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5 Scary Things That Happened to Me Today and Why I May Be Having a Mid-Life Crisis

25 Jan

5. While writing something, I could not figure out how to spell silhouette. I was misspelling it so badly that spell-check couldn’t even get a grasp of what I was trying to say. Finally, urged by desperation and impatience, I just looked it up.
s-i-l-h-o-u-t-t-e. Huh. Okay.
So I continued with my work until I got flummoxed again. Jiminy Cricket is a …conscious? No, wait…consiounce?  Oh God, no. Five minutes later, I had confirmed that the word conscience has “science” in it (since when??) and established a growing fear that I had lost all my smarts. Plus, I kept thinking of this 
great (if wince-worthy) comic by For Lack of a Better Comic that depicts an English major getting his English Major Badge taken away for bad spelling. 

4. I decided to treat myself to a mug of hot chocolate, what with my spelling nerves being so frazzled. I got a mug out of the cupboard, got the milk out of the refrigerator. I poured the milk into the mug, put the mug in the microwave. I put the milk back in the cupboard….
wait a minute…

3. Tomorrow, I will be chauffeuring a friend of my grandma’s to a doctor’s appointment. (I have a feeling that this experience will require its own post. The possibilities for hilarity and insanity are endless.) Today, this lady called to confirm what time I would pick her up, then said seven terrifying words: “I have you for the day, right?” The last time this particular woman asked this, I ended up spending 4 more hours with her than I had intended, pushing a grocery cart through Starbucks like a crazy person, reading the nutritional content of every single frozen dinner in Trader Joe’s, cleaning out her fridge, and doing her laundry. 

2. I applied for yet another job that I could potentially be excited about. ‘Nuff said. 

1. During an afternoon phone call, Grandma expressed her concern about me not meeting new people, living with my parents, not finding a job–the list goes on because, apparently, my life is very concerning. Grandma concluded with: “You really need to meet more people your own age. Your life is half over.”

I’m 23. I’d just like to put that out there. I’m 23, and Grandma has me in the middle-aged category already. Gee,  I thought I’d have accomplished so much more by this point.

“You’re 93!” I shouted. “If I live to be your age, then I’m definitely not at the halfway mark!”
“What, so I rounded up.” Grandma said.  And then: “Still, I think something’s half over. Your child-bearing years. Your brunette years. Your freedom years.”

Funny, Frog, Fig, Flower, Fire, Family, Fabulous, Foil, Freckle, Five, Friend

27 Jun

My grandma’s neighbor Helen had to take a memory test the other day. The test is supposed to determine if a patient has dementia or other type of memory problem. In Helen’s case, it was also meant to help her doctor determine whether she should still be allowed to have a driver’s license.   

This is a woman who spends hours every day meticulously matching her outfits–which all have a bedazzled or zebra-print component–and applying colorful makeup. She manages to return opened boxes of cereal and kleenex by playing the Old Lady Card and batting her (fake) eyelashes. She shamelessly cheats the system–applying for food stamps and divvying her money up among relatives (who give it back to her in regular installments) so that she can qualify to live in the low-income senior housing my grandma calls home. When we found out the doctor suspected Helen had dementia, I couldn’t decide what to think. Is she suffering from some form of mental problem? I think it’s just as likely that she’s eccentric and sly like a bejeweled fox–but who knows? The latest Helen Story certainly doesn’t lead to any clear conclusions.

One of the questions on Helen’s memory test was to name a word that starts with “F”.

“I just blanked,” Helen told my grandma when she recounted the experience. “The only words I could think of were ‘fart’ and ‘fuck’.”

“So what did she put?” I asked, fascinated in spite of myself.

“She told me she debated for awhile about which would make her seem nuttier, then finally wrote ‘fart’ very deliberately.” Grandma said. 

A few days later, Helen got her results back. Lit by an indignant passion, she cornered Grandma and started venting. “Can you believe it?” She demanded. “I didn’t pass! Now they think I’ve got memory problems!”

Grandma must have been feeling brave that day, because she carefully suggested that maybe the F-word question cost her. “Oh please,” Helen said. “Nobody can think of words that start with F on demand. Besides, why wouldn’t those words naturally come to mind? Everybody does them, after all.”

Oh, For Pete’s Sake

26 May

Well, I got some bad news about that thing that happened a few weeks ago. Now that the universe doesn’t depend on my silence, I think it’s safe to say that the thing was a job interview and the bad news was a polite no. Though I was not exactly surprised, the news that they had “opted to pursue another candidate” was still a downer. It was the first job I’d been excited about in a long time and oh, how I wanted to be pursued.

My reaction to the rejection included an unusually emotional response to an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the consumption of a (mostly) Gin and (very little) Tonic, and then the obligatory oh-God-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life panic. And I baked. I baked a lot.

I like baking when I’m upset. I can get frustration out through the aggressive whisking of ingredients, or during a forceful round with a rolling pin and some dough. Or, I can be calmed by the careful cracking of eggs, the familiar comfort of recipe cards written by my aunt, my grandma, my mom’s cousins. There’s something satisfying about gently measuring sugar, but I also like to pretend I’m as good a cook as my mom and grandma and eyeball things as they’re poured into our big red bowl. That looks like a cup, I think. Or , That was about a tablespoon. Breezy. Confident. And then at the end of it all, you’re rewarded with something good to eat. I can think of no better therapy.

So, the day after the job letdown, I baked. I made candied nuts, and mercilessly picked apart my interview as the walnuts bubbled and became glittery, crusted vanilla and sugar fossils. I had been nervous, my voice a little higher than usual. I had rambled while answering one question, hadn’t responded long enough during another. My outfit was boring. My shoes were too big. Maybe I should have bragged a little more? I stirred up Raspberry and White Chocolate Chip muffins (more like cupcakes without the frosting) and, spooning the batter into cupcake wrappers, thought about fate and signs and doors that open and close. The recipe should make a dozen muffins—I got eighteen and had to fetch another pan for my runovers.

I zested lemon for my version of Lemon Sugar Cookies (similar to the recipe found on the wonderful blog Let’s Talk Cookies) and the kitchen immediately radiated a crisp citrus smell. I considered making a Lemon Pudding Cake, a favorite of my family’s. Stirring vigorously, I accidentally sloshed some of the liquid onto the counter. I scooped dough onto sheets and growled to the dogs, always hopeful kitchen helpers, to get out of the way.

Then, I dropped an egg. In the grand scheme of things, not a big deal—but it threw me off my game, disrupted my rhythm. I grabbed paper towels violently, and swore louder than necessary. For the first time in hours, I sat and broke into a muffin. I crunched a few nuts and waited for the cookies to turn golden.

In the book The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, the main character can taste the emotions in everything she eats. They are the emotions of the person who made the food, and upon the first bite she immediately knows all the intimate feelings that swirled during the stirring, measuring, heating, kneading. My candied walnuts and Raspberry White Chocolate muffins didn’t taste like any emotion, but imagine if they did. No amount of sugar would cover those insecure nuts. And I definitely wouldn’t want to sample the feelings in those muffins.

I gave half of my baking results away, some to my grandma and some to her neighbor Pete. I feel a little protective of Pete. His wife died recently, and you can see how it weighs on him. Last week, Pete gave me a ride to pick up my car at the garage where it was being serviced. I felt badly, taking him away on an errand (and a little embarrassed that my grandma had roped him into it), so when I thanked him for the lift, I really meant it. “No, thank you,” he said. “Thank you for saving me from a lonely afternoon.” There was silence for a few seconds, then he said quietly, “I’m lonely most of the time, these days.”

So when I was done with my cathartic cooking, I made sure to give Pete a pretty little jar of nuts and an assorted plate of muffins and cookies. Out of a job disappointment, I got tasty gifts for a sweet, lonely senior who, luckily, won’t taste any turbulent emotions in them. I’m not sure if that’s a silver (cupcake) lining, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment.

Looking for some similar kitchen therapy? Scroll this way……

Stop Acting So Candied Nuts
a.k.a Bavarian Sugar Almonds/Candied Nuts from My Baking Addiction.

1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (1 tsp. of vanilla extract if you are using regular granulated sugar instead of vanilla sugar)
1 tablespoon water
1 pound nuts (normally like to use almonds or pecans, but this time all I had was walnuts–still good!)
3/4 cup vanilla sugar, or regular granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons of fine grain salt (or vanilla fleur de sel, if you’re the type that would have it)

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
2. In a large bowl, combine egg white, vanilla extract, and water. Beat mixture until frothy. Stir in nuts and mix to coat.
3. Gently combine sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt and stir into nut mixture, thoroughly coating all nuts.
4. Evenly spread nuts onto prepared baking sheet and place in oven.
5. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, stirring/shifting nuts every 15 minutes. (The stirring part is very important, otherwise the nuts will stick together into one brittle mess.)
6. When cool, pack in an airtight jar. They will keep at room temperature for about 2 weeks.

Shared Joy is Doubled Joy, Shared Sorrow is Half a Sorrow Raspberry and White Chocolate Chip Muffins
a.k.a  Raspberry White Chocolate Muffins from one of my favorite cookbooks, Peace Meals

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup white chocolate chips
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pint raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray, or line with wrappers.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the yogurt, then the white chocolate chips.
4. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt (the batter will be stiff). Overmixing the batter makes muffins tough, so use only 10-15 strokes to incorporate the dry ingredients.
5. Gently fold in the raspberries. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin cups.
6. Bake for 22-24 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Sugar Cookies
a.k.a the cousin of The “Can’t Eat Just One” Lemon Sugar Cookie
Here, I adapted the recipe from Let’s Talk Cookies.  Once I figure out how I merged the LTC recipe with another one I had, I’ll type it out and share. The problem with merging/experimenting is trying to get the same result a second time!

Huge Sale! Nothing Must Go! Prices Starting at $1,000,000!

13 May

My mom, my grandma, and I are going to participate in a church rummage sale tomorrow. In the process of gathering things to sell, I have been forced to confront my what-if-I-need-it-someday disability. Grandma and I butted heads all day, playing tug of war with different items and calling each other names. (“You’re completely unrealistic!” “Oh yeah, well you’re unsentimental!”) She’s a tear it up, toss it out, chuck it, sort of person and I am a save it, reuse it, pack it away personality. It’s a little like we’re acting out an episode from The Odd Couple–except our versions of Oscar and Felix are slightly warped, so it’s not entirely clear who’s who. Am I Felix, gasping dramatically when Grandma tears up papers she thinks she doesn’t need and explaining the value of things in a lofty voice? Or am I Oscar, insisting that my “junk” is priceless and fighting Grandma’s merciless clean sweep? Can two people go through a house, picking out what to sell, without driving each other crazy? Probably not.

Among our arguments over what to sell:

Grandma’s sewing basket
“You don’t sew! Why would you want this?”
“What if I want to learn to sew? What if I want to learn to sew with my grandmother’s sewing basket?”
“Oh, please! You can’t even sew a button! You’re going to sew from patterns? You’re going to use a pin cushion? HA!”
“I’ll learn! I learn things! And when I learn, I should use my grandma’s sewing stuff!”
“Fine. Give me $10. That’s how much I’m selling it for.”
“I’m not paying for your sewing basket! You’re supposed to pass it down to me with love and memories.”
“My love and memories cost $10.”

A decorative birdcage
“You’re not selling this are you? You bugged me for a month to get you a fake bird to put in this!”
“Eh, it’s too big. What do I need a dumb old birdcage for?”
“I looked all over for a bird…”
“Well, I’m keeping the bird. I’m just selling the cage.”
“But then the bird will be homeless. Why would you take away his home?”
“You want me to keep the cage just so the fake bird doesn’t lose his home?”

A white coffee urn
“This is nice. You don’t want this?”
“Well, it was my great aunt’s, but it’s not even that pretty and I haven’t used it in years and years…”
“It was your great aunt’s? That means it’s old! It’s, like, a family heirloom! I don’t think we should sell it. She must have given it to you for a reason. Maybe someone else in the family gave it to her and it’s actually your great great great great somebody’s coffee urn.”
“Oh wait, hand that over. Actually, this isn’t my great aunt’s coffee urn. I got this at Goodwill a few years ago. See, no sentimental family connection.”
“Well, you still can’t sell it.”
“Why in the world not??”
“Now I like it!”

Grandma says I’m counterproductive and unhelpful, and that I don’t really want us to make any money. I think she also called me insane, but it was while I was in another room, hiding a hand-embroidered pillow that she wanted to sell for $2, so it was a little hard to hear.

I'm crazy like a squirrel....nuts like a squirrel? Can squirrels be nuts? Hmm...

What Sexy Raccoons Cry About

5 Apr

Yesterday started with eyeliner. Well, it started with me feeling brave and adventurous, which is why I put on eyeliner before going to work. I do not have a good relationship with eyeliner. Like Adam Sandler movies and my math skills, it always disappoints me. First, I rarely apply it correctly. I don’t know if I was absent the day eyeliner application was taught to the world (even Johnny Depp can handle it!), but I almost always end up with a zig-zagged line above my eye that would not pass any sobriety test. Even if I do manage the desired look, it never lasts. For one thing, I have a tendency to touch my eyes throughout the day when I’m bored, frustrated, or deep in thought. I also have a theory that I blink more vigorously and more often than most people. The result is raccoon eyes, and I’m pretty sure raccoons are not sexy.

As you can tell, I’ve given the subject of eyeliner a lot of thought. Actually, that’s what today’s post was going to be about. (I know, now you’re saying to yourself That’s what this post IS about! Well first of all, don’t jump to conclusions. Second of all, are you talking to yourself in front of people? Are you at work? You should be careful, your boss might not appreciate my relevance and your good taste in blogs.)  Things, and post subjects, have a way of changing though.

After I left work yesterday, I dropped some books off at the library, made an exchange at Target, and stocked up on craft supplies at Ben Franklin. The sunshine made me cheery, and as I drove home I was doing crafts in my head and thinking about what to eat. There were three messages on the machine and I started rummaging in the fridge as I half-listened. The first two were unimportant, but the unimportant callers talked and talked until they were cut off. Then, the third message came on. It was my grandma. “Hello? When you get home from work, I’m in the emergency room. Just….well,  just come get me. And hurry. I want to leave.” There was some background noise, and then, “oh, how do you turn the damn thing off? Hello? Nurse? Hello? Wonderful. I’m blind and they’re deaf. Shi–oh nurse! would you turn this off, please? Thank you much.”

I didn’t know what time she had called because she hadn’t said and our answering machine isn’t that smart. When I got to the ER, a nurse in a smock with sleeping kitties brought me to the back where the examining rooms are. She pointed towards one room. “Is that your grandma?” I looked over. It was a white-haired grandma, but it wasn’t my white-haired grandma and I told her so. “Okay, over here,” she said. She led me towards another room, which also had somebody else’s grandma in it. I was starting to wonder about the professionalism of this ER–had they lost my grandma? Was this some sort of Grandma Identification test? I turned to the nurse to ask some form of these questions and she looked sort of startled. Then she patted my arm and pointed straight ahead. “There you go.”

She’d gotten grandma on the third try. There she was, in all her grumpy glory. She’d been there for more than eight hours and was anxious to go. The docs believed she’d had a “heart spasm,” which means she probably had a heart attack but they were too chicken to commit to the words. “Why didn’t you CALL me??” I scolded. Because she’d called the ambulance at 6:30 and knew I wasn’t awake. “So what? I’d wake up when you called.” Well, she didn’t want me to miss work. This was unbelievable. “You mean my unpaid internship? Don’t you think they would have understood?? I think I could afford to miss one day.”

We stood there arguing until the nurse came with the release papers, then we smiled and thanked her and looked cute. Then we walked outside arguing, got in the car arguing, and argued during the short trip to the pharmacy where I had to pick up her new medicines. I waited in line for 25 minutes and when I got to the front the woman said that one medicine was not quite ready. I huffed out a breath and tried to decide whether to leave grandma waiting longer (she was sitting in the car) or come back later. The pharmacist pursed her lips while I thought. She looked like a grandma herself, and her eyes were full of sympathy over her tiny rectangular glasses. “Why don’t I check again?” Pleased and surprised, I just stood there. I don’t know if the woman lit a fire under one of the other pill counters, but pretty soon everything was ready. I thanked her and she smiled and said she hoped my grandmother felt better soon.

Grandma and I got home and I made her eat something. After I checked on her medicine, it was time for Jeopardy. The two of us blew the competition away and by the time I left, I was feeling reassured that Grandma was doing better. I got home and made a bee line for the bathroom to take my contacts out. I almost had a heart attack. (Is it inappropriate to make heart attack jokes, given the circumstances? hmmm…) I had the BIGGEST black rings under my eyes. I not only looked like I had slept in my makeup, I looked like I had swam, jogged, and wrestled in it. It was black and blurred and it had gotten all over. How many people had seen me like this? Did I go a whole day at work with black craters under my eyes? Did I come into the ER looking like a zombie? Couldn’t someone have TOLD me?

Looking back, I have to wonder if the ER nurse and the pharmacist thought I’d been crying. They both knew my grandma had had a health scare and that I was anxious about it. Maybe that pat on the arm and those odd, sympathetic looks were more than they seemed at the time. I don’t cry for just any crisis, but those women couldn’t have known that. I think I’d prefer it if they thought I’d been crying, because the alternatives are a) they thought that was the look I was going for, or b) they knew it was a makeup meltdown and let me go about my day. I don’t know how they could have brought it up (I suppose it would be an awkward conversation), but it seems to me that people should always let you know if you have something in your teeth or grotesque smudges under your eyes. Just saying.

So, yesterday ended with eyeliner. Well, it ended with me taking the dratted stuff off. I think the next time I’m feeling brave and adventurous, I’ll just have a cookie for breakfast. Oh, and you know what? You were sort of right–this post was partly about eyeliner. So there you go, I half-apologize. But then, I’m also going to squeeze in a half-I-told-you-so, because it wasn’t all about eyeliner. See how that works?

Whew, I think I need a cookie.

A Watched Life Doesn’t Boil and Other Grandma Trickery

29 Mar

A watched pot never boils!

I recently completed the second stage of applying for a job that I really want and waiting for a response has been agonizing. It’s probably totally unrealistic to expect a reply this soon, but that didn’t keep me from staring at my gmail this morning, willing the number of messages in my inbox to change. Instead, I had to suffer through several fake-out false alarms–I have never hated spam more, or hit the delete button with such vengeful force. I talked to my grandma on the phone around lunchtime and she was not on board with my immobile waiting. “How about coming over and doing my laundry?” she suggested. “I’ve got a big grocery list, you could go to the store for me. A watched life doesn’t boil, you know.”

“Pot, grandma. A watched pot doesn’t boil.”

“Oh, whatever.”

I went over and took her laundry up to her community laundry room. Even as I was pouring detergent though, my mind was employed by thoughts of employment. “There are at least two people applying for the job,” I speculated when I got back to grandma’s house. “But actually, there are probably a lot more.”

Grandma was unimpressed. “Psh. There’s going to be a lot of people applying to any job. Here, this is my grocery list. Don’t forget the yogurt, I really need it. And I want English Breakfast tea or Earl Grey, none of that fruity tooty stuff.”

“Maybe I haven’t heard back from them because there’s THAT many people applying. Maybe they have to comb through a zillion applicants.”

“Well then, they’ll get to you, won’t they? …Are you leaving, or not?

I went to the grocery store and wandered around. When I’m grocery shopping by myself and don’t have something I need to get home to right away, I tend to take my time to look at things and explore. The odd thing is that I’m also a fast walker, even when I’m relaxed, so my wandering never has the appearance of aimlessness. I did slow for the ice cream aisle, though. I take my ice cream selection process very seriously. You have to consider cost, size, long term flavor enjoyment, what you already have at home, what you’ve been craving. It’s very scientific, really.

On the drive home, Dancing in the Moonlight came on the radio. That’s one of my favorite songs to sing along to–you can’t listen and stay uptight, it’s a supernatural delight! It was unusually warm today, so I had all the car windows rolled down and the music blasting. It was a very spring-y, happy moment.

I got home, put the groceries away, and turned to look at Grandma playing solitaire at the kitchen table. “They probably won’t get back to me for a while. Maybe next week, maybe I won’t hear from them until next week.”
 “Go up and get my laundry,” she said as she moved a stack of cards. “It’s done by now.”
“I think one of the other applicants has a lot of writing experience.” I mentioned casually later, as I was folding grandma’s shirts.
 “Good for her,” she said, and refolded the top I had just placed aside. Apparently I’ve been folding shirts wrong for years. “Hang up my hummingbird feeder, would you? Those birds have been bugging me all week–they’re hungry.”
 “I’ll bet all that writing experience is really desirable. It probably looks really good.” Some of the sugar water spilled on me as I hung the feeder up.
 “Mmmm. If you’re going to wash your arm off, you could do those couple of dishes in the sink. You know I can never see if I’ve gotten all the food stuffs off.”
 I scrubbed a crusty dish for a good ten minutes and wondered aloud if I’d at least get an interview. “Unless they think my writing really sucks, I would hope they’d want to meet me after all this. But then, maybe there are too many applicants for that.”
 “I spilled orange juice on the kitchen floor yesterday and it’s still sticky–see if you can clean up some more, would you?”
 I mopped her floor, dusted her blinds, fixed the time on her clock, changed her hearing aid batteries, figured out that the funny smell in the fridge was from moldy cheese, and got the mail. I moved her reading chair three inches to the left, found the necklace she’s been hunting for a week, and put pretty patterned paper in the back of her breakfront. I’m thinking Grandma was reenacting her own version of If You Give a Moose a Muffin…something like, If You Distract a Granddaughter With Chores. I’m also pretty sure Mr. Feeny did this exact thing to Cory on one of the early episodes of Boy Meets World. Or maybe it was Eric, and a high school episode. Anyway, I think grandma pulled a Mr. Feeny on me. (Which is actually sort of exciting, since I’ve always wanted my life to resemble Boy Meets World.)
When I got home and logged into my email, I still didn’t have any new messages. So I guess an unwatched life doesn’t boil, either. Or, I didn’t not watch long enough. Grandma may have expertly gotten all her chores done, but I think Mr. Feeny’s moral would me more clear…


Someday, Chuck, we'll both get mail.

You Can Lead a Vegetarian to Chicken, But You Can’t Make Her Eat It

1 Feb

A few weeks ago, the father of a close friend of mine was very ill and had to go into the hospital so my grandma and I offered to make dinner for their family. We didn’t really have a menu in mind, but I have a great recipe for tortellini soup and I knew I wanted that to be a part of our meal. As we were racking our brains for an entree, I had a doh moment and remembered that my friend is a vegetarian.

Now, one of the many reasons I love my grandma is that for a 92 year old woman, she is a very modern thinker. But she did not seem to grasp the whole vegetarian concept. I was worried that my friend would not eat my soup, since its base is chicken broth. Here is a fairly accurate recreation of the conversation that went on between me and grandma:

GRANDMA:  “Why wouldn’t she eat the soup?”
ME:  “Because it’s half chicken broth. If she doesn’t eat chicken, why would she eat chicken broth?”
GMA:  “She doesn’t eat chicken??”
ME:  “No, I told you she’s a vegetarian.”
GMA:  “Well what do vegetarians eat?”
ME: “Vegetables…maybe tofu.”
GMA (in an insulted voice):  “Tofu!”
ME:  “Well, sometimes people are selective vegetarians. Like, they’ll eat fish but not anything else.
GMA:  “Well, everybody eats chicken. I thought we’d make lemon chicken for their dinner…”
ME:  “Not everybody eats chicken! That’s the whole point of vegetarianism! We can’t make lemon chicken.”
GMA:  “Well, how about pork chops?”
ME:  “Grandma, she doesn’t eat meat! That means noooooo animals!”
GMA:  “Well, God!”
A thoughtful silence passes and then…
GMA: “How about pot pie?”
ME: “You mean your pot pie recipe with chicken in it?”
GMA:  “Yes…What? Everybody eats chicken! What’s the matter with that?”

You are what you eat?

We ended up making vegetarian stuffed peppers, which came out quite good despite my grandma’s declaration that they “weren’t real.” I did make my soup, because I thought that maybe someone else in my friend’s family would eat it (and, okay, I was attached to the idea). Turns out, my friend does eat chicken broth. When I told my grandma, she threw her hands up in the air and said “I told you everyone eats chicken. Psh. And you wanted to make tofu.”