Soylent Green May Be People, But It’s Good Eatin’

A few months ago I picked up a package of noodles at a market in Bloomington.  Costing only 99 cents, and in a package that is labeled, simply, “Instant Noodle”, these Chinese made starch strings are one of my new favorite foods.  I can’t imagine what would make them as good as they are. I mean, they’re noodles, nothing exotic about that.  Nonetheless, when cooked, they have an awesome chewiness which, with the addition of a few vegetables, and a savory sauce makes for a very quick and yummy lunch.  I jokingly dubbed them “Soylent Green Noodles” because they’re so good, I figure they must have some mysterious secret ingredient.  And if they are made of people, I don’t even care.  Because they’re tasty.  Of course, I don’t really think they’re made of people, but they do come from China, the land of overpopulation and lead toothpaste, so it’s probably possible.

 Over the past several months, I’ve kept a supply of these noodles in the cupboard, picking up new packages as needed.  And last night, while I was in Bloomington, I picked up another package as well as a package for my friend Pat, because you know what they say, “Canniblism loves company.”  Today, I was talking to Mini Me about the Soylent Green Noodles.  She asked, “What’s Soylent Green?” and so I proceeded to explain to her about the movie, and its plot, concluding with my very own impression of Charlton Heston wailing, “Soylent Green is PEOPLE!  It’s PEEEE-PLE!!”  Then I explained that I’d jokingly called them that, with the comment that they’re so daggone good, I don’t care if they are made out of people.

 When I finished, she said, “Oh.  I thought they really were made out of Soylent Green, I just didn’t know what it was.”

 It’s people.  And it’s good eatin’.

Dear Pat,

You asked me what I’ve learned from The Cancer, and it didn’t bother me in the least because after all we hadn’t seen each other in over 10 years, and if you hadn’t brought it up, The Cancer might have sat there in the booth casting its elephant shaped shadow over our conversation. It’s an interesting question, for which you may have expected a clichéd answer, but might have suspected that’s not really what you’d get from me. Sometimes people say that having The Cancer has made them appreciate life more. Well, I don’t think I had a lack of appreciation for life before, but I told you what I didn’t appreciate enough: nose hairs and eyelashes. It’s astounding how much stuff gets in your eyes without lashes to protect them, and it’s crazy how many random nasal drips you have when there are no nose hairs to keep them corralled.

I told you about being follicularly challenged, but our conversation moved on to other things, and later I didn’t really feel like I’d given you a good answer. Thinking about your question, I remembered that when I was in the middle of that summer of chemo, I was waiting at the orthodontist one day and decided to write down on tiny Post-its some things I had learned. I only found two of those, but the central theme was the same for all of them as I recall: Your life is now. Sounds strangely like a Mellencamp lyric, perhaps because it is.

At any rate, if there is one thing that I’ve learned—not from The Cancer, but from God, who allowed me to go through this process—it’s that we don’t get to pick our situation, only what we do with the moment. And there is value in every moment. I don’t mean that in a sappy “life is precious because The Cancer tried to kill me” sort of way, but in a “we need to make it count” sort of way. What I wrote on that first Post-it was this: Say the kind things you think, but don’t always communicate. Don’t waste an opportunity to show love to people.

We don’t have to do what the world considers to be something big with our lives. Sometimes the small things are really the big things. But we need to do those now, because we have no guarantee that we’ll have the opportunity or ability to do them at any other time. So, that’s the big lesson, according to me. I hope I’ve answered your question a little better this time. Thanks for making me think—I’m so glad you’re my friend.

Josh Bell Loves Pete’s Pride Pink Ribbon Pork Fritters

Okay, not really.  I mean, Josh would probably like them, but there is no such thing.  Dang it.  Pete’s Pride is totally missing out on some mad marketing AND alliteration opportunities.

As you guys surely know by now, I’m a big nerd who gets a whole lot of amusement out of perusing the search engine terms people have used to find this blog.  Some things are to be expected, especially since we’re nearing October, like the current top three for the past 30 days: “pink ribbon cake pan”, “pink ribbon cake”, and “pink ribbon”.  But the 4th item on the list is a little puzzling to me—Richard Simmons.  Really?  Is October Richard Simmons Awareness Month, too?  Wonder what color the ribbon is for that one.  Is sequined a color?  Richard Simmons beat out the perpetual favorite “bald girlfriend” (I’m pretty sure that I really, really don’t want to know the motivation behind that one) and the believe it or not “pork fritter” is way down the list at number 8.  Pork fritter fans need not worry, however, because in the all time search engine term standings, the humble pork fritter holds 3 of the top 5 slots.

And speaking of pork fritter fans…if you’ve been keeping up on the comments, you know that our friend Nanine is a transplanted Hoosier, living in Texas, who has been searching for Pete’s Pride Pork Fritters to no avail.  Of course, since we ARE pretty high on the google results, she ended up here, and asked if I knew who makes Pete’s Pride.  I didn’t, but I do now.  I don’t know why I was even at all surprised to learn that Pete’s Pride Pork Fritters are manufactured by Al Pete Meats (recently acquired by Monogram Foods) in none other than Muncie, Indiana.   Why of course they are!  Where else?  So, Nanine, I hope this helps you in your quest.  Keep us posted—we love having an excuse to write about pork fritters. (We also love referring to ourselves in the first person plural.)

Now back to those searches.  It gives me a chuckle every time someone gets here from googling “Josh Bell poet” or some other variation.  If you recall, my old friend Josh has the distinct misfortune of sharing his name with another extremely famous Josh from Indiana.  Hence, folks looking for my friend must include poetry/poem/poet in their search.  However, like other violin-toting super villains, the fantastically famous Joshua Bell will stop at nothing in his quest to squash my dear Josh like a bug—going so far as to title one of his albums “Poeme”.  Really, can there be any other explanation for this?  So, it was especially amusing to me when some obviously determined fan of my Josh recently got here by searching “josh bell poetry or poem or poet not violinist”.   Take that, you fancy fiddler.

This weekend is the local Race for the Cure.  Yes, I’m going.  No, I’m probably not doing the survivor parade.  Wearing the pink shirt is about as much as you can expect from me.  And Thursday is the first day of October, so get those Pink Ribbon Overload pictures to me.  I’ll be starting off the month with one of my own finds and the story of how it came into my possession.  That’s right, I actually own this one, but even that’s not the whole story, so check back with me on Thursday afternoon to get the scoop.

Muscle Weighs Heavier—No Really.

A while back I posted about how I’ve been doing Zumba a couple of times a week in hopes of trimming some flab.  Of course, all that gyrating was thwarted by my lack of willpower, coupled with a big, fat chocolate cake.  And so, I was a little anxious about the upcoming weigh-in & measuring session, scheduled for the first of the month.  Since I was nearly dying every Tuesday and Thursday night, I was going to be really disappointed if I found out that I’d gained weight. 

 The good news is that I did not gain weight or inches.  Whew!  In fact, I lost 1½  lbs, in addition to ¾ of an inch.  (Shut up!  Something is better than nothing.  Besides, I’m building muscle, which we all know weighs more than fat.  So there.)  Jamie, my Zumba instructor, tried to encourage me by saying things like, “That’s not bad.”  But when I lamented that I’d hoped for a little more, she was quick to point out that if I’d just stay out of the chocolate cake, I might see more progress.  Some folks might have been offended by having their fatness thrown back onto their own lack of willpower, but I just laughed.  Yup.  I know.  Chocolate cake—bad.  Zumba—good. 

 I’m apparently the kind of girl that makes folks feel like they can just tell me about myself.  Because this is a fairly regular occurrence these days.  Just the other day I was talking to Molly and had a similar experience.  Molly is one of my besties, and our relationship is pretty much one big long episode of telling ON ourselves to each other, and telling each other about herself.  So in our conversation the other day, I was griping to Molly about how I’d picked up this new shower cleaning stuff because it was on sale, and it didn’t work very well.  “I hate that!” I griped, “I spray it on, and it’s supposed to cut through the soap scum, but it doesn’t!  I’ve done it, like, 6 times and it’s barely made a dent.”  To which Molly replied, “Well, I think that stuff works if you don’t wait ‘til you’ve got ¾” thick soap scum before you decide to clean the shower.”   

 Wow.  So, between Jamie & Molly, I’ve gathered that I’m both flabby and nasty.  Go me!

 It’s actually been almost another month since that weigh-in, and I’m feeling a little more confident this time because I think my pants are looser.  Not, like, a size looser or anything, just looser than they were.  And I feel like I’m just all around less flabby and more firm, which is good because it indicates that I’m building muscle (see, I told you that was why I only lost 1½  pounds!) which is important to anyone whose been through breast cancer treatment.  All the surgery and chemo and what-not tend to cause an increase in body fat.  In fact, evidence has shown that chemotherapy changes body composition—causing a loss of lean body mass.  Muscle being replaced by fat!  And more body fat increases the risk of cancer.  So this exercise thing is way more than just vanity for us, girls.  And I’m only half kidding when I talk about that muscle weighing more than fat thing—I really AM building, or rather re-building muscles lost to treatment.  So, if you needed another reason to exercise, here it is…now get your Zumba or whatever on and don’t give The Cancer a chance to sneak up on you.

I’ve Been Robbed

Perhaps you guys have seen the recent news story about an American family’s Christmas photo that mysteriously ended up in advertising for a grocery store in Prague.  Apparently, this lady had sent out Christmas cards with the photo of her and her husband and their two kids last year.  Recently, an old college friend of hers was bopping down the street in Prague, when he spotted the life sized image in a store window.  So he emailed her.  Turns out, she doesn’t have a clue how the picture ended up there.  (This scenario immediately made my think of the stolen video camera in European Vacation—but I digress.)

 I can guarantee that, in spite of having posted my picture on here numerous times, this would never happen to me.  Oh, I’m not saying that the Kroger of Lithuania wouldn’t cob onto my picture—you know, The Foob  may be hocking croissants in France this very minute. It’s just that if they did, I’d never know, because I certainly do not have friends fancy enough to be motoring around Europe.  Moody’s friends are lucky to get to the Indiana State Fair on vacation, let alone someplace exotic.   Deep Fried Twinkie, anyone?

 However, I recently discovered that, indeed, someone had lifted a picture off of this blog for use on another website.  A picture of me.  I first noticed this because WordPress keeps track of incoming links.  When I saw this one, I was like, “What is that?” and of course I clicked through to see for myself.  Turns out it’s one of those generic websites that purports to contain info about a topic, but is really just a collection of links to other sites.  Wanna know what this one is about?  Coloring Hair After Chemo.  Wanna know what picture they used?  Well, see for yourself.

 Um, yeah.  I’m bald in that picture—except for the maimed, purple and grime colored, rubber spiky ball I’ve got stretched over my cranium.  That’s great!  You have no idea how funny that is to me.  That somebody earnestly seeking information about coloring the hair they just spent the last 6 months growing would come across that picture just slays me.  Look at me—I even look like I could be trying to sell you something.  “Yes, ladies, with Dr Follicle’s Instant Hair Growing & Coloring System, you too can look like you’ve got a nasty purple spiky ball on your head!  [insert shiny tooth bling here] Simply apply the two-part formula, and then sit back and enjoy a glass of sweet tea.  By the time you’ve quenched your thirst, your hair will look like Molly’s dog chewed a hole in a purple, spiky ball and you pulled it over your scalp!  It’s that simple!” 

 (Also available in Canine  Breath Cancer Black, and Hot Flash Fuschia!)

I Fed Josh Bell and He Liked It—the Taste of Raspberry Pastry.

Some people went to school with somebody who later became famous.  Or they have famous ancestors like John Hancock or Jesse James.  Options like that for me have pretty much been limited to the fact that Alfalfa from the Little Rascals was my grandma’s cousin.  And according to my grandma, after he became famous, he came to visit and tore up the family bicycle riding it on the railroad tracks.  Yeah, that’s pretty much the whole story.  Wow.  Aren’t you glad you know me? You want my autograph, don’t ya?

 But, folks I’m happy to report that I no longer have to rely on good ol’ Alfalfa to fulfill my famous-person-knowing needs.  That’s because one of my old friends is officially famous now.  In fact you may have even heard of him.  His name is Josh Bell.  Uh, no.  Not the violinist.  Yeah, I know, that would be very cool, too. Especially since I’ve harbored a secret crush on Joshua Bell the violinist since the time that I met him when he played with the Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra in approximately 1985.

That whole violinist thing has long plagued my friend.  Yes, much to his chagrin, they share even their middle name.  Hard to make a name for yourself when somebody else has already made a name for themselves with your name.

 However, in spite of such adversity, my Josh Bell has still managed to make a name for himself.  In the realm of poetry.  Indeed he’s a published author.  You’re impressed, aren’t you?  Is that better than Alfalfa or what?  And get this—he’s so stinkin’ fancy that he lives in New York City.  (All together now: NEEW YOORK CITY!!) And teaches at Columbia University.  You’d think that would make my Josh Bell-The-Poet too good to come home to visit, or that he’d be so busy buying black turtlenecks, and pipe tobacco and just generally being a cliché that he wouldn’t have time to hang with The Little People anymore.  (The Little People being me, not midgets, but I’m sure that he still manages to have time for both of us.  Generous as he is.)  Fortunately for me and my need to have a name to drop, however, that’s not the case.

 In fact, this past weekend I had the pleasure of spending some quality time with Not-the-violinist-Josh Bell when he came out for dinner.  And I told him, that just as my blog is number two on the google results when you search for Pete’s Pride Pork Fritters, so too, it would soon be one of the top destinations for folks searching for Josh Bell-The-Poet.  And he said, “Great!  I love pork fritters!”  (I know, it’s like every word from his poetic lips is the very nectar of the gods, huh?  Amazing.)  

So, while I’m sure this post won’t do much to promote whatever mystique Josh Bell: The Poet may be cultivating, I hope the fact that I make a killer black raspberry pie will guarantee that he doesn’t dump me to hang out with the midgets.  Or come back to break my bicycle.

Well, You Must Have Done Something

Believe it or not, I don’t always blog everything right away.  Some stories, for whatever reason, just need to age a bit before they’re ready to be told.  Or is that fester?  I guess it depends upon the subject matter.  So, in spite of the fact that I actually do have a newer story, you’re going to get an older one.  Because I’m feeling like telling it now.

 About a year and a half or so ago, when my hair was short enough that it was pretty obvious that I’d recently finished chemo, Susie and I went to a dinner together.  This particular dinner was a fundraiser for the local Right to Life association, which another friend of ours is heavily involved in.

 We were seated at a table with our friend and a few other people.  Introductions were made and our friend told the folks at our table that I was a breast cancer survivor.  They asked me some questions about my treatment, and we made some general small talk before the meal.  No big deal.  Dinner was served, and our friend got up to introduce the guest speaker.  The speaker’s claim to fame was that she was Malcolm X’s dog groomer’s niece.  Or maybe she was the uncle’s 3rd cousin’s step-daughter of another famous figure of the civil rights movement.  (Something like that.  I don’t remember exactly—chemo brain, you know.)  And she’d had an abortion when she was younger.

 So, there we sat as this lady spoke about all the reasons why it’s a bad idea to have an abortion.  All the things you’d expect to hear were in there, spoken about and projected in a Power Point presentation containing neatly arranged bulleted lists.  And all was well until she got to the part where she announced that a big reason not to have an abortion was because it causes breast cancer.

 Yeah, she really did say that.  And lest any of us not hear her right, there it was on that bulleted list.  So meanwhile, there I sit trying to keep my cool, feeling as if there is now this ginormous spotlight shining down on me, thinking, “Great, now all these folks at my table are saying to themselves, ‘Oh, so THAT’S why she got The Cancer.’”  That’s just fabulous lady, thanks a lot.  Hey, how about next time you make up some random scary thing to try to make your point you pick another malady?  Like maybe The Gout or The Hammer Toe.  Cancer girls have got enough stress already.

 Gee, if only breast cancer prevention were that easy, right?  Don’t want cancer, don’t have an abortion.  And, seriously, that was what this lady was saying—if you have an abortion, you will get breast cancer.  Of course, the fact that she didn’t have breast cancer, and therefore disproved her own theory, seemed to completely elude her.  Which somehow didn’t surprise me in the least.

 Sure, it doesn’t make any sense, but you know how that goes—if you say it enough, or if, God forbid, it ends up on the internet, then some people will start to believe it.  You know, we cancer girls already have to put up with our share of “well, what did you do that caused this” crap.  Do you smoke?  Do you wear deodorant?  What do you eat?  We get all those ignorant questions and more.  Do we really need to have the abortion question thrown in there, too?  Or worse yet, not the spoken question, but the unspoken assumption? 

 Listen up—I didn’t DO anything to cause The Cancer.  My friend Tanya didn’t DO anything to get The Cancer.  My girls Nina and Shirley didn’t somehow bring The Cancer on themselves.  Folks, it just IS.  Some things don’t have easy explanations.  You know, I wish there were a list of things to avoid that if adhered to, would guarantee you’ll never get The Cancer.  Avoid circus peanuts, abortions, tobacco, and Hot Pockets and you’ll always be cancer-free.  Make sure to eat three rum-soaked raisins, do yoga, wear garments made of a 50/50 blend of organic cotton and hemp, and drink a half cup of garlic steeped in hot vinegar every day and you’ll be invincible. 

 But there’s not a list like that.  And that’s why it’s important to get your mammos and do those self-exams.  A Hot Pocket-free life won’t save you, but vigilance just might.