Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I can't wait to post about this on Facebook

It’s a sad state of affairs when my first reaction to a situation is “I can’t wait to post about this on Facebook”. Sad, but true.

Like everyone else, I’ve been joking about TSA and gropings at the airport; I’ve even dreamed about it. But in my dream, I had to take an SAT-style test to get through security. Sadly, I can’t even get felt up in my dreams. This test was hard as hell and I kept yelling belligerently at security, “I’m smarter than most people, how are people supposed to get through security??!!”. This just got me taken to my own room to be dealt with later. So it should have come as no surprise when I failed the screening test at the airport. I rarely set off metal detectors – more often than anything I get selected for random screenings. Because I’m an average looking, well educated, white girl who’s always polite to TSA, and that just screams “SKETCHY!”. Or perhaps I have that desperate look of someone who needs to be frisked. Sadly, the latter seems more likely.

My local airport has changed to the full-body X-ray. I don’t have a problem with this. I’m all for airport security and really just feel sorry for the people who have to look at those images. But I’m used to walking through with my ID and boarding pass in my back pocket. Apparently this ain’t cool no more (double negative aside). Fail #1. This transgression got me my first pat down. The TSA woman seemed disgruntled, but was completely professional and made sure I knew exactly what was coming and where (yeah yeah, bad choice of words. Get over it.). But because I was pulled to the side for additional screening, I had to have my hands schwabbed and run through the chemical analysis machine. I failed this test, too. And this is not the test you want to fail.

Failing this test gets you a one-way ticket to a private room where return-trip tickets are only issued upon re-test. Even when you know you’re completely innocent “Explosives positive” is NOT something you want to see associated with your name at the airport. A very official-looking female TSA employee came to escort me and my baggage (which I was not allowed to touch) to a private screening room. This was a first for me, and despite the questions in the back of my mind of what would happen if I failed additional tests, the excitement of the new experience brought about the initial thoughts of future Facebook posts. I do love the challenge of coming up with good, amusing Facebook updates.

I’m not gonna lie, when I first walked into the room I expected to see a chair with stirrups. But, alas, it was just a normal chair and the table didn’t have the delightful layer of paper covering it. The women who escorted me into the room – particularly the main pat down woman – were very jovial, polite, and professional. I honestly have no complaints about my experience behind the closed door. I was told in full detail where I was going to be touched, how, and when (which I think we can all agree on, is not always the case when behind closed doors). And, like I said, they were in quite good spirits. I was most uncomfortable about the fact that I didn’t get around to washing my jeans after 4 hours of dancing at the cowboy bar earlier in the week – I was hoping main pat down woman was mouth-breathing. But perhaps this is why I got shot down when I offered to take off my sweater if it made the process easier. Alas.

Everyone and everything got schwabbed again, and apparently this time I passed the test! I always did rely on the curve on chemistry tests. I was told I could collect my belongings and was wished a safe and good flight. I felt that we parted as friends with none of the typical post-frisking awkwardness.

Additionally, I felt that main pat down woman and I really hit it off. I had The A-Team movie in my bag, and she saw it when she was wiping down for chemicals. She hadn’t seen the movie yet and asked how it was. I just can’t say enough good things about any movie that involves Bradley Cooper without his shirt on. Throw in Liam Neeson, and I’m a happy happy girl. She more than agreed with me on both accounts and I’m pretty sure she’ll be renting it tonight. In return, she recommended Unstoppable. I had to refrain from claiming Chris Pine as the future father of my Space Babies. I had already gushed over several actors and didn’t want to come off as too Hollywood stalkerish. I mean, who does? She also countered my Bradley Cooper shirtless love with a Marc Whalberg shirtless love and recommended The Fighter. I had hesitations about this one because I can’t stand Christian Bale. American Psycho ruined him for me, and he’s done nothing to redeem his creepiness since then. Despite her Marky Mark adoration (at which point I should mention that we both enjoyed Date Night), main pat down woman confessed that she couldn’t stand Christian Bale either and was very surprised she liked the movie. We found yet another thing in common in our dislike of Bale. By now back up TSA woman had come back in with the chemical test good news, and we filled her in on the conversation. She didn’t understand our mutual dislike of Christian Bail, so I had to explain that he has freaky sharp vampire teeth. And American Psycho. Main pat down woman and I bonded again, as she wholeheartedly seconded my analysis. At this point, I felt that main pat down woman and I could have been really good friends and I was sad to see our relationship end as I would have loved to hang out with her and maybe watch a movie. I wanted to ask if we could stay in touch, but I didn’t want to sound too clingy.

Upon leaving, I felt like I had lost a friend, but at least I had a Facebook status update, which is what’s really important. Luckily my airport has free WiFi, so I could update Facebook as soon as I got to my gate. Followed immediately by Twitter.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If in doubt, season the shit out of it

Last night my culinary standards sank below the standards of drunk frat boys. A proud moment in my grad student career.

Upon getting home last night I realized I had nothing to make for dinner. I have no excuse for this other than pure laziness, seeing that it's the beginning of the month so I recently got paid. I clearly can't blame this on End-Of-The-Month syndrome where I'm down to pennies in my bank account and I'm saving the last few dollars available on my credit card for something important. Like beer. But then I've never claimed to not be the laziest person I know. By the time I got home I had already had to fight the urge to slaughter a pedestrian and eat him, so I was ready to get dinner started. I commenced rummaging through my fridge and pantry. Here's what I found:

- Frozen ground turkey
- Carrots
- Pearl onions
- Garlic
- A can a of peas
- Baby spinach
- Tomato sauce
- Leftover "Garden Vegetable" pasta sauce
- Penne pasta

It seemed like I could make something out of that. I was really hoping I still had a can of cream of mushroom soup (in my head this would have TOTALLY saved the day - cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup makes any dish magical), but, alas, I only found Bean with Bacon soup, and that didn't sound like it would work out very well (which seems ironic now that I could have just had soup and forgone this exercise in creating vomitous masses). So I went with what I had and started getting creative.

Let me first of all say that I consider myself a pretty good cook, but there's a reason I've never gotten into creative writing or pretty much any form of art. Arm-waving? Sure I can handle that sort of invention, but creating something out of nothing isn't really my thing. But I was hungry, so I gave it a shot.

Firstly, I have no clue where the turkey came from. It apparently isn't my roommate's and I've never bought ground turkey in my life. It had a May expiration date (it was frozen, it keeps, right?), so I guess it couldn't have been her's since she moved in in September. Come to think of it, I never checked the May of which year it expired... Regardless, if it was left in the freezer, it's fair game. So the turkey was thawed and then browned in a pan. I wanted to soften the carrots, so I put them in the pan early with with turkey. It was only then that I realized the carrots needed to be high-graded seeing as some of the specimens were a color that could no longer be described as orange. So I took the carrots that still looked edible on the outside and stood behind my theory that "It'll cook out" and threw them into the pan. [Note: I deliberately use the word "theory" as I feel like I've tested this hypothesis enough times without suffering death that it now moves on to theory.] Don't worry, the rest of the carrots got tossed out, as well as the oozing tomatoes I found in the produce drawer of my fridge.

I'm proud to say that the onions and garlic were in no way questionable. Not a single sprout. So those got chopped up and thrown in the pan.

While rummaging around looking for the can of Cream of Mushroom soup I was convinced I had beneath my 8 bags of powdered sugar, rice (yet another possible, if boring, option I could have gone with after all), and coconut, I had found a can of peas. The first thing I noticed about these peas were that they were in an Albertsons can. That's all well and good, except for the fact that I haven't seen an Albertsons since I moved from Montana. 4.5 years ago. So I can only guess how old the peas are... Well, despite the dubious age of the peas (see a theme here?), they smelled fine. They're in a can after all! So I added some to the pan once again figuring anything bad will just cook out. Of course it wasn't until later that I realized I had a >4.5 year old can of peas because I really just don't like peas. Alas, if only that were the greatest of my problems...

What should have come next was the question: What was I actually making? Ok, maybe it should have come first. But it DEFINITELY should have come before I committed to a liquid substance. In retrospect, I should have gone with a stir-fry theme. In fact, while writing this, it sounds like I'm making a stir-fry. But no, I had to be all rash and shit and open the can of tomato sauce rather than just pouring in some soy sauce. Damnit. So tomato sauce goes in. Unfortunately I don't feel like this adds enough liquidy substance to the pan, so I add what was in the bottom of the pasta sauce jar. And have no fear, I did check for fuzz in the jar before adding it. And the chucks were supposed to be there. C'mon, do I seem that stupid? Actually, don't answer that.

Lastly I added some salt, pepper, rosemary, and savory. Because if in doubt, season the shit out of it.

I then put it over some pasta and attempted to consume it. Yes, it looks pretty identical to dog vomit (see picture), but it did taste better than I imagine dog vomit tasting like. Actually it didn't taste half bad (my roommate was bold enough to try it and confirms my assessment), but just looking at it turned my stomach. I guess the important thing is that I'm still alive. And I brought leftovers for lunch!

Perhaps this should be my new diet scheme, because just thinking about having to eat it makes me lose my apatite. And I also have a new understanding why undergrads always seem to keep Ramen in their cupboards...