How to Defend Yourself

I have a black belt and I’ve been practicing karate for 16 years. For my thirteenth birthday party, my sensei (teacher) put on a padded suit so he could attack and we could hit as back hard as we wanted. I thought I’d died and gone to Shaolin-Kempo heaven. This is a list of tips on defending yourself. We can’t all be wolverine (no knives), but we can learn the basics.

  • Don’t be polite. The guy could be okay or he could have a freezer full of body parts. You have nothing to lose by crossing to the other side of the street.
  • Groin, eyes, throat. These targets work great. I accidentally side-kicked my little sister in the throat once and she was definitely hurting. (Don’t use these on your little sister.)
  • Aim your kicks low—anything below the waist. If you go high, they’ll take you down by the time your foot gets there.
  • Your thumb goes outside your fist. Otherwise it’s a broken thumb.
  • Scream like someone dropped an anvil on your foot or showed you that freezer full of body parts.

Above all, heed the immortal words of Monty Python and “run away, run away.”


How to Survive a Murder Mystery

I’ve been a fan of mysteries ever since my sister introduced me to And Then There Were None. Afterwards, all she had to do was turn off the lights and speak in a creepy voice to make me put my hands on guard and dive for the switch.

Since then, I’ve developed a few tricks on how to survive. You know how in a horror movie you shouldn’t investigate the creepy noise? This is like that for mysteries.

  • Don’t use taxis. The driver will turn out to be a serial killer who will dismember you and leave your body in the woods.
  • Just because they’re your friend, doesn’t mean they won’t put cyanide in your drink. If the author needs a third death, the author needs a third death.
  • If you think it’s weird that someone got brained with a hatchet the day after they said someone else was murdered, that’s because it is.
  • Don’t meet a murder suspect on a dark night next to a cliff. You’d think this was obvious—but not to some characters.
  • If you murdered and got away with it, there is someone waiting for revenge. If you’re lucky, they’ll throw you out a window. If you’re unlucky, they’ll eat you alive.

Lastly, never investigate the creepy noise. There is no situation where that turns out okay.

Tips for When You’re Sick

I have had the same cold for two weeks. It started in my nose and decided to move in there. This list is for those of us who are bad at being sick. You know who you are. We come into the office and infect all our co-workers. Getting better is easy—just do to the opposite of what we do.

  • Don’t exercise. It’s obvious, but this one always gets me. I start to feel better, decide to do 200 jumping jacks, and then decide to cough up a lung.
  • Take zinc. My mom says this works and she’s a nurse so she should know. She tells me it bolsters your immune system, if you get the right kind in lozenge form. Beats me what the right kind is.
  • Watch comedy. It’s a scientific fact that Tina Fey combined with a half-gallon of tea will make your cold go away in 24 hours. Clearly, I need to watch more 30 Rock.
  • Don’t dust. I tried that two weeks ago and look what happened. Besides, it’s an excuse.
  • Get a flu shot. This one nails me every time. I wait until November and get sick on Christmas. It’s like clockwork.

For all you sickies out there, feel better soon. For all you healthy people, remember to avoid us in the office.

Five Things about the Country

I’ve spent most of my life in suburbia, where the wildest animals are the raccoons. I now live in the country, where I see bald eagles outside my window. I have to put the cat in so she doesn’t end up as bird chow. This is a list of things that happen in the country.

  • The jungle is constantly taking over. The weeds you spent all summer getting rid of will be back by the first fall rain.
  • You see cute farm animals. The neighbors had some adorable sheep. Our collie lit up every time we passed them.
  • You also see road kill. I had to swerve to avoid a dead rooster last week. That can happen when you go free range.
  • Mail theft. We had to get a mailbox with a lock on it to stop our mail from getting stolen. People complained to the sheriff, even went to the media—still nothing. It’s the Wild West out here folks.
  • Septic tanks. Every time the drains clog, Mom gets to work with vinegar and baking soda. No more Drano for us.

I like the country though; it has trees. It’s fall so they’re turning red and they smell nice. There’s nothing like the smell of wet leaves after rain—nature’s perfume.


Cooking Tips for People Who Don’t Cook

I am an expert chef, a virtuoso if you will…with the microwave. This tip list is for you if, like me, you enjoy Netflix and chicken tikka masala from a package. It’s preparation for the day, perhaps Thanksgiving, when a relative corners you and press gangs you into the kitchen.

  • If you’re baking a cake, don’t pour the batter into one pan. I did that once and it set off the fire alarm. That was the same time I couldn’t find the measurements, decided there weren’t any, and poured in random of amounts of each ingredient. It tasted surprisingly good.
  • When you make pasta, boil the water before you pour the noodles in. My sister didn’t trust me to do this, so she stood over me the whole time and put them in herself when my back was turned.
  • Oven mitts are your friend. If you don’t have mitts, use a towel. Burned hands lead to dropping things. Then the dish will shatter on the floor and food particles will spray half-way up the fridge.
  • It is possible to make a cupcake with cookie dough frosting and a cookie dough center. Google it and wheedle one of your friends/relatives to make it for you.

If all else fails, you still have your chicken tikka. Or even better, ice cream—the ultimate frozen food.