Dec 30

Dear Readers,

We are all bonded by one thing each New Year —- The ill-fated New Year’s Resolution. Undivided by race, religion, or politics, the New Year’s Resolution is unlike the forty days before Easter known as Lent, where Catholics give up a desired food/drink item or behavior for five of those days but with the honest intent to make it the entire forty, nor is it akin to the fast taken on during daylight hours among Muslims observing the month of Ramadan. These practices are confined to select groups of people who share similar cultural or religious beliefs. The New Year, on the other hand, is universal. Indeed, all mankind will observe the passing of the old year, and even those who fall asleep before midnight will undoubtedly wake to the subsequent year.

And it is likewise universal that nobody rings in the New Year with the sentiment that perfection was achieved in the old year; typically one recalls what was deficient in that past year and resolves to change it in the New Year; whether it be eating less, exercising more, quitting smoking, being kinder to others, eating more raw yak, crickets, and ostrich sandwiches, or creating loose ends for others to have to tie up.

The problem, if you will, with these resolutions is that they all require willpower. Willpower (n): The power I will one day have to successfully fulfill a resolution, but don’t currently appear to have (ref. The Dictionary of Troi). And when our willpower fails us, we often feel guilt and/or shame at having failed ourselves.

Who wants to begin a perfectly promising New Year anticipating guilt and shame? Well, Readers, you can resolve to feel guilty and ashamed no more, by following my easy steps for New Year’s Resolution success!

Step 1: Make Realistic Resolutions. Eating less can be troublesome for those of us who are very hungry, but eating less between the hours of 1:20 – 1:27am each day feels very attainable. I am usually asleep during these hours, which decreases my likelihood of snacking and therefore increases my likelihood of success! Take another example. Being kinder to others in general can be challenging, but being kinder to the people we already like is really quite easy! You’ll find that you rarely have an urge to be unpleasant to the people you like the most, and you can continue to berate and belittle the people you don’t much care for while still achieving your resolution.

Step 2: Make Resolutions Vague. Never quantify resolutions. For example, don’t say, “I’ll go to the gym twice a week this year,” but instead say, “I’ll plan on heading to the gym this year.” Chances are, you’ll end up driving past the gym at least once by default, thereby successfully satisfying your resolution.

Step 3: If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again, For Up to 365 Days. Technically, the new year lasts for a whole year, so even if you fail to eat vegetables for the first 364 days, you can still eat a carrot stick on the following New Years Eve and meet your goal of “eating more vegetables this year.”

Step 4: Compare yourselves to bigger failures. If you follow Steps 1–3 and you still find that you don’t meet your resolution, just find somebody who failed on an even larger scale. I like to laugh at this guy who resolved to lose thirty pounds in the New Year but fell off of his exercise bike the first day and fractured his leg, leading him to gain weight.

Readers, I hope this helps you on your way to achieving your New Years Resolutions. You can do it! (But if you can’t, follow steps 1-4.)

–Troi out

Disclaimer: Troi does not presume to believe anything she writes, nor write anything she believes. She does not endorse the 4-step resolution program. She encourages you to read her blog, and please subscribe, but discourages you from following her advice. She also wishes you a Happy New Year blessed with joy and love and kindness.

Dec 24

Dear Readers,

‘Tis always the season to give of ourselves to others, yet it seems we are more acutely mindful of this during the Christmas season. This is perhaps because it was on Christmas that the tradition of giving was sparked, what with the Wise Men giving Frank’s incense to the baby Jesus born in Bethlehem (“Hey, that’s my incense!” said Frank). So as I walked to Fred Meyer the other day, wearing my Christmas earrings and humming a classic Christmas tune in typical tone-deaf fashion, it may have been my Christmas spirit that led me to notice an elderly man headed in the opposite direction limping along at a snail’s pace and having to set down his big bag of groceries at nearly every step.

Suspecting that at the rate he was walking he might miss Christmas entirely, I approached him and asked if he needed help. Having recently had both hips replaced, he did in fact need help returning home with his bag, and so began possibly the slowest stroll I’ve ever taken. You know those people who stop to smell the roses? I usually walk so fast that I don’t even notice the rose bushes until I walk right into them (“Ow, every rose really does have its thorn!” I then say). Elderly Man and I chatted for over half an hour on our way back to his apartment, during which time I discovered I was in the presence of Don Johnson, former pro- baseball player for the White Sox and the Yankees.

I think of Portland as a friendly city, but Readers, maybe it’s not friendly enough, because Don seemed shocked by my help. He must have thanked me at least several dozen times, and was unrelenting in his offers to give me a couple of dollars for my troubles, which I was equally relentless in declining (“No, really, sir, a couple dollars might have been the down payment on a house in your day, but it won’t even get you half a latte these days,”). As we approached his apartment building, Don became concerned that a young lady entering his apartment building with him would make “people talk,” and while I helpfully tried to ease his concerns, (“Sir, I think our 50-year age difference will speak for itself, Anna Nicole notwithstanding,”) he nonetheless created a cover for our entrance and as another elderly man passed us in the foyer, Don shouted, “Why, hello! This is my granddaughter visiting from Washington! Yep, just my granddaughter! We’re related; did I mention she’s my granddaughter?”

The walls of his apartment were decorated with autographed pictures from his ball-playing days, and on my way out, Don presented me with one of his 1952 baseball cards, which he insisted I keep. That he entrusted his card to me—-a virtual stranger—-I was quite possibly as elated as the day I received Marina Sirtis’ autograph after standing eagerly in line for two hours.

My encounter with Don during this Christmas season reminded me to slow my pace, smell the roses, and lend a hand where needed. You never know whose day you’ll brighten: That day I was blessed enough to brighten not only Don’s day —- but my own.

–Troi out

Dec 16

Hide this bar from Santa!

The best chocolate treat this Christmas season? I nominate Theo organic fair-trade certified Milk & Cookies milk chocolate bar, and since this is my blog and I’m the only one voting here, the Theo Milk & Cookies bar wins by an overwhelming majority (1 – 0), much like Al Gore received an overwhelming majority of the votes the year George W. Bush won the Presidency.

Imagine a fluffy, sugary shortbread cookie being enveloped in the creamiest chocolate you’ve ever eaten, and then imagine it being made with all-organic ingredients traded at a fair wage so that nobody who contributed to this bar had to go hungry while you savored it. What you’re picturing is the Theo Milk & Cookies bar. Hungry?

Now, the danger intrinsic to this chocolate bar is, of course, in its name. Children who see the Milk & Cookies bar may mistakenly believe this bar is meant for Santa, and will try to leave it out for him on Christmas eve. DON’T DO THIS. As adults, we’re well aware that Santa’s sizable waist holds the kind of fat that poses an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and insulin resistance, and, while delectable, the Milk & Cookies bar has sugars and fats that are no good for Santa’s belly. And nobody wants to be known as The Kid Who Killed Santa. Eat the Theo Milk & Cookies bar yourself and leave Santa a raw carrot. He’ll thank you after he stops crying.

Merry Christmas!

–Troi out

Dec 4

Dear Readers,

“Drink your drupe!”

You’ve likely heard of the coconut craze that’s been sweeping the nation since the fall of the brazil nut reign. Not just for candy bars anymore, coconuts have enjoyed increasing popularity and can be found lately in basically every aisle no matter which item you’re looking for: coconut milk, coconut ice cream, coconut oil, or coconut bras.

But you’ve probably been living in a state of confusion as to exactly how to classify the coconut when you bring it up in small talk during social gatherings. Is it a fruit? A nut? A seed? A metal? A fabric? A political candidate?

While I hate to state the obvious, the coconut, according to this website, is a fibrous one-seeded drupe. A drupe, not to be confused with a droop (something that sags) or a drape (a window covering) or a dope (my ex-boyfriend), is a fruit that has a hard covering that surrounds the seed. So as I understand it, a drupe wears a helmet, which you should too, if you’re biking in downtown Portland or riding in the car with me. Or biking in any neighborhood in which I might be driving.

While a coconut has three layers, unless you’re a character on LOST you won’t see all three layers, because unlike an untouched coconut on the island, a coconut at the grocery store typically has had its outer and middle layers removed and what remains is the endocarp, which is the helmet layer that encases the seed. As I understand it, then, the store-bought coconut is basically naked, and therefore it is inappropriate to permit young children to roam free in the produce aisle, where there are naked fruits lying around wearing nothing but helmets.

But if nude produce is your style, and you’ve been wanting to increase your daily intake of members of the drupe family (I know I sure have!), there’s a new coconut beverage in town that might be for you. Created by Gata Foods, a local company in Tigard, this tasty coconut milk beverage comes in vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate, and is sweetened only with agave nectar. I would recommend the chocolate-flavored beverage, which is every bit as rich and thick as your traditional dairy chocolate milk, but with healthier fats.

So look for Gata Foods coconut milk beverage at your nearby Whole Foods or Market of Choice if you’re ready to jump on the coconut bandwagon. Just be sure to wear your helmet.

–Troi out