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Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Dear Bob,

Listen, friend: We need to have a talk.

You were one of my favorite teachers in high school, and I’m thrilled we reconnected when I lived in Atlanta.

But you have scared the bejesus out of everyone with your recent emergency.

I realize that taking a group of students to the Galápagos Islands — a trip that included snorkeling — was too appealing to be denied.

However, when loads of people in the group got a stomach virus, did you HAVE to be an overachiever and get an extreme case? Of course you did.

This was your lovely wife Susan’s status update over the weekend.

Emergency surgery, scary-low oxygen levels, infection attack on numerous organs — that’s just a fraction of the issues you faced.

The good news is that you are awake and asking for sweet tea from Chick-fil-A.

So that means you are on the mend.

It’s about time.

Keep up the great work!

Love,
Beth

* Thanks, Toy Story.

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Dear Neighbors,

Y’all be out here WILDIN’ (as the kids say). That is, if the Next Door app is any indication.

I live a quiet life. I mind my own business. I’m not out trying to be the stereotype of Angry White Woman (i.e., Karen or BBQ Becky).

Some of you are LIVING for the drama. And bringing it.

For example, Laurie and Claralyn woke up and chose violence.

And then there are posts like the following that have me shaking my head, for a variety of reasons.

My guilty pleasure is following the Best of Next Door on Twitter.

I mean, LOOK:

How could I resist?

But in the words of the late, great Rodney King, “Can’t we all get along?”

Despite the inauspicious start, I get along with both my next-door neighbors, and I’m close with about a dozen of you in our neighborhood. And some of you must like me a little as you voted me into a leadership role. I also took on the task of editing the neighborhood newspaper. Because of course I did.

As I have free rein with the paper, I want to start an advice column to help resolve minor conflicts. Like alley clippings. Neighbor friends Kathy and Marlane have agreed to help.

I think it could be fun. Also, it may raise everyone’s self awareness and tolerance.

But probably not. 😬😉

Anyway, I’m just trying to help. No need to get knickers in a twist over Christmas lights and weeds, when there is the VERY REAL problem of holiday creep.

My friend Jude sent me evidence of Valentine’s Day merch in a store on Dec. 27.

THAT’S a problem.

Your neighbor,
Beth

*RIP Bob McGrath.

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Dear Friends and Family,

(You know the drill: Part 1, 2, 3 and 4.)

During my conversation with my father, he told me that he didn’t actually live at the address where I sent the letter. His ex-wife, Jan, still lives there with her son, my half-brother Brad. (They also have a daughter, Erin, my half sister.) Jan opened the letter, shared it with Brad, and he shared with David.

(After I asked Jan* about this part of the story, she said that when Brad called David, David talked about his crazy day. Brad said, “Dad, it’s about to get a whole lot crazier.”)

David now lives in Long Island in an apartment off my uncle’s house. (The apartment used to be my uncle’s dental office.)

Y’all. I mean. Can you IMAGINE Jan’s reaction? Brad’s? David’s?

I might have had to take some time to process, but David called me within 24 hours.

The call consisted of high-level catch-up, as you might expect. He seemed happy to know about me.

And Jan reached out to me on Facebook to welcome me to the family.

And Brad texted me to start a conversation.

How lovely is that?

David and I started talking regularly, and we decided we would meet when I visited New York for my annual birthday trip in December.

I flew into La Guardia and rented a car as the LIRR train schedule did not cooperate.

Brad: Have a good time! 
Me: Thanks. I'm on my way. Nervous.
Brad: So is he!

David was waiting on his porch when I pulled up. He said he felt like a kid at Christmas. I did too. (Add some flop sweat that Santa doesn’t usually get.)

He had a present for me:

I suddenly became very aware of my nasolacrimal ducts. Why? When I met Kathy, she gave me a present.

It was a gift David had given to her for her birthday when they were dating. She kept it all these years because it was the one thing that connected the three of us. And I had told him about it.

Oh Lord: There’s something in my eye. Hang on.

OK. Proceeding.

He took me to the main house to meet my Uncle Terry and Aunt Rosemary.

As it turns out, they and their family and David spent plenty of time in Savannah because they have a place in Hilton Head. Again, I could have run into them AT ANY POINT and not known about our connection.

Also, I would be staying the night in Uncle Terry and Aunt Rosemary’s house.

Y’ALL. These people JUST met me. I am a stranger. So this tells you a little something about how my existence was received.

The four of us went out to dinner and had a wonderful time. When we got back, David brought out a cake for my birthday.

I lost it (but tried not to).

He got me an ice cream cake (Carvel FTW!) without even KNOWING I am not a fan of regular cake.

It was … a lot. (I know I keep saying it, but cut me some slack. It IS a lot!)

The next day, we went on a drive to key places of interest for him and the family.

We laughed. We argued good naturedly. We got to know each other.

We went to the Long Island Aquarium.

As we were watching the sea lion show, I thought about how completely bizarre it was to be there with him. This is the kind of things dads do with their daughters when daughters are children. But here we were, making up for lost time.

Oh look: My lacrimal sac is acting up again. One moment.

I’m back.

It was bone-chillingly cold. My father doesn’t have any body fat (one area where I did NOT get his genes), so we didn’t linger at the lions.

We went back to his place to continue chatting. Before long, it was time for me to head into the city for the rest of the birthday trip.

I had plenty of thoughts to keep me occupied on the drive, along with a debrief phone call from a blogger friend.

I TOLD YOU it was a wild ride.

Just a little bit more to go if you want to join me. The final part is coming soon.

XO,
Beth

* Yes, I talk to Jan. Another weird and wonderful part of the story.

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Dear Santa,

Thanks for bringing me the gift of time with new family this year. First Christmas with birth family on mom’s side. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

Added bonus for 2022: Meeting birth father, David.

Thank you for that too. It’s plenty to process (and write about), so today I’ll just be thankful.

Somehow I must have made it on the nice list.

It’s a Christmas miracle. 😉

Love you, Santa!

See you next year,
Beth

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Dear Kara,

Thanks for inviting me to Drag Queen Meat Bingo yesterday. It was one of many commitments I had for the day, but it was BY FAR the most fun.

I will be honest: I thought the “meat” part of the event was going to be the eye candy that one typically finds at drag events. Like Ru Paul’s Pit Crew.

But no, it was meat as in bacon, ribs, three chickens in a sack, etc.

Though it was slow to get going, the roof deck at Sasha’s Wine Bar was lovely. We were supposed to be able to see contestants in the Great Forest Park Balloon Race.

We saw two.

You don’t see one? Let me help.
Yes, it was underwhelming.

Bingo seemed to really pick up after Dieta Pepsi saw her old boss from the mortgage company where she used to work.

Odd for him, great for us.

Then you won a prize drawing.

The prizes? Hostess cupcakes and a Fireball shot.

As we were both committed to being sober, you had to get a designated chugger.

Look at this absolute legend.

The very next round was your round. Criss-cross applesauce = five pounds of pork steak.

Thank you for donating it to the cause: The family gathering at my house coming up in three weeks.

This platter of piggy barely fit in my freezer!

Add this run of yours to us winning Pajama Pawty trivia last week, and I’d say we are lucky together.

So thanks for inviting me. Looking forward to next time!

Love,
Your sister

*So does Arby’s.

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Dear Jennifer,

Thanks for visiting! You gave me an excuse to go to Grant’s Farm. I had heard about it, but never gone.

The main reason to go? CLYDESDALES.

There also are elk, deer, giant rabbits, goats, zebras, donkeys, peacocks, llamas, water buffalo and camels (seriously) to admire.

And as it is the Busch Family estate, two free samples of beer.

What’s not great is the tram system. I did not realize you had to take a tram from the parking lot to the main attraction area, then wait for a tram to take you back.

This would be a fine plan if the retirees in charge filled the trams each. They did not. You and I were both annoyed by the lengthy wait times in the broiling sun.

Anyway, I’m glad we went. I’m also glad we enjoyed the many other lovely things this city has to offer:

  • And, of course, the pizza at IMO’s Pizza

We hit some major St. Louis highlights.

And we even saw a rainbow.

It was such a fun weekend, but now I’m exhausted!

Next time, I promise we will squeeze in Broadway Oyster Bar.

Safe travels, and come back soon!

Love,
Beth

*Thanks, Randy.

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Dear Detroit Marriott at The Renaissance Center,

I attended my annual research conference in you this week. I am NOT a fan, and I will not be back (unless I have absolutely no choice).

How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. Your staff is not prepared for guests. The line was 10 deep for check-in, and you had one person actually working. Three other employees — one of whom looked like a manager — were at the other end of the counter chatting. Do their eyes work? Couldn’t they see the line?
  2. Your building is not prepared for guests. There are six elevators “servicing” floors 40-70. Only two appeared to be working. A gang of fellow conferencers and I waited 10 minutes Thursday night for an elevator to take us down.
  3. Your events staff is not prepared for guests. Two thousand people attended the last in-person AEJMC conference (Toronto, 2019). That is standard for this conference. Yet nothing was set up to handle this influx of people. Your staff selected large rooms for small events (e.g., the University of South Carolina alumni breakfast featured three tables for eight in a cavernous room) and wee rooms for major events. For example, the Broadcast and Mobile Journalism group awards ceremony and reception was in the tiniest conference room I’ve ever seen. No tables. For an event that featured food and drinks. Group leaders who got to the event early drug in tables and chairs for the 50 or so attendees. Way to go, Marriott!
  4. Your technology support is not prepared for guests. This conference is primarily for journalism/mass communications professors. You know: People who communicate. They have devices that need to be charged. Outlets were few and far between.
This is the ONLY OUTLET in the room!

The various other problems fellow attendees and I experienced had to do with The Renaissance Center in general. It is, generously, an atrium-focused maze of wasted space.

Circulation Ring = CIRCLES OF HELL
Trust me: You can’t get there from here
No, you don’t really want to sit and meet/eat/work do you?

There is a shocking lack of open restaurants. Again, conference of 2,000+ people (and AEJMC was one of at least three going on at once). Hotel with 70 floors of rooms. Yet, it was hard to find a place to eat. Literally (see maze above) and because so many were closed. Note: There was a VERY bougie seafood restaurant open, but who wants to pay $75 for shrimp?

Desperation signage
Starbucks: closed
Another Starbucks: closed
Food court: mostly closed
Oh look! The open Burger King that I thought was only the stuff of legend.

Then there is the location. You are on the Detroit River. So a riverwalk with shops and restaurants would make sense. Apparently, it only makes sense to me. I would not say the United States side has ample commerce. The Canada side (Windsor) looks promising.

The Renaissance Center provides a great view of our northern neighbor.

But once again, you can’t get there from here if you don’t have a car.

I realize that the pandemic took a toll on the hospitality industry. That said, people are traveling again. Conferences are back in person. Do better, or you won’t have guests to piss off anymore.

Sincerely,
Bonvoy Member on Floor 47

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COVID, Day 7 (Maybe? Could be Day 4 depending on when I displayed symptoms from ‘Rona and not the booster.)

Captain’s Log

I’m feeling fine, but still testing positive.

I’ve managed not to drink away my sorrows every day, but isolation is difficult for an extrovert.

I’m not an indoor cat.

And even my indoor cat has gone loopy.

His tongue is stuck.
He went to sleep with his mouth open.

I’m SO BORED.

I’m sick of TV. I’m tired of social media. I’ve had enough of lonely walks around the neighborhood.

I’ve even cleaned out the freezer.

That’s how bad it is.

But I’ve eaten well. That’s positive. Haven’t lost taste or smell.

I’ve been FaceTiming people because I need human contact. (Petra knows. She got a surprise.)

Maybe tomorrow I’ll test negative, and I can rejoin society. Carefully, of course.

The good news is that I don’t appear to have infected anyone else.

Small victories.

Sigh.

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Dear Goat Yoga Lisa:

Thanks for being my first non-family visitor to test out the guest room! I’m glad it was during the ramp-up to Mardi Gras, but sorry there was still snow and ice all over. (Especially sorry for the Missouri drivers and the shards of ice flying off their cars.)

Having you in town was a great excuse to visit the Gateway Arch — the iconic monument I hadn’t explored since moving here.

Tiny Terror that you are, we had to explore my neighborhood bar too.

And also my neighbor’s ice-cream shop.

And Taste of Soulard — my neighborhood’s neighbor.

I enjoyed meeting your cousin Claire!

That’s where we saw interesting people like this guy.

I wonder if he knows that portable Bluetooth speakers exist.

And a goat who is the GOAT.

And racing weiners.

I promise a more comfortable sleeper sofa the next time you visit. And that I will have become a regular, “Cheers” style at the local bar.

Love and kisses!

Your fren,
Beth

P.S. Thanks for the hostess gift. I wouldn’t call me “sweet” by any stretch of the imagination, but I appreciate it.

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Dear Fellow Blogger,

You said to me yesterday that I am “practically a foreign correspondent now.”

That resonated. I AM gathering information on a place that is new to me.

I’m trying to see and do as much as I can.

For example, I saw a billboard advertising tours of the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.

Ghost tours.

Because of course they would offer ghost tours in October.

So I had to go.

Because of course I did.

I asked my mother if she wanted to go.

Me: I am booking a tour of the Missouri State Penitentiary Saturday night. Do you want to go?
Her: (long pause) No.

I have no trouble going places alone, so I called to make the booking.

Me: The website says there’s no availability on any weekend tour.
Lady on phone: We are sold out. When did you want to come?
Me: Saturday.
Her: How many?
Me: Just me.
Her: Just you?
Me: Just me.
Her: I can squeeze in one person.
Me: Great!
Her: 7, 8 or 9?
Me: A.M.?
Her (drily): P.M. It’s a ghost tour.
Me: Right.

So I went. It’s an hour and some change north of Rolla. Rural Missouri looks like rural Georgia.

Fifty feet from this sign, there was a dead deer in a ditch. Must not have been good eatin’.
What kind of fowl convention is this?

I got to Jefferson City early so I had time to look around.

Gov. Mike Parson’s place. He can walk to the Capitol building if he chooses. It’s a more modest place than Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s palace.
Lewis, Clark and the gang
Brisket, pulled pork, pit beans and jalapeño cheddar grits. Many animals were harmed in the making of this meal. I’m sorry.

At this point, you may be asking this:

But Beth, what about the ghost tour — the whole point of your trip?

Well, it deserves a whole post on its own.

Stay tuned.

Your Midwest correspondent,
Beth

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