether it’s whilst waiting for my coffee or binge reading them on a plane/train trip, I always enjoy your posts. Thank you for the effort you put in to your writing.
    I won’t pretend to know you as a person but it’s nice to read the witty musings of someone else who shares a rampant obsession with Joanna Lumley and opera cake.
    I’m sure you have an infinite amount of support from those close to you and enough of a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ attitude to deal with your diagnosis, I just thought I’d leave you this note.

    • I can’t thank you enough for this note, truly I can’t. It made my day to know that my writing is appreciated! This diagnosis has been quite a shock to me, but having support from family and friends and readers on other continents is a great comfort. Happy to hear that you enjoy my posts and I do hope you have a wonderful birthday. I think I’ll make an opera cake very soon! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ –Ben

  2. Reading your post today I was caught by the talk of diet coke. I used to be an absolute addict drinking 3 or 4 cans a day. I’ve always been on the large side but I had got to a point where it was becoming totally unacceptable and bearing in mind my age I felt it was time I took myself in hand. Sounds strange but by a stroke of luck I caught norovirus and spent a week in bed being sick, which is very unlike me as I am very rarely ill. The upshot is I totally went off diet coke and haven’t drunk a drop since. I’ve dropped 2 1/2stone, thats, 39lbs to you and now drink water or a healthy squash, treating myself to a little alcohol at the weekends. I don’t think you should drink or eat anything because celebrities drink it, be yourself, be different, different is interesting. You’re obviously a talented person, celebrate that and don’t try to be like anyone else.
    By the way I have the hair problem too, having dyed my originally blonde long locks for years now mine too is dry and frizzy at the ends, I can’t bear to let it go to its now natural colour, which I think might be a rather boring mouse colour streaked with grey but I might have to lop off several inches to get it back to it’s previously lustrous beauty. I’m dreading it and whilst I see plenty of other people with lovely styles I just don’t know if they will suit me. I know it will grow again, but being a bit older than you (probably quite a bit) it will be slower than it used to be. But I think this is a bullet I will eventually have to bite. Nice to see I’m not the only one!
    Look forward with interest to your next post. Caroline

    • Go for the haircut! It felt like I was having my pride amputated when I did, but after a week, I’m so glad that I did. I look forward to getting the length back, but for now, this feels so much healthier.

      And I appreciate your comments on the Diet Coke bit. I’ve nearly forgotten why I ever wanted the stuff. And I’m eccentric enough with or without it!

  3. I always love reading your posts 🙂 And so great to read your readers comments I almost forgot why I scrolled down to the bottom of the page!
    Right about your diagnosis…Wow I’m really happy that the MS was caught in the early stages and that there is medication that will give you some peace of mind!
    It’s funny how when I leave a comment I talk to you like we know each other…I feel that I know you and just really love to read your posts and about you’re lovely adventures! Take care!

    • Thanks always for commenting, I appreciate it more than I can say. I’ve written for so many years, but I have often felt that I’m sending my thoughts out into the void. It’s nice to know that there are people who do take an interest in what I put on here in my moments of madness or contemplation. And I get the feeling that I’m getting to know you, too!

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