Losers and Suckers.

I would like to say that I read the article in The Atlantic with horror and disbelief (click the link for the full article). However, the current administration continues to raise the bar on “can you believe this shit?” so often that honestly nothing surprises me any more.

To serve in the military carries with it one of the highest responsibilities in this country: to defend and protect our freedoms. What they deserve in return is a country and a leader who believes in them, who supports them, and who honors their commitment and their sacrifice.

What they currently have is a Commander-in-Chief who mocks and belittles them, who is incapable of understanding—let alone honoring—their service and sacrifice, who looks the other way when he learns Russia has bounties out on their heads, and yet who threatens to use them at his discretion for his self-serving purposes.

Where are all the flag waving patriots loudly proclaiming that anyone who disparages against the Constitution and Military is Un-American? When are they going to start holding the President accountable for his disrespect and unpatriotic rhetoric that he loves to spew forth while pretending to care about the country?

Freedom is not free. But that price is not meant to be paid for just by our soldiers. All citizens have to contribute—by voting, by speaking out, by letting your elected officials know where you stand on the issues, by staying informed.

There is a price we pay for our complacency: we elect a sycophant and watch as he completely destroys our democratic ideals, mocks that which we hold dear, and publicly yearns to be an autocrat.

Our continued complacency begets a bigger price: we allow him to slide towards autocratic rule while watching other elected officials kowtow to him just to keep themselves in his good graces and the Department of Justice sweep the entire Constitution under the rug at the President’s convenience.

Make no mistake, we are at a tipping point in our country’s history where our democracy hangs in the balance. Our complacency for not ousting a corrupt government will lead to the biggest price to be paid: a diminishing democracy that hurdles us straight towards a dictatorship.

If that happens, every single soldier who served, who lost a limb, who still struggles with PTSD, who gave their lives in the pursuit of our freedoms will have done so in vain.

If you think that’s not possible—or can’t happen here—please look around to what is happening around the country. Constant threats of using the military on American citizens on American soil. Peaceful protesters being attacked and taken away in unmarked vans. Photo ops with the President clearing out a peaceful protest and walking through the area with what looked like a full military escort.

Rather than uniting the country—as any competent President would do—Trump has played off our fears. The biggest one? The fear of losing our liberties. What he doesn’t want you to notice is that while you’re so busy accusing the other side of wanting to take away all your liberties and freedoms, he is quietly positioning himself to stay in a position of power so that he can continue to use the country for his own personal—PERSONAL—gains and couldn’t actually give a flying flip about you or your liberties.

But who is out there still fighting to defend the Constitution and your freedoms? Those so-called by President as “losers” and “suckers.” They know what true patriotism looks and feels like. They swore an oath to the Constitution and the American people, to serve and protect without sway for either political party, and, if necessary, to die doing so.

When you vote this November, please remember them. Remember the ones who served. The ones who died. The ones who lost a part of themselves because they ran towards the bullets instead of away from them. Remember that they deserve a president who knows what that sacrifice means. Remember that they do not deserve to be called losers or suckers. Remember that they do not deserve being belittled or held in disgust for losing a limb in battle.

I know there are so many reasons to pick the person you vote for President, but I’m asking you to stop and truly consider how important it is for our country to have a President who can defend, honor, and protect our troops the way they defend, honor, and protect all of us.

50(ish) Questions.

I’ve spent the week waffling about what topic I should write about, but nothing has really been jumping out at me. In a last ditch effort (my favorite kind!) to get something posted this week, I realized it might be fun to share a few things about me. This is undoubtedly due in large part because April, in an attempt to keep me entertained during this pandemic, has been mailing me—yes, as in the old-fashioned-snail-mail-it-is-so-exciting-to-see-something-in-the-mailbox-other-than-bills-mail—her answers to various quizzes she found.

I did a bit of googling and found one written a few years ago called 101 Fun and Interesting Questions To Perk Up Boring Gatherings and thought it was a good starting point. Don’t worry, I won’t be answering all 101 questions, but if you’re interested in seeing the full list click here.

50-ish Fun and Interesting Questions To Perk Up Boring Gatherings Blog Posts

Tell me the 3 best things about you.

I’m funny. I’m loyal. I’ll try anything once.

What’s your favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving. Food, family, friends, and football. What could be better than that?

On a scale of 1-10, how strict are/were your parents?

Sometimes 10, sometimes 1, but most of the time in the 7-8-ish range.

Who was your worst teacher? Why?

My 10th grade English teacher (whose name is escaping me). She told me that she never understood how I got into her Honors English class because it was clear I wasn’t good at writing and I should focus my efforts elsewhere.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Less procrastination

If you could be an Olympic athlete, in what sport would you compete?

Coffee drinking or perhaps marathon taco eating

What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?

I think if you’re paying attention, every place is beautiful

Which historical figure would you like to be?

Queen Elizabeth I

What’s the right age to get married?

Whenever you meet the person in your life that you can’t live without (presuming, of course, you are of an age to legally get married).

If you could time travel, where would you go?

As long as I was guaranteed to come back: the 18th Century

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Vanilla

Would you rather live for a week in the past or the future?

I think the past

If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be?

Texas Governor Ann Richards

Do you feel like a leader or a follower?

Leader

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

Picked up and moved across the world without knowing anyone. Three times.

Tell me 3 things you remember about kindergarten.

Coloring, recess, and naps

What’s your most embarrassing childhood memory?

I’m such a klutz, I don’t think I could pick just one…

What’s your favorite thing about one of your grandparents?

My grandpa had a way of making every single one of his grandchildren feel like she/he was the favorite.

If you could eat only 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Tacos, bacon, cheese. Don’t tell my cardiologist.

Do you ever talk to yourself? When and what do you say?

All the time. I usually talk through all the shit I need to do and berate myself for the dumb shift I do or things I didn’t do.

When you’re having a bad day, what do you do to make yourself feel better?

Unplug, take a bath, drink some wine, and listen to music.

What’s your favorite smell in the whole world?

Coffee, the ocean, freshly cut grass

What do you think is the greatest invention of all time?

A coffee maker. Or any of the wonderful contraptions that help coffee reach me.

Would you rather win an Olympic medal, an Academy Award or the Nobel Peace prize?

Nobel Peace Prize

What’s your favorite time of day?

Early mornings, when everything is quiet and I can just sit with my coffee and not think about anything

What’s your favorite season?

Autumn

What’s the one food you could never bring yourself to eat?

Portobello mushrooms

What is the sound you love the most?

Children laughing, coffee percolating, rain

If you could pick a new first name, what would it be?

I rather like my name. Of course, my mother hates that I say “Sherry like the alcohol.” My dad wanted to name Truffeldina (my maternal great-grandmother’s name), so I learned from an early age to just appreciate the name you were given..

What is your favorite movie quote?

“Check out the big brains on Brad!” Oh…what? You thought it might be something profound? Definitely not.

What’s your pet peeve(s)?

People who don’t pick up their dog’s poop, people who are hypocrites, and people who are entitled assholes—especially to customer service workers

What’s your favorite kind of sandwich?

Ham & cheese on rustic white bread with pickles, mayo, and mustard.

Cake or pie?

Pie, but I definitely wouldn’t turn down cake…

Who is the kindest person you know?

My cousin, Teresa

What’s the best part about having siblings?

Having someone to perform my experiments on…

What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?

The Shining

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I want to travel to every single part of the world.

What is your favorite family tradition?

Driving around looking at Christmas lights and decorations

What are you good at?

Making coffee and being bossy

What trait do you like the most about yourself?

I always try to see the best in people

What fictional character do you wish you could meet?

Albus Dumbledore

What’s the first thing you do when you get home from a trip?

Walk in the door, drop my bags, and pick up my dog

If you could shop for free at one store, which one would you choose?

Amazon

What personal trait has gotten you in the most trouble?

Naturally, my smartass mouth

Which celebrity chef would you most like to fix you a meal?

Let’s just be real here, if any of them wanted to fix me a meal I am definitely available!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

“Men are like cars, you have to test drive them before you buy one” Thank you, Granny!

What do you like to do on a rainy day?

Watch it rain, read, and watch movies

What is your favorite thing about the beach?

The sound of the waves crashing

Which of the Seven Dwarfs is most like you?

Probably Doc

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

Definitely a comedy

Name a product or service you love so much that you’d happily be that company’s spokesperson.

A handful of coffee companies and anyone with cool luggage and travel gadgets.

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

A doctor

What’s the worst thing you did as a kid?

If you ask my brother, it’s that I put him in the dryer and turned it on…but in fact, I talked him into getting into the dryer and I never turned it on—I just turned on the timer.

What is the best part of being a part of your family?

Everyone is loud and opinionated, but everyone would drop everything to help one another. They might bitch about it the entire time, but they would be there no questions asked.

What is your favorite day of the week?

Any day I can have tacos, coffee, and sunshine.

That’s probably more than you ever wanted or needed to know about me, which is basically I can be bribed/kidnapped with tacos and coffee. Before I go: since there’s a lot of stress and uncertainty in the world today, I thought I’d share a little cuteness of a rather spoiled puppy. 🙂

Never Bow To Customs Agents

DON’T WORRY…this is not another food post, I promise. What?!? We’re in the middle of a pandemic and nothing makes you realize how mundane and cyclical your diet is like staying at home and self-isolating for four months. This then leads to the realization that you need to spice up things with more bacon and chocolate (Quarantine-15 is real y’all!). Anyway, no food talk. Well, I mean, there’s food talk—but it’s not a recipe. It’s actually M&Ms and sorry to all of you out there who have heard this story ad nauseam. It’s probably better told in person, especially when I can demonstrate with aforementioned M&Ms, but, well, social distancing and all that jazz…

This is a great cautionary tale of traveling internationally. I’d like to tell you it’s my only cautionary tale of traveling internationally, but, well, that would be a lie, multiple times over.

Anyone who has ever flown into Australia knows how stringent their Customs process is. Anyone who has never flown into Australia quickly learns how stringent their Customs process is. Despite other airport events to suggest otherwise, I know that you cannot bring fruits and vegetables and general food items into most countries. In fact, you cannot bring fruits between Oregon and California either—in case you’re ever road tripping up and down the West Coast of the United States.

What I didn’t seem to grasp at the time is that this concept also includes snacks…unless they are unopened and hermetically sealed. Even if you purchased a ginormous bag of peanut M&Ms and opened them approximately 14 hours into a 16-hour flight from LAX to SYD and had only eaten a couple of handfuls. They are now considered tainted and must be disposed of before entering Australia. But hello! this is me and I wasn’t going to easily hand over my nearly full bag of M&M’s because some cute Customs agent with a cute Australian accent said so.

Turns out, I was wrong.

PLEASE NOTE: As a general rule of thumb you should NOT argue with Customs agents. That might be Rule #2 when traveling in airports (Rule #1: never mention the word gun at the airport). Not that I was arguing, mind you—I was pointedly asking the cute Customs agent with the cute Australian accent what the difference was in opening a bag of—let’s just pick a random snack, like, oh I don’t know, peanut M&Ms—on a plane flying to a country and opening them in my hotel room in said country.

Please note that this was my very first flight to Australia and my first ever flight over 10 hours. I also spent 15 hours prior to this flight hanging out at LAX. Additionally this was way back when I could never sleep on flights. Needless to say, I was a bit wired and perhaps a little jittery from chugging coffee for about 26 hours straight. Thus when the cute Customs agent with the cute Australian accent told me I had to dispose of my newly opened extra large bag of peanut M&Ms, I just laughed because thought he was kidding.

Rule #2.B: Don’t Laugh at Customs Agents.

When I realized that he was not kidding, I did what I deemed the only sensible thing that I could do: I started eating them. Rapidly. But I am not rude and I offered all the Customs agents some of my M&Ms. Apparently, this is considered a bribe.

Rule #2.C: Don’t Offer Bribes to Customs Agents.

None of them took me up on my bribe. Thankfully, they didn’t seem interested in detaining me—only pointing out that they could. So there I stood. In front of the Customs table, stuffing my face with peanut M&Ms, looking like a chipmunk, batting my eyes at the handful of agents who were very interested in this crazy Yank and her refusal to willingly hand over her chocolate. I knew there was no way I could actually eat the entire bag at one time and began offering them to fellow passengers as they walked by. A shockingly large number of people took some, blatantly ignoring a life long lecture from their parents never to take candy from strangers. Perhaps the clustered group of gawking Customs agents made them feel safer. Perhaps the lure of candy coated chocolate and peanuts was too much to deny. Perhaps it was jetlag and disorientation from being on a plane for 16+ hours. Perhaps they knew this wouldn’t end well for me and were just trying to show support.

Eventually, I thought I got my point across (aka I gave up because I was actually starting to feel nauseated from too much candy). Plus I remembered that I had a connecting flight that I could not miss, despite my desire to best the cute Customs agent with the cute Australian accent who was completely unsympathetic to my chocolate plight. I reluctantly sighed, locked eyes with the cute Customs agent, and begrudgingly made a huge show out of throwing away my now 1⁄2 eaten large bag of recently opened peanut M&Ms. I really wanted to bow, but somehow—either knowing it was a bad idea or fearing I might puke—I refrained. Probably for the best.

Rule #2.D: Never Bow to Customs Agents.

My best advice to you when we can start traveling again is never bring anything ever into Australia. Except maybe clothes and shoes…

Melting Into Oblivion

I know I tend to keep the politics away from here, but it feels wrong not to say something. Not to say anything.

Today is July 4th, which should mean something more than just backyard BBQs, baseball, and fireworks. However, it seems odd to celebrate the birth of a nation when that nation is on fire and seems to be slowly melting into the oblivion of all former great empires.

We are watching the GOP—the Grand Old Party, the party of Lincoln, the party who loves to take the moral, god-fearing high road—literally destroy itself from within by refusing to rein in a man who couldn’t care less about the party and its platform any more than he cares about the American people and what they need. The only thing he cares about is himself. And if you think otherwise, you have not been paying attention.

Let me say that again: HE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. OR YOUR FAMILY.  OR YOUR BUSINESS.  OR YOUR HEALTH. OR YOUR DOG.  OR THE CONSTITUTION. OR THE BIBLE HE LIKES TO POSE SYMBOLICALLY WITH. None of it.  He only cares about what would bring him fame and fortune.

Oh, wait, I lied.  He also cares about tweeting and the Dow Jones Average.

Now, before you leave in a huff, I would like you to consider two things:

ONE My Granny always said everyone was entitled to their own wrong opinion. We live in America. We have freedom of speech. We are allowed free thought. If someone thinks differently than you, it’s OKAY! It is something I always try to remember when conversing with people (including friends and family), who have dramatically different opinions than me. That is getting harder, however, to continue with some people because of the lack of respect they give me in return.

It is possible some of this is due to the fact that I’m older and less likely to cajole them into talking. My internal conversation goes something like this: if you want to be an ignorant asshat, have a nice fucking day. My external conversation is to raise an eyebrow and stare at them blankly, blinking slowly. It’s not because I don’t want to hear what they have to say. However, there is this growing trend—not just in politics, but in a lot of different things—to not explain why you believe something. I know why I believe x. Why do you believe z? Instead of I believe z because [insert reason here], the response is more along the lines of: because I do and if you don’t agree, tough shit, you’re wrong.

I think a lot of it is laziness—and this is not directed at either party—it is rampant everywhere and I know that I’ve certainly done it. To clarify: by laziness, I mean that we the people like to believe whatever is spoon fed to us on the news, on social media, from the ladies we overhear at the bus stop. We tend to share information without checking sources or accuracy. It’s just so damn easy to click share or repost or retweet without thinking…click, click, click. It is equally as easy to believe what we hear on our favorite news station without bothering to check their facts or if the other stations are saying the same thing. And if they’re not, why not? It’s the news, it must be fair and impartial. Right? Right?

With the exception of the few on the very far left and very far right, we used to be able to talk about politics without hating the person who didn’t agree with us and I would really LOVE to bring that back. Desperately. I love hearing the other side. I love learning why people think the way they do. When you hear their why, you start to understand. When you start to understand, you can work together to fix things. If you disagree and tell me why I’m wrong, GREAT! But bring your reasons and let’s have an open and honest and respectful conversation.

TWO Please don’t think I’m saying in any way, shape, or form that the Democratic Party is perfect or even good. They’re not. There is a lot of in-fighting about what the party should look like and believe in. Honestly, it was very disappointing to see that the party that touts themselves as celebrating diversity nominate an old white man (sorry no offense, VP Biden) because they think it is the only way to beat Trump, since Hilary couldn’t beat him. Newsflash: it wasn’t that Hilary is woman that led to Trump’s win. It was that Hilary was Hilary and the DNC ran a very sloppy campaign because they seemed to be completely oblivious to the political climate that was desperately searching for change from the political dynasties of the Bushes and Clintons. The masses (at least the masses in a few key electoral college states) wanted something different and, quite frankly, the DNC refused to support that ideal. They felt they owed the nomination to Hilary and thus did everything in their power to help her get that nomination. Once that happened, they then sat back on their laurels and watched Trump promise the people the change they thought they wanted—to drain the swamp of corruption, stagnate elected officials, and pork barrel politics. And people who were sick of all it, went out en masse and voted for change.

I understand why people wanted change and I understand why they might think that Trump could bring it. I think everyone hoped he would walk around screaming vociferously at Congress and lobbyists and DC in general “You’re fired!” But alas, no.

What I truly do not understand is how no one seems to want to hold him accountable for anything (US Senators and Department of Justice, I’m looking at you). It is as if the Republican Party has completely checked-out and are just holding their breath until he is gone. You know, like you used to do when your mom served those nasty, over boiled, lifeless brussel sprouts and wouldn’t let you leave the table until you ate 6 of them? Actually, no. It’s worse than that. It’s an abusive relationship, where they tiptoe around him, fearful of his reaction, and accept the consequences of whatever he does because in their minds it’s easier than dealing with the aftermath of confronting him and the invariable Twitter barrage that follows. They’re just closing their eyes and praying it will be over quickly.

Except that it won’t be over quickly. And you’re sacrificing our country in the interim.

The Republican-led Senate had the opportunity to take back the train-wreck of their party with Trump at the helm and restore it to some semblance of normalcy to their ideals, but they didn’t take it. They said there was no solid proof. But how can there be if you’re not allowing witnesses and holding other people accountable for what they are claiming? Senator Graham announced at the beginning of the process that he would, of course, support the president because—even though he hasn’t heard all the evidence—he didn’t think that an actual crime had been committed. This is the same Senator Graham who railed on and on and on during the Clinton impeachment trial that an actual crime didn’t need to be committed; the only consideration for removing an impeached President from office is the President using his Office to hurt people. If that’s the case, we should have impeached Trump the moment he took office.

We the nation seem to have lost count of all the times that Trump has defiled the Office of the Presidency. On the record. For the whole world to view. Each more egregious than the last. Too many for me to fully list because honestly, I can’t remember them all.

I mean, you certainly have to give him credit: he never lets one story blow up too much before creating a new cycle of stories to tell. And the old stuff? Well, it’s just gets lost in the shuffle. So let me remind you of but a sampling of the things in my humble opinion that Trump has done in the last 3.5 years to, as Senator Graham said, hurt the people:

  1. It’s okay to assault women.
  2. It’s okay to separate children and babies from their parents and put them in cages on display until other countries expressed concerns about the cruel and unjust ways of our immigration system.
  3. It’s okay to practice nepotism.
  4. The KKK is A-OK!
  5. It’s okay to tell United States Citizens and members of Congress to go back to their own countries, never mind the fact that if you’re not 100% Native American, you’re from a lineage of immigrants.
  6. It’s okay to ask other countries for help in your reelection campaign (ohhhh…Nixon must be rolling in his grave).
  7. It’s okay to use the Department of Justice to give all your cronies a free pass for their felonies.
  8. It’s okay to politicize a pandemic and allow hundreds of thousands of people to die because you don’t know how to handle a crisis—or at the very least listen to people around you who DO know how handle a crisis.
  9. It’s okay to not wear a mask and potentially give a deadly disease to someone else.
  10. It’s okay to encourage your supporters to protest wearing masks and social distancing because it infringes on their person freedom, but discourage people from protesting the racial inequalities and police brutality that is systemic throughout the country.
  11. It’s okay to force people to chose between voting in person and their health, even though you vote by mail.
  12. It’s okay to use tear gas and flash bang grenades to clear out a peaceful protest for a photo op at a church, where it’s okay to pose with the Bible upside down.
  13. It’s okay to threaten to use the military on American citizens on US soil because they oppose you.
  14. It’s okay for your friends to put bounties on lives brave military men and women who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation and it’s okay for you not to do anything about it.
  15. It’s okay to label anything you don’t like to be a hoax or fake news.

Colluding with other countries? Threatening to use the troops on Americans? And then not doing anything about reports that Russia is paying the Taliban to kill our troops? This is nothing NOTHING short of treason. If any other president—Democrat or Republican—would have done half these things, he would have been pressured to resign. And he would have done so out of respect for the country and the office of the Presidency (read up on Richard Nixon if you don’t think this is true).

Calling out your President does not make you a bad American. Holding the President accountable and at a higher standard does not make you a bad American. Channel your inner John McCain because, honestly, I can’t think of anyone who embodies the spirit of being a proud American and serving his country the way that he did.

The only reason to continue to support Trump is because you condone his behavior. This is not one single oh shit moment that he could walk back with some smooth talking and a bit of eating crow. We are way beyond that. The country is at a breaking point and instead of giving it a lifeline—which is what a good President would do—Trump is adding fuel to the fire and clapping while it burns. This is a shit show. This is deplorable. And this is treason.

Is all hope lost? No. Millions of people are fighting to change the system, to change what is acceptable, to change what it means to have justice and equality. True justice and true equality for every American, not just a select few.

Look, I’m not here to tell you how to vote. I’m just reminding you not to be a robot—you have a brain, you have a voice. Use them. You don’t have to cross party lines and vote for Biden. Hell, write in a vote for George W Bush and let him be President again. I did not agree with many of his policies, but never once—NOT ONE SINGLE SOLITARY TIME—did I ever question his loyalty to the citizens of The United States of America. I may not have liked what he did, but I knew that he did it because he truly believed that it was the best thing for America. That is what you do as President—you put the country and its citizens—ALL OF ITS CITIZENS, not just its rich, white, male citizens—first.

Our founding fathers were far from perfect. Their beautifully worded documents declaring that “all men are created equally” did not apply to women or people of color. But I believe the country they envisioned and wanted to create was one that was ever evolving into something better than the one they left behind. A country of the people, by the people, and for the people is going to be messy because people are messy. But we should never stop striving for equality, liberty, and justice—not for a select few—but for all.

Battle of the BBQ

Inspiration for writing topics sometimes comes in the most unlikely of places…in this case, it was in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina. I was there for a wedding and because I’m a dumbass and didn’t actually google to see that the hotel was 2 hours from the airport, I booked a 7:30am flight back to NYC.

I am not–as you either know, guessed, or experienced–a morning person. And while I’m usually up early, it is usually to sit on the couch and drink coffee. Not to check out of the hotel at 3:45am. So while I handed back the room key, I was only half paying attention to the chatty night desk clerk by wondering if there was any hot coffee available at this hour…or cold coffee…or anything to help make the dark and rainy 2 hour drive back to Charlotte a bit more bearable.

And then I head him (alas, I didn’t catch his name because, well, 3:45am) ask: so…do you just travel around and eat food?

Slow blink, while raising an eyebrow.

He quickly continued: sorry, it’s really slow here at night and I was reading through your website…

Awkward pause.

Me: um…yes, [chuckle] I suppose I do just travel around and eat things.

And of course I should have seen the follow up question coming, but again, now 3:47am. So which BBQ do you prefer? Carolina or Texas.

Bigger awkward pause to give me time to think up a diplomatic answer.

Me: I enjoy both, but c’mon I will always, always pick Texas especially when it comes to BBQ, beer, football, and Willie.

But it did give me a good chuckle and the perfect excuse to share with you and start posting again, so thanks for that kind sir–even if I forgot to get your name and was just thinking about coffee and/or going back to bed and missing my fight!

In case you were wondering what the difference between the two styles are, I would say that Carolina BBQ is more saucy and usually pork–and don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a nice tangy, saucy, pulled pork sandwich. But Texas BBQ is where it’s at–their BBQ is cooked usually (at least in the Hill Country) with a dry rub and low and slow. Sauce is on the side and brisket is king. If you wanted accurate descriptions and nuances of each, you’re probably better off just googling it.

To me, the best part of Texas BBQ is picking your meat off the grill and then sitting inside, eating off of butcher paper at a communal table, passing the bread, pickles, and napkins amongst everyone else sitting at the table and their BBQ stained fingers.

And if you find yourself traveling through the Texas Hill Country and happen upon either the town of Mason or Llano, go to Coopers and try just a little bit of everything–or better yet, go to both and try a bit more! Both restaurants now have different owners and are no longer affiliated, but thankfully–at least insofar as the last time I visited–both were still as delicious as they always have been. Although I fully expect every family member reading this to text me later and tell me which location they prefer–proving that the Battle of BBQ isn’t always about regions–sometimes it hits a lot closer to home.

Time

Time is a funny thing. It is a slippery slope, especially to me, who puts the “pro” in procrastinate. It always feels like I have all the time in the world and then bam! three weeks have passed and I’m still in the exact same place, with the exact same things on my To-Do list, only now it has grown considerably.

I’m always in awe of the peeps in my life who never seem to crastinate, let alone procrastinate. They get up, they work out, they clean the house, do a quick load of laundry, throw together a quick, but easy brunch, eat, do the dishes, and take the dog for a walk–all in the time it takes me to make coffee, pour the coffee into a cup, walk over to the couch, and drink my coffee while pondering what I might accomplish today.

Anxiety plays a large role. And Netflix. It’s so much easier to sit on the couch vegging with my coffee, watching [insert latest binge-worthy series here] ignoring all the nagging voices in my head, berating me for not being more productive. For not writing. For being a couch potato. Actually the voices in my head are a lot nastier and more snarky than just calling me a couch potato, but you probably don’t want to be drawn into my inner dialogue. It’s rarely pretty and almost never kind.

But there is another huge marker of passing time aside from my growing list of things to do and the deepening of the laugh lines around my eyes and mouth and the WTF frown line across my forehead: my memory. Granted, I have always been a bit scatterbrained about forgetting/losing things but I have never forgotten what things have tasted like: food, beer, wine, coffee, scotch, etc. In that respect, I have always been a bit of a savant in my ability to remember what the difference was between this wine and that. Or why we like this queso and not that one (except for maybe the Chipotle queso–that distaste will forever be burned into my brain).

And then it happened. A couple of years ago, I went to the NYC Coffee Fest and, as per usual for me, I took a lot of pictures and didn’t make any notes because well, I didn’t need to. Or so I thought…until I sat down to write about the various coffees that I had tried and realized that I had a hard time remembering what each coffee specifically tasted like. I mean, sure, I could have just chalked it up to the fact that almost everyone was serving Kenyan coffee and so they all had the typical citrusy brightness of coffee beans from Kenya.

While I knew that was technically true, it wasn’t the whole truth. The whole truth is that I just couldn’t fucking remember anymore. So I broke down and [HUGE SIGH & EYEROLL] now I have a tasting journal, which I carry everywhere with me. It feels a bit like a cane or a crutch and makes me feel just as old. Especially when I whip it out in the middle of a restaurant or wine tasting. But I suppose it’s much better for recalling the nuances of alfredo in Rome vs Little Italy, NYC rather than just “the Roman version is so much fucking better and wins hands down every time and twice on Sunday.”

Getting old is a learning curve–one that we all struggle with daily in some form or fashion. My 92 year old boss spends the entirety of our daily walk around the block for his exercise lamenting: “how the F did I get so old? I surely never planned for this” while brandishing his cane about pointedly. But I am always quick to remind him what Granny always said whenever someone would complain about getting older–and why I ultimately broke down and got a tasting journal: it sure beats the alternative.

Gobble Gobble & A Whole Lotta Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you spent the day eating, drinking, and being merry.  Yes, I know this isn’t Christmas, but Thanksgiving can be merry as well.

Did you know that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday?  Well, it is.  It used to be Halloween, but living in NYC has ruined that for me for reasons too numerous to count.  But Thanksgiving…well, it’s all about the food, taking time to thankful, and celebrating family & friends.   That being said, this year, I spent the day alone, save the company of 3 cuddly dogs (whom I’m quite sure were only cuddly because I spent the majority of the day prepping or eating food), an asshole cat (who hid all day except when hungry and then loudly demanded food, as only a siamese can do!), and a frog (who happily swam her day away oblivious to the fact that if she’d escape her aquarium, she would probably be a snack for the 4 aforementioned animals).

My day was, in a word, lovely.  I know that probably sounds a bit strange, especially when Thanksgiving traditionally focuses on spending time with loved ones, but I would put forth that the dogs, the asshole cat, and the oblivious frog count.  Besides, the last few weeks have been well…let’s just say it feels like I stepped off the plane from Rome and into a proverbial shit storm.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love people.  I love spending time with people but because things have been so overwhelming it was really nice to shut myself away from everything for a bit and enjoy some quiet time watching football.  And the dog show.  And the parade.  And as soon as I’m done posting this, probably a black and white movie of the Christmas variety, like Miracle on 34th Street or A Christmas Carol.

The reason I’m posting a Thanksgiving Day post an hour before Thanksgiving Day ends is because I have really been struggling to figure out what I wanted to write about.  I think (as you will notice by the lack of recent posts), this has definitely been a trend of late.  So, THANK YOU, my darling readers, for not giving up on me.

And it was in wanting to thank you that I realized I should thank other people for whom I am grateful for as well.  And for that, you should be thankful because my first draft took an awkward turn down a political ranting rabbit hole.  Don’t worry, I’ve saved it for another post, but I think in light of all the negative swirling around I would like to focus on the positive and draw your attention to some of the extraordinary people in my life.  In honor of it being 2018, here are 18 people/groups of people who deserve shout-outs.  Please note this is not a complete list–both in terms of extraordinary people in my life and in terms of why they’ve made the list.  I’ve simply truncated it to fit into the ’18 theme, and well, I’m starting to get peckish and leftovers are calling!

  1. Momma.  While we haven’t always seen eye to eye, she has always been there for me and has always, always, always supported every crazy dream I have ever had.
  2. Bubba.  Who knew you’d grow up to be such an incredible adult?  Thank you for everything.  I’m sorry I put you in the dryer when we were kids, but you really need to stop telling the lie that I turned it on.
  3. Lauren.  I knew you were saintly for marrying my brother.  Thank you for everything you’ve done for our family.
  4. Ann.  Thank you for all the support, cleaning up more Addy diarrhea than anyone should ever have to, and for making emergency trips to the vet with a very sick labrador (and finding a cheaper taxi service on top of it all).
  5. Eve.  Thank you for so many things, but mostly for making sure that I always know that I have family here in New York.
  6. Teresa.  I love you man.
  7. My family in general, who are absolutely loud, opinionated, and crazy, but fiercely loyal and protective and I know that no matter what happens they will always be there.  They might bitch about it, but it’s just their way of saying “I love you.”
  8. MamaMaryClaire.  I am so thankful you are safe and were able to grab Frooey and get the hell out of Dodge (or in this case, Paradise).
  9. Christi.  Thank you for always picking up the phone, regardless of the time–even though I am THE WORST about answering mine (the irony doesn’t escape me).
  10. Becca.  Thank you for always checking in, giving valuable feedback, and listening to all my “but what ifs.”
  11. April.  Thanks for babbling emails and timely gift boxes full of coffee & TimTams (and much more, but this entire post is really starting to get too sappy).
  12. Cait.  Thanks for the best hugs, sweet dog videos, and finding us the best podcasts.
  13. Kat.  Thanks for catching up and reminding me that true friends never leave.
  14. Sherice.  Thank you for always checking in, I’m not sure how you do it–as your plate runneth over onto the table and down to the floor, but I am appreciative!
  15. Emily.  Thanks for humoring me by laughing at all the ridiculous shit I send to you when I just need to laugh with someone.
  16. Wendy.  Thanks for Wednesdays, snarky comments, and cute dog & mutinous cat pictures.
  17. Thank you to everyone who has been helping my mother–from Bubba, Lauren, and Teresa to her medical team to home health care and an extra shout out to Dean, who checks on Bliss.
  18. Philip.  Thanks for thinking I’m an “EFFING GENIUS!”

Happy Thanksgiving.

Remember Them.

Like Pearl Harbor, the assassination of JFK, and the Challenger Space Shuttle, everyone remembers what they were doing when the news broke of a plane hitting the North Tower.  Many of my friends and family were watching the news while getting ready for work.  Listening in shock and confusion as speculations were made about how and why the plane was off course and hit a such a large building in lower Manhattan.  This shock and confusion quickly melted into horror and disbelief when many of them watched on live tv the second plane hit the South Tower.  The world as they knew it was dissolving right before their eyes.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, I slept.  My friend and fellow American Matt called and woke me up by asking “are you watching this? The plane. The plane hit…” he trailed off, unable to finish his thought.  “The Pentagon,” he whispered. The bottom fell out of my stomach.  I couldn’t breathe.  My heart stopped beating.  It was like someone pressed the ‘pause’ button on my life.  I just sat there staring into the dark, my brain trying to process.  The Pentagon?  Surely not, I reasoned, he must have misheard.  He had to have.  The Pentagon?  THE PENTAGON?  I sleepily marched into the living room and turned on the tv.  Every station was replaying horrible images of New York under attack and producing billowy clouds of black smoke.

I call home, my hands shaking as I dialed the phone.  The lines were busy. I tried again and again.  Waiting.  Watching the tv project surreal images of a city I had never visited, but still identified as home. My brain was trying to make sense of the entire scenario and praying for it to be some horrible made-for-tv movie.  It wasn’t.  My friend Penny sat up with me all night holding my hand, while we shook our heads and tears rolled down our faces, plopping into our cold cups of forgotten tea.

The morning sunshine brought no happiness.  Just more horrible stories about people jumping out of the buildings, rescue workers who had perished trying to save as many people as they could, and everyone looking shell-shocked.  The death toll was in the thousands.  People were frantically searching for their loved ones and coworkers.  The numbers of victims just kept rising and no one knew where it would stop. At that moment, 8:14 am Australian Eastern Standard Time, the newscaster said the scariest thing I had ever heard in my life:

Americans abroad are urged to stay where they are and do not under any circumstances go to any US Embassy or Consulate Office.

At that point in my life, I had been traveling for nearly a decade and the one thing that was hammered into my brain from the time I was preparing for my first international trip: if you are ever in trouble or lost or need help, go to the Embassy.  Now I was being told not to under any circumstances?  I couldn’t believe it.  My heart started pounding.  I just stared at the tv, shell-shocked.  What the literal fuck was happening?  I didn’t know what to do.  Mind you, I was in Australia, and I felt safe. But I did have thoughts during the middle of the night that I should probably check in with the Embassy in the morning, you know, just because.

That was the moment 9/11 felt real to me.

Fast forward 17 years and I now live in New York City.  I have met people who were first responders or who had loved ones die or who were stuck in Manhattan and couldn’t get back home to the other boroughs or who were in schools or buildings nearby and can remember the ground shaking when each plane hit and each tower fell.  For the city of New York, nothing would ever be the same.

As a country and as a world, we mourned.  We mourned the loss of nearly 3,000 people.  And it changed us.  We are a little less naïve.  We pause a little more when a plane flies a little too close to buildings or just a bit lower than we think it should.  Even I glance wearily at these planes.  Me, who did not live here at the time and could never possibly hope to understand exactly how the city coped.  I can only observe the aftermath as an outsider.  And the aftermath is raw and rough, but yet, beautiful and graceful at the same time.

On Monday, the World Trade Center Subway Stop on the 1 Train opened.  Since I moved here, it was only a grey dot on the map indicating that it wasn’t in use.  Honestly, until a couple of months ago, I didn’t think it would ever open.  But here it stands, as a poignant reminder of true American grit.  She might be broken, but she will never stay that way and what will emerge will be better than before because of what happened, not in spite of it.

Always remember how fragile and fleeting life can be.  Two waterfalls stand where two buildings once proudly towered over all.  Etched into these waterfalls was every person who fell with those buildings.

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Remember them. Honor them, so that they too may soar.

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Sunday Comics: Back To School Edition

Greetings, salutations, and all that other jazz.  It’s heading into mid-August and nearly everyone on social media seems to be posting back to school pictures already, which seems rather early and I’m not even a teacher!

For all of you who are a bit shell-shocked by the sudden arrival of back to school, here’s something I found on Buzzfeed that might help:

back to school

Cheers!

Dusting Off the Keyboard.

It took me 28 days to wish you a Happy New Year, so I think that waiting nearly 7 months for the next post seems to be right on schedule…right?

How is it already July?   And there’s no denying it is July–the humidity here in New York City is stifling and I feel we’ve already had more days in the 90s than all of last summer combined.  I’m sure that’s an exaggeration, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it.

Speaking of hell, I found a meme on Instagram the other day and of course, I couldn’t find it again.  But the gist of it was the following:

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I mean, it’s definitely too late for me, but…