Farm! I'm gonna live forever!

So we’re doing yet another Thing this summer, and it’s the dorkiest Thing yet, and I have not been able to shut up about it in real life conversation. It’s a Farm Thing: a farm share community- sponsored-agriculture kind of thing, where you give a local farmer a big box of money and in exchange he gives you a big box of organic seasonal produce every week. Every week for like, five months. The idea is that you do this to support local agriculture and organic farming and to infuse yourself with the sort of crunchy wholesome goodness that makes the Amish so upsettingly attractive. (No, really, their skin, it is peachy and gorgeous.)You also do the Farm Thing because you are just a tiny bit insane and wish to stage your very own personal hippie-food edition of Iron Chef. You get one week! To figure out! How the fuck to cook all this bok choy!

But I think we’re up for the challenge. For the past year now we’ve been shopping less and less at the Jewel and the other supermarket chains, and more and more at the produce stores, which have better and cheaper veggies and decidedly fewer Bad Times. (Though it must be said that Stanley’s has way too many foodie douchebags crowding the aisles on weekends to ever truly be good times, but whatever.) Anyway, I hope I’ve learned a few things from all my pseudo-frontier-wife soup-making antics this fall and winter. Like I know that kale—aka the curly leafy stuff that hotel caterers use to decorate salad bars because it practically never wilts—is actually edible, once you steam out all its latent anger and sorrow and serve it with chickpea curry. I bet knowledge like this occupies the part of my brain that used to be devoted to POINTSâ„¢ and super fun POINTSâ„¢-related SAT math problems calculating how many light-hambuger-bun-and-fat-free-cheese-singles sandwiches I could afford to consume per day. But I would be stupid and useless on Weight Watchers now. I don’t know how many POINTSâ„¢ anything is anymore because that stuff isn’t printed on the bok choy. Which, yes, we somehow figured out how to cook this week.

We got our first box last Saturday and this Sunday, on our way home from a little weekend trip, we’re picking up our second box from the actual farm. I am so stupidly excited about this you have no idea. You know it’s only a matter of time before we freak out completely and sell all our crap and move into a soy-powered geodesic dome.

Taste sensations

Okay, someone needs to explain these Brazilian yogurt ads that I’ve been hearing so much about. Apparently they’re really controversial or something! The text for all three of these says, Forget it. Men’s tastes will never change. And here are the images:


Well, yeah: men like naked women, right? Uh, no argument there.


And you know, I’m pretty sure men also like it when women cross their legs and flash their special areas and stuff. The men, they have a taste for that, yes. Oh yeah, and big boobs.


I know it’s a little obscure, but I think that what’s going here is
“upskirt action” and I believe I heard somewhere that men like it, right?

So, hmm, I don’t get what these women are doing these pictures that isn’t “to men’s tastes,” because they’re doing a swell job making sexy eye contact and almost showing their vaginas! Gosh, what are they doing wrong?

Oh, okay. I just read the memo. And, ahah, they’re being big fat fatties, that’s what’s wrong! Big fat chubby chubsters who eat full-fat yogurt and then cavort around in beds of rose petals being way hotter than they’re supposed to be! Oh noes! What are we going to do now? These ads are all over the internet and countless guys are getting wrongfully turned on—poor, deluded men who don’t know any better because their dicks can’t read Portuguese. OOPS!

Oh, well. Sorry about the misunderstanding, Mr. Brazilian Low-Fat Yogurt Company, but you know, these things happen sometimes.

The seventeen-year wonder

Cicada nymph shell

I said I hadn’t seen any cicadas but I’d spoken too soon. The other day on the North Branch trail, I heard them before I saw them. At first I wasn’t quite paying attention to the droning sound coming from somewhere off in the trees. But it was persistent, and it slowly changed pitch, cranking methodically down and up and down again. As the noise grew thicker and harder to ignore, I started spotting the cicadas on tree trunks—just a few at a time on each tree—and I stopped the bike and pulled over to the side of the trail to get a closer look. And then, as I stood there, I could see the cicadas weren’t just on the trees, but on the leaves and the tips of the tall prairie grass, dozens of them, with new ones landing and whirring about. They were everywhere and the sound was enough to drown out my own voice.

I don’t think I quite believed in this seventeen-year cicada business —that the damn things would actually emerge from the ground and buzz and mate and zorch around. I’m cynical about nature like this; nature has occasionally disappointed me. I know how it’s supposed to work, but years of being bad at science (biology is hard!) and being even worse at dieting has made me wary. Sometimes it’s hard not to think that after all the damage we’ve done, the world is just a little bit broken, a half-assed machine that takes your quarter and doesn’t return it. So to stop next to a field and witness these great big badminton-birdy-like creatures partying hard—just as nature intended—still kind of blows my mind.

Also, the last time the cicadas emerged I was nineteen years old, and I hadn’t started smoking yet, and while I know I didn’t really bike much that particular summer, I’m sure I was still in good enough shape to ride 20 miles or more in a day. I mean I’m sure that was the last time I could take that for granted. After that, I burrowed underground and fed on Marlboros and Lean Cuisines and apathy for years and years. It’s taken me this long to shed all my old skin and dig myself the hell out.

* * *

On Saturday Chris and I went to Kiddieland, a place that has nothing whatsoever to do with nature. It is a very old amusement park, the oldest in the Chicago area, I think. There are old photos and home movie footage of my brother and me riding the short-kid rides—the ones where you went around in a circle while sitting in a rocket or a flying saucer or a hot rod or a helicopter. I think my dad even went there when he was a kid. The shortie rides are still there, and so is the roller coaster, which gets scarier the older it gets, particularly when you notice that the whole thing is controlled only by four splintery wooden levers. Really, the whole thing looks like something Our Gang slapped together with planks from an old boxcar and assorted rusty barrel hoops. It totally puts the “die” in “Kiddieland.” There’s also an extra violent Tilt-A-Whirl and an octopus ride that still goes by its old unfortunate name, “The Polyp.” There are newer rides, too—a log flume and a sort of sinister water slide where you cling to an inflatable raft and get washed down a big dark pipe. When you walk around the park you’re assaulted by giant fiberglass clown faces and the most rancid food-service smells ever. Oh, and the whole place is across the street from a horse track. All and all, Kiddieland is a most excellent and unwholesome good time. Lest you think all I do these days is ride my bike and gaze wide-eyed at caterpillars.

How's that bike thing?

Doing the epic bike-to-work-route once a week seems to be working out so far. When I did it last week I didn’t feel nearly as worn down to a soggy pulp as I had the week before. This time I only slightly wanted to die and float away on a fluffy cloud, a cloud with built-in adjustable therapeutic massage function, so I suppose that’s progress. I’m told that the angry little knot of pain I feel in my lower back after about ten miles most likely means that I have to get the handlebars adjusted, and it probably does not mean that I am congenitally bike-impaired. And that is good.

The tiredness and the soreness do not outweigh the awesomeness of the trail and the river and the scruffy overgrown back roads and all the things I see on them. The week before last, I saw duck sex. I mean I was riding by and there by the side of the trail I saw a duck, and then another duck was sort of tangled up with it. It wasn’t until I’d already passed them that I realized what they were doing, and then I turned around, because how often do you get a chance to see ducks fuck? But by the time I went back it was all over, and the two of them were walking up the trail with a sort of awkward silence between them. Oh yeah, I know what that’s about, ducks.

The week before that I saw three deer diving across the trail, one after the other, like Esther Williams swimmers in formation. And last week I passed a front yard where half a dozen prom couples posed for photos, the girls lined up together in their strapless dresses.

I expected to see at least a few of the 17-year cicadas on to the trees, but it seems they didn’t really emerge around here, since I’ve only heard about sightings in the suburbs. At least I don’t have to worry about running over all their crunchy little exoskeletons.

If we manage to do most of the things we’re planning to do in the next few months, it’ll be the most summery summer I’ve had in maybe twenty years. The bike already makes me feel like I’m twelve, and when the outdoor city park pool opens for the season I’ll start doing my laps there instead of at the gym. So conceivably I could ride my bike to the pool. I think the last time I did that, compact discs didn’t exist yet, and neither did my boobs. Really, all I need now to truly recapture those days is a pair of jellies and the freakish compulsion to reapply Maybelline mascara every 35 minutes or so, because I was that kind of girl. Now, not so much.

Trailer trashing!

So Chris and I went to see Knocked Up this weekend (and we loved it, but more on that in a bit). And before the movie started we sat through the requisite commercials and videos and video-commercials and fake-movie-trailer-commercials, and then, finally, the actual trailers. One was for the new Hairspray movie, where they’ve replaced all the rare vintage R&B songs with self-important musical numbers and all the John Waters regulars with Scientologists. At least Tracy Turnblad is still fat in this version. As for the next two trailers—well, I’ll post links to them, but I feel compelled to describe them, too, since seeing them back to back was especially dismaying. Plus the huge prosthetic pimples don’t show up nearly as well on YouTube as they do on the big screen! So here we go:

Trailer 1: Dane Cook is the protagonist. We first see him at a wedding reception, where, during a toast, the bride calls him out as someone she dated before finally and triumphantly finding true love. Dane Cook has a reputation for being That Kind Of Guy, the one women sleep with just before meeting their husbands. But then he meets The Girl, and she is different. They stroll side-by-side down a scenic path, just about to kiss, when suddenly, BONK! she runs straight into a lamppost and falls the fuck over! Har har! True love ensues. Next comes the conflict and the gross-out parts: He has to sleep with a big fat girl with a mustache because he doesn’t want to be That Kind of Guy anymore and hopes he can break the patten by having sex with someone so ugly she’ll never get married. We see the fat girl’s huge prosthetic pimples and Dane Cook’s horrified expressions. But will he ever get with The Girl?

Trailer 2: Ben Stiller is the protagonist. We first see him at a wedding reception, where, during a toast, the bride calls him out as someone she dated before finally and triumphantly finding true love. Ben Stiller has a reputation for being That Kind Of Guy, the one who’s perpetually single and won’t ever commit. But then he meets The Girl. They ride bikes side-by-side down a scenic path, just about to kiss, when suddenly, BONK! she runs straight into a trash can and falls the fuck over! Har har! Marriage ensues. Next comes the conflict and the gross-out parts: On their honeymoon his new wife turns out to be weird and crazy and she farts loudly in the bathroom, but he puts up with it because he doesn’t want to be That Kind of Guy anymore. Then he meets The Other Girl, and she is different. We see the new wife’s huge prosthetic pimples and Ben Stiller’s horrified expressions. But will he ever get with The Other Girl?

From these you might conclude the following about men and women and love and relationships: Marriage is the ultimate goal for most women, who pursue it ruthlessly, though of course they have to be unoffensive enough to even deserve it in the first place! They are all hot, except when they’re disgusting! Running into stuff and falling down spectacularly are helpfully distracting things a woman can do any time a man is in imminent danger of expressing his feelings to her! And also, it’s funny! And…and I’m sure there’s more but that’s all I can stand to extrapolate from these, because I’m afraid that watching them too much will make my soul withered and small and sad.

But Knocked Up was nothing like this. I can sort of see how the trailer might indicate otherwise, with the childbirth scene serving as the women’s-bodies-are-scary joke and a of throwaway bit of dialogue used as the marriage-is-full-of-unsexy-bathroom-stuff joke. But those jokes have less to do with the movie itself than they do with the creepy latent phobias of the trailer editors and/or some horrible focus group somewhere. Really, the movie was terrific, though Chris and I own the Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared box sets so we’re probably biased.

And not for nothing, I read this article, and one of my favorite parts was where it mentioned all the stupid, totally puerile things that the guys in the cast do in real life. Because none of it seemed to involve laughing at fat women in bikinis, or pretty women falling flat on their faces, or any of the other thuggishly insecure little things that pass for funny in a lot of movies these days. No, it was mostly drinking games. And you know, I would rather watch a whole movie of Martin Starr playing Edward Fortyhands than one of these so-called “romantic comedies.” Hell, I would pay to just see the trailer.