Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Friday, October 20, 2017

My Love Affair with Bugles is Exposed!

The Devil's Snack

I had a tough commute tonight. I hit rush hour which extended my normal commute of 1 hour to just under 2 hours. It wasn't an accident thank God. It wasn't construction. It was just blasted traffic! Grrr. Not even anything crazy to look at. Prior to hitting the jam, I ended up stopping at the local quick gas/coffee/convenience store right before the highway. Picked up the necessities: gas, coffee, and a snack for the ride home.

In this case, it was a 14.5 oz bag of my favorite childhood munchies, BUGLES! OH GOD I loved them!!! Well I hit major traffic and everything stopped. I had already had a handful of the Bugles. They were sitting on the passenger seat JUST STARING AT ME. I mean like just mocking me, tempting me to eat them. 

Ok I just had one hand full, then another, and still ANOTHER. By the time I hit Shartlesville.... yes that's the name LOL, I ate 90% of the bag. So what did I do, I asked Google how many calories were in each bag ... 1120 calories!!! Um. I'm feeling like a pig right now and a bit sick. I'd be seeing a different Shartlesville pretty soon. Ha-ha! 

What's a gym rat to do? Well work it off. But why oh why did I do it in the first place? 

I'm HUMAN. I love salty snacks. I had a tough day and needed some comfort food! Don't give me Oreo's or chocolate (unless it's dark chocolate). Give me salty crunchy snacks! That's my thing! That's my craving! It's crazy right? I guess not really. We seemed to be programmed to go after snacks which we LOVE like sweet or salty. I like crunchy and salty. Chips, peanuts, chips, more chips. etc. 

The guilt came over me. I've been SO GOOD. And I threw it away with over 1000 calories of snacks in a single serving! First off, remember I said we are human? Gotta accept it. We break down, even the craziest of us gym rats. I need to forgive myself. I am trying. 

Now what to do about those friggin' calories? Well washing dishes helps. LOL So does laundry. Maybe a little yard work... does sweeping the deck count? 

OK, I know, I am putting it off. I hit the gym at 7pm with a belly full of Bugles. They were so GOOD but I knew I needed to get on top of this fast. 

I spent an hour at the gym on the elliptical and worked off  500 calories. Good start. Again ... I (WE) are human. I (WE) will have minor setbacks. Wrestle with your conscious but physically MOVE on that sh*t! Get on top of it before it becomes an unwieldy weight. I know it's tough and it means more work out. You gotta just work through that guilt. I'm with YOU! It sucks! 

I hate myself for eating an entire bag of BUGLES! LOLOL I laugh just thinking of it. But I gotta work it off. I'm halfway there. I'll have a couple of tough workouts. On days I spend only doing weights, I'll throw in CARDIO to work off an extra 100-200 calories. It'll be worked off by the next week. 

I ended up having a very light dinner due to my snacking. I enjoyed a Progresso Tuscan-Style White Bean soup at 260 calories. That helped. A little more sodium than I'd want for my intake but more water diluted that as well. 

It's tough people! I've been eating so healthy these last couple weeks. I got a craving and I satisfied it. Remember, 4th time, we are human. I beat myself up. You need to hold yourself accountable. Don't beat yourself up too much. Just hold yourself accountable and make changes to correct the missteps. 

Establish a social network of friends who also work out to keep you in check. I have that. But I decided to call the Bugles instead. LOL  GOOD LUCK on your workouts. I am with you in your highs and lows. :) 

HUGS, MARC 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tiny Tales, Part Two



"Miss Moxie"


The writing contest for the "Marvellous Tiny Tales" has a second part which I will be entering as well. Remember from the first part, the story has to be 3 sentences long, the more odd and quirky the better! Even if I don't win, it has been a fun writing exercise. Here are the selections I have been tooling with. Let me know which ones you like.


"Miss Moxie's Other Plans"

While I was immersed in a favorite novel, Moxie the Cat had other plans for me that bedtime which included lounging on my chest. The book shall wait until another evening as Miss Moxie apparently is not a fan of Hemingway. She has won again.


********************************************************************************


"Country Drive"

Driving with windows down through the countryside on a sunny September day, Barkley passed old stone houses, farms and fields as far as the eye could see. Up and over meandering streams and through bends in the road,  he slammed on his brakes to avoid a rickety cart filled with pumpkins. Welcome to Fall!

********************************************************************************


"No Chocolate for You"

For the umpteenth time on another Halloween night, young Jacob made the rounds of his neighborhood dressed up as a hobo. No matter, he thought, for his trick-or-treat bag was filed with dozens and dozens of chocolate bars! After fastidiously counting the many candy bars in various shapes and sizes, he ate to his heart's content ... only to ironically discover as he broke out in hives, that he was severely allergic to chocolate.

********************************************************************************


"Mermaid"

Dozing at the beach on a warm summer day, Nigel buried his feet into the pearly white sands by the water's edge. Stubbing his toe on something sharp, he pulled free the most beautiful tiara of gemstones and gold. "Thank you for finding my crown!" yelled a young mermaid, frolicking in the waves before a disbelieving Nigel.


********************************************************************************


"Stymied"

We sped off for the Coast on a humid summer evening, me and Zeb, in his old clunker of a Chevy with rock-n-roll on the radio. As the car zoomed forth, I felt free and alive, smoking a cig in one hand and the other waving out the window through the rushing air. After an hour on the open road, Zeb exclaimed "Oh man Bud!" for the trip was abruptly cut short by a herd of Jersey cows blocking the highway.

********************************************************************************

"First Date Chaperone"

Breathless, clammy, and excited, Peter met Claire at her house for their very first date. They sat quietly in the parlor searching for something to break the ice when suddenly Claire blurted out, "Well aren't you going to address the pink elephant in the room?" Peter spun around coming face to face with a large pink elephant squeezed into a petite settee sipping on a large martini.




Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Madonna and I have Changed!

"You Can Dance"


I hit the gym last night and brought up this album on my mp3 player, Madonna's You Can Dance. We are talking Old School Madonna! I love the album; had the cassette and still have the CD. (As you can gather, I'm Old School, LOL.) The album was released in November 1987, the Fall of my senior year of high school. I was seventeen at the time of its release. WOW, the album is 30 years old!

The difference between listening to the album in 1987 vs 2017 ... besides 30 years? Again, WOW. The difference is that in 1987, I would listen to it and dance around for an hour, not losing my breath. If I were at an under-age club, I'd be probably dancing for another 3-4 hours. Ahhh, the endurance of youth!

Now in the Fall of 2017, I would listen to it for an hour on the elliptical machine or treadmill. Oh how the times have changed. After an hour on the elliptical, I can tell you I am probably breathing pretty hard, sweating bullets, and checking how many calories I burned to see if I can have a beer OR several that night.

Listening to the album brought back a flood of high school memories. My good friends and family know how much I love Madonna. I've been to almost every concert and have pretty much everything musically that she's ever put out. I have always loved her as the ultimate 'entertainer'. She may not be the best singer but she can sure put on a fucking show and always has!

I remember the first time I saw her video "Open Your Heart" on MTV in 1986 (I was a geeky 16 year old). I was so excited I screamed for my Mom to come into the living room to show her who Madonna was. Mom took one look at her dancing around the TV screen with her bosoms bouncing all around and flatly exclaimed, "SHE'S A WHORE!" before marching back to the kitchen.

I crack up just thinking about that afternoon! It's actually one of my favorite memories of my Mom just 'saying it like it was.' Mom did eventually become a fan and absolutely loved Madonna's 'Dick Tracy' album "I'm Breathless" put out in 1990. She loved Madonna's throw back nod to the 1930's.

This also brings me back to memories of my high school days where I would drive into Philly with my best gal-pals Angie, Mandy, and Marguerite heading off to bars and clubs we could get into and drink. We were always trying to drive into Philly and as they say ... up to no good!

One time I was driving home, I drove over the concrete median between the slow and fast lanes on Route 295 in South Jersey. The girls screamed their collective heads off, the car bottomed out totally for about a tenth of a mile, and sparks were seen across the South Jersey skyline from Gloucester City to the Deptford Mall! That poor 1987 Nissan Sentra!

We all had a nervous good laugh about it and I dropped Marguerite and Mandy off in Wenonah, NJ and then drove Angie all the way south (about 20 minutes) to Mullica Hill and made sure she got home. I came back home to Wenonah, parked and went to bed .. lets just say LATE.

Well the next day, Dad asked me, "Can you come outside to the driveway for a minute and look at the car?" Oh FUCK.

Dad, always the peacemaker, God LOVE HIM, asked me if I knew how this may have happened, pointing to a completely shredded tire. I cannot believe I actually made it from the Deptford Mall to Angie's house in Mullica Hill and back again! I vaguely said I remember driving over something on 295 but it was SO dark, I couldn't be sure. I knew he didn't buy it. He told me I'd pay for the tire. LOL I did totally pay for that shredded tire and we BOTH knew I got off lucky!

On another evening, Mandy was driving Angie, Marguerite, and I into Philly on one of our adventures in her Dad's Audi. It was Marguerite in the front and Angie and I in the back. How do I remember this? Because Madonna's "Holiday" was on FULL BLAST on the radio (probably a cassette, remember them?) and we were singing it, all four of us at once.

Now out of the four of us, I certainly knew I did not have the voice to sing Madonna or anyone for that matter. LOL. I was usually quiet, in the background, singing "Holiday" really softly LOL. :)  The other gals each had vocal training with Angie belting it out, harmonizing. It was rather enjoyable.  Marguerite and Mandy were EACH trained in vocal song. I just enjoyed being there. LOL BUT someone was at that particular moment, off pitch. LOL Maybe it was ME? Maybe it was someone else. LOL I'll never tell NOR admit it but those rides were the BEST.

OK SO.... On THIS particular ride, we were driving across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge towards the great City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, singing OUR HEARTS OUT to Madonna's "Holiday"! One of us, not sure whom, looked up and realized MANDY was driving in the bridge lane towards Philly with red lights. She was driving into oncoming traffic!

I think the screams of all four of use broke windows up and down Mainline Philly! Mandy quickly swerved her Dad's Audi from oncoming traffic into the correct lanes with .. Ahem... them CRAZY green lights (you know, the ones you're allowed to drive in) and we continued on our way across the Ben Franklin Bridge. It was quite an experience and one the four of us laugh and exclaim about 30 years later!!!

I reached out to Mandy and Angie about this memory. And pretty much each one of them were like "Oh God MARCUS!!!!!"  LOL

Mandy, God bless my dear friend, also reminded me of our Chinese fire drills at each stop light and also the time she got pulled over by the cop for not having her headlights on. (She didn't know how to put them on.) Ooops, sorry Mandy. You know I LOVE YOU. :)  In fact, these gals provided me were a lifetime of AWESOME high school memories. I love each of them.






Sigmund Freud Quote I Can Relate To



TIME SPENT WITH CATS IS NEVER WASTED.

Sigmund Freud



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Awesome Mark Twain Quote



Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.  - Mark Twain.



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Tiny Tales

"Tiny Tales" 

I've entered a writing contest called "Marvellous Tiny Tales" where you submit tiny expressive stories in three total sentences. The prize? Bragging rights and a small animated movie being made to go along with your story. Criteria? Be odd, bold, and unusual. That sounds like me. LOL.

My tiny stories "Dream Traveler" and "Feed Us!" are what I will be entering. Putting out my writing can be nerve wracking but why would one write if not to be read? (Private journals not included.) Anyway, here are the tiny tales and others I wrote during this project.


"Dream Traveler"

One steamy late summer evening in Philadelphia, Baxter fell into a deep slumber and found himself wandering down a long hallway filled with a thousand doors. Choosing one, he entered a noisy boisterous bar filled with energy and excitement as far as the eye could see. He was feeling suddenly thirsty when a bartender sporting the curliest mustache he had ever seen exclaimed, "Welcome to Chicago, what's your poison?"

*********************************************************************************

"Feed Us!"

Drinking his morning coffee, Fletcher gazed out from the kitchen onto the overgrown yard.  A rogue hummingbird, then another, buzzed the window while hovering within inches from his face. "Feed us," they demanded, "for we must begin our long journey south for the Winter!"

*********************************************************************************

I dragged a tangled mass of branches around the house to dump over the hillside into an even more tangled pile. Focused on task, I was startled by two feeding does, each one more startled than me. And with a flash of a large white tail, they bound off across the yard!

*********************************************************************************

Waking up from a good night's sleep, I hear pouring rain and a distant thunder through the open window. The bedroom air smells good from the rains: sweet, grass-like, and dewy. I snuggle in for another hour covered from head to toe against the morning chill in my comfy quilt.

*********************************************************************************

The crackling Fall fire-pit warms my feet even through my hiking boots. A swig of bourbon is tempered with a toasted roasted marshmallow and the whiff of a good cigar. I'm heady from all the scents and will sleep well tonight.

*********************************************************************************

Summer tomatoes burst in my mouth, juices overflowing. Give me some basil and wet mozzarella and that'll be the way to start dinner! Unfortunately dinner didn't measure up to those wonderful summer tomatoes.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Tip for Reporters Covering Disasters

Hurricane Harvey (Nasa.gov)

A video interview occurred last week with a reporter sticking her microphone in a poor woman's face at one of the Houston evacuee shelters in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. It was an extremely uncomfortable moment which showed the raw emotions and pain of a woman and her family pushed to the edge by the tumultuous events surrounding the hurricane.

Link to the interview: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2Cw-J0s_-c

The reporter initially did not get the obvious hint that we the viewers picked up on, other than just saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." The woman kept stating, "And you are STILL putting that mic in my face." The reporter finally embarrassingly withdrew it, shaken up herself. I'm sure she regretted continuing the questioning.

I also feel that it wasn't her intent to set the woman off, but it happened and hopefully she will learn from it when interviewing in the future. And by the way, the news organization which the reporter is from has nothing to do with the reporter's questioning. I've seen various levels of incompetence on all three of the major cable news networks: CNN, MSNBC, and FOX.


There was a tip that I read for reporters from the comments section of an online article on Hurricane Harvey from The Washington Post in response to the video. With Hurricane Irma almost upon the Caribbean and then possibly Florida, I think it can be applied to that impending event as well.


"Do not ask how someone feels after a disaster. Ask them if there is something that they would like to share so that the people outside of the area can understand what is going on in there. That gives them the chance to say they cannot talk right now (due to emotions), vent all about all of the reporters in their faces, or tell what happened to them."

I don't profess to even know what the job of a reporter during a catastrophe is like but ...

FOOD FOR THOUGHT.



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Pets and Hurricane Harvey





Pic by Scott Olson (Getty Images)


This picture really got to me. This poor swimming cat, with a look of desperation on his face, just trying to make it to higher ground. I was crushed when I saw this. People are not the only ones who have been suffering during Hurricane Harvey. People's pets and other animals are also fighting to survive. The photos of these animals all have the same look of fright, anxiety, and apprehension you see on the faces of their human companions.




Cowboys saving their cattle (from Houston Chronicle)

From the cowboy trying to get his horse to higher ground. To the farmer searching for his herd of cattle of 90, only to be able to find 30. The others presumed dead, including many calves. To the countless dogs and cats being passed from arm to arm or from carrier to boat, all to safety. To the farmer leading a stray long horn steer who is not fighting him because he wants to get to higher ground and safety. To still another herd of cattle, all 25 crowded around the last stand of high ground around the ranch house. Everyone and every animal, trying to survive.



"Frankie and Bear" Picture by Ed Lavandara CNN (off his Instagram page)

Frankie and Bear )above) had to be left behind by their human family who were unable to take the dogs with them into the rescue boat. Heartbroken, their only option was to leave them in their smaller boat, hoping someone would find them. Luckily, people did, are caring for the pooches, and will reunite them with their family at some point.


 Otis www.facebook.com/TieleDockens


And then we have Otis, a German Shepherd mix in Sinton, Texas, wandering around town with a bag of his favorite dog food after getting out from an enclosed porch. Apparently he knew exactly where to go for it at a local food store. He has since been reunited with his owner. Otis was just hungry and is now an internet celebrity! (picture by Sinton, Texas resident Tiele Dockens)

There are countless stories of heartache and tragedy but also ones of rescue and hope. People are still are struggling down in Texas and will continue to do so for months to come. Water pumps are breaking down, people still need to be rescued, and shelters are still being opened up.

For more information on the plight of the animals and pets during Hurricane Harvey, CNN has published an informative article: 

What can we do for our fellow man? There are a myriad of organizations collecting for those people that have lost everything to Hurricane Harvey. You can donate to the Red Cross, the Houston Food Bank, the Salvation Army, and Save the Children funds to name a few. The New York Times has published an excellent article and links for many charities in an effort to prevent people from getting scammed:

What can we do for the pets?  Another excellent article detailing pet relief efforts was published by Today.com: https://www.today.com/pets/hurricane-harvey-flooding-how-help-save-animals-pets-t115618 .

Specific relief organizations include the www.ASPCA.com, https://www.petcofoundation.org/, and www.humanesociety.org . Do your research and determine whether you want to donate locally, or donate nationally. Either way, make sure it's a bonafide organization. I will be donating to help those pets in need. No judgment calls during times like this either. If you wish to donate just for your fellow man, that's awesome. Everyone down there, people and pets, needs our help.



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Scaling Back Yet Again...


My social media contacts on Facebook have grown tremendously in the past several years, partly because of me wanting to promote the blog. But I don't think it has 'helped' the blog as I've thought or hoped it would. 

I'm torn somewhat but I've decided to scale back for my own sanity. I think I'm done with the acquaintance friend. I have more acquaintance friends on here from my local community which have caused me more stress than someone from Indiana who wants to be my friend just to read my blog! And guess who will ultimately remain, the housewife from Indiana who supports my writing. I'm done feeling like I have to have an online phone book called Facebook. I will go through and see who supports the blog. That will be a big decision. Keeping family, Philly friends, high school/college friends and fraternity bros are at the top of my list too. 

Time to evaluate again where this path called life is leading me! And remember, nothing in life is permanent. People come and go in our our lives and their is nothing wrong with that. Making someone feel guilty for these types of decisions is wrong though.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Flower Rockets are a DUD



So with this day being what would've been my mother's 75th birthday, I am dedicating this laughably "garden" blog post to my dear Mom Abby. I feel she would've gotten a kick out of this post. And in retrospect, I think I will follow her gardening advice from here on in and plant marigolds and impatiens because as she used to say, "They'll survive anything!"

Back at the end of April, I purchased several Flower Rockets at the local Rite-Aid store. They were on sale for $1.00 per box (that should've been my first clue) and even better yet they're... "AS SEEN ON TV!"(second clue, slapping me in the face).

I have WHEAT growing on my deck...
Yes, I am sometimes a sucker for that age-old slogan slapped on any merchandise. The Hurricane Spin Mop?  The Pyramid Silicone Baking Mat? The Dump Cake Cook Book!? Brett Favre's Copper Fit Socks!?!? All seen on TV??? I'll take them!

LOL I'm not that bad BUT I was excited about these little boxes labeled "Flower Rockets." I figured how easy is this? Plant a biodegradable pod of seeds and in a month to 2 months, have a ROCKET of flowers ALL SUMMER LONG! This I figured, would save me so much time and energy and bursts of color would be blooming all over the yard! They promised an entire summer and fall of hundreds of zinnias, hummingbirds flowers, and summer bouquets!

I don't know what the heck this is!!!
I took a picture of the Flower Rocket boxes but it came out blurry. Perhaps my skepticism was trying to rear it's ugly head and shake some sense into me via my phone. The very first pic above was copied online and shows what is SUPPOSED to grow from the seed pods. 6 boxes, NOT ONE BLOOM.

I start each Spring off this way. I get so excited about my yard with the multiple flower beds and planters. I makes lists on what I am going to plant. I hunt for sales on plantings. I get all the gardening equipment out and clean them off. I make sure I have gardening gloves, seeds, plant food, pesticides, etc. The yard is big so it's quite a daunting task. But I said to myself, this year will be different. The Flower Rockets will make it easier!

3 mths later, NOTHING
WRONG. I planted 6 Flower Rockets. and 100% of them were DUDs upon lift off. NO FLOWERS. Three months later, three of them didn't even grow! The other 3 were just weeds, weeds, weeds! After all is said and done, I don't even know what these weeds are! For all I know, I am bringing in invasive species into my friggin' yard!  I ended up planting primroses late in the season in two of the empty flower pots.

Screw the rockets, bring in the roses.
After the fact, I did some research and found that the MAJORITY of buyers of the Flower Rockets (at least on Amazon) were very unhappy and had the same crappy experience as me. In other words, NOTHING GREW. Next year, I'm sticking with Mom's advice and buying just impatiens and marigolds. Heck, even the deer stay away from the marigolds!

Buyer beware my friends! https://www.amazon.com/Roll-Out-Flowers-Flower-Rocket/dp/B00BHIUT4Q

Monday, August 7, 2017

NO to Public Drama


(Not my pic)

I was out this past weekend at a local restaurant with a friend. We stopped for a quick beer, just one. We were sitting at the bar and said hi to a couple we know from our community. 

I don't know them that well at all but enough to say hi, shake a hand, and chat for 5 minutes before going about my business, that sort of thing. It was pleasant. If this was the mid 20th century, we exchanged pleasantries.

"How is your summer going?" 
"Mine is well, how is yours?"
"Its going great, but going fast."
"I agree, before you know it, it'll be the fall!"

That sort of thing. 

My attention turned back to my beer and I chatted up my friend. The couple sat 3 seats down talking adamantly. I could tell within 2 minutes they had drank way more than a couple drinks each. They started arguing and it got ugly. The woman was accusing the man of treating her badly and began to get louder and louder. He attempted to calm her down, to no avail. 

When that didn't work, he grew louder and louder in return. He was 'upping the ante.' It was as if they were making embarrassing points about each other just so the others at the bar could hear the sordid details of the argument. Personal subject matter was brought up which should never be brought up in public. Neither party was the innocent one.

It was SO extremely awkward. Cursing began. There were other people at the bar and it just grew so silent whilst the two continued their inebriated argument. I glanced at my friend and we both read each other's mind. Time to finish our beers and leave. I don't even remember if I said good bye. I just wanted to get the hell outta there. 

Once back in my car, my friend and I discussed what we had witnessed and the awkwardness of it all. We both realized that they were lobbing accusations loudly at one another on purpose just for the rest of the bar to hear. And we both decided at the same time that it was definitely time to go. I hate public drama and so does he. Some things should just be private. It was absolutely mortifying. 

We talked about what to take away from this experience. What could we learn? One thing was to realize what type of drinker you are. If you are one who tends to become emotional or argumentative when drinking, maybe you need to question how much you are drinking in public so avoid from having a meltdown if you are triggered by another party. 

Another lesson was that we realized from watching it on the other side, how mortifying it is when people air their dirty laundry in public! And this couple was not a young couple. They were the perfect example of a middle aged couple lacking maturity in social situations. Don't be that couple!

Obviously, the alcohol did not help the situation. As a bartender, I do see my fair share and try and curb it by watching people's emotions and reactions to alcohol as the night goes on. 

Public drama between couples is never pretty. It's pretty obvious, don't drink to excess and publicly argue. If you know you have an issue with your emotions when you drink, recognize it and if you need help with controlling them, seek it out. 

The final lesson we discussed was that even when you are SOBER, don't argue in public. If you have an issue with someone such as your spouse, significant other, or even a friend, temper your emotions and deal with it in an appropriate setting. Not a bar. Not a restaurant. Not the local supermarket. No one likes witnessing public drama. It makes the rest of us uncomfortable.

Now I'm not perfect. Never said I was. But at least I can take something away from such an awkwardly horrible situation and learn from it. Though I doubt this couple will. 


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Christmas in July

At the Lodge with my new bartender. 😏

"Christmas in July" events are now becoming pretty popular. Apparently 4 months of Christmas shopping starting in September and leading up to December 25th are not enough so people have to celebrate another month in the middle of the year JUST IN CASE they have forgotten how to be joyously merry. 😒

The Hallmark Channel has totally capitalized on this month long event. As if the constant stream of romance movies weren't enough to drive you over the edge, you will now have 33 Christmas themed movies to look forward to in the coming months. It is nice though to see that certain 80s and 90s actors are gainfully employed again. I'm sure Candace Burrell, Andie MacDowell and James Denton are happy.

Several bars in the Allentown area are having events for the faux-holiday. One bar is having entertainment and a costume contest. I hope its an indoor ugly sweater contest. I mean how many fully dressed Santas are gonna show up at a bar in summer heat? And unless you and your friends are going as elves or reindeer, there just aren't that many Christmas costume options.

But good things do happen as a result of these celebrations. I've seen many food and toy drives. Food pantries are always in need this time of year. They receive an overabundance of donated canned goods in December and then unfortunately, they are all but forgotten come the summer time.

Visit any weekend yard sales over the summer and you'll see an overwhelming plethora of toys for sale for a quarter here, a dollar there. Gee folks, here's a bright idea, just donate to these unused toys to the toy drives! I mean all that work for $10.00 profit on toys from your yard sale? Save some time, do a good deed by donating the toys, and if you must ... take a tax write-off  ðŸ˜•

Our community Lodge had a Christmas in July dinner which featured ham or turkey. It was very popular and sold-out. In years past, Christmas decorations were put up. Unfortunately this year, that did not occur so it was Christmas-in-food only. I blame lack of volunteerism. There just aren't enough volunteers in our communities these days. But that's another blog, another time.

I bartended that evening. I even went to the local thrift store and looked for a Christmas-y t-shirt but none were available. There were row after row of  Christmas decorations available for purchase. I settled for a SpongeBob SquarePants dressed in holiday garb to represent my "Christmas in July" spirit. He also was hired as our replacement bartender since my bud Darren is leaving the Lodge end of August. Hopefully he will be easier to train ... just kidding Darren!

I AM looking forward to decorating the Christmas tree this year. That's a favorite holiday activity of mine. I get out all the ornaments from years past, including a new one I pick up each year. I lay them all out and start deciding where to put each one. My favorite tree ornaments are my Mom's ornaments I received after she passed away, ornaments of my childhood, and various cat-themed ones acquired over the years.  My all-time favorite tree ornament has to be Bugs Bunny Carmen Miranda!

Bugs Bunny as Carmen Miranda


I read online that there is a certain way to decorate trees. Start with the lights at the top, work your way down going round and round. Then drape the garland the same way, top first of course. After that, do the ornaments, heaviest towards the inside, lightest towards the outside. OK WHATEVER. I say open a bottle of wine, beer, or whatever your favorite libation may be, eggnog included, and decorate the tree HOW YOU WANT! All I know is that Bugs Bunny goes FRONT and CENTER!

You better start shopping too, there are only 150 days left until Christmas.
You can 'Bah Humbug!' me later!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

BACK ON TRACK (wit da gym)



"Some days, I feel like a sack of potatoes."

GUESS WHAT PEOPLE!! I took a break from my work-outs. I stopped working out on a regular basis during the month of June and .... OMG ... no... don't say it ... don't even think it ... SAY IT AIN'T SO JOE ... I ... GAINED ... WEIGHT!! OK OK OK, everyone take a breath. Breathe deeply and take a sip of water. Don't mind me, I'm gonna just eat this Hershey's Kiss. NO NO! Don't do it!!! (I did and enjoyed it.)

I've had a stressful month. I mean I went on vacation!! OK OK it wasn't really a stressful month. But I did eat and drink my way through June 2017. Is that wrong? Is that bad??? I mean, I have been so good for this last year!

(By the way.. if you haven't figured it out by now, don't take my ranting too seriously. I'm more harder on myself than anyone ever could be.) 

I initially took a break or two due to injury ... possibly a rotator cuff tear which had healed into scar tissue during a previous injury may or may not have involved a CASE of Dom Perignon falling from a shelf during my Ritz-Carlton days during the early 2000's which was caught by an awesome arm maneuver on MY part which unfortunately I couldn't be drug tested at that time because ... OK another blog another time.

AND I had another injury from tennis elbow due to lifting. NOW anyone who knows me KNOWS I do not play tennis. I am physically uncoordinated for it. There's a law on the books about it in Skook Cty. "Marc Haynes cannot play tennis because he is physically uncoordinated. HOWEVER, Marc Haynes can make drinks for those playing tennis."  LOL 

THEN, I had my 47th birthday which was EFFING awesome because I realized how thankful I am about sh!t! :) I did work out here and there but decided to also eat and drink here and there and enjoy my June. Then what happened??? UM.... I gained weight. I became pudgy. I became chunky again. I felt like a sack of potatoes ... maybe fingerlings? NICE TRY. OK, maybe redskins? NOPE. REALLY? OK who are we kidding, Idaho Russets! wah wah wah.... 

It was tough, difficult, embarrassing. Then I was like, WHAT do I have to be embarrassed about??? I am human! I have been in the best friggin' shape of my life for the last several years! We all get older, we all get stressed out, we turn to ways to help with the stress like food and drink .... we all falter on our workouts. The key is to GET BACK ON TRACK.. Get back on that horse and keep riding! 

But a couple things... Working out is tough. It's NOT meant to be easy my friends. I get into slumps just like anyone else. I get down, sad, miserable, gloomy. It's gonna happen. Being honest, these emotions were involved with me too. Life is tough. We go through ups and down. When you are down, you do not wanna work out. It's easier to grab that bag of chips or a beer and veg and watch an episode of Friends. OMG OMG I still LOVE reruns of FRIENDS. LOLOL. 

BUT, you, me, all of us, need to get back on track. It's for our mental health, our physical health. I'll work the weight off. I know that. Once you start working out for a while, you can gauge how long it would take you to work off 10 pounds. I'm looking at about two months of cardio and serious lifting to get back to where I was feeling good. 

I'll do it AND until I do, I will once again post when I'm at the gym. It keeps me in check. As I've been told and completely appreciate, it gives motivation to other as well. That means a helluva alot, THANK YOU. You know who you are!! And you kids who find it annoying ... Whatever. I've said it before and I'll say it again: don't follow me. (I know some of you already do so no biggie. Comes wit da territory! Don't bother me none.) 

SO ... what to do, what to do ... First, lemme put down this Whoopie Pie (PA Dutch thing) and put down this very strong heavy beer (manly man thing) and get my gym clothes ready for tomorrow's work out. 

If I haven't said it before, I truly appreciate when people like that I am at the gym. I hope that I may continue to motivate you but YOU my friends MOTIVATE ME! Get back on that horse!  (I'd rather it be a kangaroo or giraffe. That's be pretty exciting to ride. Or maybe an elephant! OK, I know, another blog, another time...) 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

FOURTH of JULY



Many fireflies in the yard,
Memories of the 4th as a child,
Hotdogs by the dozen, dripping mustard,
Many t-shirts lost...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

RIP Ralph Archbold AKA Philly's BEN FRANKLIN

Ralph Archbold, the quintessential Benjamin Franklin


Back in the late 90s, I worked at the City Tavern as a server. I've mentioned it before. My server/waiting/bartending jobs set the tone for my wild and crazy 20's.  I became extremely close with a group of other servers from the Tavern and remain so to this day. We were a motley crew of twenty somethings:  men, women, black, white, Hispanic, young, old, single, married, gay, straight .. you name it. We worked hard and then played hard, hitting the sack at the crack of dawn, only to get up 5 hours later and do it again for double shifts at the Tavern. Twenty years later, I loved that time, wouldn't repeat, and still thank God I survived some of it.

For those who don't know, the City Tavern is an accurate reconstruction of a period colonial tavern in Philadelphia on the exact same spot as the original building where we servers would wear colonial garb and serve tourists traditional American fare with a twist. The Chef Walter Staib, still overseas operations since the early 90's. It was called the "most genteel tavern in America" by our founding father John Adams and hosted other founding fathers by the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.

One of the fun aspects of Independence National Park is the opportunity to interact with the impersonators who play historical figures walking around the Park conversing with the tourists. We Servers at the Tavern ran into the historical actors on many an occasion as the Tavern was a popular stop for their wanderings.

Benjamin Franklin, played by the late Ralph Archbold since the 1970's, would come in quite often and mingle with the guests moving from room to room stopping at tables, offering advice, commenting on people's "gadgets" or clothing. He would try wandering into the kitchen and we would kindly direct him back to the dining rooms. Always nice, always professional, he would continue his educational anecdotes and speeches while being directed by staff into the more common areas of the Tavern.

Sadly, Mr. Ralph Archbold passed away this year on March 25, 2017. Mr. Archbold was absolutely incredible at his job. I didn't appreciate his dedication to his job and his craft was until I matured a bit more. Here is a link to the great article written by Jonathan Lai on Philly.com.
http://www.philly.com/philly/obituaries/Philly-Benjamin-Franklin-impersonator-Ralph-Archbold-dies.html

It isn't until I thought about Mr. Archbold's impressions of Mr. Franklin that I really how good he was. This blog post also serves as an apology to Mr. Archbold because my friends and I were a bit of a menace to the poor actor back in the 90's while he just trying to do his job and do it well.

To a twenty something kid who was trying to handle 10 lunch tables at once, Mr. Franklin ... was downright annoying. He would get in my way, disrupt my service, and be the cause of a great deal of stress for myself, a snotty nose obnoxious waiter, serving lunch in the 90' Philly summer heat.

Even between lunch and dinner services, Mr. Archbold would NOT break character. He was devoutly loyal to his alter ego, Mr. Franklin, to the core. For instance, someone would pull out a flip cell phone and Mr. Franklin would inquire, "What is that newfangled device you are speaking into?"
One of us servers would respond, "OMG Ben, it's a cell phone,  you know that ... Break character and have a Coke."
Marc (with Cindy, the nicest server ever)
Mr. Franklin, "Oh I don't know what you mean ... talking into a little hand held box ... how extraordinary! Maybe I'll just have a sherry instead."
"UGH!" we'd collectively reply.

"Oh my look at that horseless carriage? What will they think of next?" Ben would exclaim.
"It's a Philly taxi cab Ben! We are all on break! Now please give US a break!"
"No, no," he'd reply in his slightly faux British-American accent. "Much work to be done today and then I'm off to bed, for remember, early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!"
"Please Ben, it's 99' out, it's hot, and your are quoting us your famous quotes again!? I've got two lobster pot pies in the back I will most likely burn myself on, I need to focus on juggling them to table 10, four pepper pot soups to table 4, and pick up 3 Thomas Jefferson Ales at the bar!"

Ben, I mean Ralph, no I mean Ben, would quote his famous quotes often much to our surly dismay. We'd comment to him, "Oh my GOD! Are you kidding me? Will you not break character? There is no one else around? We are not tourists!"

I was an asshole to be sure, a punk bitch ass ungrateful waiter to be more specific. I get that now.

Ben/Ralph was truly a nice guy. It just annoyed our immature selves that he would be in character 24/7. Hell, even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson broke character every now and then to complain about the hot weather, their girlfriends, the honking taxi cabs or the fact that all they wanted was a beer in the August heat.

But there was Ben, always in character, ever so knowledgeable. "You know when I was a child, we didn't have these large metal electric cold boxes, we kept our ice in an ice house! Do you know I invented electricity?" as he wandered through the restaurant kitchen while we were trying to eat our pre-service staff meal.

"REALLY BEN!!?? Can't we just each our employee meal!? Will you just stop it for 10 minutes while we eat! Then you can go back to being Ben, OK?"

"Oh I surely don't know what you are referring to my good man. Remember ... An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."
"Please for the love of God, Ben, stop for just 5 minutes! What does that even mean? I'm just a waiter who can barely pay his rent and have enough money for partying the night away at a local dive bar!"
Ben would just laugh, shake his head, and continue wander the building dropping quotes and missives to unsuspecting tourists.

The man was incredible, he absolutely loved his job. As a young server, it annoyed the hell outta me. But then again, most of the world annoyed the hell outta me. My job did, my apartment did, the summer heat did.

As a (ahem) mature adult, I now appreciate this man's dedication and loyalty to his craft. AND I formally apologize to Mr. Rich Archbold, our Philadelphia's own Ben Franklin.

Rich Archbold, you will surely be missed by your great city of Philadelphia! And actually, you will be missed by me. I wish I could have the love for my job that you had for yours.

Lastly, I am reminded by a quote from Ben Franklin I've just recently discovered. And I thank Mr. Ralph Archbold for it, as I would not have discovered it if I had not started writing this blog post:

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." by Benjamin Franklin 


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wisdom Going into my 47th Year

I won an Emmy for my bullshit work through life. LOL


This year has had its share of ups and downs. Rather than relive the past years events, I figured I would share with you some wisdom and observations I have learned, some which I've been reminded of, and some interesting facts I've discovered.  Some old, some new. As always, they are in no particular order. I spout off as things come into my head. OK OK, maybe serious to silly...

I often get myself worked up trying to get everything done on my "to do" list. Never happens. I am reminded of this voice in the back of my mind. It is my mother's. We were having a quick conversation one morning the year before she passed away. She asked me what I was doing on such a beautiful Sunday. I said I had a list of so much to do but I had to tackle the dishes. The dishes were the priority. She responded to me, "THE DISHES? Marc, the dishes can always wait. Go out and enjoy yourself today. The dishes will be there tomorrow."  With that, I did what she said and I had an awesome day. The dishes were there tomorrow and no one got hurt putting them off for another day! I always seem to go back to her voice in my head, lovingly admonishing me. 💗

Friends are an ambiguous term with regards to today's social media. Use your social media WISELY and make certain people "close" friends, others "acquaintances" and unfollow people that give you stress. It helps. You don't have to unfriend them, just unfollow them for a bit or so. Remember, you aren't gonna get along with everyone and THAT'S OK. I know I've been unfollowed by several people and I'm fine with it. (Honestly I really don't care. I just shrug my shoulders. Life is too short to get worked up over that.)

Or, take a break from social media for a week or so like sometimes I do. You may go through a withdraw for a day or two but trust me,  you'll get through it.

If you wanna be friends with someone, then be friends with someone. Don't let other people (who may not like that person) influence you ... make your OWN decisions.

Over the years, friendships may grow apart. That's natural. But they can also be rekindled. Don't let other people poison your mind or sway you. Again, I know I'm driving this home, make your own decisions about who you want to be friends with. Don't over think it. You can apply this whether you are a teenager or an adult.

Also, try not to give a shit about what people think about you (still even at 47, sometimes easier said than done).

Don't be so hard on  yourself with life in general. It's not easy, wasn't meant to be. We as individuals, are constantly learning.

The older I get .... the LESS I KNOW. Remember when we were 20 something and thought we knew fucking everything??? Yeah, that lasted a New York second.

Getting in shape is harder than ever as you get old so go easy on yourself on that too. Just keep doing SOMETHING, keep moving, and stay active.

One awesome beer is worth more than 3 crappy ones. I still would marry a good Saison farmhouse ale if I could. :)

I'm beginning to channel my grandparents with the tissues and hankies I keep hidden everywhere. (Hey I got allergies, whaddya want?)

I look at my disheveled self in the morning and say to myself, those bums are even lucky I'm making it in.

No tomato sauce after 10 PM. Hits me about 3 AM.

I compare medications with glee to people my own age and older: "Oh yeah, you're on Lisnopril for high blood pressure too? What dose!?" It actually becomes a rite of passage!

I am still NOT cool with checking the age box "45-54."

I looked into the qualifications for becoming a Franciscan Monk this year and apparently, I am TOO OLD! They have an age requirement. I didn't even get to the part that being Jewish might hold me back...

Time for progressive lenses for my glasses, I am playing the dancing paper game in front of my eyes, trying to bring paperwork into focus.

And now for some ridiculously stupid crazy embarrassing fun things I have learned:

Oil Rigs are not attached firmly to the ocean floor by large metal or concrete pylons. They are actually kind of large ships floating in the ocean, staying relatively still adjust to the moving waves/water. It's called a flotation production system. WOW.

Straw and hay are apparently not the same thing.

Custer's last stand is NOT Custard's last stand. The former was at the Battle of Bighorn, the latter located at 7302 Rising Sun Ave in Philly. LOL

I think that's a good place to end this. 😉



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Organizing on a Dreary Day



Back in Eastern PA where the weather has been more like Seattle, no yard work was to be accomplished on Memorial Day weekend. Although the temp was cool, I just didn't feel like getting my sneaks wet traipsing through overgrown grass or my knees wet from weeding flower beds. Instead, I decided to pick a project which I had been putting off and finally tackle it.

I spent the 2nd half of my weekend organizing mismatched sets of antique silver plate, a couple sterling, and various serving pieces, some old, some new,  some good shape, some bad. It was the perfect therapeutic activity to calm my mind on a misty, foggy, drizzly day. I enjoy collecting various serving pieces from the Art Deco and Art Nouveau eras. They really only have value to me but I love 'em. Gracefully feminine and delicate features on certain pieces while others showed classically angular chrome Art Deco lines.

Art Deco on the left, Art Nouveau on the right. 
I really like things organized: CDs, record albums, photo albums, books, DVDs all fall into this group. Yes I am old school, LOL I have not yet organized my MP3 files. I organize my clothes by season, then by color. Socks are divided up into work and play. Ties by color. Dishes, Tupperware, pots and pans according to size. Booze on the downstairs bar by type. I think as people, we like a certain structure to our lives. It gives a sense of calmness to chaos.

I'm not talking rigidity to the organization. My bathroom closet definitely gets messed up. My work shirts are sometimes all over the place. Sneakers and dress shoes in one big pile. It definitely happens and I usually trip over that pile of my shoes in the middle of the room. But once you organize that pile, once you line of those books in descending order from tall to short, one you color code those ties ... oh WOW what a sense of comfort.

But what is it about organization that we like to strive for? For me, it gives a sense of therapeutic safety and relaxation. The feeling that this is my stuff, I have touched it, gone over it, and rearranged it into some semblance of order. There is also the satisfaction of going through items such as serving pieces which I have collected over the years and reliving the pleasure and memory of buying them, studying them. Then there is the pragmatic feeling of creating order from a pile of chaos and mess.

The human mind seems to like a sense of order. Looking at a disorganized pile of socks evokes feelings of restlessness, anxiety, and nervousness. Looking at a stack of organized books or CDs gives one a feeling of stabilization, order, and facilitates understanding. And yes, it happens even with a stack of old school CDs or record albums.  :)



Saturday, May 27, 2017

What's In a Name ... Meme?

I grew up with a bunch of nicknames. To my brother and sister, I was Marc the Shark. To my high school friends, I was Marcus. My fraternity name was Schroeder. I was blond, played piano like Schroeder in the Peanuts cartoons, also looked a little like Ricky Schroeder at the time.  During my hotel/bar/restaurant days in Philly in the 90s, I was nicknamed Mitz (long story I will never divulge - unless you buy me a beer or two). LOL

These days, the Internet name generator memes are all the rage. Remember the first one though before the Internet took over? Your porn star name? It was infamous! That was the one where your porn star name was the first name of your first pet and your last name was the first street name you grew up on. Hence, I became .... Smokey Maple. Nice, huh?

The name game memes are ubiquitous on Facebook and other social media platforms. I come across a new one every holiday or season. They have become as annoying as those stories you see on your feed you link into but have to friggin' hit the next button for every new page. I don't have time to hit 'next' 32 times just to see some dude wrestling a boa constrictor! Argh!

I decided to tackle these name memes once and for all. I posted my 15 favorites because I know you are just dying to know what my "stoner elf name" or my "pirate name" is. And I have to admit, it was kinda fun.


Star Destroyer name:  Black Chicken Nugget (now THAT will instill fear in those annoying Rebels!)




Christmas Elf name:  Pixie Glitter-Balls (LOL Yeah, that's me.)



Stoner Elf name:  Buddy Cottonmouth (Nailed it.)




Drunken Elf name:  Lit Snowpee (That is just adorable ...)




Pirate name:  Dead Man Creeper Bart (Nah, I'd rather be Scallyway Squilly Hornswaggle)




Leprechaun name:  Bleary McDoodles (I LOVE this since my Mom's nickname was Abby Doodles!)




Blues name:  Jailhouse Bones Rivers (pretty cool)




Game of Thrones sword name:  Sovereign Spirit (Beware, I'll will strike you down!)



Super Hero name:  Chocolate Tornado (Um, no thanks. It sounds like something that happens after bad food poisoning...)




Snarky Super Hero name:  Plucky Dare Devil (Now THIS I can work with.)



Heavy Metal Band name:  Satan's Death (Kind of an oxymoron though, isn't it? I mean if I love Satan and heavy metal, I wouldn't wanna see him dead.)




Country Star name:  Johnny "Hoss" McDean  ... Famous for ... Nothing Matters Than a 12 Point Buck (Well I do live in Schuylkill County, PA!)




DJ Name:  DJ Cracka Ass Banger (HAHAHAHAHA! PERFECT!)




Wrestler name:  Outlaw Viper (And my move would be the "Shaken Martini" lol - I bartend in the wrestling ring, too.)




AND FINALLY....

Zombie name:  Moldy Haunted Soul



That would be awful as I am highly allergic to mold. I'd be the only Zombie in existence with an Albuterol inhaler for my post-apocalyptic asthma. 





Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Dreaded Red Eye Flight


Red eyed tree frog

My sister and I were discussing this week the dreaded "red-eye" flight for our upcoming June trip out to California to see my Dad. You know the flight. You think it's a great idea at the time because it's SO cheap and are so that you are gonna be able to sleep on the plane and wake up all refreshed on the opposite coast at 6 am. Then you realize after you land that you've just had the sleep from Hell! Hence the term RED-EYE.

There is no snuggling comfortably on a red-eye either (unless you are me, keep reading). The guy behind you is kicking your seat. You hear that overhead "bong bong" from two rows ahead of you calling for the flight attendant at 2 am. There is the turbulence. There is the captain telling you to fasten your seat belts lest you get catapulted out of your seat. And of course, if you are on the aisle seat, there is always the person next to you who needs to visit the bathroom at 3 am. UGH!

This brought back memories of my own red-eye flight back in October 2014 when John and I traveled from San Francisco to back to Philly after visiting family. We had wanted to have a drink before the flight at the airport bar. As luck would have it, traffic driving back into San Francisco was a nightmare. We made our flight with only 15 minutes to spare at the most. We were those guys you see literally RUNNING down the concourse screaming at people to get out of the way, each with a carry on slung over our shoulders, holding onto a personal bag with water bottles, magazines, newspapers, and books dropping everywhere.

We made it onto the flight. John took the window seat immediately, taking over the seat rest with his massive meat hooks. GRRRR. I was sandwiched in the center between him and a very Rubenesque older woman to my right. I was the ham and cheese between to slices of bread. The peanut butter between two crackers. The pea between mattresses. You get the idea.

After we lifted off, I ordered a red wine from the flight attendant. John ordered a Scotch. My lady next to me jokingly asked, "Is it happy hour somewhere?"
I replied that I wanted to make sure I sleep like a baby on the flight back to Philly."
"Mmm-hmmm honey, you got the right idea," she replied ordering herself an amaretto on the rocks. "We gonna sleep real well tonight," she quipped.

After the wine, I dozed off pretty quickly. I woke up at 4 am from a sound sleep, jostled from a bit of turbulence. My arm draped over the woman sitting next to me, my head resting on her ample bosom. No that was definitely not a warm pillow. I groggily came to, sitting back into my seat. I was mortified.

"Oh gosh, I'm so sorry!" I exclaimed to which she responded in soothing southern voice (or was it a South Philly voice?) "That's alright honey, you were lookin' so comfortable and peaceful, I didn't want to disturb ya!"
"Gee thanks," I responded nervously and quietly. John was sawing wood next to me up against the window. I don't think I slept the rest of the flight, surprised I wasn't slugged by the poor woman.




Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Monster Allergic Reaction: Erythritol

Marc with Hives
(Cabbage Patch link)

By chance, I completed this blog post on Mother's Day so I guess I will put it up dedicated to my dear Mother Abby. Not a day goes by where I don't think about you, miss you, and love you. And I guess I will thank my Mother for passing on a whole mess of allergies to me, LOL. It's not so bad, I live with them. Sometimes as you will see below, a new allergy will crop up and be added to my list. As my Mom once said to me, "Your allergies? Well you can thank your Mother for that one!"

A couple years ago, my doctor recommended I stop drinking so much coffee as well as those energy drinks. I drank the energy drinks fairly often like at least once every couple days. It didn't matter the brand, just whatever was on sale or available. He had stated that he thought there was nothing beneficial to them from a nutritional standpoint and he'd rather have me drink my coffee instead. I did not completely give up my coffee but cut back on it as well. 

The other week I was shopping at the local supermarket after work. I didn't feel like making an extra stop for cup of coffee before the ride home so I grabbed a Monster Energy brand drink. I hadn't had one in ages so I figured I'd save time, grab one, and be on my way. I drank them before with no bad reaction whatsoever: the Regular, the Lo-carb, and the Zero Ultra. I decided to try the Absolute Zero variety to see what it tasted like.

I started drinking it, had about 1/4 of the can and within 5 minutes, my armpits.... YES my armpits, started itching. I started sweating pretty profusely. I was perplexed to say the least. I checked the car temperature, maybe it was on high heat? Nope. I thought about my antiperspirant, maybe a reaction? Nope, I'd been using it for weeks with no issue. I thought about the laundry detergent and my shirt. New detergent? Nope. I was using the same brand for the last several weeks as well.

The itching got worse and I had to pull over to the slower lane. My legs itched, my chest itched, my neck itched, arms, hands, feet, my "nuggets N tender" itched. WHAT THE HECK???? I looked at my arms and I was breaking out in hives!!!

Monster Energy Absolute Zero
I called my sister immediately and gave her the rundown on my itchy situation. After a frazzled conversation, we identified the culprit, the Monster Energy drink! She told me to make a beeline to the nearest pharmacy and grab some Benadryl. That was good advice because the swelling wasn't going down. I bought a bottle of 100 and popped two to start and took off for home.

I wasn't too worried because I've had hives before but in retrospect I should've probably gone to an urgent care facility as my throat started feeling a little itchy. I made it home, popped two more and then passed out on the couch. Yeah, I know a lot of you are thinking I am crazy for that as my throat could've closed up and I would've died on that couch. It didn't happen but rest assured, if I ever have a reaction like that again, I will go straight to a doctor. 

After this energy drink fiasco, I did some online research to see what was the difference between the ones I normally drink and this one, the Absolutely Zero flavor. Luckily, there are many many websites which list the ingredients of these drinks. I've never heard of half of those ingredients though!

One thing stood out which I noticed was not in the other energy drinks I had consumed was the ingredient erythritol. It's an artificial sweetener / sugar substitute which can be used on it's own or used with other sweeteners such as aspartame (think Equal or NutraSweet). In nature, erythritol is naturally occurring in pears, soy sauce, wine, sake, watermelon, and grapes. (link)

In addition, it was reported online that erythritol has been known to cause gastro-intestinal problems, headaches and wait for it ... allergic skin reactions such as hives. From the website https://draxe.com/erythritol/ :  "Although not highly common, erythritol can cause an allergic skin reaction for some people. A study published in 2000 in the Journal of Dermatology demonstrates how drinks containing erythritol can potentially cause a severe allergic skin reaction. A young 24-year-old woman had severe wheals (hives) all over her entire body after having one glass of a beverage sweetened with erythritol." 

In addition, and this is scary, there is research that erythritol is a "potent insecticide that kills fruit flies which consume it." (link below)

WHAAAT? Put on those brakes and let that sink in!!

This major sweetener which is a genetically modified and chemically processed corn product is now being researched to be used as a "safe" insecticide.  Interesting articles are below (in safe links) laying out the pros and cons. Even if it is "safe" I think I am going to begin passing on these artificial sweeteners. People, we really need to be more proactive into finding out what we put into our bodies!

http://www.naturalnews.com/045450_Truvia_erythritol_natural_pesticide.html
http://foodidentitytheft.com/are-you-adding-a-powerful-pesticide-to-your-morning-coffee/

Now to be fair, websites also state that many of these energy drink companies do not divulge what their natural flavors are, so it very well could be that one of those "mysterious" natural flavors caused my reaction. But I've drank other energy drinks with natural flavors and no reaction so I'm gonna start avoiding erythritol wherever I can.

I went to Starbucks the other day and chose their stevia sweetener for my coffee thinking it would be a safer/healthier alternative. It is actually stevia EXTRACT combined with ERYTHRITOL! Further research shows that a popular stevia extract brand, Truvia, is made with 99.5% erythritol and ONLY 0.5% stevia extract! (link below)

Scratch using that one!

I have seen the "Stevia In The Raw" and "Sugar in the Raw" brand sweeteners which I will now seek out and try instead of the pink stuff, blue stuff, and yellow stuff. I've also heard good things about monk fruit sweeteners. Here is a good link for info on stevia and monk fruit including the pros and cons of both! http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/monk-fruit-vs-stevia#monk-fruit1

You know, it makes me yearn for those days in the 70s and 80s of that pink stuff where you just had to worry about cancer in lab rats.

Or just MAYBE ... I am already sweet enough. LOL :)


Blogger's Note: This is my own experience and point of view with energy drinks. If you wanna drink them, go for it but do some research on what you're consuming and start making smarter decisions on what goes into your body. I have drank many brands and varieties of energy drinks in the past with no reaction whatsoever. I attribute this bad reaction to the erithrytol and/or those mysterious natural flavors. IN ADDITION, the LINKS I have provided above are safe.