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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Can a Blender Change Your Life?

When you first buy a Vitamix 5200, the so-called Ferrari of blenders, two thoughts are likely to pass through your mind. The first is “Did I really just spend more than $400 on a blender?” And the second is “This machine is going to change my life.

At least those are the thoughts I had after I bought my Vitamix at a nutrition-related conference several weeks ago. I hadn’t planned to make this purchase; I’d merely followed some colleagues to the Vitamix demonstration stand, where a fast-talking young man with a headset and an impressive dexterity with Dixie cups was offering samples to an enthusiastic crowd. I watched as he liquefied a pineapple. I witnessed him puree an entire clove of garlic, unpeeled. I tried a sample of a green smoothie, then a tortilla soup, then a blended cappuccino. Before I knew what had happened, I’d taken out my credit card. The damage? $429.89—and that was with a discount.131019_FOOD_VitamixBlender.jpg.CROP.promovar-medium2

As I crossed the exhibition hall, the Vitamix’s enormous box knocking against my shins, I began to question what I’d just done.

That’s when I heard a voice call out to me.

“You won’t regret a penny!” the voice cried in a thick Jamaican accent. “You won’t regret one cent!

I turned to find an older woman waggling a finger at me, a huge smile on her face. This woman had no connection to the Vitamix booth; she just felt so passionately about her own machine that, upon viewing mine, she couldn’t help but shout.

“I love my Vit-a-mix,” she continued, enunciating each syllable, before launching into a highly complimentary review of the company’s return and repair policy. “I love it so much, I would recommend it to the dead!”

It was a strong, if odd, endorsement. And as I walked away, her words ringing in my ears, my anxiety over its price quickly morphed into something else: excitement.

For Slate, I write about the Vitamix 5200. Spoiler alert: it lives up to its hype.

Are You Ready to Fly? Plane Quiz for PARADE

summer-quiz-ftrFor PARADE Magazine, I put together a quiz about plane travel. Unfortunately, my statistics on animal strikes (frequent; not just birds but turtles) and ridiculous stories about safety announcements (Virgin America had to put a bull into its safety video instead of a dog over concern that people would think dogs need to wear seat belts*) did not make it in. But nonetheless!

*and what? Bulls don’t?

Michael Pollan is Cooked

For O Magazine, a story about a dinner party at Michael Pollan’s Berkeley home, in honor of his newest book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. pollanparty

Flywheel: Spin Class for the Truly Masochistic

Flywheel, in case you do not keep up with the stationary biking/clubbing scene in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Florida, Atlanta, North Carolina, Texas, or—now—Philadelphia, is a descendant of SoulCycle, another New York-based spinning cult. By “spinning,” I mean a fitness class where you ride on a stationary bike in a dark room, sprinting up imaginary hills to a soundtrack of Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj. And by cult, I mean, well, cult. In my one and only SoulCycle class (a single class in Manhattan costs $34), I watched a group of ponytailed, aggressively fit women—many in makeup, at least one carrying a gold-embossed SoulCycle gym bag—line up on the sidewalk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side outside what used to be a bodega-sized store called Champagne Video. Their $34 did not buy them a locker room, or even a shower. It was good only for 45 minutes in a small room that was packed so tightly with bikes that it was difficult to maneuver between them, and a sound system so loud that I took them up on the complimentary earplugs. “Change Your Body, Take Your Journey, Find Your Soul,” read the manifesto on the wall

For Slate, I reveal my competitive streak.  Did I mention that I won?

My Worms

They arrived early on a Tuesday morning in a cardboard box. “1000 Red Worms,” read the label in large letters printed beneath the USPS tracking number. Return address: Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. My mailman handed the package to me with no emotion, but I was excited. Inside were the catalysts for my latest experiment: vermicomposting. Or, to be less Latinate about it, composting with worms.

For Slate Magazine, I write about the 10,000 or so red wigglers currently residing in my kitchen.

Your Body, Explained

For Parade Magazine, I tackle some hard-hitting questions, like what ear wax is, and whether mosquitoes truly like some people better.

The Secret Life of Pets

For Parade Magazine, I get my first double cover ever. (I prefer the dog.) Ever wonder whether dogs are really colorblind? Or whether pets have a sense of time? In the words of  Marcel the Shell, read on!

Spanish Camp, the Adult Version

If you asked me to describe my typical Tuesday night, it would not include singing a parody version of “La Bamba” in front of a group of adults, in Spanish, while wearing a sombrero. But then, there were many experiences during my recent week at camp that were not exactly typical. I don’t often, for example, take a yoga class in Spanish, or make pizza over an Argentinean grill, or spend every night watching a live version of Maria La Del Barrio, a spoof telenovela (soap opera) put on by my counselors.

I loved camp as a kid, so much that I even worked as a camp counselor during high-school summers. (I remember thinking that the $50-a-week position might be the most fun job I’d ever have.) But I’d assumed that—much like three-month-long summer vacations and being able to exist on $50 a week- my days as a camper were over. Turns out, I was wrong.

I just did a story for Parade Magazine about going to the Concordia Language Villages’ Spanish program in Bemidji, Minnesota. Oh, to be eating tapas. . . .

Can Tracking Your Health Drive You Crazy?

I spend, on average, 128 minutes in REM sleep per night. I require a minimum of 1,400 calories per day to stay alive. My resting heart rate hovers around 57 beats per minute but spikes to 65 when I’m answering e-mail or talking to my husband on the phone.

I know all this because I recently spent two weeks following my body’s statistics with as many devices, Web services, and phone apps as i could manage at once. Inspired by a growing group of extreme self-trackers—people who attempt to quantify their everyday activities (everything from exercise to sleep to sex) in order to gain insight about themselves—I set out to answer two questions: Would monitoring myself inspire me to adopt a healthier lifestyle? And what would happen to my peace of mind if I turned my life into a data sheet?

For O, the Oprah Magazine, I find out whether keeping tracking every aspect of your health can actually drive you insane.

How to Pick Your Fish Oil

For Men’s Journal, I write a buyer’s guide to my favorite long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.

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