The 98% humorous musings of M. Lizabeth Currain

Category: Chinese food


I am well on my way to becoming one.

Once I started graduate school and quit my retail job, I decided to start taking better care of myself. Since I was no longer having to eat my feelings because I was stuck in a job that I hated, it was surprisingly easy! I had time to really focus on fitness and health. I started hitting the gym, eating better; I eventually joined Weight Watchers in January. As far as “dieting” goes, Weight Watchers is probably the best program out there to join, if you’re one of those people that needs guidance about how not to stuff your face with delicious garbage. Trust me, I love some delicious garbage. But Weight Watchers I think knows that about people and they are like, “hey, if you are going to eat garbage, just eat less of it and don’t let it happen very often”. That’s how it should be. You should be able to eat things that you like, learn to make new things, and enjoy them in moderation. I don’t think I could ever give up my New York-style Chinese food anyways. A girl has to have something to reward herself with.

Well, I’ve lost a significant amount of weight since I started taking better care of myself. I’m still not where I want to be yet, but I am certainly getting there. In the process I am finding that I am capable of doing things that I didn’t think were ever possible, like running outside. To be honest, I haven’t been doing a very good job of it lately. However, I did go for a 5K run this morning with my friend Jessica; it goes a lot faster when you have someone to talk to. We registered for a 5K race in October. So hopefully, I’ll be able to finish that with a time that isn’t super embarrassing.

I also went on a 22 mile bike ride today. My thighs are not happy with my right now.

I feel a lot better about myself than I did even 6 months ago. Maybe I’ll even run the New York Marathon eventually! HA! I’m kidding, I have no interest in that. I hear when you train for a marathon your toenails will fall of. Um, hello? What good is being fit if I am ugly and have no toenails? This would probably be me if I decided to run the NY Marathon:



Maybe I’d be better suited to a triathlon. Shorter distances in three events seems doable. Although, I’m not sure how people feel about fishing a bloated corpse out of a river.

I’m supposed to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes tonight, it’s got my boy James Franco in it. I’ll let you know how it is. I’m biased though, Franco could be reading the phone book on screen for 2 hours and I’d probably enjoy it.

Until next time!

Economic Crisis Diet

So, times are tough. I say this phrase at least 5 times a day, to try and make it really sink in to those around me. Especially my employer, because it’s the most passive away to imply that one needs a raise. Which I do. Because I am poor.

I basically live paycheck to paycheck–the last one I get in the month always being the one that I use to pay my rent. That paycheck is barely enough to cover my rent, and my rent really isn’t that high. But once you tack on things like electric (which is killer in the summer if you are not a hot/humid weather type of person, i.e. ME) and gas–generally not that expensive because the stove is more like a conversation piece than something I actually use on a regular basis–things get tight. Then there is my student loan, credit card, etc. I have no chance to save any money, because basically, I go through it like toilet paper–and I go through a lot of that because we aren’t allowed to put toilet paper in our toilet. It’s a long story that involves plumbing that I don’t quite understand, but maybe Joe the Plumber would.

So I am stretched financially. And that means something has to fall to the wayside. I’ve already practically given up on fashion–I’m wearing bootcut jeans that I got at a thrift store! Who wears bootcut jeans?! I might as well be wearing flares! It’s all about the skinny jeans, people. Also, I’m still wearing tank tops. It’s pretty much like 50 degrees outside. But I can’t afford the luxury of a long sleeve shirt. Not in this economy. Mostly all of my clothing at this point comes from the thrift store where I work. Sometimes I will buy a t-shirt–from work. Tres Faconnable. Tres Chic. Tres Pauvres.

Now this economic crisis of mine has asked to me to give up something else that I love. Something that I love almost as much as fashion–sometimes, even more, when I’m depressed. Food. Yes. Food. When did groceries become so expensive? When did eating a normal meal become a luxury? No longer can I enjoy a Chipotle burrito; my lifeblood; or a sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel on those dreadful Sunday mornings when I have to work. No more.

But I know I am not suffering alone. And I want to help others out there, that are in a similar situation as I. I’m going to give some tips, some recipes, some advice.

If you work in retail, or anything sort of customer service related, where you interact with people–sometimes the same people–on a daily basis, try to make friends with a few of them. They are going to be essential in getting you the nutrients or snacks you so desperately need. This past Sunday, when I had forgotten my lunch, one of my favorite customers came bearing gifts of delightful little pastries, from a reputable bakery. They satisfied my sweet tooth for 3 days. Also, don’t be selfish; offer some to your coworkers–at least the ones you like anyways. When someone comes in asking to borrow a pair of scissors, try your best to find a pair, because you never know when they are going to be violently trying to open up a bag of Starburst Jellybeans and offer you some. When a customer comes in bringing food for your boss, who is not there that day, don’t be afraid to split it amongst you and your coworkers. That food could go bad, better yet, that food could be poisoned, and you will have saved your boss’s life. It is a great way to supplement the pathetic lunch you have packed for yourself (I added a soup to my sandwich today! For free!) and save you the hassle paying for a drink at the deli–with regards to that, just buy a can of soda, it’s only a buck and not as bad for the environment as those $1.25/1.50 bottles of soda. Arizona teas in the can are also a great bargoon for $.99. Also, if you buy one, $1 bottle of water, you can keep refilling it for free, from your own tap! Water is pretty much included in most people’s rent–and a lot of work places have water coolers.

If someone offers you some free food take it. Don’t ask questions, just be grateful that you are getting something for free. Also, mention foods you like, because a coworker may have some foodstuffs in her house that she gets from the government for free, like peanut butter, but doesn’t like and can’t feed to her child because they are allergic to nuts–you can benefit from that. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Don’t be afraid of brands you have never heard of or the generic stuff. Tropical Fantasy Soda comes in a variety of, well, tropical flavors in a generously sized bottle for only $.65 (at least that’s how much it costs at the bodega by my apartment.)! Go for the $1.39 loaf of bread with a name you can’t remember–it tastes like Wonderbread, but better because it’s not $3. Also, generic pretzels, pretty much the same thing as Rold Gold, but CHEAPER. Hotel Bar butter? Bet you haven’t heard of it. It’s cheap, but it looks like butter, tastes like butter, and it fucking is butter–but it’s cheap, because their logo is a g.d. bellhop from 1957. And when you see a name brand cereal box touting a special price of $2.79, grab that mofo because that won’t last. And Froot Loops taste better when you aren’t being charged $4.39 for a box that is going to last you, in all honesty, like 3 days. We are adults, not small children. Our cereal intake is at a different level and just can’t be compared to that of a small child.

If you are going to order out, which I don’t recommend, unless your Father is paying for it, try to extend that takeout for as long as possible. That Chinese food I ordered on Saturday? Lasted me until Tuesday. I was having that stuff for lunch and dinner. It’s all about portion control. Don’t order from places like Papa Johns…my roommate makes this mistake all the time. A large pizza is like $23. That is too much. I can get a large pizza from Nick’s/Frank’s/Whatever-his-name-might-be for $14. At 8 slices in a large, that’s 4 meals if you eat two at each sitting. Everybody’s different, but 2 slices of pizza is a reasonable serving for someone who is grown and not binge eating because they are drunk. Also, Subway, $5 footlong–sure you may find a knife in your sandwich, but how can you beat $5 for a footlong?! That’s two six inch subs. That is lunch and dinner, or lunch and lunch. However you want to spread it out. I believe Quizno’s offers a similar deal–choose your poison.

Buy pasta. Buy the cheapest pasta you can find. It is all going to end up in the same place eventually (get what I’m saying?), so why splurge at this point? Cook it, put a little bit of your Hotel Bar Butter on it while it’s still hot, sprinkle a little salt, a little pepper–maybe some garlic powder if you have some–and there is dinner, every night of the week until you can find a new job that pays better or until someone does you a favor and puts you out of your misery.

Buy pancake mix, but be sure to read the box so that you are buy the “just add water kind”. I recommend Aunt Jemima–lady knows a pancake, okay? That can be breakfast and dinner until the box is gone. It will last a while (I’ve had my box for a good 5 or 6 months), unless you consume massive quantities of pancakes at each meal. Pace yourself. Also, Aunt Jemima syrup is delicious. You’ll want to have that around. Not only is it good on pancakes, but when you realize that you have no food in your apartment, except for a jar of Peter Pan peanut butter your roommate bought you to replace the one he ate while he was drunk, you can drizzle it on a spoonful of peanut butter. I can sense that you are judging me right now, and I am okay with that. Because when you try it, you will know what I am talking about. It’s the right blend of salty and sweet.

What started this whole thing for me, was that fact that, yesterday, in order to save myself some money, I bought Smuckers Goober Grape. For those of you elitist consumers out there, this is what real America is about. It is peanut butter and grape jelly combined. In one jar. For only $3.19 (at my bodega). Skippy peanut butter alone was $2.39 with jelly around the same price. I am saving practically half. It tastes okay. It wouldn’t be my first choice if I gobs of cash to be grocery shopping with. But it does the job. Slathered on some $1.39 no-name bread, served with some generic $1.19 pretzels and a $.65 Tropical Fantasy ( I recommend the Peach or Mango flavor) soda and you basically have a lunch for a little over a $1. That is true savings people!

Also, Halloween is coming up. You can either go trick-or-treating yourself and collect yourself some delicious candy bar meals, or you can steal the candy from children. It’s up to you. November is coming and if McCain wins, we could be facing even tougher times, and no amount of Goober Grape is going to be able to get us through it.

As with any diet, try and think of the end goal. With the amount of weight one will lose, from the lack of nutrition and food that is being eaten, when that new job comes, and one’s personal economic crisis is over, those brand new skinny jeans are going to look great!

Paper Bag or Plastic Bag?

It’s funny how such a simple question like, “Would you like a paper bag or a plastic bag?” would incite a small scale panic attack within a customer. Most of my day is spent at a cash register, ringing people up, explaining why I can’t sell something without a tag/price, explaining why I can’t sell it for cheaper/give them a discount, explaining why I can’t take something out of the auction case for them to look at, or reassuring them that we are not “closing this location”. In order to save myself some time, I generally like to ask people if they want a paper or plastic bag–only because I hate having already put something in a plastic bag and then they tell me they want paper or vice versa.

Just as a side note, our plastic bags are those of the lovely “I ‘heart’ NY” nature, and the paper are the inconspicuous brown kind that come in not one, but two different sizes; slightly less than medium and large. The paper bags aren’t the strongest, but we double them up for good measure for the heavier items. The “I ‘heart’ NY” bag is the Earth’s nemesis, but I think the actual plastic/carbon(?) content in those bags has gone down, because they seem awfully thin now as compared to when I started working at the thrift store back in February.

So back to me asking a customer if they want a paper or plastic bag. Almost every time I ask someone this question, their eyes sort of glaze over and their face slumps like they have bells palsy–I chose this image only because I enjoy the small illustration of him attempting to make a phone call. Also, they are the most trusted name in medical illustrations, who knew?! Their breathing becomes erratic, they start sweating, clutching their right arm, etc. It is as though I have asked them what the square root of 44937574 is; it’s 6703.549358362329, in case you were wondering; and if they don’t answer they will be forced to suffer a slow and painful death. I don’t understand why this question is so hard! Make a decision! Either you want a paper bag or you want a plastic bag, it is not that serious. Both are probably equally bad for the environment, unless the paper bags happen to be made from some percentage of post-consumer waste. Oddly enough, this is the reason why customers think I am asking them to choose. A good number of them always give a shameful laugh when they choose plastic and promise me that they will “reuse it”. Why they feel the need to tell me this, is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Earth as much as the next person, but nothing about me screams “raging environmentalist”–except when I see someone litter I say, “I hope you get squashed litterbug”, because it seems appropro.

Another problem with the asking of this question, is invariably 3 out of 5 customers is going to say something along the lines of, “Ok.” “Sure, yes.” “Okay, bag.” “Hmmm, yes please.” This would all be well and good if the question was strictly, “Would you like a bag?”, but it’s not. I am giving them a choice! Let your voice be heard, people! Them saying, “Okay”, in response to me saying, “Would you like a paper or plastic bag?” gets us nowhere. NOWHERE. It only lengthens their stay in front of me. Which is not what I want at all. I want them out of my face. Because if they stay in front of me for 1 second longer, after they’ve asked 3.7 annoying questions, I will snap. I will put that plastic bag over their head and send them on their way. It just shows me that people don’t listen. They are either talking on their cell phone, or staring off into space. We as a society are not actively engaged in the present, in what is currently going on or what we are currently doing. It irritates me, because I have to repeat myself. Sometimes as often as 3 times. Which is pathetic.

Another favorite of mine in this little predicament, that I have unwittingly cooked up for myself at work is when when they ask if the paper bag has handles. Of course it has handles! I’m wondering if they ask this question at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. I doubt it. Or maybe they do. Because maybe they are that annoying.

As you can see, I’m getting irate–and we are only now getting to my favorite part of this whole scenario. So picture this: I’m at the cash register, ringing someone up. I ask them if they want a paper or a plastic bag. They have their mini-stroke, and then finally decide on a paper bag, after I’ve listed their options and given them a visual. I put their items in a paper bag and hand it to them. They look at me, as if they know what they are doing–because they live to irritate–and say, “Wait, can I have a plastic bag instead, this I’m going to be walking around and it will be easier for me to carry.” That statement right their, is the bane of my working in retail existence. At this point, I start giving dirty looks and just toss a plastic bag at them, because really, after I bag it once and hand it to them, it’s left my jurisdiction–I no longer care about that customer. They are dead to me.

I honestly don’t know why I continue to ask. It’s because I enjoy being punished for trying to be a good person–for caring about the items that these people purchased at thrift store and then want treated as though they just bought the Hope Diamond.

How am I not Employee of the Month, Year, or Decade?!

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