Back to the Future is one of my favorite movie series of all time, and the 2nd one is my absolute favorite. Today is the day Marty McFly arrived in the future.
So you know what that means? IT’S OFFICIALLY THE FUTURE NOW. And we all have to start dressing like this now:
I don’t know about you, but I am STOKED. Lots of neon, weird hats, plastic accessories, double neckties, and chest-mounted sound effects boards. All of this is 100% fantastic. We made it, you guys. We can finally look this glorious:
So we had to have it replaced. The original fencing didn’t even have concrete poured for the posts! No wonder it collapsed. Hubby and I ripped it out bare-handed, and had this gorgeous new gate installed:
It’s so pretty and functional and pretty! We also ripped out the old wood that was edging a garden patch the previous home owners had put in. As we know from previous installments, those people were idiots, so they put in a big pile of terrible dirt right where the yard should drain when it rains. This creates a moat around the porch that our tiny dogs can’t overcome. We’ve started working on the yard a TON now that baby Nacho is old enough to run around back there.
We actually dug out by the other gate (because so many leaves and whatnot had built up water wouldn’t drain that way either) and discovered a small concrete patio! We’ve lived in this house for over 6 years now, and had no idea it was there. Now we have a new place for our trash cans! I have gotten COUNTLESS mosquito bites working outside, in spite of bug spray. UGH. I hate being outside. This just shows how much having a kid can change you.
This next part is tragic, and horrifying. Our electric bill had been weirdly high for about 3 months. We called an electrician about something else, and he found that we were getting power surges. A city electrician then came out and discovered this:
This poor snake apparently crawled into the electric box during the winter, looking for warmth. I guess his bar b queued carcass was causing the power fluctuations. We didn’t change anything in the house, other than removing the “reptile torture dungeon of horrors” (quote stolen from Timmy), and our power bills went back down to normal.
After that, both our washer AND dryer died, which is normally bad, but since we use cloth diapers was unacceptable! Thankfully, a friend had an extra washer laying around she literally gave us for free (THANK YOU LYNN), and then I went and bought a dryer. So we’ve had a very productive, yet expensive few weeks.
Am I going to leave you with the traumatic visual of snake jerky?
Oh okay, fine. Here’s a picture of Stefano, the Overly Excited Cloud:
Ladies, duckface is played out. Yes, maybe it makes you look thinner, because it sucks in your cheeks, but it also makes you look unbearably smug. So here’s the new thing: FISH FACE!! I mean, take a look at these wildly attractive ladies:
I was goofing around on the internet, and I realized I was searching for something. Something beautiful, and deep, meaningful and profound. And I thought, “I should create content like that! I will do some artwork!” So of course that made me think of the burning hatred I have for The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Non-parents probably don’t have this level of passion when it comes to children’s books. They probably glance at them fondly at the store saying “Oh, I remember this! I love that book”, then they set it down, never to be opened again. I have an adorable little spawn, however, and I read several books to him every night. Even though we own about 30 books or so, there is a LOT of repetition, so minor annoyances in books become crimes against humanity. What’s wrong with the Very Hungry Caterpillar? Take a look:
The wings are UPSIDE DOWN. Are you kidding me?? Have you ever seen a butterfly like this? No, because it would die.
This is a real butterfly. Not enough evidence for you? Do a Google search. I’ll wait.
SEE?? WHY. WHY DID ERIC CARLE DO THIS TO MEEEEE.
So here is my contribution to the wonder, beauty, and excitement of the world; something parents everywhere have been begging for since 1969:
Using my meager skills and MS Paint I was able to accomplish this wonder. Sure, the antennas got cut off, and the butterfly now has two legs growing out of his back, but this is a vast improvement. Feel free to print it out and glue it into your copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Maybe I can save a few people from rage aneurysms. I know I feel better just looking at this.
I happened to be at Target the other day, with a coupon for their Market Pantry brand ice cream. As I perused their selection, I noticed several flavors I hadn’t seen anywhere else. This led to a month-long (so far) obsession, and the testing of 5 news flavors (so far).
Target has the basic ice cream flavors, like chocolate, coffee, and 5 different kinds of vanilla, for some reason. I was interested in the weird ones. The first one Hubby and I tried was Caramel Waffle Cone ice cream.
This is vanilla ice cream with caramel swirls and fudge covered waffle cone pieces. I had high hopes for this, but it was slightly disappointing. The waffle cone bits were completely covered in that waxy “chocolate” stuff endemic to ice cream, and the caramel swirls were scarce. I was hoping for crunchy chunks of cones, but that’s probably not feasible with current ice cream technology. The ice cream itself is light and fluffy, just like I like it. Hubby wasn’t as happy with that aspect, since it stays fairly soft when frozen, and melts quickly.
The next one we tried is called Mini Doughnuts, and I can’t find it on their website. It sounds weird, I know. I was expecting vanilla ice cream with soggy bits of fried dough, but that’s not what I got. Instead the ice cream is more like vanilla bean, with those little black specks of ground up vanilla that somehow make it so much better. The most surprising part was the “doughnuts”. They were actually more like cookie dough, with a bunch of cinnamon mixed in, like maybe snicker doodle dough. It is FREAKING GOOD. If you find it, you try it, for realsies. Your pants will hate you, but your mouth and brain will love you, and you can always get new pants.
This next one is more debated in my house. Monster Cookie ice cream is one of Hubby’s favorites, but I really don’t care for it.
It’s vanilla ice cream with ground up M&M cookies in it, I think. There’s no actual description on the page, so I wasn’t sure if I should expect cookies or dough. Personally, rock-hard, frozen M&M’s are not appealing, and neither is grainy cookie shrapnel, but Hubby loved it. It also seemed to have a peanut butter flavor to me, but I could just be nuts (hahahaa, Dad joke!).
The Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream totally makes up for the Monster Cookie.
The chocolate ice cream is creamy and chocolaty, and the brownie bits are amaaaaaaazing; more like brownie dough chunks than cooked brownies. I would eat this for breakfast if I could.
The last one, is my absolute FAVORITE, possible my favorite ice cream OF ALL TIME:
S’mores ice cream is the greatest flavor ever. The chocolate ice cream is very rich, almost like a dark chocolate. That’s probably the best part. The marshmallow swirls weren’t really noticeable, but the graham cracker bits were surprisingly tasty. This is the first one Hubby wanted to get, and I overruled him to get the caramel cone one. Boy, was I wrong. I want to buy a tub of the s’mores ice cream and just eat it all at once, while sitting quietly in a candle-lit room. And it’s seasonal! What a travesty! Go out and buy a bunch right now so they’ll keep making it! Each tub is only about $3, so I expect each reader to buy 80 gallons worth. Then deliver it to my house. Then leave so I can quietly gorge on it.
I randomly had the song “Down Under” by Men at Work in my head, and it made me remember some random facts about the song, and the frightening land it’s about: Australia.
1) The first verse of the song contains the lyrics, “I met a strange lady, she made me nervous. She took me in and gave me breakfast.” If you meet a strange person who makes you nervous, don’t eat any food they give you! That’s like, lesson number 1 to kids: don’t take candy from strangers. I realize in the previous line he had a “head full of zombie”, aka weed, so maybe his judgement was impaired. But maybe this is also a lesson why you shouldn’t smoke weed?
2) The band Men at Work were recently sued by a music company who claimed part of the song “Down Under” was comprised of a 70 year old song, “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree”. This was the best version of the song I could find, but you’ll probably be familiar with it. Now to me, if their song came out in the 80’s and you wait until 2009 to sue, it probably wasn’t that important to you. Fortunately, there is a statute of limitations on some of the reward, so the band only have to pay earnings of 5% from the song starting after 2002. But still, really? A 70 year old song? The Happy Birthday song copyright mess is even worse. It was written in 1893! But you can read wikipedia for all that nonsense.
3) Australia is a testament to the arrogance of mankind. No one should live there. Everything is trying to kill you. They have tiny jellyfish there called Irukandji that are extremely venomous. They’re only 1 cubic centimeter in size, and they can FIRE THEIR STINGERS AT YOU. I don’t know about you, but invisible, venomous jellyfish don’t need ballistic weaponry on top of everything else.
These things plus magpies, snakes, pool spiders, and drop bears make the sharks seem particularly benign. This doesn’t even cover the heat and poisonous plants that want to kill you. If you want to be grateful you don’t live in Australia, just google “Deadly Australian Animals“. I can see why people were just dropped off there as punishment in the 18th and 19th centuries.
So for our last installment, back to me, your resident Clever Chick, to sum everything up. I’ve been trying to focus on humorous, unintentionally ignorant race situations. (See parts one, two, three, and four)
I personally am a white American, but I have dark hair, eyes, and skin. I’m constantly asked “What are you?” by random strangers. I don’t know why it matters. I know that people are just trying to fit me into a category, to try and understand more about who I am by fitting me into whatever backstory they assume comes with whatever race I happen to be. I’ve been mistaken for Indian, black, hispanic, Native American, Romani (aka gypsy), and Jewish.
People are always surprised when I say “White”. Some people just won’t let it rest at that answer.
Nosy Stranger: “Really? Are you sure? You don’t have any black in you at all?”
Me: “Well technically all humans evolved in Africa and migrated throughout the world from there, so we all have a little”
NS: *eye roll* “No, I mean like, in your family”
I also have random people come up to me and just start speaking Spanish. I speak a little, but usually they talk so fast I have no hope. When I tell them I don’t speak Spanish, I get this disbelieving, disgusted look, as though I have betrayed my culture.
But I don’t have any “culture”. I can’t speak for all white Americans, but in general, we don’t have any “cool” cultural traditions. We don’t have bindis, egg rolls, or people dressed as dragons. We have the Americanized version of things: oriental rugs, fortune cookies, and Tex Mex. White people will bond over both being 1/8th German or Irish, and it’s ok to ask about and discuss. Our ties to any family roots are tenuous, but that has both positives and negatives.
I’m not trying to excuse anyone, and we can all definitely stand to be more sensitive and culturally aware. I appreciate the fact that I can have these in-depth discussions with my friends about all the different aspects of race and background in our society.
To sum up:
1) If you want to know someone’s race or ethnic background, think twice before you ask. Why do you want to know?
2) If you want to bond with someone, don’t assume you know anything about what they’re like just based on their ancestry.
3) If someone is well-meaning, but ignorant, try to gently point out their behavior. Hopefully, they’ll realize what they’re doing.
Part 4 comes to us from my friend Iris. She’s ethnically Korean, and was born and raised here in the US. I swear, she must deal with these situations once a week, and they are always hilarious to me. (See parts one, two, and three of our ongoing discussion of race faux pas)
I went on a date and the guy was from a small town in Texas I think and also an insufferable date in general, but this really took the cake. We had talked about where we were from, where we grew up, where we went to college, etc.
The conversation went:
Dude: What’s your background?
Me: I’m korean.
Dude: Wow, but your English is so good!
Me: You know that doesn’t have anything to do with my ethnicity, right? I was born here
Dude: Oh. okay (clearly didn’t get the point but wanted to move onto some other topic about himself)
Another time here in Vegas, I was grocery shopping at a store called Smiths, which is just like Kroger in TX, and an older white gentleman ran up to me and goes, “Excuse me, Excuse me!”
Man: Would you mind trying the sushi over there? *points to sushi sample stand in the bakery/deli section*
Me: Um..what? Why?
Man: I just want to know if it’s good. If YOU (big emphasis on YOU) say it’s good, I’ll know it’s good.
Me: But I don’t like sushi.
Man: YOU DON’T?????
I was so caught off-guard that I ended up just trying it and saying it was good for the sake of the poor sushi demonstration guy.
And yeah, the Asian food story-
At my job when I had just started, this guy noticed me and came over to start a conversation. The typical where are you from, when did you start, what dept are you in, etc. Then he goes, “Do you go to Chinatown often?”
Me: No, I haven’t been there yet
Him: Oh, you should! The food is so good there. I love Asian food. I was just there with my Asian friend, John. We had ramen.
Him: Yeah, actually I love Asia. I was just traveling in China before I started working here.
Me: Oh, I see.
Him: Asian culture is so cool, I just love how nice the people are, I want to go to Japan next.
I think that guy has an indian girlfriend now if that is relevant.
It’s always interesting when people try to ask what my ethnic background is. Sometimes I’m a dick about it.
What’s your race? Human
What are you? A person
Where are you from? NY. No, i mean where are you FROM? Rockland County, NY
It was awesome when I met my ex’s mother. She is from a small town in Florida and was trying to be very careful.
“So Iris, are your parents from the old country?”
I felt bad, so I just said yes, they immigrated from Korea in the 70s. I can always spot well-intentioned ignorance from far away, so i try to help them out.
The most awkward thing for me is that I hardly consider myself Asian, but obviously I am ethnically Asian. I think oftentimes strangers approach me with some kind of motivation of goal or connection or conversation topic related to Asia/being Asian and it takes me a long time to realize that, since I don’t assume that’s the primary reason that people talk to me. It happens a lot, though, especially in dating. LOVE when guys come up to me and tell me how much they like anime or sushi and assume that’s an “in” to talking to me.
My dear friend Phuong of Mibellarosa is Vietnamese, and I asked her for some anecdotes of race faux pas she’d experienced for our (apparently) ongoing discussion of race and misunderstandings. She is a treasure trove:
I guess you’ve hit the jackpot with me but I’ll only give you a few stories since I may write a memoir one day and try to sell it as a sitcom to white people who are curious with how it is to be Asian…and by Asian I mean Chinese.
Here we have part 2 in our 5 part series about race. We’re focusing on those incidence that stem from naivete and ignorance, rather than malice. This installment comes to us from my friend Tripp, of the now infamous incident that started this whole series. Enjoy!
If you haven’t read That Clever Chick’s not-too-serious post about race, please check it out. Aside from the fact that it really happened (and it’s too funny not to), it’ll serve as a good primer for my forthcoming quasi-rant. My thoughts pretty much mirror TCC’s on what my wife and I now affectionately refer to as – “The White Mom incident”. Technically, there was nothing ‘wrong’ with what transpired. We all agreed, after a round of confused and uncomfortable silence, her intentions were good, if not misplaced. In fact, I somewhat admire the brass it took to come over and say something like that out of the blue. I have two white aunts and I have yet to work the fact into a conversation with a white person I barely know.
Still, I don’t want to beleaguer the point. What’s done is done. Instead, I’d like to turn my focus to prevention. Talking about race does not have to be painful, in fact, with a little understanding, compassion and common sense, you might be surprised how eye-opening and enjoyable a discussion about race can be. But before you sojourn off on a quest for understanding and tolerance, please check out my list below to avoid any…mishaps. It’s a short list and taking a few minutes to read this could save you heartache and hospital bills later on down the road. So without further ado:
Do not tell a black person they speak well.
This is a backhanded compliment that is way more backhand than compliment. Let’s examine this dubious affirmation for a moment. To say someone “speaks well” infers that you initially presumed otherwise. Frankly, this is something that is far more appropriate to say to someone recovering from a head injury than to a black person. Yes, there are plenty of black people who speak “ebonics”, reasons why vary greatly from person to person and fall outside the scope of this rant. Regardless, if you plan on making nice with a black person, try not to draw attention to the fact that you can understand them without a translator. Seriously, it won’t earn you any friendship points. Language is an ever-changing institution. And while its origins may be traced down to a particular group or ethnicity, no one “owns” it per se. Disagree? Take a trip to the suburbs and find any non-black teenager with their hat turned backwards and pants sagging and get an ear-full of what they say and how they say it.
Having a black friend does not give you privilege to say stupid crap.
White Person talking to black person – “Black people love fried chicken. I can say that because I’m friends with (insert relational status to black person here). I’m not psychic, but I can tell you without a doubt, this conversation will end badly; especially if the person you are speaking to has no idea who you are. It might come as a shock, but black people do not operate in a hive-mind. Just because you know one black person doesn’t mean the rest of us got the update. Black people do not use Twitter. I can say that because I’m black. *cough*
Assume nothing. And for the love of all that is good, do not work into the conversation that you know a black person because it’s tacky and a little sad. If you’re cool, we’ll sense it. Your discretion will pay dividends in the end, trust me.
Never, ever, ever use the N word.
Most white people get the memo on this one early on. For the slow adopters, take heed. In no situation ever, EVER is it cool to say this word. I don’t care if Jesse Jackson and Tavis Smiley both give you an annual subscription to Ebony magazine, a signed affidavit and thumbs up – don’t do it.
Do not claim to be more ‘black’ than your black friend.
You like 50 Cent? Good for you. You frequent an African restaurant and know how to pronounce the name correctly? Sweet. Oh, you can dance? My hat’s off to you sir.
None of those things qualifies you to say you are more “black” than your “black” friend.
Even in jest, this one carries too much baggage. Being “black” has too many connotations (stereotypical, social, political) to too many people and your assumptions will more than likely differ from the person to whom you are speaking. Besides, it’s just kind of a crap thing to say and I have no sympathy for anyone that gets the taste slapped out of their mouth for saying it. I get it, you want to prove you’re “down”. It’s just a joke, what’s the big deal? The big deal is you have no idea where the other person stands on the issue. Race can be a very sensitive topic and it would be best to tread carefully on this front. Instead of trying to “out-black” your friend (wtf does that even mean anyway), tell them what you enjoy but don’t bias it towards what you think they want to hear. Hey, if you like country music, good! Tell them. You might be surprised, maybe you’ll get an invitation to roll with them to Garth Brooks’ next concert, or maybe you’ll just get an eye roll. Either way, being honest about what you like/dislike will open you up to a more authentic relationship based on mutual interests rather than the perception thereof.
There are plenty more that I could add, but in an effort to keep this from becoming a book, I’ll stop here. In short, if you want to make black friends, look to make a friend first. If they happen to be black, all the better. Oh, and give them fried chicken. Black people love fried chicken.
Don’t sweat it, I can say that because I’m black.
A few weeks ago, Hubby, baby Nacho, and I were spending the weekend with our friends Tripp and Trina (who are black, which becomes relevant). We all went to an event at their daughter’s school one evening, and we were chilling outside on the lawn, listening to a local band and reading books. It was great, then a white mom came over to chat. This is a mom they had spoken to once or twice, but didn’t know well. Hubby and I weren’t really paying attention, then we heard this gem:
WhiteMom: “We did one of those National Geographic ancestry tests, and found out I’m 5% African! From the area of Mali (significant look as though they should know where this is). So anyway, I just thought you’d like to know!”
Hubby and I were internally cringing so hard I feared busting a blood vessel. Trina covered well by making the appropriate remarks, and we all waited silently for WhiteMom to leave. We were all so shocked we couldn’t do anything but laugh.
Later I started thinking; why was this such a bad thing to say? She was trying to be friendly, so what precisely was wrong about this interaction? What made it so painfully awkward?
Basically, even though she had good intentions, she was still reducing my friends to their skin color. She didn’t try to bond with them about their daughters, the school, the band, the city they live in, the cupcakes surrounding us, or any other factors they had in common. She assumed their race would be their main interest, even though she probably considers herself to be open-minded and enlightened.
Either that, or she was hoping they had an NAACP welcome packet just waiting for her.
If you’re searching for common ground to connect with someone, try and pay attention to what their interests are. Maybe they love Game of Thrones, or Batman. (Let’s be honest, if they don’t, they’re probably not worth being friends with). You wouldn’t try to bond about their hair color, or shoe size, so don’t try to use ethnicity.
I was going to make this just one post, but like most of my posts, it’s getting much longer and more involved than I planned. I asked Tripp to write about his perception of the same event, and I also asked several of my other friends for similar experiences. I think you’ll find all of this as entertaining as I did. Stay tuned for parts 2 through 5!