Sunday, July 26, 2015

10 Struggles of Being Not Fat but Not Skinny

This was originally posted by Samantha Matt on Forever Twenty Somethings

Okay, so I want to start this post off by clarifying that I don’t think I’m fat. However, I know I’m not stick thin. And that’s fine. No I’m not looking for comments from people being like, “OMG Sam you look GREAT” or “girlll you have been looking so thin lately, stop it!” because in all seriousness, I am not Beyonce. I am Sam. And I am really busy so I can’t go to the gym every day like I used to. And I like french fries. And alcohol. But I have a nice looking face, I work out at least three times a week, I drink green smoothies (it’s like, they’re not that healthy, but they look like they are… so whatever), and I’m not obese so I REALLY DON’T GIVE A FUCK.
Here are 10 struggles of being not fat… but not skinny:
1. Analyzing the “You look so thin!” comment on a picture. Wait, do I actually look thin? Because I didn’t lose any weight. Are you just amazed as to how good I look in this picture as opposed to other pictures, or to what I look like in person? People don’t comment “skinny mini” on a skinny person’s picture. So now you have me thinking… do you really think I’m skinny? Or do you think I’m skinny just in that picture?
2. Eating with people you’re not close with. So you’re at a restaurant with a person or a couple people you’re not close with. They could be co-workers, a date, acquaintances (AKA not your BFFs), people you just started to become friends with, etc. You scan the menu and see a lot of things that make you want to have sex, i.e. macaroni and cheese, pizza, a burger with fries. However, your inner skinny person is telling you that should probably get a salad. Your inner fat person, though, is begging you to get the fries… but umm what is everyone else getting? What if no one else gets a big meal? What if they all get salads? You can’t be the fat one who gets carbs. Then they’ll think you’re fat… even though you’re not… but you’re not skinny… so… whatever. You’re getting cheese fries salad. You’ll probably have a snack when you get home. It’s fine.
3. Choosing an outfit to wear out on a weekend night. You can’t cover yourself in an oversized sweater now. You have to look good, which usually means your clothes have to be tight fitting – UGH. You try on an outfit. You look at yourself in the mirror. You look at yourself from the right side. Then the left side. You maybe put on spanx and check out the side views again. Then you take a mirror selfie from a high angle and look at the picture, because the way your phone views you is a great representation of how others are going to view you. Duh. If you’re still not sure if you look fat or not, you send the picture to friends asking for their opinion. And if anyone is around you, you ask them if you look fat… FROM THE SIDE. Eventually, you change approximately six times until you find an outfit you don’t question. Because from the minute you start to question an outfit, you’ve already basically decided that you look fat — even if everyone else thinks you look bangin.’ The only think that can change this is when a guy says “I would fuck you in that. ” A guy wouldn’t openly say that he would fuck a fat girl. So it must mean you don’t look fat. Right?
4. Buying jeans. Especially when people ask you if you need help… and then even worse, when you have to get their help. When answering “what size are you?” you probably say a size below what you actually are, pretend you’re doing okay in the dressing room when they knock and ask, and then leave empty handed… planning to return later when you won’t have to tell people what size you really are. Asking a girl who isn’t skinny but isn’t fat her pants size is like asking any human being how much they weigh – NOT OKAY. They should make some sort of system at stores where you can type in what size you’re looking for and have it magically appear without you having confront anyone about it. Right?! This is 2014. Where is this technology?
5. Wondering what guys refer to you as. Do you they think you’re skinny? Do they call you average? Do they just say you’re a gigantic gross fat ass? And, like, what number are you on that world famous ratings scale? Would you be higher if you were thinner? You wonder these things constantly, and you’ll probably never know the answer. Even when you ask your boyfriend a million and six times. He’s never going to tell you (the truth). Unless he is actually telling you the truth. But you’ll never know. Because you can’t even decide what rating YOU would give yourself. Like if you were a guy would you call yourself skinny or fat? You don’t even KNOW.
6. Taking your cover up off at the beach. This is, legit, the worst thing ever. You don’t want to bend over in a bikini (someone could see your roll!), so you’ve mastered the take-off-the-dress-while-already-lying-down act. Sure you could just wear a one piece to avoid this problem, but you’re not going to wear a fucking one piece – YOU’RE NOT FAT. The struggle continues through your entire beach trip. When coming back to your towel after going in the ocean, you are faced with a big dilemma. You don’t have your cover up on, so you have to lie down quickly before people see your fat shake around too much. But your towel is covered in sand and you don’t want to lie down in sand while wet. However, your alternative is bending down to shake the towel off. I’d rather be a sand monster than bend down in a bikini… thanks.
7. Deciding whether or not to eat free food at work. You don’t want your co-workers to think you’re fat, so you usually say no to the free snacks in the kitchen and you definitely do NOT participate in bagel Wednesday (unless you’re hungover… and vow not to eat anything else the rest of the day). You also bring your own lunch every day instead of eating any sort of free lunch that comes your way. But when a co-worker comes around with cookies she baked for the whole team (or even worse — if she made a couple just for you — gluten free/nut free/dairy free/whatever the fuck you are), you have to eat them. Only an asshole would say no (Right?! Because you don’t want to be the fat ass saying yes to chocolate when every one else is saying no). After you DO indulge at work, you’ll feel bad about your entire life for about a week. Because, after all, you’re on a day diet. AKA you starve yourself during the day because you don’t want anyone to think you eat too much, but when you get home it’s balls to the walls in the pantry. You didn’t eat all day. You’re hungry. It’s fine. And you wonder why you can’t lose weight…
8. Losing and gaining weight. Any weight. Even if its .2 pounds. You’re already not okay with your weight, and you don’t need it getting higher. You’re so close to being skinny and so close to being overweight. When Regina George said “I just wanna lose 3 pounds,” people were supposed to laugh. But not you. That’s your reality. You just wanna lose 3 pounds. I mean, it could really make all the difference.
9. Trying to figure out what guy(s) are actually interested in you at the bar. They’re talking to you, but are they actually into you? Or are they just thinking of you as the “fat friend” while they try to make their way into your thinner friends’ pants? And then if they DO choose to pursue you for however many minutes you let them, is it because they think you’re thin? Or is it because they’re drunk and you’re there? You are just way too hard on yourself and can’t accept anything for what it is. Would you be into you at a bar? You’re not sure.
10. Explaining to people that you’re staying in because you… just wanna lose 3 pounds. As I said above, a lot of people think 3 pounds is nothin’ …but to you – it’s everything. And a night out means you’re either going to gain 3 pounds after drinking non-stop red bull vodkas and eating late night pizza, or lose 3 pounds after throwing up everything you’ve consumed in the past week due to too many red bull vodkas. But it’s a risk. And it’s one you’re not always willing to take. Sometimes you just need ‘a weekend‘ to feel skinny again. No, you’re not magically losing a pants size overnight. But in your mind you are. And guess what – whether you feel fat or skinny – it’s all in your head!
You’re not skinny. You’re not fat. YOU’RE AVERAGE. And you look fine. Get over it.
© The Traveling Barnacle

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Fade Away

Apparently it's called the Fade Away and lets face it, we're all definitely guilty of it.  You know, you've been calling or texting someone for a while and suddenly you're not so interested in having them around anymore, so you gradually stop.  You fade away.

I guess we think it's easier than just admitting we're not interested in what you've got to offer, whether it's friendship or something more.  Maybe we even think we're being nicer by just gradually letting you forget we're no longer blowing up your inbox; but we're totally wrong.  Fading away doesn't make you a nice person. It's a new type of carelessness when it comes to relationships in the 21st century.  First we got rid of phone calls replaced by texting, and now we skype, facetime or snapchat instead of actually having to see them in person.

Thus the debate, is it OK to end a relationship by just fading away?  We do it to avoid the confrontation, but maybe that confrontation is what the relationship needs to clearly be over.  And what if one person clearly doesn't understand that you're "ghosting the F*** out".

Perhaps it depends on the relationship you're ghosting from.  Is it a friendship that isn't really beneficial anyways?  Or perhaps you've seen this person twice for coffee and an awkward kiss that definitely wasn't going anywhere. Or the most morally confusing, fading away from someone you've been seeing long-term in a serious committed relationship.

Personally as a woman in my 20s, I can't count the amount of people that have pulled the fade away when it comes to not only my relationships but my friendships.  And each time it hurts, regardless of how long I've known the person or how invested I am in them.  Maybe it's because I'd rather have someone clearly tell me they're not interested in having me in their life, maybe it's because any type of rejection is bound to stir up some deep rooted Daddy-issues of feeling un-loved.  Either way there is never a sense of closure, it was never clearly 100% over, so you always kind of run it over in the back of your mind as this weird thing that could totally still be something.  Ha, put down the phone honey, he's not going to respond.

But seriously what ever happened to using our words?  Isn't that the first thing our parents say to us when we throw a tantrum because we want something we can't have. "Use your words young lady".  Perhaps the new rule should be "If you're old enough to have a relationship, you're old enough to use your words and say 'I'm not interested'."

Of course whenever I let someone know I'm not interested in having them in my life, I am called a "bitch", a thought that always creeps in whenever I think about pulling the fade away on someone.  But at the end of the day, I'd rather be the bitch that put a bullet in the head of whatever this thing was and end it now before I get a text from you 5 months ago, reminding me I said I'd let you know about coffee.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Sweet Smell of....

The 'Titan arum' flowers only once, for 48 hours, and smells of rotting meat, hence its common name of ‘corpse flower’ (PA)It's one of those smells I hope to never experience.  It's the smell that whomever finds the crazy cat lady next door always says was the reason they decided to check in; the smell of rotting flesh.  And now you too can literally smell death.

Nicknamed the 'corpse flower', it smells as one would expect with a name like that; just like rotting flesh.  And it's in bloom for the first time in over a decade at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden.  The Titan Arum only blooms for two days and has been described by visitors as smelling of "rotting eggs" or a "dead donkey".  Thousands lined up to catch a whiff of the strange plant.  And for those of you not lucky enough to get to Cambridge, you can watch their live cam and watch the scrunched up faces of the public experiencing it's stenches in real time.

Professor Beverly Glover, director of the garden, has been working with the species and says the smell helps attract pollinators and is produced when the plant heats itself up to nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).  Which basically proves that plants are slowly but surely taking over the world.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Monday, July 13, 2015

20 Questions

It's one of those childhood games we all played but none of us actually really wanted to play.  Perhaps it took too much brain power or perhaps running around was always the more appealing option.  20 Questions was something our parents brought up in long car rides or to get us to be quiet, a game of pure thought, logic, and discovery.

As adults 20 questions is no longer something we tackle on long car rides, but a series of required questions for the people we meet.  We make judgements depending on their answers and quickly decide how we feel about the relationship at hand.  I've been thinking a lot recently about my own version of the game, if I could ask 20 questions upon meeting someone and just 20 questions, what would they be?

1. If you had a theme song that played every time you entered the room, what would it be?

2.  What is your favorite meal?  And no I don't mean food, but meal.  Choose one, breakfast, lunch or dinner.

3. N'sync or BSB?

4. Or better yet, Britney or Christina?

5. If I were to tell you my name is Inigo Montoya and that you killed my father, how many fingers would you have?

6. How many hashtags on average do you use on Instagram?

7. Favorite Disney movie?

8.  What do you call those little rainbow things sprinkled on the top of your ice cream?

9. Blondes or Brunettes?

10.  What is your biggest regret?

11.  What was the last movie that made you cry?

12. If you could drive anything in the world, what year, model, make?

13.  What is your favorite smell?

14. What is your go-to drink?

15.  Craziest thing you've ever done... go!

16.  When was the last time you were truly sublimely happy?

17. Where do you get your news?

18. Cake or Pie?

19.  What was the last book you read?

20. And finally if you could embody one word, what would that word be?

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sorry, Not Sorry.

"Stop saying Sorry"!  Unfortunately I hear this way too often, and ironically by using the word unfortunately I may have actually just subliminally apologized for hearing it too often.  I'm constantly sorry for a number of things that, let's face it, I don't actually have to be sorry for at all.  And of course the media has decided that saying sorry of course effects women more than men.  (They always gotta make it about gender don't they).  So why do we say sorry when most of the time we should be on the receiving end?  Is it just a habit some of us develop or are we actually sorry when the man behind us flat-tires our cute sandals, breaking them, and forcing us to whip out some emergency duck tape just to get home with the shoe in tact?  Perhaps we're saying "sorry" as a prompt when we get into an awkward situation where an apology should be issued.  Either way, there are a few things we should never be sorry for.

1. Someone else bumping into you, stepping on you, or any other type of pedestrian crash situation.  They clearly bumped into you. Even as a prompt, don't apologize for being in their way unless they've got 1000 boxes in their arms.

2. Asking for something to be fixed.  Ok so you ordered your sandwich with no onions, seriously how hard is that?  Don't apologize for their mistake, simply tell them nicely you'd like those onions removed.  Or when your co-worker mis-spelled "Amercia" on air.

3. Don't ever apologize for speaking your mind.

4. Treat yourself and don't feel all that guilt.  Seriously dessert really does epitomize the whole "save the best for last" concept, so don't apologize for ordering the double chocolate fudge cake.... or seconds, there is always room for seconds.  This also totally goes for spending your money.  You made it so why not spend it on what you want!

5. Getting up from your seat on a plane, at the movies, at a restaurant.  Look we all have to pee sometimes, and if you've never had to get up to pee in the middle of a 6 hour flight then you may want to have that looked at.  Don't apologize to the person next to you for making them move, it's a plane, they can deal with a 30 second interaction so you can relieve yourself.

6. The way you look.  Overdressed or perhaps (like me) you've taken casual Fridays to an entirely new level of sweat pants, rock it, don't apologize for deciding to wear your suit to a casual event or sweats to work on a Sunday.

7. The time it takes you to respond to a non-emergency email, text, phone call.  Life happens and goodness do we all get busy.  The point is you're responding now.  It may be a few days late but you didn't ignore them and it wasn't urgent anyways!

8. Don't ever apologize for someone else's bad behavior.  This is a tricky one.  There are times when I do believe you should be apologizing, perhaps if your child is biting a complete stranger in the middle of Macy's or your employee is able to get away with a heinous crime under your supervision.  But at the end of the day, if the person who screwed up is a capable adult who made that decision of their own accord, why apologize for them?

9. Asking for help.  Ask away, no apologies required.

10. And if you don't like something then it's all good.  "I'm sorry but I'm not a cat person", well that's your loss but why are you sorry?

11.  Asking someone to repeat themselves.  "I'm sorry come again"?  Weren't they mumbling anyways?

12. Needing space.  Goodness this is super important and no one should ever be sorry about needing some alone time.

13. Don't apologize for your own physical mess.  Yeah my bed wasn't made this morning and no I'm not sorry, it's my mess not yours.

14. Being a Boss Ass Bitch.  You're killing it at work or at home or in life in general, why apologize for being totally awesome?

15. Never apologize for being honest.  You can always apologize for the way you deliver said honesty but the truth is both important and painful at times.

16. And lastly, most importantly, never ever be sorry for saying "no".  No explanation needed.

Then again.... there are totally things you should be sorry for like:

1. Acting like a complete asshole.  And it doesn't matter if you're a jerk to your friend, your mother or a total stranger, it's all pretty crappy of you.  And no, there are no exceptions like PMS, Hanger (Hunger induced Anger), or the rough day you've been having.  Be nice!

2.  That stinky fart.

3. Giving someone the wrong impression with an intentionally vague message.  Whether it's a facebook update or just a text, you're the one who screwed up something that could have been pretty simple.

4. Spilling on someone else, especially if it's going to stain, your bad.

5. Having your phone out during dinner.

6. Coming to work sick then infecting the entire staff, their families, and wondering why the entire city is now under quarantine.  Didn't we learn anything from swine flu?

© The Traveling Barnacle

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FX Fearless Arena SDCC2015

Fear was on our minds as we walked through the FX Fearless Arena at this year's Comic Con celebration.  With shows like American Horror Story: Hotel, The Strain, The Bastard Executioner (think Sons of Anarchy set in 1500 Wales) and Fargo, it's easy to get goosebumps in the middle of July.

A quick wait later we were inside The Strain, a live-action virtual reality experience, complete with vampire transformation.  Based on the best-selling book trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, The Strain is embarking on it's second season and looks more terrifying than ever.  Google and head sets on, we were transported to an apocalyptic New York City infested by vampire zombie type creatures.  360-degrees of blood thirsty creatures chasing you through the subway is definitely the furthest thing from warm and sunny San Diego, but for 2-and-a-half-minutes you forget about America's Finest City and literally fear for your life.

Very little is known about the next installment of American Horror Story, and the Hotel sheds very little light on the newest season.  One of the longest lines in the arena, visitors venture into one of the hotel's 8 rooms, where fake bills are blown around.  Catch as many as you can and win a prize.  The art-deco-style hotel is enough to make me wonder what's next for the series and all the flying money?  Color me intrigued.

The newest series to come from the good people at FX is The Bastard Executioner.  Visitors compete against one another in three tasks including a high striker, a cross-bow and a brain teaser.  The winner walks away with a hooded t-shirt and, of course, a medieval ass whooping.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

Hanging out with Adult Swim SDCC2015

If you believe Cartoons are just for kids, I doubt we will ever be friends.  And for those of you who understand my need for animated entertainment, you'll be excited to know I've spent more than a couple hours hanging out in the "Adult Swim on the Green" during this year's San Diego Comic Con.

A small yellow wrist band gives you entry into the carnival themed exhibit between 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. where you can play all the traditional games like Skee Ball, Flunko and even a ring toss.  And course like any games, Adult Swim makes sure to reward you with prizes galore.  Free T-shirts, plastic faux poop that reads thinking of you, and Mike Tyson socks (lets face it, all of those are essential).

Then there's the Meatwad Full Dome Experience.  Get ready to have your mind blown, or at least experience what a mild acid trip might be like.  The 360-degree video experience inside a giant Meatball is definitely on my "not to miss" Comic Con list.  But for those of you who experience motion sickness, you may just want to stick to the panels.

And speaking of Adult Swim panels, The Regular Show, Uncle Grandpa, Adventure Time and Steven Universe all take center stage to discuss what's coming up next.  And for those of you who enjoy something a little more visual than a bunch of writers talking about the shows, well you can catch sneak peaks and even full episodes of never before seen cartoons.

And above all else, this year AS is honoring Aqua Teen Hunger Force, a show that is forever being taken off the air.  AS is even going as far as to hold a candle light vigil for the squad, who lets face it, will remain forever in our hearts.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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The Costumes of Comic Con

After spending the last few days meandering around the chaos that is San Diego's Comic Con, it's the costumes that are leaving a lasting impression.  While some opt for store bought spidey jumpsuits, it's the home made, more creative outfits that really make our heads turn.  And some of them just make you wonder what the....
Steam Punk version of the Joker
But girls can be Jokers too yanno...
Or this "Beach Version" of the Joker.

Jessica Rabbit, the Zombie version.

I mean if Peter Parker was bitten by a radio-active spider, this is totally what I would expect.

Like these "Vending Machines".
And then there's the whole Frozen Craze that we just can't let go of

Then again, Elsa and Ana dressed as Star Wars Bounty Hunters is pretty awesome.

They weren't the only princesses to get in on the action.  Check out these Snow White and Jasmine themed Leia Costumes, complete with Jaba the Genie!

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Dreaming About Vacation

Did you know that only 68% of Americans actually used their vacation days last year?  To the 32% who didn't, shame on you!  As someone who works 2 jobs, neither of which gives me any type of vacation (paid or unpaid) I find it ridiculous that you wouldn't make the most of your vacation time, but as they say to each their own.

But I digress, if you're one of those lucky ones who not only get a vacation but actually took it, where did you go?  Somewhere warm? Exotic? Or perhaps somewhere foreign and completely life changing?  No matter where you go, here is the Barnacle list of decisions you should never make whilst vacationing.

Don't forget about the largest organ of the human body; your skin.  I don't care if you're in Alaska or Argentina, make sure you've brought enough Coppertone.  And remember it may be a lot more expensive once you're there than buying it from your local Target or CVS, so don't pack lightly.

Don't try and do too much.  We all know you're excited, after all you're finally on vacation and you're in a new city and look at all the food and the sights and the.... woah ok calm down.  It's a vacation for a reason.  Remember to take a breath.  I know it's easy to fall into the whole "Lets try and justify the cost of this trip by jamming in as much as possible" but, after a week of non-stop activity you're going to wish you had taken that afternoon off and spent it by the pool.

And if you've got an itinerary, remember it can change.  Sticking to the original is fun sure, but keep in mind that whilst on vacation things can sometimes go wrong and sometimes turn into something so fantastically unexpected you'll wonder why you didn't stick it in the original plan all along.  Factor in the flexibility and go with the flow. You're welcome.

Now I've done this one before and it wasn't too bad, but one of the biggest mistakes you can make while vacationing is staying in an all-inclusive resort and not leaving.  I recently stayed in an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, but the most fun I had was when I left the comfort of the resort.  So do yourself a favor and maybe skip the whole thing, and try somewhere off the beaten path instead.

Oh and none of these are worth it, except the fanny pack which is totally super in right now.  So only pack what you need.  Over packing is a definite don't.

Anyone else already packing for their next get-a-way?

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Got the Meat Sweats at John Mull's Meats.

Vegas isn't all bright lights, big fountains, and pool parties.  It's also serving up some of the best food in the nation.  So after a pool party at the famous Drai's club, a friend suggested we head over to the real party; John Mull's Meats.

Currently run by Chuck Frommer, John Mull's grandson, the family business is booming. Meat lover and ultimate foodie, Guy Fieri will tell you just how fantastic it is.

The menu consists of all the American BBQ greats, brisket, ribs, pulled pork, sausages, hot links and grilled chicken.  All served next to a choice of sides including homemade pork n' beans, mac n' cheese, pasta salad, collard greens, corn bread, slaw and more.  And if you've still got room, their cobblers are no laughing matter.  

And while it's not the easiest location to reach without a car in sin city, it's definitely worth the drive.  The meat is grilled to perfection, tossed onto paper plates by staff that know you'll love the food just as much as they love making it.

John Mull's Meats & Road Kill Grill of Las Vegas, Nevada.
3730 Thom Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89130

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Monday, July 06, 2015

The Firework Story

Everyone has a firework story.  Whether it's someone you knew as a kid who stupidly lit his crotch on fire or whether it's something a bit more tame, we've all got one.

The Barnacle firework story was told through out my childhood.  It was a staple at all family gatherings, as well as a precedent for all stupid behavior, as well as a reminder that things could have been worse.  It happened in 1988, a few weeks after I was born.  My father decided to celebrate the birth of his third daughter with none other than a firework show.  So there he stood at the bottom of the hill of a driveway, firework in hand, and boom.  The exploding stick traveled up the length of the driveway and headed directly for my mother standing inside the garage, newborn blogger in her arms.  They say the firework exploded inside her bathrobe before disappearing forever in a cloud of smoke.  No one was ever the same again.

Of course the story changed over the years, depending on who was telling it, but either way, it's safe to say things could have gone worse.  So in honor of the recent fourth of July, and my lovely parents who both still tell the firework story, here are some of the best firework fails from across the Internet.

It really makes you wonder whether people understand the concept of "firework".

And last but certainly not least, my first July 4th in San Diego, when the 18-minute show turned into 30 seconds, after a malfunction sent all 7,000 fireworks into the air.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, July 05, 2015

Have a Fourth.

Growing up with an English father and a first generation American Mother, July 4th never quite held the type of tradition that it does for the majority of my friends.  And during the 90's without facebook or social media to remind me, the fourth was merely a date in the middle of July when the sky would light up with explosive fireworks.

Of course now that I'm adult that's all changed.  Like everything in our childhood, life seemed simpler.  This year the fourth fell on a Saturday which means my "holiday" pay for working on the fourth was observed on the third when I wasn't scheduled.  It also means that 99% of the people in my life will be busy barbecuing with their families and going to the beach is pretty much the worst idea ever.  The beer is flowing and the parties are raging so hard that by the time the fireworks actually go off, you don't really remember them anyway.

Perhaps it's because it's one of those holidays that isn't just set aside for family, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, but it's kind of given that if you've got some family members near by that you'll be celebrating with them by your side.  Then there is the friend with a pool who is totally throwing down with their pretzel and sprinkled donut shaped inflatables.  Then of course we've all got that girlfriend who has spent the last month on pintrest gathering fourth themed snack ideas for her "cute" bbq.  And as long as you're wearing red, white and blue, you've got an invite to all of the above.

Suddenly you're super homesick for your own family, the same ones who never once celebrated any sort of red, white, and blue pride.  You're worried about how patriotic your bikini actually is and whether or not those adorable patriotic looking jello-shots have more alcohol than you might think.  And as the night sky explodes with color and the crowd cheers you wonder who is going to clean up.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"You Look Tired"

We've all been there.  You get the recommended 8 hours of sleep, wake up, maybe you don't even hit the snooze button, but when you get to work, hoping you've done your make up well enough for the day you get slammed with the inevitable comment.

"You look tired today".

Regardless of how tired I may or may not be, the dark circles underneath my eyes are telling an entirely different story.  One full of late nights, too many cocktails, and not enough shut eye.  So why even after a restful night sleep do I appear as though I've been up all night?

First, I'm going to blame you, Mom.  Seriously, those dark circles are often hereditary and sometimes are just part of who you are, regardless of how much sleep you get.  Thanks for that.  And for those of you with darker or more olive coloring in your skin, those dark circles may continue to get worse over time.  It's known as hyperpigmentation and happens when there is overproduction of melanin, that's the chemical that colors your skin.  Rebecca Kazin, M.D., a dermatologist at the Washington Institute of Dermatologist Laser Surgery in Washington D.C. has the 'best' news, it's only going to get worse.  Age doesn't help, and the skin underneath your eye "ages faster than the rest of your face because the skin is so thin".  Thanks Doctor Kazin, now I feel so much better.

And for those of you with Hay Fever or Spring time allergies, here's a kicker, those dark circles can get worse from rubbing your eyes from pesky allergy symptoms overtime.

So how do we fix it?  I'm not that tired I swear!  Doctor Kazin says the best fix is the usual, a healthy lifestyle of course.  She says avoid things like crash dieting that can effect rapid weight loss or gain that can lead to a loss of volume around the eye area.  Then there are obvious things to avoid like sun damage or smoking.  Unfortunately if you've got your Mother dearest to blame for your genetics, then avoiding the sun isn't going to do much.

The good news is there are a myriad of treatments that can help!  Doctor Kazin says moisturizer is the key to keeping your skin (anywhere) healthy.  And if you're past just the "moisturizing" stage then there are always fillers or Botox.  I know what you're thinking, but I've seen their, sometimes ridiculously fantastic results, first hand.  And whilst fillers can't remove the dark color, they can help with filling out hollow areas of the face, especially around the eyes.

I think for the time being I'll just have to ignore the "you look tired" comments and make the most of the lovely looks my Mother gave me.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Red Lipped Love

I'm a huge lipstick fan.  There is just something about puckering up with a bright lip that makes the world seem like a better place.  I mean sure, I know that if I wear a bright red or pink I'm going to get those "nice lips" comments on my walk to work, but I'm not wearing the color for them.  It's all about how it makes me feel.  Plus I can always dress up those jeans and slightly dirty tee shirt with a red lip and look totally put together. Viola!

Then again, I'm one of the only girls I see who dons on a bright red lip on a weekly basis here in Southern California, so where did my lip lust come from?  Harper's Bazaar is trying to solve that exact trend, by looking at who's buying/wear what in none other than one of the largest international travel hubs in the world; London's Heathrow Airport.

So here it is, the lipstick colors of the year report that Heathrow put together after looking at it's beauty sales.  No surprise that New Yorkers opted for a bright red hue, with names like "The Big Apple".  Whilst rainy Londoners tended to stay on the more on the softer nude side.  And of course Parisian women are all about that rose color.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

July is Comming

Next week July will poke it's lovely sun kissed face into our lives.  Yeah, it's July already, which means there are some incredible things happening around the world if you're up for a summer-time adventure.  And no I'm not talking about fourth of July fireworks.

Dance on over to the Warwagira & Mask Festival in Papua New Guinea (July 15-19).  The annual event kicks off with dancing, ritual performance, display, story-telling, and you guessed it, it's all about insane culturally stunning masks.

And whilst the San Diego fair is welcoming it's one-millionth visitor of the summer, the Biggest Funfair on the Rhine kicks open it's doors in Dusseldorf (July 17-26).  More than just a summertime fair, the annual celebration honors to the city's patron saint; Apollinaris of Revenna.  Rides, fireworks, amazing food, and of course parades of people come to celebrate in tradition.

And if you're more into the Musical side of celebrations, the Festival d'ete de Quebec is a must (July 9-19).  Seriously, the Rolling Stones are headlining.

Or you could go and get your fill of delicious Oysters at South Africa's famous Knysna Oyster Festival (July 3-12).  Nom Nom Nom.  I mean what could be better than half foodie fest, half sporting event?  Shucking and eating competitions are followed by an actual marathon, although running on a full stomach of oysters doesn't sound all that great.

And if drinking is more your scene, head on up to Portland, Oregon to the Oregon Brewers Festival (July 22-26) for it's 28th year of boozing.  The festival will serve up the best from across the country, including a few from here in San Diego.

What will you be doing this July?

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Guest Blogger: Sexual Assault & A Failed Police Force In India

He pretended to repair something under my seat when he started touching me. More than fear I just felt a huge amount of anger, started yelling and slapping him. Then, shortly after getting rid of this rickshaw driver at Lajpat Nagar, another man came from behind, snatched my bag and left on a motorbike. I was shaken up by the feeling of being sexually harassed and robbed within 5 minutes in a place that I had considered safe. Just 10 minutes before had I left an event at the Max Mueller Bhavan with many impressive artists and feminists. Now I felt like I was in a different world.  Fortunately, there were several people stopping and calming me down.
Unfortunately, these empathic reactions were by no means continued at the police station. After being pushed towards not reporting at all, I was sent from one police station to the next. From what I have heard about the police before, I was not expecting empathy or sensible behavior, but I was expecting them to do their job. Instead, they were just standing in the middle of the hallway, where everybody passing by took a glance at my report and then wandered away. It was only after three hours that one of my friends used her connections to the ministry and suddenly everything was done within minutes. Although I was glad that I could finally make my report, this made me even angrier since it clearly shows that they were lying when they said they could not help me. They just did not want to.
Both of the incidents, the failure of the police system and sexual violence against women are closely related. The former is surely not the sole cause of the latter, but a functioning legal system does set the framework for everything else. My experience at the police station clearly shows that all the existing laws are of little use, when the police is not doing its job in enforcing them. The officers who had clearly neglected their work in my case did not even have to face any consequences. As for everybody else, also police officers have to be encouraged to do the best they can at their job- and there have to be consequences if they do not stick to the rules. Incentives such as promotion should depend on the quality of their work rather than solely on the number of cases that are reported in their area which only encourages them to push people towards not reporting or directing them to another station. Then, on the other hand, pushing people towards not reporting, corruption and any other kind of misbehaviors have to have consequences.
As a psychologist I generally do not believe in bad people but bad systems. I do not believe that the police officers in India are born as bad people not willing to help anybody, and neither do I believe that my rickshaw driver was born as a bad person with the intention of sexually harassing me- but obviously something between the time of his birth and the incident was not quite right.
Apart from consequences on a legal level, education plays a key role in this point. Parents and teachers have to be aware of their responsibility as role models. If a father is beating his wife at home you obviously cannot expect the child to have a healthy and respectful relationship towards women. Just last week a five year old boy touched me on my back. He certainly did not know what he was doing, but was just copying behaviors that he must have observed similarly before. The fact that he was running away and laughing shows that he did know I would not quite like this, but that- well, it`s just “Eve teasing”, right?
We need to have a system that encourages appropriate behavior. Young children like this boy have to be encouraged for respectful behavior and any form of violation has to have consequences. Not only at home, but also in the public sphere, it has to be clear that the society as a whole is not tolerating any forms of sexual violence. I have been touched many times in the metro and I spoke up, but nobody supported me. I do not expect – and do not want- anybody to use any physical violence, I am only talking about a simple “Hey, do not ever touch her again- get away from her”. In many psychological studies, social pressure has in fact shown to be much more powerful as most people think.
Lastly, there needs to be more room for discussion. How should a child understand that it is punished at school for the very same behavior that it has observed many times- may it be on TV, in public or even at home? We should use the curiosity of children and young adults to discuss topics (appropriate to their age) as “What does it mean to be male or female?” “What is it that people call Eve teasing?” “What is rape?” and encourage them to take different perspectives. Ever thought about the victims of eve teasing as your daughter or sister? Well, she must be somebody`s.
For adults, there is obviously still a lot of topics to be discussed as well which is partly already happening- but not equally for every group of people. New Delhi has a lot of impressive feminists, but the society is made up from the 90 percent non-feminists that carry the same responsibilities as a citizen. It is important to put a focus on reasons for the current situations and ways to change the system rather than being only paralyzed by “Another sexual assault”-reports and defensive mechanisms as blaming the victims. We especially have to think about long term solutions. Although I sometimes gratefully use the women wagons of the metro myself, this does not fight the cause of the problem. While a complete separation to prevent all cases of conflict is neither possible nor desirable, this partly segregation might even intensify the problem since it reduces the already underrepresented presence of females in the public sphere. If every second person on the metro would be female - as it should be according to the natural distribution - men would surely not keep on staring at the women like they do now and it would subsequently become much easier for women to claim their space in the public sphere.
Another important aspect that has to be addressed here is the role of foreign women. I noticed that the facial expression of the rickshaw driver showed surprise about my intense reaction after he had touched me. He might have thought that my blond hair was an invitation that made everything I said before meaningless. In the end I have since then often had the impression that there was a cultural misunderstanding partly induced or at least amplified by the media about western women being very “easy” and thus justifying what I learned was “Eve-teasing” or sexual harassment as I like to call it.
Obviously all of this is just a limited perspective on the whole issue of sexual violence and the failure of the police in India.  My story is one out of many that happened to get attention from the media. I wonder how many more sad stories are out there and how many cases of sexual violence are left unreported partly because of the police. Just imagine what happens to all the women who don't happen to have any connections to the ministry. Women from a lower cast. Women who are on their own. Women who had to face worse crimes than me. The attention from the media seemed to have encouraged the police officers in charge to be a lot more helpful in my case later on. Not only for this reason, I hope that more of these stories are reported- if not publically, but than at least to the police so they are on the record.

In the end, we will not be able to solve problems when we don't even know what we are talking about. 

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Crossing the Border

Living in a border city is interesting to say the least.  For one, there is a constant flow of people coming to and from, exchanging languages, food, culture, as well as drugs, sex, and money.  The border is more than just a fence, it's a symbol of separation.  As an American citizen I can freely walk between the two countries, physically with ease through a revolving door.  For others, families are separated by the fence, sharing a meal through the metal bars.

 They are physical, emotional, financial, and can literally tear the world apart.  While other borders are simply metaphorical lines on a map, where one can stand freely in two or three places at once.  In a world where we are seemingly controlled by lines, borders try and remain black and white in a world that really only allows for shades of grey.

Belgium and the Netherlands

On the border of Baarle-Hertog, Belgium and Baarle-Nassau, Netherlands, only markings along the pavement show the lines between the two countries.  There is no security, no check points, no passports needed.

Canada and the United States

The Saint Croix river cuts through the wildlife of the Northern United States and Canada with pristine beauty while in other areas, it's better known as The Slash. 

Poland and Ukraine

There is something truly fishy about this border between Poland and Ukraine.  Designed by Jaroslaw Koziara, these crop circles were part of an exhibition for the Land Art Festival.  The fish symbolizes the strong history of trade between the two countries and was made over time by planting 23 different kinds of plants to form the fish.

China and Macau

Macau is defined as a "special administrative region" of China.  But borders aside, while in Macau locals drive on the left side of the road, instead of the right.  Therefore the border is all about switching lanes on the freeways.  Talk about a traffic jam.

Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil

Is the grass really greener?  Known as the Triple Frontier, the Parana River meets the Iguazu River, separating the three countries.

Germany and The Czech Republic

While there is no fence between the two countries, there is a clear distinction between how each country is fighting a bark beetle infestation.  The Czech republic is leaving nature to it's own devices, as their trees clearly fight a loosing battle, while Germany has removed the trees to stop the bark beetle from spreading further.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Barnacle Goes to White Castle

The neon lights wear nearly drowned out by the Vegas strip, but there it was "White Castle".  The mythical fast food joint visited by stoners and adventure seekers from all over the globe.

Being from New England, I had never encountered the epic restaurant, nor did I have any real expectations other than blurry bits from the 2004 "classic" Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.

"You know we have to go in" my friend said as the clock struck just after 3 a.m.  So in we went, joined by the drunken throngs of after hours partiers, girls holding their painful heels in hand, as their dates ordered endless mini-cheese burgers.

This is the only White Castle in Las Vegas and only opened this past January.  In fact, the demand for those little sliders was so great, their opening day lasted less than 24 hours after they ran out of product.  But fans say it's worth the wait, as the next closest White Castle to Vegas is 1,500 miles away in Missouri.

But I digress.  The 3 a.m. experience at White Castle was indeed everything Harold and Kumar promised; a meal fit for the munchies.  Without an appetite, I ordered one slider and took a seat by the window of the brightly lit store.  I bit into what I can only describe as the soggiest meat concoction I've ever tasted.  If I had been blind folded, I would have bet my life that whatever it was that I was consuming was not meat.  As I swallowed the sponge like product, I realized that perhaps with enough drugs, I too, may drive a thousand miles for whatever this was, but without them, I'd never be back.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Film Review: Odd Thomas

When Netflix suggested I watch Odd Thomas, I must admit I was tad bit skeptical.  Sure I've been on a horror binge recently but this? 

Picture this, a small town fry cook with one huge paranormal secret; he can see dead people.  Not only can Odd Thomas, yes his actual name given to him by his paranormal secret-hiding mother, see dead people but he can see the demons that feed on death.  He describes them as Bodachs (bow-dak-s) and says they always show up before something really gruesome happens. 

But Odd Thomas isn't just odd, he's pretty normal actually.  Normal and happy.  His fiance Stormy, yes her name is Stormy, dreams of opening her own ice cream shop and growing old with her childhood sweetheart.  Beyond adorable.  Of course Stormy knows about Odd's powers and loves him even more.

So when a large group of Bodachs arrive in town along with a creepy stranger, it's of course up to Odd Thomas to figure out what type of blood bath is about to happen.  

The film isn't terrifying but it does make you think and at times even cry.  The ending got me good on this one, So sit back and enjoy this battle of good vs. evil and remember to have some tissues handy for one helluvah ending.

© The Traveling Barnacle

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

There are Two Types of People in this World...

I am constantly hearing that there are indeed two types of people in the world.  Cat people vs. Dog lovers, coffee drinkers vs. tea drinkers, the people that put the jam on their scones before the cream and those that know it's supposed to be cream first, then jam.  As children we are raised to know the world is divided.  Men vs. Women, pessimists vs. optimists, night and day.

But is it that simple?  Tumblr sure thinks so!

© The Traveling Barnacle

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