‘SPLORIN’ ROAD TRIP ACROSS THE USA #1 PART 3

After leaving Arkansas we set out for Memphis, Tennessee with the plan of visiting Graceland and hunting down some really good bbq. Graceland will always be a place everyone should visit at least once. In my opinion, Elvis is one of the people every generation should be made aware of. We made sure to expose our sixteen-year-old daughter to his music and movies. She’s now a fan. I do have to add we happen to have an old soul on our hands. A fact that I was made aware of when she had her earbuds in for hours and we asked what she was listening too. Bear made a joke about One Direction, which she ignored. In her perfect teenage monotone voice says, “Billy Joel. I low-key love him.” We stared at each other completely speechless. This happened in the year 2018 by the way, and admittedly was kind of a proud moment. Not that I’ve ever been a fan of Billy Joel, not that I’ve not been a fan either, but the fact that she’s not “basic” is such a relief.

I feel like I should have a warning disclaimer at the beginning of that paragraph in case the word ‘not’ is a trigger for someone.

Okay, so where were we…oh right, so we arrive at the former home of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, and once we’re given headphones and a video player to wear around our necks we then were ushered onto a bus to take us to the beginning of the tour. Once inside I started taking pictures like a madwoman.

I’ve spared you the 100 other pictures. We didn’t take the more extensive tour which includes getting to see Elvis’s cars, clothes, and records. Someday we might go back for that reason. At the end of the tour we headed to the gift shop and picked up a couple of mugs, a wallet, overpriced Elvis chap stick for our kid who was waiting patiently in California for us to return with goodies, and Elvis chocolate bars.

If you haven’t yet and you enjoy things like history, museums, pop culture, or you’re a fan of the King, make it a point to add visit Graceland to your bucket list.

Next, we got on our phones to search for a place to stuff our faces with Memphis bbq. Bear found a place called, Central BBQ, which had good reviews, but as we’ve learned everything is just a matter of opinion. Basically, our experience is going to always be a crapshoot. We always go to a place with an open mind and the hope that it will be enjoyable.

I would like to point out the sign in front of the doors to the restaurant that reads, ‘CBQ IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR LOST ITEMS PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLE ITEMS IN YOUR AUTO.’ I don’t think I’ve seen a sign like that directly in front of the doors at any restaurant I’ve been to in California. Something like that might be around the parking lot at Walmart or malls, but unless maybe I haven’t noticed them, this was a first for me seeing that right before you walk into an establishment.

As soon as you walk in they have a wall menu for you to look over. After deciding which meats and sides you feel like indulging in, take yourself over to the row of sauces and fill up plenty of plastic dipping cups, before heading over to your table, and wait patiently for your food to arrive.

God knows I hate to say this, I mean we’re in Memphis! This is Memphis bbq! But…ugh. If our hearts were broken from the Big Texan Steak Ranch, then our souls were shattered over this bbq. Perhaps it’s our own fault for having high expectations. We wanted to be seduced and wowed with this meal. We wanted to not have any choice but to make noises with every bite. I did make one noise if I count the groan of disappointment. The best things about our meal were the sauces and the sweet tea put in cups we got to take with us. Oh, I think the coleslaw was pretty good too, thank sweet baby Jesus for that small miracle.

The ribs were dry and overcooked. The pulled pork was also dry and without any yummy factor, and Oscar Mayer lunch meat is better than that turkey. We mashed the meats, coleslaw, and sauces all up on the rolls and that made it a bit more tasty and edible. Unfortunately, it was still a disappointing orgy in my mouth. It’s like having a selfish lover, you know, you have all the necessary ingredients to have a good time, but you’re left feeling empty and unfulfilled. We, however, made the best of it.

After our soul-sucking bbq, we needed a sweet treat to maintain the will to live. We found a place called La Michoacana, a large ice cream shop with plenty of seating and so many flavor choices. We went with a banana split with three flavors of ice cream, (which escape me) strawberries, walnuts, cherries, and whipped cream. It was such a perfect banana split it almost made up for our meal.

With our bellies experiencing an emotional roller coaster we set off towards Nashville, Tennessee. Something to be aware of when you’re driving in the Memphis area is to pay close attention to the road and other drivers, more so than you normally would. It was a consistent flow of crazy drivers who drove as if they didn’t care about their lives or anyone else’s. It was maddening and terrible for my anxiety. Thank God Bear is an amazing driver, and it was a great excuse for him to release a steady flow of profanities. I may or may not have released a few myself. And we’re from California! I had no idea drivers could get worse than they are here!

Eventually, we safely make it to Nashville and check into our motel. We hadn’t planned on eating again but around 10 pm we started to get snacky. Bear had lived in this area when he was in the Army so he knew what was around. He suggests going to White Castle. I had frozen White Castle burgers from the grocery stores before, and I’d seen the movies, but I’d never been to one. As long as getting to it wasn’t going to be anything like the movies, I was okay with it. Thankfully, it wasn’t. We get to the drive-thru and I swear he must’ve ordered 50 of those things. (Not really, but it seemed like it) I see that they have mozzarella sticks and I make up a little song about how I need mozzarella sticks, so of course, I get mozzarella sticks.

My brother who is a long haul truck driver loathes them, but I found it to be alright. I’d have it again, I think people usually love or hate their burgers. Probably best if you’re suffering from the munchies I would imagine.

The next morning eating breakfast at Cracker Barrel was another first for me. We both ordered chicken fried steaks, hashbrown casseroles, grits, biscuits, and mocha coffees. (Fyi I could make a whole blog on just my love and passion and mission to find the best chicken/country fried steak in America.) I might at least dedicate a post to chicken or country fried steak.

Cracker Barrel is like most chain restaurants in that it’s solid average food, but something you can easily put in their pro column is they’re fairly cheap, especially for the amount of food you get. The chicken fried steak definitely started out frozen and maybe they all do, but some restaurants are better at hiding it. Their biscuits, however, were what biscuits should be, which is soft, with just the right amount of chewiness. The gravy gets a 3 out 5 in my book only because it didn’t have big chunks of sausage, which is the only way any gravy will get a 5 out of 5 from me. When traveling this place will do just fine.

We didn’t do a whole lot in Nashville because we wanted to get to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Before we left Bear took me to the Opry Mills Mall. I, of course, couldn’t understand why we just had to stop at this mall before getting back on the road. As I soon found out, as far as malls go, this one is pretty neat and has a lot going on inside of it.

Ah yes, “Those Animals” as they’re called, are mechanical animals they rent out so adults and children can ride around the mall bobbing and weaving on their favorite animal. As long as you don’t weigh over 500 pounds. We passed. Maybe next time.

Riding giant stuffed animals in public not for you? Walk on over to their Madame Tussauds and get a picture with the legend Johnny Cash!

Hungry and like aquariums? They have the perfect dining experience to kill two birds with one stone!

So when traveling through Nashville, Tennessee on that family road trip and an announcement is made you’re stopping at the mall, and they groan, complain, and think you’ve lost your mind, just throw your kids and significant other on a moving pink camo bear once you’re inside and everything will be fine.

To be continued…stay tuned for part 4

#roadtrips #travel #travelblog #food #foodreviews #restaurantreviews #roadsideattractions #touristattractions #humor #traveladvice #traveltips #roadtriptips #usatravel #foodpics #life #family #fun

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Worlds Okayest Mom and Greatest Step Dad Diaries: When Mom is Sick

A couple weeks ago I wasn’t feeling well. My daughter and husband-to-be were trying to figure out what to have for dinner. Even though I wasn’t feeling my best I was having a craving for some cheap mediocre pizza, so my fiance (Bear) went out and grabbed two Little Caesars pizzas. I wasn’t about to do anything crazy like actually get out of bed, so we put the boxes on our bed and went to town inhaling pizza, while we all watched TV together. Best way to do pizza night I don’t care what anyone says.

It was no surprise to me that two days later the pizza boxes were still in our room with five pieces left in one box. Both of us remained a bit under the weather, with Bear a bit better off than myself. He had taken on most of the cooking, however come the third day of my being out of commission Bear had to be gone all day.

As usual my fifteen year-old was foraging for food. She comes in my room asking, “What’s going on with dinner?”

I lift my head from my pillow and tell her I don’t know yet. She turns her head towards the pizza boxes and says with shock and confusion, “Wow, you still have those?”

“Yep, and there’s still some pizza in one of the boxes.”

She opens the box and her big brown eyes widen in horror. “Why didn’t you put this in the refrigerator?”

“Do I look like I’m in any shape to be that responsible? Besides I thought I was going to snack on it here and there.”

A couple eye rolls later she asks, “Are they still good?”

“Ummmmmm…well it has been fairly cool in here, and I did take a few bites of a piece last night. But, this is day three soooooo…

We just stared at each for a moment. I knew where this was going and so did she. Neither of us sure of the consequences. Both of us aware there would be no turning back. Before I know it she has three pieces of pizza in her hands, and right before she walks out of the room I yell out a disclaimer, “You’re eating those at your own risk!”

You know, verbally releasing any fault and liability on my behalf.

I put my head back down on the pillow and tried to clear my mind of this crime against motherhood.

Some angry offended Mom Mob will be coming with torches and pitchforks any minute now. I’m certain the PMOA (Perfect Moms Of America) just heard everything.

If Facebook hears when I’m talking about DNA kits, and then I see nothing but DNA kit ads for the next 3 days every time I log on, then some Mom spy no doubt just listened in.

I decided to turn on the TV in an attempt to shut out the voices of guilt in my head. Did I really just let my daughter take and consume non refrigerated days old pizza? I’m horrified. My fiance surprisingly did not come home to me rocking back and forth in a corner whispering repeatedly, ‘I’m a good mom, I’m a good mom.’ The only thing I did do was continue to text her…yes from down the hall. C’mon, I wasn’t getting up unless I had to. Admittedly, I was sweating it out for a couple days, but after much prayer I’m happy to report she was just fine. However, to make up for it every night since my Bear and I have made home cooked meals…ok mostly him while I get better. He really has been taking excellent care of us.

We were going to start a new healthyish regiment anyway, with meals full of vegetables, so it worked out. Above is my Bear’s artichoke cream sauce chicken, and roasted veggies, with parmesan. (Damn, I love having a man who can cook.) I’m also happy to report my Mom guilt has officially passed, and I can now forget about it like it never happened…

My Dirty Secret

I feel like I have a dirty secret, even though nothing about it is dirty or much of a secret. It’s more like something I’ll throw out in conversation, but I definitely don’t go into much detail once it’s been brought up. Ok, so here it is (deep breath) I live with anxiety, and panic disorder (frequent panic attacks) with depression for the cherry on top. Insert eye roll for the people who think these are made up things that attention seekers proclaim they have. Trust me, I wish they were in the same category as unicorns and men who change the toilet paper roll. Unfortunately, some people add to the illusion that these mental health issues are a myth, and give us legit disorder having peeps a bad name. There are in fact those attention seeking basic bitches who love ugg boots with booty shorts in freezing temperatures, pumpkin spice lattes (nasty, no one makes a good one) wear way too much makeup, all around plastic and fake inside and out, and CAN NOT WAIT to tell you all about their anxiety and how shook they are because their latest Instagram selfie only got 8 likes, so they had to buy three new pairs of lululemon leggings to calm themselves down. ( I do love leggings though) But, enough about them.

When I was fairly young I knew what depression was. The circumstances I was living in as a child could chip away at any amount of joy or happiness that tried to make its way inside me. Sadness was so a part of daily life, that to me it was normal.

My father made every second of every day a lot more difficult than it needed to be. He was a bitter, angry and manipulative man. He never took a day off from his mental and emotional abuse. School wasn’t exactly a safe haven either. It’s the classic story of fat girl with glasses gets bullied. Ya know, mean girl (boss) tells mean girl (minion) to spit in my face, and then everyone has a good laugh. Classy, am-I-rite. However, was any of this the cause of my depression or was I born this way? I don’t know.

I didn’t know anything about anxiety, or panic disorders until 2012 at the age of thirty-four. I had my first full-blown physical panic attack three days after my mother died. I had every symptom of a heart attack and it sucked. I went to the doctor and had tests done and all that good stuff. For the next 2 years I was in and out of the doctor’s office quite frequently. Anxiety was now a part of my daily life and the panic attacks kept coming, so I started on some medication. I had also started doing extensive research on anxiety and panic disorders. And even though I don’t recall having a panic attack before that day, I started to realize anxiety may have been with me since my childhood. My mother would always call me a worry wort, or a nervous nelly. Turns out, it went a lot deeper than that. I felt I had it all under control for a while. The medication I was on seemed to be a good fit, and the first year I came off the meds everything seemed to be stable.

Unfortunately, my anxiety and panic attacks are currently far from under control anymore. It’s all back and worse than before, taking on different twisting, puzzle like forms. I-kid-you-not, looking up at a tall building has triggered a panic attack. Like, excuse me! How grossly rude is that! I mean seriously, I can’t even look up! Such bullshit. I can barely drive anymore, not that I was ever amped about it before, but now except for taking my kid to school it feels like an impossible task. Literally, impossible. That’s another thing everyone needs to understand. People with these mental health issues have limitations. They just do. It’s a shame that these legitimate limitations can make you appear selfish, stuck-up, lazy and sometimes even a crazy bitch. For instance if you ask someone with social anxiety to go to a party full of people they don’t know, and they explain that they can’t do that…listen to them. It is not that they won’t. They are not just nervous or shy. Now it doesn’t mean that they can’t work on it through therapy, or medication, and in their own time be ready to socialize the night away. Just remember, it is not something they can just chill out about. These mental prisons we live in will prevent us from doing things that are easy peasy for most people, including very regular, everyday things.

The real kicker for me right now is I’m actually happy. I’m absolutely positive this is the first time in fact that I’ve felt this elusive real contentment and happiness. (disclaimer: except of course when my daughter was born) Isn’t that just the cruel joke of the universe…you can without a doubt be blessed and depressed at the exact same time! Anxiety and depression have found a way to coexist in the same space as joy and happiness. Again…bullshit. I still thank God I found the most extraordinary human to share my life with. I literally could not have dreamed up a better and more supportive man. Of course we fight, we disagree, we have our stubborn moments, ya know like every relationship ever in the history of time and space. But, I have never felt more loved and cared for. It has been the most amazing shock of my life. There was this clear moment where I had the “happiness epiphany.” We had spent the whole day with my daughter, and they were really starting to bond. They were making fun of each other, they were ganging up on me…it was adorable. It was just a really good day. And on the drive home I was overwhelmed with a feeling, that made me think, ‘what the fuck is that?’ …Oh wow. Is this…happy?

Which makes it more difficult when you run into negativity of any kind. I must protect and guard my precious happy bubble like a newborn baby. I’m not a victim in any way, but after being born into a raw deal, and one bad circumstance after another, followed by poor choices, things that can only be categorized as learning experiences, paying my life dues one way or another, and never getting to live my own life, basically always having to do what other people wanted me to do. I have earned the right to be selfish. The good kind of selfish. Because, that is a real thing…I swear. For my own sanity I am no longer available for people pleasing until further notice. Which is actually EXTREMELY hard for me not to do. I like everyone to be pleased and content, and if I don’t do what someone wants me to do I feel like I’m letting them down. And that guilt leaves the door wide open for a heavy depression to set in.

I remember when I was 9 years old and my mom signed me up for swimming lessons. I was in a class of about 7 other girls my age. Our instructor was an arrogant 18-year-old boy. On the 2nd or 3rd day of class while we were practicing holding our breathe under water he starts to get angry and yells at me, “You’re not going deep enough under the water! I can still see the top of your head! Do it again!” Embarrassed, I do it again. When I come up for air he yells the same thing. I can feel my eyes getting ready to gush tears and the heat in my face from humiliation. Nonetheless, I do it again. When I come up he still isn’t satisfied. He comes over to me and without warning puts his hand on the top of my 9-year-old head and pushes down, and holds me there. I panicked under the water. When I was released I got out of the pool and walked out of the class, and waited for my mother in the locker rooms, who had seen everything from the bleachers.

That has been a large chunk of my life. Being forced under water. My ability to breathe has always seemed unimportant to the people around me. If I drown, I drown. So be it.

My mental and emotional health is important, and I have been trying to get to a point where I can say that with confidence, and without guilt. Any negativity, bad occurrence, running out of milk, irritating inconvenience, or one not-so-nice word from someone feels like an electric needle stabbing my brain, which then flows through my whole body. It’s like my brain says, ‘Oh hell no. That crap is not allowed under any circumstances. But since we are running into a problem let’s just get rid of all the good feelings we’re having and replace them with an ice pick in your head and crippling depression shall we.’ Cool.

The problem is with the anxiety being at an all time high and depression trying to be my best friend, I hate to say it, but my mind is too fragile. Not to be confused with being weak. I think another misconception is someone with anxiety/depression is mentally weak. And that is SO far from the truth. I simply have limits, which will not allow me to do certain things, or handle certain situations without some form of a breakdown. I can’t allow things anymore that will threaten my well-being. Even later that day when I had the “happy epiphany” something happened that wiped away my good, positive feelings. I wish I had the tools to not let that happen, but that isn’t the case right now. I can’t get on medication at the moment so I’m sorta just riding this out. I’ve been told to look into cbd oil, so I was going to do some reading on it.

This is crippling. This is debilitating. This is a prison. My mental health at the moment seems to be made of glass. A lovely, delicate, over priced glass vase in a well-to-do little shop run by arrogant, self-centered, snobby women and it must be protected at all costs or the owner will lose her effing mind, destroy everything in her path and end her journey heavily sedated in a mental hospital. However, the big bear like guard of the shop would never let that happen. (The man who is reading this as I type)

Thanks for reading!

Maniacal Musings Part Two

–I heard French fry vending machines may be popping up in the U.S. They’re already in Belgium and making their way to Iran, Croatia, and Chile. And some people have the nerve to say there is no God.

Actually, I believe this gets us one step closer to the morbidly obese futuristic world portrayed in WALL-E.

–I’m tired of looking at Miley Cyrus’s pelvic muscles just like everyone else, but after she recently hosted Saturday Night Live, I see this headline, “MILEY BLASTED BY STROKE ASSOCIATION OVER SNL TONGUE JOKE.” First of all, who knew there was a stroke association, because I sure as hell didn’t. Secondly, it’s a satirical comedy show, and she most certainly didn’t write her own lines. The joke in question was during the opening sketch where Miley was asked, why she keeps sticking her tongue out.


Her response, “I’m having tiny strokes, yo!”

Oh Lawd! Then here comes the stroke police, “Mini strokes are no laughing matter…and sticking your tongue out is not a sign of having one.” Look, my own mother had a mini stroke and a massive stroke, and I still believe EVERYTHING in life is a laughing matter. As a matter of fact, laughing at life’s tragedies can be quite healing. Good grief, jokes about strokes even rhymes, they’re totally meant to go together! Calm your tits, Stroke Association, and realize making jokes about serious matters does in no way, shape, or form take away from their seriousness.

–Fact: I don’t care how old you are, if a brand new box of 64 Crayola crayons does not bring you joy, then you have no soul. I hope the, “Soul Association” doesn’t blast me for saying that because being soulless is no laughing matter.

–It’s, “Tales of the Tampon” time! I was told the most awesome story by a friend the other day. Most importantly I have her permission to share it. (I’ll condense the story to save time and sanity) She was on her way to work where they can’t easily get to their lockers during breaks. She had the genius idea of throwing the tampons she needed in her lunch bag, so she could conveniently snatch’em from the break room. Which of course means THEY ARE SITTING IN THE REFRIGERATOR. It never occurred to the woman this would create a tampon with an undesired side effect. Which is called, “Brrrr vagina Syndrome.” She tried rubbing it between her hands to no avail. She walked around for about ten minutes being violated by the cold intrusion. Luckily, no one asked what was wrong. Unfortunately, a bit of her self-confidence in the ability to think things through died that day. I enjoyed this story immensely, and the more you picture it, the more enjoyable it becomes. At least her lunch was not required to go in the freezer. However, there is a part of me that wants to put one in the refrigerator out if curiosity. Don’t judge.


Some of these might come in handy…

Mom, Can I Watch Hookers?

My daughter came up to me yesterday and asked, “Have you seen the show Top Hooker.”

Stunned, not believing she said, what I think she said, I say, “Did you say Top Cooker?” Keep in mind she has been watching Food Network a lot.

“HHHHookkeeerrrrrr.”

Never hearing my 10-year-old say this word before and not quite understanding why she’s saying it now, I mentally prepare to have a long talk with her, and find out how in God’s name did she come across this program. Not to mention the fact, if I thought reality TV was getting ludicrous before, well, I assure you, we are all going for a ride on Satan’s rollercoaster, if prostitutes are in fact vying for top prize during primetime family viewing. And what is the top prize – Pimp of your choosing? Lifetime supply of condoms? Upgrade to stripper? Hopefully the prize is counseling and vaginal reconstructive surgery.

Is part of the competition who can stay STD free the longest? Who can hook-in the most sad, pathetic, perves, in one night without wearing two push-up bras, a skank suit and clown makeup?

But all of this thinking was for not. “Mom, it’s on Animal Planet. Have you seen it or what?”

“Uh, what do they do on this show?”

“They catch fish.”

“Oh.”

“Well, whoever ‘hooks’ the most fish or something. I saw a preview but didn’t watch it, but I wanted to know if it was interesting.”

Obviously, I hadn’t watched it or heard of it. But, they know what they did with that title. I’m not sure I approve of the preview I watched online either. If you wanna check it out http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/top-hooker/videos/who-will-be-americas-first-top-hooker.htm and this is the first picture I see when I look up the show. Soooo, yeeeaaahhh…….

atophook

It may not be what I originally thought but I have some reservations about my daughter watching it.

SMTWTFS

At thirty-five years old I’ve become that person. I have one prescribed pill and until a week ago I was doing fine remembering to take it. Then, it happened. What every person with prescription medication fears, “Did I take my medication?”

“Shit.”

Did I take my medication!?”

It’s thirty minutes past the scheduled time. Panic rises in my chest and my brain is frantically trying to recall every step I took since getting out of bed. But all I remember is eating a banana, one of the dogs puked, and a woman, who needs to learn parking lot etiquette, pissed me off at my daughter’s school.

Wait…wait…when did I start this new bottle? Oh crap, this is gonna be like math, and the math Gods did not smile upon me when I was born. Everything numeral gives me a burning sensation in my head.

Let’s see, I had two pills left from a previous bottle when I picked up this one from the pharmacy. I started this bottle on this day, and it started out with thirty pills. Okay, so, I should probably count how many pills are left in the bottle. Sooooooooo, um, I’m 98% sure I didn’t take it.

I wondered if skipping a dose would be worse than doubling a dose. My brief research (Googling) concluded it would be double dosing. I popped a pill feeling confident with my 98% sure-ity.

Everything was fine and that night I told my husband about my afternoon crisis. The next day he says he has a present for me and produces this –

017

I’m also using it for vitamins, but my husband shouldn’t use the word “present” so loosely. “Present” indicates a wrapped item that’s sole purpose is to evoke joy or at the very least makes your face change expressions. This was more like, here I bought you something at the drugstore. Enjoy.

P.S. I am not ashamed I had to watch this Youtube video on subtracting mixed numbers http://youtu.be/tVrelLu6K6k to help my daughter with her 4th grade homework. I don’t remember doing anything like this in the 4th grade. I actually don’t remember doing this at all. But I do have a talent for going into a math induced coma whenever too many numbers are being thrown in my face. Or, I need to put some ginkgo biloba in my pill box to help my dusty thirty-five year old memory.