Whatha Devil?!

We had an 18 pack of eggs sitting in our refrigerator. Brand new. Not expired. Farm fresh, free range, college educated. We leave for vacation in three days. We looked at each other. At our smart eggs. Then back at each other. Quiche? I wondered aloud. Maybe, Jerimiah said. How else would we eat 18 eggs in three days? Boiled? Take them with us? He pondered, while he moved expired cottage cheese out of the way. Huh, I remarked, slinging rotten green peppers into the trash can. Give them to a neighbor, I questioned. He shook his head. Would that be weird? Maybe, plus we are the ones who raised them. They’re ours. Oh, I’ll make deviled eggs! I half screamed, half cried. Dear Recipe Goddess, you have reigned supreme again.

Two days later, as I stood over the sink and peeled the boiled eggs that I had let boil for too long the night before because I was also cooking dinner at the same time and it was a Hello Fresh meal and you have to follow the damn directions with those and the puppy ran in and peed on the floor and Jackson tried to tell me about this TikTok guy who does presidential impersonations and Jerimiah tried to help by standing next to me asking what he can do, I sorta, maybe, lost it a little bit and slammed the plates on the table and said, I CAN’T WITH THIS SHIT! And then went upstairs to sit on the fluffy ottoman at the end of my bed and contemplate how my damn life had come to this. About 20 minutes later, I remembered the boiling eggs.

Here’s the thing about deviled eggs, it’s a process, y’all. A long, arduous process, and it starts with the perfect boiled egg. Now sure, you can Google “How to Boil an Egg for Deviled Eggs” and you will get a million different opinions, but every Mommy, Grandma, Great Grandma, and even a couple Grandpa’s have their own way of doing it. My way is to heavily boil the eggs in salted water for three to five minutes, then turn the stove off and let them sit in the hot water for about 20 minutes, until I sink them into a cold bath, let them sit in fridge overnight, then crack them all over before peeling the next day as I listen to Adele sing about how life is not the way she imagined it when she was a child. I can relate. And usually what happens is that the eggs just slide right out. Unless one thing is not right. Then, you’re fucked.

That’s how I came to be screaming into a bowl of yellow yesterday morning.

That’s how I came to be teaching Jackson how to make deviled eggs, literally because I CAN’T WITH THIS SHIT!

That’s how we thought it would be a good idea to eat 18 eggs the days leading up to a 10-hour road trip.

Hope you CAN with this shit today, y’all.

M.

Ménage à Cheese

“You wanna do like a cheese-on-cheese situation?” I asked my husband the other day while I was standing with the refrigerator door opened, looking frantically from one plastic bin to another. I thought it was a rather straightforward question, but he looked at me with a mix of disgust and sadness, so I offered in a loud tone, “DO YOU WANT TO DOUBLE DOWN ON SOME CHEESE WIT ME?” Nothing. Silence. This MFer needs clarification on this? I proceeded to pull out three different types of cheese, slice them, stack them on top of each other, and eat the stack. Directly in front of him. As my lunch. Then I walked away.

I don’t know about you guys but I am not made for this type of living. I am not made for thinking up what to feed two adults, a child, two dogs, and the large family of nuisance ants that have taken up residence in my house (even though the exterminator has been here TWO TIMES.) I can’t do this. I can’t have all these beings relying on me to feed them all day and night.

Under normal conditions my husband fends for himself for both breakfast and lunch, having an eight-to-five-ish-type office job. My son would normally be eating whatever the hell I pulled together last minute at 7:15 am while he followed me around and said, We have to leave or I’ll be late for band practice. And if I forget, no problem, school would feed him. That just left me and up until two months ago, Sir Duke Barkington, my standard poodle, to nibble on this or that throughout the day. But now we have two dogs, one of which is a 16-week-old puppy who is OBSESSED with food, so she overeats her damn puppy chow then vomits, and then eats the vomit. And since March 15th, I’ve had my son and husband looking at me like, Hey Gir, what’s for lunch? Yeah, they call me Gir.

Early on my husband got the hint, and he just started cooking breakfast late, around 10:30, for all of us. That was our brunch. Everyday. The same thing. Everyday. Eggs. Wrapped in a carb-conscious tortilla. Everyday. I finally had to say, I can’t do this. I can’t live this way. I appreciate you trying to feed us, but I can’t eat another egg. That was almost a month ago and I had my first egg yesterday and it was, I mean, it was okay.

That was also the day I sort of just, umm, opted out of being part of my family’s cooking and eating life. Yes. I’m a horrible partner and mother. I just walked out of the kitchen and didn’t look back. Now my son comes to greet me in my office in the mornings with string cheese hanging out of his mouth, or a frozen waffle cause he’s too lazy to toast it in the oven, or maybe some cereal with no milk because, Mommy the milk shocked me a little, like when you stick a battery on your tongue.

That’s how I got to the ménage à cheese situation the other day. That’s how my husband and I came to a three week take-out bender. We are better now. Detoxed. Ordered HelloFresh.

That’s how things are going in my life. Hope yours is better.

M.

Sharpie Feet

You don’t really know how talented the world is, until you watch a man unroll three feet of paper, take his shoes off, stick Sharpies between his toes and draw a portrait of you and one of your best friends inside a Ruby Tuesday. Then, and only then, as you stand wide-eyed and wondering, do you realize you have witnessed the art of human nature. The art of imagination. The art of so many what-the-fucks that you have dreams, nay nightmares, for weeks about this particular man’s feet. And sweaty toes. And the courage, or is it madness, that some people possess inside their minds and bodies. Am I being a little over the top? Well, sure. But he could have warned me when he asked to borrow my Sharpies.

I worked in the restaurant business for years. Eventually I was in management, where I excelled at training people, making angry customers happy, and was the first line of defense in the interview process. We had this system at Ruby Tuesday. When someone would walk through the door with an application, an unsolicited one, a shift leader, or an assistant manager, or a trusted bartender, whomever was around, would be called to the front door to greet them. Then we’d do what we called a 60-second interview. Maybe it was 60 seconds. Maybe it was 90 seconds. I know there were people I spent less than 30 seconds with, people with sores around their mouths, itching their skin that appeared to be crawling with an unseen bug, while they asked about being paid in cash and whether or not we offered paid training.

Then there were people who caught my attention, who I invited to sit for a spell. I might even offer them a Coke or a Sweet Tea if they tickled my fancy. That’s what happened the day I met the man who would draw me with my own Sharpies. I was back in the kitchen, counting burger buns on the line, when the hostess caught my attention across the heat lamps. “You’re gonna wanna see this,” she said, then motioned to the front door. I gave her a quizzical look, and she mouthed, “I’m getting Erica too,” and headed to the manager’s office. I scrambled to take off my apron and beat them both up to the front. I always liked to get to crazy before Erica. Assess the situation, beat her to the punch, so that later when we laughed about the incident I could say I saw it first.

I jogged up through the restaurant like there was a salad bar emergency, which happened more than you’d feel comfortable knowing, while I smiled at customers who were shoving sliders and soup into their mouths. When I got to the front door there was a man at the hostess stand wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt, holding a roll of white paper under his arms. An application was sitting on the hostess stand. I introduced myself, keenly aware that neither the hostess, nor Erica had made their way up to the front yet, which means they were sitting in the office watching me and this man on video to see what type of craziness was about to unfold.

I introduced myself. He handed me his application and asked me if I wanted to see something “cool as shit.” I looked up toward the camera and smiled. I did want to see something cool as shit, and I knew other people who did too. I escorted him to the larger dining room that was usually only opened for the dinner rush. It was quiet, empty, and a little dark since the lights were still turned down.

Erica and the hostess walked through the “Do Not Enter, Employees Only” door on the side of the dining room from the dry storage area. They were cautious, but smiling. We all knew something great was about to happen, but we had no idea what.

This man unrolled about three feet of paper from his roll, laid it flat on the ground. I moved some chairs out of his way so he would have more room. He stood up, looked at the three of us, and asked if someone had something to write with. I handed him the two Sharpies I had in my shirt pocket. Erica offered the pencil from her hair. He passed on the pencil, but took the Sharpies with appreciation. I hadn’t had a moment to look at his application since we walked over, so I took this opportunity to glance down at it. I don’t remember his name. I don’t remember his date of birth, his previous employer, I don’t even remember if he filled it out completely, all I remember is that while my eyes were looking down at the paper in my hand, Erica pushed her whole body into mine with such force I was inclined to say, “Ouch,” then I looked up at the man. He had suddenly taken his shoes off, stuck the Sharpies in between his toes, and started to work on the paper.

Twenty minutes later, as my best friend Erica (the General Manager of the restaurant) and I looked at caricatures of ourselves on this three foot wide piece of paper, drawn by this man’s feet (and my Sharpies) we didn’t know what to say. We wanted to ask when he could start work. We wanted to ask him to pick up his paper and leave. We were shocked and awed and I offered him a Sweet Tea. He accepted. Thirty minutes later we really just wanted him to pick up his paper and leave. Well, technically we wanted to keep the paper, it was a portrait of us after all, and have him put his shoes back on and leave. But it seemed like he was there for the long haul. He was asking about a burger.

Turns out the man had no experience in the restaurant business. He had no experience as a cook. He had a “slight” drug problem, that he was working on, and while he technically didn’t have an address, he was living in a tent by the lake, he planned on getting one soon enough. He had was a artist, which was plain to see. He was in Branson to be “discovered.” He wanted to be on America’s Got Talent. He wanted to be a Hollywood star, he wanted to know if we could foot him the money for a burger. Foot. Haha. We could not. We did not. He put his shoes back on. Called us assholes, I believe, grabbed his roll of paper, and walked out the front door. Erica shook her head, told me to bleach those Sharpies and went back to the office. This was not her first rodeo. But I was shook.

It would take a couple more years of meeting people like this, seeing people live like this, one job application to another. One choice of drug for another, before the plight of the human condition would start to sting my heart. A couple more interviews with people who said they were “working on getting a place to live,” a couple more transients who were addicted to meth, or crack, or just looking to steal from the bar. I always had a knack for picking the “good” people. I was trusted for my innate ability to read someone’s face, their actions. But the whole experience took a toll on me. Sure there were days where I saw a man draw my picture with his feet and I found it amusing, then frantic, then sad. But then there were really bad days. Days where a single mom, addicted to ice, would walk in with an application and her two-year-old daughter on her hip. And I desperately wanted to give her a chance, but there are just some things you can’t do. So you feed them. You notify child services. You go sit in you car and scream at the top of your lungs for a little while. Whatever it takes to make it all better.

I had a friend say to me one time, “Well you work in the restaurant business, you aren’t exactly working with the highest class of people.” I nodded, and moved on. I knew what he meant, but I didn’t have the energy to fight. To correct him. To explain to him that sometimes, in this midst of the shit, of the counting of burger buns, and of the standing for hours on your feet. In the midst of having ketchup spilled all over your white shirt, or having a man scream at you because there isn’t enough spinach in his spinach and artichoke dip, sometimes those “low-class” people teach you what it means to be human. You learn, then you grow. Or you don’t. Either way, we are all still there.

Miss you, Erica. And the fun that was scattered throughout.

M.

Cheese Caves, No Really

Here’s something that blew my mind today and I feel like I should share it with you all: Cheese Caves. Am I the only person in the world who lived on top of cheese caves in Southern Missouri and had no idea of their existence? That’s the real travesty here, that I was surrounded by cheese caves and never even knew it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, give me a second to sort this out, because you are learning with me in real time. Like, I know y’all think I’ve lost my mind, I’ve finally gone over the deep end, but there are actually caves full of cheese deep underground in Missouri (and a couple other places) and why is this not common knowledge? Or maybe it is and I’m just really behind?

You guys remember all those times I told you about “Gov’ment Cheese” well it’s actually real. And they store it in giant caves underground in Missouri. Maybe that’s why it has that particular taste? I think I said if you take a brick of Velveeta and put it in your shower for a few days, you can get that gov’ment cheese taste. Shit, y’all have no idea how accurate that was.

They store cheese in caves because, well, they can. The temperature and yeast and mold, lends itself to keeping the cheese alive. Is cheese alive? Is it dead? Certainly not. Anyway, in the 1920s the dairy industry was dying so the government bought all the cheese, and has been buying all the cheese ever since and now, even with the gov’ment cheese programs, we still have a cheese surplus. So much in fact, that the government pays people to advertise cheese. That’s one of the reasons we LOVE cheese so fucking much! So first the cheese caves came from necessity, like where else were they gonna store all this cheese? Then they realized the caves were good for the cheese and bam! Now Velveeta owns a 400,000 square-foot cave full of cheese under Springfield, Missouri.

That’s it, y’all. I can’t take anymore today. It’s not so much the cheese caves in general terms that is freaking me out. I mean, I think I sort of knew that cheese was kept underground? Maybe, like I’d heard it before somewhere. It’s the fact that I lived on top of one that is really getting to me. And I didn’t even know it. And I keep thinking I’ll investigate more about these cheese caves, but I’m honestly afraid what I might find. I mean, I love me some Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar, but what if I stumble across Trader Joe’s cheese cave? Or cheese basement? Or cheese socks? I dunno. I don’t have the capacity for that today.

But I guess if you want to do some of your own excavating, do it. Just Google “Cheese Caves” and let the internet astound you once again.

Stay safe and sane. That’s hard, I know.

M.

Meet Ya at The Waffle House

Soooo, how’s everyone doing? Me? Oh well, thanks for asking. I’m sitting here at my desk, staring out my window at the beautiful sunny skies, listening to the birds chirping and the cars whizzing by wondering why in the hell you would actually go eat INSIDE a Waffle House today?! Yep. Uh huh. Welcome to Georgia. Where everything is made up and the points don’t matter. But, to be fair, it’s more than just the Waffle House opening up, it’s also bowling alleys and theaters. And if you do have the emotional or mental capacity to leave your house for dinner and a movie (who are these people, and what kind of anti-depressants are they on?!) then you know you are safe because you they can only sit four deep at the Waffle House counter. Whew, glad someone is taking this all seriously.

Also, just so we are clear, the servers are wearing gloves and masks at the Waffle House, but can I be real for a minute? Shouldn’t the servers at the Waffle House ALWAYS be wearing masks and gloves? I mean, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I like more than drinking so much gin that my inhibitions are way, way down, then getting turnt on some OJ and fried eggs at the Waffle House. In fact, 20-something Missy lived and died by WH. But, umm, I still always knew I ran the risk of picking up Hep-b in the bathroom while I was there, and I still used caution. Now you throw in a global pandemic and whaazzzzy, whaazzzzy, wha?!

I’m picking on the WH here but it’s because this is Georgia and people literally cried when the WH closed up shop last month, but truly this is the nuttiest thing I have seen in a while. People actually leaving their house, amid 23,500 cases in our state, with nearly 1,000 deaths, and hitting up the movies and going bowling. Like, I just don’t get it. And the beaches, please don’t get me started with the beaches. Y’all know we love to travel. In fact, I’m simultaneously planning three vacations in my mind right now (a trip “home,” a trip to Southern Cali, and a long weekend in Savannah) but you can bet your ass I haven’t actually booked any airfare, or started looking at hotels. Because shit, y’all. It’s gonna be awhile.

I know there are people who are just trying to get back to work. I know that. Small business owners, or you know, Shake Shack, are really trying to cash in on that money, but it isn’t coming. But to be fair, aren’t their employees making more money on unemployment right now, then if they were working? And don’t they have a “rainy day” fund? Like, certainly they don’t want the government to keep bailing them out, that’s, that’s, SOCIALISM!

I think I’m gonna stop. Take some deep breathes. Pour myself a glass of wine at three o’clock in the afternoon, and sit on the deck and listen to the birds. And the squeal of the tires in and out of the local Waffle House. Be safe, y’all. And STAY THE FUCK AT HOME.

M.

Missy’s Low-carb Way

Jerimiah and I have been eating low carb for about twelve weeks now. I’ve lost twelve pounds in twelve weeks, which is exactly what the doctor wants (even though it seems painfully slow) and Jerimiah has lost, well, a lot more than me. Because life is unfair. But, we lost weight over the holidays and on vacation, so I’m calling that a win. But I’m struggling daily to find low-carb dinner ideas and when I Google, “Quick, low-carb meals” I get recipes that are 25 ingredients long and have 18-syllable names, like:

  • Jamaican Jerk Chicken Lettuce Wraps on Garlic Zoodles
  • Pesto Chicken Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
  • Italian Tuna Green Bean Cauliflower Rice Fish Taco Bowls
  • Seared Salmon Watercress Potato Salad With Olive Dressing
  • Triple Cheese Cauliflower Crust Pizza w/ Blueberries & Fresh Greens

When all I really want is a recipe named, “Chicken and Broccoli” cause no one has time for this other shit. Well, I’m sure people have time for this other shit, but I don’t. And what I really lack is the patience for this other shit. I lack patience, y’all. Lack it a lot.

I also loathe grocery shopping. And gathering ingredients. And cooking the ingredients together to make a dinner. I loathe making dinner. I loathe cooking. I need a personal chef! Is that too much to ask?! According to my husband, yes. We don’t own a yacht with a private chef, so I’m screwed.

Now Jerimiah does enjoy cooking. More specifically, he enjoys finding the recipes, making the grocery list, doing the shopping, then coming home to the meals he picked out and created, fully cooked and assembled on his plate in a pleasing manner. It’s sort of like how he “doesn’t mind to do laundry” so on Saturday morning he will pile all the laundry into the laundry room, start a load, then on Monday morning I’ll walk in and be all, “What’s that smell?” Hint: It’s wet clothes that have been in the washer all weekend.

The point here is, he tries. He does. And I know he gets sick of the same old thing. I get sick of it too. Chicken and broccoli. Chicken and green beans. Chicken Caesar salad. Grilled chicken. Baked Chicken. You get my drift. We are stuck in a rut so I’ve been trying to find “Simple” or “Easy” or “Quick” low-carb meals for a while now, and have resorted to coming up with my own recipes and I’m sharing some now. No need to thank me, just use what you can, and leave what you aren’t willing to commit to.

  • Grilled Chicken, Just There, On a Plate: When your family looks at you with disgust turn the tables on them. Tell them this was your pet chicken that had been living in the backyard for several months. You’d kept her hidden so the dog wouldn’t eat her, and her name was Oprah Henfrey, and they should have a bit more respect for her because she was your best friend and actually once saved your life from a hawk attack. And now here she is, sacrificing her life so they may eat dinner. Now who’s disgusted?
  • Zucchini Pizza Bites: First you order a pizza from a really good, local pizza joint. Then you eat it yourself while everyone is gone that day. If you’re really trying to be good here, then give it to a neighbor, or just leave it out for the hawks that circle your backyard. But keep the box, that’s important. Then slice zucchini into bite-size pieces, put a blob of pizza sauce on it, add some small pepperoni, then a bit of cheese. Bake them at 325 for about however long it takes for you to be able to bite through the zucchini. Put them in the pizza box you wrestled away from the hawk. Put the pizza box on the table and when your family comes into the dining room for dinner yell, “Surpise! It’s pizza night!” They will be so excited! They will all rush over, sit down, flip the lid open and then sit in silence while they try to figure out what is happening. That’s when you remind those assholes you’re eating low carb and there’s no such thing as low-carb pizza. Then relay the hawk story to illustrate how you sacrificed for them. If you can work the ghost of Oprah Henfrey into the story, do it.
  • Stuffed Philly Cheesesteak Peppers: This one takes a bit of planning, but it’s cool cause you’re not busy on account of all the time you’ve saved cooking “Missy’s Low-carb Way.” First you buy tickets to a baseball game. Doesn’t have to be a major league game. We live in Atlanta so we can always snag some Braves tickets, but if you’re in say, Charlotte, going to a Knights’ game is just as fun. Secure the tickets. Tell the family. They will be stoked, they love baseball. The day of the game cook up skirt steak in Italian seasoning with onions and mushrooms. Jam the mixture into the peppers that you’ve already cut in half and lined on a pan. Is there music on? Say, “Hey Siri!” Say, “Hey Siri, play my Mumford and Such Playlist.” Make sure you have a “Mumford and Such” playlist. If not, 80s country music will work. Now cover each pepper with provolone, mozzarella, whatever white cheese you like. Bake the peppers at 325, for however long it takes you to bite through a pepper. When they are done let them cool, then wrap them in wax paper, then wrap that in that leftover Christmas-themed plastic wrap, then wrap that in tape. Stick them in the fridge. Now right before you head to the game, take all the peppers out and tape them to your body like you’re a cocaine mule crossing the border from Mexico. This is both as a means to get them into the stadium, and to warm them up for eating. Then head on over to the ball park. If your family asks why you’re walking funny, or why you smell like Italian seasoning, tell them there was a “hawk incident,” they won’t push. Really hype them up for the game! Be all like, “Oh man! I can’t wait for this game! You guys wanna eat some Philly Cheesesteak for dinner?!” They’ll be all, “Oh my goodness, yes! Great idea, Mommy!” You’re golden. A couple hours later into the game, the home team is winning, your husband is a couple beers in, your kid caught a fly ball, all is so cool, go ahead and tell them you’re gonna go grab those Philly Cheesesteaks. They are pumped! Go into the bathroom, rip those sumbitches off your body, oh man, they’re warm now, then grab a tray someone left sitting on top of a trash can and march those peppers back down to your family. You know what? Buy a Diet Coke for everyone to share. It’s a fun day! When you get back to the seats hand them the peppers, but don’t say a word. Don’t worry, they won’t either. Woooo, go team!

M.

Three Hundred Posts Later

Yesterday was my 300th blog post and I had planned to do something awesome to celebrate that fact with you guys, then I had a busy week and got one day behind and when I wrote my post yesterday I didn’t realize it was number 300 and then I was actually like, “DAMN IT! I messed up my 300th post.” So this is actually post 301, but if you don’t tell anyone, I won’t tell anyone. Ahem, happy 300th post day! 300 posts seems like a lot to me, especially since I really just started blogging to ensure that I write something, anything with regularity. I guess I can call that a win. I have been writing everyday. In fact I have written everyday for the last eight weeks, some of it made it to this here blog, some of it hasn’t made it anywhere. Yet. Unofficially I want to write every, single day this year. Unofficially I want to do a lot of things. Unofficially I have big plans. Unofficially a lot of those plans involve Cheetos.

But alas, I’m here today celebrating a small victory. Looking for a bigger one out there looming, somewhere. But my 300th post seems something to celebrate. Maybe it isn’t. Maybe 500 or 1000 is more appropriate. But who really cares? I want to celebrate damn it! So to show my apprecation to you all, to those of you who are still around I’m going to share some pics with you that I have not shared before. The sort of pics that never “make the cut” when I’m writing one of my fun, exciting blogs. And hey, I might share an old “Mornings with Missy” video too, because I love you all and you deserve it. Hopefully you can use these “extras” to piece together some idea of who I am. Or, you can screenshot them and use them as ammunition against me when I run for office one day. Or become a famous model, whichever comes first.

But for real. Thanks for hanging with me for 300 (301) posts, and I hope you’ll stick around for my next 300, cause it’s about to get more interesting. I promise.

Thanks, friends!

M.

That time the Marines came to Charlotte and fourth grade Jackson made us make this video…

The above video was filmed in my closet in Charlotte, North Carolina a month or so before we moved to Atlanta. Enjoy!

How ‘bout Them Chiefs?!

I didn’t sleep a wink last night. I tossed and turned. Got caught up in reading some comment sections about the half-time performance (y’all some haters, JLo and Shakira literally ROCKED our socks off! Don’t be jealous, or racist.) And as far as I’m concerned, I’m now a lifetime fan of both ladies because y’all, THE CHIEFS WON THE SUPER BOWL! I couldn’t sleep because I was so amped up on chicken wings, fudge brownies, and sexual thoughts about Patrick Mahomes, or was it Shakira? Maybe it was Andy Reid? Doesn’t matter. At two am, I was like, it’s cool, who needs sleep?! Then I started searching for pictures of the times I made my son, who has no desire to watch football, and who isn’t allowed to play football (because some brains are worth saving) dress in Chiefs gear since he was a baby. I found some. Then I finally fell asleep. That is to say that this post is really just a post of pictures. A post of disappointment over the years, rooting for one of our favorite teams (Jerimiah is a Packers fan) and then getting our hearts broken repeatedly.

In fact, it wasn’t until the Royals won the World Series a few years back that we even knew what winning felt like, and you guys, it feels damn good. Some of us have been waiting on this win for longer than others of us in the Goodnight household. But the win is for us all.

It’s for Kansas City, it’s for Kansas and Missouri (even though our dumbass President doesn’t know which state the Chiefs play in). Shit, maybe I should clarify that real quick for some of you. Arrowhead is in Kansas City, Missouri. But Kansas City is split in half. Half in Kansas and half in Missouri. (But trust, you don’t want to be on the Kansas side of the city by yourself at night). But honestly, honestly, the Chiefs are one of those teams that belong to a lot of people, not just in two states. They belong to the Midwest. To all the men and women in little towns with tattered Chiefs flags hanging from their front porches. They belong to our families in Oklahoma and Arkansas. To our crew down in Southern Missouri who hosted parties every time the Chiefs made it into the bracket, then lost. To our friends out in western Kansas, with Chiefs banners stung across old barns on wheat fields. To our friends in the Flint Hills, in Jeff City, in St. Louis, cause I mean, St. Louis needs a win. The Chiefs belong to Nebraska, because college ball is only good for so long. They belong to the people who hate the Broncs and the Raiders. And yes, they belong to Kansas City, first and foremost.

Last night’s win is for our friends and family members, the ones in their sixties and seventies who have been waiting, relentlessly waiting, for this day. It’s for my mom and my mother-in-law, who have sat screaming at television screens for too long. It’s for our friends and family members who aren’t with us anymore. Who didn’t get to see the win here on Earth with us. Today, especially for me, it’s for my Uncle Arthur, and my nephew Little Scottie. Sending love and hugs to wherever you are. The Chiefs did it!

We celebrated bigly last night in the Goodnight house! Jerimiah, a true Kansas boy, let me scream and yell and run around, while he just smiled and laughed, “I can’t believe they pulled it off.” Jackson, who was born in Southern Missouri, high-fived me, more excited that he got to stay up past bedtime than watch that fourth quarter unfold like it did! And then there was me, just a 38-year-old Chiefs fan who was so used to saying, “We’ll get ‘em next year” that I pulled out all the stops to try to indeed “Get ‘em this year,” including making a prayer candle in honor of the ghost of Derrick Thomas. I have my beliefs, about who helped us this year, and my lucky things, but I gotta say none of that really matters. Those guys played a hell of a game, both teams did, and I congratulate the 49ers and their fans. They showed up. It’s just that the better team won. Wow, that’s crazy to say.

Hoping to get some sleep tonight, but until then, have a look at some Chiefs fans over the years! And HOW ‘BOUT THEM CHIEFS?!

M.

His first Chiefs jammies!
Game day with mama, 2010
Tracksuits and toddler Chiefs pride!
Indoctrination at its finest! Bentley was a HUGE Chiefs fan!
Rock climbing Chiefs fan!
Gearing up for a pre-season game against the Panthers!
My favorite jersey of all time!
A gift from Uncle Josh in our first year in North Carolina!
Watching the Chiefs play the Patriots in Washington DC with friends in 2019.
We were #10 for awhile in preschool.
The only Chiefs’ fan doing a prowl!
Chiefs were served a crummy loss at Arrowhead this day.
Super Bowl prepping
He knew what I needed for game day
They ordered me wings, and donned their brightest red
We won! Finally!

Do You Smell Toast?

Yesterday I was walking around trying to figure out why I smelled burning plastic, thinking that I was probably having a stroke, when I happened by the dishwasher and realized that no, it was actually burning plastic that I was smelling because someone loaded a plastic container at the bottom of the dishwasher and it was burning. So no stroke, that’s the point here, no stroke. Then I was telling my husband and he was all, “It’s toast. They say you smell burnt toast when you’re having a stroke.” And I was all, “Bitch, you don’t know everything!” Then I huffed upstairs and Googled, “What do people smell when they are having a stroke?” and the answer is a resounding, “Toast.” But it doesn’t matter for two reasons. One, the toast thing is a myth and two, none of this has anything to do with this post.

This post is about how stressed-the-fuck-out I am, and how I have no real reason to be. So maybe there is a connection because stress causes heart problems and if I’m going out, listen, I’m probably going out that way. Just based off the amount of stored fat around my heart, and an extensive family history of heart disease. Still, what is up with all this stress? Things are actually going okay. Wasn’t it just three weeks ago where I was all, “How lucky am I to have this life?!” And now I’m all, “What the hell is wrong with my life?!”

I’ve narrowed it down to three things:

  1. The world is a dumpster fire, upside-down, pile of steaming dog shit right now. If you ask me, it has been since 2016.
  2. People are rude as shit to each other.
  3. I’ve cut back on my carb intake.

That’s it. That’s all I can come up with. The problem is the first two things I can’t control, and if you’re like Patsy, my awesome therapist, then right now you’re saying to yourself, “Missy, you can’t change people.” And you’re right, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to, or desperately wanting to. I’ve read “Adult Children of Alcoholics” I know my strengths are my weaknesses. Shit, Patsy.

And honestly that’s really what I want. I want people to be nicer to people. Kids to be nicer to kids. I want all kids to be as nice as my kid, is that too much to ask?! I suppose so, my kid’s pretty fucking nice. I want all people to look at strangers and think, “Hmm, how can I connect with this person on a spiritual or human level?” Not, “I bet he’s a Republican.” Or, “I bet he doesn’t have a job.” But it seems that most people, MOST people not ALL people, are incapable of that nowadays. We’ve taken up our side of the fence post and we are not budging. But that’s not the part I’m struggling with. I’m good with my side. I know my side is the “right side of history” side and I know that I am squarely in the “Humane Middle” part.

What I’m so fucking tired of is walking this tightrope of trying to figure out which side of the fence someone else is on. Like will this person like me if I say I don’t go to church and I’m married to an Atheist? Or will this person think I’m a loser if I say, “I’m voting for anyone who isn’t Trump in 2020.” Will this person invite me to coffee if I say that I don’t work, because my husband makes enough money for me to stay at home and work on my writing? Will that person not want my kid to play with theirs if I tell them that we live far away from our families, and it’s on purpose? What if I tell people I am just meeting that I think every child should have an opportunity to experience preschool for free? Or if I leave a room when someone brings up abortion because I just so tired of having that discussion with people? I literally just want to say read my story about abortion, and shut the hell up. I’m out of steam, y’all.

So now what?

Yes, you’re right, I can control number three. So I’m going to go to Sam’s Club today, order an entire sheet cake that says, “People Mostly Suck” and I’m going to eat it alone in my car in the parking lot of Planet Fitness. Good plan.

I’m just complaining. I’ll feel better soon. Probably.

Be nice to people today, just for me.

M.

Year of the Rat

Saturday, January 25th began the Chinese New Year, which in case you are taken back to your childhood and remember those placemats at your Mom’s favorite Chinese food joint, you know the ones I mean, the ones that showed the Chinese zodiac so you could look up the year you were born and see which animal you were (Year of the Rooster, represent), while you waited for your sweet and sour chicken and water—because your Mom never let you order Coke—then you know each year gets assigned an animal. This Chinese New Year is the Year of the Rat. Now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you about all the fun we had ringing in the Chinese New Year with friends at Atlanta’s Chinatown on Sunday. Spoiler: There were no rats.

There was however, some great food, for starters. Jackson opted for dumplings, which is one of his favorites when we visit Hell’s Kitchen or Chinatown in NYC. He also ate a bowl of rice, cause why not? Jerimiah chose a pork roll, which was sweet and savory, and something neither of us had ever tried before. And I had the Beef and Bitter Melon. The beef was amazing good, but the melon had a weird taste and I couldn’t eat it. I kept trying, but my body was just rejecting it. Jerimiah asked me what was up and I was all, “I dunno try this and tell me what it tastes like, I just can’t place it, it’s not spicy, it’s just…” Then he took a bite and he said, “Jesus, it’s so bitter.” And I was all, “Oh that’s it! It’s bitter!” Then he asked me what the dish was called and I confidently said, “Beef and Bitter Melon” and then we looked at each other directly in the eye for a few seconds, wherein I realized what had happened, and he, I suppose, started to wonder how he got stuck with me as his wife.

Luckily just then a little boy came running toward us yelling, “Jackson! Jackson!” The little boy was Jackson’s friend’s little brother. He is in first grade, but he legit. He grabbed Jackson and immediately took him over to see the koi pond. Then came Jackson’s friend, her Mom (and my friend) who legit was born in China, but raised in Hong Kong and Ohio, and speaks Mandarin and is a badass, and her husband, who is from a remote village in India, but works for the State of Georgia. They are amazing, and they had invited us to see their daughter perform at the Chinese New Year celebration, which she does every year with her ballet/Tae Kwon Do team. PS… They all do Tae Kwon Do. No shit. How do we meet such cool people?!

Anyway, her performance was about to start, so we found a good spot to watch and cozied up. It was a pure delight, the favorite of the whole celebration year after year. First her ballet dance team came up and performed, then she had a violin solo, then the Tae Kwon Do team came out and did an amazing performance wherein I, for a split second, thought that I could probably do jump kicks and break boards with my feet too. I mean, probably.

Afterward we meandered around a bit more. There are a lot of shops, but the place was so crowded we vowed to come back another time to do our real shopping. Then suddenly someone was shouting that the lion was coming so we followed the crowd outside to see what this all meant. We were not disappointed.

The Lion Dance is a traditional Chinese dance where performers mimic a lion’s movements in an elaborate costume in order to bring good fortune for the new year. The Lion was running a little behind because they had many performances that weekend all around Atlanta. Atlanta, particularly the area of Chamblee/Dunwoody/Doraville has a large Asian population, and the Lion had a lot of performances and this was their last one, the grande finale. While we waited for the Lions to get there (there was actually two Lions) the announcer told us the story of The Lion Dance. (After she had Jackson run through the whole Chinatown Mall and yell for everyone to hurry up and come see the Lion. For real. He was happy to do it.)

The Lion Dance starts with firecrackers, so she warned us that it would be loud. Then the Lions would fall asleep and we would have to wake them with cheering. These are not Serengeti lions, y’all, don’t try firecrackers and screaming on your safari, okur? Then someone, an unsuspecting young boy and slightly scared white dude, were chosen to “feed” the Lions lettuce. Why lettuce? Lettuce is the color green. What else is green? Money, you nailed it! The Lions would eat the lettuce, then regurgitate it, for real, then you would run and get pieces of eaten lettuce from the Lions to bring you good fortune all year. Oh, and also you can and should feed the Lions actual money, for your prosperity, and for theirs. Get it yet? No? Here’s a video:

Atlanta’s Chinatown is not really what you think of when you think of Chinatown in a big city. It’s not like Chinatown in San Fran, or NYC, or even Chicago. It is more spread out, sort of like Atlanta, but there is this one mall where you will find a grocery store and several shops, and authentic food, and that is sort of the center of the Asian culture in that area, so this is where they do all the celebrating. It’s unique and fun, sort of like the rest of Atlanta. We had a really nice time and can’t wait to go back and explore more when there are way less white people to ruin the exploring!

So Happy Chinese New Year! And Happy Year of the Rat. I asked my friend how to say this in Madarin, but I have literally no idea what she said, so I will just copy this from Google translate: 新年快乐

And here are some more pics from our day in Chinatown. Enjoy.

M.

Spirit Night

Y’all know how schools have Spirit Nights wherein they partner with a particular restaurant and that restaurant gives some percentage of their proceeds back to the school? Well if you are new to this, the concept is pretty simple. The school (usually initiated by the PTA/PTO) reaches out to restaurants around the community and asks if they would like to host a Spirit Night. The restaurant, if they aren’t dumb, agrees. They get a crowd of people they might not normally get on a random Thursday night, and the school makes a little mullah. It’s a win-win. We have been to A LOT of these spirit nights at all three of the elementary schools we have attended since Jackson was in kindergarten, but the school we are at now (our personal favorite of the schools) knows how to show up at spirit night, y’all. Which is a great thing. If the restaurant is ready for us, that is.

So last Thursday we had this month’s Spirit Night at a pizza place. It was a local joint that we had never tried before, but seems to be popular with the community. I’m not sure if they’d never hosted a Spirit Night for our school before or what, but they were, ummm, how should I say this, not prepared. Now before I tell you this story, know that is comes from a place of love. Jerimiah and I both worked in the restaurant business, I did it for 10+ years in fact, and I know the trials and tribulations that go into it. The blood, sweat, and tears (hopefully not in the guests food) so I get it, but because of this we also know how it can be done right, and are always a little offended when it isn’t.

We got there right about 6:15 pm, sort of right in the middle of dinner rush, and the place wasn’t too packed. In fact, as the three of us looked around we were bummed at the lack of spirit from our school. Turns out the whole school was right behind us! In fact one minute there were about three families in line, the next there were about 10, and they just kept coming. Remember how I said we show up for Spirit Night?! This pizza place also does call-in orders, which you could also do for Spirit Night, so their phones were ringing off the hook too. They were suddenly busy, to say the least, but this should not have been shocking to anyone there.

Immediately Jackson found some friends and they all ran outside to play on the patio. It was a cool night, maybe 55 degrees, so no one was sitting outside, so they had this wide open patio (which was actually very cute with string lights and an outdoor fireplace) to run around and play. Jerimiah and I placed our order, and instead of little numbers they give you pictures of celebrities to keep track of table numbers. I thought that was cool, we had never come across that before. We got Prince, on a purple background, duh.

Jerimiah and I ordered caesar salads and 20 wings (we are trying to do low carb here, you guys) and we ordered Jackson two slices of cheese pizza. They sell pizza by the slice ($6 a slice, which was a little absurd since we had just been to NYC where the pizza is awesome and $2 a slice, but you know how it goes…) and they also sell whole pies, calzones, wings, meatball subs, the works. I was a little surprised when our bill at a pizza place was $50, but school spirit, blah, blah, blah.

We got our drink cups, and found a table next to some friends. I was busy in conversation with my friend Kelley, and we were talking about all the, ahem, slightly better pizza places around, while Jerimiah was sitting at the table, and Jackson and the kids were outside playing. I noticed at some point our salads got delivered, but I was still talking. We’d moved on to how we can change the world by then (my mom friends are amazing!) and Jerimiah started eating his salad.

Then a few minutes later a plate with 10 wings came out. Kelley was all, “Eat your food, we have to run.” And I went out with her to collect our kids. They took off and I brought Jackson in, assuming that our food was coming. Then we sat down. I started on my salad, Jerimiah finished his and started on the first plate of wings, and Jackson hopped up and down looking for friends who were coming in the door and asking about his two slices.

Forty-five minutes later, while Jerimiah was standing at the front counter asking why we never got our two slices of cheese pizza or ten more wings, they were all, “We delivered them…ummm…to someone.” Yeah. Needless to say Jerimiah just asked for a partial refund for the food we never received (at this point Jackson had not eaten and was pretty hungry from all the running around outside) and we had eaten side salads and five wings each, which was filling, but again, not what we ordered. They were convinced they had served our food to a wrong table, the cooks were adamant our food went out, somewhere, at sometime, and they were basically like, “Sorry, but you should have said something.” That’s when Jerimiah was all, “Uhh, my wife did say something.”

The thing is, when our salads come out, they didn’t have dressing with them. Jerimiah was so hungry by the time we had finally gotten it (about 25 minutes), that he ate it without noticing. I sat down and was all, where’s the dressing and he was all, “I dunno, I just ate mine.” (Eye roll. Men.) So I went up to the counter to ask for dressing. Then I asked, noticing their panicked faces behind the counter, about the rest of our order. The woman gave me my dressing, asked who we were (meaning which celebrity) I said, “Prince” and she walked over to the cooks. I heard them tell her that our food went out. So she came over and asked to visit our table. I brought her over and she was all, “Hmm, they said you got your food.” Nope, I told her. And she said, “I’m sorry, I’ll take care of it.” Twenty minutes after that is when Jerimiah approached the counter.

Anyway, even longer story short, they refunded us our whole ticket, which is not what Jerimiah wanted, but it was either a refund or we wait another 20 minutes (the kitchen was backed up by then, and apparently the counter girl had no recollection of walking to our table and talking to me) for the rest of our food, and may I remind you one order was literally just two slices of cheese pizza.

I must say I was very proud of Jerimiah throughout this whole thing. I was busy talking to even more people I knew, and he handled it without so much as a grimace. He apparently did get a little short when one of the women at the counter tried to say that we probably did get our food, we just didn’t realize it… umm… yeah. But I mean listen, we get it, we’ve been in the weeds before and lost some food, it’s just not the best idea to accuse the guest of getting the food, eating it, claiming they didn’t get it, and then, what? Discarding the evidence? They even pulled his receipt to make sure we had in fact ordered the “extra” 10 wings and two slices of cheese pizza. Ho hum.

We just had higher hopes for a restaurant who knew a slew of kids were coming in for dinner that night. Or maybe they didn’t because maybe they weren’t prepared for our school and our spirit! But now they know. PS… Who took our two slices of pizza and 10 wings and didn’t say, “This isn’t ours…” Hmm.

In the car I said, “So wait, all that and the school got nothing from us.” Jerimiah was like, “Jesus, I’d rather write the school a fifty dollar check than go through that again.” We laughed because it was true, and set off to find Jackson some food. It was late by this time (we’d been at the pizza joint for almost two hours) so we decided to drive through somewhere. It was decided that it would be Sonic since it was very close. So we ran over to Sonic to find it: SHUT DOWN, y’all! Seriously. It was like the dinner that would never end! But like Sonic just up and closed up shop. Not closed for the night, y’all, like done. Here look:

That’s Jackson peeping through the window. What the hell, Sonic? How you gonna do us like that, and right before Sweetheart Shake time?! Ouch.

So we ended up at, you guessed it, our North Carolina favorite: Cookout! Cookout never disappoints, y’all. And Jackson was finally fed dinner at 8:30 pm, and we decided to never go back to that pizza joint again. Listen, I’m sure they are lovely people. And maybe their pizza is awesome (we don’t know, we never got to try it), but their wings were ehh, and their service even ehh-er (it’s kinda hard to get over being called a liar. Eek!) But you know, you live, you learn, then you go to Cookout. #NorthCarolinaRepresent

I hope our school made some money though, they certainly should have, and from what I heard from other families all was well for them, so maybe it was just us that had a trying time. Hopefully so!

M.

Christmastime Indolence

A general sense of indolence takes over this time of year. For me anyway. The last few days before Christmas. Whew, it’s difficult for me to get it together. I’m usually ahead of the game, having gotten all my shopping, decorating, and wrapping done a week or so before, then I sit, plant my ass firmly on the sofa for three or four days. We all do it. The four of us (I’m including the dog here) all breathe in a long sigh of relief. The parties, the meetings, the lunches, the chaos if over. We watch Christmas movies, we eat cheese and crackers, we bake cookies, and we play board games, Monopoly, Risk, Bunny Kingdom, Gin Rummy, Life, you name it, we play it. And we sit, did I mention that we sit?

Yesterday, the day of the Winter Solstice, the day of our wedding anniversary, was our first official day of pure laziness. We did a lot of nothing. We didn’t strain ourselves, except maybe when I sat up quickly to grab the last piece of cheese off the charcuterie board before my husband. Our mothers both called us to wish us a happy anniversary. They asked what our big plans were for the day. Monopoly and Home Alone 1 and 2. Those were our big plans.

Today we watched Die Hard because yes it is a Christmas movie. Tomorrow? Who knows! Maybe A Christmas Story and Exploding Kittens. Maybe, maybe we will venture out at 8:00 pm, not showered, in pajamas, to look at Christmas lights. On Christmas Eve we might bake some cookies. We might bake them, and put them in festive tins, and deliver them to our all our neighbors in the cul-de-sac. Maybe. I wouldn’t want to overdo it.

Then on Christmas, well, I might not shower until after my second nap. But I’m sure I will shower, eventually. And steak and shrimp are on the dinner menu that day, which means someone, ahem, someone has to fire up the grill. 1, 2, 3, Not me!

I do love this time of year, the time of year doing nothing with my husband, our son, and our pup. We don’t take it for granted, of course. And we know that we are lucky. Not everyone can afford indolence this time of year, and ours ends on December 28th when we load up the family sleigh and head on a whirlwind eight-day vacation, but until then, well until then we plan on finishing Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince, and maybe, maybe three or four more Christmas movies, you know, if we have the time between all the snacking and the napping.

Here’s to an easy holiday, enjoying family time, and napping. May you all have the ability to go forth in napping today!

Happy Holidays!

M.

Down in Lunch Lady Land

I just read an article about a lunch lady who threw away a piece of pizza in front of a kid because he had a $15 bill that wasn’t paid. My head wanted to shake so violently that I would end up seeing stars or birds, but instead of that, I’m here, on my blog, telling you a story. You see, my momma was a lunch lady. She was. True story. She was a myriad of other things in her lifetime too. She took other low-paying, menial jobs to support herself and her four kids, including: A housekeeper, a babysitter, and a bartender, among others, and for a little while, when I was in middle school and then in high school, she was a lunch lady.

I remember this because there is a distinct string of shame that comes from walking through the lunch line, with your “free lunch” card, seeing your mom doing the dishes in the back, waiting to see if she could catch a glimpse of you and give you a little smile, or maybe, if your 8th grade reputation allowed, a small wave. I remember people walking up behind me asking, “Missy, is that your mom making the rolls?” I’d tell them yes, because there was no point in lying, and some of the kids would laugh, and some of them would say, “Your mom makes great rolls.” And I’d smile. Cause she really did. And she was very nice to ALL the kids. In fact, she was too nice. She was often reprimanded for letting kids grab two rolls, or an extra slice of pizza. She never worked the registers, probably because she knew she could never turn a kid away, money or not.

Because there has always been a desire to turn kids away.

That sounds horrific doesn’t it. But in middle school, they turned kids away. In high school, some kids would go through the line twice. Once to get their own food, and once to get a plate for a friend. That’s a real thing that happened. And still does. And lunch ladies like my mom saw this happen. And lunch ladies like my mom threw an extra roll on the tray. Then there are the others.

In case you don’t know, lunch ladies don’t roll in the big salaries like they probably should. In fact, a quick Google search tells me that locally, in DeKalb County, Georgia, lunch ladies are making, on average, $13/hr. That’s $520 a week, before taxes. That’s if they have a full-time gig. My mom, and many like her, were part-timers, who would get there about 8 am and be gone by 1 pm. They were floaters too. Called wherever they needed to be, whenever they needed to be there. But let’s say, for the sake of this here blog, that a full-time lunch lady makes $500 a week, pre-taxes. Let’s also say she has two kids at home, and is a single mom. Whew. That’s not a lot of money. In fact, in most school districts, that lunch lady’s own kids would qualify for free or reduced lunch. Like I did when my mom was a lunch lady.

So here I am, wondering how on Earth a lunch lady, whose kids at some point in their life have probably received free or reduced lunch, can take a piece of pizza off a tray while a kid is standing in line and throw it in the trash only to replace it with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There’s like, uh, lots of things wrong with that, right?

First, there’s the wasting of food.

Then there’s the humiliation.

Then there’s the evident lack of compassion, either on the part of the lunch lady or, I suspect, the school, or the school district, or maybe just the cafeteria manager. But I do suspect, at least I want to suspect, that this is a top-down situation.

I don’t really think people, specifically lunch ladies, want to see kids go hungry. But I think, like most things, there is a lot at play here. First, we can’t discount racism. That would be dumb, because racism plays a big role in a situation like this. One racist lunch lady can ruin a whole school. One racist lunch lady can decide who eats and who doesn’t. Who gets shame thrown their way, and who doesn’t. In most of these stories I’m reading, and there’s a lot of them if you look, this is happening at schools where the population has higher numbers of “Non-white” kids. That’s what they like to say, “Non-white.”

Next there’s the thinking that it isn’t hard to get free lunch. Maybe the kid standing in front of the lunch lady lives in a household situation that would be approved for free or reduced lunch, but maybe his parents have filled out the proper forms. And sure, the lunch lady can shame the kid, in a roundabout way of shaming the lazy parents, either because they didn’t fill out the forms, or because they forgot to write the check, or because this week, there was no way for them to part with that $15. Pick your poison, either way it’s all coming down to shaming a kid who just wants to eat lunch. And that’s not okay.

Probably, what’s most likely happening, is that the school district is sending out nasty emails about cutting costs in the cafeteria. Cutting waste. Collecting payments. And the lunch ladies are taking it as a slap in the face, and passing that slap onto the kids. Top down.

I wish I had a solution here. I mean, in a perfect world we would feed the kids, then worry about the bottom line later. Wait, hmm, maybe that is the solution? Oh yep. It is. Always feed the kid. Don’t shame them. It only takes one time to say to a kid, “Hey tomorrow, unless your balance is paid, will you grab a peanut butter and jelly instead of a hot lunch? I’m sorry, it’s just the rule.” Listen, that kid will grab a PBJ the next day, because that kid doesn’t want to be shamed. Not now, not ever. Not by the lunch lady. Not by his or her parents. But the least we could do when his parents do shame him, is show a little compassion.

Be kind.

M.

The Poor Girl’s Grocery Store

My mom’s visiting. She flew in on Friday, and we’ve been enjoying catching up for the past two days. This morning over coffee I was making a grocery list for the week and she asked where I do most of my shopping. I told her Kroger, usually, but Target or Publix depending on my mood. Walmart in times of distress, like when I know I need that one kind of mustard and chain grease for our bikes. It’s a two-for. But I have to take a Klonopin before I go in, so there’s a trade-off. Anyway, I asked where she shopped and she said mainly Dillion’s (a local chain in Kansas, that might be loosely associated with Kroger), and Aldi. Then we both laughed.

My mom has been shopping at Aldi for so long she can probably tell you all the secrets you want to know. No need to join any of the 1,000 Aldi Facebook sites, where Xennial women talk about the AOS (Aisle of Shame, Shit, Stuff), and the peanut butter cups (which are shit in my opinion) my mom knows the real deal Aldi. I know the real deal Aldi. We’ve done our time at that orange counter bagging, rather boxing, our groceries looooong before Aldi’s was a “hip” and “cool”’place. In fact, it was incredibly embarrassing to be seen at Aldi when I was a kid, but of course if you saw a classmate there, then that meant their parents were probably poor too, so you’d just walk by each other and nod silently, then NEVER speak of the encounter. Oh, middle schoolers.

We’d usually go to Aldi at the end of the month, when the food stamps were gone, and it was scratch biscuit time. When it was that point in the month I didn’t care where the milk and hamburger meat came from, I just wanted milk and hamburgers. It was the odd times of the month where we would have “Food-4-Less” money, or maybe even be shopping the deals at the glorious new Price Chopper on Fourth Street, and she’s trick me, tell me we were going to Waymire IGA for the cereal on sale, and we’d end up at Aldi.

It was always too hot or too cold for me to stay in the car, so I’d have to go in, but first we’d have to dig around the car for a quarter for the damn cart. If we were lucky a family would be walking out and see us and ask if we wanted their cart, though that was rare. I must say it happens a lot more now, and on those rare occasions when I do go to Aldi, and I use a cart, I NEVER take my quarter back. And neither should you. Pass that cart off to a mommy struggling with some kids behind her. For fucks sake.

Sorry. Okay so once we were in the store my job was to immediately start scouring the aisles for boxes so we could transport our groceries home. I’d take my time with this task, because it meant I could hide in cubby holes, and look out for someone I might know. By the time my mom was finished shopping our cart was full of Moreos, and Skadittles, and Capri Fun. All the sorts of horrible knock-off names you could imagine! Oh no, I’d think, what if I have friends over this weekend and my mom asks, “Do you guys want Oreos? And then she walks into my room with Moreos?! #KillMeNow

At check-out time I’d run over to the orange bagging counter, which seemed to be much higher back then than it is now (probably cause I was a kid), and I’d sit, grumpy and scared, until my mom paid for our knock-off taco shells with her monthly allotment of government food stamps. Double whammy!

The cashier would throw our food into the cart crazy fast (some things never change) then ask my mom if she wanted to BUY bags to bag her groceries. My mom would laugh! Hahaha, pay 10 cents for a brown paper bag, I don’t think so! Then she’d motion toward me, my boxes stacked all around, and smile. We’d pack our groceries into boxes, then load our 1972 Dodge or maybe the 1979 Chevy Nova up, and I’d race the cart back to the corral, to link it back to the one in front of it, and take that damn quarter. Whether it was ours or not. Man. Those were some days.

My mom says the Aldi has changed a lot now. They have more “German” foods, and they sell a lot of good produce. I agree, then I blow her mind by telling her about Lidl! 🙂

So what does this all mean, Missy? Not a damn thing. I suppose this post just goes out to Aldi. To their fair prices and their unusual business model. But it also goes out to all the middle school kids who grew up on Fruit Tarts instead of Pop Tarts. Who sat on those orange counters, and asked for the key to the locked bathrooms. The ones who peered through the two-way glass to get a glimpse of “the back office” just to pass the time. To the box getters. The cart wranglers. The quarter gangstas. We’ve come a long way, babes.

M.

Ding Dong Chicken

Whenever I miss our old home in Charlotte, North Carolina I start to crave Ding Dong Chicken. For those of you who have never experienced the awesomeness that is Ding Dong Chicken, follow me down this rabbit hole, you won’t be sorry. I first discovered Ding Dong Chicken at a local place in Uptown Charlotte called Pinky’s Westside Grill. This is one of our favorite restaurants in Charlotte, but we have a rocky history together.

The first time Jerimiah and I met for lunch at Pinky’s we ran across it while we were exploring Uptown not long after we moved to the Charlotte area. At the time we lived one county over, in a small town called Denver, NC that lacks any real places to eat good food. There were the local favorites like the Mexican place by Aldi’s or the Sports Page, but if you wanted one-of-a-kind, cool, new food you had to go to Charlotte.

Jerimiah had just started his new job and was making the 40 minute drive into Uptown everyday. On Fridays I would sometimes meet him for lunch, once school started and Jackson was securely in his fun, safe kindergarten class all day. These occasional lunch meetings were good for both of us. At the time I was considering applying to grad school in Charlotte, he was just learning the area, and we had started to think about moving into the city. We originally stumbled upon Pinky’s because of the VW Beetle that sits on the roof of the place. We liked the outward appearance of the place and we just knew the food would be tasty.

But we didn’t go that day, we went somewhere else. It wasn’t until some of the people at Jerimiah’s office were telling him he had to try Pinky’s that we actually went in one day. On this particular day it was spring, and just starting to get warm outside. The restaurant was full, which is normal at lunchtime, so we opted for the outside patio so we could get seated immediately. We don’t normally sit on patios, so I was feeling a little off already. Then there was the fact that it was our first time there, there were so many options on the menu, and I’m not great with options, and the fact that I could see inside and it looked cool and fun, and we felt banished to the patio. I dunno, I guess I am saying I let all these things get to me when I ordered, so I did what a naive person does, I sorta freaked out and ordered something I wouldn’t normally order: A tuna melt. Even Jerimiah looked at me and said, “Tuna?” Like, I don’t even really eat tuna, ever. I shook my head frantically and handed the menu back to the server. A few minutes later my tuna salad sandwich came out, along with Jerimiah’s awesome-looking turkey burger and I quickly resented my decision. I was mad at myself and at Pinky’s. But I didn’t give up.

Below is a sample of their menu, maybe you can see my frustration.

So the next time we went to Pinky’s we waited for a table inside. We soaked in the fun, cool atmosphere. We asked the server what to get. And she said, “Anything, as long as it is Ding Dong Style.” Well I had no idea what that meant but I said, “I’ll have the Ding Dong Chicken!” And my life was transformed.

Listen, I know this sounds nuts. Like Missy, a damn chicken sandwich can’t change your life, but if you’ve been following this Popeyes v. Chick-fil-a thing, you know it can. PS… Had the Popeyes sandwich, and yeah, it’s awesome. Way better than those Chick-fil-a sandwiches dripping in closeted homophobia and kindness. But still, neither are better than the Ding Dong Chicken at Pinky’s. Allow me to introduce you:

What is that, Missy?! It is a marinated and grilled chicken breast, free from antibiotics and all the gross stuff. It is smack dab between a yummy sesame seed bun (though your bread options are immense, even gluten-free if you are one of those nutcases). Then it is topped with crunchy peanut butter, sriracha, and coleslaw. It is important to know that everything is topped in coleslaw in North Carolina. I’m not a fan of coleslaw, but this one is a cilantro-honey slaw, and it’s amazeballs.

So what do I do now, that I live so very far away from my Ding Dong Chicken? I make it at home, duh! Here’s how I do it, if you want to try it yourself.

10 Easy Steps to Homemade Ding Dong Chicken

  1. First you go to your favorite place to get chicken breasts. Mine is wherever they are on sale that week, usually Kroger. Then you buy your meat. Then you marinate your meat in either a Thai marinate, or in Teriyaki. Both seem to give the flavor you are looking for.
  2. Then one evening, while you are trying to do a bunch of things, remember that you have that chicken you are marinating and you have to cook it that night or it will go bad. So run outside and fire up the grill.
  3. Keep the dog away from you by shouting, “Get back, asshole” whenever he approaches. Throw a ball if need be.
  4. Once you think the grill is hot enough (because your thermostat thing has been broken for like seven years) throw the marinated chicken on the grill.
  5. Close the grill, throw the ball, and continue to spray paint that bookshelf you bought at the Goodwill. Remember to only spray paint in the grass because you can just mow it. Don’t do it on your deck, lest you accidentally get your thrift store patio furniture covered in white chalk paint. You realize you paid more for the paint than you did the actual shelf, right? Nevermind, what’s the dog licking on the ground by the grill?
  6. Check on the chicken. Ohhh, it smells good. Okay, flip it.
  7. Go back to spray painting. Should you be using a mask? Are you getting a little high off this spray paint? How do people get high off it? Is that called huffing? Is that how people get high really quickly? What was the K2 stuff someone was talking to you about the other day? Hey did you get crunchy peanut butter at Kroger?
  8. Yell for your kid or partner or cat to bring you a platter so you can put the chicken on it to take it inside. Abandon the bookshelf, you will finish it before the next hurricane comes through.
  9. Plate the chicken. Here is where you can really let your personality shine. Do you want to use your nice Fiestaware? Or do you prefer that plate you got to help you with portion control? No, that one will just depress you. Just use the platter.
  10. Spoon out some crunchy peanut butter that you found in the back of the pantry (scrape off the marshmallow fluff that is stuck to the top of it, or don’t your call, might be good). Then grab the sriracha from the fridge and squirt it over the top. About this time other people will start to walk into the kitchen because the smell is so good. Your partner may say something like, “What did you make?” Take the platter, grab a knife, yell something about how you are the only one who has any damn sense in this house, and run into the laundry room to eat your Ding Dong Chicken in peace and quiet.

Oh yeah, add coleslaw if you live in North Carolina.

You’re welcome.

M.