this is the semi-grown up blog of liz markus, showcasing her ability to put letters and symbols together in a pleasant and correct manner.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

a lighthearted interlude

i had somehow forgotten about this video's existence. this is a failing on my part, and i sought to remedy it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the violence inherent in the system, but not the sex.

so i've done a lot of thinking about the whole "violence is ok for kids, but sex isn't" debacle that plagues our society, and i think i've finally hit upon a logical conclusion.

anyone who has ever spent any time around young kids (and i mean pre-teen/prepubescent young) knows that the lord of the flies had it absolutely right: without societal guidance, children are mean. they will say whatever they want, regardless of the feelings of others, and with a complete lack of tact. they'll hit and kick and scratch and bite. they will defend themselves over the smallest slight, and attack verbally at a moment's notice.

so violence, messy as it is, is ingrained. it's there at the start, and is un-taught for the greater good (i.e., not going around punching everyone because you want to). it's relatable. it's even casual; my guy and i beat each other up all the time. mostly me. because he's a jerkface*.

i'm not a doctor. i have no grants, and i haven't spent years observing children and their brain patterns and diets and hormone levels. but it doesn't take a doctorate to know that kids are jerks. nor does it take a rocket surgeon to know that kids don't really develop an interest in sex until later on, much later than an interest in violence and slapping tommy because he took your blocks away.

sure, kids know they have parts. they know that if you touch some of those parts in a certain way, it feels weird/good/hilarious. they know that acting out on the touching can get a response that is also hilarious, especially when your parents have guests over for dinner. but the intricacies of sex and its larger-scale effects are basically lost on children**. part of the joy of childhood is the inexperience and innocence that coats our interpretation of the world around us. we catch glimpses of things and reconstruct them in our head based on already learned facts and pure imaginative whimsy. we see a bit of sexy-times on television before the channel is quickly changed, and lie in bed replaying that bit over and over again, wondering what and why and how and hey what's going on there. we ache for the unknown, in an unknowing manner; we don't even know what it is that we want.

so where does this leave us? well, it's my opinion that information about sex should come from someone who cares and knows what they're talking about, and i'd really like it if we lived in a world where that person is a parent or guardian. unfortunately, we don't live in such a world. we live in a world where it seems like a lot of grown human beings don't know how their own bodies work. we live in a world where girls are growing up to be women who think a hymen is something that has to be broken through***, and many men think that pornography is a learning tool.

like wonder bread and alvarado st bakery, the sex that is found in movies and books is a creature completely separate from actual sex. in movies and books, two people (usually a man and a woman) meet, know each other for about a week, have sex (in books--at least, in romances--the woman is usually a virgin and there's pain and blood and the man holds her close as her eyes well with tears and he assures her the pain will pass and then omg it's so beautiful lolz~****), and then are in love forever and ever.

this is not what we need to be teaching children. we need to be teaching them that their bodies and minds are complex, and thus, social and sexual interactions are as well. we need to teach them to be safe, with their own bodies and with other bodies. they are not going to learn any of this watching/reading current forms of entertainment. this, unfortunately, says a lot about the quality of our entertainment these days, but frankly, if you're looking to something called entertainment for learning material, you're already in a lot of trouble. children, however, see everything as learning material, because everything is new. what they do with that material is, for the most part, up to you.

sit down with your kids, tell them how their bodies work. they don't need all the fleshy-moist details all up front; a nice outline of the basics will do, and then work your way up from there.

and tell tommy to stop being a dick and give back the damn blocks.

*not always.

**which is why 16 and Pregnant exists.

***i think i truly grasped how second-rate the female gender is considered in this country when i learned, at age twenty-nine, that this is not true.

****i was an avid reader of harlequin romances. it is seriously like this. all the time. forever and ever. just like love! <3 <3 <3 xoxo

Monday, August 6, 2012

pumpkin pie rice pudding.

so i had a random urge for crazy food-related delight this afternoon, on my hour-and-a-half drive home from pacifica*. i recently found, via tastespotting, recipes for fried oatmeal chicken and pumpkin mash. the page in question was an exercise in de-health-ifying an existing set of recipes, and believe you me, it sounds pretty freaking awesome. however, i've been trying to pay attention to what i stuff in my facehole, and the thought of frying chicken in pure butter was slightly repellent to me. so, i stopped at the store, and then i improvised, via baked oatmeal chicken and pumpkin polenta.

it was pretty amazingly delicious considering i was basically winging it; the milk needed egg to really make the oatmeal stick, and i probably should've run about half of the oatmeal through the food processor to make a really nice coating. but the oven maintained 350 degrees fahrenheit**, and the polenta soaked up the pumpkin like a champ. well, half of the pumpkin.

see, the smallest size can of pumpkin puree one can get with regularity at their local supermarket is 15 ounces, the size of a slightly-large soup can. i only needed half the can for dinner, and whilst i took a couple bites of puree straight from the can, i craved more.

enter cook's illustrated recipe for simple stovetop rice pudding, tweaked and adapted to complete shit because i'm impatient and didn't want to use two cups of any dairy product. because we were running low. however, my bastardization was the real winner this evening:

i give you, pumpkin pie rice pudding.

1/2 cup medium grain rice
2 cups water
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
half a 15oz can of pumpkin puree (aka, 7.5oz pumpkin puree {math is power!})
1 tsp cinnamon (or, one container cinnamon. it depends on your tastes. i don't judge.)
dash nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract

bring 1 cup of water to a boil. stir in rice and salt; reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

stir in milk and 1 cup water; the sugar; the spices; the extract; and the half can of pumpkin puree. bring to medium heat, stirring frequently until thick. reduce to low heat to continue the magical thickening process, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.

you could, of course, let it chill in the fridge, and then top it with freshly-made whipped cream and some more cinnamon. or, you could be real damn impatient like me, and let it fall to just below taste-bud-slaughtering heat before consuming it like the animal you are. i am. we are. IT TASTES LIKE PUMPKIN PIE, ALL RIGHT?



*i almost stopped a few times--the weather was perfect, the sea was exquisite... ugh.

**which was twenty-five degrees lower than i wanted, but the fact that it maintained any temperature below 425 is a victory to me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

+100 things that make me happy+ #24: falling asleep sitting up with the light on and a book in my hand, then waking in the night to find the light off and the book put aside for me

the title to this post pretty much explains it all.*

a few years back, i had a massive ear infection. and i mean massive; i could not hear out of my right ear for a good five months total. the infection culminated the morning of christmas eve, forcing me to spend the wee hours of the morning crying in pain in the urgent care of the local doctor's office.**

two hours and a couple hundred dollars in time and prescriptions later, i was back home, medicated and packing up little chinese-food boxes with cookies for the coworkers i was, unfortunately, bailing on that day.*** i rested for a bit, then headed out with the guy and kids to drop off the boxes, apologize profusely for being ill, and spend the evening nodding off in a corner at the guy's parents' house.

that night, we sat in bed reading, the red-shaded vintage lamp behind the bed making everything look warm and cozy, and the down comforter actually making it warm and cozy. the nodding continued in earnest, evolving into drowsing, and ending with me falling asleep sitting up with my book splayed in my lap.

later, i woke up to a dark room and soft snoring. my book was set aside. i'd been tended to in my sleep. at a time when i was already feeling vulnerable and crappy, it was immensely comforting--a small, lovely gesture of affection.

*unlike clarissa. i liked the show and all, but really, she explained absolutely nothing.

**pro-tip: screaming and clutching your head gets you to the head of the line every. time.

***retail work = usually working shitty days of the year and having to pay for doctor's visits and prescriptions out of pocket. SCORE!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

+100 things that make me happy+ #23: quail

summer in california means many things to many people. in the past it has meant to me that i had one more stupid season to get through before autumn finally arrived, and i could wear sweaters and eat squash again. living in the mountains has toned down my dislike for summer, and i have come to more fully embrace the long days and barbequed foods and cold beverages that i used to really not care that much about.

summer in california also means that the local wildlife is out in full force. frogs, cicadas, owls, mockingbirds, coyotes--they're a constant nightly reminder that 27 hours of daylight is not nearly enough, and will screech in protest all night long. luckily for me, i wear earplugs to sleep.

my all-time favorite summer "visitor" is also a bit noisy, but it's an adorable noise. the california quail makes a poppy sort of whooping sound as it scratches through the brush bordering our property. they like to gather there in the mornings and late afternoons, and i like to try and get as close as possible without scaring them away. i unfortunately suck at it, so i have to make do with glimpses of blurred feet scrambling into the christmas tree farm next door and sightings down the driveway.

a baby quail is called a walnut. take a moment to fully absorb that fact, i'll wait.

ok, you good now? no? me neither. i still can't get over the fact that the offspring of one of the cutest birds ever is called a freaking walnut. a group of quail is called a covey*. so you can have a covey of walnuts. i don't even know what to do with myself in situations like this.




*thanks, covey run vineyards!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

the chicken whisperer.

at least five days a week, i drive down the hill into town. and then, in turn, at least five days a week, i drive back up the hill to home. the passenger-side window of my car doesn't roll down, so the ride home is when i take a little back road, and stop to talk to the chickens.

seriously. i pull over, roll down my window, and greet them with a "good day". i will then proceed to either ask them "what's up" in english, or translate it into what i believe is chickenese. i sit in my car and cluck at them until they come over to the fence, where they scratch, stare, and cluck softly in response. every once in a while, the rooster will give me a crow*.

i sit and i tell the chickens that they are very lucky to be chickens, that they have it easy. they don't know right or wrong, and therefore it doesn't exist for them. they just do. i tell them that they don't have to worry about rush hour traffic, or complex social interactions. this is not at all meant to belittle the chickens; far from it.

then, after a minute or so, i drive off, because another thing chickens don't have to worry about is their owner coming around the corner of the coop to find a strange girl in a car babbling to their yard fowl. nope, that worry is all mine.

*the sound, not the bird. i wish it was the bird. that would be sweet.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

+100 things that make me happy+ #21: warm feet

as i mentioned in my last post, i lack a common element most humans and, well, vertebrates in general, share: blood. in its place runs sweet, sweet liquid helium*, which makes me very popular at beach parties on the sun**.

the unfortunate side effect of this condition is that my time spent on earth, with its normal temperatures, usually renders my extremities red and black with tepidity-bite, which makes for a sad, cold, leprous panda.

seriously, though, i get cold really easily, and it makes me physically uncomfortable and unhappy. so when i do have the foresight to actually add a couple extra layers before... anything, i'm always amazed at how much happier i am based on a few degrees. in fact, i have terrible trouble sleeping when my feet, specifically, aren't warm. i will toss and turn all. freaking. night. if those buggers aren't cradled snugly in fluffy cotton or chenille sheathes. and driving first thing in the morning, before my engine's warmed up and i have a nice draft blowing directly on my shoes? yeah, fuck that. i am all about slipper socks and a heating pad. word.

*Helium is the most difficult of all gases to liquefy and is impossible to solidify at atmospheric pressure. These properties make liquid helium extremely useful as a refrigerant and for experimental work in producing and measuring temperatures close to absolute zero. Liquid helium can be cooled almost to absolute zero at normal pressure by rapid removal of the vapor above the liquid. At a temperature slightly above absolute zero, it is transformed into helium II, also called superfluid helium, a liquid with unique physical properties. It has no freezing point, and its viscosity is apparently zero; it passes readily through minute cracks and pores and will even creep up the sides and over the lip of a container. Helium-3, the lighter helium isotope of mass 3, which has an even lower boiling point than ordinary helium, exhibits markedly different properties when liquefied. See Superfluidity.

**you didn't know the sun was known for its excellent beaches? god you're behind. READ A BOOK.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

+100 things that make me happy+ #20: cinnamon

i don't think i need to go too far into this one. find me a person who doesn't like cinnamon--besides some poor, sad, god-forsaken soul that somehow happens to be allergic to it*--and i'll show you the true terrorists. because these are the heartless, merciless bastards we need to fear.

think of all the things cinnamon goes into. seriously, take a minute, i'll wait for you. and whilst waiting, i'll make a list, and then we can compare it and what you come up with, and giggle, and then go eat all the things on the list.

- cinnamon buns (they have cinnamon IN THE NAME)
- snickerdoodles
- mexican hot chocolate
- bread pudding
- banana bread
- oatmeal
- lattes (sprinkled gaily and liberally)
- oatmeal cookies (obviously in a different class than plain oatmeal, since, you know, you have to bake them)
- streusel topping (the crumbly joy and wonder that tops coffee cake. which reminds me...)
- coffee cake

i think that's a good start for a list. and that's just edible things. that doesn't include sexy-time lotions, creams, shampoos, plumping lip glosses, deodorizing sprays, glade** plug-ins, and just sprinkling it directly into your carpet for the hell of it.

i also define the scent of cinnamon as the smell of warm. you smell it and you just feel every nerve ending blossoming to attention, and heat. such things are of great importance to me, because i have liquid nitrogen flowing in my veins instead of blood, and am therefore always a nice, chilled -8°F****.

i have yet to find a recipe that can't be improved by the addition of cinnamon. cookies? duh. cake? dur-hoy. whipped cream? no-brainer. guacamole? you bet your sweet bippy*****. chicken? please stop insulting me, i have done nothing to deserve it. cinnamon, however, by existing, has done everything to deserve all the praise and worship in the world. therefore, i hereby pronounce my ever-lasting devotion to the church of our lord cinnamon.

think about my god next time you chomp down on a stale eucharist. yeah, that's what i thought.

*and even they wouldn't really count, since i'm sure they'd love it if they could have it, and are therefore even more poor and sad and god-forsaken. why you gotta hate, creator?

**not a shameless plug, just the first company that came to mind. i make no money here.***

***unless you wanna give me some. that'd be sweet.

****i'm great at summer barbeques.

*****what even IS that?

+100 things that make me happy+ #19: when my car starts in the morning/afternoon/evening/ever

#19's place on this list is a bit tricky, seeing as how it's more a bittersweet pleasure/relief rather than something that truly makes me happy. what would make me really happy is having a car where starting up wasn't even an issue. but THAT'S NOT MY LIFE, so, yes.

it's not even my car. it's my father's car, a 1997 dark green GMC jimmy SUV*. it's a fairly amazing car. and by amazing, i mean it's amazing how the aesthetic components are absolute shit but the inside seems to run on kitten dreams and unicorn glitter as opposed to water and oil.

as of now, the following are broken:

- both rear view mirrors (the driver's side fell off whilst i was driving; i clipped the passenger side trying to maneuver into the bitch spot at my old work).
- the driver's side visor (the mirror/lights sort of fell off. they're held in with duct tape now, kind of) and the passenger side visor (the cover fell off, and has to be replaced each time it's used or the lights won't turn off and the battery will run down).
- the passenger window.
- the gas gauge.
- the air conditioning.
- the spring in the driver's side door, that keeps the door open instead of slamming shut on your hand when you're already pissed off because you ran out of gas on the highway because the gas gauge doesn't work.
- one of the cigarette lighters (not that i care, since i don't smoke and there are two more located directly beneath it, but i'm trying to be thorough). though it's only fair to mention that it's broken because there's a piece of AC adapter stuck in it.

why am i happy again?

oh, right, because it still manages to start every day. this is of especial importance to me because i live near the top of a mountain with no public transit services, where pizza delivery fears to tread and bicycles are only for the super bad-asses who actually think neon lycra is acceptable dinner attire. my options, if i were car-less, would consist of:

a. walking... 17 miles. 27.36 kilometers******. 1,077,120 inches. ok, inches will always suck unless you're a squirrel, but still. you get what i'm saying.

b. the aforementioned bicycling. the only neon i own is a hot pink sweatshirt with engrish splattered all over it like a fine b├ęchamel sauce*******(********).

c. making friends in my area and constantly hitching rides. HA. YEAH. YEAH, THAT'S HAPPENING. yeah. i'll get right on that. that's a post all on its own right there.

so yes, while, in more normal situations, #19 might seem like a crappy thing to be happy about it, the reality is that i have a vehicle that, currently, gets me from point a to point b with a minimal amount of fuss*********.

*and yes, it was used. we needed a vehicle large enough to move around the guns.**

**that makes it sound a little too bad ass, like we bury bodies in the forest or something. it was more like archery equipment.***

***though killing someone with a bow is rather impressive.****

****a recurve or long bow, that is. killing someone with a compound bow is like having a person walk up to you, take your hand, wrap it around the knife, then make you stab them a few times until they're dead.*****

*****i use a compound. :(

******do you say KEE-low-mee-turs or kee-LOM-eh-turs? i'm on the first-syllable-stress front, because i know no one who says mee-LIM-eh-turs or de-CAM-eh-turs. and if i did, i would punch them.

*******you like that? i thought it was a classy touch.

********i love asterisks. but i think it might be time to stop now.

*********by minimal, i mean the occasional running out of gas and having to call people to help me. yeah, #19 basically sucks. oh well.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

stupid blogger.

why make a carriage return stroke automatically publish a post?

why make the title of the mistaken post still show up in RSS feeds even after you put it back into a draft?



Sunday, January 29, 2012

+100 things that make me happy+ #18: buying expensive makeup cheap online

i started wearing makeup seriously in middle school. before it was discovered by the rest of the student body that i was a complete weirdo, there was a day, at the beginning of the school year, where i found myself in the locker room applying concealer to my tiny, prepubescent blemishes, before taking school photos.*

"what's that?" one of the girls asked.

"it's this stuff, you put it on your face and it makes spots and acne go away." i wasn't yet totally hep to the lingo.

"can i try some?"

i handed the tube over to the girl who had skin at least two shades darker than mine, and we all learned that sometimes, skin color really does matter.

over the years, i've tried a lot of freaking makeup. mostly drug store stuff, the usual brands, cover girl, maybelline; revlon if i had some extra money and was feeling fancy. for the longest time, i operated under the belief that the cheap stuff was just as good as the expensive stuff, and no way was i going to spend over ten dollars on an eyeliner pencil. and then i continued to live my life feeling uncomfortable about how my concealer cracked by mid-day, and totally everyone was staring at it thinking i was some kind of leper. this could easily spiral into a murky miasma post about self-confidence and body image and blah blah blah, and i'd rather it didn't, because then it would spoil the happy ending, which is that the expensive stuff is better, and just because it's expensive doesn't mean you have to spend all your money on it. see? happy.

actually, the first real fancy-pants makeup item i ever purchased was for full price, and wasn't all that great (though it smelled fantastic):

benefit's dr. feel good
this claims to be something like a primer/mattifier, to be worn under or over your makeup, or by itself. i think that last part only works if you have airbrushed skin to begin with, because i personally don't have the kind of complexion that can walk around all naked-like. putting it on over my makeup just kind of smeared things around, and underneath it provided a negligible difference; that kind of turned me off of fancy makeup, and benefit as a brand, for a while.

luckily, i gave them another shot. however, i wasn't going to get sucked in this time. no ma'am, this time, i went to sephora and poked and smeared and dusted and prodded, wrote all my findings down in my little notepad, and hightailed it back home to ebay, where i went crazy procuring powders and creams for half of what they cost in stores.

of course, there are drawbacks to buying anything on ebay. i check the seller's ratings beforehand, and if there's even a single instance of someone saying that a product was fraudulent--even if it's something completely different from what i'm buying, and oh they have all these positives--i'm gone. regular makeup is enough chemistry for me already, i have no desire to apply ingredients that i can't even verify to my face, near my eyes and mucus membranes and mouth. it's worked pretty well thus far; i believe i've only been fleeced once, and i'm not even 100% about that.

*i believe my first sixth grade school photo is the last school picture in which you'll find me smiling with any sincerity.

Monday, January 23, 2012

the differences in times of anxiety and times of no anxiety

times of no anxiety: you go out for chinese food, and when you crack open your forture cookie and find no fortune, you curse the vagaries of assembly lines.

times of anxiety: you go out for chinese food, and when you crack open your fortune cookie and find no fortune, you feel a dark cloud descend upon you as you realize that this is a sign you're totally going to die.