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And That’s Why You Shouldn’t Eat Animals That Don’t Have Faces.

There are some things you should probably know about me. Ready?

I seem to have developed a negative physical reaction to scallops. I know. The non-picky eater finally has a thing, apparently, that I now have to note whenever anyone asks me if I have any special dietary restrictions. For thirty-two years I’ve happily answered, “No! I have no special needs. I’m like… the least picky eater ever. Whatever you serve, I’m game!” But now I have to say, “Well, I don’t really know. I have this weird thing with scallops.” And I know the likelihood of someone serving up a plate of scallops at the neighborhood barbecue is lower than meeting Kirk Whalum at the Newport News airport (I know this because I met Kirk Whalum at the Newport News airport but no one’s ever served me scallops at a neighborhood barbecue), but still. It’s out there now. A fact about myself that’s necessary to share in the in the interest of full and responsible disclosure whenever I’m asked whether I have any food restrictions and I seriously don’t like it. And not just because I really enjoy scallops.

These were the second offenders out of three trials. We’ve officially confirmed the culprits.

I’m not sure if it’s an allergy because I don’t break out into hives and my tongue doesn’t turn fuzzy and I definitely don’t go into anaphylactic shock or feel the need to carry an EpiPen in my purse, but this thing happens with my stomach and severe cramping and it’s like my body is trying to do whatever it can to expel the wriggly mollusks from my digestive system. It’s basically all of the symptoms of food poisoning or the flu without any actual bodily excretions. I have waves of cramping and nausea with no relief or release for anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. So that’s fun. And I’m pretty positive it’s only an allergy to scallops (and no other shellfish) because I’ve done a lot of experimenting over the last several months. Especially in Sweden.

(By the way, did you follow along on Instagram and Facebook during my trip to Sweden? Because you probably should have.)

The media company arranging the trip asked me whether I had any food allergies — especially to shellfish — and I replied with the requisite, “Well scallops have recently started making my tummy hurt BUT EVERYTHING ELSE IS FINE, I SWEAR!” and I’m pretty sure they had second and third thoughts about allowing The Expert Vagabond to take one of his readers along on his press trip. But I’m so glad they did, because

Sweden surprised me in the best possible way. Seriously. Sweden was that party your partner drags you out to after you’ve already washed your face and taken off your bra so you have to fully put yourself together for the second time that day only this time, instead of coffee, you’re armed only with a cup full of resentment. But then you get there and realize the hosts aren’t too cool to play Billy Joel and the food is killer (no scallops in sight) and you’re all, “This was such a great idea! This party is phenomenal! I can’t believe I ever thought of not going.”

And that’s Sweden.

Only I didn’t have resentment about going — just excitement at the prospect of another country stamp and a bit of ambivalence. Because, really. What do Americans ever think they know about Sweden besides IKEA, meatballs, and really hardcore massages?

The Swedes have developed a lovely daily tradition called “Fika,” during which they gather with friends/co-workers for a break to drink coffee or tea and eat sweets and bond. It re-emphasizes the generally more leisurely pace of European life, reminding me that human interaction — turning off the robotic inclinations and just living in the moment for a bit — is extremely important for overall health and happiness. Thanks to @expertvagabond for letting me tag along, laughing at my dumb jokes, and not getting mad when I sang in the car, luck for being on my side when I won this trip, the west Sweden tourism board for arranging many exciting adventures (Sweden REALLY knows how to design a roller coaster, yo), Volvo for getting us there, @earthwanderess for introducing me to fika, and Sweden for surprising me around every corner. Your seafood is superb, you moose are majestic, your rocky islands and forest-covered hills were more beautiful than I’d imagined, and your people were kind and funny and genuine. Amongst a few other choice souvenirs, I plan to take fika home with me. And maybe, if I’m lucky again, I’ll have the chance to bring it back one day. A photo posted by Katie (@domestiphobia) on


We know nothing.


Also, Justin and I officially sealed our uncool status by attending a Billy Joel concert. Let me tell you at age 63, the man can still rock a show. We loved it. The only down side is that I spent the first half of the concert partially resenting the fact that Justin had flat-out refused to help me learn all of the lyrics to We Didn’t Start the Fire and the second half of the concert regretting the fact that I’d ordered scallops for dinner that night.


I’m really scared for my dog right now. In life, for the most part, I try to practice not worrying about things over which I have no control. Usually I fail miserably. Especially when it comes to health issues or the safety of my loved ones. But one of my mutts, Capone, is having a skin issue that could be nothing or it could be cancer. He had one spot surgically removed while I was in Sweden, and with reassurances from the vet that it was deep but likely just some wound that had gotten infected and probably not malignant, Justin opted out of the biopsy. But now there’s another sore, similar to the last. And I’m trying not to panic but when I look at the little shaved spot on his chest and the spiky black stitches that come out tomorrow, I see the roly poly puppy with the fat pink belly we adopted 7 1/2 years ago and I feel like I’m failing him somehow.


Speaking of failing.

Since I declared that I was going to write a novel, I’ve written approximately 14,600 words of it. That might sound like a lot, but in reality that’s only the equivalent of around 12-14 Domestiphobia blog posts. That means I have probably around 55 blog posts left to write and somehow tie together before I even have a workable draft. On the plus side and to put this whole word count thing in perspective, I’ve published 829 posts on this blog. That means I’ve theoretically written almost twelve novels already for, which admittedly makes me feel a hell of a lot better about myself.


If I could somehow mentally adjust to the fact that I now have “special needs” when it comes to my diet and stop accidentally ordering scallops at restaurants, I’m pretty sure I’d have this whole Life thing figured out.


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Matthew Mirarchi

Oh, how this post resonates!

Much like my sunflower seed allergy, I had to go through a few incidents before I figured out the culprit. And while I hate toting around an Epi Pen, I feel a little more secure (and about 100 years old).

Sweden LOOKED AMAZING! I’m so glad you got the opportunity. Everything looked so beautiful and clean and scenic. I imagine everyone’s blood pressure there is an insane number of points below the average American’s (like mine).

Sorry to hear about Capone, but as you know lots of senior dogs get random lumps/tags/spots, most of which turn out to be benign. Regardless, you’re doing everything you can – and you have to cut yourselves a break (especially when your minds start all of that “I’m a failure!” nonsense). The main thing is y’all are making decisions based on love, respect, and compassion – and that’s all that matters!

Writing is hard. Writing a book is harder. But something I’ve done is reorient my thinking around what I write – and creating it in a way where I feel as though I’m judging it more than some unseen future critic. If I like what I write, then that’s all that matters. If I think I can improve upon it, I’ll keep working it until I’m content. Because at the end of the day, even if my writing doesn’t go anywhere (except into the recesses of cyberspace) I’ll still be satisfied with what I’ve done. You’re in a much better position than you think – you can write, and write well. And you’ll create something great :-)


Sunflower seeds?? That’s MUCH harder to figure out! Sounds like your allergy is much more serious than mine as well.

Sweden was way cool — I’m still finding it hard to believe that it actually happened. (And everyone was awesome. Super outdoorsy and generally just grateful to see the sun. Ha!)

My dogs definitely do have a bunch of weird lumps and bumps that are nothing to worry about, but this is just… different. Scarier. Hopefully it’s all the vet said and we have nothing to worry about. But, as you know, worry we will. :)

Blah. Books. Thanks for the encouragement, yet again! And you’re so right — if I’m happy with it, everyone else will love it! (That’s totally what you’re saying, right?) ;)


if loving billy joel is wrong I don’t want to be right.

Sorry to hear about your pup. its the worst when our animal family are sick. hope capone is OK. to echo matthew above, older dogs often do get funny lumps and such so hopefully it is just one of those funny benign skin tags.


HA! I knew I liked you. :)

This bump is more like a black wart that grows and bleeds. Not a good sign and definitely unlike his other less menacing looking issues. I really am hoping it was just a weird infected wound, but I’m going to keep an eye on the other now to see if it’s the same deal. THEN I’ll sufficiently freak out. Stay tuned…

Celery and the City

well well well. 1. #jelly 2. not of the scallops, cus gross, but of the Sweden 3. totes love billy joel, I don’t hate you. at least it wasn’t you know who 4. a novel. ugh. i’m getting cold sweats thinking about that project 5. we found a breeder and will be officially adopting a golden doodle this fall 6. after being deathly ill, in the midst of wedding season, having my photography blog blow up, and being gone most of june… i have returned. Just to bring you this comment full of love and affection.


I just love this comment. That is all.

Tamara Gruber (@tgruber)

Oh Katie how you make me laugh! I hope you pup is ok. On the scallop front, I’ve always wanted to like them but somehow just don’t so I would trade places with you on that front.


Ha! Can we??!

Colleen Brynn

Oh… aging pets. :( :( :(
We lost our dog this spring. Quite sad. And we can talk about that privately if you need someone who can get on your level of animal grief. On that note, my mum is really good at figuring out what is wrong with her animals and keeping them alive for as long as possible. One of our dogs had a really bad skin condition and she fixed it by changing the dog’s diet. So long as cancer isn’t in the picture, consider doing some research on modifying the diet.
As always, I’m still here rooting for you and your novel. I know it’s hard, but we will get there!!! Keep going!


I’m SO sorry about your dog. :( I’ve grown up with dogs my whole life, so I know the drill. It never makes it any easier, though. My dogs are only 7 though, so I’m hoping we still have a long way to go! The thing that I was worried about was just a normal scab from him running around in the bushes — it healed and fell off. But there’s still a small scab from where he had his surgery that I’m keeping an eye on because I’m afraid it’s whatever it was growing back. Fingers crossed I’m just being paranoid again. Capone has had diet issues for several years now — he’s got these crystals in his urine so we need to make sure his diet is pH balanced so he doesn’t get stones. We used to have to feed him a “special” (aka crappy, expensive) food, but now we can feed him his good food again thanks to a pH powder I found that we sprinkle on top. But I’ll probably try changing the base food if he continues to have issues and it’s not something awful like cancer. Thanks for the boost. :)

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