Blisters

“The Worst Type of Bubbles”

For the first time in my life, I went to Comic-Con. I was down there for a work event and ended up spending almost seven days in San Diego. Unlike my last journey down south, this excursion wasn’t full of quaint towns and delightful bloody marys.

No, this was all about the job. I won’t get into the details, but I worked with a dedicated and passionate team to put on something that had never been done before at such scale, and I’m incredibly proud of the output.

My feet strongly disagree.

The life of a professional writer is rarely physically strenuous. Mentally taxing at times? Yes. It’s tough to stare at a blank document and then figure out what to fill it up with. But writing takes a low physical toll on my body – my fingers are most impacted as I have an annoying tendency to snap my fingers when I’m searching for the correct word.

For six days straight, I was up and on my feet. Pacing, running, walking, I was never sitting down. Part of my role was to lead a team of nearly 100 people, and I channeled my former lives as a teacher and camp counselor by making sure they never saw me sitting. If I was asking them to stand, then I had to be the Superman of standing.

After one day, my feet began to pulse with fiery pain. By day two, blisters began to form, and on day four every night was a terrible ritual of slowly peeling off my shoes in gentle motions.

In the few hours of downtime I had, I dragged a coworker to buy new socks, thinking that would remedy the problem (it didn’t). Resigned to my fate, I woke up each morning, put on my shoes with a grimace, and trudged out into the hotel lobby.

All in all, my feet and heels are healing, so I don’t regret a single moment. This experience has made me respect shoes that nurses and waitresses wear – suddenly rounded Keds and Sketchers don’t look so dumb after all.

Blisters – 1 out of 5 Stars

Raking Leaves

“Outdoor Punishment”

Growing up, there were a few constants in my life.

A. According to my sister, I chewed too loud
B. Fantasy novels
C. There were leaves to be raked

Our backyard had around 20 incredible oak trees. One of the trees was so big, we had to build our deck around it. These trees were integral in my love of the wind, but they also dropped leaves, which became the bane of my allergies and my existence every weekend.

I believe chores are an important part of building self-worth and character in a child, but holy shit did I hate raking leaves.

We had this long and narrow strip of concrete that was nestled in between the back of our garage and the beginning of our backyard deck that seemed to naturally collect all the leaves in the world. Also, it seems that all the dust and pollen decided to come along for the ride.

In the fall and summer, every weekend involved me doing an hour of labor, and 95% of those labor revolved around leaves.

I would throw on a bandana and rake pile after pile of dead leaves into a plastic trashbin, then trudge down across my yard and dump the leaves down the side of our hill. It was my own personal Sisyphean task. My eyes would sting from pollen, dirt would be lodged under my fingernails for days, and after the hour was completed, I would spend the next two sneezing.

I hadn’t raked leaves since I was 18, until a few weeks ago when I visited a friend’s house in Echo Park. We’ve been friends for almost a decade, and one of the things we’ve bonded over is a love of projects. Together we’ve built a chicken coop, a gate, new stairs, cleared brush, and more.

Signing up to do yardwork, I began to rake leaves for my friend, and I was filled with a sense of dread as the first world trauma of raking leaves came rushing back. After arranging a few piles, I quickly switched tasks and didn’t even give them a glance.

Also, what are these memories that people on the east coast have of jumping on leaf piles? Sounds like an opportunity to get slugs on you, or worse. Pass.

Raking Leaves – 1 out of 5 Stars

Ketchup

“A Take-Down”

Ketchup is basically a garbage condiment that really only exists to be put on french fries and hot dogs. Other than that, it has no place in cooking. It’s full of sugar, overwhelms your palate, and more often than not, it makes fart sounds when you’re squirting it out.

In fact, the fart sounds are the only positive things one can say about Ketchup.

Also, catsup? That’s how you say hello to felines. Not how you spell a condiment.

Ketchup – 1 out of 5 Stars.

Cider

“Apple Urine”

At work the other day, I opened the refrigerator to be greeted with a row of large bottles that each had tape wrapped around them with the aggressively scrawled “MINE” inked on the tape with a sharpie. My curiosity was immediately aroused. What was the ambrosia trapped in these glass vessels that warrants such protection?

Turns out, it was alcoholic cider. And I knew I had to say something about this. For benefit of all mankind, can we just agree that cider is bad?

It’s bad at being a tasty juice, and it’s even worse at being a good alcoholic beverage. Cider is the Porcupine of the animal kingdom. It doesn’t have a real clear purpose, but in general, you know that you don’t want any part of it.

Now I’m sure there is special cider that is made in the highlands of Scotland that is absolutely fantastic. But I’ve never had that cider. I’ve only had Strongbow and the other variations of cider that are breaking into the American market in the last decade or so.

If you have a food allergy, and cider is the only alcoholic beverage you can drink that isn’t straight up liquor, then you get a pass. But to everyone else who drinks cider, or brings cider to a party and pretends to “enjoy” the taste. I see through your web of lies, your false grins of glee. Let’s cut the crap, cider is basically a wine cooler with better branding.

Have you ever wanted to drink something cloyingly sweet but also sour and mildly alcoholic? Even better, do you want the pain of a sugary morning-after headache, without any of the joys of being intoxicated? Ladies and Gentlemen, you might want to drink cider.

Spike your juice or order a beer. Let’s cease buying cider completely.

Cider – 1 out of 5 Stars 

Doughnuts

“A Sugar Rush No One Asked For”

In theory, doughnuts should be a delightful treat. They have all the components of a thing that would bring joy to the masses. Dough, sugar, and a relatively low price point.

But in reality, doughnuts leave you filled with shame, sadness, and a sugar high that quickly turns into a splitting headache, ruining any joy that the brief bite of fried dough brought.

Growing up, doughnuts were a Sunday staple in our household. My father would return from his bike ride and stop at the Chinese restaurant down the street and pick up a pink box full of glazed sweets. I’ve discussed this with other people, but I always thought all Chinese restaurants doubled as doughnut purveyors, but I guess it’s just a California thing.

It wasn’t until a fateful family trip to Pacific Northwest did doughnuts display their true colors. I was maybe 14, and we had gone up to Seattle to explore the city. The day started off nice enough, and as we strolled toward Pikes Place we saw a flyer for our hometown band, Eve 6.

When we got to the famous fish market, my parents were kind enough to let my sister and me scarf down a platter of doughnuts. It was a vacation after all, let’s live a little!

The next twenty minutes were a frenetic blur, but my next solid memories were ones of lethargy and crankiness. The sugar had run its course, and now the last thing young Joey wanted to do was literally anything. Somehow I made it through the day without being disowned, but after the doughnut disaster of Seattle, they became scarce in the Serxner home.

As an adult, I actively try to avoid doughnuts whenever possible. This has become more challenging because my work is two doors down from one of those fancy doughnut places. They sell doughnuts like rose-water and pistachio or double chocolate fried banana with an Oreo crumble for $4 bucks a pop. We have them for client meetings, which means there are usually doughnuts up for grabs in the kitchen.

Strong of will and the memory of the Seattle Sugar Rush even stronger, I breeze by those puffs of despair and do not let doughnuts defeat me.

Doughnuts – 1 out of 5 Stars

Bougainvilleas

“Beautiful Beautiful Trash Flowers”

Our tiny backyard patio has a wild growth of bougainvilleas that are constantly threatening to engulf everything. When I first moved in, I loved the plants – I thought they were pretty to look at and added a dash of exciting color to an otherwise brown and green concrete patio.

Now that I’ve triumphed in a battle of mental wits with our new outdoor IKEA furniture,  I’m not so sure about these bizarre pink invaders.

They’re in a constant state of shedding their coral leaves, littering our patio with splotches of salmon that quickly turns to a moldy brown, and the leaves are especially crafty when it comes to avoiding broom bristles.

The thicket of thorns and limbs is impossible to cut through, and sometimes in the evening I’ll hear the aggressive rustle of roots shaking, and my mind will go into true fight or flight mode. Is it a ghost? A murderous hobo? Or is it what it always seems to be, the annoying neighborhood possum?

Let it be known that Joey is a friend to all flora, big and small, but there is a limit to my patience, especially as I attempt to grow things in our small gardening plot. A plot that has severe difficulty keeping things alive due to the sun being blocked by these bold bougainvilleas.

At what point in a persons budding green thumb career do they sacrifice one plant for the good of the rest? I’m faced with a botanist’s nightmare Kobayashi Marusituation, where the only choices are bad, and my green thumb may have to become permanently stained with the pale pink of a butchered bougainvillea.

Whoever knew that gardening could have such brutal consequences.

Bougainvilleas – 1 out of 5 Stars

The Inheritance Talk

“You’re Having This Discussion Here?”

After our dance class, we grabbed happy hour oysters and bites at a new restaurant called The Hayden in Culver City. Its huge vaulted ceilings, fresh food, and crisp wine were the perfect end to Kate’s date.

As we sat there, discussing our feelings on the dance class, two men walked in and sat down next to us. They were both older than us, with one being clearly older than the other.

We casually slurped oysters, and in between vinaigrette and lemon seasonings, the table next to us began to talk. It started with chit-chat, but then very rapidly became an intense family discussion. They were a father and son, and the son was saying things like:

“I believe you have a moral obligation to take care of Mom, but I don’t want our relationship to be dependent on my inheritance”

Kate said something to me, but to be honest I wasn’t processing anything beyond the fact that the table next to us was having an incredibly serious talk about family, death, and money, all over light salads.

Kate had caught on to what was occurring a foot and a half from us, and the rest of our meal was an intricate dance of conversation while also trying to eavesdrop without looking like we were eavesdropping.

The food was great, but the true tasty morsels were from the table next to us. If you’re thinking of having a serious conversation, I would recommend doing it in a more intimate environment, and maybe not so close to a freshly danced couple in the middle of a date.

The Inheritance Talk – 1 out of 5 Stars