What Would You Do (oo-ooo) With a Time Machine?

I realized this morning that I’ve been neglecting my questions lately. I’m trying to find a balance between answering those and just telling you fun stories about what’s happening. For the most part, there aren’t a lot of fun stories about what’s happening because my days are spent sitting on my couch, writing articles, and then driving half an hour to teach. And sometimes after I drive the 30 minutes to teach, there are no students. So…yeah. The questions are really more interesting than my life. All of that is about to change, but I’m not ready to make a formal announcement just yet, so hang in there, internet, and let’s talk about time travel.

Presuming you had a time machine what’s the stupidest and most dangerous thing you would probably do with it, despite having answered this question and having labeled it as both stupid and dangerous?

Well, I think time travel in general is definitely dangerous and probably stupid. I mean, Marty McFly’s hand disappeared when his mom was slow dancing/struggling with Biff, and his dad was too wussy to step in. But that’s what you risk when you meddle in your parents’ high school lives. My parents didn’t go to high school together, so I wouldn’t have to worry about that, but if we’ve learned anything from Back to the Future, it’s that you don’t screw around with the space-time continuum. Doing so is both stupid and dangerous, and you could lose a hand in the middle of your guitar solo.

However, there are a few things I’d like to see happening:

  • my parents’ wedding – There is no video footage available that I know of. I assume it’s because video cameras were only for TV/film studios in the early 70s.
  • me as a baby – There are not a lot of pictures of me as a baby that I know of, and I don’t really remember anything before I started school, and even then, it’s all pretty hazy until about 5th grade. I’m sure my mom could tell us what I was like, but it would be way cuter to see tiny me in action. Unless I was a jerk. Was I a jerk?
  • my ancestors coming to the U.S. – My sister is making a massive family tree for our reunion this year, and I’m sure she’d love an eye-witness account of this. Plus, y’all know how much I love to travel, but to be ON THE BOAT with them, knowing what the country is going to become generations down the line, and seeing what it was like back then…man, that would be awesome.
  • Beethoven playing his own stuff

All of those things, I just want to witness. I don’t necessarily have to be a participant in history for those. But here are some things I would want to do:

  • meet Jane Austen
  • hang out with the Beatles before they were famous, and teach them all the Monkees’ songs before the Monkees even form a band (just to be a mischievous punk, not because I have anything against the Monkees)
  • follow Jesus, like literally, in person, walking in the dirt (and the rocks, and the…)
  • convince Amy Grant that “Baby, Baby” is a bad idea
  • convince John Mayer not to record half of his songs
  • stop Shutter Island from being filmed, and convince Leo to do a movie that requires more shirtlessness
  • convince myself to go vegetarian in college
  • introduce myself to Mediterranean food much sooner (hummus, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, etc.)
  • smuggle slaves to free states
  • smuggle Jews to safety during WWII
  • invent leg warmers before anyone else
  • invent velcro

Like I said, I think time travel in general would be pretty stupid and dangerous, so I don’t know which of these things is the worst. I’ll let y’all be the judge as to exactly which thing is the stupidest/most dangerous and/or which is the likeliest to cause me to lose appendages. What would YOU do with a time machine?

Story Time!

I don’t know if any of you have ever looked at a map of North Carolina and Virginia, but from the western tip of NC to the northern tip of VA is about as far as you can get just between those two states. It takes seven hours to drive from Asheville to Manassas. SEVEN HOURS. I could fly to Europe in that amount of time. And about 5.5 hours of the drive are in VA. It’s brutal.

So I was driving up to Manassas last weekend, and it was getting to be lunch time. There aren’t many fast food places I can go and get vegan enough food. My options are basically Taco Bell and Subway. I do not prefer Subway, so around 12:30, I started looking for an exit with a Taco Bell, but apparently the people of western VA hate Taco Bell. I couldn’t find one anywhere. I drove and drove and drove, and around 2:45, I finally came across an exit whose “Food” sign indicated I could get off there and make a run for the border. So I did.

When I got to the bottom of the exit ramp, though, I saw the other sign – the one that tells you which way to turn and how far it is to your desired junk food. 2.4 miles. Really, VA? There should be a 1-mile limit on how far a restaurant or gas station can be from the exit in order to be listed on the sign. MAYBE 1.5 miles in very rural areas, but 2.4? That is not ok. But I REALLY wanted a 7 Layer Burrito (Cheesy Wrap) al fresco, so I turned right and headed into the wild of rural Virginia.

Let me just say right now that I never did find that Taco Bell, and I ended up eating at Subway, where I could have eaten if I’d taken just about ANY other exit. But what I did find was a Bank of America (I needed to cash a check, so that was nice), gas for $2.47 (It’s like $2.69 in Asheville), and Historic Downtown Pulaski.

I didn’t really explore Historic Downtown Pulaski because I still had about four more hours to go until I hit Manassas, but I did pull over on the side of Main Street, write a post card to Emily Furr Hogan, and toss it in a mailbox before I topped off my tank, ate a six-inch Veggie Delight, and headed back to the highway.

I lost an hour of my life, but I gained a new experience and a new page in the coffee table book I’m going to make at the end of the year. I’m not at liberty to release details about that just yet, but I can tell you that it’s going to document my 2010 travels in a most unique fashion. Look for it in my living room early next year.

Things That Happened Today

  1. I cut a jerk off (because he was being a jerk) at 3 mph. He honked at me to show his dissatisfaction. He then turned on his bright lights, I can only assume, to prove once again that he was a jerk.
  2. On the side of the freeway, I saw one of those big, cylindrical spin brushes like they have in the automatic car washes. You know, the ones that spin their way down the sides of your car. I thought it was an odd place for it to be hanging out.
  3. The ants in my kitchen have multiplied exponentially. Seeing as we’ve had these little squatters for at least two months now, I think it’s time we tried something new.
  4. My gas light came on. Again. Seriously, gas light? I need gas EVERY week? That’s crazy.
  5. I listened to my Simon and Simon CD. That’s Paul Simon and Carly Simon. I dare you to make a better themed CD.
  6. I imagined eating gorgonzola and brie (separately). I’m a bad vegan.
  7. I actually ate hummus. Good vegan.
  8. I got paid to sit in my classroom alone for three hours. It was better than Census2010 because there were no children, and I had internet access.
  9. I watched too many episodes of Law and Order: SVU.
  10. I talked to Emily Furr Hogan on the phone. Day: made.

The Answer Is Yes

I’ve been so excited about answering this question ever since the questions started coming in. I’m not really sure why, but it’s my favorite so far. Here it is:

Are you ever going to come over and have dinner with me?

I love that this question was asked anonymously, but because I don’t know who asked it, I clearly can’t give a satisfactory answer, and I’m not sure it’s a serious question. If you really wanted me to come over and have dinner with you, wouldn’t you have just called, emailed or texted me? You could even tweet it at me. But I can’t come over and have dinner with you unless I know who you are.

However, if you will reveal yourself (your identity, that is), and if you live within a few hours’ driving distance, more than likely, I would LOVE to come have dinner with you. As long as you promise not to reveal yourself once I get there, and to cook foods I am willing to eat.

But for now, since I don’t know who asked it, I’m going to assume that everyone wants to have dinner with me, so here’s what we’re going to do. If you live within a reasonable distance and want me to come over and have dinner with you, the answer is yes. Please sign up in the comments section, and we’ll set it up. Just don’t be a psycho killer, ok?

Feel especially free to invite me to dinner if you meet these requirements.

Dilemma.

I’m at that point in the evening where I either need to eat something or go to bed, so I’m blogging to take my mind off of those two options in the hopes that I’ll get sleepy enough to go to sleep instead of just lying there hungry. This is the problem with eating lunch at 2:00 and then not getting home until 9:00. I was out right through dinnertime, and now it’s too late to eat, and the only thing I really want to eat, I don’t have, so I’d have to go back out to get it, and ugh. It’s just not worth it.

But for those of you who’ve inquired, the chili was delicious. I ended up adding a LOT more spices – more cumin, more cayenne, more black pepper, some white pepper, and probably a tablespoon or two of salt. And it took FOREVER to cook and thicken (I definitely didn’t need to add that extra water along with the veggies), but once it got there, oh man. It was so worth it. I will definitely be making it again.

And now I’ve just spent half of a blog post that was supposed to distract me from my hunger talking about food. Good night.

QOTD (Question of the Day)

It’s Q&A time once again! Today’s question comes from formspring, and it’s a good one:

What’s your advice for someone who wants to start a blog but is too scared of not saying anything meaningful/too intimidated by technology/ too lazy to actually do it?

Well, this is really three questions, isn’t it? Oh what the hey, I’ll answer them all.

If you’re scared of not saying anything meaningful, I’d just like to invite you to read the past six years of Onward Hoe!, and then tell me why you think that blogging requires depth, insight and/or meaning to be worthwhile. I mean, if that’s the kind of blog you want to have, then obviously you’ll need to start digging deep into your heart/psyche for some powerful stuff. But I write about food and the gas it causes me to have, traveling and seeing water-skiing squirrels (ok I know I STILL haven’t done that), crazy dreams I have, and ridiculous things I find on the internet. Here and there, you might find something poignant or thought-provoking, but by and large, this really is not that sort of blog. And yours doesn’t have to be that sort of blog either. There are all kinds. Here are some examples:

  • Humor Blogs – I hope you’re on one right now. I never really intended it to be put into a category, but I am told it’s funny, so there you go. A few other notable humor blogs are Cake Wrecks, Jennsylvania and Stuff White People Like.
  • Parenting Blogs, which were originally called Mommy Blogs, but then daddies started writing them too, and it wasn’t PC or something to call daddies “Mommy Bloggers,” so we had to change it.
  • Hobby Blogs – Do I really need to explain this?
  • Political Blogs – These are the kinds of blogs I don’t visit.
  • Pop Culture Blogs
  • Celebrity Gossip Blogs
  • Personal Gossip Blogs
  • Travel Blogs
  • Sports Blogs
  • Religious Blogs
  • Photography Blogs
  • Blogs about blogging
  • Marketing Blogs

Oh my gosh there are a million different kinds of blogs that don’t require you to have anything meaningful to say ever! Isn’t that freeing?? And here’s another little tid-bit to free you from this fear: There are well over 100 MILLION WEBSITES on the internet, so if your blog isn’t “meaningful,” it’s likely that no one will ever notice.

Too intimidated by technology, you say? Y’all. Blogging is SUPER-easy. If you can send an email, you can post a blog. I know I use WordPress software now, but honestly, if I were just starting out again, I would use Blogger.com. That’s where I started, and it walks you through every step of setting the thing up, so you literally don’t have to know anything about web design or html code or anything. You don’t have to download anything, you don’t have to install anything, you just have to do the writing. Amazingly simple. And if you need help, you can email me.

If you’re too lazy, well that’s your own fault. I don’t know that there’s a lot I can do to help you there as I’m pretty lazy myself, but here’s my thought: If you want to do something – like REALLY want to do it – you do it. We can all agree that sloth is my deadly sin of choice, and that I have a slight fear of commitment, but I’ve been blogging regularly for six years. SIX YEARS! The trick for me has been to not think too much about my commitment to the blog, but just to write what I think is funny or interesting. And I see a lot of funny/interesting things.

If you ever have moments in your life when you think, “Oh my gosh I have to tell somebody about this,” then you can blog. Like the other day, I was getting into my car to go to work. I had just eaten dinner, and I really wanted something sweet. I wondered if I had any candy in my car, and then I opened the door and saw half a bag of lemon drops in the console. And y’all, OUT LOUD, alone in my car, in a voice like Mae West saying, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime,” I said, with regard to lemon drops, “Ring-a-ding-ding.” And immediately, I needed to tell someone about it.

Now, that is a story best told in person so you can actually hear me say it, but that’s what I’m talking about – moments when you think, “Who can I tell about what has just happened?” I have a lot of those moments, so I am rarely hard-up for material, and that is what provides me with the motivation to make it happen (nearly) every day.

If that doesn’t help you, then once again, remind yourself that if you start a blog and then don’t keep up with it, probably not many people will notice or care. At least that takes the pressure off.

So no matter what the reason you haven’t started a blog, I just want you to know that if I can do it, you can do it. If you really want to, that is.

Census: The Penultimate Countdown

Wow. My month of employment with the 2010 Census is almost over. Tomorrow is my next to last day, and honestly, y’all, I’m kind of sad. I mean the Census and I have had some good times sitting around for the last month. I feel like I just got all the numbers memorized that I have to write on my time sheets, and now I may as well clean out that wrinkle in my brain to make room for the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s next hit. Dag.

I wish I had a video montage or slide show of my time there set to Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” to play for you. Here’s how it would go (start the video, enjoy Sarah’s face at 0:11, and then read [reeeaaalllly sllllooooowwwwwlllyyy] through the list while you listen):

  • Test day: Staring blankly at the test administrator.
  • Test day: Cheesy grinning, pointing at the post-it note with my score (28/28 – 100%)
  • A calendar flipping three months over to show how long it took for them to hire me after I took the test.
  • Training day: Taking the oath of office.
  • Training day: Getting fingerprinted.
  • Training day: Me and Al eating granola bars.
  • First day at my site, setting up my table, hanging my banner.
  • Showing off my ID badge and giving a thumbs-up.
  • Filling out paperwork with a goofy grin on my face.
  • Talking to after-school program kids.
  • Reading a book.
  • Typing on my computer.
  • Writing poetry to my Census office supplies.
  • Standing outside, talking on the phone.
  • G-chatting on my phone.
  • Schlepping up the hill with my bag-o-Census-goodies.
  • Asleep on my arm at my table.
  • Helping my roommate do her taxes.
  • Helping a kid count change for the vending machine.
  • Explaining to a kid that two dimes and a nickel are not a quarter, although they are worth the same amount of money.
  • Reading a different book.
  • Putting away my supplies.
  • Schlepping back down the hill…into the sunset.

And then, as the song comes to a close, imagine the screen goes blank, and then the words “We all count” fade in to finish us off. Good times. Good times indeed. And a single tear falls to the floor.

It has been an exceptionally good week.

Today I made a delicious lentil recipe I found here. I had to cook it longer than the recipe calls for, but it was REALLY good. I stuffed my face with it for lunch AND dinner, and I’m going to have it for dinner again tomorrow (and probably lunch on Friday). Apart from that, this week has just been really good.

The weather is perfect, I saved electricity today by drying my laundry out on the porch, my students and I all came back from spring break with renewed energy, so classes have been particularly enjoyable and productive this week, I have had lots of good conversations with friends, DLF IS A FULBRIGHT SCHOLAR!!!!!!!!!! (which means I am legally obligated to go to Belgium in the next year), I’ve had a couple of really awesome hair days, I read the entire gospel of John yesterday, Lost and Glee were both great, and I’m going to Wilmington this weekend with my roommate. I honestly don’t know that I could ask for a better week. I think to do so would be extremely selfish and picky (but I wouldn’t argue with a boyfriend being thrown into the mix).

I don’t know what else to tell you except good night, pleasant dreams, ask me more questions, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

Question of the Day

Today’s question comes from my formspring page. I’m not sure if someone actually asked me this, or if maybe formspring just felt bad for me because no one was asking me anything, so they threw one out there for me to answer. I don’t really care. It’s a good question.

What are your long-term plans in life?

I kind of thought we’d start out with things like, “What are your favorite pizza toppings?” or “How DO you get your hair to be so awesome?” but no, we’re going straight for the big guns. Mama, is that you again? Do you really think you’re going to get a satisfactory answer to this one? I’ll try.

I got out of the planning business a long time ago. I don’t know how many of you know this about me, but I started out in undergrad as a music major. I had plans, see? I was going to be a music therapist. But then that fell through, and I haven’t done much planning since. My college advisor asked me one time what my five-year plan was, and I think I just stared at her blankly for a minute before I either started laughing or broke down in tears. I just could not envision my life five years out. I still can’t. I haven’t even tried since then, and five years is really not that long, so as far as long-term plans go…well, you got me. I have no idea.

I do have things I want to do, but I don’t have a time line for them or anything like that. I’m working toward some goals, but I don’t know when I’ll achieve them, and I’m not trying to plan my life out too much because (a) there are so many things I can’t control, and (b) where’s the fun in that? I really like the spontaneity I’ve got going and the freedom I have to change things up at a moment’s notice. But for those of you who really want a more concrete answer to this question, the things I want to do are as follows:

  • get married
  • have kids (although I’m really interested in adoption, so I might get some kids rather than having them myself)
  • publish books (multiple)
  • continue to see new places in the world
  • build my savings account back up
  • pay off my student loans
  • eat delicious food
  • own a home
  • live off of writing and teaching (although I could still do the Census for fun)
  • enjoy whatever life throws at me because somehow, it all has the potential to be beautiful

Who’s next? Keep ’em coming!

Food Project Update OR Soy No Mas

So as you may recall, I’m poor, and I had all this food sitting in a bag on the floor because it wouldn’t fit on my shelf in the food cabinet, and as a result of these two things, I decided to eat all my food before buying new food. ALL my food. Well, I’m proud to say that I’m down to a bag of rice, two half-boxes of pasta, a jar of salsa and about a spoonful of almond butter. I think I can feel good enough about that kind of progress to go shopping when I get paid tomorrow. Unless y’all have any ideas for that kind of food combination.

Yeah I didn’t think so. Me neither.

Back story: When my beloved Brookie was just getting to know her husband Matt, he was in Wilmington and she was in Raleigh, so there was a lot of emailing that went on, and they switched up the subject lines for each message, which was really cute. Well, they’d already established that they both spoke Spanish, and Brookie wanted to make the subject line for one email about this dairy-free ice cream called Soy Delicious, but since “soy” in Spanish means “I am,” she questioned whether this was an appropriate thing to say to a man she barely knew (I am delicious). I told her it was hilarious and to go for it. She did. They are married. I take full credit.

ANYhoe, in the past few weeks, since I used up the last of the soy milk, I have noticed a marked improvement in both my skin and my digestive system, which makes me seriously wonder if I’ve got some kind of soy allergy. Now, for most people, this would qualify as a minor inconvenience – minor because my gas and skin problems are not that serious, inconvenience because there is soy in almost EVERYTHING. But for a vegan (even a quasi-vegan), the possibility of a soy allergy poses a larger problem.

Soy is what vegans eat. Soy beans, soy milk, soy ice cream, soy cheese, soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein (TVP), etc. It’s a complete protein, which is what I tell people when they look at me all concerned and say, “But you have to eat meat. HOW DO YOU GET ENOUGH PROTEIN?!?!” This is a different post entirely, but suffice it to say, I just explain to them about soy, and although they don’t buy it and think I’ve been brainwashed by the Japanese, they tend to leave me alone about the protein.

So if I’m allergic to soy, what ever shall become of me? As a vegan, with no more soy, do I too cease to exist (remember that Spanish lesson from earlier, kids)?

I had an existential crisis for a moment over this, and then I got really excited about eating a wider variety of veggies and beans and not relying so wholly on soy to complete a meal. I mean, after this little food challenge, I’m all kinds of creative in the kitchen. Once I’ve got my pantry restocked, there will be no limit to the flavors I can create! Oh I can’t wait to make a grocery list!