If you haven't figured it out by now, February has an extra day this year. That's right, February 29th. The only day that appears every four years.
As some of you may already know, it is also my birthday.
So I would like to dedicate this post to all the other Leap Year babies and let me be one of the first few to say happy birthday! I also found some delicious freebies for everyone else.
1) There is Free pancakes at Ihop on Feb 28th (This is actually to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network, but it's still a give away!)
2) Chik-Fil-A is giving away Chick-n-Minis on Feb 29th before 10:30 am.
3) Subway is giving away free cookies with any purchase on Feb 29th.
There were more freebies back in 2008, but I guess everyone got tired of Leap Year coming out of nowhere. Either way, I am excited to be able to celebrate my birthday on the actual day I was born.
Now For an AWESOME birthday video (this goes out to all my leap year babies)
It's Kermit the frog! and frogs are the leap year mascot.
So how about my readers, do you know any Leap Year babies or are you one yourself?
Hanny the coffee bean
Monday, February 27, 2012
If you haven't figured it out by now, February has an extra day this year. That's right, February 29th. The only day that appears every four years.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
A few days ago I sat waiting in silence for a full hour for an appointment I had scheduled. Feeling thoroughly indignant about the tardiness, hot air huffing out of my flared nostrils as I stared at the other disgruntled-looking people, it suddenly hit me that in being in Miami once again, I had re-discovered Cuban-time, something that I had long left behind when I moved to relatively-punctual France where you see neither hide nor hair of Cuban-timers.
For those who live in the unaware bliss of what "Cuban-time" is, I describe it as follows:
The internal lack of punctuality in which those who are Cuban or of Cuban-descent (see "Cuban-timer") live their lives by being habitually late to appointments, social gatherings, events, meetings, even jobs, by a minimum of fifteen minutes
I hastily indicate that this minimum of fifteen minutes is the bare minimum. Chances are that your Cuban fellows are (and will) arrive much, much later than that minimum, give or take one hour.
A person who runs on Cuban-time
If you are having trouble trying to understand this concept of people being constantly late, don't worry. I'll guide you though this.
I want you to imagine the eternal wait that is a scheduled appointment in a doctor's office. Even though you have a set time that you know corresponds to you, the doctor somehow manages to see you a full hour after your actual scheduled appointment. As you sit there wanting to vocalize your mounting frustrations, you know that you can't complain about how late he's running because, let's face it, it is so frickin' obvious. Once your turn comes and you see your G.P. saunter over to you with his white lab coat, stethoscope strung about his neck like a shiny, tubular necktie, you are so thrilled that the wait is over and relish in the reward that comes from having his total, undivided attention.
The best part is he doesn't even apologize for making you wait so long because you are at his office, which is a doctor's office. Waiting for a long time at a doctor's office is expected so why bother pointing out the frickin' obvious? He's running on Doctor-time. You'd only be wasting your breath on the matter.
Well, Cuban-time is kinda like that. Only it applies to everything else in life, not just doctor's appointments. For instance, workouts at the gym run on Cuban-time. Trips to the beach run on Cuban-time. Visits to gas station pumps run on Cuban-time. Heck, even the buses in Miami run on Cuban-time because the drivers are most likely Cuban-timers themselves.
Thank God for movie trailers. For the non-Cuban-timers, the lengthy deluge of upcoming feature films may seem annoying, but those extra fifteen minutes are the key difference between a Cuban-timer either understanding a movie's plot or being completely lost for the rest of the film because they missed a crucial chunk at the beginning. In fact, I'm pretty sure no one in Miami has seen a full movie trailer for the past forty years.
The only exception to Cuban-time is restaurants. Cubans know better than to mess with a grumbling stomach; hunger induces anger and the last person you'd want to anger is a hot-tempered Cuban. (See I Love Lucy's often-miffed Ricky Ricardo as a reference point.)
I must address that Cuban-time produces unfortunate consequences if you happen to be employed. It doesn't matter if everyone else at the job is Cuban or of Cuban-descent: when you are late, YOU ARE LATE. I once had a co-worker who would arrive at 9:45 in the morning, sometimes even as late as 11 a.m., to her job. While she was an excellent employee, she was dismissed for being tardy so frequently.
Another downside to Cuban-time is that the lateness can get a bit carried away. While a minimum wait of fifteen minutes is expected, even considered normal, there are instances in which it expands into several awkward hours. On one particular anecdote from my childhood, I remember having a play date with a friend and spent the whole afternoon hanging out at her house. Around 6:30 p.m., I called home and asked my very Cuban-time-based Cuban father when he would pick me up.
He didn't arrive until close to 11 p.m. I even telephoned him in one-hour intervals to see when he would show up. Every time he picked up the phone, he assured me with the most sacred of Cuban-time
On the bright side, my friend's parents were Cubans and were therefore in the know of my Dad's tardiness. I also remember having burgers and French fries for dinner at my friend's house that day so all was well.
Now, for you non-Cuban-timers who have recently immigrated to Miami and are at the end of your Culture Shock rope because you view being late as rude, inconsiderate, even irresponsible, you may wonder what can be done to cope with handling such a bizarre habit. A good way to battle against Cuban-time is to trick the Cuban-timer in question with the wrong time. Tell them that, in reality, the event will take place at least an hour in advance than it really is.
Even if you are not comfortable with telling little white lies, this solution becomes vital when it comes to appointments you simply cannot afford to miss. Indeed, lying to a Cuban-timer is crucial if you need them to be on time.
You think I'm joking about this?
Try having a wedding in Miami and invite a bunch of Cuban-timers to it. Go on. Try it.
Even though the time listed on the wedding invitation is 6:45 p.m., I guarantee that the first Cuban-time attendants will come straggling at 6:44 p.m. and that the ceremony itself will actually start at 8. Because, guess what? 8 o'clock p.m. was the real time in the first place. That extra hour and fifteen minutes listed on the wedding invitation were sagely factored in for the Cuban-timers.
Believe me, I've applied this practice to my own life whenever I deemed it necessary. In another vivid instance from my youth, back in my Senior year of high school, I enrolled to take the dreaded SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) on a Saturday at a different location from my school, which was a good 30-minute drive from my home without traffic. The test was supposed to take place at 8:15 a.m. Since I didn't have a car or a driver's licence at the time, I had to rely on my very Cuban-time-based Cuban father as my mode of transport.
When you are in your last year of high school, you CANNOT afford to miss taking the SAT because, like the ACT, it is a requirement to getting into university. There was no way I would be late that morning.
So, what did I do?
What he meant by "6:30 tomorrow morning" was in reality "just kidding, I'll dawdle around the house while you wait for me to get the car keys and then we'll both panic as we rush to leave at 6:48 a.m., lulz."
That meant that I had not even a full half an hour to get to the location. Of course, since I knew what time the exam actually was, this didn't bother me too much, but let's assume what would have happened if it had taken place at 7:15 a.m. I would have been late, possibly excluded from taking the SAT altogether. Even if the examiners would have allowed me in the testing room, this wouldn't have included the extra minutes for taking roll call, finding a seat and settling my nerves prior to bubbling in the answers on the various reading and math portions. So it was a good thing that I had lied.
It wasn't until it was seven o'clock when the drive was well under way, Dad speeding his teal Toyota Tercel down the early-morning streets of Miami and muttering that it was a stupid move to schedule a test that early and that an incomprehensible idiocy as this certainly wouldn't have ever happened in Cuba, that I felt the pang of guilt for having manipulated my father with my own selfish needs. It didn't matter how little and white the lie had been; I HAD LIED. Strapped in my seat belt to the right of him, I revealed to Dad that the exam was, in fact, at 8:15 a.m. and not a whole hour earlier as I had claimed.
He smiled with relief and said:
"We have enough time" wasn't in my vocabulary that morning and I wasn't too keen on having my evil plan thwarted by own admission of telling the truth. I stressed this point to my father while politely disagreeing with him on the matter of going in the opposite direction of town to get coffee at his favorite cafeteria*.
*Cafeterias are, in essence, corner cafés in Miami. They are an essential watering hole for jazzing up on Cuban java and loading up on ham croquettes and the occasional cheese-and-guava-filled pastry while talking to the apron-wearing Cuban ladies who attend at the window.
In retrospect, we probably did have time to stop for coffee, but knowing my Cuban-timer Dad, I didn't want to risk missing that SAT appointment. It should have been no surprise to me that Dad would have even considered changing his route to get a cup of coffee. If he had extra time on his hands, he would make the most of it. This laid-back approach to putting life's events on hold only provides Cuban-timers with the means to thrive. Life is already stressful enough, so why bother having to live and die by the clock? Once I moved to Dijon, I got to experience an entire culture that truly stands by this.
As much as it may irk me to no end when someone arrives late, I have to keep in mind that I am of Cuban-descent myself and am therefore not immune to what comes naturally. Despite my good intentions and attempts at keeping a strict schedule, I often drove my punctual French friends crazy with my habitual tardiness. I admit that my former French boyfriend suffered the brunt from all the times in which I claimed it was only a few spare minutes before the bus reached a stop. A typical interaction often went like this:
French Ex: "Are you almost here?"
Moi: "Almost! I missed the first ride and this damn bus arrived two minutes late at my stop!"
French Ex: "Uh-huh. Suuuuuuuure it did."
Now that I think about it, my being late all the time may have been a key factor that led to our break-up.
In short, if you ever plan to make an appointment with me, give me a thirty-minute head start from the official time. Your sensibility at punctuality and the Cuban side of me will thank each other and forever live in perfect harmony.
Unless I turn around and stop for coffee. Then all bets are off.
Barb the French Bean
Thursday, February 23, 2012
As I look at my surroundings, I realize that love has been tarnished. Nothing is ever as one plans it or dreams it. It isn't like the fairy tales you see on tv, where love always wins.
I know this, but my heart...Well my heart sees it differently.
My heart, however, is too much of a dreamer and believes that anything to do with love will always win in the end. Kind of like when two people who are madly in love with each other find one another in the end...
Take cinderella for instance, she's poor and has nothing, but with the help of mouses and a fairy godmother she ends up going to the ball and falling in love with the prince. Does it end happily ever after? Of course, it does.
Snow White was poisoned by her evil stepmother and yet the prince finds her, kisses her and they live happily ever after.
Each story ends like that unless we are talking about Romeo and Juliet, but even then their love was so strong that they decided to die for one another.
My heart, however, does not understand that this only exists on tv and in books. It believes that love can do it all. Love can set even the coldest heart free and change a person.
Such beliefs has broken my heart a million times, when another person hurts me with no cause.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Not only is February known for the leap year day it has every four years, but it is also one of the months with the most relationships occurring.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I'm not Lynne Truss. I am not perfect and am therefore prone to making grievous grammatical errors as I write for this blog.
What, you know Lynne Truss, doncha? She's the British lady who penned Eats, Shoots & Leaves, the fantastic best-seller that summarized the finer points of British grammar marks (inverted commas versus quotation marks) and outlined her overall punctuation peeves with a comical tone.
You know her, right? RIGHT?!
Well, I guess you would need to be an English language nerd to appreciate such a book in the first place.
Anyway, Lynne Truss harped about the missing apostrophe in the movie title Two Weeks Notice (sic). On a similar vein, I've decided to shed some light on the subject that gets my panties in a twist.
I cannot be silent anymore: I truly abhor seeing the Apostrophe S when it is not used in its intended functions of either indicating the possessive of a noun or in a third-person contraction of the verb "to be."
This isn't the first time I've mentioned this topic. (French people, I'm watching you.)
In more recent news, I've seen the usage of the Apostrophe S expand to indicate plurality, particularly for items that are referenced with lettered and numbered acronyms. It has become acceptable to label multiple Digital Versatile Discs, Compact Discs (do people even buy those anymore?) and Motion Picture Experts Group Audio Layer III as DVD's, CD's, and MP3's, respectively.
I suspect that, for the sake of reducing lengthy, awkward mouthfuls, it was deemed natural to shorten the names and that the attached Apostrophe exists for reasons that are purely aesthetic.
Whenever I see "MP3's" written as such, I cannot help but ask what is in possession of said MP3. Is it its illegal file sharing? Is it its lack of purveying money to the artists who deserve to get paid for their work?
To me, seeing an Apostrophe S with a noun will always make me think of possession. I tend to visualize it with a more concrete example: The cat's ball of yarn.
This means that some hypothetical cat, be it a Russian Blue or a Sacred Birman, is the owner of some equally hypothetical ball of yarn. The ball of yarn belongs to the cat and the Apostrophe S denotes said ownership.
NB: The same principle can be applied for "Ninja Squirrel's nuts." You don't mess with Ninja Squirrel's nuts.
No matter how many times I come across this hybrid of plurality, I can't help but wipe off that Apostrophe in my mind. A part of me, the fuddy-duddy side that wants things to make sense, can't stand this. In fact, I do not know how to express the full extent of my hatred over this dreaded Apostrophe S. The fuddy-duddy part of me dies a little every time it sees these rogue Apostrophes and gives a vehement, agonized scream of terror.
"It shouldn't be there!" it yells. "It should just be DVDs, CDs and MP3s. I don't care if it looks weird without the Apostrophes to other people because it looks perfectly normal to me! I hate the plural Apostrophe S!"
This hatred has surmounted beyond my control. I have an irrational fear that if this scourge isn't eradicated, then it will be at liberty to flourish in size and destroy entire civilisations as we know them.
I try to be accepting. I try to reason with myself that English is an active, ever-evolving language. I try to rationalize that it is only natural that these grammatical changes should happen and that I should be an open-minded individual about this, lest I should be declared to be an intolerant nay-sayer for not wanting to keep up with the times.
I was willing to squelch any urges that would inhibit these necessary social advances. I was even ready to make peace with the notion that the English language will never, ever be the same again.
Until I read this.
Like Michael Douglas portraying the at-the-end-of-his-rope William Foster in Falling Down, I had reached my breaking point.
My eye twitched from a muscular spasm. The corners of my mouth pulled downward. I inhaled sharply like I had winced in pain. Saliva pooled in my buccal cavity; perhaps that was a sign that I might start to spew foam like some cheap fourth-grade volcano-lava project. I collapsed into the fetal position and wanted to declare a life of reclusive hermitage in Voronya, the deepest cave in the world.
Instead, my mind exploded in a livid rampage.
I kid you not: the prospect that hundreds of hormone-crazed adolescents were going to be promiscuous for the first time in their lives didn't rattle me as much as seeing "virginity's" displayed in my Twitter feed did.
Inevitably, my Apostrophe S instinct kicked in and I began to question what virginity possessed.
"Virginity's what? Its fumbling with an improperly-handled condom? The horrible performance teens will partake in due to eager inexperience? The dreadful realization that the first coitus is nothing like the movies make it seem to be?"
Then, the most horrible thought passed through my mind: wait...what if it really is supposed to be "virginity's" and not "virginities?"
My worst fears have come true. The English language that I know and love is disintegrating before my very eyes.
The inner lurking's of my mind can be quite scary, especially when they are pushed to their limit's.
Did I honestly just type that?
It's happening. IT'S HAPPENING!
But it can't be happening. I refuse to let this be!
I shall go refuge myself into the safe haven of Romantic 19th century literature and avoid using any plural form's.
Barb the French Bean
Just in case you were wondering, "virginity" isn't supposed to have a plural form at all. I've already dunked my head in a bucket of ice-cold water as punishment.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Last year, I wrote a post to cupid threatening his life for being such a bastard. Ever since then, it seems that cupid has been playing around with my love life and so once again, for like the second time, I am dateless for Valentine's day.
Friday, February 10, 2012
I don't usually talk about such a personal issue that is (quite literally) close to my heart, but I feel a need to express myself with this rather ignored topic.
I know large bazongas are all the rage and are especially popular for ogling by those who possess XY chromosomes. I feel blessed and thank my lucky stars that I am in no dire need to head on over to my nearest cosmetic surgery center so I can have that extra coveted "va-va-voom" and "oomph" factor seen with Hugh Hefner's Playboy bunnies. I should also mention that big boobs provide an extra storage space within my bra for cradling my keys, my MP3 player and my cell phone when I go out for a jog.
But if I'm perfectly honest, having huge breasts can at times really, really suck.
My three main reasons are as follows:
I own a fairly good sports bra and it does a great job giving me support (as it would be expected of bras). However, even the best Victoria's Secret sports bra faces its own limitations when put to test as I engage in vigorous physical activities.
Such as running. And jumping rope.
I honestly can't withstand five minutes of jump rope and not end up having red blotches form on my skin from all the friction and gravity that comes from exerting my body with such an exercise. To make matters worse, with every progressive hop I engage in, I am at risk of going one bounce too many and end up flashing the Creeper Codger who lives across the street from me.
I like clothes-shopping. Being a woman, that is, after all, a pleasurable activity to partake in. However, thanks to what nature intended for me to have, I often face the inevitable ordeal that three-quarters of the restrictive blouses, dresses and shirts that I try on are simply not cut for someone like me. The way some tops strangle me, cutting off the blood circulation until my boobs turn purple, makes me wish (out of pure vanity) that I had a slightly less-massive chest. This is especially true with the "cute" shirts that I meet with continuous defeat in the fitting rooms.
When it comes to tops, my arch-nemesis is, without a doubt, shirts with buttons. Either I try on the shirt that is labeled my size and have the buttons stretched so tightly across the front so they look like I'm giving a deliberate peep-show between the exposed gaps...
...Or I try on a larger size in which the buttons close all the way but the rest of the shirt is big enough for me to go camping in.
Don't even get me started on finding the right bra. Much like tops, it seems like all the "cute" frilly bras that I gravitate towards are reserved for the ladies who don't over-compensate in the boobage department like I do. I try on the "cute" ones, the ones which have flimsy straps fashioned from shoelaces, and am often left resorting to buy the rather plain-Jane garments that have the sole function of keeping my chest intact instead of giving it a more alluring sex appeal.
I truly wonder what goes on in the minds of bra engineers when they make these vital aesthetic decisions.
If you were to bump into me in real life, you are probably more likely to see me out and about with glasses on my face. Lo and behold, I am a four-eyes.
Shocker. I know.
Years ago, a friend of mine, shocked at seeing me on the very rare moment in which I ditched my glasses for more aesthetically-pleasing contact lenses, commented that with my breasts, I gave off the impression that I looked like someone who couldn't tell the difference from her left hand to her right or knew the capital of Switzerland.
Which is absolutely false: it's Bern, dammit, and within their various cantons, the Swiss speak four different languages, such as Romansch. I knew that without the aid of Wikipedia.
I can't help thinking that my friend was right. On the days when I decide to wear my contact lenses and dress to the nine yards (or meters), there's always a little voice of doubt chiding me about how this wrong impression of me not being an intelligent woman is abetted by my top-heaviness. It also doesn't help that an unspoken consensus exists that there is a direct correlation between a woman's cup-size and her IQ points: the bigger they are, the dumber she is.
That being said, it should be apparent that my parents and the American educational system didn't raise a fool and the people who know me in real life know that I am indeed one smart cookie. I only wish that complete strangers, particularly the horny hooligans who wolf-whistle at me from their cars, realize this before making the incorrect assumption about me.
Nevertheless, I am quite happy that my chest is indeed mine and a healthy one to boot. It's easy to take things for granted, and good health is one of them.
Ladies, no matter what size they are, please take care of your girls. Make it a habit to check to see they are in good form and cancer-free every month.
Barb the French Bean
(If the Creeper Codger looks oddly familiar to you, that is because I recycled the same guy from this previous post. You're welcome.)
Monday, February 6, 2012
Ever since I returned back to the United States, the thing that has been the most apparent to me is that this country's stores are the champions at premature marketing. The themed products are seen at the "wrong" time of the year, be it hocking Christmas decorations in October or, more recently, pink heart-shaped boxes of chocolate reminding of my current state of singlehood since January first.
(Just to be clear: I've been single since December, not January first.)
This is a stark contrast from what I have observed in France, meaning the French are quite normal and make an effort to limit each festivity within their designated months, and I must admit that I quite prefer the French way of commercialism; it's less annoying.
If I see one more sappy "Every Kiss Begins with Kay" jewelry ad showing a pair of actors emulating a happy, much-in-love couple, I'm gonna go ballistic on my TV, and I can't afford a new TV set these days.
Bitterness aside, I found myself on a trip to Target this past Saturday and I couldn't resist walking by the aisles (plural) that were dedicated to selling Valentine's Day trinkets. I saw the run-of-the-mill products: boxes of chocolates, stuffed animals, bags of chocolates, bottles of wine and champagne, bars of chocolate, candles, candies, party favors, paper plates, pencils, Valentine cards that elementary school kids pass out to their classmates bearing famous cartoon characters, and chocolate roses.
However, there was one item that caught me off guard and essentially touched me on levels that were wrong.
My friends, this year, why don't you say "I love you" to your significant other with a black heart sporting a bedazzled Darth Vader?
This is worth repeating: a black heart sporting a bedazzled Darth Vader.
Barb the French Bean
Saturday, February 4, 2012
As my birthday soon approaches, I started to think about what it is that I am doing with my life. The result of these thoughts were none the less disastrous. I went through a one day mood shift that only made me look like a mental patient.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Can you guess what it is?
It's La Chandeleur, the day I panic and make crêpes at the last minute.
Not wanting to forget the
I can add yet another unforgettable moment to my culinary feats.