Re: Stinky Asparagus Pee


It was brought to my attention by an observant reader of my posts that although I had a valid reason to find it gross and slightly awkward that my boyfriend, after having had eaten asparagus, asked me why his pee smelled, it is, surprisingly, a legitimate question.

So I did some research and have come to set the record straight.

Apparently, in 1891 a scientist named Nencki convinced four guys (I'd be inclined to call them suckers) to eat about three and a half pounds each of asparagus (let's hope for their sakes it was seasoned and grilled and delicious). The unfortunate fellow then collected the pee and concluded that the smell was due to a metabolite called methanethiol.

Nencki claimed that as our body metabolizes asparagus, it produces this smelly chemical, which our kidneys see fit to dump into the bladder. (This info from an article I found online from the Discovery Channel.)

Now, I've also found a few other theories, such as this book, which suggests that asparagus contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan, also found in onions, garlic, rotten eggs, and in the secretions of skunks.

Interestingly enough, some people do not have the gene to break down this enzyme, so they can eat asparagus without stinking up the bathroom. I'm inclined to think I am one of these people, having never noticed the Great Post-Asparagus Stink.

When I told this to my boy and asked his forgiveness for questioning his sanity, he said, "Well, I know it's a legit question. What I care about is when the smell will go away."

That, I fear, I do not know. My apologies to all. And good luck.

A Hyberbolic Tale of an Apocalypse


[Hyperbole: extravagant exaggeration]
[Apocalypse: a great disaster]

Sometimes naps are fantastic, wonderful, and refreshing. Sometimes, however, they just make me wish I could build a time machine for the sole purpose of going back five hours and warning my unassuming, younger self not to be so ignorant and lazy. Sometimes they (naps) are so terrible, I wouldn't even use the time machine for something useful like gambling or cool like meeting Moses. No, I would just use it to go back in time and not take a nap.

On Saturday, however, I did take one (a nap, that is). It was only supposed to last a half hour, but that half hour somehow doubled, then tripled, and I was still sleeping a solid two hours later. Sleeping and dreaming, I might add.

I obviously was extremely tired, because I only dream (or at least remember my dreams) when I am very, very sleepy. My pastor made an appearance (in the dream, not real life), chasing his two young boys around the stage at my church. His kids were, by the way, riding tricycles, which was unusual. And I was watching them while playing the violin in a strange sort of serenade for their family bonding. It was weird.

Suddenly, right as the youngest child was about to run me over with his glittery pink three-wheeler, I awoke with a start. I turned over and continued to lie in bed, snuggling my pillow. Then, cursed pains of hunger began their musical interlude inside my belly. (Not to be confused with labor pains, which I hear are just slightly more painful.) I'm pretty sure my stomach was eating itself.

I need to get to the store. How I was able to think in my muddled state is beyond me. I felt as if an overweight elephant had sat on my face and then flattened it like a cartoon character. I couldn't move. I need to buy food for dinner.

After sitting up, I immediately felt the urge to lie back down. You don't need dinner! What you need is sleeeeep...

No, I need food.

I slowly swung my legs over the side of the bed and walked over to the mirror.

"AHHH!" I screamed and turned around, wildly swinging my arms to fend off the beast of prey that was stalking me from behind.


I took a deep breath and turned back to the mirror. A hazy reflection of something that looked a little like me stared back. I exhaled slowly. Apparently the crazed mammal I'd seen just moments earlier was, in fact, me post-nap.

After taking in the sight of my half-loose ponytail, bloodshot left eye (up till this point my right eye had refused to fully open), and bright red crease down the right side of my face, I hung my head in shame while wiping drying drool from under my chin. I was a flat-headed mutant. At least I was three dimensional.

Food, my stomach demanded.

It took me a few minutes to make the long five-step walk to the bathroom, but I did and managed to snag a brush out of the top drawer.

"Urggggg," I said. I'd become a pirate.

After attacking my mane with a brush, rubbing away the crease, washing my chin, and a few short right eye-opening exercises, I was ready to hit the supermarket.


As we all know, one should never, never go to the store on an empty stomach--especially when you're half-crazed, sleep-deprived female. I know I would have been alarmed had I seen a twenty-something girl frantically swiping food of all sorts into her cart. Raw chicken, bananas, two apples, seasoning salt, a huge bag of red grapes, buttermilk, cereal, crackers, skim milk, yogurt, lettuce, BBQ sauce, frozen vegetables, oreos---I could go on, but I'm embarrassed enough as it is.

As the minutes wore on, everything looked and smelled and tasted (I may or may not have kept eating unwashed grapes from the bag) better and better. I finally convinced myself I needed to leave before everyone took a look at my overflowing cart and started thinking I had top-secret information about an apocalypse and began a frenzied stockpiling of cans and bottled water.

I just had to make one more stop: ice cream.

There's really nothing else to be said. Breyer's. Mint chocolate chip.

I reached into the frozen shelves and grabbed the treasured carton of calories. Then I hurried as quickly as I could to the checkout counter, where I again became disorganized and had to swipe my card no less than six times while the people behind me muttered under their breaths and judged me for my mountain of food in the "express" lane.

Upon returning home, my stomach had reached a crescendo, and I knew I was about to pop. I couldn't wait any longer. I had to have it.

So I pulled out a bowl, a spoon, and the ice cream. And I ate and ate and ate. Then I watched a movie. Then I ate some more.

When I was finally snug in my bed a few hours later, I realized, much to my eternal self-loathing, that I had not, in fact, eaten dinner. My only choice was to count my loses and hope when I woke up the next morning, I wasn't 500 pounds heavier from the 1/2 gallon of ice cream I'd demolished in a few short hours.

That night, I spent my entire dream running from angry cows.

BPIML (Brad Paisley Is My Life)


It was Saturday night, January 6, 2010, and my boy and I were driving back from a Brad Paisley concert. (I'd gotten him the tickets for Christmas.) The mood was light as we talked about how close we'd been to BP when he came down from the stage and stood right by our section (I was sure he'd looked right at me), and Jordan was talking about how much he wished he'd gotten BP's cowboy hat.

He then continued on to say that if he had, by some strange miracle, snagged the hat, he would wear it all the time and never take it off. This comment I found to be a little strange, especially since I've never actually seen Jordan wearing a cowboy hat, but I chose to go with it and move on.

We were driving in his truck, with the windows down and the radio on, which happened to be playing a BP song every five minutes. Maybe it was coincidence, maybe I'm exaggerating, or maybe it was because he was in town doing a concert. Either way, every time a song came on, we would start all over again talking about how great of a guitar player he is and how cool sitting in the second row was, etc.

By the time we finally pulled outside my apartment, it was late, so Jordan just stopped right outside my door, and we began to wind down the conversation, the radio still playing quietly in the background.

I didn't see my roommate's Jeep parked anywhere and commented that I supposed she wasn't home yet and had probably just stayed the night at her boyfriend's, since he lived in the city, and it would be annoying to have to drive all the way back to our apt so late at night.

"But," I said, "that just means she has to get up at, like, six in the morning to get to work on time."

"That sucks," he said. "Not worth it to me."

"What's not?" I asked.

"Havin' to git up early ain't worth stayin' the night." He turned and looked at me. Actually, a more apt description might be stared me down. I was beginning to be self-conscious at to what he was implying.

"Oh..." I said slowly. "Well, I mean don't you think--"

Then he did one of those throat clearing scoffs, the kind that shows utter disdain. "I wouldn't git up at six o'clock in the mornin' for anythang." He stopped. Then a slight smile creased his right dimple. "Well, 'cept fishin'."

At that exact moment, I mean exact moment, good ole BP started singing the beginning strains of the song that would prove how serious my fishin' lovin' boyfriend was. A song called "I'm Gonna Miss Her."

The first verse and chorus lyrics below:

V1: Well I love her
But I love to fish
I spend all day out on this lake
And hell is all I catch
Today she met me at the door
Said I would have to choose
If I hit that fishin' hole today
She'd be packin' all her things
And she'd be gone by noon

Ch: Well I'm gonna miss her
When I get home
But right now I'm on this lakeshore
And I'm sittin' in the sun
I'm sure it'll hit me
When I walk through that door tonight
That I'm gonna miss her
Oh, lookie there, I've got a bite

Both of us burst out laughing. How perfect. How ironic. How horribly true.

Lesson Learned: When you date a boy born and raised in Oklahoma, be prepared. Apparently he won't get up early for anything...except fishing.


Goals and Accomplishments


Ten things I've done this year so far (in no particular order):

1. Went to a Brad Paisley concert with Jordan, where we sat in the second row and could have stolen his cowboy hat (Brad Paisley's hat, that is, not Jordan's).
2. Road-tripped to Chicago and watched my older younger brother graduate from college (and hung out with my Illinois friends!).
3. Became a member of my church in Oklahoma.
4. Finished crocheting a blanket (started at the beginning of January, completed at the end of May).
5. Watched my younger younger brother graduate from high school.
6. Bought a car after much deliberation (in March).
7. Took a cruise with my mom (technically we haven't gone yet, but it's already planned--Departure: June 28. Destination: Key West, Florida, and Cozumel, Mexico).
8. Played violin in a wedding. Also gave violin lessons to my friend's mom.
9. Visited a friend in Kansas City. Saw Brad Pitt's twin smoking a cigar outside an art studio.
10. Visited a friend in Wichita, Kansas. Saw the original birthplace of the Warren movie theater.

Ten things I hope to finish/do by the end of 2010 (again, in no particular order):

1. Finish reading through the Bible in one year (started Jan. 1)
2. Celebrate one-year anniversary in August with Jordan (already my longest relationship)
3. Fly to Illinois and visit the Sisterhood (July 30-August 4!)
4. Go skydiving (it's being planned with a girlfriend from work).
5. Crochet another blanket (for a friend, not myself).
6. Run a half-marathon (there's one in Kansas in October I'm sort of training for).
7. Bake a successful loaf of bread from scratch (it's been tried twice and was a 90% failure both times).
8. Start a senior girls' Bible study (not sure about this one, but it's been an idea as of late).
9. Read fifteen books outside of work.
10. Learn how to change a flat tire (no, it's not a lofty goal, and it's certainly something I should already know how to do).

A Present


It took me just over four months, twelve skeins, and countless hours. Twenty-five squares made up of three shades of blue and held together with strips of light brown. I finished it a month ago, and it has been sitting in my apartment, waiting to be proudly displayed. And now here it is--the blanket I crocheted for my brother as his high school graduation present and finally got to give him this past weekend:

I love gifts. As in, I love giving them. It's worth all the time and effort for this face:

Oh, how I love gifts. And sharing them with people I love.

Quoting Love

“It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”

Someone recently asked me what I thought about this well-known phrase. Is it complete crap? Is there a ring of truth? On the one hand, I think obviously it is better to have loved. Love is magical and romantic and cute and all those other terms we use to define a concept that is, largely, indefinable. Yet on the other hand, obviously it is better to have never loved. It sucks to lose something that means so much. Heartache is never something that anyone asks for or desires. And, as anyone who has lost would agree, the empty feeling is only more noticeable once that person actually is gone.

So which is better? It’s a tough question. But for the sake of this post and the fact that I don’t want to be that person who is asked a question and doesn't provide an answer, I’ve come to a conclusion.

Yes, it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Now, I will admit that true, devastating heartbreak has never actually come my way—at least, not in the worldly, romantic definition of the word—so I reserve the right to change my mind later. But for now, I will simply say that if I were someday to have loved and lost, it’s the fact that I was loved and did love that will matter.

I wouldn’t trade having a mother and father who love me now just because I know that some day they will be gone from my life. I wouldn’t trade loving someone in a romantic way now because of the possibility of not being together in the future is real and scary.

Life is full of experiences and opportunities for growth and learning. I make choices and try to do the best I can to follow God’s will and be a strong example of Christ’s love for others. Bad things have happened and will continue to happen throughout my life, but in all these things is an opportunity for me to learn and grow and experience—and love.

If I never do something, I won’t ever do anything. Likewise, if I never love, I will never be loved, and I will never experience love. Life, at least a joyful one, does not exist without love. And not just romantic love, but the love of a parent, brother, sister, grandmother, friend, etc. These are the relationships that make living worthwhile. Would I prefer to have never had these interactions? Of course not, because, in the end, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

A Magic Spoon


Okay, not so much magic but still totally awesome.

Check this out: A left-handed spoon. I know, right? Crazy. I bought one last week at an arts festival in Oklahoma City. This lady makes wooden spoons, and as I looked over her stuff, I saw this under the tag "Left-handed stirring spoon":
You're probably wondering if it even matters that the spoon is supposedly for left-handers. Well, I've used it, and it does. It curves into the bowl and makes stirring easier. Plus, it's pretty.

I rarely see things that are just for left-handed people. The world caters to rightys, which meant I had to use a right-handed desk in school, indentations were left on my left arm when I used a spiral notebook, and right-handed scissors hurt my pinky. When I took tennis lessons, I heard this a lot: "Just look at what everyone else is doing and do it backwards." Yes, thank you. That helps.

In a story recently done on ABC news about leftys, studies showed that "left-handed people are more likely to be schizophrenic, alcoholic, delinquent, dyslexic, and have Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as mental disabilities. They're also more likely to die young and get into accidents."

Bummer for me.

Left-handed people make up 5-15% of the current population. Clearly those crazy rightys are out to get me at every turn, so I must be careful.

However, left-handers also tend to be smarter and better athletes. So there.

If you try to make fun of me for making my check marks go from right to left or wearing my watch on my other hand, I'll just take my cool, new wooden spoon and hit you over the head. The blow will come from the left. I know you won't be ready.

Warning: Don't Wear Pumas While Hiking


I often injure myself.

It's always something completely tripping over my own feet, hitting my elbow on a door, or, in this case, sliding down a large rock while hiking on Oklahoma's own Mt. Scott. (I blame my super cute, traction-less purple Pumas.)

It was horribly embarrassing. It hurt. And despite what it might look like in this picture, it bled a lot too. Yet another scar to add to my growing number.
While I was having my near-death experience--Me vs. Huge Bolder--my Southern gent was busy being a typical male, staring certain death in the face with every step as he climbed farther and farther away. You can sort of see him. Way. Down. There. He barely would have been able to hear my death cries.Lucky for me, he arrived back at the top just in the nick of time. Late enough to be of absolutely zero help to me, but early enough to catch the tail end of the laughter that always comes after one of my clutzy moves.

And that's why you should not wear Pumas while hiking. Don't say you haven't been warned.

For Love of the Game


I love baseball.

I grew up watching America's Pastime. My brothers both played on teams through high school, and my dad spent many years coaching. Countless hours have been spent with my eyes darting around the bases as a play is made, jumping up in excitement after a home run, or covering my eyes when the pressure of the moment becomes too intense. I love every second.

Through the years, baseball games have been the site of the best family bonding. Our shared love (and extreme disappointment) of the Chicago Cubs has taken many forms---from watch parties to season tickets to Wrigley.

Seeing a baseball hat just makes me smile, and I suppose that's why I've always been more attracted to guys wearing baseball hats. It's also why I am incredibly sad I do not look good in hats. I can't throw or catch, which make it impossible for me to take part in the game I love so much, but nevertheless, baseball will always hold a special place in my heart. And even though my Cubs still haven't won a World Series since 1908, more often than not, watching them still makes me smile.

On days when the sky is blue and the sun is shining, when it's that perfect combination of hot sun and cool breeze, I can't help but say, "It's the perfect day for baseball."

Photo taken by me at a Rangers/Cubs game.
Sunday, May 23, 1:15 p.m.
Cubs won 5-4. It was grand.

Scary Old Ladies


This past Sunday at church, I had an idea. Actually, it's been a growing idea over the past few months...a desire, really, to become more involved. I don't want to just go through the motions.
Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Eat dinner. Go to sleep.

Of course, I do have more fun than that. My days are sprinkled with laughter and awkwardness and joy. But I often find myself feeling terrified at the thought that my life is moving rather quickly.

Every year my mom makes us share New Year's resolutions and write down on an index card five predictions of what will happen in the coming year. For 2010, the general family consensus involved my brother finding a job in Texas, which he did, and me getting engaged, which I won't. (Not to say that I am not completely in love with my dimpled, truck driving, heavily accented Okie, but come on. Who really wants to live with a boy? Plus, I have a very specific sleeping position that cannot be messed with lest it result in someone getting kicked in the face.)

But okay, the new year started six months ago! It's June already, and I find that fact to be mildly irritating. Halfway through the year, and I haven't really become more involved in anything; I haven't met anyone new. Blah.

So this past Sunday, I was on stage practicing my violin with the band, getting ready for the 9:00 service. Around 8:30, the older folk started to trickle in. Cute old men in dress slacks and collared shirts and ties, gray hair, and large, worn Bibles tucked safely under their arms. Elderly ladies in long skirts with high waistbands, shoes with Velcro straps, and gorgeous pearl necklaces.

I watched them as they slowly walked in and gathered together in the aisle, making their way from one friend to the next, exchanging a soft "hello" and a wobbly handshake.

Things have certainly changed since they were my age, I thought. Honestly, it's almost hard to imagine that someone so old was once so young. Certainly my grandpa never dated my grandma (I guess they called it courting back then) or had a first kiss or were once new parents. No, they were just always together, always old, always wise and gentle. But one day, many years ago, they were just like me.

It was then that my idea came. From where, I have no clue. I think it was God. I was in church, after all.

Brave, crazy inner voice: You should go talk to them.

My real inner voice, non crazy and lame: What? No way. I'm not doing that.

BCIV: Well, why not?

RIV: Because I can't just walk up and introduce myself! They all know one another. I'll feel stupid. I feel stupid already just thinking this. They're old, and besides, what will we talk about?

BCIV: It doesn't matter. Just do it.

In the end, I decided I wouldn't do it. I was nervous, and I just didn't want to look stu---

At that moment, however, my legs decided they didn't care what my real inner voice said, and they started walking me down the aisle toward three ladies wearing light blouses and gentle smiles.

"Hello," I said. I stuck out my own wobbly hand. "I'm Amanda. I play the violin up there." I pointed my finger behind me at the stage where I'd left my violin perched on a stool.
"Well hello, dear," said the one sitting closest to the aisle. "I'm Edna."
"I-I'm Jewel," said the second.
"And I'm Leona," whispered the third. At least, it sounded like a whisper since she was the third one down the row.
"Leona! My grandma's name is Leona," I said.
"Really? You don't meet many of those these days." She smiled, and dozen wrinkles creased around her mouth.
"I don't think I've ever met a Jewel." I turned to the one in the middle.
"Well you have now!" replied Edna (the one sitting on the aisle) with a saucy grin. "And she's a good one."
"Oh really?" I laughed.
"M-My daddy named me after a girl he u-used to go with," said Jewel. "I don't know if my momma even k-knew that."
"Well my middle name's Cora, and that was the girl my brother was dating at the time," said Edna.
I grinned. "I think my parents picked my name out of a hat."

At that, the four of us shared a laugh, and for the next ten minutes or so we continued to talk about how the church had changed over the years and how many women they had in their Sunday school class. In the end, they thanked me for coming over to say hello and smiled graciously when I told them I needed to get up front for the start of the service.

"Come back and see us again, dear," said Edna.
"Yes, and you can meet the rest of our friends," Leona added.

See, said my brave inner voice as I walked up the aisle, that wasn't so bad.

During the service, I occasionally looked out and found my new friends, watching as they sang and clapped along with the songs...and I was proud of myself. Not in a horribly vain way, although I suppose being at all proud of myself means I need to work on humility. But I was proud. I had been nervous to randomly introduce myself to someone new. Yes, it was church and they were old, so I doubt they would have drop-kicked me and stolen my purse. But still, there's that initial fear of rejection, of the unknown. But I went with the idea that you're never too old to make new friends, and I realized that it might even be more necessary for us young folk to be kind and open to new relationships, especially with the older crowd. Because, let's not forget, they were twenty-somethings once too.

Yes, life is moving quickly, but there's still so much to be learned, so much left to see and experience and get involved with, and a lot of new people to meet. Next week I'm going to go find Edna and Jewel and Leona and say hello. Then maybe I'll introduce myself to someone else.

It's been proven that my brave, crazy inner voice can be very persuasive.

Perfect Timing


I want to talk about this picture:
It's one of my favorites, but you won't be able to fully appreciate the moment without some explanation. So let me enlighten you.

It was a bright, cloudless day in the plains of north Texas. My dad was working in the yard, perhaps on his garden or compost or... something manly. (He also likes to ride around on the riding lawn mower he bought off Craigslist or walk around with his huge headphones and leaf blower pack, but I'm fairly certain he wasn't doing that.) My brother Austin (18) was playing fetch with our dog, Wrigley.

Playing fetch, of course, is a loose phrase with this dog, who hasn't yet (nor will he probably ever) actually master the whole bring-the-ball-back-to-the-person-who-threw-it-and-not-just-run-in-the-opposite-direction idea. My sister was sitting at the table in the backyard, and my mom was taking pictures of the various lazy Saturday activities of the Reese clan.

The result being the picture above, which I'm getting to. Be patient.

My other brother Daniel (21) and I, for some unknown reason, started lightly bouncing a volleyball against the house. Lightly. He's a good five, six, maybe even seven inches taller than me, so the throw-and-catch routine always ended up in his favor. Me, being the insane competitive freak I am, found this highly irritating as I jumped and stretched, only to have him stand flat on the ground, lift his arm, and have the ball still out of my reach. (This image is made somewhat clearer in the below photo.)

To the far left, beyond the parameters of the picture, is a brick wall. That wall is my parents' bedroom, which looks out onto the backyard. It has a large area of windows, but my brother and I, being the intelligent adults we were, were bouncing the volleyball against the brick part of the wall above the windows.

Throw. Bounce. Jump. Catch. Repeat. All while my mother took pictures.

It was, however, too good to be true. Inevitably, my brother would eventually fail to throw the ball not quite so lightly and not quite higher than the window.

The ball hit the glass.
My brother gasped and pulled his fist to his mouth.
I shouted and stared in horror.
The ball fell to the ground.
My mother snapped this picture:

You can see our faces better here:

Luckily, the window didn't break. Or crack. Or anything of the sort. Sort of an anticlimactic ending depending on how you look at it. But the picture was golden--a moment captured forever. Perfect timing.

My brother and I composed ourselves and found something a little less dangerous to do. Apparently I never really will grow up and stop almost breaking things. Or, for that matter, spilling food on myself, getting crumbs in my hair, tripping over my own feet, or using words incorrectly. I'll be that grandma with a milk mustache. Classy.