The next time the jokers people in certain political circles start throwing around the terms “communism” and “socialism” when things aren’t going their way, I am going to think of the book Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick. Because after reading that book, I now think that moms in North Korea making soup for their starving children out of tree bark and grass while praising their dear leader for his generosity is maybe a better symbol for communism and government interference than, say, providing universal health care. Just maybe.

Nothing to Envy was the first non-fiction book I’ve read in a long time, and it blew my tiny little mind. All I knew about North Korea prior to this book was that everyone is short and loves their dear leader, no one has electricity, and they all like to play with nuclear weapons. And yes, I learned all of that from a South Park episode and it is totally true. It is easy to dismiss the population as brainwashed and backwards, and to forget that they are humans who struggle to stifle their true feelings and hopes and dreams on a daily basis. Hearing a talented reporter describe the lives of people from North Korea who eventually escaped was shocking – and not just because their lives are so different from ours, but because they’re also so similar. They have jobs, and neighbors, and families, and just want to enjoy their lives. Granted, their definition of “enjoy” seems to always involve an accordion and fermented cabbage, but other than that, it’s really not so different than other people.

I finished this book right before our own government shutdown and I felt like it gave me a new perspective. On the one hand, WTF John Boehner. I mean, really. If this doesn’t solidify him as the weakest Speaker in a long time, then perhaps his copious use of self-tanner should. On the other hand, everything will probably be OK in the long run, and although my government can be totally ridiculous and frustrating and inefficient, at least I can say that.

And at this very second I could opt in to government health care if I wanted to. So there.

I am recently obsessed with North Korea, so here is a link to the book on Amazon, and here is a link to a cool slideshow from a photographer who has worked in North Korea. And here is a link to Dennis Rodman’s fan site, because he loves North Korea way more than me. And no, I am not getting a kickback from this book, although I totally would if I knew how to do that. And please oh please let Dennis Rodman start following me now (online, not in person, because holy shit that would be weird).

Don’t Squeal If It’s No Big Deal

Approximately four thousand times a day, I say to my kids, “Just worry about yourself.” For example: “Mom, J told you he was going to READ AND NOW HE IS DRAWING! He is DRAWING on PAPER with a PENCIL!” Um, OK, just worry about yourself. Or “MOM, L is doing ballet REALLY LOUDLY and in ballet you are supposed to land SOFTLY!” Oh my god, just worry about yourself, and for the record, you were doing the running man while making fart noises with your armpits earlier. Or “MOM, J just found your black eye make-up and is coloring in his eyebrows HUGE!” Sweet Jesus, just worry about yourself, and excuse me while I sneak up on him to take some video.

But now, thanks to the wonder of the intranets, instead of feeling frustrated when I say “Just worry about yourself,” I giggle a little. All because of this little jewel.

I wish I could have that little girl in my pocket and just pull her out when my kids need to calm themselves. She would totally handle them. Also, I can imagine her telling her dad, “Snitches get stitches.” Very soon. I hope he is ready.

And here is a more grownup and slightly more pleasant-sounding version of just worry about yourself. Kacey Musgraves was born about 2 minutes ago, sings “new” country music about trailer parks and gay marriage (I’m kind of serious), and reminds me of my Missouri roots even though she’s from Texas. I love this song – it is catchy, and sad, and lovely. Please enjoy.

It Takes Two

Yesterday at my Starbucks office, I sat next to the most amazingly awkward first date. In between long silences and embarrassed-sounding giggles, the future couple discussed the following. (Please note: this list could also be titled, “Things You Should Never Say to Anyone You Want to See Naked.”)
1. “So after I turned 50 I started gaining tons of weight because of my menopause-associated night eating. My mother did the same thing when she was my age because her hormones went crazy. One time I woke up on the kitchen floor drenched in sweat with the refrigerator door wide open and food everywhere. It was 2 in the morning! Ha ha ha!”
2. “I know everything you need to know about fatty oleic acids.” [Followed by a lengthy description of fatty oleic acids, cholesterol, and massive heart attacks.]
3. “I will tell you the problem with healthcare for the poor today: it is TOO good. That is really the problem.”
4. “Well, my parents were a little physically abusive, so that’s probably why I liked my ex-wife so much. She was batshit crazy. I am always attracted to crazy women! Ha ha!”
5. “Don’t you think the worst thing about living alone is not having someone there to massage you when you need it?” [Said in a deep, raspy voice, while walking behind the man and then squeezing his shoulders.]

I haven’t dated for 18 years (and what the hubz and I did in college doesn’t really qualify as “dating”). So I have no idea what I’m talking about. But I really think that if I heard any of those five subjects on a first date I would get up and run right out the door.

But these guys were planning a second date as I was packing up for the day. As my grandpa used to say, “Every pot has a lid.” And really, thank goodness these two found each other; it’s got to be hard to find someone who shares an interest in fatty oleic acids (or at least someone who is willing to pretend they give a shit about them).

Please oh please let them come back to Starbucks for their second date.

Also: for your terrifying scientific fact for the day, I just Googled “menopause night eating” and it is a THING. A real thing that can happen to women. Just another thing to look forward to, ladies!

Hairy Styles

Getting old is not for pussies. But, as my mom says, it is better than the alternative. Which I guess is dying? Why is that not reassuring?

The last time I got my eyebrows did, my eyebrow lady was finishing up and said, “Anything else?” She had never asked this question before. I thought she meant my bikini or legs or something, so I said, “Nope, all good, thanks.” And do you know what she says?

She says, “What about your face.”

I said, “Um, what about my face?”

“Do you want to wax your face? Some women do. As they get older.”

WHY I NEVER. I stumble around for the proper response, politely say no thanks, then cover my wolfwoman face and run in shame to my car. By the time I get home, I am good and outraged. I’m not sure if it’s because she called me old or because she called me hairy-faced. So I tell my husband.

He says, “What! You are no hairier than anyone else.”

Is all the hair plugging up my ears, or did I really just hear that?

Sigh. So I pout about becoming an older, hairier woman, for a little while. And then I see this article about the 2013 National Beard and Mustache competition in New Orleans. I decide then and there that if this facial hair situation really gets out of control, I’m just going to go with it. I could totally pull off some lamb chops.

(AP Photo/Susan Poag)

(AP Photo/Susan Poag)

Celebrity Roundup

It’s Thursday, so it’s time for Celebrity Roundup!*

1. ALERT ALERT Benedict Cumberbatch update. Unfortunately it is not about his crumpets or monocle. And yes, I did intend for that to sound dirty. Lord Cumberbatch is not going to be in Star Wars, and that’s a really big deal because…well, I have no idea why that’s a really big deal. He’s just so awesome that not being in movies makes headlines? OH King Sir Cumberbatch Duke of Wales.

From Jordan Zakarin @ Buzzfeed

I can’t explain this. Just go to Buzzfeed.

2. At the end of our recent California trip, we went to Disneyland for the day. The highlight of the day was seeing the joy and wonder on my children’s faces. JUST KIDDING, it was totally seeing David Beckham AND Brandon Flowers (who I mentioned a while ago here) on the same day IN PERSON. Also, I am guessing the lowlight of the day for my sister-in-law was when I pointed out Brandon Flowers to her and, for no apparent reason, kept saying that I just wanted to rip my shirt off.

3. Seeing David Beckham and Brandon Flowers at Disneyland reminded me of how lame the celeb sightings are in DC. Once in DC I saw Hillary Clinton walking out of a restaurant, which was cool, until I told someone I saw her and they said, “Oh yeah, I heard she was in town, I used to work with her.” Well aren’t you fancy. Another time I saw Trent Lott walking downtown when he was in the news for being all racist and crotchety (which I realize does not narrow down the time frame). This was when I was working at the law firm. I happened to be walking with a super smart, outspoken Democratic colleague, and I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say when we walked by Trent. Imagine my pride when my colleague yelled, “YOU SUCK BOOO!!!!” right at Trent’s face. That’s the kind of nuanced takedown you can only learn at an Ivy League law school.

4. And finally, this is probably the only Celebrity Roundup in the universe this week that did not analyze Miley Cyrus and/or twerking. You are welcome.

*Please note that I will probably never do another Celebrity Roundup, much less on a Thursday.