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Neurotic As Hell

Choosing Figs Blog

After a year-long hiatus, I'm back in business with my life goal of reading every Baby-Sitters Club book ever written. In order. From the start. I was stuck for a while because, while I had a few books in the series, I didn't have number 5. And because of that, I couldn't move on. (And, you know, there was that little fact that I was traveling most of the year and couldn't fit an entire library of Baby-Sitters Club books in my backpack...

I still bite my nails, still throw my dirty laundry on the floor, still leave used dishes in the sink. I can't play the guitar, can't knit, can't paint. I never finished that novel I started writing in college. I haven't had a boyfriend in over ten years. I never became a dancer, an actor, a writer. I don't even have a career. I'm still paying off my grad school loans. I'm afraid of heights, of talking on the phone, of getting eaten by a shark. I'm getting to the age where I should start having kids.   I celebrated my birthday at Las Tablas — a Colombian restaurant in...

I've been so busy working a temp job the past two weeks that all I want to do when I get home is curl up with Food Network. So I haven't had much time to write. And I'm certainly not traveling at the moment. But, since I'm traveling to New York this summer, it's on my mind. I went to New York City for the first time in 1999, the summer between graduating high school and starting college. I wrote this years ago, 2005 maybe, before I had a blog, for a travel writing class I took in grad school. At...

It's not that 2013 wasn't a good year for me. By any standards, it was amazing. I spent six months backpacking from Guatemala to Colombia. I spent two months traveling around Ireland, England and, briefly, Scotland. In the US I made it to Hawaii, Seattle, and Memphis. I'm doing good. But, even though spent most of the year moving around, I felt like I was at a standstill. I got lazy traveling last year, picking places not because they were where I necessarily wanted to go most but because they were convenient or cheap. I hardly worked, choosing instead to squander my...

Eight minutes had already passed and the meat sweats were kicking it. My fingers were sticky with strawberry lemonade and grease. Crumbs of pink soggy bread rolled down my cheek. A near empty paper plate in front of me held just a few more bites of the fifth bun. In the week before, friends of mine, professional eaters, had sent me tips: separate the hot dog from the bun, snap it in half and eat the two halves together, dunk the bun in a liquid with a taste you like....

I'm pretty sure I first heard about Dyer's Burgers while reading Hamburger America (a roadtripper's bible of road food stops) some years ago. The restaurant on Memphis's Beale Street is known for it's deep fried hamburgers. But the patties aren't just cooked in any old grease: they're cooked in really old grease. Each burger is fried up in the same grease they've been using for 100 years, since the restaurant first opened in 1912....

I flew home from London in early December and promised myself that I would spend the next month doing nothing but catching up on work and spending as close to nothing as possible (the whole laptop thing put me behind in both money and productivity). That all went out the window though when I saw a tweet from Major League Eating announcing that the first qualifier for next year's July Fourth hot dog eating contest would be held in Mississippi a week after I arrived back to Chicago. And, well, I really wanted to go....

English food gets a bad rap sometimes. Before arriving in the country, I'd heard that the cuisine was bland and uninspired and unoriginal. I figured that I'd just end up eating fish and chips at a pub and call it a night. Every night. (Not that I have any problem with that. I pretty much lived on fish and chips in Ireland because it's one of the greatest combinations ever invented.) But, in actuality, I ate some of the best food I've ever had in London. I was lucky enough to go on two food tours in the city. One was...