8.29.2014

sensitivity observations

Nomenclature
I remember when I first moved to Santa Barbara at 18 years old, I regularly used the terms "retarded" and "gay" to describe something negative or not advantageous.

My housemate and first UCSB friend, AM, pointed out that both of those words were mean spirited and offensive one day when we were hot-boxing her room.  She said it was easy to substitute them, and from then on, substitute them I did.

I now use "idiotic" and "lame."  Though, both of those essentially mean disabled, right?  Is that even any better?

Environmental Guilt/Blame
Yesterday I was driving home from the grocery store.  I was stopped at a red with some dude walking next to me on the sidewalk, and I saw him very forcefully throw his plastic fast food cup into the bushes.  My initial reaction was disgust and mild outrage.  He's fucking LITTERING?  Who does that?  What a dick!  What's he gonna do next, kill a whale??

But then I thought, oh wait, I drove 200 miles today in a large luxury sedan that takes premium gas, and I drank two bottles of water and threw them both away when I was done without any attempt to recycle, and then I bought a part of a cow to eat, whose methane farts are destroying the world.

And I was like, who's the asshole now.

8.27.2014

Part 2: what happens when i eat nuts

I'm allergic to nuts.

Here's a link to Part 1, The Facts.

This is Part 2, The Reaction.  It's gross and gnarly, but that's me.  I think this allergy is maybe why I'm sort of rough around the edges.

How it feels to eat a nut when you're allergic:
Oh wow, it's bad.  It's SO BAD.  Some people have food intolerances or allergies and it's like, "yeah I'm lactose intolerant but I'm going to eat this cheese pizza anyway because I'm hungry and my stomach maybe won't feel so great later on," but when you're allergic to nuts, NO FUCKING WAY IN HELL could you get my to try one just to see if it's good.  The thought of eating something with nuts brings an intense disgust to my mouth and I just wanted to spit on the floor after even listing all those nut dishes from the last post.  The word "cashew" makes me scowl. 

Here's why.

It starts
When I accidentally eat something with a nut ingredient, within minutes I have a horrible realization that, oh dear god, I did it again.  I've never heard the sensation described accurately because it's hard to put in words, but the feeling in your mouth after consuming nuts is just so off and gross.  It's like kind of a bitter itchy metallic taste and the inside of your mouth swells and gets super mad at you.  Usually, since I don't ever do this on purpose and all, I try to convince myself that maybe I just ate something spicy and I'm freaking out over nothing, but after all these years, I know.  If I think I ate a nut, I did.  If the waitress tells me, no we don't have nuts in that dish, either she's fuckin' lying or she's wrong.

I stand up and start pacing around, preparing myself for what's ahead.  The phrase sense of impending doom is an accurate way to describe my psychological state at this time.  I speed walk outside and start spitting on the ground.  I've never known why, but that's always been the first thing I do, I guess to try to get the taste out of my mouth and stop myself from swallowing more poison.  I have to explain to my unfortunate dining buddy that this will get wild, but don't worry because I'm not going to die.  I debate with myself: should I go home and get the epipen, will I be okay without it, aw man my whole night is ruined, yeah I gotta get home or at least out of public view, get me a car NOW.

The metallic bitter itchy swelling sensation travels down my throat, and my lips swell up.  I think to myself, man I look kinda hot with big red lips, haha! and then change my mind after seeing that in addition to the new "collagen" look, I have bloodshot eyes and hives that start by my ears and spread to my neck and then everywhere-fuckin-else and the urge to insanely scratch all over is overpowering and miserable, and my skin is simultaneously burning hot and filled with chilly goosebumps. 

Getting Worse
My stomach starts to rumble and cramp after about thirty minutes of this doom-laden itch fest and I think, oh shit, this is it, and if I'm lucky I throw up pretty quickly, but sometimes I'm stuck with the nuts in my belly for another hour and it feels like there is a demon baby in my stomach and I writhe around until finally I'm ready to puke, all the while spitting into a gross slobber cup.  I also enjoy groaning like a dying bovine during this time.

Here is a video me me during this phase:

video

*Note!  I was unaware that James was filming this, and he said is was for the purpose of proving to the restaurant that I was sick.  Meagan's first reaction was to say that he should have been comforting me, but during this time I hate being touched or conversed with, so that's why the distance.  He has always been an awesome help and during this particular incident had just called an ambulance.

Worst
This isn't the type of ralphing that makes a person feel better.  No, it makes everything even worse because the nuts are coming up my throat again and making it swell even more, and it's the gross kind of puke that drips out of my nose and my eyes are watering and I'm just crying and retching over and over while flushing the toilet to get the sour smell out of the air and to cover the sound of the dramatic moaning vomit show.  The absolute most bummer throw-up I ever had was when I had to go back like three times and by that time my throat was so swollen that I could actually feel my hangy-ball thing in the back of my mouth and I started gagging on it and I couldn't tell if it was a part of my body or a errant piece of barf that I was choking on.  It was GROSS, guys, understatement of the year.  

After demon belly subsides, I give an exhausted final flush and look up at myself in the bathroom mirror and find a wild woman with a puffed up crimson face and spit dribbling from her chin.  Jesus Christ I look hideous, maybe this is the ugliest I've ever looked in my entire life!

The Solution
But now the anaphylaxis in in full effect and I've got more important shit to worry about, like breathing.  After throwing up, the wheezing increases tenfold, and if another round of barfing ensues I really feel like I might die, and I'm not going out that way, GOD NO.  If I haven't had the epipen by this point, now is the time.  To use an epipen, you have to push it into your thigh muscle and leave it sticking in there for ten seconds.  If possible, I beg someone else to administer it for me because for some reason it's just easier than stabbing your own damn self in the leg.  It hurts more with each second and I always let out a desperate animal wail or two while the needle is in.  After the epipen, there's an epinephrine rush which makes me all shaky and nervous, but it really does make most of the symptoms better.  

*Note - If I can get to the epi pre-expulsion, its preferable, but most of the above in the "worst" category still happens because my body has to get rid of the nut somehow.

Aftermath
After the epipen, its not like I could go back out and have a cheeseburger and pull an all-nighter, but I improve enough for a hard slumber.  In some cases I can't really talk until the next day because of the throat swelling.  Per the epipen instructions and common wisdom, one is supposed to go to the ER after the epinephrine so that a doctor can monitor you, but I'm convinced that in most cases it's not necessary.  I'm also sort of careless if you haven't noticed.
 

8.26.2014

Part 1: the perils of living with a nut allergy

I'm allergic to nuts.

This is Part 1, The Facts. 
Also see Part 2, The Reaction.

Now I'll go into the speech I have memorized by rote for explaining my allergy to others:


I'm allergic to tree nuts.  I'm not allergic to peanuts, peanuts are okay, because they're different from tree nuts in that they grow underground.  They are not really even nuts, they're legumes, more closely related to peas.  Yeah I know, that is weird.  So I can eat peanut butter, which is really lucky because I love it.  What I can't eat is stuff like almonds, walnuts, cashews.  I get a really bad reaction and get sick immediately.  Usually I can taste that I've eaten something wrong and within an hour I throw up.  If it's particularly bad, my throat closes up and I have to give myself an epipen shot.  Sometimes I get hives, chills, lips swell up, eyes swell up so much they almost close, but that's not every time.  No, I actually don't carry an epipen around with me, which is kind of stupid I know, but they're bulky and nerdy and I usually just haul ass home if I need to.  Maybe I'll start.

This is a list of nuts that will make me sick:
- almonds
- walnuts
- cashews
- pralines
- pecans
- pine nuts
- hazelnut
- macadamia
- pistachios
- Brazil nuts (I've actually never seen these before)

This is a list of dishes that I can't eat because of nut ingredients:
- Pesto, usually has pine nuts but I could make my own if I wanted to with just basil and olive oil.
- Mole, the Oaxacan chocolate sauce used on chicken.  I was super bummed not to try this in Mexico.
- Nutella.  God, everyone has a cow over Nutella and I wish it would just die. DIE.
- Some veggie burgers, so I really don't eat them unless at a super basic non-sophisticated burger place or unless I can read the ingredients
- Indian food.  Dear sweet lord, Indian food has made me sick so many times and I have no idea which nut they even use on which dishes.  I don't think traveling to India is even an option for me unless I just ate naan and spinach the whole time.
- Baklava
- Marzipan
- Macaroons
- Holiday cheese balls
- Mortadella.  This is an cold cut littered with pistachios that's used in otherwise delightful Italian delis.
- Macadamia cookies from Hawaii.  If you see me avoiding white chocolate chip cookies, it's because I'm afraid the white chips are secret macadamia nuts.
- Hazelnut flavored coffee
- Crispy walnut shrimp from Chinese restaurants (James loves this dish)
- Granola bars sometimes have nuts so they scare me
- Same goes for oatmeal cookies
- I went to China and they were selling roasted chestnuts on the street.  It was a crisp autumn morning and they smelled deliciously cozy (yes something can smell cozy, you know what I mean), but I have no idea if they're safe or if I'd die.
- Lots of chocolates are made with nut extracts, so I don't usually eat fancy chocolate unless I can read the ingredients
- I have no desire to eat trail mix because I assume nuts are in there
- There's this liqueur called Amaretto which I've always assumed is made with almonds, but I have no proof of this and no idea why I have this notion.
- Lots of breads have little nuts.  I pick apart my bread at restaurants sometimes and inspect it and probably look like a monkey.
- Non-dairy ice cream is made with cashew milk
- Packaged vegan food contains nuts a lot of the time, for protein.  This is why I've decided I could never fully commit to a vegan lifestyle (I mean, among other reasons, like I really enjoy meat) no matter the health and environmental bennies.
- I've been googling around and Thai food keeps popping up as a thing not to eat, but it's never made me sick and I can't think of a Thai dish with nuts, can you?
- I've gotten sick twice in the last two weeks from eating cashew cream, which I'd never even heard of before.  It's the creams that get you because there's just no way to know.
- Sometimes when I order a cheese selection from a restaurant, the plate will come with a surprise smattering of nuts.  I get it off the plate as soon as the server is gone and avoid any cheese that has had a close encounter.  Then I proceed to enjoy the cheese less than I normally would.

Things that I can eat but it sounds like I wouldn't be able to:
- Coconut.  Not a nut, but a fruit.
- Nutmeg.  Derived from seeds.
- Peanuts/peanut butter/peanut oil/peanut M&M's/peanut brittle.  Legumes!  I love you legumes!
- Butternut squash.  
- Sunflower seeds.
- Sesame seeds.
- Water chestnuts.
- Foods made in a facility which also processes nuts.  It's fine, I do it.
- "May contain traces of nuts".  It's a judgement call but I'll usually eat that because it's from a corporation trying to cover their ass and the chances of an intruder nut are pretty low.
- Figs, dates.

How to avoid it:
I'm clearly not good at this part, because I end up sick seemingly everywhere I go.  So, yeah, I'm probably the wrong person to ask.  Don't try new food maybe?  Don't travel to a place where you're unfamiliar with the local cuisine?  Both of these things are quite lame and not an option for me.  Honestly, the worst is when a restaurant uses crushed up nuts and doesn't clearly label the ingredients.  I expect that in the US, but in other places where food allergies aren't as common, I can't really blame anyone for my freakish immune system.  If I wanted to be 100% safe 100% of the time, I'd have to prepare 100% of my own food.

Fun facts about tree nut allergies:
- A large percentage of people who are allergic to tree nuts have eczema (that's me!)
- A large percentage have asthma (not me)
- While some people grow out of their allergy, it usually gets worse over time.  I am experiencing it worsening.
- Some people die from it.  I don't think I will. 
- You can also become allergic to nut-related things over time, like peanuts, seeds, fruits with pits, avocados (noooooooo!!!!) and even latex.
- I don't know what it's like to be a kid who can't be in the same cafeteria as a peanut, but I feel really bad for them.
- Even though I hate my tree nut allergy, I prefer it over a fish allergy because that's so much more limiting and there are so many more opportunities to accidentally eat fish.
- My mom is allergic to fish.  My brother is allergic to nuts.  I've never seen them get a reaction though.  
- I'm also allergic to cats.
- Is this wavering from fun facts about nuts to all about me?  Sorry.
- I really love nut puns.  I get nutty, I'm a nut job, etc.

Tune in tomorrow for a play-by-play of the horrendous attack my body undergoes during a nut reaction!

8.25.2014

ecuador travel guide in a dumb email

This an extremely lazy way to do a blog post, but I'm copying an email I wrote to Jenn earlier today about our upcoming trip to Ecuador for ten days.  In fairness it took me FOREVER to write, so maybe I just want to share my work with the world.

I'm disturbingly stoked about this trip.  I'm excited for a trip with Jenn (my travel buddy in Spain, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, and Miami), I'm excited to be back in South America after, what, eight years, I'm excited to eat Andean potato soup, I'm excited to see some llamas, and I'm even excited to try cuy (guinea pig) again.

So, I dunno, if you read this and I actually know you (and like you! haha), let's plan a trip.  I want to go everywhere in the world.

You may also be reading this if you want to know about Ecuador.  That's cool too.  I want to know about Ecuador too.

It may also be fun to read this if you're insanely into poorly written travel guides.

You can also skip this entire thing and go to this site, which I discovered after I hit send and is really an awesome comprehensive resource.

ecuadorrrrrrrrrr

Lindsey

3:19 PM (3 hours ago)


to Jenn
so, ok.  i dont know if we should 1) hyper-plan everything because there is so much to see or 2) just get there and have a room booked for the first couple nights, then do whatever we want.


I'm trying to list all major stuff here with basic explanation links so that we don't go insane with all the different resources.  this is a very long email.  i just finished writing it and i am sufficiently overwhelmed.  I also do not know how to do a ~ over the n so i sound like a friggin idiot much of the time.


short overview of the country besides the galapagos:
http://2backpackers.com/2237/south-america/more-to-ecuador-than-galapagos
another overview, kind of vague but will tell you about prices:
http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-guides/ecuador-travel-tips/
overview with food and safety tips:
http://www.thetravelchica.com/travel-tips/ecuador/

Here are the most popular cities/destinations for tourists along with links and my opinions:
- Quito.  The capital, a colonial city.  Guess what, it's the second highest altitude capital in the world, after La Paz, Bolivia!  I suppose are checking high-altitude capitals off of our list over the years.   We are flying in there, so we got that shit.  I have secured a hostal for $30 per night for two nights, as well as a ride from the airport for $30 through the hostal.  we could take a cab for less, but we get in at night and the airport is like an hour away, so im comf with just booking the car with the hotel.
http://www.minkahostel.com/
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g294308-d4915857-Reviews-Minka_Hostel-Quito_Pichincha_Province.html
http://2backpackers.com/2597/south-america/quito-ecuador
http://backpackerreport.com/2013/04/17/lens-quito/


- Galapagos.  I'm going back and forth on this.  At first I thought, no, too expensive.  But I keep reading that everyone shits their pants over the beauty and animals.  I also read that you can get a last minute tour or flight for cheaper, so there's always a possibility of doing that from Quito and deciding once we get there.  A lot of people take organized tours, but we could do it independently for less money and not have to adhere to a tour schedule.  I heard that a lot of people do this and i think we are pretty capable travelers.   It is still more pricey than the rest of ecuador that way, but there is a little city on one of the islands where we could stay in a hotel for $50 per night and just take different day trips. I think most tours have you sleeping on boats, which sounds fucking awful to me.  the flight there is like 6 hours from quito, so this would take a considerable chunk of time.
Pros - its super famous and popular, probably for a reason.  Also, we love animals and when i think back on seeing those seals in san diego and how happy i felt, i sort of feel like how could we not.
Cons - expensive and time consuming
http://2backpackers.com/12048/south-america/ecuador-travel-ndependent-travel-in-the-galapagos-islands
http://2backpackers.com/9929/south-america/choosing-the-best-galapagos-tours
http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/my-tour-through-the-galapagos-islands/


- Otavalo market.  This is the biggest indigenous market in the world.  the major event is on Saturday mornings but i think we could go any day, and its about two hours north of quito.  it's supposed to be a shit show and i think its something that both of us would LOOOVVVEEE.  We could either take a day trip here from quito or stay at a hotel and see something nature-y in that area in addition to the market.  It's in the andes, like quito, but it's more of a small town and i read that you can see live andean fokloric music which would be kind of fun.  you can go to a shaman to and they can do a cleansing ceremony, which i would probably love.
http://2backpackers.com/4768/south-america/otavalo-market-ecuador


 - Banos - this is a small touristy town with hot springs and outdoor activities.  4 hours away from quito by bus.  we could soak in mineral water, get massages, rent bikes, rent atvs, or hike.  it's known as the gateway to the amazon, so if we decide to go to the amazon it would be a good stop.  there is also a really cool photo opp called swing at the end of the world, and you can also bungee jump for like $15, which i would totally do!  you can also take a day trip or two day trip to the amazon from here (i think its that short), i just learned.
http://2backpackers.com/11948/south-america/ecuador-travel-biking-ruta-de-las-cascadas
http://2backpackers.com/12577/south-america/ecuador-travel-relaxing-in-banos
http://www.placestoseeinyourlifetime.com/the-wildest-swing-in-your-life-in-ecuador-3086/
http://twenty-somethingtravel.com/2011/12/jumped-bridge-adventures/


- Guayaquil - largest city in ecuador, on the southern coast, supposed to have sort of a carribean feel.  i think daisy went there but i'm not that interested because we are already seeing the capital.  there is a park where huge iguana live, but thats about the only thing i'm excited about.  this is a major point from which to leave to the galapagos, but i think its just as easy from quito.  if we want to see the beaches its easy to go from here.
http://2backpackers.com/12026/south-america/ecuador-travel-the-city-of-guayaquil


 - Cuenca - an andean colonial city that is pretty popular.  i'm not totally sold on it because it sounds a lot like quito, but i think it might be prettier, so i dont want to rule it out.  it's up to ten hours by bus and $80 for as one way one hour flight to quito.  I think it 4 hours by bus away from banos.  I think a very famous dangerous train ride is near there called the devil's nose.
http://gobackpacking.com/travel-guides/ecuador/cuenca/
http://blog.shermanstravel.com/2013/07/09/south-america-on-a-shoestring-cuenca-ecuador/
http://blog.shermanstravel.com/2013/07/03/on-a-budget-in-ecuador-a-train-ride-for-the-ages/
http://trenecuador.com/es/nariz-del-diablo/


- Beaches.  Is it crazy that I'm not that stoked on going to the beach?  They have little beach towns that sound great, but it seems like staying in the andes and doing inland stuff is way more different than our normal lives on the coast.  I think if we were staying indefinitely or for a month I would go, but i dont know if its worth trying to fit in for a week.  what do you think?  here are the beach cities:
Montanita -it seems like montanita has a young backpacker hippie surfer stoner party vibe and i think we could stay in front of the ocean for like $10 a night and just chillax.  this city is accesible from guayaqil. 
esmeraldas/atacames - there is another one called esmeraldas that has a tropical feel and is popular, 7 hours from quito, supposed to be really pretty.
Puerto Lopez - the poor man's galapagos, accesible from guayaqil.
http://2backpackers.com/12126/south-america/ecuador-travel-montanita-a-surf-town-with-a-hippie-vibe
http://wikitravel.org/en/Esmeraldas
http://wikitravel.org/en/Puerto_L%C3%B3pez


- Amazon.  From what I have read, it is best to take a tour.  i would do a one-two night tour or just a day tour, if possible, but i see a lot of five day tours.  This would probably be quite rad and expose us to ways of the amazon indigenous people which sounds really interesting.  on the other hand, im sure it is very hot and humid and gnarly and full of bugs and really fucking weird food.  i think it would be best to get a tour in banos.
http://www.wildjunket.com/2009/10/16/venturing-into-the-amazon-rainforest-ecuador/
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g312857-d5985547-Reviews-Ecuadorainforest-Banos_Tungurahua_Province.html


 - Quilatoa Loop.  This is a popular hike that I guess takes a few days, so you stay in hostels and stop in villages along the way.  i dont know if we are the type of people who would do that, but id consider it.  it looks really pretty and we'd see a lot of country side and indigenous towns.  This is a short bus ride from quito or otavalo.  we could also just take a day trip to one of the hikes.
http://www.thriftydrifter.com/gasping-for-air-on-the-quilotoa-loop/

Some ideas i have that will better the trip:
- FYI - local beer is like $1 and i've heard all other alcohol is expensive.  you know im okay with that (insert disgusting beer burp here).
-I think we should pack really super incredibly light, carry on only if possible because we will probably end up on a lot of buses and do a lot of aimless walking once we get to a new place.  I think backpacks would be good.  we should coordinate toiletries.
-we should take it easy once we get to quito the first day, because of the altitude.  lots of water, no crazy hikes, maybe even no getting wasty-pants, who knows.  maybe just walk around and explore the city and hang out and eat a lot.  i'll bring lots of aspirin, i have a shit-ton at home.
-i guess there is a lot of crime and robberies in the tourist areas of quito.  thats lame!  but anyway, we have to be really careful.  i know you would be anyway.
-i have an underwater camera, so if we end up swimming i am prepared!
-bring dollars, that's their currency, score!  maybe we should go to the bank before we go and get dollars in smaller denominations- 10's, 5's, 1's, i heard even $20's can be tough to use because everything is so cheap and no one has change.
-taxis will be like $5 max, which is awesome.  we just have to make sure their meter is running or negotiate the price up front because sometimes they try and rip you off.  taxis are safe to take, which will be great at night in quito.
- water is safe to drink in quito, but we should drink bottled water outside of there.
-I am really open to anything.  even if i say im not super stoked on something, i would reconsider if you are drawn to a place.  so let me know if there is anything you think im missing or if you disagree. 
- i think its going to be impossible to see everything that excites us, but lets pick a few cool ones and be excited about a little adventure.

-bring your muthafuckin a-game bc its gonna be fun as FUUUCCKKK

LOVE,
LOOBIE

8.17.2014

dog beach photos

Hi, did you know that there's an off leash dog beach in Belmont Shore?  Yesterday we took the retirement home dog to play, and I'm so ashamed of myself that we've never been before.  One could say, why would I be ashamed if I don't even have a dog, but that doesn't matter because it's right there and we rollerblade on the path nearby all the time and I'm all proud of myself for exploring the interesting things around me but for some reason I had never thought to walk over to the dog beach though I've lives right by it for, what, seven years?

Anyway!  It's an incredible place.  Jake the Labradoodle had so much fun romping around and getting himself all salty and sandy.  James and I had a blast walking up the beach and creeping on all of the pups.  Long Beach is such a wonderfully diverse city, even when it comes to doggies.  The sight of Jake, who is 84 pounds, playing with a 5 pound tiny terrier was one of the sweetest sights ever.

We were there with pals and their golden doodle, who acted like an amped-up amphibious kangaroo, running and swimming and jumping like crazy.

Afterwards, we walked over to the Paw Spa (a self-serve dog wash) and gave Jake a bath.  We selected an anti allergenic shampoo and an oatmeal conditioner, then used a mobile vac and a brush to blow dry the doggy to make him soft and fluffy.

It was the best day ever.  That's barely an exaggeration. 













8.15.2014

monthly auto bills

Is it too much information if I list my monthly automatic deductions?  I know people aren't "supposed" to talk about money or whatever.  I sometimes don't get why though.  Is this uncouth?  Should I remove it and put it on my juicy secret blog?  Who am I kidding, there are like two people reading this and they know everything about me anyway.

The reason that this is happening is because I had to get new credit cards so now I have to update all of my auto pay info, and as I was in the middle of this, I thought, good god do I have lots of these that I never think about.

This is what's automatically gone each month:
$10 - spotify premium
$9 - netflix
$39 - realtor fees
$25 - KW office fees
$15 - realtor lockbox fees
$15 - avg gas payment for pasadena
$37 - internet/basic cable for pasadena
$167 - internet/sweet premium mega cable for LB
$114 - student loan auto deduction (i have two more years of this)
$2 - nat geo kindle subscription
$100 - yogaworks membership (this is possibly the most frivolous in terms of expense and need, but I've loved having it)

total - $533

8.14.2014

tibetan spaniel art

This is sort of unbelievable.... 

All images from google.

One might ask, why did I do a google image search for Tibetan Spaniel portraits?  That is not a question I can answer.