Mind Munches

The love child of word vomit & metaphors

So Much “Back”

You know those trains of thought that you come across on long drives that take on a life of their own?

The ones that, when you get to where you’re going and start to tell whoever your with about them, they tend to lose steam, but since you’ve been ruminating on them for so long you have to tell someone, if only to get the damn things out of your head?

That’s where I’m at with this.

So bear with me. And maybe join me if you feel so inclined.

Here it is: Have you ever noticed how many English phrases use the word “back”?

I’m sorry, what? – You, probably.

Allow me to elaborate:

1) Throwback – as in “throwback Thursday” or any basic caption for old photos or memories.

2) Out back – as in “Where’s dad?” “Out back.” Or, “do you have anymore ice cream out back?” “No, you ate it all.” (Not to mention “the Outback” which refers to the western region of Australia)

3) Step back – as in the literal, physical motion of moving backward or the figurative action of regrouping and retracing.

4) Kick back – as in kick back and relax, or I’m having a kickback at my house.

5) Jump back – as in, hold on, rewind, say whatever you just said again. (Note: I’ve only ever heard this used in the movie Footloose, but I’m still counting it.)

6) Circle back – as in, “I forgot my wallet at home, circle back so I can grab it.” Or, “I think I saw a parking spot around the corner, let’s circle back.”

7) Call back – as in, “I got a call back!” (mostly used the acting/casting world)

So…yeah.

I just…

Isn’t that funny?

Weird?

The tiniest bit interesting maybe?

*smiles politely* – you, undoubtedly.

I’ll go now.

If I Had a Nickel…

So I know it’s usually a joke or a cliché or whatever you want to call it, but the other day I sat down and really considered how rich I could be if I ever did get a nickel or a quarter or, can you imagine, a dollar for every time I did or said and saw _______.

As I thought about it, these were the real moneymakers I came up with:

  1. Cursed in the car
  2. Ate a sandwich
  3. Said, “it’s freezing in here.”
  4. Made a pun
  5. Cried during a commercial
  6. Went to a dodger game
  7. Pressed snooze on my alarm
  8. Watched an episode of Friends
  9. Went to Target
  10. Made myself laugh
  11. Said, “you scared me.”
  12. Cringed at something I said years ago
  13. Cooked macaroni and cheese for dinner
  14. Did a crossword puzzle
  15. Went for a run
  16. Said, “Dude.”
  17. Talked to my dogs
  18. Googled something I was curious about mid-conversation
  19. Wore converse tennis shoes
  20. Rewatched a movie I’ve already seen rather than watch something new—especially something that I’ve been telling people “I don’t have time to watch.” (Sorry)

While there’s no way to know how much money I’d have if I could actually translate all of these into cold hard cash, I can only assume that if I did, I’d be writing this from a huge recliner with a built in refrigerator, wearing a robe made of clouds, while calling my personal driver to pick me up to take me to the airport to board a first class flight to an exotic destination with my family.

Or maybe I just wouldn’t have a credit card bill and I’d totally buy the brand name cotton balls instead of the knockoffs.

Honestly either future looks great.

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What are some things that would make you fictional nickel rich?

And what would you do with all that money if you could somehow get your hands on it?

I’d totally give the number of my cloud robe maker.

Give Thursday a Chance

So it’s Thursday.

Which means it’s almost Friday.

Which means it’s practically the end of the entire week.

Which means there’s no point in starting anything now.

Right?

All those goals you’ve been meaning to start pursuing.

That something new you’ve been wanting to try.

Those chores you’ve been needing to get done.

There’s no reason to do them today.

It’s Thursday.

You might as well call this week a wash and just start again on Monday.

Right?

As much as I want to say yes, and as much as I want to put everything I want to do aside and just worry about it tomorrow or, you know, next week, that really wouldn’t do me or you or any of us any good.

Mondays are great for motivational purposes. They are great for easy calendar tracking purposes. They are great in theory. But really think about a Monday. Think about how when you actually get to a Monday, it’s hard and awful and has too many responsibilities to begin with.

Monday’s can suck.

So…why not Thursday?

Why not Friday?

Why not Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m.?

There’s no reason to wait to start doing the things that will make you happy or organized or less stressed or successful. Every day holds the possibilities we give to Monday and every day can be as looked forward to as Friday.

So why can’t Thursday be your day?

Give Thursday a chance.

Start today.

There is More than Red

I recently listened to the audiobook of “You’re A Badass” by Jen Sincero and immediately after finishing it, I went out and bought a hard copy because I wanted to be able to highlight it and make notes and read it over and over and until the binding is good and tired. It is packed with good reminders designed to get you up and out of whatever funk you might find yourself in, so you can get out there and kick some (mostly your own) ass.

One of my favorite chapters started with the author asking you to look around whatever space you are currently in and pick out everything that is red.

Give it a try.

Focus on those things, memorize them, repeat them over and over again in your mind.

Now close your eyes.

Well. Okay. So this exercise might work better if you were listening to it. Otherwise you’ll just be sitting there with your eyes closed, repeating “ketchup bottle” over and over, with no idea what to do next. Since I was listening to the audiobook, I did not come across this logistical issue.

I APOLOGIZE.

The point of the exercise is to close your eyes, and after spending all that time focusing and memorizing the red, she then asks you to point out everything in your space that is yellow.

Huh? I thought.

Was this a trick?

I just wrote an entire rhyming poem called “Red in my Head” and now you’re going to pull something like THIS, Sincero? I do not approve.

But then she pulls a fast one on you.

She points out that if we are singularly focused in our lives, constantly looking only for the red, than we’re not going to notice the yellow, or the blue or the green. And Lord knows there is some green to be seen after all of this rain.

I listened to this chapter of the book about the same time I wrote this blog, and while they touch on the same thing, they stuck out in different ways. While my reminder to “look up” was a reminder that there are always good things amongst the bad, this “find the yellow” exercise was a good reminder that there is just more.

The world is full of so much more than what we might be struggling with in a particularly difficult moment or season. This doesn’t and shouldn’t belittle what we’re going through now, but it can act as a reminder that there are so many more moments out there for us if we have the courage, patience and perseverance to work through this one. There is so much yellow, y’all! So much blue! So many stars and stripes and polka dots. There is more. So take a deep breath, blink a few times, and let all those other colors come into focus.

A Reminder from Awards Season: Try

Fun fact about me: I LOVE awards season.

The Emmys. The Grammys. The Oscars.

I’m here for it all.

I love seeing deserving people get recognized and dreams coming true. And I love listening to the speeches of ordinary people, just like you and me, proving that big dreams are not crazy and pursued passions do not go unrewarded.

Last night was no exception.

As I sat there watching the Oscars, listening to so many winners—especially first time winners—remind the dreamers at home who might be thinking I could never, that you can, I felt that familiar tinge of inspiration.

It’s not crazy to try.

It is never ever crazy to dream.

Because it can be you.

Whatever the equivalent of that Oscar stage is in your dream, it can be you standing up there. It can be you accepting that award and paying it forward to everyone at home thinking they never could.

So don’t be afraid to soak up the inspiration. And don’t count yourself out of conversations about someday. There is no dream you don’t deserve.

Try.

5 Skills You Didn’t Realize Were Skills

Have you ever had a day where you feel like you aren’t good at anything? Like you have no skills worthy of ribbons or awards or even a gasp of awed recognition? Like maybe you can’t even open a door correctly?

I have those days. I think we all do. And why wouldn’t we when there are singers and actors and athletes and those balloon animal artists that walk around restaurants doing their thing, making you think man, I wish I could do that.

The good news is, we can do things, my friends. In fact, we do amazing things all the time without even noticing them.

For example:

1) Carrying Laundry

Do you remember when you were little and your mom would ask you to get the laundry out of the dryer, and how when you pulled it out a towel wrapped around your legs and tripped you and then you dropped a sock and bent down to pick it up, only to drop another one and then another one, until eventually there was more laundry on the floor than in your hands and so you threw it all down in frustration? Just look at how far we’ve come. Now we know exactly how to angle our body; curving our arms and arching our back to ensure that no piece of clothing is left behind.

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2) Driving

For this one, I know we obviously spent time intentionally learning this skill. But I just felt it was necessary to mention it because it is kind of crazy that we casually operate two ton vehicles on a daily basis. Most of the time while listening to music, eating, and trying to do our eye makeup in the mirror on the way to work.

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3) Technology

When I was in 5th grade, my family had a white landline telephone that had huge blue buttons and a speakerphone, which I thought was THE COOLEST. Then when I was in 7th grade, my mom got the first cellphone in our house, which had an antenna that you pulled out of the top, which I also thought was THE COOLEST. And now I have an iPhone a.k.a a tiny, portable computer, that I get angry at when the AirDrop feature can’t receive pictures from other iPhones in the blink of an eye, or when the Bluetooth doesn’t sync to a portable speaker or when the Wifi I’m connected to won’t stream movies and television shows. WHAT EVEN IS THE WORLD WE LIVE IN?! When did we learn what all of this was—let alone how to work it all?! Our fifth grade selves would be freaking out.

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4) Cracking our bones

This one goes out to all of our younger selves who only woke up sore when we accidentally fell asleep with our head propped up against a wall with one leg tucked under us and the other one stretched out in mid side-split. Now we wake up, lean forward, twist our legs to the side, point an arm at a specific part of the ceiling and roll our head back along our shoulders, knowing that afterwards, our bodies will be ready (ish) for the day.

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5) People

It’s a part of growing up to learn the way other people work and to be able to identify whether they are worth our time or not. And while there are always going to be times when we are blindsided by an undercover a-hole, it’s still worth mentioning how far we’ve come in the people department. All that advice we can give our friends? It comes from years of learning, sometimes—at least I like to believe—for the very serendipitous reason to tell that friend exactly what they need to hear in that moment.

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These are only five things, y’all.

FIVE.

I know—or at least I assume—that you thought of more while you were reading this. Like hey, you’re right, Kim, I hadn’t even realized how fast I can put my hair in a ponytail. Or that I know the exact amount of meats, cheeses and veggies are required to make the perfect sandwich. Or that I know how to twist, lift and shove that closet door open, even when I’m in a time crunch and don’t have a second to spare.

Sure, it’s silly stuff. But the point of all of this is to remember that we’re all learning, every day, and we’re all growing. Even though it might not feel like it, we are figuring this life thing out piece by piece, in our own way.

Plus, we can’t all be out there making scarily accurate balloon versions of Disney princesses. That would be chaos.

Just a Little Valentine’s Day Reminder

Today is just a day.

And no matter if you love it, hate it, celebrate it, skip it, or just now remembered it’s anything more than a Thursday, I hope you know that you are loved.

You are loved.

You are important.

You are worth appreciating.

So no matter how you spend today, tomorrow, and every day after, if it makes you feel like the diamond crusted, chocolate covered, rose petaled, champagne fountained person you deserve to be, you’re doing it right.

Look Up and Look Around

I am currently training for the LA marathon. This means that three times a week I’m outside running, telling my body that all the pain and exhaustion will be worth it when we get that medal at the finish line—and the free banana shortly afterward.

This past Saturday I ran 17.5 miles, the second longest run in my entire training plan. (The longest being 20) For the first 13 miles or so, I was doing pretty well. My legs, while tired, still had some juice in them and I was determined to check this milestone off my list. But as I started those last four miles, it seemed like each step got harder and harder. My knees began to ache and my ankles threatened to quit on me. This was the longest I had ever run in my entire life, and to know that even when (or if) I finished, come marathon day I’d have to come up with the strength to run nine more miles—a marathon is 26.2 miles—my body was just about ready to call it.

Around mile 16 or so, my mind was really starting to get shaky and my legs were even worse. Continuing to run almost felt like punishment, but I knew quitting would feel far worse. That’s when I hit a red light and had to pace around the sidewalk—legs wobbly as ever—while I waited for my signal to continue. I put my hands on my head and took some deep breaths, hoping to relieve some of the stiffness in my back, and then I looked up. The sky was a piercing blue with big, beautiful, puffy clouds. I watched them swirl around above me, and it gave me a warm feeling in my stomach.

When the light turned green and I started running again, I focused on the clouds, and for a little while my knees didn’t ache as much and my feet didn’t sting; my back felt looser and my legs felt a tiny bit stronger.

By the time I made it back to my house however, I was sure my legs were going to fall right out from under me. I walked through the door like a baby giraffe and stumbled my way through a shower and the making of my usual after-run protein shake.

My body was spent.

But even as I limped around for the rest of that day and the next, I still thought about that patch of sky. While it hadn’t taken away the pain I was feeling, it reminded me that it wasn’t the only thing that day—that moment—had to offer.

There are many instances in which I’ve let a dark time or a difficult situation block out all the light around me. Sometimes it’s hard to remember there’s a blue sky up there. Especially when so many other days are grey, cloudy and rainy.

But alas, there are always good things. There is always something just out of your line of sight that is there to give you hope and inspiration. There is always something to push you that last mile.

In the next month, I’m sure I’ll spend more than a few days wondering, what the hell am I doing? Namely when I pass the 20-mile mark at the marathon and have to run SIX. MORE. MILES. But I’m going to take that patch of blue sky with me through the whole race and the days, months and years that follow. I’m going to look up, even when my head wants to hang down, and I’m going to look around, even when it seems safer to keep my eyes forward. Because as sure as there will be dark, there will also be light, and I’m going to try harder to find it. Even when it feels like my knees might spontaneously combust—or you know, the day to day life equivalent to that feeling.

The Spicy Chip Chronicles (Which Ones Stand Out Among the Rest?)

Have you ever had a craving for Hot Cheetos (or their spicy chip counterparts)?

Have you ever had this craving late at night?

Have you ever had this craving and made the trip to the grocery store, only to get there and be completely overwhelmed with options?

Unless you are like me—who only likes regular Cheetos so none of this is an issue—or you hate Cheetos all together—in which case, how dare you—you probably answered yes to at least one of these questions.

Don’t worry, we are here to help you. And by “we”, I mostly mean my roommates, Natalee and Rachel, who have “sacrificed” their time, energy and tastebuds to help you make one of life’s toughest choices.

They have taken this task seriously. Approaching each bag with as little bias as possible, and soaking in not only the taste, but the experience each chip provides its eater. For they know that the spice inclined snacker is not the average snacker.  They are a specific brand of snacking prowess, strict with their expectations and frank with their opinions.

So, without further ado, here are some opinions on the spicy chips of the world, to give you an idea of what you can expect from them, and whether or not they can cure your hangry helplessness on those late night (or early morning or whenever) snack runs.

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Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Puffs

cheetos-puffs-flamin-hot

Rachel: I don’t think the spicyness is meant for this kind of chip. Do you know what I mean?

Natalee: *crunches and nods*

Rachel: Although they do take a little more work. It’s a crunch you can kind of…shovel.

Natalee: I agree. Not the best but puffs = portion control. So there’s that.

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flaminhotlimonCrunchy Flamin’ Hot Limon Cheetos

Rachel: I’ve tried these before and they are are probably my favorite, but they definitely make me feel the worst.

Natalee: Yeah, but the lime elevates it.

Rachel: It gives it depth.

Natalee: It’s not your average spice or crunch.

*both nod and crunch, satisfied*

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Crunchy Cheddar Jalapeño Cheetos

Natalee: *embodying the heart eye emoji* We all know how I feel about jalapeño.

cheetos-crunchy-jalapeno-cheddar

Rachel: *takes a bite* Mmm! I like these better than regular Cheetos.

Natalee: They’re not all that spicy though. Kind of misleading.

Rachel: It kind of tastes like Lawry’s Seasoning Salt on Cheetos. I like them!

Natalee: I would consistently choose Hot Cheetos over these, but in a time of need I could still pound this bag.

Rachel: And always these over regular.

Natalee: Puffs or these?

Rachel: These.

Natalee: Yeah, crunch is really an important factor. So yeah, those weren’t bad.

Rachel: I enjoyed those.

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Crunchy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Note: the bag we purchased featured a promotion for the Cheetos “Win What You See” competition which encouraged customers to send in pictures and descriptions of their oddest shaped Cheetos in order to win prizes inspired by what they see.cheetos-crunchy-flamin-hot

Natalee: Ah, old faithful.

*both grab large handfuls and begin holding individual Cheetos up at eye level to examine their shape*

Natalee: I just love hot Cheetos. Oh! I found a bird.

Rachel: Would you really want to win a vacation based on the shape of your Cheeto?

Natalee: Absolutely not. Honestly, just give me a free bag of Cheetos. *eats bird*

Rachel: I don’t think we really said anything about these but these are just my favorite.

Natalee: Yup.

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Lays Chile Limonimage

Rachel: Ew. I don’t like the taste. It’s acidic but not in a good, vinegary way. It tastes like it’s sour.

*Natalee twists her face, nodding.*

Rachel: It tastes like the smell of something bad in fridge

Natalee: Yeah, it’s the flavor of staleness. Just plain bottom of the barrel.

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XXXTRA flamin Hot

cheetos-crunchy-xxtra-flamin-hot

Note: Our friend Will, a fellow spicy snack connoisseur, was in attendance for this tasting.

Rachel: Oh, these definitely smell much hotter than the original.

*walks into kitchen to grab bag of original Flamin’ Hot Cheetos*

*Natalee, Rachel, and Will each take turns smelling the different bags*

Will: They do smell hotter.

*collectively agree to taste the original to remember the “spice level.”*

Natalee: *crunching* You have to eat at least 10 regular hot Cheetos before they start to live up to their name.

*everyone nods in agreement*

Rachel: Okay, now for these ones. Grab a real chunky one.

Natalee: Let’s all take two.

Rachel: Oh, it’s spicy at the end!

Will: I think it’s more flavorful.

Natalee: Yeah, it’s more flavorful than it is spicy. *exhales* Woah, it is spicy at the end though.

*group applauds*

Natalee: Can you imagine these with lime?

Will: Holy shit, yeah, with lime. Talk about bang for your buck.

Natalee: It’s also another good one for portion control. If I needed something spicy I’d probably eat only, like, seven of these instead of 25 original ones.

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Since there is no shortage of spicy chips hitting shelves these days, you can consider this episode one of an ongoing snack series. If you have any suggestions for the tasters, please pass them along, their taste buds are always willing and ready!

Embrace the Change, Even if it’s a Rental

For the past week or so I’ve been driving a rental car. I was in a minor accident at the end of October and so my car—who some of you might know I call Jeffrey—is currently in the shop getting himself a new passenger’s side door and an overall spiff up.

In the meantime, I’m driving a white Kia which, when it’s parked in the garage next to my roommate’s white Acura, has officially been dubbed half of the “white car crew”—because we try to make everything a little exciting.

The Kia, which I’ve named “Ren” (for rental) is vastly different than Jeff, and in the last week of driving him around, I’ve really been able to pinpoint the distinctions.

For starters, Ren is a 2017 Kia Optima while Jeff is a 2007 Saturn Ion, so obviously I’ve taken a huge jump forward in terms of technology. There’s Bluetooth, a backup camera, automatic headlights, shortcut buttons on the steering wheel, and automatic windows. (Swoon)

But even with all of these positives, I spend most of my time picking out things I don’t like about the car. Things I’ve grown comfortable with in my own car, that I miss and would rather not lose, even if it’s only for a few weeks.

The other day, as I was sitting at a stoplight, I was turning my steering wheel back and forth, a habit I’d picked up while driving Jeff because the steering wheel squeaks. Ren’s steering wheel however, does not. It’s silent and smooth and doesn’t have the cracked exterior I pick at when I’m nervous.

This got me thinking.

We’re always looking for the bigger and the better, right? We dream and we look forward, craving the possibilities of the future, rarely looking back at the comforts of the past. I likely wouldn’t have noticed many of the oddities I’ve found that I like about Jeff until I was put in a situation like this where I’m in a completely new car with completely new oddities. The same goes for a new job, a new house, a new relationship, etc.

No matter how much we might be looking for a change in a particular situation, we are always going to have parts of our old situation that we will miss if/when we finally do make that change.

One day I’ll get a new car and all the things I love about Jeff will be gone. I’ll have to break in the driver’s seat and get the mirrors right. I’ll have to find the perfect air temperature and restock the backseat and the trunk with the odds and ends I always like to keep with me.

When that day comes, I will undoubtedly be sad. Sure, I’ll be excited to have a new car, but I’m sure I’ll spend many an afternoon drive thinking about things I liked about my old car. But just as I’ve tried to tell myself now, in the wake of this rental: I can’t dwell on it.

When we make these big changes, either by our choice or by the choices of those around us, we are forced to deal with the ripples. Maybe that new job won’t have your favorite restaurant next door or that tradition you have with your coworkers. Maybe your new relationship won’t have the same dynamic or will take longer to find a new normal. Maybe your new car won’t have a squeaky (yet weirdly comforting) steering wheel.

We are always going to find things to miss about what we had, and that’s okay. At the end of the day, there is a reason you wanted to make this change or why this change found you. And even if the change is only temporary, like this rental car, it would be a waste to spend our days comparing and complaining.

Embrace where you are, what you have and who you’re with right now. Find out what you like and don’t like about what’s right in front of you, not in comparison to what’s behind you.

For me, I can’t wait to get my car back, but I’m thankful I’ve been provided a car to drive in the meantime. And as long as I have it, I solemnly swear to cherish these automatic windows.