Wednesday, June 25, 2014

In the Kitchen With Chris: Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

Do you ever have one of those weekends where you just don't feel like doing anything? You know, the weekends where apart from whatever absolutely essential responsibilities or commitments you've made, you spend the entire day in bed watching Orange is the New Black, having to remind yourself to switch positions every now and then because you're not really positive how long it takes for bed sores to form? Those weekends where you only get up every few hours to make cheddarwurst or for a quick run to the grocery store to buy more cheddarwurst? The kind of weekend that makes you wonder if maybe you'd honestly be happier in some sort of Grey Gardens living situation, if only your allergies could deal with the feral cat situation?

You guys know what I'm talking about, right?


Shit got pretty weird last weekend.

I think it all probably started after I got home from Vegas. I started letting little things slip. I lived out of my suitcase for a solid week after I got home (because packing more than a week's worth of things for one weekend is my jam). I also wasn't super concerned with cleaning, reasoning with myself that ironing a shirt was basically the same as washing it. It all kind of snowballed into one really embarrassing, slovenly, and kinda sad weekend.

I know I have the tendency to be a bit hyperbolic, but I'm being completely serious when I tell you that it got so bad that literally all I ate for three days (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) were cheddarwurst while hovering over the garbage can so I could avoid needing to use a plate.

Clearly something needed to be done.

I decided to throw myself into planning for Pride weekend. Typically we begin the planning process three months ago, right after Birthday Weekend, but with San Francisco and Vegas falling in between, Pride kind of got lost in the shuffle. We still needed to decide what parties we'd be attending and weigh the pros and cons of getting concert tickets, but my most pressing concern was what the hell I was going to cook for our Friday night meal.

To avoid spending a ton of money eating out (when we could drink that money instead) each of us takes responsibility for a meal while we're up there. In the past I've always brought up tacos. It's easy to heat up in the crock pot, easy to make last minute (because cooking hamburger meat is exactly what I love doing hungover at 8am on Friday morning), and stumbling back into the hotel room at 4:30am to find leftover tacos is probably the best part of Pride.

I wanted to one up myself this year though. My cooking is getting better, so I decided to try something a bit more advanced (okay, so maybe it's not super advanced, but it's got more than two ingredients).

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

I found it on Pinterest (after getting distracted by Elizabethtown quotations for an hour). You can view the pin here (and why aren't you following me yet?!), or you can find the original recipe on the blog This Vintage Grove. Since it was a new recipe, I decided to do a test run.

The recipe is super simple.

1lb Boneless skinless chicken breast
Juice from 2 limes
1/2 Cup of cilantro
1 Packet of taco seasoning
1 Teas. dried onions
1/2 Cup water

Throw all that junk in your crock pot on low all day, or on high for four hours. Shred the chicken and enjoy the deliciousness. Seriously. It's so easy, a child could do it.

In fact, a child would probably be better at it than me, because a child hasn't had 28 years of experience f#%!ing shit up to weigh on him like I have. This should have been the easiest recipe I've tried, but I found plenty of chances to become a nervous wreck.

Chopping cilantro was an ordeal. I YouTubed like three different tutorials (rather than just hacking that shit up like I should have done). Then, after I chopped half of it up, I panicked, worried that it was too fine and hastily threw it all away. I started on the other half, chopped it to exactly the same consistency and moved on, pleased with my work.

I also grew concerned when I realized I'd purchased chicken breast fillets rather than whole chicken breasts. It nearly led to a panicked phone call to my mother at 7am to reassure me that even though they're thinner, I could still leave them in the crockpot all day without overcooking them, ruining my meal, and bringing about the end of the world as I knew it.

Leaving the crockpot running all day while I was at work freaked me out too. I was convinced I'd return home to find my apartment building a smoldering pile of rubble and Buffy DVD's. Apparently it's totally legit though. You can just go to work and come home to a cooked meal.

Seriously, why doesn't everyone cook everything in a crockpot?!

Oh...'cause it looks like this...

Not cute.

I always forget how ugly crock pot meals are, but it tasted great! It could have used a touch more cilantro, and I'll need to double the recipe to feed the five of us at Pride, but otherwise it was a complete success!

Go me!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Gotta Cut Loose

This week I'm continuing my quest to catch up with my peers and watch all of the movies that were (according to everyone's exceedingly judgey reactions when I say I haven't seen them) supposed to have been major parts of my childhood.

I was actually super excited about this one. Moreso than any of the others that I've watched thus far. It's got dancing, a killer soundtrack, and it was an important enough film to have spawned a remake for Julianne Hough to ruin. 

I mean...I'm already judging the bowling shoes...

I tried to give it a chance. I really did, but I just couldn't with this movie. At first I chalked it up to being distracted while I watched it. I was much too focused on picking out a new dress and wig on Dragopolis (the RuPaul's Drag Race app) to really concern myself with Sarah Jessica Parker's permed hair shenanigans. 

After my second viewing today though, I'm calling it. I'm not into it.

First of all, all I heard from you people was how dreamy Kevin Bacon is in this movie with the sexy dancing and the pants so tight that they're verging on obscene. 

How is it that 25 year old Kevin Bacon looks older than 55 year old Kevin Bacon?! I was concerned for his hips in some of the more physical numbers.

Ren is a pretty f@%#ing cool name though.

The movie opens in a church where a little boy does a spot on reenactment of me every damn morning when my alarms go off.

Waking up is awful. 

Our two leads spot each other during the reverend's (pretty overdramatic) sermon, and Ren's interest is piqued by the beautiful girl across the sanctuary...

Ariel, on the other hand, avoids eye contact and looks around as if she's just farted and is needing someone to pass the blame along to. 

So this is clearly shaping up to be an epic story of star-crossed love.

Ariel peaces out after church without so much as a friendly greeting to the (I guess he's supposed to be) cute new boy in town. She hops into the car with her girlfriends and they talk about teen pregnancy, diaphragms, and their boyfriends' sexual stamina (*gasp* but you're a preacher's daughter) until the third part of modern cinema's least likeable love triangle pulls up next to them in his truck.

I'll admit it. The big truck with the antlers on the top kinda did it for me (even though he's obviously over compensating for something). 

Ariel shows off how big her lady balls are by putting everyone's lives in danger jumping from her friend's car into Chuck's (the d-bag in the flannel) truck while they both speed down the road towards an oncoming semi.

After narrowly avoiding turning herself and all of her friends into a gruesome Driver's Ed Video (Blood on the Highway II: Ariel's an Asshole), they end up at soda shop where they put in an illegal and dangerous cassette tape copy of Dancing in the Sheets, and there's a lackluster dance party amongst the other dance deprived teens. 

Now maybe I'm judging this impromptu group dance a bit too harshly, but after you've experienced three hundred gay men stop in their tracks, squeal, and get the f#%! down to Call Me Maybe in the middle of a Pride Festival, your standards are set pretty high for these types of things.

Meanwhile Ren is having just a terrible time trying to fit in. He listens to rock music (in his super badass yellow Volkswagen Beetle), wears a tie to school, and doesn't own a single cowboy hat.

Plus he's a 57 year old high school there's that too.

He really steps over the line one day, though, when he has the gall to talk to back to Chuck.

It was apparently the worst thing that anyone has ever said to anyone.

I don't really get it. I've been accosted by idiot rednecks from the windows of bigger trucks than this, and they didn't stop at "pansy." Also, I'm pretty sure I was called an asshole like twice already just today.

Straight boys are so sensitive. 

So that turns into a whole thing where they have to play chicken on some tractors now. It's pretty dramatic. They stare each other down from their respective farm equipment, anxiously awaiting what is sure to be a terrifying (and incredibly low speed) show of the size of their testicles (how many ball references in one blog post is too many?). In what I'm anticipating to be the super intense climax of of the whole scene, Chuck reaches down and pushes play on his boombox.

And Holding Out For a Hero starts playing loudly...

Of all of the songs he could have picked to pump himself up and psych Ren out...he went straight to Bonnie Tyler? I'm beginning to suspect that some of this rage is stemming from just a touch of repressed homosexuality.

In an impressive show of bravery (his shoelace gets stuck on the gas), Ren wins. Everyone is pretty excited, especially Ariel who is not interested in dating someone who can't even win a simple game of tractor chicken. Literally the next day she's hurling herself at Ren.

Clearly, she's marriage material.

Somewhere in here, Ren gets fed up with all the bullshit and just needs to dance it out.

Jeggings seem like a weird wardrobe choice for the town's newest bad boy rebel.

This is about the time that I started really losing interest. There's all this stuff about how sinful rock music, liquor, and dancing are (which, to be fair, I actually know to be true from witnessing the goings on during quite a few ill advised end of the night visits to Red Rocks).

Which reminds me...Pride is coming up.

Ren won't stand for any of that nonsense though and decides he's going to throw a dance for the senior class. All he has to do is get the laws that ban dancing lifted. He and all his new friends (the tractor thing turned him into a pretty righteous dude amonst his classmates) show up at the city counsel meeting and he makes a plea to the counsel members (including Ariel's minister father).

The whole thing gets a little church-y at this point. Ren reads a bunch of Bible passages all declaring how wonderful and not sinful dancing is, and just as you think he's won the argument, they all vote him down...because you can't fight crazy religious types by pointing out that maybe they don't entirely understand their own religious text. Pointing out the idiocy of their arguments just makes them stronger and more adamant about your place in hell.

Turns out the town can't stop them if they throw the dance outside of city limits, so that's what they decide to do. All Ren needs to do is get the good reverend to change his mind so he can take his horrible new girlfriend to the prom that they're throwing in a old warehouse by the sketchy train tracks. It's apparently super easy to change his mind, because they only talk for like two minutes, and all of a sudden everything is fine, and no one is sinning.

Don't push your luck though, gurl, put away your whore shoulders before your dad sees and puts you in a burqua. 

The senior class bands together and there's a whole montage of them decorating their warehouse for the dance.

They do a pretty great job covering up the fact that their precious senior memories are going to be made in a freaking warehouse, but all I kept wondering was, "Who the f#%! is paying for all of this?!" Twinkle lights and balloons aren't free, and I'm not sure when they would have had time to do fundraising. They only just found out about the dance like 27 minutes ago.

When the dance starts everyone is standing around staring at each other...because not only are high school kids super awkward, but dancing has been illegal for five years. Does anyone else see the flaw in this plan to throw a dance for a bunch of gawky teens from a town that's basically Amish?! Where would they have learned to do the Electric Slide?

Plus sober dancing is just the worst.

Ren shows up and gets the party going though, and all of a sudden everyone is a professional dancer who is having more fun than anyone has ever had.

And it freaking rains glitter!

Seriously! How are they affording glitter rain?! Glitter ain't cheap. Also, how is this not getting into anyone's eyes? I didn't realize this was a thing that people did for dances! I might have actually sold a couple magazine subscriptions instead of just making my parents pay for my portion of the fundraising if I'd know that a glittery wonderland was an option.

So...that was Footloose

Overall, I'm pretty underwhelmed. The only redeeming moment occured about an hour into the film when they decided to bring butts into the storyline. That's when we met my favorite character in the whole movie.

At least I think this is the first time we meet him. I don't really remember him from anywhere else in the movie...but seriously...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Booze, Boys & Free Sandwiches: A Vegas Bachelor Party

Okay, you guys, gay bachelor parties are the best.

Like, equality under the law and not being treated like a second class citizen is great and all, but the biggest perk of this whole marriage equality struggle (that we're totally winning) is the attention that can be garnered by go-go boys when you shove a wad of singles in their waistbands and slur the words, "My friend is getting MARRRRRRRRIIEEEEEEEEED!"

Seriously. I'm probably just going to start pretending that's what's happening every time I go out now. So if you're ever at a bar with me and a glittery, sweaty, beefcake congratulates cool, okay?

Bachelor parties every weekend!

We flew out for Vegas at 7am on Thursday morning, meaning we had to leave Mankato by 4am...and I had to be awake by 3am. Months ago, at the time of booking the flights, I'm pretty sure we were thinking something like, "We'll fly out really early, and then it'll be like we have an entire extra day in Vegas! Brilliant!"

When my alarm went off that morning I know I was thinking, "Oh god, it's not enough time! Why is this happening to me?! I don't care about you or your f#%!ing wedding, Jamie! Where's the damn caffine?!"

How is it that it's 2014 and teleporting places still isn't a thing?

After a shower, some early 2000's Michelle Branch, and an impressive amount of Diet Coke I was feeling better about the situation. The entire morning was actually a breeze. I was fast tracked through security without even needing to take off a flip flop, our flight was boarded right away, I ended up without anyone in the seat next to me or behind me, and there was a hot straight dude in my row from one of the other bachelor parties headed to Vegas.

Our bachelor's trip wasn't as quite as painless. It took him so long to get through security that I was pretty sure they were stopping just short of asking him to squat and cough.

Sorry...that was vulgar...I've been watching too much Orange is the New Black.

We spent the entirety of Thursday wandering the strip, trying not to fall asleep whenever we sat down for extended amounts of time, and stepping in to make sure Jamie didn't accidentally buy a timeshare anytime someone tried to talk to him.

The guy refuses to be unpleasant to anyone.

So while I felt like I was competing in the bitch face Olympics (what I've been training for my entire life) while walking the strip...

"Does it look like I want to take a picture with you, Terrifying Bert and Nightmare Ernie?"
Jamie literally made it across the street on our first trip onto the strip before all of a sudden he was talking to some random guy, taking coupons, and we were being escorted into the sketchy backroom of some bar.

To be fair, we did get 2 for 1 drinks at noon out of it, and I discovered that Dorito Mac & Cheese is a thing. He got lucky, but we weren't going to let this need to be pleasant to street urchins become a habit. We quickly formed a buffer around him, terrified that if we separated for even a moment we'd find him hopping into a free limo to a strip club, slapping on wrist bands for some club we weren't ever going to go to, or, as one horrifyingly sweaty man in an "Orgasim Clinic" t-shirt offered, motorboating a vagina.

After we got the first to drinks in, we continued throughout the entirety of the day, but none of us could really get into it. By 11 o'clock, after being awake for 22 hours and drinking for 11 hours, we finally threw in the towel, and decided to call it an early night in preparation for the next day.

My Snapchat game was on point that weekend
And the next day started early. Between the mimosas, the Jell-o shots, and the drink I poured for my shower (because shower drinking is literally my favorite part of vacation), I was drunk by 10am. I'd forgotten that this was a marathon and not a sprint, but still I figured I would be fine. We had an entire day laying out by the pool ahead of us, and I planned to spend most of the day in a lounge chair, shamelessly napping in public.

I didn't account for the heat.

I'm officially calling bullshit on the whole "But it's a dry heat" thing. It was f#%!ing hot. Unbearably so. I was guzzling water, my heart was pounding, I was getting light headed, and I was sweating in places that I really didn't realize could sweat. The longer I laid there, the more refreshing the pool looked.

I'd decided in the weeks before Vegas that my body was nowhere near swimsuit ready, so I would just be spending my time hanging around the pool, covered completely in an adorable matching swim trunk, tank top, and beach towel combo.

Those body issues lasted about twenty minutes before I had one of the most freeing revelations of my life.

As if anyone there cared what I looked like, and if they did, what the f#%! did I care?

Well, it was probably a revelation...but it's also possible that I had a heat stroke that clouded my judgement.

So I joined Jamie in the loungers in the pool itself...and it was magical. I'm not sure I've ever been so relaxed in my life. I ordered a $15 cocktail that had mint leaves and dragon berries (whatever the f#%! those are) in it, and started to really appreciate vacation. That one drink turned into two, and by the third I was just pointing randomly at the drink menu and slurring at the waitress,

"Jusssss gimme this one."
"Umm...just so you're aware, sir, this drink has red peppers in it, and it has a bit of a kick to it. Is that okay?"
"Thasss fine...Idon' can juss put whatever in there...sssssfine...wait...didju jusss call me, sir?!?!"

At one point, while we were loudly admiring the impressive...assets...of the French guy in the speedo next to us, another one of the guys from the group came up and in a concerned voice asked, "Have you guys seriously not moved in 3 hours?!"

I stared blankly at him for a few seconds before explaining, "No...ssssssfine. I got up to pee once."

Thank god I'm so good at applying sunscreen...

After leaving the pool, we went out to do a bit of gambling and go to dinner. I had $20 that I was willing to not drink and throw into a slot machine. I'd been eyeing the Sex and the City machine that promised me I could be Carrie Bradshaw, but the other guys in my group were much more interested in finding the Roulette table.

I stood behind the table learning the game for awhile before my excitement took over and I bought $20 worth of chips and started playing myself.

3 1/2 minutes later my chips were gone, but the cocktail waitress had just returned to our table with my drink saying, "They accidentally made two, sweetie, here you go."

Not even mad.

I lost complete interest in what was happening at the table when it stopped being directly related to me, so I turned my attention to drinking and my phone.

Before coming to Vegas, I had finally taken the plunge and downloaded Grindr. For those of you who don't know what Grindr is (straight people), it's a gross and amazing app that's all the rage with the gays. It's like other "dating" apps, only Grindr will tell you exactly how close you are to the nearest homosexual. For instance, as I type this paragraph, there's a gentleman a mere 360 feet from me also logged in.

It's fascinating.

As I was browsing what the crowd in the Flamingo had to offer, I received a message. "Hey Chris! I'm the VIP host at Xposed! at the Tropicana, the new LGBT beach/pool club. I wanted to invite you to it on my guest list, free entrance before 2pm CST."

I mentioned it to the group with a laugh (since we already had a cabana reserved there the next day). I was just about to respond letting him know we were already on the list when Jamie stopped me with the wide eyed, almost maniacal look on his face. I actually thought he was going to slap the phone out of my hand.

"No! Wait! Tell him we haven't decided what we're doing! See what he'll do to get us to come. See if he can get us free sandwiches!!!!"

Sandwiches? We've got a VIP club promoter courting us, and you're not interested in private tables, fruity drinks with umbrellas, or sexy shirtless men fanning us with palm fronds? We've got a VIP club promoter courting us, and the first demand you can think of is...sandwiches?

He was teased mercilessly.

That night we had a reserved table and bottle service at Krave. This was the club that we thought would be the hottest gay club in Vegas. We anticipated walking up to the club to a line of people and flashing our VIP reservation to be whisked through the jealous and adoring crowd, all whispering to each other, "Who are they? Are they famous? I think that one writes a blog that a ton of people love and share with all of their friends!"

The reality was a bit more...disappointing. We walked in to a completely empty bar (save for one guy on the dance floor who was giving himself life with his sweet moves). We were led to our table by our gorgeous and super sweet server, Roman. He got us settled in, poured our drinks, and promised that it would pick up soon.

If this were a wider shot, you'd see the whole bank of empty "VIP" tables.
More and more people trickled onto the dancefloor in the hour that followed. Roman was super attentive with refills and flirty winks tossed towards the bachelor, but we could all tell that Jamie wasn't happy being in a place with only a smattering of other people. He was clearly frustrated that we were stuck here until we finished the bottle. Trevor, the best man, did his duty in figuring out where we would be going next. I felt like I needed to do my part to help turn the night around for the man of honor, so I tapped him on the shoulder, leaned in, and shouted over the music, "Would it make you feel any better if I asked Roman if he could bring us some free sandwiches?"

He wasn't impressed...but I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself.

I now only want drinks that have been served by cute boys in their underwear.
We moved on to the club Share after we finished our bottle, and it was exactly what we were looking for. We walked in the door and not only were there wall to wall bodies on the dancefloor, but they were playing RuPaul's "Sissy That Walk." I died

Turns out, Vegas Chris has some game. I mean...not like a ton of game, but I got a few cute guys to join our group to help celebrate Jamie's final single night out on the town. There were the foreign boys who I struck up a conversation with by accusing them of being liars.

"You're f#%!ing kidding me with that accent, right?"
"No, I'm from Scotland, and my friend is from England."
"Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaah riiiiiiight! You guys are faking it to get in guys' pants."
"No...if I was going to fake an accent, do you seriously think I would choose Scottish?"
"Fair point..."

After trying to explain to the British one what Minnesota was like twenty times, I lost interest in talking to them any more and moved my hunt elsewhere. 

That's when I saw him...the love of my life/my weekend.

He looked like he spent all of five minutes getting ready to go out in his baseball shirt, khaki shorts, and ratty leather sandals (meanwhile, my moisturizing routine took me 15 minutes). He clearly hadn't shaved in a few days, and he looked like it was entirely feasible that he drove a pick-up truck. I was obsessed.

Growing up in small town Iowa has ruined my taste in men.

He and his friend joined us for awhile. We chatted, we danced, and I watched as he made out with a bunch of other guys. 

So, obviously, it was going well enough that it wasn't weird at all for me to invite him and his friend to join us at the pool party the next day.

I was hesitant about this pool party from the start. I mean, I'm a chubby pale guy from the Midwest, and this was a Vegas pool party called "Xposed." Clearly not my scene. But I'd had a pretty good day self esteem wise the day before. I'd dealt with my body issues (kind of), and our night out at the clubs had convinced me that I was really good at talking to boys. I was feeling pretty confident...

Until we actually got to the pool...

I really didn't think that people who looked like this actually existed. We're talking, like, magazine perfect bodies in bathing suits so tiny it was almost pornographic. 

I immediately bee-lined for the cabana. 

And I stayed there for quite awhile too. I probably would have stayed in there the entire day had Jamie and Trevor not walked into the cabana with two guys in tow saying, "Umm...Look who we found!"

That's when I learned that the guy who I'd decided the night before I would gladly spend the rest of my life with, was named Greg. He was a satellite engineer from L.A. and he was perfect for me. After about an hour or so of sunbathing, pool time (his talent for bouncing an over-sized beach-ball around the pool without even getting hit in the face was swoon-worthy) and heavy, heavy drinking, the two of us retired to the cabana.

The next hour, as I remember it, was spent sweetly and innocently flirting with each other. We held hands and talked about life and love. We shared our hopes and dreams. We found out we had a shared love of literature and television shows. He told me that all he wanted in life was to meet a nice guy and get married, and I said to him coyly, "You know, people get married in Vegas all the time..."

Now, I was pretty drunk, so I can't be sure that this is how it actually happened. In fact, I do have one specific memory of rubbing ice on his nipples that makes me think it didn't happen as adorably as I remember.

I think what actually happened was probably something more like,

"You're cute..."
"No, you're cute..."
"No, YOU'RE cute..."
"No, YOU'RE cute..."
"We should get f#%!ing you have any ice?"

We parted ways after the pool party. I never asked his last name, I didn't ask for his phone number, and we didn't add each other to Facebook. 

It was pretty clear to both of us that this wasn't something we should be revisiting. 

The rest of the trip was amazing, but this post is already so f#%!ing long, so excuse me for just glossing over the highlights.

Can't wait for the wedding, Jamie! Pre-ceremony sandwiches are on me!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I Suck.

Okay folks...I seriously misjudged how I'd be feeling after a weekend in Vegas.

I slept all day Monday.

Like ALL. DAY. I woke up at eleven. Watched and episode of Scandal. Took at four hour nap. Ate a pizza. Went to bed.

Then I got scheduled for 40 hours of work in the next three days...and no matter how badly I wanted to...I didn't call in sick for a single shift. I've been there. Bright eyed, but not exactly bush tailed.

I hope you'll take that into account when passing judgement on me for not writing a real blog post again this week.

Next week. I promise!