That’s It!

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We accidentally watched 3 minutes of Entertainment Tonight last night. The piece we had the misfortune of stumbling on while searching for a lost remote was about a influencer on Tick-Tock. I don’t know her name or her ex-boyfriend’s name who they also centered on or why she was annoyed people were obsessed with their break-up since people only knew about her because she made herself a subject of interest or even how the fuck any of this is considered entertainment…tonight.

She did write a book, which I bet is a thrilling read. I don’t remember the title because why would any of us, but the cover was a photo of her throwing out a peace sign or kissing face or some shit while surrounded by a volcanic explosion of emojis on a baby pink background. So, I hope you’re getting an idea of who this person is. If not, you will when I tell you how she described her memoir:

“You read it. And that’s it!”

I mean, Hemingway famously wrote a story in only six words, which was “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.” but “You read it. And that’s it!” is remarkably better. I like she choose to give the ET audience a how-to guide on reading books. She also might mean, I realized after laughing for ten straight minutes, that after reading whatever is between those analogue Pepto Bismol-colored pages, haters can’t give their unfettered and most likely abusive opinions like they would on her Tick-Tocks.

For an influencer who put herself out there unprodded, it seems weird to be befuddled by internet trolls leaving nasty comments. She knew what happens on the internet, didn’t she? Check out any comment section and no matter if the person is dancing or baking a cake there’s unconstructive criticism, armchair psychology, or random tidbits about MAGA nation. That’s a major tenet of the internet comment world: to fuck up a complete stranger’s day by writing some heinous shit.

I like that she choose to express herself in a book. Haters still gonna hate, but at least you don’t have to read death threats and other awful misogyny people like to fling at young women for expressing themselves. But there will still be criticism. Like book reviews. Or comments on social media posts hawking that memoir. Or in this blog.

But that’s it!

Nocturnal Baggage

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When you’re royalty, is it predestined you must have a separate bedroom from your spouse, or is that only what TV and movies are showing me?

I started watching The Crown last night (yes, I am four years late to the party) and I noticed something I’ve seen before. Despite being shown throughout the pilot episode that King George and his daughter Princess Elizabeth adore their spouses, they have seperate bedrooms from them. We see George ease himself out of bed at least twice but Queen Elizabeth the First isn’t anywhere to be seen.

Then, George awakens a naked Duke Philip by barging into the Duke’s bedroom without knocking to go duck hunting (this is a ridiculous sentence). Princess Elizabeth is nowhere to be found. I’m assuming the King wouldn’t have Chuck Norris-ed the bedroom door if he knew there would be a chance his daughter would be in there. So, either these women are early risers or they have seperate bedrooms from their spouses, whom they claim to adore.

“Why would they sleep separately from their spouse if they keep talking about how much they love them,” I wonder from my couch, brownie crumbs sprinkled across my chest. “How frigid is the old school Royal Family?”

Googling tells me that yes, they indeed have seperate bedrooms due to a royal tradition. Isn’t that crazy? Their lives are so regimented they’re told how to sleep. And that made me think about my sleeping traditions.

My sleeping tradition is throwing elbows when my boyfriend is snoring.

He’s a kind man and doesn’t deserve this. But when I hear snoring, something feral in me takes over and I go apeshit.

Snoring is literally a trigger for me. Every time my current partner snores, I tense up. I’m propelled back into my past, from our apartment in Chicago to a townhouse in Seattle. I’m living with an alcoholic, who choked on his own Jameson-infused tongue nightly, causing bear hibernation snoring that cut through walls and closed doors to where I laid on the couch for the five hundredth time. Back then, furious and feeling trapped, I would try to sleep as the walls rattled around me rather than deal with the obvious problem: I was dating an alcoholic.

Today, snoring is something I cannot fucking stand not only because it is one of the worst sounds in the world, but it reminds me of a shit time in my life. But have I woken up every time my non-alcoholic boyfriend has snored? Probably not. There’s a good chance there have been times when my current boyfriend’s snoring away next to me, making sounds like an excavator scraping gravel off a street and I’m sound asleep next to him. But other times, when my mind is whirling and I’m fighting to fall asleep and I hear even the slightest rattle of breath, I snap. I yell or dig an elbow into him to make it stop. I bring up my anger from the past and dump all it over my present.

Once, I over reacted to his snoring. And it wasn’t even that bad that night, just a bunch of off-beat muffled snorts. But my mind was chewing on other problems, but instead of trying to solve those or put them aside tell morning, I decided to take it out on his open mouth breathing.

After screaming his name a dozen times and a few pokes with my pointy ass elbow, he lunged out of bed without a word and disappeared into the night. I heard him flop into the guest bed. My mouth formed a silent O.

I was not expecting that reaction. For some reason, I expected him to sleep through my shouts and jabs. I forgot that this is a sleeping man, not a dead man.

“Fine,” I thought, glaring into my solitary darkness that only a minute go held the breath of someone I loved. “Sleep in there. I do that all the time because of your snoring.” But I didn’t feel confident in my righteous. In fact, I felt rejected and like an complete asshole. Like it does with every issue in the universe between the hours of 11pm to 5am, my mind chimed in:

“Was the elbow to the soft flesh above his kidney really necessary,” ethos asked me.

“But snoring is annoying,” ego said, while looking at itself in the mirror.

“It’s involuntary. It’s not malicious,” ethos pleaded.

“Get fucked!” screamed my ego.

So, that night, we both lay in our separate rooms, confident we’re right. He can’t help that he’s snoring, which is true. I believe I’m in my every right to jab an elbow into his side when a snore rips through the stillness, scaring the shit out of me. After some time, or days, whichever, I have to admit to myself shouting or jabbing isn’t the kindest solution to the problem. And also, his snoring is rarely the actual problem.

Of course, the actual cause of my tossing and turning is anxiety stemming from my waking life. A pandemic, neverending political strife, family problems, unemployment, to-do lists, and the always unanswerable, “what am I doing with my life” meta nonsense that either keeps me up or wakes me up at 4am. Blaming external factors like snoring, a hot room, or a cat jumping on me is a lot easier to deal with than irrational fears clawing their way out of my brain and into the darkness.

When I’m keyed up on something that happened in 2005, one snore sends me into fight or flight and my senses start working overtime. My hearing becomes more intense so every snore sounds like a garbage disposal in my ear. My brain is telling me this innocent snore is a threat because it used to be a signifier of a larger problem in my past. The next thing I know, there’s an argument at midnight, I’ve dragged past garbage into the present, and I’m still sleeping like dogshit.

This makes me think about the ferociousness we use to defend ourselves based on what we experienced in the past. We become almost feral, trying to protect ourselves from an outdated threat. When in reality, the person in the present is simply trying to understand us, love us, or just sleeps with his mouth open.

It took me a long time to learn how to solve problems other than shutting down or arguing. Learning how to sleep next to someone who snores is a problem. I learned ways to deal with that gently, rather than go on the attack. I rub his arm. Place my ankle over his. If it’s too bad, I sleep in the other room. But my favorite way to stop the snoring is to play snoring sounds from YouTube. Which is a new, improved, and more hilarious sleeping tradition.

The Home Bartender Guide: Classic Cocktails for Beginners

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Knowing how to mix a cocktail within your own home is a nostalgic power move. Whatever the reason – you want to learn a new skill, save money, or maybe you’re simply thirsty, creating cocktails is fun, and as someone once told me, an art.

Classic cocktail recipes aren’t hard to make. In this bartender guide, I’ll walk you through the supplies and ingredients to create simple cocktails. The basics of cocktail making is easy; however, as with anything, there are common rookie mistakes that can be avoided.

At the end of this how-to cocktail making for beginners, you will walk away with the knowledge to create both a stirred and a shaken cocktail: an old fashioned and a gimlet.

Barware for Cocktails

To begin making classic cocktails, you’re going to need basic barware, or use household items as substitutions. For creating cocktail recipes, the barware you’ll need includes:

  • Boston shaker
  • jigger or speed pourer
  • bar spoon
  • mixing glass
  • hawthorne strainer
  • julep strainer
  • fine strainer
  • juicer
  • muddler

If that seems like a lot, it is. You can buy an inexpensive cocktail set on Amazon that includes everything but the juicer. For the bare minimum of making cocktails, all you need is a shaker, a hawthorne strainer, a jigger or speed pourer, and a juicer.

***HACK ALERT ***

You don’t need any of these things. Tupperware with a tight lid can be used instead of a Boston shaker. A mixing glass is…a glass. A measuring cup and spoons can be used in lieu of pour spouts or jigger – just convert the ounces to tablespoons. I used a cheese grater as a strainer this past weekend. A wooden spoon or potato masher works as a muddler. You can also juice limes and lemons by rolling the fruit firmly with your palm against a table to loosen the juice, cutting it into quarters and placing a fork in the middle of the flesh, turning the fork as you squeeze the fruit.

It’s not easy and you’ll make a gigantic mess out of your kitchen, but you’ll still have alcohol to drink when you’re done. And what’s really important? A delicious drink or having every surface of your kitchen sticky?

I made these Mint Juleps with tupperware and a spaghetti strainer. Then I hid the evidence for the IG photo.

***OKAY, HACK OVER***

But, if you have the desire to buy barware, what are all these things?

How to Use Barware

The muddler is for crushing fruit or herbs, like in a mojito, or in the case of an old fashioned, crushing sugar cubes. No one really bothers with sugar cubes anymore – maybe at higher end places, sure. But most bars opt to use simple syrup since it dissolves into the liquor easier and faster, which is essential at a busy bar. But making cocktails at home provides the time to muddle away if you want, as long as there aren’t ten people waving money at you asking for drinks. If there are, I wonder what kind of home you live in and I would very much like to visit.

You might be wondering, “why so many strainers? You just said you once used a cheese grater.” Well, they each serve a purpose. Julep strainers fit into mixing glasses better and hawthorne strainers create a tight seal around shaker. If you have to choose between the two, get the hawthorne. It can be used interchangeably unlike the julep. Using the julep strainer on the Boston shaker will end with most of your drink all over the floor, and oh man, that sucks for a bunch of reasons.

The fine strainer is used for removing fruit pulp and herbs from cocktails. Neither the julep or hawthorne will adequately catch all the little bits. Can you get by without it? For juice and herbs, sure. But I would definitely double strain if your cocktail involves egg whites or cream. Fine straining your drink ensures the texture will be smoother. Nobody wants creamy chunks in their drink. Absolutely nobody.

The mixing glass and bar spoon are for stirring cocktails and the Boston shaker is for shaking drinks. And with that said, let’s talk about stirring and shaking cocktails.

Stirring vs. Shaking Cocktails

From both guests and co-workers I’ve been asked, “How do you know when to shake or stir a cocktail?”

It’s all about the juice.

The general rule of thumb for shaking versus stirring is if the cocktail has juice, you shake. Both methods dilute and chill the drink. However, shaking creates air, emulsifying the juice (or cream or egg white) adding texture and integrating ingredients cohesively. I encourage you to stir a cocktail with fresh juice and then make the exact same drink but by shaking. Then taste. There’s a difference, right? The air and water that is added to the drink makes it undeniably superior.

Now, then. The stirring and shaking techniques. When mixing cocktails, always fill the mixing glass and shaker full of ice. The more cubes, the merrier.

For stirred cocktails, stir with the mixing spoon until you feel the outside of the glass becoming cold. Usually, this takes about 15 to 20 seconds. But, the length of the shake depends on the cocktail you’re creating. A drink that incorporates egg whites should be shaken longer than twenty seconds and a rocks drink might only need a quick 5 second but vigorous shake.

With a Boston shaker, make sure the top is on tightly. A quick hit with the heel of your hand should snap it into place.

Ah, now, finally, the shake! Who doesn’t love that maraca sound of ice pinging against the tin? I do. In some ways, shaking a cocktail is harder than mastering a maraca. More on that soon.

Shake with both hands. Place one on the bottom and one on the top. If you feel confident and your hands are large enough, place one hand near the middle of the shaker – holding tight near the seam – and shake away. Holding the tin perpendicular to you and over your shoulder, shake until the tin feels cold to the touch, again about fifteen to twenty seconds. Or, in another method, you can place both palms at the top, fingers extending to the seam, and shake the drink at chest level, away from you.

Oh, and try to shake in a circular motion.

(Are you getting all this? See what I mean about the maraca?)

Why does this matter? Allegedly, shaking the tin in a circular motion is meant to create a smoother texture. If all this amount of information about shaking drinks is getting out of hand, which it is, a simple back and forth motion is fine, too. I honestly don’t know if there’s a discernible difference, but when I did use a circular motion, it seemed like the cocktails had a smoother texture.

With so many elements affecting shaken drinks, there is an entire science behind shaking cocktails that you learn through experience. Or some intense studying.

Just wait until you find out about ice and what that does to drinks. There are books on ice!

If some of this seems overwhelming or even unnecessary, it can be. But it’s a craft and, some would argue, an art. Even though I was a bartender for fifteen years and spent three of those years creating cocktail menus, I always had imposter syndrome until the day I stopped. Am I shaking the tin right? Will other people like this drink?

No matter how you do it, it’s fine.

For you, home bartender, no matter what, your cocktail will be a tasty because you made it.

So, that’s what you need to make classic cocktails at home! Of course, you’ll also need glassware. I could go into an entire diatribe about glassware, but that’s for another time. For now, grab anything out of the cupboard and let’s get to the good stuff – the drinks!

The Stirred Cocktail Recipe: Old Fashioned

  • 2 ounces bourbon or rye – your preference
  • .25 ounces of demerara or simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • muddled orange and cherry (optional)

Fill your mixing glass with ice. You can also add a cherry and orange to be muddled at the bottom of the glass (before adding ice) or simply as a garnish. Add the 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, which can be found whenever people sell liquor. Add the syrup, simple or demerara. I prefer demerara because it adds a molasses aspect to the drink and pairs perfectly with rye. And finally, add the bourbon or rye, whichever you prefer, even though I just tipped my hand on which one I prefer.

Stir, strain into a cocktail glass with ice, and enjoy!

The Shaken Cocktail Recipe: The Gimlet

  • 2 ounces gin or vodka
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • lime swath (optional)

I love this drink. It’s so simple and perfect.

Fill a shaker with ice. Add the lime juice and simple syrup. Then, add gin or vodka. I am a gin gimlet girl, everytime, because juniper and lime is a magical combination.

Shake and strain into a coupe glass. Add a lime swath as a garnish if you’re feeling fancy!

Well, that’s it. You now have the knowledge and capability of creating professional quality cocktails in your home. Your liver is in for a treat.

7 Common Mistakes of App Development

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In the first half of this year, the global app market reached $50.1 billion, mainly due to the remote effects of the coronavirus outbreak. With a society adapting to social distancing for the foreseeable future, it’s natural that every business would want to build an app to increase revenue and marketing space.

Whether you’re a business looking to recoup lost sales or simply a developer with a great idea, it’s easy rush into the development of an app. However, common mistakes in mobile app development can happen to even the most experienced team. Avoiding these pitfalls will help you get your app to market successfully.

Insufficient Budget

A senior developer told me the other day there’s a new project being built at his work, and even though they haven’t even started coding yet, the majority of the budget is already gone.

Yikes.

Underestimating the cost is a common mistake you need to avoid when developing a mobile app for your business. Over half of all development projects cost more than original projections. So, how do you as a team avoid this error in judgment when developing your app? Being conscious of the implementation of all the features and services, the teams, like UI/UX and QA, as well as marketing and ad expenses involved in obtaining downloads.

Developing on Android and iOS Simultaneously

Another way to conserve costs is to develop your app on only one platform. Debugging and adjusting UX elements on either Android or iOS will save your team time, money, and frustration if you conquer one platform before moving onto the next. Weigh the pros and cons, visit forums and do your research on the target audience to decide which platform is better suited for your app.

Too Bloated

Another mistake in app development is making your app the size of a whale when it should only be a bluegill. Having an app with too many features increases the size, not only making it harder for the user to navigate, but will also make it more likely to be uninstalled. Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings.

Serious Lack of UX/UI

Remember the false Hawaii air raid in 2018? The mistake happened due to a confusing interface.

Hawaii Emergency Alert System interface

A man actually died from a heart attack because of this. If state officials had hired a UI/UX team, this could have been avoided. Obviously, this is an extreme example, but without a use case for your app, you lose retention. Clarity and empathy are key to ensure your app is used successfully.

Insufficient Testing

The app market is obviously competitive and you might be eager to get it to market. But don’t allow your impatience let you skip testing. The quality of your app is an extension of your brand and you want users to enjoy themselves to keep them engaged.

No Marketing Strategy

Having a clear cut marketing strategy is vital before your app launches. Again, this is a super saturated market. Putting an app up on a platform and then beginning the marketing is only going to delay your ROI. Decide what makes your app stand out now. Like any product, what is the UVP? And speaking of value…

Is There a Need for This?

What problem does this solve for the user? Building an app simply because you think your business should have an app could result in negative reinforcement. Survey the personas of your target audience and decide how an app can best serve them.

10 Best ASMR Cooking Sounds

Have anxiety from the never-ending nightmare that is 2020? These ASMR food sounds will help you escape. For a little while.

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To those of us that regularly spend time chopping, stirring, and kneading in the kitchen, we have long understood the calming effects making a meal for our family has on us. Cooking has long been known for its stress relieving attributes — home cooking, that is. The men and women on the line at your local restaurant would tell a different story.

But making waffles in your jammies on a Sunday morning or making dinner after work with a glass of wine? Hell yes.

While most of the calming effects of cooking come from the creativity involved in creating a dish, and is often recommended for quelling anxiety, as the shortage in random grocery items during quarantine only further proved, what about the sounds of cooking?

Often called “brain massage”, ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, are soft sounds that have a sedative dreamy effect on the listener.

These ASMR food sounds will either have you headed for the couch to take a snooze or back into the kitchen to eat. I will probably end up doing both. Check out these 10 best ASMR cooking sounds.

Sizzling Pan

Meat, veggie, whatever — when something hits that hot oil — oooOoooOO, baby, the hair on the back of my neck stands up.

Tongs Test Clicks

Hearing the clicking of cooking tongs, whether I’m one doing it or not, makes me get excited for what’s about to be in my stomach. AND YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO TEST THE TONGS.

Chip Bag Crinkling

Does anything get your ears perked up more than the sound of cellophane, especially a chip bag, crinkling? The sound of any kind of plastic bag being crinkled will make you scream, “Bring me some, please!” from the couch.

Popcorn Popping

No matter if you’re at home or a movie theater in the good ol’ days, there is no better sound. I can already smell the butter.

Mixing Butter

Speaking of butter, mixing butter straddles the line between the soothing and sickening. But I also greatly enjoy the sound of fingers sliding over a new packaged stick of butter. That sentence is also borderline soothing and sickening. Nonetheless, you have so many possibilites, butter stick. I love you.

Knife Chopping

Cutting veggies is probably the most mediative, albeit tedious task, in the kitchen. The sound of a knife rhythmically hitting a cutting board is money, but when you factor in the sound variation between the blade cutting through cabbage or a more subtle vegetable like scallions? Dopamine and oxytocin flood my bloodstream with every cut.

Refrigerator Opening

That tiny suctioning sound with a little breeze of refreshing cool air. Oh, the possibilities that lay inside…

Kneading Dough

Kneading dough can be a subtle sound, quite the opposite from my plaintive cries about my aching shoulders from kneading stiff bagel dough for 8 to 10 minutes.

Kitchen Timer

C’mon, c’mon, c’mon… *ding!* YES.

Cereal Poured Into A Bowl

This is my favorite. Maybe because I love cereal so much, but mainly because someone committed to pouring 19 DIFFERENT CEREALS. I thank you for your thoroughness, whoever you are.

Can you think of any ASMR cooking sounds I left out? Comment below with your favorite!

10 Questions You Shouldn’t Ask Servers and Bartenders

Diners asking service staff questions is a big part of the dining experience. No one knows what sabra or mirepoix is. It’s up to the server or bartender to explain and guide the guests through the menu.

But some questions really don’t need to be asked.

Some questions are so vague or rude or just invasive, they will surely be retold to co-workers at the end of the night. And yet, these are typical questions asked by guests that I’ve experienced over my many years working in the FOH. The next time you’re out to dinner, either rephrase or let these questions go through a mental filter before speaking aloud. This should always be done, but with what service industry folk are going through this year with the coronavirus guidelines, a little kindness with direct communication can go a long way right now.

1. “What’s good here?”

Setting aside the judgemental tone, I never understood this question simply because it’s so vague. You’re inside a thriving business, sir – lots, if not everything, is good here. And what’s your standard for good? Are you looking for the best dish on the menu? Or do you only want the “good” food? Help me out, are we shooting for the gold or bronze?

For food, this is a little easier; just point them to the thing everyone orders. But recommendating drinks was always harder. Do you drink whiskey? Gin? Do you want cocktails with tons of juice or just vodka on the rocks?

Next time, be direct about what you’re in the mood for or what you generally prefer, or even absolutely hate: “I like bourbon. Which drink should I drink?” or “I’m starving. I want to eat a lot, but also, I hate fish.”

Here’s a simple formula to follow: “What’s a good noun here?”

Fill in the noun – entree, dish, cocktail. And if you can go further and explain what you want, well, I went from stifling a deep sigh to probably buying you a drink.

2. “You’re going to remember all of that?”

Sweet Jesus, now I’m not! Why are you openly doubting someone else’s capabilities?! I used to never write down orders and I would always remember them, even when someone would ask that gem. If you’re wondering how servers do this, I’ll tell you.

They concentrate and visualize what people are telling them. It involves listening. It’s that easy.

Until someone speaks up and sows doubt into your mind. It’s a dick move. Another adult is doing their job – trust that they are doing it to the best of their ability. And if they don’t and you get the wrong dish? Hey, that happens when people write it down, too. Nonetheless, it’ll be corrected.

So relax. They got this.

3. “What are you making?

A drink, obviously! Maybe if I was creating a ferris wheel from Legos or cold fusion, this explanation would be warranted, but it’s not! People seem to only like to ask this when the bar is packed and I’m making several drinks at once.

My mind is actually on 20 different things right now, so unless you want me to ruin this guy’s Manhattan, perfect, that guy’s negroni but with mezcal, and that chic’s vodka martini she wants extra cold with three olives, please wait until I’m done pouring and stirring to ask this.

4. “Smile!”

Man, at least the mandatory facemasks will stop this request. I once had a guy ask me to smile while I had my entire arm submerged into an ice cold bucket trying to retrieve a champagne bottle. My face is gasping because of hypothermia, sir. I literally cannot smile right now.

I used to get this a lot while working until either my face relaxed or I hit an age where men, and some women, decided they weren’t interested in whether or not I smiled.

Telling someone else to smile says so much about the type of person you are – and it’s not a good person.

Serving and bartending is a tense and demanding job that you literally have to be friendly or you’re one Yelp review away from a write-up. I’m not actively trying not to smile. I’m concentrating, constantly re-prioritizing all of my guests needs, so, yes, my mouth might have slipped into a straight line while I was carrying a tray loaded with drinks that’s a quarter of my body weight.

And there were some days that, due to personal or work related problems or both, I could barely muster up a smile. Maybe, just maybe, instead of asking your server to smile or writing a passive aggressive note on the back of a check, you could do something, rather than telling them, to make that person smile.

“But that’s part of customer service!” some will argue.

Is it?

Being prompt, friendly, and anticipating needs is customer service. Toxic positivity isn’t.

5. “You know who you look like?”

All right, sometimes this is fun. I’ve gotten Hilary Swank time and time again. I’ll take it! But I’m vain and have been graced with a somewhat symmetrical face. Commenting on a stranger’s attractiveness is bad manners, especially when they are in the position of serving you.

And why is this so prevalent within the service industry? I’m guessing because alcohol is involved and, in a way, guests consider servers and bartenders as entertainers? I doubt car dealers are being told they look like William H. Macy all the time. Or maybe they are.

6. “Can you call me a cab?”

YOU GUYS. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS? YOU’RE HOLDING A SMARTPHONE. CALL THE CAB COMPANY YOURSELF. OR EVEN BETTER, DOWNLOAD UBER OR LYFT. IT TAKES 5 MINUTES. YOU’RE TORTURING THE 20 YEAR OLD HOSTESS. SHE’S TOO YOUNG TO KNOW WHAT A CAB IS.

7. “Will you just write in the tip for me?”

I mean, I will, but you have to tell me what the credit limit on this card is because that’s what I’m going for!

8. “Will you sit in my lap?”

A sweaty drunk guy asked me this once after he ate a fuckload of pasta. I respectfully declined. This is not a common question, because why would it be, but it falls under the same vein as hitting on service staff. Unless they’re asking you out or offering to sit in your lap and feed you noodles, don’t ask for their number.

9. “Can you turn the air conditioning up?”

You might be wondering, well, this seems like a reasonable question. And it is. However, no one does this. We make you think we do. We make a big show of peering at the thermostat and pretending to press the button, but we don’t. Then we wait a little while and go back and ask, “Is that better?” And you say, “Oh, yes, it is!”

I don’t know why this works. Every time, I waited for the person to tell me they were still cold, but they never did. So, actually, you can ask this, but nothing tangible will be done to solve it. But you will, somehow, be warmer.

10. “Are you sure there aren’t any tables?”

Yes. We are sure. We’re not trying to prevent you from eating. Our business is literally convincing people to eat and drink here. That is how we get paid. There is no point in asking this, other than to make the hostess’ anxiety worse. Put your name on the waitlist and have a drink at the bar.

And remember to ask, “What’s a good noun here?”

(Photo by Henrique Félix via Unsplash)

Why You Should Spend More Time Outside

With all that’s happening in the world right now, the best, and easiest, solution to some problems is to put down the screens and step outside. What are the benefits to spending time outside? I learned a few today:

Helps Our Memory

Going for a stroll in a wooded area versus a city block improves short term memory for people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, according to a 2012 study from Journal of Affective Disorders.

Stabilizes our Internal Clock

Sleeping outside will reset your circadian rhythm, says a study in the journal Current Biology, for two main reasons – sleeping outside keeps you away from the sleep-disrupting blue light and puts you at the mercy of the sun. Studies have long proven that the blue light emitting from our electronics negatively affect our internal clock while rising with the sun and going to bed with the moon puts us back into that natural internal sleep cycle.

Relieves Stress

Spending as little as 15 minutes per day outside will help drop stress levels considerably. Whether it’s your own backyard, a park or, even better, an entire weekend in the woods, spending time among plant life will make you feel more serene. And on the flipside, all that fresh air will also deliver a much needed midday energy boost.

Physiological Benefits

Spending time outside doesn’t only lower stress. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and ADHD are reduced – as well as lowering levels of inflammation and blood pressure and boosting immune system. Looking to incorporate outside time to reduce symptoms of a chronic illness? Pick up a hobby like gardening or even explore the benefits of wilderness therapy.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps our bodies in a bevy of ways, including reducing the chances osteoporosis, heart disease and even some cancers. As always, wear sunscreen to avoid sunburn and melanoma. Doctors advise that even 10-15 minutes of daily sun exposure can aid in the body’s immune system.

Mood Boost

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or down, go outside. Take some time for yourself and enjoy the world. Even five minutes of admiring nature can turn your entire day around.

The Longest Nap I’ve Ever Taken

Insomnia has cursed me for as long as I can remember. Often, I’m eating cereal at three am watching TV after trying in vain to fall asleep, or even worse, sleeping for two hours and waking up in the middle of the night with an acute sense of general worry.

But naps? Naps are no problem. Naps are my best friend. Sleeping during the day and not sleeping at night are, obviously, connected. My insomnia, I’ve realized, is a way for me to avoid the next day and it’s set of problems. “If you stay awake, going to work is even further away,” my subconscious reasons, hiding the melatonin from my conscious brain as I lay awake, blinking at the ceiling. Conversely, naps are a way to avoid your problems during daylight. “If you nap now,” my subconscious brain rationalizes, as my endocrine gland floods my body with that sweet, sweet melatonin, “you won’t have to do any of the things you have to be doing right now.”

And sometimes, when sleep comes for me, I go down hard, placing me one REM cycle away from a coma. I wake up from naps biting my own tongue, having fallen asleep so fast my tongue hasn’t had a chance to slide out of the way from my teeth. I’ve shown up to bartending shifts with sheet lines across my face. I have napped until minutes before shifts have started. I have napped straight through appointments.

But this one nap. Holy shit.

This one nap eclipses all naps. I still, almost ten years later, have no idea what happened.

the trip

It’s a Friday in July of 2011, 4th of July weekend. That evening, as we had decided two months earlier, I’m going on a roadtrip with a couple who I’ve vacationed with before, her brother and a dog. We’re driving from Chicago to New Hampshire. We’re not stopping overnight anywhere; this is a non-stop car ride, excluding gas and bathroom breaks. According to their estimates, since they all grew up in this New Hampshire beach town and have driven this route several times, should take 15 to 16 hours. We’re leaving in the early evening, placing at the boyfriend’s parents’ house mid-afternoon the next day.

In the weeks and hours leading up to this trip, a few things happen. I begin working a second bar job two months earlier. I am on my feet, bartending and cocktailing, averaging 70 hours a week. Why I did this to myself is another essay entirely. I would work 6 days a week, usually 12 hour days, and then drink for several hours afterwards, because wouldn’t you after serving people for that many hours a day? This left me with about 14 minutes of actual sleep, not passed out drunk sleep, per night.

A week or two before we leave, I realize my driver’s license is expired. I tell my friends this and explain I literally have no time in any day to take a driver’s test before we leave. They tell me not to worry, there’s three of them to drive.

Now, this trip is going to be the first time in months, maybe even longer, that I will have consecutive days off in a row. And part of that time will be jammed into a sedan with three other adults and a dog for 15 hours – this sounds awful to me. My goal is to sleep through this for at least a few hours. I don’t know how I’m going to sleep in the car since I haven’t been on a cross-country road trip solely as a passenger since I was a kid. My plan is to exhaust myself, ensuring my insomnia will not be a problem.

the preparation

The morning we leave for the trip, I have booked an appointment to get a cavity filled at the earliest appointment slot, despite being up until four am the night before, working and drinking. After the cavity filling, I hurry to a nearby yoga studio to do hot yoga. Everytime I sip water, it runs down my face because my face is still numb. But I’m still not tired.

I go home and pack and clean and wait for my friends to pick me up. Despite being on a few hours of sleep, having dental work done, and working out in a 95 degree room, I’m wide awake. Finally, my friend calls and says she’s on her way to pick me up – except there’s a problem.

While she was working all day, her boyfriend, with the help of her brother, has been moving their shit into a new apartment and the couch is stuck, wedged into the stairs leading to their back door. They need our help, she apologizes.

“Moving a couch in humid hot ass weather?” I tell her. “This should do the trick.”

We spend the next hour or so pushing and pulling, pivoting and figuring out geometry before we give up and the couch is sent to live in the alley.

Still, even after sweating in the heat, showering, and eating, I’m wide awake in the backseat, talking and requesting music. We start driving around 8:30 at night. Eventually, everyone except the boyfriend who is driving, falls asleep. I, eventually, nod off, too.

the sleep

At some blurry point late in the night, drivers are switching. Someone gently rouses me from my slumber and tells me to move into the front passenger seat. I collapse into the front as my friend slides behind the wheel. I’m sound asleep again within 30 seconds.

Later, there’s early morning light and I wake up briefly, my head bobbing to the movement of the car, my neck like a wet noodle. I look at the driver. I’m confused because it’s not my friend driving anymore, but her brother. I have no memory of the car stopping or anyone switching. After two seconds, I fall asleep again.

Now the sun is up and we’re getting gas. The boyfriend is behind the wheel. Again, no memory of this. My friend opens my car door. I blink into the air, confused. She makes me get up and walk into the gas station with her. I try to get out with the seatbelt still on. I eventually undo it and follow her, arms and face slack as we walk into the gas station. Barely awake, I stuff my arms full of snacks, pay for them, and shuffle back to the front seat. I sip an iced tea, and eat some candy. I’m asleep again in a minute.

I hear people saying my name. My eyes creak open. My head is at an angle so I’m staring directly into the back seat. The morning sun is gone and it’s mid-afternoon. Now the brother is driving.

“Wha,” I croak.

“We’re almost there,” the boyfriend tells me. “You’ve been asleep the entire time.”

“I have?” I sit up and look around. “The whole time? 15 hours?”

“Yeah,” my friend says, laughing. “Except it hasn’t been 15 hours. There was construction. You’ve been asleep for almost 18 hours.”

I wipe the drool off my face, but it dried hours ago. “Are you kidding?”

“No! And your neck has been doing some crazy shit. It was at an angle for an hour that I can’t even replicate. Like it had an extra joint.”

“You kept falling forward like you were dead and your face would nestle into your seatbelt like a sling,” the brother adds.

I rub my neck. “I kinda remember the seatbelt thing.”

“Also,” the boyfriend says. “We had a vote and you were voted the Most Useless Person in the car. It included the dog.”

“Well, he’s a good boy,” I say, as my eyelids start to close again.

“No! Wake up!”

the physical effects of sleeping sitting up in a car for 18 hours

We roll up to the boyfriend’s house a short while later. I somehow manage to stay awake. As the three of them greet family, I hang out with Skeeter the corgi, pointing and laughing at his body shape as the families ask, “Who is that girl? Is she on something?”

As we get ready for dinner, I walk in and show my friend my feet. They are swollen beyond recognition.

“Dude,” I gasp. “What the fuck happened to my feet? They’ve never done this before.”

She sighs. “We were in the car for 18 hours. And you didn’t move at all. What did you think would happen? That’s why you’re feet are swollen. Did you drink any water?”

“I had Twizzlers and an Arizona Iced tea. That’s the same, right?” I rub my neck. “God, my neck hurts.”

She looks at me. “You still have seatbelt lines in your face. Let’s go to dinner.”

it kept happening

The four us pile back into the car for the 10 mintute drive to the restuarant. And, I, because it is my natural state now, fall asleep.

Later in the parking lot, after almost nodding off during dinner, I walk outside holding my eyelids open to wake up. My friend follows me and asks, “Did you take something?”

“No, I don’t know what’s wrong. I think I’m fine now, though. But if I fall asleep before the entrees, stab me with your fork.”

After dinner, we go back to the house and watch a movie. Ten minutes in, I fall asleep. Of course.