Friday, May 11, 2012

How I Poisoned Myself, and Why I Write This Blog

Sometimes, hey, things happen.  You're riding the rush of finding THE HARVEST DREAMZ VINTAGE PYREX BOWL you've been obsessed with and BAM!  You decide that with your boyfriend gone and your roommate out of town, now is the perfect time to cut a shoot off of that ginger root you've been growing to make a delicious ginger shoot vodka.  Man oh man, people will be all like, "Wow, Heather, my mouth is experiencing heretofore inconceivable taste sensations!  I don't even know where my tongue is!  Is it in a china hutch?  Is it in a graveyard?  Is my tongue in a graveyard?"  And I'll be all like "Guys, it's cool, you've just fallen down the rabbit hole of subtle ginger tastes, and when you finally land, you'll commence on a journey that largely resembles my 1994 crowd-pleasing turn as the Cheshire Cat, wherein my mom made my costume thanks to Affordable Fabrics' unbeatable $1.99 a yard prices and one of those sticks of lavender opaque colored sunscreen, and also, it will look a little like Care Bears in Wonderland, and let's take a minute to relive one of those Amazing Songs, because it's basically Singing in the Rain for our generation."


Okay also this one:

Okay and also briefly I would like to curate some related art from my favorite medium, You Tube comments:

So yeah, basically, my assumption had been that I would make an incredible ginger shoot liqueur whose delicate flavor couldn't be found in stores, plunging them into a remarkably artistic venture for a film whose purpose was essentially to shill Chinese-made stuffed animals.

This is not what ended up happening.

Here is what the plant looked like:

The two long stalks with a leaf at the end, or "ginger" shoots, had been growing at a fantastic rate, thanks to its permanent home in a southern window sill and what I like to think of as The Magic Of Gowanus!TM.  Ginger roots produce tall, edible shoots with edible leaves, and while not produced commercially since their flavor is much more mild than the root, I browsed through a number of culinary applications and felt fairly confident I could make an interesting drink.  My googling also yielded ginger leaf images that looked like either of the following:

The leaves on mine didn't look quite the same as any of them, but considering the range of leave shapes I saw, I figured it was just a different variety.

So, still in post-Pyrex acquisition glow, I cut the stalk.  It should be noted that I'm pretty much a rugged outdoorsman.  As such, I knew that when trying a new part of a plant or a plant whose identification you're not 100% certain on, it's best to first smell it, and if it doesn't have an off-putting odor, to try an extremely small bite, wait 15 minutes to see if you experience any ill effects, and then try another extremely small bite.  So gingerly (AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA WORDPLAY!) I took a tiny nibble of the shoot.

It tasted mad gross- bitter, not gingery at all.  I became suspicious not unlike Donut when confronting bivalves:

Round hair brushes:

And fish named after characters from The Wire/90s R&B young man singers:

So I dug up the entire plant and examined the root.  It looked like ginger.  I washed it off, and cut into it, and took the very teeniest nibble.  It was again super gross.

About five minutes later I called my nerd boyfriend to report on the disappointing ginger.  It was at that point my mouth started burning and non-sensually tingling.  I was all, "hey boo, my mouth is burning and non-sensually tingling right now and I'm starting to become suspicious that I just poisoned myself, you want to break this off?"  And he's like, "look, I know It's The 90s and you're a modern woman who blazes into an office and incontestably wears shoulder pads better than me, a fact that doesn't make me jealous [ed- that is a lie], but you should probably call poison control."

At this point I was liberally rinsing my mouth out with water and guzzling milk and using it like a milk mouthwash which gets really gross don't picture it oh God you pictured it and now you can never unsee that.  Meanwhile, he's asking me, "Heather- remember that plant we saw yesterday whose leaves you said resembled the ginger?  What was that?  I'm going to try to google it.  Also- you should probably call poison control.  Do you know the number?  You don't have the number for poison control memorized?  It's 1-800-222-1222."  "...can you text it to me?"  "Really?"  "I don't have a really good memory."  (Unless it's about who was and was not in the video for "Back That Ass Up," because I've literally gotten into a Best Friend Fight about the fact that LIL WAYNE WAS IN THAT VIDEO and I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG.)

But before I called poison control, it hit me that I did remember what those leaves from yesterday were- they were calla lilies.  And while I'm not in the habit of purchasing non-edible plants, last year Melissa wanted to do a brunch for her birthday and had made this purchase at the farmer's market, which I left in her care:

True story:  a purchase Kailin has made is a product called "Weave Aid."

Having been distracted by what I'm going to assume was intercourse (as if that's more satisfying than indoor gardening LOLZ!), the calla lily died shortly thereafter and I threw the potting mix into a container where I kept such things and forgot about it because it was a dead plant and if I remembered every plant that has died in this household I would be constantly weighed down in my life with mental pictures of anthropomorphic chlorophyll crying or some shit and I already cry an unnecessary amount as it is.

But this undead son of a bitch had ceremoniously turned back up just like old jumpoffs texting, "Do You Ever Miss Me?"  or "Have A Merry Christmas- I'm Sure You Will."

A quick Google search confirmed that calla lilies are poisonous.  BLOWN, BLOWN, BLOWN.  I dialed the number for poison control.

At this point my mouth was still super burning, but it wasn't quite as bad as a really hot pepper.  Interestingly, it connected me to some sort of UCONN poison control, so I couldn't help but think of that wonderful scrunchie emblazoned with huskies that Jessi gave me one time, and also, where is that scrunchie?  I could probably use it for washing my face, although I'd still need a headband to keep my bangs off my face, although I keep taking the headband back to my room with me, so it's never there in the bathroom when I need it, and although my apartment is small and I could technically walk back, I'm always like, "well, I'm here already" so I just unpleasantly get my bangs damp, and since the sink is really small, I basically get water all over the place which makes me think that sinks should really be designed for this kind of thing, and in fact, I believe they are, because this place I walked by on my way to work had those Mad Fancy sinks that look like bowls, and I'd like one, because a fancy sink means You've Made It, and that could help me Fake It Til I Make It, since I'm trying to practice being more confident, because Nancy Drew books taught me to treat my accomplishments in a humble and self-effacing manner even when you're clearly better at being a detective than local law enforcement and making lesbian friends named George (very progressive, Nancy Drew!), and not unlike how I tried to learn fashion from The Babysitter's Club books and put together what I thought was a Really Cool Claudia outfit in elementary school with orange lace leggings and was mocked because It Was The 90s and BSC is from the 80s, those 1950s values of feminine modesty that Carolyn Keene (WHO WAS A MAN, THAT NAME IS A PSEUDONYM AND I FOR ONE FEEL DUPED) proffered really only serve to inhibit women from achieving their whole potential.  And also, doesn't UCONN have a really good ice cream place or something that somehow relates to their ag science program?  I should go there the next time I'm home, I thought.

The poison control lady was very nice, even though she did not know where my scrunchie was.  I told her what I'd eaten, the amount, and what I was doing to treat it, and she said that I was doing exactly the right thing.  She said the burning sensation derived from the oxalic acid, which meant that it was kind of like I'd swallowed a thousand pieces of tiny glass.  (But it's tiny glass!  That's so cute.  It is basically the cutest way to poison yourself.)  Since I'd only eaten a very small amount, the only real side effect was the chance I'd have a slightly upset stomach because of all the adorable glass slicing up my insides, like a million Boos clawing me apart.
Do not let your roommate show this book to your boyfriend if you don't want to see a grown man contemplate his mortality because he becomes incredibly saddened by the thought that he "doesn't want Boo to ever die."

As it turns out, I didn't even get a stomach ache.  Poison success!  Which leads me to the last half of the title of this post: why I write.

I've had a lot of homesteading failures, but poisoning myself is kind of up there in terms of Embarrassing Moments.  I can handle a nip slip (who hasn't seen them, at this point?) or any of your more Seventeen magazine style mortifications, but this made me feel like something everyone could use to mock how foolish I was for trying all of this homesteading stuff out.  See what happens when you try?  You poison yourself.  I'm going to keep it casual and watch television programming and feel superior to you because I haven't poisoned myself.  Also, you've really gotten fat lately.  (I feel like in New York, negative self-talk tends to skew eating disordery, or is that just me?)

Ultimately, though, these kinds of mishaps are a huge part of why I write.  One of the much discussed issues about aspirational lifestyle blogs, with their photographs that actually look nice and the portraits on an unsloppy life they paint, is that they serve as a mechanism for reinforcing feelings of inadequacy women have about  themselves.  The thinking is that Martha Stewart was bad enough- now, thanks to the democracy of the medium, there are actual real women sans lockdown cred living these serene lives of idyllic country DIY splendor (and are also better than you at being a mom, though I don't know why their ability to fuck without condoms OR pulling out is something that is societally rewarded?).  And while every discerning reader obviously knows there is significant curation going on here, and that these women probably also make shitty dinners sometimes and make ugly crafts and throw up on themselves on the subway (is that just me?) and just don't mention it, the absence of visible fail on these blogs that purport (at least sort of) to be "realistic" can make the reader discouraged about their own abilities and life.  

This skewing of perspective is something I'd like to remedy.  I can't tell you how many recipes I fuck up a week, how many whole pineapples I drop on the floor after cutting the skin off so the gross floor debris gets all like encrusted on there and I'm like "fine, I'll just give that side to Donut" and he just leaves the piece sitting on the dog bed overnight, how often I feel like an abysmal failure at all I undertake...but the fact is, that's just what happens when you try.  Sometimes you'll accomplish fantastic things, and sometimes you're going to just sit on the floor crying over yet another broken Grimace glass.  I still think, however, that you'll accomplish much more than if you never tried at all.  

I'd like people to read this blog and think that if I can do it, they can do it.  Because (to change tenses) you probably can.  There are couple things I'd like to think I'm naturally good at, (pretty much all of which have no use in our modern economy, like reading French and accurately recalling all the lyrics to "How Many Licks") but gardening and cooking and any of the various homesteading skills that involve spacial relations are not among them.  This means that I'm fairly confident that most people reading this can do what I'm doing, and probably better and more quickly than me, even.  It just takes feeling comfortable enough to take risks and fuck up.  And hopefully, me being a human disaster and still doing this will encourage you enough to try projects of your own.  DARE TO DREAM 2012?

Trying.  A half hour later, I would finish skiing from "the top of the mountain" by attractively careening into a fence situated in a patch of mud.

1 comment:

Izzybat said...

I just want to say that my girlfriend and I LOVE your blog, you're hilarious and inspirational. Please keep blogging forever and ever because you fill my evenings with giggles and giggles