Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pinterest: Making Wives out of Women

Mom's cookin'

Although I was born and raised in the traditions of a rural Midwest, my mother was not.  A native of Los Angeles, my mother found herself transplanted into a middle-of-the-map-nowhere in her late teens bringing with her the socially progressive culture of the west coast, at least in terms of how they related to cooking.  Though a proficient computer programmer, when it came to cooking she could burn water in a microwave.  If you came over to our house for dinner you might think that we had college bachelors hidden in the kitchen preparing your feast on hotplates.  Somewhere along the way a weird thing happened, although I can’t pinpoint the exact time it did.  My brother and I somehow found ourselves the kitchen maids, preparing every meal.  I enjoyed the task and, being that the bar was set so low previously, our concoctions were a hit; making us the victims of our own success.  So there we were, the budding modern man, toiling in the kitchen and crying about our sensitive feelings.  To me this was the norm; doesn't every mother’s best meal come from a can?

Uncle Sam's cookin'
Seeking a reprieve from the kitchen, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  I will have to give it to the Marine Corps in that they understand the importance of good food.  Although every other meal of the day from the chow hall was Yakasoba, overall it was good; and more importantly, I wasn’t cooking it.  My time in garrison and the availability of a chow hall throughout my military career was limited.  Spending most of my time in the field or in wars relegated me to the blessed MRE.  MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) present a splendid bouquet of variety in the form of 24 different meals in a bag.  With names like “Pork slice in Jamaican style sauce” or “Shrimp Jambalaya”, what could go wrong you ask? 

You can’t fully understand the enjoyment of MREs without context.  They may be found lacking if served at a dinner party to impress your boss.  But, if you were to have your boss swim a couple miles in the freezing Pacific, cover him in sand, shoot machine guns at him and have him bed down for the cold night in a thorn bush, then the MRE you hand him may be viewed as heaven sent; a veritable smorgasbord if you will.  It is amazing the amount of pleasure you can get from eating a meal that was stored at the bottom of a ship next to the hot engine room for 20 years.  While standing in the middle of a desert in Afghanistan I had that exact fortune, smiling between every semi-dehydrated bite.  To me this was the norm; doesn't every soldier/airman/sailor/warrior’s best meal come from a bag?

Newlywed cookin'
A few years after exiting the Marine Corps I reenlisted so to speak.  This time around I took on a new commander to bark orders at me, a wife.  Truth be told, my wife is pretty awesome.  We were newlyweds with a house, a couple of dogs, and making decent money.  Being a new age woman my wife didn’t want to cook.  Neither of us really wanted to cook.  So instead of asking “What to cook for dinner tonight?” we would ask “Where do we want to go for dinner tonight?”  The stove, during our first couple of years of marriage, was used about as often as we changed the air filters on the furnace.   The oven led a great life as far as ovens go; its sole purpose in life being the occasional batch of brownies or cookies.  I think we may have memorized the menus for every restaurant in the city, able to recite them by heart.  We were living the high life.  Although we would sometimes argue over what restaurant to frequent, we didn’t specifically have to agree on the meal.  The question of “What’s for dinner?” is probably the source of many arguments and its simple circumvention made it bliss, as any spouse could agree.  We didn’t waste time at the grocery store, we didn’t cook the meal, we didn’t do the dishes and we didn’t clean the kitchen.  It was the best dining I had done to that point in my life but my waistline was starting to show it.  To me this was the norm; doesn't every newlywed’s best meal come from a restaurant?

Pretend home cookin'
We soon started to realize that we were living the grasshopper life when we should be living the more responsible life of the ant.  We started seeing the hundreds of dollars a week spent eating out for every meal as youthful waste.  Still wanting the convenience of laziness yet looking for the fiscal responsibility of adulthood led to the discovery of the box meal.  What a great parlay into responsibility the box meal became.  Buy a box, open the box, dump everything into a skillet, wait 10 minutes and eat.   Not to be confused with the traditional Hamburger Helpers, these were different.  These were grown up box meals with cans and packets and garnishment.  The conversations surrounding the meal were as humorous as the looks of our pantry.  With our pantry shelves lined with boxes, we giggled to ourselves about how we were now responsible adults.  To me this was the norm; doesn’t every household’s best meal come from a box?

Then a weird thing happened, although I can’t pinpoint the exact time it did.  I somehow found myself the kitchen maid, preparing most every meal.  Had I married my mother?  I had heard mystical stories of households that clung to an antiquated time in which husbands had never cooked a meal in their lives.  Although raised as a modern man, the lazy part of me secretly desired such a gender role arrangement.  But, having a modern woman as a wife, I could only dream.  Then Pinterest happened.

Pinterest cookin'
Pinterest is the greatest double edged sword to grace the internet and husbands everywhere.  At first I wasn't sure about Pinterest as I am pretty sure it came with standard folders labeled “Shit to waste my husband’s time on having him make” and “Shoes I’ll never wear but have to waste money on.”  I only became a believer last night when I realized that one of the biggest themes that women across the globe get all hot over are recipes.  I realized it yesterday as my wife was making a dinner that I had never had before.  More importantly, she was cooking--not me. Best of all: this has started to become a new norm at our house (go tell it on the mountain).  The wife has discovered thousands of recipes that she “just has to try” and I am more than willing to let her.  She doesn’t ask me what is for dinner anymore; she tells me what she is cooking.  She cooks it and I eat it.  Eureka.  I’m not sure if it is a mere fad or whether the peer pressures inherent from the social aspects of Pinterest make women want to cook, but I’ll take it.  If Pinterest could just build some buzz and excitement around cleaning the house then husbands across the globe could rejoice, as the women in their lives finally become wives.  To me this is the norm; doesn't every wife’s best meal come from a Pinterest?

Note: I ran this article idea by my wife last night to see what she thought and she just said, “Oh snap.”

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Axiom?

This one is going to be short and sweet as it is more of a quick observation than a full posting.

Toyota recently unveiled the i-REAL in order to provide "Personal mobility that expands opportunities to meet "REAL" people, enjoy nature, and make traveling freer, more fun, and more comfortable."  Sounds nice enough.

The first thing that came to mind was the chairs used by people of the future in the movie Wall-E.  In this future world people don't have to do anything manual for themselves, including walking, on the utopian ship Axiom.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Secret Sauce: Twitter and In-N-Out Burger

Lines are for suckers.
While living in southern California during my time in the Marine Corps, I somehow found myself in a rather interesting clique. It was interesting in that it had this quasi-celebrity status in the Los Angeles underground. It was the kind of clique that somehow had VIP access to all of the trendiest spots in LA, and I got to bumble along for the ride.  One night in particular, a friend from this group was having a birthday party. In true LA fashion it wasn't at home with a birthday cake and clowns, it was at a very trendy nightclub. Though this night was different, I was bringing a date.  A girl, whom I thought was the cat’s meow (now my wife), was out to visit Cali between school semesters, and I was going to show her the LA I had come to love.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thomas the Train is an asshole

I guess you could say that I have become a lay connoisseur of children’s programming; as I’m sure happens to most every parent that values spending time with their children.  I don’t mean to imply that I use Barney the purple dinosaur as an ad-hoc babysitter for my two-year old, but I am not raising a neo-Luddite either.  I am not really a TV watcher, but I do own a TV.  Although a humble 23 inch affair, it is rockin’ a Roku box piping in Netflix which is perfectly enough as I haven’t heard any bitching about it yet from the little guy.

Side Note: As any adult probably already knows, Netflix streaming sucks a fat one.  Their available content for adults is akin to what you would find on cable TV from the hours of 2 to 4 AM.  Imagine every movie or show that you have absolutely no interest in watching and you have the summation of Netflix streaming.  The only reason, I surmise, that Netflix streaming hasn’t gone looking for a bailout is their vast library of children’s programming.  Those crafty devils understand that the best way into your wallet is through your children.  So, they have effectively made it their business model, and it works to keep suckering me out of my money each month.  Touche’ Netflix.

Most of the time spent with our son is filled with playing trucks, reading books, and making sure he doesn’t kill himself or poke out an eye.  But like any parent after a time, we went in search of the holy-grail: a calm thirty minute reprieve from being a human jungle gym.  Not knowing anything about what kids want to watch, we just started with the crap we saw most often on t-shirts little kids wear.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Journey Of A Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step

I see this site as a beginning.  The beginning of an attempt to focus my scattered writings in one place, gain perspective, find my style, challenge my thinking, explore journalism and gain a voice.  The term "writer" has to me historically held a mildly flamboyant and frivolous connotation in contrast to my rural blue collar upbringing.  Yet, through the encouragement of my wife and friends, I have acknowledged my enjoyment of writing as an endeavor worthy of exploring.  As with any art, I understand that writing will take time, patience and work to develop.  So, I see this site as a beginning.