Friday, September 25, 2009

posing as a local

Dr. Leo Marvin: I want some peace and quiet!
Bob Wiley: Well, I'll be quiet.
Siggy: I'll be peace!
[Bob and Siggy burst into giggles]

I have this thing about eating where the locals eat. Whether I'm in New York City or tiny Beaver Dam Kentucky, I want to eat where the locals eat. Why? Because I figure the locals know what's best. Heck, they live there year round! So when I go to NYC, I'm not big on eating at Tavern on the Green. No doubt, Tavern on the Green is good. I've discovered that the hole-in-the-walls though are the gems. My favorite restaurant in the world is literally a hole-in-the-wall in Nashville called Rotiers. It's in West End and it's phenomenal. The cheeseburgers on french bread get voted the best in Nashville every year. It's been there for over 50 years. It's a hangout for Vanderbilt students, the governor of Tennesse (yes, the governor), and country music peeps. When I've taken people there they enter apprehensive and even sometimes snobby about it's appearance. They leave impressed.

One of my alltime favorite movies "What About Bob" keeps me rolling on the floor because during a big chunk of the movie Bob (Bill Murray) is hanging out in this vacation town wearing a shirt that says "Don't Hassle Me, I'm Local". Sometimes when I'm on vacay I feel like Bob, trying to blend in with the people that live in the beach town yearround. Seaside for example. I pretend that I live right around the corner.

Monday night I went to a Boz Scaggs and John Hiatt concert at the ryman. The next morning as we were leaving our hotel, we decided to ask the bellmen where to eat breakfast. They suggested we go to Khan's Mongolian BBQ. Once again, remember that we were looking for a BREAKFAST eatery so a BBQ joint didn't sound appetizing to us at first. Then we were assured by the young chaps not to be fooled by the name.

So we walked into this joint and it was deeeserted. No typo there. I mean to add those extra e's for Emphasis. It was a vast wasteland. Likely because it was 9:30AM on a Tuesday and we were downtown so everybody who eats breakfast there probably eats before 8 or 9 before they WORK (i was off work that day). Then a man walks up to us and from the start, treated us like royalty. And it was deeeeelish. Added e's for Emphasis with the world delish as well. Authentic southern cooking. Like my memaw used to make before she went to the nursing home. Sausage gravy & biscuits. Omelets. Bacon. Grits. Wow.

As we left there I said "he treated us like we were the only customers he had!" Then I paused and said "oh yeah, it's because we really were the only customers he had!" So who knows if I'll ever find out if the Mongolian BBQ is good, but let me assure you that I'll be there at 9:30 AM for breakfast the night after my next concert (ps- it's Willie Nelson next! woot woot)
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign." -Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, September 24, 2009

eye on the (grand)prize

"You're never too old to become younger."
-Mae West

I have a question. Why do we grow up in regard to almost everything but prizes? My dad thinks it's really weird that I refuse to go to a local Chevron station that has better gasoline, all because I have to get my Speedway rewards points. He has said "so you're putting less quality gas in your car which will end up being bad for your car, costing you money eventually..all because you want to get a $100 gift card from Speedway that took you 3 years to obtain?" My answer "yes, you got it."

My friends and I went out for a drink last night and here was the conversation:
me: I have a confession. You know how the gas pumps at that one speedway have been broken down for awhile. well i've been going to another gas station every few days putting just $10 in because i don't want to fill up and then the speedway reopen!
c: I don't think there's anything weird about that.
b: I love points.
c: remember gattiland? all that money spent playing those games, getting those points, all to get a slinky?
me: i bet i still have points at gattiland from back in the day.
c: let's go there for supper club thursday next week.
b: cool. good idea.

(me is obviously me. c and b are a girl and guy that i meet on thursdays for supper club. using c and b instead of their names because , who knows, i could leak their names, and i could suddenly get so much blog traffic that they become famous. and maybe they don't want to become famous? baha)

So in the next week you can find me filling up my gas tank just a fourth of the way in hopes that when I'm low again, speedway will be open again so i can go back to getting my points. And when you see me next ask me how much I had to spend to get the grand prize of a slap bracelet or a ruler at gattiland.

yes my friends yes. i'm going places.

"It takes a long time to become young." -Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

her cup runneth over...

As in the case of wines that improve with age, the oldest friendships ought to be the most delightful. --Cicero
I don't remember a time when Laurel was not in my life. I am two and a half years older than her, but we might as well have been born the same day because my earliest memory contains Laurel. There's something to be said for that...for that person that has been there as long as your memory goes back.

Laurel's mom and my mom have been best friends since they were in 5th grade. Pam, Laurel's mom, served as maid of honor in my mom's wedding. My mom served as matron of honor in Pam's wedding. If I was Catholic then I'm sure at some point a ceremony would have taken place making Pam and her husband my godparents. They are family.

The Laurel I know now can be described sweet spirited, elegant, intelligent, and displined with both work and school. The Laurel of my youth? Hell on wheels. She sang country songs at the top of her lungs. Drank a gallon of milk a day. Drug a dog named scooter around like it was a cabbage patch doll. Insisted on opening my birthday presents along with me at my birthday parties. Picture all that behavior combined with her also being the most adorable little girl you have ever seen. Her mom dressed her in the cutest children's clothing. She was the definition of the expression "awwww." Behind that though was guts and glory. She knew right out of the womb that it was just a matter of minutes before she was going to hit the stage and so therefore spent her young years preparing for that debut. I just knew she'd eventually have a tattoo. And a boyfriend name Zeke. Think Gretchen Wilson and that's what I thought Laurel would become. I would have taken her as a country music star, probably would have begged to have been her personal assistant. I am pleasantly surprised though to have seen her grow to be one of the most eloquent, mild mannered, and graceful women I know. A person of faith who wants to be a teacher. Little Laurel? Rambunctious. Adult Laurel? Classy.

When Laurel was little, she thought I hung the moon. No exaggeration. She acted as if I was literally the coolest person on planet earth. I remember going out to eat and if the waiter asked her what she wanted before they asked me, she'd say "Ashley, what are YOU getting?" This ran all over me! One time I think I even ordered something I knew she wouldn't like, to test her allegiance. Didn't phase her. She ordered the exact same meal. I should have been flattered because Lord knows I was NOT the coolest person on earth. I should have been delighted that she put me up on a pedestol. But it irritated me to no end. Then I remember the day that we went to dinner and she didn't ask what I was ordering. It broke my heart. That day I wished for was here and now I didn't want it anymore. I never envisioned a day that she would assert her independence and not strive to be just like me. If you are not convinced yet how much she loved me, let me tell you this: I nicknamed her Wart when she was younger. I don't remember why I started calling her wart but I did. I think I said it was because she never went away. She didn't even mind that nickname. Pretty sure she liked it. She would even write Wart underneath her signature when she sent me a card. Anybody else would have said, by the age of 16 at least, "pick another nickname, that's cruel!" But Laurel embraced it and kept the tradition alive up until a few years ago. And actually, while I'm thinking of it, I'd like to remind her that she's slacking on using that term of endearment when she sends me a card. Bring that tradition back.

Make no mistake though: deepdown I have always seen myself as Laurel's security guard. I will defend her to the death. Even though I don't fight, I will admit that when I've heard a story about anyone being mean to Laurel or hurting her feelings, I've actually considered hauling my hiney to the culprit's house and showing them who's boss. Laurel is so nice that I have never been able to understand how anyone could be anything but kind back to her. Very few people are completely free of mean bones. Laurel is one of those people. She is incapable of being rude or mean.

When people talk about having a sister, I've never felt like I missed out on having one. I never felt envious or jealous. I always felt like Laurel and I were sisters. We are both only children, so we kind of have the best of both worlds. We are sisters in every definition of the word, except we are not blood related. We each have a wonderful set of parents though too that have showered each of us with as much love and affection as any children in the world have received. We have been through countless experiences together: each of us has moved more than once to a different city, we've lost family members, experienced the joy of successes and the disappointment of failures. We've even watched a cow give birth. Nothing has been off limits in this friendship. What connects and roots us most deeply though is not supporting each other through experiences. It's not even that our moms are best friends. It's our bond in Christ. We pray, serve, and worship the same God. I can't imagine a better thing to share with a friend than a common love for the Lord.

Last night I get a text from Laurel that represents another experience in her life that I'll be there for: her upcoming marriage to her fiance Wes!
Last night I got this text from Laurel:
"Shut up! Wes just proposed! I am speechless."
I started to type back: "What?! But you're just a baby?!"
But instead I wrote back: "Did you say yes? ;) "
and she replied: "I don't let a good opportunity pass me by."
The funny thing is that while we were at The Frist on Saturday, I said to Laurel's boyfriend Wes "hey Wes, I hope you're ok with Laurel hyphenating her last name when you all get married, which I'm assuming you all will because we decided in Chicago she may need to hyphenate her last name. " I can't imagine what he was feeling inside knowing that he was about to propose.

So, I'm writing this to the loveliest girl I know. I hope she realizes I'm filled to the brim with excitement over this news. Her living out her dreams brings me as much joy, maybe more, as when my very own dreams are fulfilled. I am writing this also as my plea to her to not decide to elope. I know she is humble and doesn't like receiving a ton of attention, but I hope she'll let me be there. Whether it's a huge event with a gazillion people or a small affair with a few guests, I hope she'll let me be there. Because, with a few exceptions where I've failed to be there, I've been present for all the other big events of her life. This should be no exception. So please let me be first on the invite list. And when you send it, in the return address section, leave off the return address label. Just simply write Wart... and know that I'm thrilled you've never gone away.

Said Mrs. Browning, the poet, to Charles Kingsley, the novelist, "What is the secret of your life? Tell me, that I may make mine beautiful also." Thinking a moment, the beloved author replied, "I had a friend."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

in cali you don't dilly dally

This one's for my city where I learned my flow
S-A-N D-I-E-G-O, San Diego
-Lil Rob

This past weekend I went to SAN DIEGO! Love that town. Love it. Love it like I love Riley's cheesecake squares, the sound of LaylaDog sighing, and the smell of new Sam Edelman ballet flats(don't ask).

Part of why I love that place is that everyone I've ever met there (been there twice, which is not a lot but enough to make this assumption) is uber nice. Like southern nice. Not just kinda polite nice, but genuinely NICE. Love that when I got homesick for Kentucky, BAM, I was at a horse track (Del Mar) hearing those beautiful words "and they're off!!" Instant cure. Love that the weather is always perfect. Ok, record breaking high temps when I happened to be there. But still, perfect. Love that it's aesthetically appealing, but not pretentious. Like if I were a city (let's use Bowling Green) and I wanted to ask another city to hang out, I'd ask San Diego. I think Bowling Green and San Diego are pretty compatible. Bowling Green and NYC- nah. But San Diego and Bowling Green, yeah they are potential BFFs. San Diego wouldn't judge Bowling Green for not being as popular of a vacation spot.

What I'm not fond of is feeling anxious. For example, I'll be in cab and watching the scenery go by and then all of a sudden we've pulled up to the stop. And what do you know, I don't have my money out and ready to hand to the cab driver. So one of two things happens. I usually short change him, not meaning to, but because I'm in such a rush that I forget to tip. Or I'll get out a $20 and hand it to him, then get out, and think "whoa chica, you just gave that dude a 100 percent ride was 10 bucks, you gave him 10 bucks...not smart." But hey, better than the time I accidentally gave a cab driver a 100 dollar bill instead of a one dollar bill. Yeah, that was a bummer.

My favorite part of the trip, well actually any trip, is the time spent on the plane ride there. Interesting things always happen to me on planes, big or small, commercial or private, long flight or short flight. This time the guy next to me says, 10 minutes into the flight, "so, you're from Kentucky?" Of course I was caught off guard that this stranger knew where I was from. So I said, "the accent?" and he said "nah, I've heard worse. the other three were the dead giveaways." and i said "what other three?" and he said "the bible sticking out of your purse, the thoroughbred horse racing book that you're reading, and last but certainly not least- the makers and coke that you ordered."
Born and bred Kentucky girl, that's me.

Ain't you glad we ain't all California girls
Ain't you glad there's still a few of us left, who know how to rock your world
Ain't afraid to eat fried chicken and dirty dance to Merle
Ain't you glad we ain't all California girls
-Gretchen Wilson