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Friday, May 9, 2014

Ode to Mama: 25 things I love about my mother

1. Every time I pull out of her driveway, she's in the window to wave goodbye.

2. My mother cooks nearly everything from scratch, which accidentally makes me a little bit of a snob. Blame her.

3. My mom worked when I was a little girl (and a big girl). I so looked forward to when she would pick me up...and the Juicy Fruit that always seemed to be in her car.

4. Her airy, floral perfume smells like the best spring day, and I can smell it on my baby's head after she's cuddled him.

5. She gives me lots of gifts, and 20% of them are plants.

6. My mother is one of the most quietly spiritual people you will ever meet.

7. She is one tough broad.

8. Stevie Nicks might be jealous of my Mom's wardrobe.

9. Up until I was a teenager, I would play with my Mom's hair while we'd watch TV at night, and there were no limits. There may or may not be photographic evidence of a mohawk made of tiny ponytails.

10. My Mom is a culinary shaman: She has taught me about many of my family members and ethnicities through cooking. She is a Shamom. A Moman. She cooks good.

11. We went to many musicals as a family, but sometimes it was just her and me. When it was, there was a cool restaurant and a virgin drink involved.

12. I ordered ChangesBowie as a part of my BMG subscription (be jealous) as a kid. The night it arrived, me and Mom had a dance party in the living room for no less than 2 hours.

13. Every time we left for vacation, she handed me a bag full of goodies: books, games, other things to prevent me from asking, "Are we there yet?" And, that was before Pinterest.

14. As a little-little girl, the occasional Mom-daughter bubble baths could make my week.

15. She created such an intensely warm feeling around Christmas you could practically touch it. It smelled like spice candles and chocolate cookies. There was an incredible amount of ritual around putting up the tree, baking and present-wrapping. Only now, as an adult and Mom, do I realize how intentional all those things were.

16. She is completely hilarious and goofy and responsible for some of the best one-liners my family has to offer.

17. She's a MILF.

18. She does yoga. A lot of yoga.

19. Quite literally, she is the most patient person I have ever met.

20. She married a rock star. She's that cool.

21. She crocheted me a scarf that took 2-3 years to complete and is capable of stretching from the United States to New Zealand.

22. I can tell her anything. I mean anything. I mean she probably wishes she could un-hear some of the things I've told her because I know that I can tell her anything.

23. Me: "Why are your mashed potatoes creamier than mine?"
      Mom: "You need more milk."
      I love that.

24. Her raunchy sense of humor.

25. When I watch her with my son, it's like watching her with me, which makes me know that I'm the luckiest daughter on the planet.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why Keurigs are bullshit

It is probably clear by now that I view medicine with a wide-angle lens. Alternative treatments: I'm in. Mind-body connection: I can talk for days. 

Admittedly, this blog is likely my most liberal view of what might qualify as a health topic. 

For those who are wagging their fingers and wish to exist in a well-defined box of health discussions, here are a few facts to ease your tension. 

Coffee and tea are chalk-full of antioxidants, which are known to fight free-radicals, which inflame our tissues and tempt cancer.

Coffee is thought to decrease the incidence depression and Alzheimer's disease.

And, for some reason, these beverages are among the very few things that cause us to take a moment for ourselves.

For this reason, I have a french-roasted beef with the Keurig.

Our society is positively obsessed with the instant, the right now and the "I deserve", which has resulted in millions of Americans owning the $100+ contraption of instantaneous caffeine.

Of course, there are benefits to dropping the little pod o' coffee into that fancy doodad, and getting your fix only moments after a little mechanical gurgling. 

But, doesn't it just lose something? 

Coffee and tea are comfort foods meant to be brewed. Even the word "brewed" almost demands us to slow our flapping jaws down just to properly enunciate the word. Entire cultures have created rituals, tea cozies, mini-meals and plenty of snobbery around how these items are supposed to be prepared--traditions which have spit on their face as a result of the dreaded K cup. 

The anthropologist in me--and anthropologists everywhere--take notice of the "universals."

When cultures seemingly evolved independently, but still come to similar conclusions--higher beings, mapping earthly events according to the stars and ritual around coffee or tea. (You know, the important stuff.) I'm no math wiz, but the statistical likelihood of unrelated cultures coming to the same asinine conclusion must be minuscule; so, there's likely something to it.

From ancient Japan to the kitchens of my parents and grandparents, the moments around serving coffee and tea have been sacred. 

As a child, my father and grandfather used the Percolator, which, for those born after 1990, probably sounds like a made-up word. 

I remember asking my Serbian (read feisty), maternal grandfather, to show me how to load up the Percolator's metal filter. He let me scoop the aromatic grounds and directed my hand "north, south, east and west" to distribute them evenly. Childhood summer nights were quenched with home-brewed iced tea, and waiting for a whistling tea kettle served uninterrupted time to discuss they day's events. 

And now, when I wake up in the morning, I am greeted with the rich, comforting smell of my husband's brewing coffee syncopated with "Hey, did you see that…" as we read the morning's news.

The Keurig is quick, and I take advantage of it's speediness myself, on occasion. But, I am a child of sitting around the dining room table waiting for the kettle to whistle. I am an adult woman who opens my eyes in the morning waiting for the aroma of my husband's morning pot of coffee. 

As a society we are busy, overworked, often underpaid, but they can't take everything from us, can they?

We're still our grandparents' grandchildren. We came from somewhere, somewhere that had discussions, took time for each other and stood for something. Unassuming coffee and tea makes people sit and talk--not text, not Tweet--actually talk. I am entirely unwilling to ignore the common thread of all these memories by replacing it with a plastic (non-biodegradable, I might add) cup of pre-portioned…who-knows-what. (Seriously, what is even in there?)

Yes, we own a Keurig, and it is wonderful in its place, but we also refuse to to party on without a coffee pot and tea kettle. 

When there are wee-Mackeys, they will learn how to load the coffee filter. They'll sit around telling the tales of their day while we wait for the kettle's whistle, and they'll hear about the time their great-grandfather's percolator filter fell on its side, leading to the sudden expansion of my four-letter vocabulary. 

Because that, friends, is culture. And we deserve it.

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