THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #216

LOVE:

Magnum Ice Cream Pints:

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I don’t have a clue anymore if what I’m about to tell you is true, but I feel that it is, and that gut feeling is more important than facts. I remember a few vivid things about my first visit to France. One was individual servings of wine served in foil sealed glass jars. That changed my outlook on the world for the rest of time. Another transformative experience was the croissant. I never knew what a flaky triumph butter and flour could be. And then there were the markets and the shops and the river Seine and an early unfavorable opinion of Nice and sunsets that never seemed to come. Did we fly there in 2007? I have no memory of this. Did we take a train to Villefranche? Comment please Lady and refresh my recollections. None of that was important though. I remember on this trip I had my first Magnum ice cream bar. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. A thick and luscious layer of chocolate surround delicate vanilla ice cream. It was extraordinary. And then I came back to America which was a wasteland. Eventually we began to sell Magnum bars here even though we apparently never will trade in Oasis, my favorite beverage in the world. It’s an orange drink that I could kill somebody for. I don’t understand it. I want to start an import/export business in trance to export Oasis. Anyway… I had the shittiest week past week. I don’t even want to reflect on it. I had leftovers to eat in class but I didn’t want any of it. I wanted to eat my feelings so I bought a bottle of tequila and a frozen pizza and a hundred grapefruits and a pint of magnum ice cream. I legitimately squeaked when I saw it and threw it into my basket. It was everything I dreamed it was going to be. Whilst watching Reina del Sur, I destroyed that pint of ice cream. It was divine. I never want to be without it. I never will be.

Venus Flytrap:

Fly Traps

I have long held a fascination with plants that seem sentient. I know they aren’t conscious but when plants respond to touch or eat a bug, they kind of seem like they’re living things. I took a free online class years ago from a university in Israel that specialized in plant research. They made a compelling argument that plants have some kind of sentience all their own. The most striking example was about chemicals that plants release when they are cut which seem to warn other plants that there is some kind of danger in store. Since plants can’t move, I don’t know how this could possibly do any good, but it’s an intriguing phenomenon. And then there are the trees that refuse to allow their canopies to touch each other. Nobody really knows why, but the plants seem to know! I have had many sensitive plants (mimosa pudica) over the years, and they are one of the very first things I purchase at the Marché des Fleurs in Paris when I arrive in my beloved city. I have a spindly one at home right now that my cat worships. He loves to stick his face in the plant and watch it curl up at his touch. But this post has to do with another seemingly cognizant plant, the Venus Flytrap. I saw a bunch of them at ALDI last week and I could not resist taking one home with me. Back on the farm, I was infuriated by a swarm of boxelder bugs that were on my window and I had a wild idea. I held the Venus Flytrap up to the window, waiting for one of the stupid bugs to sacrifice itself, but none of them did. So I had to pluck one up and feed it to the plant. It was grim. And it was fascinating to watch the jaws of the Venus Flytrap wrap around the bug. It struggled and struggled but it would not release the bug from its deadly prison. It was macabrely satisfying, reader. But that wasn’t even the best part. Ever since that bug went into the gaping maw, I have not seen a single boxelder bug in my kitchen. Apparently the plant ate them all or the sacrifice that I initiated sent a very clear message to the other nasty insects. Those horrible creatures have had me nearly insane. Can this be true? It seems too good to be real. And it has been several days now without any boxelder bugs. I don’t get it. It feels magical. Fill your home with Venus Flytraps!

The Shrouded Tower:

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I’m not writing this post because the book I’m talking about was any good. In fact it was terrible. I’m writing instead for sentimental reasons and all the memories this book stirred up within me. Until last week I’d never even read the thing. It was the usual romantic drivel from the 1960s. A girl falls madly in love with a controlling and devastatingly handsome English aristocrat with a streak of Heathcliff to him. He’s an awful dude but for whatever reason the heroines always fall for him in these novels. My favorite author of all time, Elizabeth Peters (real name Barbara Mertz), was infamous for writing excellent novels very similar to these but she flipped the trope on its side and turned them into an eminently readable parodies. This had none of that. The main character insufferable, the handsome aristocrat misogynistic, and a plot with no real sense of time. It took chapters to develop the characters and the setting, which was fine, but the conclusion wrapped itself up neatly in ten pages that seemed like an afterthought. I was so perplexed. But I devoured it. And now to the main event. I loved the book so much because I picked it up several years ago in Nice, France. I was there for the summer on one of my more spectacular and outrageous getaways and I was thriving in the south of France. Whilst walking down one of the main tourist thoroughfares, I stumbled upon a shop that sold an assemblage of used English books, beach gear, and costume jewelry. I’m not sure why this combination existed but the proprietress was very friendly. I saw the cover of The Shrouded Tower and cackled at it but passed it up. When I walked by the next day I had to grab it. It was just so dramatic looking and it only cost a few euros. I took it to the beach almost every day but I never opened it up. I was too busy tanning and people watching. When I returned home to the United States I sat it on my coffee table and the cover always sent a merry flashback though my mind. I loved Nice very much. I loved the hot nights and the rocky beaches. I loved the food and the cheap rosé and the nearness to Villefrancbe. I loved the laid back attitude and the palms. I even loved my inconceivably tiny apartment that overlooked the hills. I adored the hotels and the shops and the little outpost of the Galeries Lafayette with the Pierre Hermé stand and his grapefruit macarons. I loved it utterly and completely And so as I read the book, I was back there with every page I flipped. It was decadent to be in the Place Massena again. Sitting in the Middle Eastern restaurant sipping mint tea on the Avenue de la Californie. To walk again to the train station and journey along the coast. Madame Betty poured out chilled wine and good conversation and then Perrier Menthe. And it was all too fabulous. I must return as soon as I can. Don’t bother with the book. Just go to Nice.

Safari Cuisine Restaurant:

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There’s this spot in Ames that has had like five different restaurants in it. They don’t seem to last. The Mexican joint was meh. The Italian place was a disaster. They both smelled of sewage. I was worried that the next occupant would be a disaster, and this concerned me deeply because I was exceptionally excited for this newest place. I wrote about it a few weeks ago, and my level of enthusiasm for Safari Cuisine has been astronomical. I adore African food and couldn’t wait to have some so close to home. Jessica and I went last night, which was awfully daring of her. She looked miserable for most of the time, and she barely touched her food, but that is just how she normally operates, so it wasn’t at all surprising. I ordered hummus for a starter, and it was very good with some exceptionally nice pita bread. For my main course, I had a fried fish that was fine. But the most exceptional part of the meal, and the reason that I will go back a hundred times was the lentil soup. Lentil soup is probably my very favorite soup in the entire world. There is nothing so satisfying as a smooth and hearty bowl of lentil soup. And I have never had lentil soup as good as the soup Debbie make at the Lantern in Luxor. That is the most remarkable dish in the entire world. I’ve come close to recreating it at home, but I have never had it just as good as hers. That might be my mission this weekend. I’m off topic. The lentil soup at Safari Cuisine looked good. It smelled good. And, reader, it tasted exceptional. I think I about cried as I shoveled the thick and creamy soup into my mouth. If I closed my eyes and imagined, I could have been in Egypt instead of Ames. I can’t tell you quite how much that means to me. I felt like I was home in an absurd way. I’m so lucky to have experienced Debbie’s perfect soup, and I’m just as lucky to find something comparable in Iowa. The world is very large, but sometimes it can be most wondrously small.

Mous iPhone Case:

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Since I bought the iPhone X, I have been looking for the perfect case for moi. I never know what it’s going to be, but I know it’s right when it’s right. I’m on my third case now and I have finally found the perfect one! I’ve liked all of my other ones, but I just didn’t feel like they were protecting my phone. My last case was this divine 90s collage of Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote and it is literally everything I have ever dreamed of. But it wasn’t much more than a plastic shell. And it was very flashy, which I adore, but I knew that I wanted something subtler to take with me for my two month stay in Mexico City. I wanted something sturdy and substantial and less flashy. I didn’t want one of those Otter Box things because they are absolutely uglier than sin, so I did a bunch of research instead of doing my final exams and picked a case from Mous. It’s made of real leather, which I didn’t want, but it’s elegant and said it is hella protective. It feels luxurious and high quality, and it was only $50, which admittedly is a bunch for a case, but if it protects my phone that was more than a thousand bucks, well then I think it’s money well spent. The case came with a glass screen protector, and it is much nicer than the one I picked up at Walmart when I first bought the phone. It went on nicely and there were no bubbles and honestly I’m thrilled. Allegedly I can now smash the phone with a hammer, but I’m certainly not going to be doing that. I don’t really ever drop my phone either so I’m not sure why I’m so worried. Anyway, I’m rambling. This case is truly beautiful and feels like it was made just for me. If you are in the market for a new case, check out Mous.

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