Supermarket Sweep

Whole Foods carries such incredible food and drink! And yet their superior products are prohibitively expensive!

This summer I was weekly teaching a 3.5 hour class, and before the class it worked best for me to eat dinner at Whole Foods. (Easiest parking.) So, I set myself a $10 limit and worked at finding as much food as possible for that amount. It was a pleasing game, and I slowly improved as the weeks passed...until I found the taco plate. For six dollars, I got two tacos, rice AND beans. I was stuffed! Yet disappointed, since the game was over.

Or so I figured...until I thought of a new game: How expensive can I make my dinner at Whole Foods? Here are the rules (yes, this is a challenge to all my readers, meaning you, Leighton):

1) The food must be enjoyable. No dinners made out of saffron and truffle shavings.

2) You have to be able to teach for three or so hours after the dinner--meaning, no alcohol.

3) You have to eat the dinner in one sitting.

I thought up this game, and then I hesitated. It seemed wasteful. But I had to celebrate a few things, so I decided to go for it. I had visions of the show "Supermarket Sweep" as I moved around the store, hitting first the seafood bar, and then the sushi bar, and then the chocolate truffle display, the cut fresh fruit cooler, the coffee bar, and the salad bar (I went for the heavy, water-laden vegetables).

Meghan's typical cost for dinner: $3.50
Typical cost for Whole Foods dinner: $9.30
Whole foods dinner challenge: $33.81
Feeling stuffed on food you've dreamed of buying for ten years: Priceless.

So yes, now I have to bring some sandwiches to school, but it's worth it. Sometimes, you just have to feast.


Burrowing Owls

My family has never fit in Orange County. We don't go to the beach, we are not blond (except for Helmut, our secret half-brother-- a towhead), we are not bros, we are not babes (Leighton, you beg to differ?) Point is, we grew up in a hostile environment. We were taunted for our love of classical music, falconry, art, math. Greg D. wrote "Meghan P. Davis" on my math book in sixth grade out of spite. I asked him what the "P" stood for and he said "Pi"-- the mathematical constant. Good one, Greg D. (actually surprisingly witty-- Evan M. simply kicked a soccer ball in my face, though I was on his team.)
I'm getting to a point here: burrowing owls do not think they are better than the prairie dogs they co-habitate with; they are simply different. Owls, built for flight, typically live in trees. Though our culture associates owls with wisdom, in Italian, "civetta"--owl--can be slang for whore and in Arabic "owl" is slang for widow. I might have just made all of that up. Anyway, owls are not necessarily wise, but they like to sit in branches, and they are nocturnal. The burrowing type lives in the ground, and the prairie dogs, who are totally lovable but sometimes carry the bubonic plague, say things like, "Nice feathers, asshole." When the lion lays (lies?) down with the lamb, then the prarie dog and the burrowing owl might also cease their bickering. This is a long-term prophetic conjecture. Short-term, I do not want to go to your pool party, Britney. Thanks but no thanks.


Lexicon- part 1

hey, these aren't inside jokes! I am freely sharing them, no?

no?: a European way to turn a declaration into a question, last minute. It's useful for procrastinators. Also great when you want someone to agree with you without a lot of argument. "This Bush is shit president, no?" (see: closed question)

up the cute: When someone or something just decides to be cuter or more likable. Here's an example: when my family got a new puppy, our old dog started trying to sit in our laps. She was definitely upping the cute.

hard but good: This is what a dishonest person will say when describing a really difficult situation that has no upsides, when they can't simply admit that it was pure pain. "On my trip, my passport and wallet got stolen, and then when I called home I found out that my grandma died. Also, I got a terrible case of food poisoning, and I think I've decided I need to break up with Brian. Yeah, life's been hard but good."

pizza on the carpet: This American Life ran a story about a man whose job involved interviewing the mentally disturbed to make sure they weren't cheating the government for subsidies. He went to a house where there was this pristine white carpet and white furniture. Everything was perfect, except there was one piece of pizza smashed upside down in the middle of the floor. "Pizza on the carpet" refers to the one thing that tips you off to the huge load of crazy in a situation.

passive aggressive hand puppet: this isn't a term so much as a thing to do when someone is bothering you. Just use your hand to say passive aggressive things, like "I used to be jealous of people like you until I realized there's more to life than money." The great thing is that when people get offended with you, you just blame it on the puppet.

closed question: a great way to keep the conversation flowing without actually having to learn anything new about the person you're talking with. example: "How much does your dog weigh?"


Welcome to the Neighborhood

I really wish I could drive a Sports Utility Vehicle. It's fun to be so high off the ground, and to have the ability to transport so many people from one place to another. It's like driving an evil schoolbus. You know what would be better? An SUV with a television/dvd inside. No, I know you think I'm being sarcastic, but that could be fun. And hey, I'm all about alternative energy. Maybe instead of gasoline, this dream car of mine could be fueled by an unlimited resource. no, not solar power, silly. Woody Allen movies. They're good, but we have too many of them.


Brick: a follow up

here are a few questions/comments I have received in regards to the Brick:

"Does the brick actually receive calls?"- Syd
response: Yes, it does. In fact, my reception has improved since switching to the brick. I no longer have to call people back from my land line; the brick IS my land line.

"Does the Motelona actually receive texts?"- Ryan
response: Yes, the motelona can send and receive texts, even "multimedia" texts, whatever those are.

"Nice phone."- Gordon
response: Gordon, leave me alone. I know that like the Darryl Hannah character in Wall Street, we have an on-again off-again relationship, but once and for all, I find your loose morals repulsive.

"Michelle is upset by the attraction I feel for you ever since you got the brick. I'll be campaigning in California pretty soon. Would you want to meet for drinks?"- Barack
response: Just drinks, nothing more.

"I know that you could have chosen someone younger and thinner, but I'm going to do my best to make sure you are happy with me."- Brick
response: Brick, you don't ever need to question my love for you. Those younger, thinner phones are a dime a dozen. Only you sing me Mandarin songs for hours, for no particular reason.

"I'm proud of you." - Alexander Graham Bell
response: Alexander, that means a lot. A whole lot.


The Motelona

A package arrived for me today. It was from Hong Kong.

Inside was a typed note that explained the following:
"As the Motelona 158x Brick Phone is very new to the market, no English User Guide is available. Should you have any problem, please contact me at johnny@____."

I've been dreaming of this day for years, and finally it has arrived. I've purchased the largest mobile phone money can buy.

Here is its charger. Did I mention that the battery has a standby capacity of 14 days?

I think it's time for all of you to admit that your cellphones are too small. You have trouble dialing and texting on that tiny keypad. You have trouble finding your phone when it starts ringing. The camera phone feature is more trouble than it's worth. And of course, there's no way to prop the phone on your shoulder if you need to free up your hands.

Well, my phone weighs over a pound.

Some might think this phone is reflective of my general nostalgia for a bygone era. But Gordon Gecko didn't feel any nostalgia, and neither do I. He got it done, and he used a Motorola to do it.

Now I will say something bold: Whoever said that material goods can't fill that void inside never purchased a Motelona 158x.



There's a man in our Mandarin class named Lawrence, but our teacher calls him Lowjen. I cannot figure this out, because her English is excellent and I've never heard her badly mispronounce any other words. One time she said "homewife" instead of "housewife"- and another time she said that some Chinese people "sparkle" their soy milk with salt. Both of these mistakes had nothing to do with pronunciation. Also, they were endearing.

But every week when teacher Zhang is calling roll, and I see her eyes fall on the name "Lawrence," and all of a sudden she hesitates, and then slowly says, "Lowwjen." Not Lorjent, not Lojence. Low-jen.

This reminds me of the infinite misspellings and mispronunciations related to Leighton's name. Just so you know, it's pronounced (G)LAY-dun. There's just the slightest hint of a hard "g" sound at the beginning there.

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