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But it was for Jesus, Mommy!

I’m no foreigner to culture shock. It happens every time I leave my house. Not everyone grew up in a home schooled family of five, this I’ve learned. But it still surprises me.


Part of not being raised by the government means my knowledge of pop culture (often the bread & butter of modern conversations) is shockingly deficient, unless it is referencing the hip culture of days gone by. If I was any better at math than I am at pop culture trivia, I could tell you how many times conversations start with, “Heidi, I’m sure you haven’t seen this, but everyone else listen up …” Let’s just suffice it to say it happens mucho times.

cultural movie

My perpetual state of outsider-ness took on a new dimension when I traveled to New York City this spring. I’d been wanting to break my mom’s heart for quite some time, so I decided to get my first tattoo. For the design, I couldn’t decide between a list of previous boyfriends or my Instagram follower count because the ridiculously high numbers of each made it seem like flagrant bragging.


So I decided to go the humble route with a lovely ancient Christian cross that holds great significance for me. Plus, it would soften the blow for my mom.

My skin was already weeping under the muggy NYC air and the thought of its impending mutilation by the time I arrived at the tattoo parlor, which detracted from the cool & detached aura I was trying to achieve. As I wiped the excessive sweat from my eyes, I was immediately assaulted with fabulous decorating tips for when I start my business of redecorating morgues: paint as if black is the only available color and scatter a few choice skeletons (preferably animals) as wall art and viola! You’ve created a safe and inviting atmosphere that will encourage people to trust you with permanently changing their body.


Ever aware of manners in an increasingly discourteous age, I kindly insisted that my accompanying  friend receive her tattoo first. That way, I could assess the procedure while keeping one eye on the door and make a dignified escape if the carnage got out of control. Unfortunately, she survived unscathed and I had no excuse not to proceed. As the moment of permanent transfiguration arrived, the sweating rose to tsnaumi levels and only by some divine miracle was I able to seat myself on the chair without slipping off.


But I should have known that when the actual tatooing began, I would face it with my typical inspiring courage and panache. Once there was no going back, my fear melted away like a muggy Alabama evening. My erect posture and the fearless glint in my eyes more than redeemed my sweaty, deer-in-headlights entry. It is very probable that every person in that tattoo parlor was eyeing me with breathless respect.


As my fear-induced haze lifted, I began to notice my surroundings again, particularly the music. Apparently, until this day I didn’t actually know what rap was. I always thought it was Usher and the like. But now my ears wiggled with a new sensation: their first exposure to real rap. In case you’re also fortunate enough to not know what rap is, let me explain:

1. Someone bangs on a surface to create a steady, solid beat.
2. Over that, a talented soul swears. Explicitly.
3. Repeat until all the swear words in the world have been used up

swearing crisis

As the profanity began to drill a hole into my soul, I squeaked in astonishment, “Is this rap music??!” And just like that, my painfully-won cool status vanished. Every tattooed head in that parlor swiveled around to stare at me incredulously, their mocking eyes querying, “Where have you been your whole life??” Ummmm … listening to artists who don’t operate as if the f-bomb is a verb, adjective, noun, pronoun, adverb, preposition, article, sonnet, prayer, etc.  An astounding accomplishment for a puny, four-letter word, really. Hats off to the f-bomb. You’re f#*%ing amazing.

In the end, we all got a good chuckle out of my cultural naivette, I left with a million expletives to expunge from my mind, and my mom hasn’t disowned me. Yet.

Next Time, I’ll Hit Him Sooner

I adore traveling. I just wish I could bring my bedroom with me. Yes, I am one of those obnoxious people who requires a meticulously controlled environment in order to sleep.

Humble Hubris: portable bedroom

However, the lure of lush, rolling Irish fields and fresh Parisian baguettes proved stronger than my lust for sleep, so my friend and I trotted off to Europe with our American-sized backpacks stuffed with travel essentials: Cliff bars and grandiose, overly-romantic expectations.

Humble Hubris: travel naive

First stop: the bonny hills of Ireland.

First misconception shattered: English is English, wherever you go.

Hoping to ease into the foreign language experience by commencing our European jaunt with an English-speaking country, I was flummoxed to discover that I didn’t understand a word from the Irish. I knew we were speaking the same language … it just didn’t sound like it. It literally sounded like Mandarin to me. Is there a Rosetta Stone Irish course for English speakers?

Humble Hurbis: irish accent

After an eternity of wandering through the cobblestone streets of Dublin, we arrived at our hostel. Note to travelers: booking hostel lodgings is similar to online dating. No matter how nice the fellow is, you don’t know what his family is like until it’s too late. Our hostel was tolerable enough, as far as hostels go. It was our roommate that would prove to be troublesome.

Humble Hubris: hostel

Following a refreshing cleanse of travel grime (courtesy of the bathroom floor, which was a standing lake), we settled into our room and cheerfully made small talk with one of our roommates, a Polish fellow, who unfortunately turned out to be a Potential Roommate #1: The Crazy Gabber.

Small talk  evolved into big talk, as he proceeded to tell us his entire life story. Unlike Irish English, I lamentably understood every word of Polish English, down to each excruciating detail of how he was working in Ireland in order to send money to his impoverished Polish family. A charming story, really; just not after 24 hours of being awake.

Humble Hubris: hostel gabber

Eventually, the now-pressing need for sleep overwhelmed our good manners, and we stopped responding to him. He kept talking. We told him to shut up. He kept talking. In a sleep-deprived delirium, I threw my water bottle at him, hoping the physical force would convey the verbal message he obviously wasn’t understanding.

I don’t feel guilty about that act of violence. He deserved it, and besides, it was filtered water. It was probably good for him.

Humble Hubris: Water Missle

And still, the relentless fiend kept gabbing. Finally, we resorted to ‘playing dead.’ I can sympathize with hunted animals on a whole new level now: the clammy desperation, the dread of blowing your cover, the rustlings of the nearby hunter, the chilling sound of the weapon cocking  (which in this case was a verbal flood that threatened to implode my brains with the ferocity of a bullet).

Humble Hubris: hunted

It worked. His torrent of verbal vomit slowed, when he finally realized we must be dead. No point in wasting a riveting story on corpses!

The next morning, we requested and moved to a private room. After spending the day jaunting about Dublin, we returned to the hostel to find our Polish friend  speaking loudly to the receptionist, and then viciously point at us when we entered. The receptionist asked where we had been that day.

Apparently, 2,000 euros had been stolen from Polish Man’s locker in our former room the night we shared it with him. We appeared highly suspicious, as we requested to move to a different room after the robbery occurred. Thankfully, they realized we were Americans and the Marines would launch an international rescue operation if they so much as fined us, so we got off the hook.

spoiled american

Thoroughly scarred by our hostel experience, we opted for hotels for the rest of our European adventure. They say the best part of traveling is the people you meet and the stories you hear. I generally agree, with the caveat that the bonding occurs in a pub, or on a subway – NOT in your bedroom.

I now travel with a stainless steel water bottle: gabbers, beware!

Life Lessons With My Bunny

Life is short.

Especially for Clover. At the most, 12 years is all she has.

So how does she make the most of her tiny tenure here on Earth? By eating, pooping and sleeping all day long. We can learn much from her.

Here are a few of the sage life lessons I’ve learned from observing the little furball:

1. It’s ok to never change your bad habits
The people who truly love you will always be there to cover your blunders and clean up the aftermath of your mistakes. If they require you to change and grow, remove them from your life. They are toxic and demanding.

Humble Hubris: Bad Habits

2. Eating is the road to happiness
If you’ve been told anything else, you’ve been fooled. Eating is about the only thing Clover does, and she is remarkably free of depression, anxiety and stress. I suspect Clover took her philosophy directly from the Holy Scriptures (I  catch her meditating – i.e. pooping – on my Bible between her 100 daily meals). 1 Corinthians 15:32 states: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Humble Hubris: Scripture

rt3waq11111111111a66666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666s` (< this happened when Clover took over my keyboard. I knew she had a writer in her! Stay tuned for her upcoming poetry collection on the meaninglessness of life in a cage.)

3. If you’re desperate enough, you can find love anywhere
For the affection-starved, those bunny nibbles are actually miscommunicated kisses. My desperate desire for Clover’s affection has persuaded me that her frantic struggles are not indications of dislike; rather, they are just her bunny way of reciprocating my loving gestures.

I came to this conclusion primarily out of delusion, but also because I’ve observed that in human relations, gestures of love can often be misinterpreted by the recipient. For example: you snap at someone, but only because you miss them and are hurt by their lack of attention. With that in mind, finding love is a whole lot easier. Just stop being so sensitive and lower your standards! 

love nibbles

4. Being small and cute is the ticket to getting people to love you
Beauty is only fur deep. If you are tiny and cute on the outside, people won’t care what you are like on the inside. Time to lose weight and start saving up for plastic surgery! Should be much easier than wasting  time on developing myself into a loving and interesting person.

Humble Hubris: Crazy Adult

Humble Hubris: Tiny Bunny

5. Being lazy pays
Food, water and shelter just show up magically everyday if you only let go and stop worrying. Again, my fuzzy little philosopher forges her paradigm from the Bible: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself.”

Humble Hubris: Laziness

6. Bathing daily is unnecessary
Clover washes herself daily.  Many humans have told me I should do so as well.

However, keep in mind that Clover also frolics in her poop and pee daily.  The only time I’m covered in pee is when she kicks her filthy little paws in my face (sometimes I wonder if it’s truly an accident). I won’t draw the obvious and incriminatory parallel to the bathing-once-a-day- proponents. You can do it yourself.

Humble Hubris: poop Side note: if I didn’t have to undress to wash, I might do it daily, too!

7. Bribing your children is the only way to earn their affection
My bunny has taught me that your children will reject your love, no matter how much you sacrifice for them. ALWAYS.

They are ungrateful, selfish and disdain your reasonable requests for cuddles. (Oh gosh, I might have just reasoned myself out of having having kids).

Unless you bribe them with a juicy carrot, a warm meal or cheap rent.

Humble Hubris: Bribing

Oh, to be a bunny!

How I Get Buzzed

I never thought I’d endanger an entire species. It horrifies the small sliver of my soul that still cares about things other than myself, yet also tickles my ego with the tiniest of feathers. Even if it’s for an abominable reason, if it catches the attention of PETA, then at least I am doing something noteworthy!

PETA Hate List

I’m the cause of the bee shortage. I’m hunting those poor little creatures and squeezing their precious life juice out for selfish me. The juice goes in a needle, then the needles goes in me.

Oh, you haven’t heard of bee venom therapy?? Earth to you … helllooooooo. Where have you been, hiding under the Rock of Myopic Western Medicine? I predict Bee Venom Therapy will soon surpass Prozac as the most common panacea for all of mankind’s maladies.


Anyway, back to the dead bees. I actually don’t extract the venom myself. That’s too grisly for a classy lady like me. A farmer out in the idyllic wilds of Canada lovingly raises the bees on an organic, range-free, grass-fed (insert more healthy buzz words) farm, tenderly nurturing them, naming and cherishing each as his own offspring.

bee utopia

Then when the time comes for them to sacrifice their lives for the noble cause of human health, he gently hand milks the venom from their surrendered bodies, drenching their lifeless forms with his awed tears of respect.

Bee farmer

A wee bit of hyperbole might be lurking in that description, but most of it is true  (with the exception of the naming and tears). The costly juice is then shipped to my doctor, who – like a fleshy and soft large bee that has lost his wings – stings me with a man made needle full of the venom. It feels unsurprisingly like … a bee sting, over and over.

Bee Venom Doctor

Aside from a perfectly natural desire to exterminate the human race by destroying the pollinators of their food, you might be pondering why I would undergo such a delightful experience. The answer goes back to more needles.

I’ve been subjecting myself the last few months to neural therapy, which is a euphemism for “Stab Every Sensitive Part of Your Body with Needles in Hopes That It Makes You Feel Better”, in an attempt to rid myself of a chronic headache. Exchange pain for pain, right?

The treatment goes something like this:

1. One week before appointment: Start panicking. Ponder all the sufferings of humanity to keep things in perspective:

the suffering of humanity

2. Night before appointment: get no sleep


3. During appointment: Lose an hour and a half of oxygen as I hold my breath for dear life while my face, neck, arms, back and mouth are injected with anesthetic and ozone:


Thankfully, it works, when all other remedies failed. I’ve grown to like needles so much (false) that I decided to expand the treatment to include bee venom injections, which allegedly mitigate pain.

So little bees, you have not died in vain. If your precious juice restores my life, I promise to devote all my newfound energy to creating a bee sanctuary out in the wilds of Canada, where bees will be free to do whatever it is that bees do, far from grasping human hands.

bee sanctuary

In the meantime, I have a very itchy back that would love some scratching, if any of you are in a philanthropic mood. I’m seriously considering renting it out to cats as a scratching post.