Easy Guacamole (No Measuring!)

Photo via chow.com

Photo via chow.com

Robbie makes tacos for dinner about twice a month, because he is the master of anything involving ground beef, and I just don’t prefer cooking with it for some reason. It’s not that it’s difficult. And I don’t mind eating it usually. I just think it’s weird. I don’t know why. We all have our quirks. For example, Robbie hates the way microfiber towels feel, and he can’t stand to touch loose change because it smells weird and is dirty. So, I am the change jar roller! And he is the ground beef cooker. And I no longer buy any type of microfiber towel. But anyway.

Robbie takes real pride in his secret seasoning combinations for steaks, burgers, taco meat, sloppy joes, and the like. And I find it totally impossible to cook refried beans properly, and he is actually very good at that, too. So, this is why he is in charge of taco night. Plus, I get to watch TV on the couch with my beer while he does all the work! Yassssss.

My ONLY job on taco night is to make the guacamole, which we use for dipping tortilla chips in while everything is cooking, and also for putting on our tacos as an extra condiment. Before he met me, Robbie had never had guacamole or avocados in any form (I KNOW!), and he claimed to not like it. He was afraid to try it the first time I made it for him. But I forced it into his mouth! Muahaha!

And he loved it. Now he asks for it any time we eat anything remotely related to Mexican cuisine. Sometimes I let him taste-test to make him feel like his opinion matters. Ha!

Funny story: Once, I tried to grow an avocado tree using the pit from an avocado I used to make guacamole. There are instructions on Pinterest for this. It started out really easy. Just skewer the pit with toothpicks and set it over a glass of water so it’s about half-submerged. It grows roots, then a stalk, then leaves, and then hopefully about seven years later you have fruit. Mine grew roots, and a stalk about three feet tall, but it never, ever grew any leaves. Everyone who came to our house asked why I had a stick in a flower pot. It did not make the move with us to the new house.

I am all about recipes that don’t require exact measurements. I’ve played around with different ways to make guacamole over the years and finally have a pretty good process that, in my opinion, is just as tasty (if not better) than the tiny $5 bowls you get at Mexican restaurants. The best part is that you don’t have to measure anything at all! Unless you are just very Type A and want to make sure it is totally perfect. I can relate to that, too.

Easy, No Measure Guacamole

2 avocados
2 tbsp salsa
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
On rare occasion, I also add a couple tablespoons of minced onion for a little crunch.
(All measurements are approximate!)

Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit. Use a spoon to scoop the meat out into a bowl. Mash with a fork until you reach the consistency you like. Some people like their guac a little chunky; some people like it smooth and creamy. If it doesn’t mash easily with a fork because the avocados are not quite ripe enough, you can use a fork and a knife to cut it up into tinier, mashable pieces.

Stir in the salsa and sour cream. I don’t use the tablespoon from my measuring spoon set. I just use a spoon from my eating utensil drawer — not the small cereal spoon, but the larger one. Like the one you would use to mix ingredients. I have no idea if that is actually the same as the measuring tablespoon or not. It seems close.

For the other ingredients, I just cup my hand as if I was trying to collect a handful of water from a faucet. I fill up the little divot it makes in the center of my palm with each ingredient and dump it in, stirring to mix well. That’s it!

Obviously, you can taste it as you go and adjust the amounts according to what you like. I don’t let Robbie taste-test it anymore, because he always asks for more salt than I normally add. But when I just present it to him already finished, he never mentions it needing more salt. SO. THERE!

The lemon juice seems to help it from turning brown so quickly in the refrigerator, and I can keep it for about 2 days after it has been made to use for leftovers. Be sure to cover it with plastic wrap, though! Enjoy on your own Mexican dinner night at home! Because who can even afford to go out to eat anymore?

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Gold Shoes, Chicken Salad, and Stingrays

Life in Auburn continues to be pretty entertaining. I am still doing a lot of unpacking and arranging, running errands, and doing laundry. A lot of laundry. But in between the mundane aspects of getting settled into a new place (like needing to go buy something ridiculous like a dust pan, because I expressly remember choosing not to pack something that costs one dollar to save space), I’ve found a few fun things to do as well.

A couple weekends ago, I went to a Valentine’s Masquerade Ball, which was a benefit for a local nonprofit arts group. It was held at a local historic property called Pebble Hill — an antebellum cottage with great Civil War history that is now owned by the university and houses their Center for Arts and Humanities. We went with a big group of friends, and it was so much fun to get dressed up for something for the first time in a long time. I generally don’t enjoy being dressed up and prefer my tattered hemp pants and long-sleeve t-shirts to hose and heels. But every once in a while, it is kinda nice to feel all pretty and feminine and dare I say hot, to get dolled up and accessorize and play that role for an evening.

Adding to the excitement was the fact that this event required an arts-and-crafts session AND thrift store shopping. Carter and I spent an afternoon making our masks together. We bought parts at Hobby Lobby, like the eye covering, handles, and decorations like feathers, flowers, berries, and ribbon. And glorious things like glitter, paint, and glue. Putting the parts together required a little elbow grease. I got to bust out my jewelry making supplies to wire things together. I also got to wield my Dremel (one of my favorite things in life) to cut some of Carter’s metal flower stems and to drill holes in her mask for wiring. I really wish we had filmed it — Carter holding a stem of fake flowers as far away from her face as possible, and me slicing into it with my diamond-chip Dremel bit, sparks flying, trying to shield my eyes. Both of us laughing hysterically at the scene. It was like freaking light-saber action! I felt so powerful! God, I love my Dremel.

I found the perfect red belt to go with my outfit for a dollar at Goodwill and selected an awesome retro-fabulous 1960s-esque dress at Sears for $25 — black brocade, with a knee-length full skirt and cinched waist. Black alone is a little boring to me, so I found a cute pair of red patent-leather peep toe pumps, and accessorized further with a black-white-red chunky bangle bracelet and a white scarf, which I only sort of carried around but did not wear. It did come in handy when taking smoke breaks in the chilly night air, so I wrapped it around my shoulders and felt good that I had an actual practical accessory to my outfit. I have an awesome black beaded clutch that is very turn- of- the-(20th)-century that went perfectly. So the red belt I found at Goodwill actually was from the 1960s — geometric resin buckle on wide elastic — and it accentuated the cinched waist of my dress and complemented the red of my shoes and in my bracelet. When I was completely dressed, with smoky eye-makeup finished, my date said, “You look hot. Is that supposed to be an ‘Alice in Wonder-ho’ look?” I could have died, I laughed so hard! Leave it to a man to equate “retro” with “fairy tale.” Actually, I could totally see why it reminded him of the dress Alice wore, white with the blue sash. And why my red-and-black motif seemed to say “reminiscent of sweet and innocent, but actually fierce and sexy.” I think I’m okay with that! Truth be told, it probably sums up my mojo pretty well. We all had an awesome time enjoying the performance art, music, open bar, and extensive buffet, and afterward we ended up at the Olde Auburn Ale House, a cool bar downtown with live music, not wanting to take off our finery too early.

I’ve decided that so far my favorite restaurant here is Chappy’s Deli. They have a lot of Southern charm, complete with an explanation for being closed on Sundays on the door (“Resting and being with family”). The reason it’s my favorite is that they have the best chicken salad I’ve ever tasted. I’m a connoisseur of chicken salad, among a few other things, like French onion soup, french fries, salmon, grilled chicken sandwiches, guacamole, and fried oysters. These are things I will order over and over again, at various restaurants around the globe in hopes of finding the perfect and best one in each category. It’s like my own private Food Network program that I’m living out, and no one cares but me. Chappy’s chicken salad is perfectly Southern — creamy, smooth (not chunky), without too many additional ingredients to add interest. Essentially mayonnaise, shredded chicken, maybe some finely diced celery and onion, salt, pepper, and a dash of lemon juice. This is served on a kaiser roll, with lettuce, tomato, smoked cheddar, and bacon. Oh, my lord. Best. Chicken salad. Ever.

One day last week, I drove up to Atlanta to meet a friend who was in town interviewing for a fellowship. We spent a really awesome day at the Georgia Aquarium. I absolutely LOVE aquariums. I’ve written here before about my water fascination, and I really think I must have been an ocean dwelling creature in another life because I just connect with it so much. As a kid, I always really loved interactive museums, and as an adult, they’re still one of my favorite things. Museums of any kind, really. I can remember visiting Disney World as a kid and being somewhat disappointed that it was mainly entertainment and not so much educational. And their educational exhibits are kinda boring. I was that nerdy kid who wanted more “Hall of Presidents” type things and less “Tea Cups.”

Anyway, the Georgia Aquarium was amazing. Usually the otters are my favorite, and I was a little disappointed that two of the three otter installations were on hiatus at the time of my visit. The Charleston aquarium has great otters, full of personality. The only ones we saw were trying to nap while their pack leader pranced around preening atop rocks and looking cute for the onlookers. I was very happy to get to go down the kids’ whale slide, as the children waiting in line in front of me kept looking back at me like, “What’s she doing here?” And I got to pet a stingray, which came to me when I beckoned it with fingers underwater and spewed a stream of water at me as I stroked its fins. Who knew stingrays were somewhat intelligent? Not me. We saw beluga whales desperately trying to engage in coitus as if on cue when the exhibit’s lecturer began his spiel. Who knew whale dicks were enormous,, and seem to come out of nowhere, like a dog’s lipstick unrolling? Not me. Although it seems appropriate. I mean, they are whales. Observing the reactions of the people around us at the time was priceless, though. We saw whale sharks that were bigger than the beluga whales, and stingrays that I couldn’t have wrapped my arms around, giant grouper, dragon fish (they look like really colorful and really lazy seahorses), sea turtles (love them!), lion fish, and a whole hall of Amazonian fish and reptiles. It seems like every time I go to an aquarium they’re doing an Amazon installation. Which is cool, because I get to relive my trip to Brazil. There were lots of other exhibits going on that you had to pay extra to go into, but sometime I’d like to do all the rest of it. I’d particularly like to see the dolphins after watching “The Cove.” I have a new respect and admiration for them now, even beyond what I did previously.

It was also great wandering around and catching up with my old friend from high school, who I only see on rare occasions nowadays. It reminded me that some friends are forever, even after things change immensely for both parties in life. There are some people you just connect with, feel at home with, and enjoy every second with. No explanations necessary. No buffering of the true self needed. Birds of some sort of feather…perhaps a spiritual sort. My soul wants to connect with everyone, but it only gets to experience the real connection every few years or so. As a result, I spend a lot of time feeling a sense of loss for the ones who didn’t qualify. But there are few better feelings than seeing one of those old soul connections again, and being reminded that it does happen sometimes if we let it, and we’re looking. I cherish all of mine…the special, the few.

Sweet Home Alabama

As a lifelong resident of North Carolina, I always thought of myself as being from “the South.” My friend, who was born in Alabama, and grew up in North Carolina, but came back to Alabama via a brief stint in Florida, has always tried to explain to me how “the South” is not just “the South.” He has always said the “Deep South” is different, and I always blew that off as nonsense stereotyping. He said that to people in Alabama, North Carolina might as well be “the North.” And I thought, “Oh, please.”

After just a week in Alabama, I can safely say that I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment. Things are different down here. Probably in some ways not for the best, but in many ways, better, at least in my mind. Here’s a brief list of things I’ve noticed in just one week.

1) Everyone is so friendly. Now, most people who visit anywhere in the South from anywhere else would say this. But I would say that it is all very dependent on the specific area. In Asheville, I found that people were much more ready to have a conversation with a stranger than in Winston. And certainly in Rutherfordton you will get someone’s life story (as well as that of their son-in-law) while standing in line at the Walmart pharmacy. One of the first things I noticed here was that everyone makes eye contact, smiles, and says hello. Retail clerks genuinely wish you a blessed day or confide something personal in you for the two minutes you stand before them. People are also very nosy. If you go to the post office, you should be prepared to report the purpose of your business in front of everyone else in the post office, before you get to the counter. Someone comes around and asks. One of the first things friends told me was to get ready to be asked insanely inappropriate questions in public on a regular basis and figure out how to deal with that. Their approach is to basically make shit up all the time, so that they appear to be cooperating but never divulge any real information. The people they work with know next to nothing about them, but they all think they do, and they all have a different idea as to what it is. This is because they never confirm or deny anything and let people make their own assumptions. They find this very entertaining. They enjoy testing the philosophical concept of “It doesn’t matter what the truth is; it only matters what you can make someone believe is the truth.”

2) It is much, much warmer here. The day I left Winston, I was bundled to the hilt in a down parka, fleece hat, gloves, and coffee for added warmth. There was still snow on the ground from the last storm. Since I’ve been in Alabama, I’ve been completely comfortable in a light fleece jacket. During the day, one could conceivably wear shorts right now. It’s only when the sun goes down that I need anything for additional warmth, and even then it feels like one of North Carolina’s chilly spring days right before it bursts into summer. I’ve been here in the summer, and I know this is not going to be a good thing when the humidity hits and all the gum and chap stick in my car melts into mush, and when you step outside and can hardly inhale because the air is so heavy and wet. But right now, it’s very nice.

3) Corn fritters. I had never in my life even heard of a corn fritter before. I thought it was something like a hush puppy. But no, it is a ball of creamy corn — whole kernels of yellow corn floating in the creamed corn soup — then breaded and deep fried, and it is heavenly. We had this as an appetizer at Niffer’s Place, an Auburn institution, and I thought it was specific to the restaurant. Then, I saw frozen corn fritters at the grocery store alongside the mozzarella sticks and pizza bites. Whaaaaat?

4) Alabama-style barbecue. North Carolina is pretty famous for its barbecue, and there are several different styles depending on the region. I like the vinegary Eastern NC barbecue the best, as opposed to the tomato-based Western style of my home region. There’s also a mustard sauce particular to the low country of South Carolina that I like a lot. Alabama has a couple different types of barbecue sauce — a smoky-sweet hickory that is reddish brown but still involves no tomatoes, and a mustardy-vinegar, like a cross between Eastern NC and low country SC, but thicker and creamier. As much as I like NC barbecue, I would have to say that at this point in time, Alabama barbecue is the best I’ve ever tasted. That mustardy-vinegar cream sauce that was ladled on my plate of sliced pork at Mike and Ed’s was divine.

5) Crazy rain/storms. It rains here quite a bit, maybe because it’s close to the coast. But it can be a torrential downpour one minute, and half an hour later, it will have stopped, and it’s fairly dry. Also, this place brings new meaning to “severe thunderstorm.” Wind, hail, rain, so powerful you can’t see through it, like a warm, wet blizzard. Approximately six hours and a few downed trees later, it looks like a blue-sky paradise again.

6) Alcohol. Alcohol costs more here because there is something called a “sin tax” on things like booze and cigarettes and other sinful indulgences. And yet, there is more alcohol being consumed here than anywhere I’ve ever lived. Yes, it’s a college town, but I’ve lived in college towns before, and never have I encountered the level of picked-over beer that I have seen here. If you go to buy alcohol after 5 pm, be prepared to settle for crap, because that’s what’s left. Party preparation has to begin early.

7) Ladies and Gentlemen. Gender roles are apparently much more strict here than elsewhere in the South. Much to my surprise, I like it very much. Whereas my independent self once would have taken offense at someone’s insinuation that I was less capable as a female in the world, I now actually appreciate it when multiple men vie for the opportunity to open doors for me, let me go ahead of them in line, pump my gas, or even tip their hat. Because I am a lady, and apparently that’s how gentlemen are supposed to treat ladies. It’s a little like being in the 19th century. But maybe I had a past life during that era that really suited me, because I am totally down with it. No, please, go ahead and dote on me just because I’m a girl. I enjoy being catered to, and I have never experienced that before. I believe that the men see this behavior not as a slight to my inferior gender, but as a sign of respect and safekeeping. Something akin to the respect for the divine “goddess,” the sacred female, that primitive peoples enjoyed. At least, that’s how I prefer to look at it, and I don’t think it’s far off the mark. I am woman, hear me roar? That’s good, but “You are woman, and beautiful, and sacred,” is a little better. Respect is actually a concept that people talk about. I was at a party last weekend and mentioned that I have one male neighbor who will only talk to me when he knows my male roommate is home. A number of the guys at the party responded very quickly in saying, “That’s being respectful.” I agree, I suppose, but it still struck me as strange until they explained it. And now that I know people actually think about stuff like that here, I appreciate it.

8) Central Time Zone. It’s a little weird to be living in a different time zone from most of my friends and family. At this point, my body is still on Eastern time, so I am staying up later and sleeping later than I think I should be, but then when I realize what time I physically feel like it is, it all makes sense. We are very close (about 20 minutes) to the Eastern/Central border, so depending on where you are, sometimes cell phones have a nasty habit of resetting themselves to what they perceive to be correct. This proves to be problematic for detecting when exactly you may have missed that last text message or if you rely on your phone as an alarm clock, which I have done for a long time. I may actually need to buy a real alarm clock now that plugs into the wall. The main weird thing is the light. The light is the same as in Eastern zone, but just at different times of the day. That’s been a bit weird to get used to. Three pm doesn’t look like it’s “supposed to” outside.

9) Slow driving. Although some people like to say I drive like a bat out of hell, I maintain that I drive no more crazily than anyone else. I am not a speed demon, particularly. But if I am in a hurry, I will punch the gas maybe a little too hard trying not to be late. Around here, everyone drives so slow. I consistently go five over the speed limit, and I am flying past people at that speed. I’m lucky if I get behind someone actually doing the speed limit, instead of a few miles per hour under the limit. I keep wondering why this is. A different type of respect for the law? An attitude towards life that allows one to slow down and enjoy being alive instead of rushing to the next thing/place as quickly as possibly? I have to say, even though I have been known to talk about wanting to live in a big city and do enjoy that fast pace of everything when visiting them, I kinda like living in a place where life goes a little slower. I never really noticed that slowness growing up in a very small Southern town. I don’t think we had that, particularly.

Other great things so far…Auburn is an awesome little college town that reminds me a lot of Chapel Hill, and seems to be pretty cultural and diverse and open-minded so far. There are actually hippies here, and places that remind me of Asheville (like little bookstores and coffee shops and bead/yarn shops with creaky wood floors), tons of cool bars and restaurants, good places for walking dogs (parks), tons of old houses with character, and lots of people up for hanging out. Auburn has a preeminent veterinary school, so there are tons of animal lovers and vet offices, and anywhere that has an abundance of animal lovers is all right with me. Politically, I was a little worried about being in the middle of red-state America, but today I drove by a local mechanic’s shop whose sign bore the words “infowars.com” on one side and something about a sale on the other side. As someone who knows that website well, I was pretty happy to see them promoting their support publicly, and to know that there are people everyone who are seeking out their own information instead of relying on mainstream whatever to guide them. You never can tell where you’re going to encounter an open mind. I probably wouldn’t have thought south Alabama would be the place that would come closest in my experience to the liberal bastion that is Asheville.

But all this sums up to…I love it here so far! And I am very happy with it as a landing spot for the time being. Never know what the future will hold, but so far this is just what I needed. I feel like the universe leads us to things/experiences/places/situations/people. I feel like I was led here. Maybe the reason(s) are not yet clear, but I’m listening. And enjoying the ride.

Happy New Year!

One would think that being out of work would mean so much more time for fun things like blogging. Unfortunately, the universe took over my life for the past couple months, and I have been out of town more than I’ve been home. And away from a reliable computer with decent internet access more than not. Hence the reason for my being MIA lately. But I’m here now (for how long remains to be seen), and I’m blogging! Yes! Best way to ring in the new year! After this I’m going to do some catching up posts, but right now I want to go over the highlights and lowlights of my 2010, which I am not so sad to see exit through the gift shop.

This year,

1) I reconnected with more than one old friend, and I am a better person for it.

2) I got laid off from my job.

3) I moved out of my apartment and into a house I love but am close to no longer being able to afford due to number 2 above.

4) My grandmother went into a nursing home.

5) I started a charity project that has yet to make any money.

6) I traveled A LOT but only regionally.

7) I met some awesome new people at home and in other towns.

8) I fell in love for the fourth time in my life.

9) I let go of old flame number 2, to the best of my ability, which was the only one still hanging on to my brain.

10) I learned quite a bit about football.

11) I tried and failed to rescue an abused dog.

12) I was reminded that sometimes you lose no matter how great you do.

13) I was reminded that when life closes a door, it often opens a window.

14) I went to some really good concerts and music festivals.

15) I saw in person a dream come true for a friend of mine.

16) I witnessed the birth of (and helped deliver) my goddaughter.

17) I learned how to sew properly.

18) I developed relationships with extended family members that I am grateful for.

19) I learned how to cook the world’s best filet mignon in my own kitchen without using a grill.

20) I was reminded that life just goes on, no matter what good or bad happens. It keeps going. And I keep thinking of new adventures I want to experience and trying to figure out how to make them happen.

There’s a whole lot more that happened this year, but those are probably the main highlights, broken down to a basic level. I don’t make resolutions, because I think they’re crap. So I will leave you with the words of one Benjamin Franklin of rap legend (ha).

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.”

 

To the Hall of Justice, Batman!

A couple months ago, right before I got laid off, I got a ticket for rolling through a stop sign on my way to work because I was afraid I was going to be late (and had already been reprimanded for tardiness once). In a residential/office park area with no other cars on the street. I wish I could have said, “I just got laid off! I can’t afford this!” and squeezed out some tears, but at the time I didn’t know that was about to happen. Nor would I probably have thought to do it even if it had been the case. I’m like the only girl I know who has never cried her way out of a ticket. I am just not manipulative enough for it to even cross my mind as a possibility.

Well, once I was pulled over for speeding at like 2 am coming home from the club, RIGHT where the speed limit changed from 55 to 70, and I said I had just gotten off work and was exhausted and trying to get home. It was not a complete lie. I WAS exhausted and trying to get home. I just got off work like two hours earlier and THEN went out.

But the only time I ever actually got a speeding ticket (80 in a 55 on my way to my best friend’s wedding shower, which I was co-hosting), I had to go to “driving school” (a.k.a. class about driving laws) to keep my license. Which I did, and I’ve been a pretty responsible driver ever since. I mean, can you not look at my record and see that I have only one official infraction, and give me a freakin’ break on the rolling stop at 8 am? GAH. It’s not like I put anyone in danger. The kids in that neighborhood had already been picked up for school by the bus. LOL.

So the ticket had been languishing in my lonely, unused briefcase for months, and I remembered yesterday (luckily) that I either had to go to court or pay it by tomorrow. First of all, what’s the point of going to court for that? Not gonna lie, I rolled. Not like I can hire a lawyer to say I rolled to *almost* a complete stop and get it dismissed. Right? I actually have no idea. I just figured it would be easier to just pay the damn thing.

So I went downtown to the Courthouse this morning to do just that. Only it’s not called the Courthouse. It’s called the “Hall of Justice.” Like we are in freaking Gotham or some shit. I went into the lobby and put the contents of my pockets in the tray to go through the metal detector, which the security guard didn’t even look at, and slid through with her back to me while speaking Spanish to someone behind her. I walked towards the elevator hoping for a sign for the Clerk of Court’s office.

Oh, yay! The sign said “Clerk of Court, Room 217.” So I got on the elevator. The lady ahead of me asked me what floor, and I said, “Two, please.” She craned her neck around all slow and looked at me with her lips pursed, and said, “You ON two.” So the lobby, which is on the ground floor level, is actually also the second floor? O….kay.

“Do you know where the Clerk of Court’s office is?” I asked her. She pointed out into the lobby without another word, and the door closed. I walked in the direction she pointed and went into the first and only office-looking room marked “Records.” A lady at the desk asked to help me, and I held up my pink slip, saying, “Is this where I go to pay a ticket?”

“No, Clerk of Court is where you pay. Room 217. Down the hall.”

Okay. This can’t be that hard.

I went out again and headed down the hall. I passed a door that said, “Bookkeeping.” I figured it’s probably farther on down. Nope. Turned around and decided to go into “Bookkeeping” to ask again. Once inside, I saw a huge long line, and other people holding pink slips. This must be it!

The guy at the end of the line motions for me to pass him. How nice! Awesome, thanks! He proceeds to inch closer to me and I begin to wonder whether he is trying to determine my brand of perfume, see down my shirt,  pick my pocket, or grab my ass. There is a sign which reads “No cell phones — only in lobby.” Apparently this does not apply to the one lawyer in the room who proceeded to talk loudly on his cell the entire time.

At the window is a very large man with a tiny child in tow. He is having an animated conversation with the lady at the window. Apparently they are old friends. The tiny child runs towards me and hugs my legs, staring up at me with a tiny little cheesy grin. The large man at the window turns around and bellows, “AJ! Get off her!” AJ releases his grip and runs back to the window. Everyone in the line is now looking at me. I don’t know why children like me. I don’t even smile that much in public because I’m trying to do my “Don’t fuck with me” face.

Finally I get to the window and hand the lady my ticket. “I need to pay,” I said. At which point, she proceeds to crow out to the room, “YOU GOT TO GO TO COURT!” And thrusts it back at me.

Calmly, I spread it open before her and point to the box checked by the cop on the back, which plainly says I only have to go to court if I don’t want to plead guilty by paying. The paragraph begins, “You do not have to appear in District court…”

“CASH ONLY,” she barks. I am aware of this stipulation, as I also read that information on my ticket and am prepared with cash, which I already had in front of her on the counter. Got my change and ended up exiting with the dude who was creeping behind me in line.

Outside, he said, “Man, she a bitch, right?” I was like, “Yeah, whatever.” He walked with me for a minute chatting. He said he had been standing close to me to make sure no one fucked with me because I was the only white girl in the room. “I wasn’t trying to creep or nothing. You had a wad sticking out your back pocket. These crack heads don’t play.”

“Oh…thanks,” I said. “That’s really nice.” That’s when we parted ways, and my protector crossed the street to the pawn shop saying, “Gotta go get some of my shit back. You got a phone?”

I laughed. Gotta give him props for trying, I guess. LOL.

 

Football for Dummies (And by dummies I mean girls.)

Two of my best friends are huge Auburn football fans — one because he goes to school there and the other because he wishes he did. After spending a lot of time with them recently, I’ve gotten thrown onto the SEC football bandwagon. I have never been a big football fan, even though I never missed a single game in high school, because I’ve never understood it too well. I’ve been to countless Superbowl parties where I was like, “Where’s the food?” Because I couldn’t care less about the game. And professional sports are so much less interesting than college anyway. Pro players are lazy and slow. They are already making millions. College players work hard because they’re trying to get there.

Not to mention, the Carolina Panthers, which is the team I would pull for based on my location, never makes it that far. And how do you pick a pro team otherwise? I feel no connection to any other area, so what are you gonna do? Maybe the Steelers just because I have great friends who are from and live in the Pittsburgh area and are huge fans. Otherwise, it’s really based on who your friends like. Right?

Anyway, the boys are all about answering all my dumb girly questions about how it works, and it’s not like I’m playing dumb to get attention. I really actually want to understand it, because it seems to be so much fun to them and I feel like I”m missing out. Some of the best tips they’ve given me are as follows.

Me: I can never tell who has the ball.
Them: Watch the team to the right of the scrimmage line and then watch the quarterback after the snap.
*I should probably note here that this was three games after I said, “How do they get those lines drawn on the field so fast and then take them away?” Obviously, the last time I was watching football with any interest was before this new amazing technology was invented.*

Me: So there are four downs and then the other team gets the ball, right? When and why do they punt?
Them: They punt on the fourth down to get the ball as far away as possible so that when the other team gets the ball they have to start their downs way far away.

Common sense tells a person what an interception or a fumble is. I get that much. I now at least get the concept of downs and the fact that they represent four tries to reach a touchdown, and the number following the X Down and ___ means that’s what yard line they’re at. Incomplete means when they try to pass it and no one catches it. As for all that other stuff, like off sides and what have you, I don’t really get that. But I don’t think I really need to.

That, my friends, is all you really need to know about football to enjoy watching a game if you have a team you are passionate about. As I said, Auburn is my team now because of my buddies. Which is cool because they are way better than any ACC teams that people around here root for. As my buddies say, SEC sets the standard.  Also, Auburn is awesome because they have a great student section at home games (also the reason I became a big Duke basketball fan back in the day), they have unique chants and cries, and their current quarterback, Cam Newton, is freaking amazing and can run an effortless 40 yards for a touchdown like it’s a leisurely stroll in the park. His calves are the size of small Russian cars. He breezes up the field like it is nothing, and so far this season they’re undefeated largely because of him.

And then there’s the whole War Eagle thing — their mascot is the Tigers but they also have an actual eagle that flies around the stadium, and the battle cry is “War Damn Eagle!” When you are out in public and wearing anything Auburn related, another fan or alum will see it and say, “War Eagle!” in greeting. The appropriate response to that is either “War Eagle!” Or “War Damn Eagle!” As in, I acknowledge you as a member of the club. It’s like a secret handshake. I love that. This only happens very occasionally around here when I wear my Auburn shirt that they gave me so I could truly represent (lol), but when I’m in Atlanta it’s much more frequent due to the proximity to Auburn. There are more fans and alums down that way than here for sure. Either way, any time it happens I get a little thrill like I’m a member of a secret club.

Anyways, today was the first game I watched alone and really understood. Even though I texted a couple questions here and there to my buddies in Alabama. But I was actually pretty proud of myself for following it as well as I did and having the correct reactions at the correct times. LOL. Luckily they think it’s kinda cute to explain stuff to the girl who doesn’t quite understand but is trying so hard. 😉 And it was a good, close game against LSU who was #6 to Auburn’s #5 in the SEC rankings. Tied at halftime, and Auburn really had to pull it out in the fourth quarter for the win.

See? Do I sound like a real football fan now? LMAO!

P.S. Cam Newton is totally hot. So there’s my girly take on it. Good thing he’s eligible for one more season before he goes pro. 🙂 Man, I can’t wait to go to a home game in person. Apparently tickets are really expensive, which sucks. One day I will be able to afford it, I KNOW!

No Job for You!

After months of saying things like, “I just feel thankful to have a job at all,” I  joined the ranks of third world America when I was laid off today. I guess it was bound to happen eventually. It seems to be happening to everyone. I guess I get now why they break the news to people on Fridays. At least I get a long weekend.

My parents got married during a pretty bad recession. Both of them have degrees, and both had trouble finding work for a long time. My dad was laid off from tons of jobs during that time, and he says every time it happened, it turned out to be a good thing, because he ended up somewhere better as a result.

It has not been a secret to us that our company has been struggling over the last year or so. So it was not a total shock for me. I guess the timing was a little shocking because I didn’t realize it had finally come to that. Everyone else is getting pay cuts and hour cuts, but the creative person is always the first to go completely. Art is expendable, you know.

My boss is being pretty cool about it. He’s offered to keep me on contractually part-time, so that will at least contribute to what little I”ll get on unemployment. I could tell he felt bad delivering the news. I still find it hard to understand how he can pay more than I make in a year for just one of his two kids to attend a posh private school and not have any moral issue with that. But I guess when you own the company, you can do whatever you want. Doesn’t make it right. But it does make it possible. And hey, his kids’ overpriced education is way more important than my ability to not be homeless. Apparently. Let’s face it, when you grow up with money, private school versus public school doesn’t make a shit ton of difference. But, I digress.

I guess it’s kind of a good thing. I didn’t want to stay at that job forever, but I have a hard time pushing myself to make big changes. I probably would have had a really hard time quitting unless presented with a miracle dream job doing something philanthropic and making more money. And I really never saw myself staying in this city indefinitely either.

Now I feel a certain sense of freedom that I can go somewhere new and start over. Although I have no savings with which to do that. But maybe within the next few months I’ll be able to save some by cutting expenses. At least I won’t be using as much gas. Ha.

I feel fortunate that I don’t have a spouse and/or children tying me to the area. When I answered the question on the unemployment application of, “Are you willing to relocate?” I just thought, “Willing? YES, PLEASE!” I’d like to move to a bigger city. For years I’ve struggled with the simultaneous desire to live in the country and to live in a huge, bustling metropolis. Lately the need to be around more open-minded individuals and diversity has led me to choose the latter. It’s boring meeting the same person over and over again in a different costume. I like people who are weirdos and freaks and different and unique and individual. Usually you can find more people who fit that bill in big cities.

So thus begins my quest for “the next step.” I’m glad when things happen in my life that propel me to move forward. Sometimes you need a push. Or a swift kick in the ass, as the case may be. FORWARD!

Pet Peeves of the Day

Illegible captchas. Seriously, WHAT is the point of human verification methods that real humans cannot decipher???

The word “caveat.” I don’t know why I don’t like it. I think it’s overused, and people generally use it only to make themselves sound smart.

People who make frustrated noises from another room loud enough for you to hear because they want you to say something. If you need to vent, just tell me. I don’t mind listening. But don’t be all passive aggressive and make me ask.

Receiving the same email announcement multiple times in one day. I saw it the first time!

When my boss forwards me email announcements even though I’ve told him multiple times I get those too.

People who continually misspell my name even though they see it in their email inbox multiple times a day.

People who have joint Facebook accounts with their spouse or partner. You are not ONE PERSON!

The neighborhood hooligans who insist on leaving their fast food wrappers in the ditch by my mailbox all the time.

Verizon’s new policy of charging $2.00 per 411 call. Do you think I’d use that service in the first place if I had any other option?

The fact that in order to ship something to Switzerland it costs me less than $3.00, but God forbid I want a tracking number to make sure the second shipment doesn’t get lost/stolen like the first one, it’s $30.00.

The fact that my 10-year clean driving record counts for absolutely nothing the one time I roll through a stop sign because I think I might be late for work, with no other cars in sight and the fear of what might happen if I no longer have a job to be late for. Because one day out of thousands I forget to push the button on my alarm clock over to the “set” position.

As Jenny remarked recently, the phrase, “point person.” Stupid professional lingo. Similarly hated is “price point.” As if the word “price” does not suffice.

The fact that Facebook doesn’t separate my “likes” from my “friends.” I am not friends with flip flops. I like them, but I don’t want them on my friend list.

People who email me with supposedly crucial issues and then fail to get back to me for weeks.

The fact that my boss finds it simpler to have me waste 45 minutes at the Post Office trying to ship a package to his sister in England, when he could have just ordered her kids some clothes online and had it shipped directly, probably at a lower “PRICE POINT.” Note to self: don’t try to save yourself time by filling out a customs form in advance. Invariably, whichever one you choose will be wrong. Even if it was right the last time.

Thank you, and good night.

Random Pet Peeve: 4-Way Stops

Because no one understands how they’re supposed to work. And if you do, you’re gonna get hit anyway, because the idiot to your left thinks it’s his turn, or that he can follow the car in front of him straight through without even stopping. Humans are dumb; we need stoplights.

My One Joke

So, I had possibly the worst day ever. Okay, not ever. But easily the worst day I’ve had in the last 2 years. And I really need laughs right now. So I’m gonna tell a joke. And y’all better fucking laugh or else we’re not friends anymore.

A guy walks into a bar. He sits down, and the bartender says, “Hey, man. You look terrible. You must be in the right place today.”

The guy says, “Man, I had the worst day. I have to go on this business trip, so I went to the travel agency. And the girl who was helping me was so freaking hot. I mean, hot! Perfect. Long blonde hair, big eyes, big — anyways.”

Bartender says, “Hmm, nice. You’ll have to give me the name of the agency. I may need to take a trip soon.”

The guy says, “So, it took me a minute to even get myself together enough to speak to her, because I was so nervous. I mean, I couldn’t even tell you the last time I got nervous talking to a girl. But I was sweating! And when I finally opened my mouth, do you know what came out?”

Bartender says, “Surprise me.”

“‘I’d like two tickets to Tittsburgh, please.’ I can’t believe I said that! I am such an idiot!!! And to think I had been waiting for the right time to ask for her number! Yeah, like that’s gonna happen!”

Bartender says, “Man, I know how you feel. But you know, that shit happens on occasion. Happens to the best of us. Here, I’ll give you an example. Just recently, I was sitting down to breakfast with my wife. She makes a good breakfast. Bacon and eggs, usually. And she said to me, ‘Honey, can you pass me the sugar for my oatmeal?’ And you know what I said? I said, ‘You fucking bitch! You’ve ruined my life!'”

“So, see? It could happen to anyone. Don’t feel bad. This one’s on me.”

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