A MinD in MoTown

Snip snip here. Snip snip there.

Embarrassment. That’s the best word to describe how I felt as a child when my mother would whip out a coupon as we dined out or went through the grocery line. I’d feel nearly humiliated that we were forced into needing those money-saving sheets of paper each week, almost as if my mom was claiming defeat and acknowledging that we were, indeed, “poor.” This attitude of mine carried into my teen years as well, feeling nearly mortified that we couldn’t affordably enjoy an Olive Garden supper without saving $4 on our meals.

But now, at 24 years old, living free from my parents with my own set of bills and household concerns, clipping coupons simply makes sense. Today I’m the one stuffing dozens of coupons into my wallet, ready for the next shopping excursion, eager to save a dollar here and there (especially at Kohl’s). After all, who doesn’t prefer a few extra bucks in the billfold sometimes? And with the economy barely improving over the last several months, everyone could benefit from saving some cash, including myself.

Yet that wasn’t something I could see in my youth when it was my mom with the coupons in hand. Now I look back on that slight resentment I once experienced with regret, wishing I better understood the reasoning behind my mother’s Sunday mornings with the scissors and newspaper ads.

It’s far from shocking that things change as we age — everything from our perspective on the world to political affiliations and more sometimes sway a different direction as we progress into adulthood. However, it’s somewhat mind-boggling to realize how much variation can occur.

As I sit here now, contemplating this evening’s shopping trip to Harris Teeter – where I plan to take major advantage of triple-coupon week – I’m almost embarrassed to have once been that snotty, snobby, bratty girl who couldn’t grasp the importance of savings a few dollars at times. I get it all now, for sure, but I certainly wish I did quite a bit sooner.

Why I hate the Girl Scouts.
February 24, 2010, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Foodage, Way too much thought went into this, Yummy

It was nearly two weeks ago, but I still remember that evening vividly.

I was curled up on the couch, empty bowl in hand that once contained some delicious chicken and rice. I set the bowl on my coffee table and took another swig of my Coca-Cola. Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it — the green box, taunting me as it scarcely peeked out of my purse. I tried to look away, attempting to forget the momentary vision and the saliva that was already forming in my mouth. But it was too late.

Half an hour later, all that remained was the empty foil, the remnants of a formerly filled sleeve of Thin Mint cookies. My shame was heavy, my stomach full. What began as a meager hope to help a coworker’s daughter ended with nearly 700 calories I simply did not need. And another sleeve awaited…

While other organizations are out there, regularly discussing the hazards of both adult and childhood obesity, Girl Scouts of America send demure, innocent young girls to our doorsteps, peddling cookie-deliciousness containing more calories than one should likely consume in a typical day. And at $3.50 per box, we fall for their schemes, thinking of little more than the mouth-watering goodness that awaits. Sure, we may pretend that we’re merely making a purchase to aid some child attain a merit badge that will undoubtedly end up in a drawer seven years from now, collecting dust. But we’re all in it for one thing: The delectable Caramel deLites (aka Samoas), the scrumptious Peanut Butter Patties (aka Tagalongs) and the chocolatey goodness known as Thin Mints, my true weakness.

Despite any hopes we carried into the new year of fitting into our jeans that became a bit-too-tight over the holiday season, the Girl Scouts strip us of our desires, reminding us that their season of choice – Cookie Season – lies just around the corner. And as February arrives and we finally pull those size 4 jeans out of the closet, watching them glide easily over our thighs, butt and waist, those girls in brown and green appear to remind us that our bodies are meant for a size 6 forevermore.

I entered that evening with a skewed thought process – “If I just eat them all now, they won’t taunt me any longer. I must make the entire sleeve of cookies disappear.” – but I carry it no more. Those little ladies won’t fool me. I know the damage their cookies can cause and damn it, I refuse to be a victim ever again!

If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.
December 2, 2008, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Argh, Foodage, Tis the season

I used to think I had a New Year’s Eve curse. I mean, when you spend several Dec. 31sts in a God-awful miserable mood – because you ended up with a stomach virus (1998), or because your boyfriend-at-the-time forced you to attend a party you didn’t want to go to (2002), or because you got a speeding ticket that day (2005), or hell, because your “best” friend “forgot” to pick you up and thus you were stuck home alone on NYE (2006) – you can’t help but begin to wonder if the New Year’s baby is pissing in your Fruit Loops just before bidding adieu to the previous 365 days.

And while I doubt that particular curse has broken, I’m starting to question my luck on Thanksgiving because, despite my best efforts to avoid tails-up pennies and black cats, I’ve had a fairly lousy-ish Turkey Day for a few years now… As you’ll see, one of the three was somewhat my own fault, but the other two were clearly out of my control. Anyway, onto my not-so-great tales.

Thanksgiving 2006: The genius that I am decided one week before the singular holiday ALL ABOUT EATING to get her tongue pierced. Yep, I did it the Thursday before Thanksgiving and one week later – in spite of all the ice and soft foods I consumed for six days – my tongue was still swollen, making it quite difficult to consume anything but mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. I somehow managed, but man, it was hell!

Thanksgiving 2007: This is where the shit hitteth the fan. My entire family (mom, stepdad, brother, grandparents, aunt, uncle, two kids) planned to come to MoTown to visit for Turkey Day. They had rented a house out on the lake, I purchased a 13-pound turkey for the feast and other non-transportable foods, and I had an entire five days off from both of my jobs. And then, on the Tuesday beforehand, my step-father was electrocuted. He works in the sign business and was fixing a sign in Pennsylvania. The business had their switches mislabeled so a wire he thought the power was off to was actually active and when he cut into it, he was shocked throughout his body. Another guy leaped at him and knocked him off the wire, but my stepdad’s hip broke in two places, rendering it impossible for him and the rest of my family to visit. Not only was it tough spending my first holiday without any of my family, but I was also constantly worrying about my stepdad’s condition – he needed surgery where they had to rebuild his hip (did I mention he was only 42 years old at the time?) and was in the hopsital a few weeks with a lot of rehabilitation after. For several days, it was unclear if he’d really be okay and able to walk again, and my mother kept begging me not to drive the nine hours home (which I didn’t until two weeks later) to sit with them at the hospital. It was a crappy, crappy holiday…

Thanksgiving 2008: After working 32 hours Monday through Wednesday to have Black Friday free from the newspaper (still had to work my restaurant job in the evening hours), I had a pretty sore throat for most of Thanksgiving Eve. I assumed it would go away, until I repeatedly woke up in the night wavering between freezing to death and dying of a heat stroke. The fever, cough, runny nose, etc. set in Thanksgiving morning making it yet another not-so-great holiday despite the best efforts of my boyfriend and his family to change the tone.

And here I am, still sick, completely under the assumption that there’s a black cloud looming over my Turkey Day … and damn it, I really enjoy the Thanksgiving foods! I mean, turkey and stuffing and pie, who wouldn’t enjoy that? Why, oh why, must my day be overshadowed each year with something else?

I’m already keeping my fingers crossed that next year’s festivities will bring me nothing but joy. Until then, I’m thinking of changing my favorite holidays to Valentine’s Day and Halloween. While most people mutter about how crappy theirs are, I haven’t had a bad one in … well, as long as I can remember ($10 says I just jinxed myself).

When I grow up…
September 29, 2008, 5:09 pm
Filed under: Adventures in "Motherhood", Argh, Foodage, I am getting old...

When I was a kid, dreaming of little more than becoming a lawyer married to at least one of the two Jonathans – Taylor Thomas (oh ya, JTT was IT back then) or Brandis, who is clearly too dead to be wed at the moment – I never fondly looked into a future filled with chores, responsibilities and, my least favorite task, grocery shopping.

I have no idea why something so simple, so completely devoid of any brain power, would be so fervently avoided on my part. But it regularly is until something “drastic” happens, i.e. the dog has zero lamb pellets left to munch on for her daily meals or I’m down to the last three squares of toilet paper, knowing I’ll at least have to use the bathroom thrice more before venturing out the following day.

I tend to approach the task of grocery shopping with disdain on a semi-regular basis. If you had asked me to venture to the nearest mall (30 minutes away) and spend six hours perusing the stores, I’d do so with a grin on my face and credit cards in hand. But driving a measly five minutes/two miles to Food Lion causes me to grab my cell phone and call my grandmother who, I know, will talk for at least 20 minutes and, with any luck, keep me from dying from boredom as I toss food items into my cart.

You would think that shopping for necessities wouldn’t be so aggravating on my part, but the tedious undertaking brings me nothing but stress…

“Did I remember everything on my list (’cause oh ya, I make one just to destress myself as much as possible)?” “Do I really need the white bread and the cinnamon raisin bread?” “Holy crap, this cart is so full!” “Is there enough cash in my bank account or should I use a credit card?” “What kind of poor ass girl am I going to look like whipping out the Capital One?” “Great, I forgot deodorant (when I’m inevitably on the other side of the store).”

It’s an unending barrage of questions in my head, all as I attempt to add up the dollars I’ll be spending, which is nearly always more than I wanted to shell out for one grocery store visit. And then, as I step out the door with my 27 bags of groceries – half of which I may or may not touch, but felt that I “needed” – buyer’s remorse sets in when I realize what I could’ve gotten for my $143 that would’ve actually made me happy.

Yes, clearly I need to eat. It’s somewhat of a necessity for this whole living/breathing thing. But, jeez, must it be so damn stressful? Most days, I’d rather leave my cabinets as barren as the Mohave and travel to my nearest McD’s for a burger and fries. Perhaps I’m lazy, perhaps I’d simply like to avoid the hour-long hassle of dragging my cart up and down the aisles, twice, each. And don’t even get me started on Wal-Mart. Oh my … let’s avoid that topic as it pertains to this blog all together.

And what’s most unfortunate is that after glancing at nearly every purchasable object at my local grocer, I have to carry those 27 bags of groceries into my home, alone. At 5’1″, making it into the house – which means through the front door, the middle room and into the kitchen at the back of my place – in only one trip is often impossible … and keeping my dog away from the 13 bags I piled on my arms for journey #1 into Casa de Skutnick is nearly the same.

After at least 10 minutes of putting the items in their proper places in my cabinets/refrigerator/freezer/stove (I store bread there, and bagels, ’tis true), I don’t want to eat because I’ll then use something I’ll just have to purchase again soon. So I stare at my newly-bought food, attempting not to disrupt it – thus venturing out for Chinese or Taco Bell – just to keep from having to grocery shop again.

It’s a never-ending cycle, as far as I’m concerned. And since my dog has eaten only once in the last two days, me scraping every last morsel from her bag of Puppy Chow, it’s off to Food Lion I go following work today. Maybe I’ll try to score some overtime to avoid the task… Wish me luck!

Damn Yankee does the dirty South.

On the WordPress dashboard earlier today, a featured blog entry – The Pop Vs Soda Map – made me think of the numerous differences I’ve encountered since moving to “the south,” and the soda v. pop v. coke conflict is just one of many.

Whether it has been the wonders of livermush – I’m using the word “wonders” quite sarcastically – or the fact that roads here are practically barren before 3 p.m. on Sundays, I have stumbled upon more than a few moments of culture shock and decided there was no time better than the present to share them with you fine folks (a word that once upon a time was definitely not in my vernacular).

And so, I present to you: “Damn Yankee does the dirty South” (in bullet form).

  • Sweet Tea– The first time I read the words “sweet” and “tea” combined, I couldn’t help but ask what that was. Naturally, I’d heard of tea/iced tea/hot tea, but never “sweet tea,” which ALL southerners swear by. I cannot count for you the number of occasions where “you’re not from around here, are you?” has been an individual’s response to hearing my distaste for the tea that is sweet.
  • Cow flop – For those of you “out of the know,” a cow flop is an event where you watch a cow take a shit. True story. It is slightly more complicated, however, in that you are betting – we’re talking cash money – on which square the cow will inevitably dispose of his former eats. And you might be sitting there thinking this is a southern event … alas, it is not. Cow flops were quite common when I resided in Pennsylvania, but it seems people here in the big N-C are a bit uncertain when you explain the joys of waiting for Mr. Moo to drop a deuce.
  • The Civil War – I am likely treading on sacred ground by mentioning this, but THE SOUTH LOST THE WAR! Back home, the only mention, ever, of the Civil War was through musty history books and the occasional accidental stoppage on the History Channel while surfing via my recliner. But here, in a land still strangely affected by the events of 150 years ago, far too many individuals want to explain “the untold story” of the war and how the North was actually for slavery. Didn’t know that, huh? Try attending a “Sons and Daughters of the Confederacy” meeting and you, too, shall be “enlightened.”
  • Kielbasa – If you are of Polish decent, you, like me, probably grew up with the traditional kielbasa at Christmas dinner. Unfortunately, in the South, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a piece of this sausage cuisine magnificence anywhere without the label “Jimmy Dean.” Sad, but true.
  • Ranch dressing – To not like love ranch dressing in the south is a mortal sin. Honest, look it up. Okay, perhaps not quite, but it will earn you a few awkward looks.
  • Confederate flag – Anyone displaying a Confederate flag in the North is typically assumed to be a racist, or at least that’s always been the assumption of individuals I knew back home. However, in the South, it’s a sign of pride in being from this neck of the woods. I, for one, view the two interpretations as little more than different ways of saying the exact same thing.
  • Y’all – The first thing a friend asked me when I visited Scranton after moving here was, “are you saying ‘y’all’ yet?” The answer is … yes. Along with “folks,” this word has squished its way into my everyday speech. Meh, it’s whatever.
  • Moonshine – This potent liquor concoction isn’t just an imaginative figment of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” It’s strong and, in my opinion, somewhat disgusting as every Mason jar – oh ya, a Mason jar – of the drink I’ve come by has had some decaying, rotting fruit within. This past weekend, a friend confused the decomposing peaches in the moonshine jar for potatoes. Gross.

These are just a few of the strange differences between the former Union and Confederacy I have unearthed, with a plethora more to discuss and discover. Perhaps I’ll make this a one-per-month thing, if it seems “of interest.”

Let me know your thoughts, FOLKS … Y’ALL come back now, ya hear?

(Oh man, am I lame or what?!)