I, much like Karen Walker on Will & Grace, don’t have an addictive personality. Lol. Well, I usually don’t. I know when to quit and when enough is enough. Usually. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ However, when it comes to Smarties, I don’t have the foggiest idea when I have had too many. This is an addiction I’ve had most of my life. I recall when I was in high school, I would shove entire packages of the sweet and sour treat into my mouth and repeat the process a dozen times. I think they’re delicious. I think they’re decadent. I think they’re proof of divinity. Some of you may remember the eating disorder I had when I wasn’t cast on America’s Next Top Model. I’m still trying to figure out what that was. It wasn’t bulimia or anorexia, I don’t think; it was more of a body dismorphia thing. No matter what I did to exercise and no matter how little I ate, I still thought that I was a mammoth. Of course I wasn’t and now I fondly look back on my once hot body. Glad I didn’t keep up that poor lifestyle, but I was close to looking hot. I mean, don’t get an eating disorder, but if you do, stop before it’s too late. Anyway, my diet was composed of only a handful of things: a couple servings of Cheerios, dry popcorn, and Smarties. I would treat myself to a roll or two at a time because God forbid I eat over three rolls and accrue a balance of seventy-five calories. Lol, I was crazy. I ate like fifteen packages yesterday and I have no regrets. The extra fifteen pounds I’ve been carrying around since my multiple sclerosis diagnosis are glaring at me, but I’m all ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ What can you do? I mean, I need to probably do a bit better for my health, but I’m never giving up on my beloved Smarties. Bury me with them.

DeKalb Illinois:


When Jessica and I were going to Chicago, I saw a sign saying that there was something called an Egyptian Theatre right off the highway. I gasped in delight for the obvious reasons. I was distracted from this reverie moments later when a semi lost a tire and then I unavoidably hit it causing an ugly dent in the front bumper of my beloved Mitsubishi Mirage. Oh well. Nothing to do about it. I can probably get it fixed fairly simply. Anyway, on the way back from Chicago, we stopped in DeKalb to see this mysterious Egyptian Theatre. I fell in love with the city immediately. It reminded me of Boone and of Stillwater and of Hocus Pocus. In fact it was the perfect setting for a Disney Channel Original Film for the month of October. The houses were lovely, the streets were lined with dried cornstalks, there was a shop that sold potions, a bar that allegedly had the greatest pizza in the world, and a confectioners shop. I was on cloud nine at that candy store, reader. They had absolutely everything. I bought myself a mint Oreo dipped in dark chocolate, chocolate covered apricots, a dark chocolate lollipop in the shape of a cat, and then these decadent drops of chocolate coated in rainbow nonpareils. It was lit. The pizza shop was sadly closed, so Jessica and I didn’t get to test the merit of the claim, instead we went to McDonald’s and later made the exceptionally reasonable choice of going to the Olive Garden in Davenport where, for some bizarre reason, we were informed on the love life of our waiter, Jacob, who just texted his high school crush. It was very dramatic. Most excitingly, though, back in DeKalb was the Egyptian Theatre. These don’t really exist anymore in the United States, and it’s always a great thrill to see the remains. After the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb, Egyptomania swept the nation and there were a great number of Egyptian theaters. In between then and now, most fell into disrepair and were demolished. The one in DeKalb, though, was lovingly restored and looked better than the day it was built. There wasn’t a show on, so we could only look at the exterior, but it was amazing. It was wonderful to see a stained glass window of scarab beetles and statues of pharaohs and massive pillars. It was amazing. The whole town was a hoot. I’d like to go back and wander around for an afternoon.

The Rachel Maddow Show:


I like the news, but I never watch it. I skim two newspapers every day, and I’m always checking out what’s happening online, so I’m pretty well aware of what’s going on in the world. Until last year, it was pretty chill, so I never tuned in to see the latest headlines or devour investigative reporting. But times have changed with the latest administration. Now facts are jumbled and stories are shady and how is a person ever to know what’s real? So, I’ve taken to watching The Rachel Maddow Show every night. This tradition began for me this summer in Mexico City when I wanted to stay abreast of the latest happenings. Let me tell you, reader, Rachel is a godsend. That woman is the epitome of a talented reporter. She’s real and funny and quick and so damn smart. Her show has delightful segments that are accessible, hard hitting, and occasionally hilarious. My favorite times are when she cracks up in hysterics over the absurdity of the latest news story. This whole Russia debacle has been great watching her try to process and digest and share. So much of it makes no sense, and it’s obvious that it doesn’t make sense, so I adore watching her befuddlement when the politicians do things so obviously dumb. They think we aren’t watching and that we don’t understand, but we do. We know they’re corrupt. It’s evident to anybody who cares to listen. And I care to listen these days. Rachel’s show keeps me somewhat sane in these wild times. I hope things settle down soon and I can watch Will & Grace reruns with dinner instead of news reports of mass shootings, rape culture, tragic abuses of power, and anything and everything to do with that incompetent moron we have as a president. Until then, I will sip wine, watch Rachel, and prepare for the 2020 elections. (Don’t get too excited, I’m not running. Not yet.)

Black and White Cookies from ALDI:


Not the real cookies I’m talking about…I ate them all before I could take a picture. 

Every single time I go to Los Angeles, I make a pilgrimage to Schwartz Bakery on Beverly Boulevard. There’s another location on Fairfax, and I think yet another somewhere in town, but I don’t think they’re worth going to. There is magic inside of that shop on the corner of Beverly and La Brea. Inside is the kindest old Jewish woman in the entirety of the world. I love her. She’s almost always manning the shop, and I worship the moments I spend with her exchanging pleasantries. My favorite is when she teaches me basic phrases in Yiddish. I have forgotten almost all of it, but I remember how to say thank you, “Toh-doh Rha-bah.” I make sure to say that every time I’m there, and she loves it. She also loves me, I think. When I told her I was in school to be a teacher, she started to give me a discount because, “Hollywood costs too much and you’re spending too much and you deserve a treat.” The last time I saw her, earlier this year, she told me the most charming goodbye. “Are you happy today?’ I said that I was and she beamed. “Good,” she exclaimed, “you deserve to be happy.” I love her. And I love the black and white cookies that are for sale in the bakery. They are the very best that I have ever had. I try one whenever I come across it, but it’s never the same. I bet they’re delicious and they might even be the very same cookie, but it’s lacking the charm of my old Jewish lady. Last night at ALDI, I found a box of miniature black and white cookies, so of course I bought them. I thought they’d be generic or bland or uninteresting. And they aren’t perfect, I’ll tell you that straight out, but when I took a bite into the first one, I was immediately thrust back into LA, happy as could be, drinking coffee and eating cookies. I can’t stop smiling. I’m so happy.

Eat Thai Restaurant:


Remember back when I was in Hollywood this summer and I lost my mind about Thai food? I had a delicious curry and I have been thinking about it ever since. I have tried some frozen Thai food and it was meh and then I had this bowl of noodles from ALDI that was hella tragic. It was so bad. It tasted like hot tomato water with mushy noodles. I’m haunted by the memory of it. I thought I would never have Thai food again, but then I remembered that Iowa isn’t that rural and we have ethnic cuisine, so I found a place to go. There were quite a lot of options, really but the best looking one was called Eat Thai. I appreciated the simplicity of the name. There’s a restaurant in town called A Dong and that makes me laugh uproariously every time I see an advertisement, but that’s not the point. Eat Thai is cozy and busy and the menu is full of delightful things that I don’t know the first thing about. That’s why I didn’t eat Thai or Indian or all these wondrous ethnic nibbles for so long because I didn’t know what it was. That was dumb of me, everything is great. I squawked when Massaman curry was on the menu and I immediately ordered it with tofu. I also ordered sake. I don’t know if that’s Thai, but I love sake. It was delicious. Don’t know why I don’t have it more often. I love the ritual of pouring it out and taking little sips and pretending you’re in Tokyo. Or whatever. That’s just me. Anyway, the food was delightful and it tasted just like it did in Hollywood. I want to go back and try everything! You can get almost anything on the menu with tofu, so it’s a very friendly place for vegetarians. I’m adding Eat Thai to my list of restaurants on rotation. So good. And spicy food makes me feel bizarrely healthy. What’s that about?

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