50 Shades of Suburbia

Western Washington has been hit with crazy amounts of snow over the last week. There’s currently about nine inches of the white fluffy stuff on my back deck with more coming down, and due to hills and lack of road-clearing machine things we are pretty much just told to stay off the roads as much as possible until Snowmageddon has passed. People are taking it very seriously and the grocery stores look like people were stocking up to be housebound for months instead of for a week or so. It was so busy when Bill and I went out on Thursday to grocery shop that we waited in line for over half an hour to pay for our stuff.

I snapped this photo while we waited in line, in the produce section, because the line was so long it snaked along the front of the store and into the produce. See all the empty spaces where bread should be? I’m thinking a lot of people fell off the Keto/Whole 30 wagon and stocked up on some nice comforting carbs.

Since we’ve been housebound for days now, I’ve spent a lot of time watching tv and reading things on the Internet to amuse myself. If it doesn’t stop fucking snowing I may make a list of my favorite shows and movies watched during Snowmaggedon, but I’m not quite bored enough yet for list-posting. Emphasis on the word yet.

On Friday, it had just started snowing in earnest when I came across a randomly-shared listing of a house in Maple Glen PA. I clicked on it because it vaguely looked like Kevin McAllister’s house and I thought the price tag of $750k seemed more than reasonable for this sprawling 5,029-square-foot abode, and because I am a real estate junkie and love looking at house listings. I’ve mentioned before that I follow multiple old-house accounts on Instagram, and many times in my life I have visited open houses when I was definitely not in the market for a house. I thought I had seen it all, until I opened the listing on my Redfin app and read the property description.

“50 Shades of Maple Glen: a suburban home with a sexy twist”

Uh, what now??

I began scrolling through the listing’s 48 photos, trying frantically to see what the hell that meant. My thoughts went something like this: oooh, lovely giant kitchen, nice brick fireplace, big bedrooms, cool in-home gym, OHMYGAWDISTHATASEXSWING??

Spoiler alert: yeah, it totally fucking was.

I am not a prude by any means. I had just never seen a house with a full sexy-time basement (dungeon) on a Redfin listing before.

I did what anyone would do and immediately texted the link to a few of my friends, the ones who would be as amused as I was. Redfin must have reconsidered its stance on sex basements, because it quickly removed the racy photos and naughty listing description, but Zillow still had the photos so I took screen shots of them, and it’s a good thing I did because Zillow has since taken them down too.

I read a particularly hilarious comment on one post about the house from someone who initially thought that the cage under the bed was a dog kennel, which made me laugh quite a lot.

I’m actually really happy that whoever owns this house seems to have had a lot of fun there. Good on you, people of Maple Glen. I did have questions when I discovered that the house was posted on AirBNB with the sex dungeon or basement or whatever on prominent display as the main selling point, mainly around how one goes about sanitizing that room after guests rent it out.

My only concern now is that my top-floor condo has zero sex basements and I hope this doesn’t hurt my property values.

Celery Juice Will Probably Not Make You a Wizard

One of my favorite things about the Internet is that it is the place where many pictures of cute cats and puppies are, and also funny memes with lots of sarcasm and just the right amount of swear words to give me a good chuckle when I’m feeling like I might actually say out loud “NOT bless you!” to the guy over the cubicle wall from me who scream-sneezes on the regular (I’m sorry, but at a certain point the volume of a sneeze becomes a choice and it is not one I support). One of my least favorite things about the Internet is that it gives a platform for stupid people and their nonsense and while being stupid is probably not a choice like scream-sneezing is, it can be very harmful when allowed to run rampant.

Today’s case in point is my newest enemy who doesn’t know me, Anthony William, and all of his stupid celery-juicing. I was blissfully ignorant of all things celery, juices and otherwise, until I started seeing stuff on Instagram about how life-changing this stuff apparently was and learned that ol’ Tony over here is the one that is spearheading this new “wellness” trend. According to this dude, if you juice celery and drink it on an empty stomach you will get magical powers and be the wizardiest wizard that Hogwarts has ever seen, or something like that. I looked him up on Amazon and found out that he refers to himself as the Medical Medium, because I guess why the hell not, so he’s over here talking to the ancient spirits and apparently they’re super into the celery juice and want him to tell us mere mortals all about it. His ‘About’ section on Amazon informed me that he “was born with the unique ability to converse with a high-level spirit who provides him with extraordinarily accurate health information that’s often far ahead of its time”, which loosely translated means “figured out that he can capitalize on his conversations with his imaginary friend by telling people to put celery in their KitchenAid Blenders and then drink the sludge because healthy!”, if I’m reading my crazy-to-English dictionary right.

On the most basic level, I guess celery juicing isn’t the very stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of, because intake of vegetables isn’t a bad thing. Sure, by juicing the celery you’re pulverizing out all the parts of it that make it the healthiest and best for you, but people who don’t eat any vegetables at all who start drinking celery juice are still going to experience a net positive. It’s not the encouraging people to drink celery pulp that I have an issue with. What bothers me is that Anthony William, who has no medical expertise whatsoever, is parading around as someone who can give advice on curing things from strep throat to cancer, when in fact he’s just a dude with an Internet connection and possibly schizophrenia. And if people actually believe they’re going to get well by following his advice, potentially choosing his methods over traditional medical treatments from actual professionals, then he is causing real harm.

At best, Anthony William is insane, and at worst he’s a calculating con-man who is preying on the naïve, the desperate, and the sick. Although the end result is no less harmful, I so want him to be the former, because the latter is just so sinister and horrible. Either way, his nonsense is driving me to consult with MY spirit of choice….tequila.

 

The Ten-Year Challenge

On the social medias this month, the ten-year challenge is all the rage. The challenge consists of posting photos of oneself in 2009 alongside pictures taken more recently, and I think that the only people who are doing it are the ones who really don’t look any different or the ones who finally figured out the right haircut for their face shape and have stopped wearing eyeliner around their entire eyes and looking like the guys in Good Charlotte and as a result they actually look much better now than they did ten years ago. I have not taken part in this challenge for a few reasons, such as I don’t really have many photos of myself from 2009, and because 2009 was not a good year for me hairstyle-wise, and because I do not think I have any photos of myself from 2019 whatsoever. I don’t really like pictures of myself because my eyes always look tired and squinty like I either just smoked a bowl or haven’t slept for weeks, and because when I smile my left eye forgets how to eye and it will be half-closed and weird-looking and appears much smaller than my right one and then all I can see when I look at photos is my right eye which appears freakishly big but it isn’t, the left one is just being stupid and making the right one look bad. All I can really do to mitigate this is to not smile and hope for the best (and also later be subjected to “you need to smile more” comments from people who do not know the struggle of having an eye that does not know how to eye), or better yet, just not take pictures of myself.

My eye that cannot eye.

To me, the ten-year challenge is a reminder of just how quickly time passes, because in my mind 2009 doesn’t actually feel all that terribly long ago. For the first time in my life, this year I have found myself particularly preoccupied with my age. I think this is because I’m turning thirty-five in July, putting me much closer to mid-thirties than early-thirties, which means that all too soon I’m going to be in my LATE thirties and that shit is a little scary.

This whole worrying-about-being-old thing is new to me, because in my twenties I had an annoying coworker who would constantly remind me of how I looked so young and would exclaim not-helpful things like “How on earth did you convince them to let you work here when you’re only 12?!?” Other people in my life were more subtle about it, but enough people would tell me that I looked so much younger than I was that I felt pretty confident that by the time I was in my forties I would just look like what other people looked like in their twenties. Now though, I rarely see myself in a mirror when I don’t look sleep-deprived and squishy in places that used to be firm, and I would be lying if I said that part of my desire to lose weight this year has nothing to do with a faint hope of recapturing some of my youthful look. I had never thought that I would be using the word “haggard” to describe my appearance, and yet here we are. And this is in spite of the fact that I now a drink a ton of water every day and try to get enough sleep and wear moisturizer and sunscreen and actually take off my makeup every night before I go to bed.

Instead of posting photos of myself ten years ago and now, I would like to instead think about how much more awesome my life is now than it was in 2009. Back then, I still lived in California, I had the afore-mentioned not-great hairstyle, I was working a job I hated, I was in a relationship that didn’t make me feel safe or fulfilled, and I felt rather stuck in life. I threw myself into activities like volunteering so that I could do something to make me feel good and also to fill up my time so I did not have any free moments to contemplate the stuck feelings. If I had actually paused to think about it, I would have had to admit to myself that overall I was pretty unhappy. And so when I finally did pause, I began making major changes. I moved to Washington, got jobs at work that I liked much better, and surrounded myself with people who loved me and cheered me on and helped me feel comfortable just being me. I learned to end relationships that didn’t make me feel good, paving the way to the incredible marriage I now enjoy with my husband. My late twenties and early thirties have been all about figuring out what works for me. I may not look better than I did in 2009, but my life most certainly does.

 

 

The Exorcism of MLMs

The following is a cautionary tale. It doesn’t matter whether I behaved stupidly and brought these events on myself, or if there was no way I could have known that my seemingly harmless actions would lead to this. Either way, I share this story to protect others from a fate similar to mine. 

This morning I saw a post on Facebook that was shared to a podcast group I’m in by one of the other members. I won’t re-share it here, as I don’t know the original creator, but it was a health and fitness-themed motivational quote and it resonated with me. Huh, yes, perhaps this little saying could be motivation for me when I’m telling myself I’m too tired or it’s too late or I have other things to do and I should NOT throw on a quick video and do a workout in my living room. Okay, yes, I decided, that could actually work to motivate me. Cool idea.

I hit ‘like’ on the post.

*quick pause for ominous “oh no don’t do that why did you do that you should have turned away but you just HAD to go forward and now you’ve kicked off a chain of events that you won’t be able to control” music*

The action of ‘liking’ the post was innocent enough. I’m pretty liberal with my liking of things on social media, especially when it comes to either cool old houses or cute puppies and kitties. Likewise, I enjoy posts that contain sarcasm, snarkiness, or absurdity. I’m not usually a big ‘motivational sayings’ girl, but every now and then something will genuinely land with me and I’ll hit ‘like’.

I wasn’t prepared for the consequences. 

Almost immediately, my morning social media scroll was interrupted by a notification that I had a new message waiting for me on Facebook Messenger. Assuming that the incoming message was from either my husband or one of my friends, I clicked over to check it. Instead, I found a waiting message from some girl I’ve never heard of, and all it said was “Thank you for liking my post.”

Huh? What post? I’d ‘liked’ quite a few things this morning, since as I already mentioned, I’m not stingy with the Facebook reactions. What the heck did she post that I reacted to, and what about it was so poignant that it warranted a follow-up thanking me for doing it? Since I wasn’t going to reply to her just to say “You’re welcome” or anything, I deleted her message and moved back to Facebook to continue my mindless scrolling.

She’d sent me a friend request!

The only thing I loathe more than being sent a friend request by someone I don’t like in real life who follows up to mention to me that they sent me said friend request, making it all awkward as I try to come up with some excuse for why I’ll never be approving that request while mentally kicking myself for not blocking this person before all this had to happen, is being sent a random friend request from someone I’ve never met. Who the hell IS this girl? I thought, as I went to stalk her profile.

A quick profile review told me everything I needed to know: she was in the same podcast group as I was, which helped me narrow down which post of hers I’d interacted with. She’s got “stay at home parent” as her job, “Mom and Certified Health Coach” in her bio, and all of her posts are public and are sharing before-and-after photos of girls that have lost weight using whatever MLM* crap she sells online, with some diet quotes mixed in with for flavor (no pun intended….okay, okay, yes, absolutely pun intended).  I couldn’t make out which company she’s peddling wares for, which is undoubtedly part of the idea: if you want to know, you have to reach out and ask her and then you get the sales pitch.

I do not want sales pitches before 8am. Or ever, really. 

Now I knew what this girl was all about. She would message those of us that were foolish enough to hit that dumb like button her post, add us as friends, and proceed to tell us how her products would help us lose weight forever and change our lives! Yay! She would use lots of smiley and heart emoji’s, call us “girlie” or “gal” or some other moniker that would make me want to strangle her with my shoelaces, and enthusiastically and with LOTS of exclamation points tell us all about her life-changing crap that would make us look like Barbie for the absolutely reasonable price of a million dollars a month. Or something like that – you get the idea.

This is not my first rodeo – I fell for these sorts of tactics back in the earlier days of Instagram, before I learned to pay close attention to profiles before I’d like a post or follow someone. These days, if someone manages to make it into my DM’s trying to sell me shit, I simply block them rather than deal with them. I haven’t really had this experience with strangers on Facebook though – usually the MLM’ers there are people I know who either auto-add me to their virtual parties or inundate my news feed with their products. I believe it is absolutely justified to unfriend those people, like exorcising my Facebook feed of MLM garbage.

I really can’t decide which I hate more – random strangers trying to sell me pseudoscience, or the pseudoscience itself. Full disclosure: I have very stupidly tried many different diets, some of them of the MLM variety, which all promise to make you lose weight faster than you ever could with diet and exercise, and the only thing I can promise you about all of this stuff is that it does not work. As I’ve said before on this blog, the only time I was able to reach and maintain a weight I was happy with was when I threw all diet mentality out the window and got myself into the habit of eating reasonably healthy and exercising regularly. Once I put myself on that first diet, it all went to hell and I’ve struggled ever since. Furthermore, people who parade around with titles like “Certified Health Coach” are not doctors or dieticians and they don’t actually have the qualifications to tell you what you should be putting in your body. Actual registered dieticians warn against all of these supposed miracle diets, because they’re not going to do anything but make desperate people shell out money they don’t have for products that don’t work. And I can absolutely promise you that none of that MLM stuff these “health coaches” are trying to sell you is going to lead to any long-term weight loss success, because if it did, everyone would be doing it! If some company out there had finally cracked the code and knew the magical answer to the question of how to lose weight, don’t you think that everybody and their mom would be all over it? 

The conclusion to this story is rather unremarkable – I deleted the friend request and unliked the post that started this whole mess so that hopefully that girl doesn’t find me again. If she does, I can definitely block her, but for now we’ll see if she takes the hint. 

I do still really like her original post though.

 *MLM stands for Multi-Level Marketing and it is a nicer way of saying “pyramid scheme”.