Vegetarian Uprising

At the end of last year I had my cholesterol checked and I was surprised to learn that it was kind of high. It had actually never been as high as it was then (240) and the only thing I could think is that I have been eating low-carb for awhile, which had been helpful in shaving off some weight, but obviously shot my cholesterol up. My doctor was not pleased considering she had told me not to do that. Eek. She said Keto and the like is not a good way to diet and that people are “just obsessed, but don’t understand.” Now listen, I was by no means doing “Keto.” Mainly because I don’t do any “diet” well. But I had backed off most carbs and was relying on protein from meat too much, I can openly admit to that. So I asked her what to do and she said, “Go vegetarian if you can” and then I laughed and laughed.

Then two months ago Jerimiah and decided to try it and well, it’s been really super easy and we don’t eat meat anymore and what the hell is happening in my life?!

Whew. Okay, deep breathes and I’m kind of lying because sometimes we still eat salmon. And by sometimes I mean we had salmon for dinner twice in two months, so sure, I guess call us pescatarian or mainly vegetarian or crazy or whatever you want but I feel so much freaking better that I am actually like why did I not do this decades ago?!

To be fair it was an easy transition now on account of all the meatless options out there. Options that just weren’t there two or three years ago, let alone decades ago. Options that also have Jackson going “mainly” vegetarian with us and so we are all benefitting. We also did it in stages. We didn’t just totally change the way we eat. Last year we started eating off our “small” plates, which are the “lunch” plates. We moved the dinner plates out of the cabinet. This was to work on portion control. Once we did that, we started filling more veggies, then cutting the amount of meat down and down and down, until now, well I had broccoli for lunch yesterday. Broccoli. That’s it. That’s all I had and I was full and I had plenty of protein.

I think being at home all day every day, not eating at a restaurant in over a year, and really being generally pissy about having to feed ourselves food all day everyday has helped tremendously. We’ve also cut way back on drinking alcohol, we have maybe a glass of wine a month now, and if we could somehow give up coffee, then we’d be all set but who are we even fucking kidding. That will never happen. But then, I guess we should never say never.

In fact, the hardest part has been trying to figure out how we will one day have to tell our family back in Kansas City that we don’t eat Burnt Ends anymore, thankyouverymuch, can I have the veggie plate. Hmpf. That might take some time. But for now we will work on kicking our salmon habit (have you watched Seaspiracy?!) and please, if you have any black bean burger recipes send them our way! Talk about yum!

M.

If My Fatness Offends You…

Now that the new year is upon us, I’ve noticed the “New year, New Me” self talk starting. I guess it’s not self talk if you are sharing it with social media but you know the deal, people (women mostly) sharing goals about how what they want to change about themselves in the new year. Most of it is weight or size related. Most of it is masked under this “I want to feel healthy” but what they are really saying is that they are unhappy with themselves and need to change. Here’s where I get my stomach into some knots. I’m fat, in case you don’t know me IRL. I am overweight. Medically obese. My BMI is too high. However you want to measure it, I am overweight and have been literally all of my life. Literally here is used literally, not figuratively. I wasn’t a skinny kid who put on weight in puberty. I was a chubby kid who put on weight during puberty, which was coincidently when I was put on my first diet too. But that’s not the story I am here to share with you today, the story I want to share with you came much later.

I worked for Ruby Tuesday. They are a family-style, casual dining restaurant throughout the country. You might know them from their extensive salad bar. I worked for a franchise in Southern Missouri owned by a man named John. Now John had some unchecked mental health issues, and can be best described as a “Mini Trump.” That is to say he was a big fish in a weird pond. Or at least he thought he was. People didn’t like to tell him no because he flipped the fuck out if he was told no. People didn’t like to tell him yes because then he’d abuse them in some way, you get my drift.

He owned several, maybe 10, Ruby Tuesday restaurants. Now owned is a stretch. You know how it is. He was a franchisee, but he rented most buildings, the company itself had control over most of his dealings, etc, etc. And he owned two of the restaurants in Branson, Missouri. First he owned a free-standing one that was open for a decade and did very well before he opened a second location in a strip mall sandwiched between Walmart and a grocery store. Why he decided to open a second one a half mile away from an already popular one is beyond me. Beyond any business class you might take. And as you can imagine it isn’t open anymore. It closed down less than a decade after opening considering it didn’t make enough money. That’s not hard to figure out, but I digress.

I started there as a server, then quickly became a bartender, then a shift leader. A shift leader is paid hourly ($13/hr back in 2005-ish) and is expected to do all the things a manager does, but obviously make a lot less doing it. I’m not sure what the hell that position was supposed to look like, but it seemed to be this thing where they said, “Oh we like you, and you are a great worker, we will give you keys and official sounding title and let you do all the dirty work for nothing for awhile so you feel important.” And I bought it. I was like 23 years old, that should be noted.

It was also a pipeline to management, obviously. You had to be a shift leader to be a manager and while I was there (about five years) I saw many a shift leader and managers come and go. There is high turnover in the restaurant business. It’s a shitty, thankless job and it gets even worse the higher up you go. Add to that the maniac I worked for, and well, there you have it.

Now don’t get me wrong, there were good things about the job, especially for a 20-something. I met a lot of great people, people who became my best friends and still are my best friends. I made it through some wack-a-doodle experiences, and I learned an enormous amount about people and myself. One does that when they tend bar, cook on the line, and watch employees smoke cigarettes in the cooler. It’s a smorgasbord of bad decisions, unruly employees, and fun. I could never, ever work in the restaurant business again, but I am glad for the experiences I had. Even the one I am here to talk about.

One day, around year three I sat down in the back room of the store with the District Manager. I was a shift leader, had been for about a year, and was doing really well. The employees liked me, the managers couldn’t function without me (there was one who routinely forgot where he parked his car), and the Spanish-speaking cooks respected me enough to allow me on the line with them. I was a good, nay great, employee and I was ready to be promoted and they were ready to promote, only one problem: I was fat.

Now I don’t need to remind you that I have always been fat. I had been the same size the day I was hired there as I was the day I was sat down and told that they would love to promote me, but they couldn’t on account of my fatness. That’s a thing that was said to me, while also being told that other shift leaders were also having this talk. There was Jodie who was missing several teeth and was so skinny people sometimes thought she was a drug addict. They didn’t like her image and they told her to work on it and then promoted her. Then there was Kyle, the owner’s nephew, who was also fat. He was told to work on his image (and he did by drinking Bud Light and taking Hyroxycut) and then he was promoted. Here’s the rub, I was told I was fat and then not promoted. Told that I had to show them I was working on losing weight before they would promote me.

Nola told me this. The DM. Now I liked Nola. She was nice and funny and she came around to our store a lot and she was very involved. And I think she liked me too. And I think she was very sad that day she had to have that conversation with me. It came from the top down, and to be fair John didn’t like me for a myriad of reasons, least of all that I was incredibly vocal about all the shortcomings at the store and the with the employees because I wanted the place to do well. But he did see that I was good at what I did, so he was stuck, I guess this little dig was just for him to have fun, maybe “put me in my place” or what not. It worked.

For the next several months I tried to lose weight. I did it blindly. I took what Nola said, which was basically “You’re too fat and we don’t want the customers to think that is on brand with us,” and I tried to get on brand. Now to be clear, I was about 195 pounds during this time. I stayed right around there. I am about 5’5″. I was fat, sure, but I didn’t have to have a wall in my house removed to walk outside or anything like that. And I was smaller and more fit than Kyle and I was actually healthy. I went to the doctor every year for an annual, I was active, but I was incredibly broken down mentally. I was depressed. I was small-minded. I was constantly berating myself. Then here was my job, a thing I was very good at, doing the same thing. Berating me, telling me I was fat, making me sad. But I went along with it.

The short of the story is that I lost about 15 pounds, nothing life changing (Kyle gained weight and was a dumbass, like truly he had a hard time with simple math and Jodie got her teeth fixed, but people hated her and I actually do think she was on drugs) and then they asked me to be a manager and I said no. Their jaws hit the floor of course, but it was the first time I felt like I did the right thing for me. The job was nuts, the hours were crazy, and if they were the kind of people who promoted the likes of Kyle and Jodie, while telling me I was fat, well obviously they were not of sound mind. I got married, got pregnant, and ended up quitting anyway about a year later, but it was nice to look them in the eye and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I should have added, “Y’all nuts,” but I didn’t. Also, the store itself was shut down about a year after that. And I did a little happy dance cause I am petty.

So why I am sharing this story today? It’s funny that I have never publicly shared it before. I think a lot of my close friends don’t even know the story, save Kasey and Mel and Jerimiah who were all there when it happened. I think it’s because I was ashamed it happened in the first place, right? I mean I don’t give a fuck that crazy John thought I was too fat (you should hear all the bad things I said about him, ha!) and I’m not even mad at Nola, who later said that conversation with me was the worst thing she ever had to do while she worked for him, which is hard to believe because he had to have sexually harassed her a lot. I’m not even made at Erica, the GM and one of my best friends at the time, who knew it was going to happen and didn’t warn me, instead she left.

The person I am most mad at is myself. I still can’t believe I allowed people to treat me that way. I still can’t believe that I took on others’ words and feelings and ideals of “being on brand” or their damn beauty standards or their distaste for “fat people” and I pushed it deep inside into my core and I tried to appease them. What the actual hell?! Obviously 39-year-old Missy is embarrassed and sad that 20-something Missy did that, but at the same time I didn’t know any better. I had spent my whole life being made fun of, even by people who loved me, being teased at school, being called names because I was chubby or overweight. I didn’t know I could say, “Shut up, you assholes. I’m fine the way I am.”

It was a hard lesson, but I learned it and I am glad that I did and I desperately wish that more fat girls would learn it. Maybe not in the way I did, but just figuring out that you are okay, you are good, you are perfect the way you are and you don’t need to make a change for anyone but yourself. If you are happy at your size, then shine on, girls (or guys). And if you are not happy with your size there is a whole community out there to offer support and help as you set goals and strive for them. But the point is, it is your choice, not anyone else’s. It is your decision how you live your life and don’t buy into this “Fat isn’t healthy” shit, because that’s not true. I was incredibly healthy at about 180 pounds, working out five days a week, busting my ass in the gym, all the while the doctor told me I was good to go, but “fat” according to the charts. They can shove those charts up thy ass, and so can anyone else who has an opinion about my body or my life, right up thy ass.

So, if my fatness offends you, if my fatness makes your life unhappy, if my fatness makes you sad for me, please stop and explore your inner demons, explore what makes you offended by fat people, what makes your life so unhappy, what problems you have to say horrible things to people who are just trying to get by in this life.

And for the love of all that is holy, stop talking about the weight you gained during a global pandemic! This has been a nightmare for a lot of people and you aren’t special, we all made bad decisions just to get by (I watched the entire “Tiger King” series for fuck’s sake) and gaining a little weight isn’t the end of the world and if you treat it as such, if you start to say, “Shut up” to the people who think it is, then life would be better for all of us.

M.

The Air Up There is Fried

While I was in Kansas last week I heard an awful lot about air fryers. Seems all my friends and family have them. One of my mom’s friends was even trying to convince me on the phone to buy one! “You outta get you one, Missy! They are great!” Well, you know how I feel about small appliances, y’all. If you don’t know this: I HATE THEM. That is legit. Matter fact I went to Target and bought a toaster the other day for my mom’s visit, then told her to take it with her when she leaves and give it to someone. I don’t want a damn toaster. Here’s the thing, I don’t want anything that my oven, stove, or decade-old crockpot can do so that eliminates essentially all kitchen gadgets.

I don’t need an Instant Pot, I have a crock pot and a large ceramic pot and a wok that fits snuggly into my wok rack on my gas stovetop.

I don’t need an air fryer because (and hear me out) an air fryer works by a convection method. So does my oven.

Now don’t think I just blatantly said no. In fact, I Googled this air fryer thing, just like I Googled the Instant Pot thing. I figured out how they worked and the truth is, in the case of the air fryer, we don’t eat fried foods. So if I were to buy one I would just feel compelled to start eating French fries and onion rings, which are not part of our normal meals now. I would hop on board with all these foods, the ones I think we can all agree are unhealthy regardless of how you cook them, and I don’t need that in my life.

My mom’s friend was all, “Shrimp! You can fry shrimp!” And I was like ohhh, that sounds good. Then I realized I never fry shrimp anyway. I bake it or boil it. So I don’t even need to eat fried shrimp, but it did certainly sound appealing for a minute. Besides the fact that people are still adding oil to the air fryers, because as previously stated, the name is a misnomer. It doesn’t actually fry anything, it cooks just like a convection oven. (Throws hands in the air) Maybe it’s faster?!

Listen, I don’t know where my hatred of kitchen gadgets came from. Probably from my desire to have as little as possible on my countertops. I can’t stand a kitchen that has things all over the counter. And I don’t like it when things beep at me to tell me I’m done. It’s like this rice cooker I got when I was way into sushi making. I thought, oh this will make life easier. Well, sushi making is hard as shit, y’all and now my rice cooker sits under a cabinet never to be seen or heard from again.

Oh hey, how about that time I bought a dehydrator because I wanted dried bananas. It took like 12 hours to dehydrate five bananas and then Jackson and I ate them all in one afternoon. Hmpf. Pass. Now that dehydrator has a better home, with a friend who hopefully uses it more than once a year.

Like most of these posts lately this one has no point except to say I appreciate all the people wanting my life to be better. I get it, trust me. It’s like therapy and me. I love therapy and I’m always trying together people to get their own therapists because it is so helpful. You love your kitchen gadgets and you want me to love them too. How about this, when y’all get you a therapist, I’ll get me an InstaPot. Or maybe a toaster I won’t give away.

Deal?

M.

Starbucks Coffee

What did the coffee say to the bean? Nothing, it was grounded! Hahahahaha! I have something serious to talk to you guys about: Why does the Starbucks coffee at the store hit differently than the Starbucks coffee you buy at bulk at Sam’s Club when you just went in to see if they had in toilet paper in stock, but you left with $489 worth of pots and pans, Christmas decorations, Spanish-style rice, and Starbucks coffee? This is both a real thing that I do regularly and a burnin’ question that I have about coffee. So much so that I Googled: “Why does Starbucks coffee…” and I started to type “hit better at the store than at home” but was sidetracked by the things other people Google about Starbucks coffee. Here are a few:

  • Why does Starbucks coffee make me poop?
  • Why does Starbucks coffee taste burnt? (Which led me to is it “burned” or “burnt” and that’s a whole other post)
  • Why does Starbucks coffee taste so good?
  • Why does Starbucks coffee have so much caffeine?

Bingo! I think that last one is an answer to the question I seek. I suddenly realized that when I have had a horrible night of tossing and turning why I HAVE to go to Starbucks to get coffee because the at-home Sam’s Club bag just ain’t doing it for me, I think it has to do with caffeine and that is when I found this bitch! That link there is a complete guide to all the beverages at Starbucks and there caffeine levels and DID you know that there is a class-action lawsuit against Starbucks because people think they are cheating them on caffeine? What the what? I digress.

When I go to the store I order a Nitro Cold Brew. Sometimes a pumpkin (if it’s in season), sometimes a salted caramel, sometimes just a regular old cold brew. But the caffeine levels in those drinks are wildly different. And all of them have more caffeine than my regular old ground shit in a bag at home. I know because I found this bitch! That’s caffeine levels from all your favorite drinks from all over (even Dunkin’ which y’all know I love so much I have a Dunkin’ ornament on my Christmas tree, along with all my Starbucks ones). And let me just say this, if you really wanna get jacked, you’re gonna need to start ordering a grande blonde from Starbucks. Woo-Wee! Get on that girl and get on her fast! She has more caffeine than a “Bang!” Energy drink and I don’t even know what that is, but with a name like “Bang!” it has to be good! (Meaning really bad for you.)

I assume you’re impatient with me now, but we are used to that right? I know I am used to you being impatient with me, so much so in fact that I can breeze right through your subtle annoyances now, and tell you this: Starbucks coffee hits different at the store because the caffeine levels are crazy good–or bad– depending on how you look at it. And now I’m headed to Starbucks to pick me up a blonde so I can write about 15,000 more words today!

Bang, bang, y’all!

M.

The Damn Gravy Boat

I ordered a red gravy boat to add to my Fiesta Christmas collection this year. Everywhere they sell Fietsta was running low on them, but I ended up finding one at Kohl’s when I had a whole debacle trying to find one at Macy’s. I’ll save you that story. So when the box arrived with my new trivet and my new scarlet-colored Fiesta Sauceboat I was jacked! Until I opened the box. As soon as I touched the box I knew something was wrong. I heard pieces. Broken pieces moving around. I hoped that it was the trivet, but of course because it is 2020, it was my beloved sauceboat.

Kohl’s made it right by shipping me a new trivet, but they couldn’t ship me a new sauceboat because they are out of stock. So I sat there in madness for a second, wondering who the hell packed the box, considering it was a nightmare packing job. Then I shrugged, said hey, this is 2020 and in 2020 we have learned to accept things we can’t control and move on. So I Googled the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi.

Kintsugi is the mending of broken pottery by using gold. It creates a new piece that doesn’t shy away from its blemishes, but rather accepts them and makes the pottery beautiful again, just in a new way. I knew I had to do this to my 2020 gravy boat, but of course I can’t really afford to melt gold down, nor do I have access to do that or even know how. So I did the next best thing: I watched a YouTube video on how to practice “modern Kintsugi” with epoxy resin and some mica powder, ordered it from Amazon and got it done.

Listen, it was easy. But also tough. Much like this year. The epoxy resin is a mess to work with, I had gold mica powder all over my hands and table and places I was like, how did that even get there? But in the end I prevailed, in my own way of course, and now I have this broken, beautiful gravy boat. And while Jerimiah and Jackson looked at me a little crazy at first, eventually they got it.

2020, y’all. What a hot mess. But, hasn’t it shone some light on some things in our lives? I mean don’t we all have some cracks in our lives that could stand to be made beautiful? Don’t we all feel broken sometimes and wish we could be whole? Isn’t this year a shitshow, but also didn’t it sort of enlighten us to a lot of things? I think so. Which is why my family’s 2020 gravy boat* will now live eternally the way it came to us, broken but beautiful, and hopefully in years to come it will serve as reminder of how fucked up, funny, absurd, horrific, broken, and enlightening this year was. Maybe.

Enjoy some pics of the process and don’t laugh too much at my broken gravy boat.

M.

*This way of doing it, the modern, easy way, makes the gravy boat unusable as the epoxy resin is toxic, but it looks nice on the hutch.

Middle of the Night Thoughts

My mouth smells like one of those hush puppies you get at Long John’s Silver. Eww. I know. It’s the middle of the night and once again I am awake and once again I am having some crazy thoughts like what at the hell does Long John Silver even mean? Is that the name of the pirate? Was he tall? Aren’t all pirates tall with their large hats and parrots and wooden legs? Also, Silver? Did he have a bunch of silver he wouldn’t share or is it his last name? I didn’t know pirates had last names. I thought they were just named like the Seven Dwarfs, Sleepy, Dopey, Crazy Scurvy Joe, stuff like that. Speaking of the Seven Dwarfs, is that still politically correct? Should it be Seven Little People? That’s a show on TLC that I would watch in a heartbeat. I’d subscribe to their channel and pay like $5 a month to see Seven Little People with bad attitudes and names that evoke their personalities. That reminds me of Ms. Juicy Baby in Little Women-Atlanta, one of my favorite shows featuring Little People. I used to like Little People, Big World but then the kids grew up and the dad got all angry and they divorced and the dog died and ehh. Too much real life happened.

I had to Google “Long John’s Silver” and it turns out I was all sorts of wrong. First off it’s Long John Silver’s, not Long John’s Silver. Then I found the part where a corporate entity tries to tell their sweet story here but I was left unsatisfied, like when they forget to give me that little packet of malt vinegar in my to-go order and I have to complain the whole time I eat my oddly-shaped fish that I don’t have malt vinegar to go with it, then make sure I write malt vinegar on my shopping list so I always have it one hand when this sort of thing happens, which in fact, happens more often than not.

Hmm, Long John Silver’s. Who knew?

M.

There’s More Than One Way to Crack a Nut

Jackson asked if we could get some nuts to use our nutcracker on. What nutcracker, I asked, perplexed. That one, he said, and pointed toward the mantle. Ohh, Jerimiah and I laughed, that’s not a real nutcracker, that’s a fake one. Why would there be fake ones Jackson wanted to know. Good question, I said. Then I explained that we have a silver, handheld nutcracker that does the job he wants to do and that the bearded man in buffalo check on the mantle is just for decoration. Then I went down a rabbit hole so big that I woke up yelling, Kurt Adler Nutcrackers!

Kurt Adler nutcrackers are the actual bees knees. I told my family this over breakfast. And if I had the money to blow on the one-of-a-kind Wizard of Oz one they sell at Macy’s then my day would be made.

My family looked at me with confusion in their faces and I had to agree, what the actual hell Missy?! But look at it though:

That’s one MFing cool nutcracker. Not like the ones I buy at Target on clearance two days after Christmas.

Anyway, if you are in the mood for a new nutcracker this year may I suggest you check out Kurt Adler Nutcrackers. You’ll find just what you are looking for! If you actually want to eat nuts though, well then, just throw a bag on the driveway and run them over with your car like my mom used to do. But wear a helmet, those suckers can fly.

Now let’s go crack some nuts!

M.

Good Ombre

I don’t make pies. I don’t bake. It’s not something I enjoy. I never have and quarantine has not helped me with that. I didn’t start a sourdough roll or learn how to expertly frost sugar cookies to look like Kamala Harris, though I do wish I had done that one. But I did google “What is the easiest pie to make when your husband asks if you want to make homemade pies for Thanksgiving” and this Apple Ombre pie popped up so I decided to try it.

All you do is buy varying shades of apples, thinly slice them, layer them in a pie crust (you can make your own if you’re that kinda person) then sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top and bake it low and slow. Like for real, that’s it. I bought a pie crust because I’m easy and cheap, yes I mean that, and took a painstaking amount of time picking out apples the right shade of green, yellow, pink, and red, like too much time. Like, I spent too much time inside a Kroger during a pandemic picking out apples.

I used the largest jar of Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cinnadust I could find at Sam’s Club, then I baked that beast. I ended up making two of them because they were so easy to make and we legit ate one right after I pulled it out of the oven with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top. So yeah, good stuff, y’all.

So if you Google “Ombre Apple Pie” the picture you get will not look like mine because this was my first time, but I will make this pie regularly now, it’s that easy and delicious, and so I hope to get better, but for now look at this gloriousness.

Yum. That is all.

Also, I decided to do some more baking since I had all the shit out and I made my first cherry pie ever, while the boys worked on almond silk and pecan pies. Then I threw in some pumpkin bread before we called it a night. Yes, I did this all for the three of us a to eat dinner together on Thursday. I’m a mess, but at least I’ll be all carbed up that day!

Happy Pre-turkey Day!

M.

Fuck the Pilgrims

We wanted to enjoy a nice “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving this year, then our family decided they wanted to come here for the holiday, so we scrapped that idea and went all in with a regular old Thanksgiving. Then we decided that Covid has no chill and it was not a good idea to have a house full of guests this holiday, and probably any holiday until this shit is under control, so now we are back to a “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving.

We aren’t really sure what a “Fuck the Pilgrims” Thanksgiving looks like, maybe we get pilgrim statues and hang them from their necks over the fireplace? Too gruesome? Or maybe we make a list of all the lands the pilgrims stole from the Indigenous People, and we donate five dollars for each land we come up with? Too expensive? Okay, maybe we just learn about the lands near us that were stolen from the Indigenous People, read about small box blankets and what not, and give thanks that the Native Americans are as resilient as they are? Perfect.

The point is Thanksgiving, like Christmas, is just an excuse for us to be with family, enjoy each other’s company, and eat a ton of good food. We don’t prescribe to the whole “Thank you” toward those first settlers who were monsters, and no, we aren’t grateful for them. I mean, I could be living in London right now, speaking with a British accent and going on about my business and not being led by one Donald Trump, so ehh.

Sure, I’m happy to be in America (sometimes) but I don’t really care either way because the truth of the matter is, you make the most of wherever you are, and that’s that. So yeah, fuck the pilgrims and their blooding and plundering, they didn’t do me any bloody favors.

Happy Fuck the Pilgrims Week, y’all.

M.

Dam Yam Hypothesis

We cancelled our Thanksgiving plans this year, more on that at a later time, but instead of having a houseful, it will just be the three of us (five of us if we count the dogs, some days I do, some days when I think I might kill one of them, I don’t). Still, even though there will only be three, maybe five, of us eating yams we bought the biggest can that Sam’s Club has. Why? They are yams, damn it.

The point of this is that the can of Bruce’s Yams is now sitting on our kitchen counter, because where does one fit a nine-pound can of yams? And Jackson has taken a liking to showing whomever he Facetimes with, his grandfather, his friends, his school study group, the can of yams sitting on our counter, while saying, “Look how crazy my parents are!”

Yesterday another sixth-grader yelled, “Oh my goodness, my parents have a six-pound can of strawberries on our counter!” And much to my hilarity I was sufficiently absolved of my yam guilt as Jackson said to his father, “Daddy, you and mommy are not the only crazy parents! Andrew’s parents have a six-pound can of strawberries!”

And just like that the world righted itself.

But by this time the question of how many yams are in the can had presented itself, leaving Jackson with a long division problem that he didn’t want to do, but one that Jerimiah made him do. Turns out, there are approximately 11 yams in the can. At least according to the “Dam Yam Hypothesis.”

Stay strong parents! And get those yams!

M.

Missed Connections

I was tasked with writing a Hermit Crab Essay in class this week. My professor suggested we don’t give it too much thought, don’t belabor it (we have a ton going on right now) so I didn’t. I sat on my front porch, felt the cool wind blow, and wrote for fifteen minutes on my phone, then copy and pasted this mess to the message boards. Then I thought you all might like it too. I hope you do. Remember, it’s not all terrible right now. We still have words, and art, and Craigslist Missed Connections, and funny Hermit Crab Essays about the things we cherish the most in this life.

M.

Craigslist Missed Connections

Atlanta Metro

Posted 10/21/20

Respond to: BasicBitch@basicbitch.com

I’d just left my therapist’s office, and decided I needed a kiwi. I was looking for any reason to be happy after crying for forty-five minutes. I decided on a kiwi. I drove to Kroger as the wind picked up and the small drops of rain started. This time of year isn’t my favorite. The cold, the rain. On top of what we’ve been through already. It’s all too much. 

I hurried inside the store while struggling to get my mask in place properly, and shielding my hair from the rain drops when I caught the first glimpse of you up ahead. I stopped dead in my tracks and the memories came rushing back. 

I’d been dreaming about you for months. In all my hopes for happiness, for normalcy, you were there, always just out of reach. This realization came to me quickly, brought me back to reality, forced my feet to slush faster through the puddles now forming. I sprinted past the pumpkins on display on the haystacks outside, grabbed the first cart I could find, not even bothering to sanitize it, and ran toward produce where I saw you again. 

You were there, right near the caramel-covered apples, but you weren’t alone. You never are. This time you were with a petite, blond woman. She seemed frail and cold, wrapped in a grey scarf, rubbing her hands together to warm them before wrapping her hands around you. The sight sent a shocking sensation through me, like when you get a lidocaine shot at the dentist and they accidentally hit a nerve. The sight of you hurt, but it was worth it.  

I’ve been a mess, honestly. I’ve been stretched to my mental, physical, and emotional limits this last year. My therapist says I need to look for positivity, wherever, whatever that is. She says I need to stay optimistic that the future will hold goodness, and I want it to hold goodness. But now, more urgently, I want to hold you.

I watched you walking with the blond woman, further away, back toward the deli, so I followed. I’m not sure why I did it, I just did it. Moved my body without thinking much. My therapist’s words echoing in my head, desire pumping through my veins, propelling me toward you, but for what? You were with her. And I didn’t dare get too close. I stayed well over six feet away.

And what did I expect to happen? Did I think I’d be able to snatch you away from her? Did I think I had some possession over you, some agency that she lacked? Was I more deserving, would I treat you better? No. I know I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. Plus, this damn mask. How would I…? And in a Kroger of all places. 

So there we were. So close, yet so far away. I’m sorry I wasn’t brave enough to make a move. I’m sure next time it will be different, but for now I sit and wait for word from you. I sure hope you’re the goodness I need.

If you were in that Kroger last week, if you were with the woman in the grey scarf. If you were that tall, piping hot pumpkin spice latte, please write back. You know who you are. The one in the white cup with PSL written in sharpie on the side. I’m waiting. 

Yours Forever, 

Kroger Woman in a Black Mask

I Miss Eating Out

We haven’t been to eat at a restaurant since March 11th. That’s seven months of cleaning up after we cook (or occasionally order delivery). Seven months. What I wouldn’t give to walk into a small road-side diner and nibble on some fries, the big, fat, greasy ones that only a roadside diner has. With the ketchup bottle you squeeze, and the endless Coke from a fountain. Ho hum.

What I really wish is not to go out to eat, but for other people to stop it. That would be nice wouldn’t it? I’d also wish other people would stop hosting parties, promoting gatherings, going to sporting events, clubbing then going to see their grandparents the next day.

In short, I wish people cared about complete strangers a little more. I wish they had the willpower to not put others at risk. I wish they could say, hmm, sitting in a small, badly ventilated place with my mask off for several hours seems like a bad idea. I don’t want to risk it.

Maybe if more people hadn’t been to a restaurant to eat in the last seven months, we wouldn’t be so much worse than we were back in April. Maybe there wouldn’t be 215,000 dead people. Man. I hope your date night, or your football tailgate, or your 25th wedding anniversary was worth it. Because if you’re doing or have done those things, you’re only adding to the problem. And we are all adding to the problem in one way or another.

Stay safe and sane, y’all. Wear a mask. I’ll be dreaming of diners…

M.

Read news and wear a mask and stay home. It’s not that hard.

Peaches

It’s Labor Day and I’m thinking about peaches. We have a peach tree in our yard. Maybe because they bring wildlife, probably because we live in Georgia. We’ve been here two seasons and have been unable to eat a peach off the tree. The squirrels beat us to them every year. No figs off the fig tree either, only roses from the bush and the occasional bud from a crape myrtle.

The garden they don’t bother. My husband has a tomato plant that is thriving, we have lettuce, and peppers, and plenty of baby cucumbers, but no peaches.

We add peaches to our Kroger order every week. We eat them standing at the kitchen counter, looking out over our fruit trees. We sigh. Wildlife. Nature. Georgia peaches. Some days it’s all so much.

Hope you had a safe and relaxing weekend. Hope you had some fruit.

M.

Taco Tuesday

Listen, I love me some tacos. In my baby book my mom wrote that my favorite thing was tacos when I was like six months old. There is a lot wrong with that, but let’s focus on the good, I was one cool baby. So the number one thing that I miss right now is getting down on some tacos at our favorite, local Mexican restaurant. I miss so much about it, that sometimes I wake up thinking that I can actually smell the sticky, vinyl seats. I’m sure I can’t. Or can I? I don’t know, it doesn’t matter, with Jackson’s help I took Jerimiah on a “Date Night” last night to our new favorite Mexican restaurant: Our back porch. And you know what? It wasn’t half bad.

Jackson took his role as our server very seriously, as he usually does pretend play. He never once broke character, even allowing us to take our masks off only after I convinced him we were the only patrons of the restaurant. This was the note taped to our front door when I loaded Jerimiah up in the car (with the dogs) and drove up the road and back while Jackson “prepared” (got into a suit and character).

When we got to “Saren Mexican Eatery” we were told that our table wasn’t ready and we were offered a spot at the bar, where we were lectured on the business of the restaurant business, and how it takes its toll on a person. Then we got drinks!

We ordered chips and queso, had to ask for the queso to be a little warmer since it was cold in the middle. We watched him “make” guacamole (dump it from a container into a bowl) and then we were told our table was ready. We took our drinks and appetizers to our sun porch, and well, hilarity ensued.

Eventually “Scott” came out (sans glasses) to take our order, and complained that “Dorian” wasn’t putting in the work and his section was slacking, but probably he’d be our server too. We did meet “Dorian” later, he really needed to get his shit together. Though his only real job was to come out onto the patio and announce parking problems every few minutes. Someone blocked the fire hydrant! Someone parked illegally! Someone needs to move their car! Things of that nature. Oh, Dorian. At least you’re cute.

Then there was the very loud, disruptive Spanish music blaring from Alexa while we ate. I’m sure it was very confusing to the neighbors, and the dogs didn’t seem to care for it so much. Eh, you can’t win ‘em all.

The main course came out quite late and not very hot, but I must say he was the only server/cook/manager on duty, and even though the food was precooked that day by the head chef (me) it could have used a tad more care. But we ate it without complaint, even when we were informed that the house was out of a few staples like tortilla chips and lettuce even the some of us knew we absolutely were not out of those items. Bizarre.

Dessert was not listed on the menu, it was a secret, and you kinda had to know how to ask for it. Also, the box of cheesecake bites was missing a couple when presented to us. Hmm…

All-in-all, we had a nice evening at Saren Restaurant and (Rebranded) Eatery, and even though our bill was absurdly wrong, the service lacked a certain, umm, finesse, and there were way too many dogs present, we still managed a hefty tip which was immediately pocketed by “Dorian” or maybe it was “Scott” while forgetting to actually clean up after us… Still I have it a 10 on Yelp.

M.

Rant About Iced Tea

This is absolutely a rant about iced tea. I can’t help you at any point after this, I have warned you. I know what you are thinking, Missy this certainly can’t be a whole blog post wherein you rant about iced tea. But you’d be wrong. Very wrong. Or maybe you are right. Because this first part isn’t about tea, it’s about how wrong you are about thinking that I am not able to rant about tea. But in the wisdom of T.I. least I remind you, “Public violations justify public demonstrations,” and what I witnessed today on the Kroger website was nothing short of a public violation.

I like Kroger. I do. I shop there because they are friendly and efficient. They generally have everything I need, they are usually the lowest price around (unless you count Walmart, but I do not), and most importantly they offer free pick-up, which we’ve been relying on since the start of the pandemic. But today, oooohhhh, today I got my feathers all in a tizzy when I tried to order a gallon of unsweetened iced tea.

It seems, on the surface, like a no-brainer. I love iced tea, but I do not enjoy the calories that come in sweet iced tea. Nor can my body tolerate the amount of sugar that one finds in “Southern Sweet Tea.” It’s too much, y’all. I can’t do it. Call me a “Yankee” all you want, I cannot sip on iced sugar with a smattering of tea on the top. I enjoy the flavor of a good store-brand, unsweetened, iced tea. Some things to know: I have a home iced tea brewing machine, however I have not found a tea that I like the taste of when I brew it at home. I also do not like most brands of iced tea. I do not like Lipton or Turkey Hill. I do not like Milo or Pure Leaf. I despise Arizona Tea. I like Red Diamond, but they do not sell it around these here parts. So I usually get a store-brand iced tea because they seem to all taste the same, but I have narrowed my flavor choices down to Publix iced tea and Kroger iced tea. Those are my two favorites if I cannot have Red Diamond. End of story. Periodt.

So, today while I was making my shopping order from Kroger I remembered that I needed a gallon of iced tea. Unsweetened, caffeinated, iced tea. Now you’re like, Missy come on, all tea if caffeinated, that’s nuts. You’re wrong again. Not all tea is caffeinated, and according to Kroger people who want unsweetened tea also want it to be caffeine-free. D’what? You read that correctly: The only kind of unsweetened iced tea that I could order from Kroger, made by Kroger, was also caffeine-free.

(Deep, long sigh).

When I want to sit on my sunporch and enjoy a crisp glass of iced tea with a lemon wedge, I also want to get a little jittery from the amount of caffeine in my glass. I want to find some motivation at the bottom of that glass, ya dig? I only drink two glasses of iced coffee a day, then I drink a can of seltzer water, then I want a damn glass of iced tea in the afternoon for a pick-me-up and WHY CAN I NOT HAVE THAT KROGER?!

(Deep breathing exercises along with some Kegels for good measure).

I don’t want to use the word “persecuted” here, but I feel like, as a person who does not want sweet tea, I am being made to “pay for it.” Am I overreacting? Yes, certainly. But to be honest I haven’t had my afternoon tea, and well, it seems I won’t anytime soon so this is just the new me I guess. I’m sorry, but this is all Kroger’s fault and now I will go write them a strongly-worded email to feel better.

I hope you have a wonderful day. Like really, really good. Like sipping on Kroger, unsweetened, caffeinated, iced tea on your back porch good.

M.