Slacker?! I know you are, but what am I?

Hello, fair reader! (Hi, Mom!)

I have been disgustingly slackified about this blog for months now, but it’s totally been because I LITERALLY HAVE NO FREE TIME. I am so anxiety-ridden and over-committed that I find myself unable to form complete sentences lately. Not the best state to be in when writing a blog.

Soooo….hang in there, the end is in sight, and oodles of changes are on the horizon. When I’m done jumping though hoops and TCB, I’ll be back to entertaining probably no one but myself on this thing. :)

See you soon!

Emotional BBQ

On May 3, 2005, I moved to Memphis, TN to start a new job and consequently, a new life. I didn't know a soul there. On May 5, 2005, I started my new job, and by 1:00pm that day, I was deathly ill and went home to suffer alone with the flu. Welcome to Memphis! When I finally emerged a few days later from captivity, I went with my company to the Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest, lovingly referred to in Memphis as BBQ Fest. We were being hosted by another company because we were providing their entertainment entry into the Miss Piggy Talent Show. I was still not 100% well, was burning hot in the Memphis sun, and to sum up, utterly miserable to have to be there.

Once our performance was over, we went back to the tent, and a very nice man fixed me up a plate with a huge pulled pork sandwich, and pointed out a shady spot for me to sit by the river. As I sat there greedily chowing down on the most delicious sandwich I had ever eaten, a barge came down the Mississippi in front of me. I had never seen such a thing; a little pusher boat with what looked like a mile of cargo cruising down the middle of that huge river, making barely any sound. The gravity of my move suddenly hit me as I watched that barge, eating my first of a hundred pulled pork sandwiches. This was Mark Twain shit. I was in Memphis, TN, living on the mighty Mississippi. I was in the South, and I was so moved by that realization at that moment. Suddenly I didn't feel so crappy, and had a sense of belonging. I'll never forget that moment. It was one of those soul grabbers that define our lives.

Took this in 2012.

Took this in 2012.

I didn't go to BBQ Fest again until last year, when a friend on a team invited me. I had a great time, but no soul-grabbers. But this year. UGH! Got me good. Gee, could it be the fact that I have begun the planning process for moving away from Memphis at the end of the year? <sob>

This was my last BBQ Fest as a Memphian.

Photo credit: BBQ Memphis

Photo credit: BBQ Memphis

I was with all three of my best friends in Memphis when the skies opened and poured with a vengeance. We hurried into the tent of another friend, being all the way across the park from the tent we were calling home yesterday. We had been drinking and visiting friends around the fest, and huddled together for cover by the bar, we were all singing cheesy songs and having a blast. An apple pie moonshine jello shot went down OH LAWD. Then a damn barge came down the river in front of me, and my heart leaped. Then churned. And my eyes filled up and I panicked, not wanting to cry in front of a lot of strangers. I tried to swallow it down, finally succeeding in only allowing one tear to bloop out. I moved away to the river side of the tent and it got me again. I think one of my besties is the only one who saw, though. I couldn't stop thinking WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME?!!! I knew it was the memory of 2005 slamming my already tenderized heart, but geez. Cool it, lady!

I couldn't look at the river for the rest of the day, and after trudging through downtown in the rain and having a hilarious dinner, I finally got home and cried for real. I feel better now.

The thing is, I was devastated and homesick when I left California. And again when I left New England, and again when I left Tulsa. And Memphis will be even harder, I'm sure. But this has been my life, nomadic and ever-changing. The only person not surprised by the moves I've made is me. And how lucky am I to have loved ones all over this country? No matter where I go, I always make it back to my homes and my people on a regular basis. No matter how hard things are, we make it through them. What other choice do we have? And we never know what we'll accomplish and who we'll meet on the next turn in the road. The only thing that really REALLY scares me about life is the thought of staying put. There's just too much out there, y'all. I don't ever want to think, "Why didn't I <fill in the blank>?" when I'm old. 

Here's to making it to an old age without regrets. Cheers!

I'm on a TRAIN!

Despite always living around tons of train action and traveling by train in four different countries, I had never been on a damn Amtrak train. That all changed this week. I'm now suffering from a touch of PTSD and don't know how well I can write at the moment (twitch TWITCH), but I feel the need to share the experience here with you, lovely (one) reader.

Hi, Mom!

An observation car that looks very little like the one I saw!

An observation car that looks very little like the one I saw!

I was luckily schooled a bit about train travel prior to taking this particular route to New Orleans that originates in Chicago. I was told that it is a "party train" and that I should bring a cooler stocked with whatever I want to drink and eat, and have me a good ol' time. "You ain't driving, drink up!" Sounded good to me! I didn't have anywhere to be when I got there, so why not? It's an 8 hour trip. But then I got a call AND an email AND another call from Amtrak the week before the trip to inform me that because a spillway had been opened north of NOLA because of Mississippi river flooding, the tracks were not usable and we would be transferred to coach buses in Jackson, MS. Cue the sad trombone. How the hell do I bring a cooler on a bus?!! (YES, it was all about the beer, don't judge me!) I wasn't sure if I should proceed with the trip as planned or just drive at that point. But I decided to go forward as planned, it was still 4+ hours on a PARTY TRAIN! I was gonna be a WOO GIRL and party on the damn TRAIN!

karen chug.gif

No. No, y'all. No, not at all.

You see, we got on that train at 6:30. AM. So everyone already on there was much less woo girl and much

hangover david byrne.gif

They'd already had the party, and without me. It's cool, though. I hadn't brought a cooler or anything, just packed a few beers and a soda in my backpack with koozies. So I got in my comfy seat upstairs next to an emo kid with too many pillows, put up my feet, popped a Miller Lite, and watched The Force Awakens. I did roam around a bit later, through the observation car full of zombies looking out at.....well, beautiful rural Mississippi, i.e. NADA, and to the "dining car", where an old grouchy guy microwaves to order and bitches about you not having anything smaller than a $20. It was fun! Overall, I was impressed with the comfort and chill atmosphere, but glad I hadn't spent too much money on it.

I won't even talk about the switch to buses in Jackson, I would rather not think about it. Or the bus ride itself with Swervy McSwerverson at the wheel. I was pretty sure the lady next to me was gonna hurl the whole time, so I just turned up my music louder and looked out the window, pleading with the fates for her to keep her microwaved train delight down for the three hour ride. The good thing? The Beavis and Butthead "heh. heh heh. heh heh heh." worthy name of the charter company Amtrak contracted with for this flooding period.

So many questions!

So many questions!

So I have a lovely and productive trip, and yesterday it's time to come back. I'm grateful that the bus will be first, and the trip will end on a comfy train, because I am exhausted. But damn if Swervy's brother Jumpy wasn't driving! Whatever. We made it to Jackson, where we inexplicably were kept waiting for two hours before being allowed to board the train. There were various train dudes mumbling about tracks and "it'll be soon", but that was a pissed off group of folks by the time we boarded, so I was thrilled to discover that I was apparently the only person on the train who requested the less expensive lower level coach seat for the ride, and had the whole damn car to myself!


I felt like this was gonna make up for all the rest of it. I had procured a genius cheap cooler bag that holds ice with no leaks, had packed a sixer of Saint Arnold White Noise, water, and a Dew, and had a sack of snacks at the ready, as well as the newly downloaded The Last Jedi on my laptop. I was straight-up GOLDEN, y'all. And the first 2.5 hours of the trip were pure perfection. I didn't even have to use earbuds, because who was I gonna disturb??

In Greenwood, MS, a couple of older ladies got on and joined me in my car. They were sweet and friendly, and I happily put my earbuds in and went back to my movie. At one point I heard a pop loud enough to startle me, and pulled out my earbuds to hear more popping and a very-not-good hissing sound. The lady across the aisle was looking down at her feet saying, "What the hell is dat?" when I saw the yellow flickering. FIRE!! FIRE, Y'ALL!!! The grate at the bottom of the wall at her side had a big ol' fire in it, and I'm talking flames. I yelled, "It's a fire!" and yanked her up and away from it, then ran out of the car. I frantically looked for either a fire extinguisher, alarm pull, or a radio of some sort, and nothing. I took the stairs two at a time and sprinted through three cars before I saw an Amtrak employee, and yelled "FIRE!! FIRE IN OUR CAR!" Through my adrenaline and panic, I still thought his expression and the many emotions written on his face in 3 seconds flat was hilarious. He ran after me back to our car, where the two ladies were still frozen, staring at the now much bigger flames. We pulled them out and he yelled for us to go upstairs and wait. He paged over head for a conductor to our car immediately, and cut the power to the car, which I later learned got the fire out, which was electrical. After loads of Amtrak people with the same multi-emotional faces passed us upstairs on the way down to our car, I thought, "They have no clue what to do." How comforting! 

We waited for quite a while, then the same guy came and got us and let us get our stuff out of the acrid, crazy fire car. They then took us to another lower car that was very full, and we got put in the only seats left, which didn't even recline. No apologies, no thanks for sprinting to find us, just BYE. They never stopped the train or let any of the other passengers even know that it had happened. It was CRAAAZY.

I arrived home three hours late, still shaky, and with resolve to never take an Amtrak again. Unless I'm really drunk and don't know any better, I guess. The seats are comfy and the people working there were (mostly) very nice, but nope.

Life is adventure and I love it, but you can keep the fire part.

train on fire.gif

Bless your heart!

Sure, it was an adjustment moving to the South, of course it was. But between the best food anywhere, the nice folks who smile and say hello, and the snail's pace of just about everything, it was not a painful adjustment. I love it here, and this is one of what will probably be several installments of an ode to the South, particularly Memphis, TN. So much to love, how do I start?

With mah favorite Southernisms, 'course! ("Southern Colloquialisms" sounds so......not Southern.) And while reading this, do your best to read with a lovely Southern accent dripping with honey. I've been collecting these for years, I'm excited to finally compile them! 

The mother of them all: "Bless (his, her, your, their) heart." Used sweetly sometimes, when someone is facing a challenge of some kind. But more commonly used to follow up a dinger of an insult. "She's dumber'n a box of hair, bless her heart."

"I'm fixin' to....." (Or in Memphis, "I'm finna.....") Used when you're planning to do, well, anything. "I'm finna hit the head, y'all." "I'm fixin' to put a hurtin' on that pot of greens." Goes well with "I reckon". "I'm fixin' to eat that whole tray of cookies, I reckon."

One of my favorites is "Biscuit Poisoning", used on only the fluffiest of Southerners. "It don't take tight jeans to see that girl got biscuit poisoning, bless her heart!"


Are you ugly? Well, the South has some thoughts on that.

"He's so ugly, he'd make a freight train take a dirt road."

"She's uglier'n a bucket full of crushed assholes." (Ouch!)

"That kid's so ugly, his mama had to tie a pork chop around his neck so the dogs would play with him."

"Ugly as ten miles of gravel road, bless her heart."

"Uglier than a train wreck, he is."

"That gal got whooped by the ugly stick."

And my personal favorite: "With those buck teeth, she could eat an apple through a picket fence!"

buck teeth.jpg

Don't have anything nice to say? Well, come sit by me! Southerners don't leave their insults just for ugly folks, hell naw!

"He smells worse than the north end of a southbound mule."

"She's useless as tits on a boar hog."

"Kiss my ass and bark at the hole."

And how's the weather, y'all? (I'll give you a hint - it's probably really hot or really cold.)

"Hotter'n a pregnant nun."

"Colder'n a well digger's ass."

"Hotter'n a four-peckered billy goat."

And although it's nice to ask folks how they're doing, you never know what kind of response you might get. 

"I'm fine as frog's hair."

"I got the sugars." (Or, "I got the pressures", also known as "high blood". It happens, have I mentioned the food here?)

"Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp staub."

"Madder than a hornet in a Coke can!"

"Happy as a tick on a fat dog."

Ain't this fun? The best thing my homeland has to offer as far as sayings native to them is "hella". I'm gonna keep collecting, I'm sure I'll find another blog's worth to share before too long. I'll write it as soon as I do. But as they say in the South, "If you're waitin' on me, you're backing up."

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!


Feeling salty, and here's why

I have to break up with my football team! AGAIN!!

Now dear reader, you may not know me, but I have been an avid, and some might say obsessed, fan of the Oakland Raiders for the last 24 years. Before that, they were in LA for 12 years (barf) and were dead to me, and before that, I was a very young kid who liked to see Raiders games because they were violent and awesome, I loved their logo and bad boy rep, but I was really more into baseball at the time, to be honest. But I remember how their move to LA impacted Oakland, and how cheated the fans felt. So I hated them. I called them the Traiders. I was 11 when they moved.

2006. Nowhere more fun than the Oakland Coliseum on game day.

2006. Nowhere more fun than the Oakland Coliseum on game day.

1982 - 1994 were interesting years at the Oakland Coliseum, because the A's had it all to themselves. (And they won a damn World Series in the Battle of the Bay against the Giants, even with a 7.0 earthquake in the middle of it.) The Warriors were still playing next door, but they were so heartbreakingly bad it was hard to watch. The real action was across the Bay at Candlestick Park, where Joe Montana and the boys, and later Steve Young and the boys brought the Bay Area 4 Super Bowl championships during the Raiders' tenure in LA, winning their 5th the year after the Raiders returned to Oakland. It was not a bad time to be a 49ers fan, and since I am a "root root root for the home team" kind of girl through and through, I was 49er Faithful all the way. But being from the East Bay, I was elated to welcome the Raiders home in '94, and the 49ers became my #2 team. 


2016. &lt;sniff&gt;&nbsp;

2016. <sniff> 

They're leaving us. AGAIN. I've known this for well over a year now, and have been trying to process how to react to the news. It makes my heart hurt, that's the primary feeling. Like seriously ache. LAS FUCKING VEGAS?? I don't get it. You have one of the most die-hard, rabid fan bases in the country sitting happily in Oakland in a crappy old stadium, so why not rebuild there? The Davis family strikes again, and Oakland gets the shaft, still in debt from upgrading the Coliseum 25 years ago with nothing to show for it. That $600 million investment is being taken to Vegas along with our team, and they are getting a big, new, terribly fugly stadium there. WTAF.

2004, bad loss, but happy as a clam anyway. Why are clams so happy, anyway?

2004, bad loss, but happy as a clam anyway. Why are clams so happy, anyway?

At first I thought maybe I could still be a fan. Flights to Vegas are dirt cheap, and it's not like they're moving to LA again (barf) or to Texas, god forbid. Vegas is like a misty neutral zone, no professional sports team has ever been there, for obvious reasons. But the whole "home team" thing is a bigger pull for me, that's just how I was raised and what I fundamentally believe in. It's a better sense of pride when your team does great things for your homeland instead of just doing great things, does that make sense? I mean, I can't describe the feeling in 2015 when the Warriors won their first championship in 40 years. 40 YEARS. The elation was huge, and it was borne of hometown pride, knowing we had always supported them and they finally got it done. It's like they do it FOR YOU. It's awesome. But with all that being said, I still wasn't sure I could turn my back on my Raiders completely. Until.

I want to upchucky and die.

I want to upchucky and die.

I despise Jon Gruden. Even when he coached us the first time, I despised him. Something about him makes me uneasy, queasy, and generally agitated. Then he got traded and defeated us in a Super Bowl with the Bucs the very next year, proceeds to have a mediocre showing as a coach for the next several years, and later becomes the single most annoying sports commentator to have ever lived. Yet his second coming to the Raiders as head coach is worth a 10 year, $100 million contract? And he's being treated like he's the second coming of the Messiah? WHYYYYY. Seriously, why??? The only thing I see as good about it is that he likely won't last 3 years, even though he is kissing Mark Davis' ASS.

You get a bowl cut! And YOU get a bowl cut! And YOU GET A BOWL CUT! EVERYONE GETS A BOWL CUT!!!

You get a bowl cut! And YOU get a bowl cut! And YOU GET A BOWL CUT! EVERYONE GETS A BOWL CUT!!!

And he is soooooo focused on the city of Oakland. He can't stop talking about how he wants to bring a championship home to the people of Oakland, how Oakland is the greatest city and where some of the best times of his life were spent. He was only there for four seasons!! The first two we went 8-8!! Then we got to the AFC Championship and lost in the third year, and made the playoffs but choked the fourth. Four years, dude! I'd rather have John Madden in a wheelchair barely able to speak as our coach again. THAT would mean something. HE was a historical coach worthy of this bullshit Gruden is getting. UGH. Rant rant rant.

I can't wish bad things for this team ever, especially this particular group of guys currently on the roster. And like Gruden, I want something great to happen for this team in the last two years they are in Oakland, for the people of the East Bay. They deserve it. They are the best fans out there, they are true fans who come to games during losing seasons, no matter what. But for my own sanity, I gotta cut the cord and watch from a distance. I gotta break up with the Raiders, and try not to stalk their Facebook page as I sort through the memorabilia to see what I should sell on Ebay. It's so hard, y'all. It really, really hurts. I keep saying breakup because that's how it feels to me.

So I'm gonna focus on the last decades and years and cherish the memories I have. There are so many pictures, so much stuff. Jerseys, coffee mugs, koozies, shoes, shirts, hoodies, blankets, hats, foam swords and hands, lord. So much stuff. The one thing I know I'll be keeping for sure is my Janikowski autographed jersey, because I will never break-up with my fat Polish boyfriend, he gave me 17 great years and most of the points on the board. So, here's to Seabass. 

Sad he was a no-show this last season, tho. Love you always, Number 11!

Sad he was a no-show this last season, tho. Love you always, Number 11!

Okay, enough already. This sucks, but it did help to "write it out", I guess. I'm pretty emotional, and feel kinda stupid about it, but can't help it. a 49ers fan all the way. I will be reading and hearing about the Raiders plenty, I'm sure. I hope they have two good seasons coming up. Then they can SUCK IT for all I care.

Dang, I don't even know where Levi Stadium is, exactly, but I know it's not in San Francisco. Gotta go find it. I'll always miss Candlestick so much. Wish times they weren't always a-changin'.

Raiders @ 49ers, 2011

Raiders @ 49ers, 2011